There is nothing like travelling to a great destination, eating delicious food and having new experiences. But today travelling is not just about flying and flopping. It is exploring the place, getting to know the landscape, culture, tradition and cuisine.
Travelling gives us an understanding of people from other lands, and can be a journey of self-discovery. First-hand knowledge is so much better than reading about it or watching on TV. You can see awe-inspiring sites, have unique experiences, see works of art, have wildlife encounters, eat great food and try new drinks. All in all, travel makes memories that last a lifetime.
Stir your imagination quite with a new adventure. Knowing that you have a trip planned is a great motivator; something to look forward to. If you are hungry for food experiences, craving excitement and new cultural insights, then speak to Tasteful Travel about your dream bespoke holiday.
When planning a holiday, whether it’s a multi-stop adventure to far flung destinations or a week in the Isle of Wight, it’s vital that the trip is tailored to you. Designing the perfect holiday is not easy but with the help of a specialist travel consultant, the process can be stress free and simple.
We are happy to meet you in person to discuss your trip, either over a coffee or on a home visit. If more convenient we can discuss plans over the phone or via email.
All aspects of the trip from flights to transfers, accommodation to excursions, Tasteful Travel design the perfect journey for you. Destination, budget, likes and dislikes and holiday style are all taken into account so that you get the travel experience you love.
No matter whether you seek a relaxing getaway in luxury resorts with day trips included; an action-packed break exploring by camper van; or a foodie extravaganza; Tasteful Travel can help make the dream a reality.
Our in-depth knowledge of European, Middle Eastern and Antipodean destinations, coupled with our passion for helping clients plan amazing holidays, mean that you get the very best bespoke trip planned for you.
Visit stunning locations on open-jaw land itineraries with cruises, a unique way of travelling between incredible places. Fancy a Greek odyssey with some island hopping built in? Have a desire to journey from Singapore to Sydney? Prefer to travel across Australia on the Ghan train on an Aussie adventure? No problem. Having travelled extensively in Europe, made many trips to Australia and lived in Kenya, Singapore and Dubai, I have the experience and insider tips to make a great itinerary extra special.
The personal service that Tasteful Travel provides is not limited to just flights and accommodation. Our concierge service can add spa visits, restaurant reservations and excursions to your trip. We will also be with you every step of the way, from planning your holiday to providing on-tour assistance and checking in with you when you get home.
To get in touch and find out more, contact Sarah today or check out our website at www.tasteful-travel.co.uk.
The roots of May Day can be traced back at least 2,000 years. The celebration as we know it in the UK today is the result of melding Pagan, Roman and Medieval traditions.
The Celts and British Pagan Heritage
New life and fertility with the coming of summer were marked by the ancient Celts with May Poles and dancing. The May Pole is a tall pole with coloured ribbons tied to the top. Originally the pole would have been a tree cut when it reached the correct height and with the branches cut off, a powerful symbol since the Celts worshipped trees. Young men and women would each hold a ribbon and would dance weaving in and out of each other to plait the ribbons into a complex patterns. The pole signified fertility and dancing around it was supposed to bring this benefit to the dancers.
The Celts divided their year by 4 major festivals. The first day of summer was called Beltane, 'the fire of Bel'. Bel was the sun god worshipped by Celts across Continental Europe, Britain and Ireland. Beltane was celebrated with bonfires to welcome the new season. Fire was believed to cleanse, purify and increase fertility. The Celts jumped over the fire to pledge themselves to each other. Animals were driven through the smoke to protect them from diseases. At Beltane, couples went A-Maying - spending the night in the woods, fields and brought back May and hawthorn blossoms as a sign of fertility and the new season.
In England this became May Day but in Scotland the festival is still known as Beltane. In Edinburgh the spectacle now includes fire displays, drumming, processions with pipe bands and plenty of body paint.
During the 300 year long Roman occupation of Britain the Floralia was celebrated. Flora was the goddess of flowers and spring and the festival in her honour was held for 6 days at the end of April. The celebration was for everyone, not just the nobility, and was all about pleasure, fertility and flowers. The festival included games and dancing so it is easy to see where the flowers, foliage and fun elements of modern British May Day stem from.
Morris dancers are traditional folk dancers. This form of dance dates back to Medieval times. The earliest written record of a Morris dancing performance in England is from 1448 but the origins of Morris are lost in the mists of time. Morris dancing used to be confined to male performers but nowadays both men and women take part. Traditionally dressed in white with strips of bells on their legs, colourful neckerchiefs and belts across their chests, Morris dancers perform jigs, kicks, jumps and set patterns. Morris dancers have become closely associated with May Day. Performing with wooden poles and handkerchiefs, they are a wonderful sight, especially on a village green on a sunny day.
Georgian Era and After May Day Customs
Jack-in-the-Green is a May Day character first recorded in 1770. The man playing Jack is dressed in a conical wicker or wooden framework covered in foliage. The look is completed with green face paint. The character is likely to have evolved from an earlier tradition of milkmaids carrying milk pails decorated with flowers. The use of foliage and flowers firmly associates this tradition with the spring/summer season and the fertility and new life it brings. The tradition went out of favour in the 20th century but has been recently revived and the Jack-in-the-Green features in several May Day celebrations in England.
Hobby horses (or 'Obby 'Osses) feature in festivals in Padstow and Minehead. Music accompanies the wild dancing of the 'osses which are men dressed in 6ft wide wooden hoops draped in black sailcloth and wearing fearsome masks. The origins of the tradition are not known but theories abound. The 'obby 'oss is a rainmaker, a fertility symbol or a deterrent to a landing by the French, or a welcome to summer, dependent on which legend you believe.
Another local festivity in early May is the Helston Floral Festival. This centuries old tradition is most likely to stem from the anniversary of the apparition of St Michael (patron saint of the parish church in Helston) on May 8th. Heralded by an early morning ringing of the church bells, Floral Day features the Furry Dance which weaves in and out of the streets and local houses. The male dancers dress in top hats and tails and the females in beautiful, colourful dresses. Flora Day also features the Hal-an-Tow, a mummers play where St George and St Michael slay the Dragon and the Devil. The players are cheered on by a crowd dressed in Lincoln green and Elizabethan robes.
As the dawn breaks in Dorset on May 1st, Morris Men dance on the site of the old maypole above the Cerne Abbot Giant. Local folklore has long held that the huge chalk figure carved into the hillside is an aid to fertility. The dancing moves to the village square, then a well-deserved breakfast.
Queen of the May is a girl who personifies springtime and summer on May Day. Traditionally she wears white to symbolise purity and a garland or crown. In some older village traditions, there was a Lord and Lady or King and Queen of the May. This custom persists in some areas of England but the Queen of the May is everywhere seen.
Places to Celebrate in Early May
To book your holiday at any UK celebrations of May Day, get in touch with our staycation experts.
When planning family holidays there are lots of factors to consider to make your trip the very best. Looking at temperatures, short flight times, family activities available and value for money, we find the most family friendly destinations in Europe are:
Although Turkey enjoys the highest average temperature, with Gumbet, Belek and Bodrum all enjoying averages of 25 degrees C during the summer.
The Costa Blanca on the Spanish mainland comes a close second, averaging temperatures of 24.5o between May and October.
Average sea temperatures
For comfortable swimming temperatures, especially for younger children, resorts across Turkey also fit the bill with Antalya, Alanya, Belek and Side all enjoying averages of 25o. Cyprus also has lovely warm sea, with an average temperature of 24.5o.
Water parks and amusement parks
Amusement parks and water parks are great for family fun. Crete, Greece's largest and most southerly island, has the most parks with a massive 10, including WaterCity in Anapolis near Heraklion.
Next is the beautiful island of Cyprus with 9 attractions, including award-winning Fasouri Watermania Water Park in Limassol.
Spain also offers a variety of park options for families. The Costa Blanca, Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada all boast 7 water or amusement parks, as do Sardinia, Italy’s largest island, the Algarve region of Portugal and Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
A short flight is a big consideration for those planning a family holiday. If you are looking for a beach break with a limited travel time you should consider the Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada regions of Spain. These destinations both have average flight times of just over 2 hours from the UK.
Majorca, the sun-kissed Balearic Island is also a great choice for a close to home destination, with an average flight time of just short of 2 and a half hours. Alternatively the Costa de la Luz region of Spain is also perfect for families looking to minimise their travel time, as are Ibiza and Sardinia.
Best value for money
A big factor for British families is to minimise cost. Based on a family of 4, the lowest cost holiday destinations are the Costa Calida and the Costa Brava on the Spanish mainland and the Canary Island of La Palma.
Travel to Kefalonia in Greece or the Algarve in Portugal to get more bang for your buck.
For great family deals just search our latest offers here.
New Orleans is a testament to living history. Entire neighbourhoods, buildings, cobblestone streets and ancient oaks are markers of bygone eras. The history of New Orleans has turned the city into a colourful and exciting destination.
The History of New Orleans
Claimed for the French crown by explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1682, La Nouvelle-Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville and became the capital of the French Colony in 1723. The city developed around the Vieux Carré (Old Square), a central square from which the French Quarter evolved.
A vital trading and commercial hub, Spain took control of New Orleans in 1763 and this 37 year rule can still be seen in the city’s street names and architecture, like the Cabildo and the Presbytere. This period also reflected Spain’s more liberal views on race that fostered a class of free people of colour.
In 1800, the Spanish ceded Louisiana back to France but after only 3 years Napoleon sold the city and the French Colony to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. Despite this sale the residents of New Orleans held tight to their Francophile ways. Language and customs, cuisine, opera and social mores were still French. A sophisticated and cosmopolitan society was created by the Creoles (the American-born offspring of European settlers) in New Orleans. This French influence can still be seen in the Creole cottages, the Ursuline Convent and Charity Hospital as well as the streets of the French Quarter.
War of Independence & Civil War Eras
The British tried to claim the land during the War of Independence in 1812 but Andrew Jackson turned back more than 7,500 British soldiers, forcing them to abandon the area and ending the war.
As American plantation owners prospered, the French and Creoles of New Orleans socially rejected these nouveau riche. This led to the Americans staying across Canal Street in their own neighbourhoods.
In the mid-1800s, the highest concentration of millionaires in America could be found between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, fortunes founded on the slave trade and huge sugar plantations along the Mississippi River. Louisiana sugar plantations produced an estimated 450 million pounds of sugar per year, worth more than $20 million in the 1850s.
Elegant mansions were built by these millionaires on their plantations. Both depended heavily on slaves, one of the key motivators of the American Civil War. Union troops occupied New Orleans but the city didn't fight back, thus sparing itself from destruction. This signalled the end of New Orleans halcyon days, an era to become known as Antebellum (after the war).
After the war there was poverty, racial tension and governmental chaos. The city’s plantation owners could not match their antebellum success but the port of New Orleans preserved its essential status, as it does to this day.
Discover the period at the Old U.S. Mint, the only Confederate mint and the oldest U.S. mint in existence; or visit Louisiana’s Civil War Museum in the Warehouse District; see the statue of Margaret Gaffney Haughery, a beloved Irish immigrant whose bakery supplied bread to hungry families during the war and founder of orphanages, in the Lower Garden District.
World War II
New Orleans played a special role in the second world war. Shipbuilder and local industrialist Andrew Higgins invented a boat designed to float in Louisiana’s shallow water swamps and marshes. Built in local shipyards, “Higgins Boats” were used throughout the war for getting soldiers, vehicles and equipment off big ships to shore, most notably during the D-day invasion on the Normandy beaches.
After WWII land reclamation allowed New Orleans to expand. Similarly the history of New Orleans continues to create a city of rich culture, an eclectic mix of neighbourhoods - from the funky, bohemian Bywater all the way to the oak-lined Garden District, and civic pride. There's something for every type of traveller from authentic live music, historic architecture and vibrant nightlife.
New Orleans was an important port for trade with the Caribbean quickly becoming a target for piracy. Brothers Jean and Pierre Lafitte were perhaps the most infamous. Visit Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street, the base of these pirates, which claims to be the oldest structure housing a bar in the United States.
The first Mardi Gras in the United States was celebrated in March 1699 when Iberville and Bienville landed at the mouth of the Mississippi River on Mardi Gras, 60 miles south of New Orleans. They named the spot Point du Mardi Gras and celebrated with their men. By the 1730s the Mardi Gras was celebrated with parties and street fairs.
In 1857, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen called the Mistick Krewe of Comus organized a torch-lit Carnival procession. The present-day New Orleans Mardi Gras with marching bands and floats can be traced to this celebration.
Speak of New Orleans and you immediately think of jazz. Evolving in the late 19th century, jazz combined ragtime, blues, spirituals and the American songbook, a result of the diverse ethnic and racial groups — French, Spanish, African, Italian, German, and Irish — found in New Orleans.
The 1920s roared along the Mississippi, ignoring Prohibition and welcoming travellers. Authors, artists and the adventurous discovered the French Quarter. Le Petit Theater was opened on St. Peter Street. New Orleans provided the soundtrack to the era.
The city’s music is its beating heart. The musical notes of jazz, brass, R&B and soul fill the air along with night–blooming jasmine. Walk down Frenchmen Street, in the Marigny neighbourhood and take in the vibrant cafes, music clubs and restaurants including Snug Harbor, dba. and the Spotted Cat.
New Orleans has produced musical giants like Louis Armstrong, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. New acts follow in the tradition at Preservation Hall on Bourbon Street, Mother-In-Law Lounge on Claiborne Avenue, Rock-N-Bowl in Mid-City, the Maple Leaf Uptown and Vaughn’s in the Bywater where you can dance the night away. It’s all part of the magic that is found only in New Orleans.
New Orleans has a love affair with its traditional fare. Join the romance over by crawfish etouffe at a smart restaurant or with a bowl of gumbo at a backstreet bistro. Grab a po-boy sandwich stuffed with fried oysters for a picnic. This heady mix of Creole, Cajun and Anglo-American cuisine is totally unique. Discover the most famous dishes below.
New Orleans King Cakes
New Orleans Pralines
In a city steeped in history, New Orleans has a history of mixing innovative cocktails. Antoine Amédé Peychaud, is thought to have mixed the very first Sazerac in his pharmacy on Royal Street in the 1830s. From an eye-opening Brandy Milk Punch to a flaming Café Brûlot, the quintessential Crescent City nightcap, raise a glass to New Orleans’ past and a toast the city’s most famous cocktails.
New Orleans is a great destination for any time of year and any type of holiday. Speak to us to plan your food adventure in the Big Easy.
Travel planning can be daunting. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when it is a complicated itinerary or a long world-spanning journey.
I have planned countless trips and holidays for over the years (for myself, friends, family and customers) and understand how getting the essentials right is key. So here is a step-by-step guide on how to travel plan effectively and with less stress.
1. Decide on your destination(s)
This sounds as though it should be the easiest step of all. With all the destination guides available on the internet nowadays there can be a risk of information overload unless you have a clear idea to start with. Instead of thinking that you want to go to a continent or country, it is much better to hone in on a specific region, island or city. Saying that you are going to Antigua rather than the Caribbean concentrates your mind and makes planning much smoother. Guidebooks and maps are also useful ways of finding out more about your chosen destination, routes and culture.
2. Decide the length of your trip
How long are you going away for? Until you know that you can't have a concrete plan. Sometimes it will be dependent on how much time off you have from work. Other times you might be flexible from 7 to 10 days. Try to be specific, for example "I'm going to Antigua for 14 nights". This will make it easier for you to find the right flight, hotel or package out of the vast array available.
3. Cost planning
Now you know where you want to go, where you going and how long you are going for, you need to set a budget. Firstly consider your style of travel, luxury hotels, all inclusive, backpacking, etc. You can then check out costs online on holiday comparison sites. Travel forums are also useful to find out how much things cost in your chosen destination. This gives you a guide as to how much you'll need for spending money. Don't forget to check the exchange rate so you know how much local currency you'll need to order. These days I find it more economical to get a small amount of currency for immediate needs on arrival then get what I need from the ATM in the destination. Of course this won't work if you're going somewhere remote!
4. Check for last minute deals
It's always worth checking travel offers to see if you can save money. You may dream of Antigua but perhaps there are special offers to Barbados right now. Maybe you can get an upgraded cabin on a cruise, or maybe you can go further for your budget. The world is a big place and there are so many places to see. Sometimes you can get a better deal if you're flexible. This does, of course, mean that you start your destination research again. But it is much quicker when the place has already been chosen.
5. Package deal or separate elements?
It is most often better to book your holiday as a package if you are taking a stay-put holiday in one destination. If you're planning a trip itinerary with multiple stops then you will almost certainly have to book your flight, accommodation and transfers separately.
6. Plan your activities
OK, so you have planned how to get to your destination and where you are staying, now you need to think about what you'll do when you get there. Of course you don't need to know every detail, just outline the major activities you want to enjoy and have an idea of the cost. Activities available will vary dependent on your destination and again, Tripadvisor forums can be really helpful. You can ask fellow travellers or local residents whether you can parascend, bungee jump or horse ride. Find out which local suppliers offer quad biking, surfing, gorge climbing or child-friendly activities. The internet is also a great place to find out more about landmarks that you want to discover on your sightseeing days. Not forgetting which are the best restaurants to try. Whatever you want to do you should make sure that your insurance covers it, particularly adrenaline sports.
Now you've decided where you are going, when, how and what you'll be doing when you get there, you are ready to plan what you need to take with you. A great tip to ensure you don't forget anything is to have a packing checklist. I've been using the same list for over 30 years and it hasn't changed much - apart from replacing the Walkman, camera and film with my mobile phone!
Make sure you include the essentials such as passport, tickets and money. You can add types of clothing and footwear (the checklist stops me forgetting nightwear!), toiletries, medication, etc. What you pack depends entirely on where you are going but I just cross off what I don't need from the list and add extras. When I go shopping pre-trip I take the list with me and highlight items as I buy them. When I pack my suitcase I lay out the items on the bed first and tick them off the list before packing the case. Happy days.
Why not download my checklist to get you started?
Still feeling overwhelmed? Why not use an experienced travel agent to make the travel planning process a cinch. Tasteful Travel are with you every step of the planning journey and can support you before, during and after your holiday.
Designed for adults who are looking for a fun, lively holiday in hotels with great design but a relaxed vibe, Cook's Club from Thomas Cook is a great offering for couples, groups of friends and families with children over 16. With simple, stylish rooms and a central pool hub the hotels have great quality casual dining and lively bar areas.
Enjoy poolside soundtracks throughout the day and a DJ on the decks at night. Cook's Club hotels also offer themed evenings, from RnB parties to BBQ cookouts. Dance till midnight at your chosen hotel and enjoy cocktails at the Captain Cook bar, mixed with premium spirits and served in quirky glass tumblers.
Dine informally at the street-food inspired Cantina. Instead of buffet style canteens, all dishes are made fresh to order - from hangover brunches to vegan treats.
Cook's Club Adakoy Marmaris has been named one of Europe's best new hotels 2019 by The i Paper. The hotel is nestled in a secluded waterfront location and offers great watersports.
Along with the Adakoy, an especially selected group of hotels form the Cook's Club. The concept is a new collection of hotels which are stripped back to focus only on the things that matter to a new generation of travellers. Here you can be surrounded by like-minded people here and spend an action-packed yet relaxing break.
Cook's Club will also be available in super cool Sardinia, Italy; Kos, Greece; Alanya, Turkey; Palma Beach, Majorca; and Sunny Beach in this year's hot spot, Bulgaria. All will have the urban chic look even though in coastal locations. The focus is on what today's traveller wants, especially the young and hip.
Instead of booking your adult only holidays direct, get extra savings on Thomas Cook's Club through a travel agent like Tasteful Travel. Search our offers for the latest deals under 'Beach Resorts & Hotels' or speak to our travel experts today.
The Brexit process seems to keep dragging on and on. Don't let it get you down. Time to plan your escape - at least temporarily. Brits are booking just as many holidays as ever, so at least the uncertainty of Brexit has not managed to take all the joy out of life! Here's some inspiration for your next journey.
Africa is a large continent with a huge array of vistas and activities so you can expect to find something to suit everyone. With its breathtaking natural beauty, contrasts diversity, your holiday to Africa will certainly be unforgettable.
For luxury resorts head to the north to Morocco and Egypt. This is a side of Africa full of history and a different culture to the rest of the continent. Fringed by the Mediterranean it is only a short flight too. Combine beach, city and a river cruise for the ultimate Egyptian experience. Whilst in Morocco visitors can combine desert, mountains, city and beach life.
Located about half way down Africa on the east coast, Kenya is a paradise for outdoor lovers. With its soft powdery beaches, snow-capped mountains, endless savannah and the vastness of Lake Victoria, Kenya can give you once in a lifetime experiences, like wildlife spotting on a safari.
Let's not forget South Africa, the rainbow nation. From bustling cities like Cape Town and Durban to splendid game reserves where you can view the 'big 5' - lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape Buffalo. There are also mountain retreats and scenic coastal drives, not to mention great shopping and museums in Johannesburg. Fancy a tour around awe-inspiring Victoria Falls or a great wine tasting tour around Stellenbosch? Whatever your lifestyle you will find the perfect holiday in South Africa.
Why not head over to our Offers page and search for our latest Africa deals now (select holiday type then country).
England is a beautiful, surprising, historic and wonderful place. Why go abroad when there is so much to see here? From historic castles to lush green countryside to stunning coastline to ancient ports and activities galore.
Following the Brexit vote there is even more reason to stay in the UK, what with rising prices and the falling value of sterling. Get more bang for your buck in dear old Blighty. Visit extraordinary historic houses, castles and towns. The list is endless and no matter where you go, the United Kingdom is steeped in history everywhere you look. Along with this there is a huge range of accommodation to suit every pocket. There is also plenty to do from outdoor pursuits to craft workshops to museums, cinemas and children's activities.
Great Britain now produces excellent food and drink and is a haven for the foodie. Drink in the local brews in Kent, where not only is there the oldest brewery in England but also a multitude of vineyards, not to mention great pubs. Or head to Somerset where cider is king. Tour an orchard and learn how cider is made. Sample excellent local produce in West Sussex with a trip to a dairy to learn how to make cheese. Artisan producers of all types of gourmet foods abound, as do award winning vineyards. Take a trip into East Sussex and tour a quaint old brewery in Lewes.
There are so many amazing sights to see away from the obvious tourist attractions in Britain. In Yorkshire take a trip on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and learn the history of the longest canal tunnel in the world at Standedge in Marsden, West Yorkshire. Taste remarkably good wines at one of the most northerly vineyards in the country, whilst you take a break from touring the breathtaking moorland scenery. Or head to the seaside at Whitby with its ancient abbey and old fishermen's cottages.
England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland offer some amazing choices for short or long breaks. With steam railways, mountains, lakes, rivers both fast and slow and of course endless coastline. Whether you love adrenaline sports like zorbing or white water rafting or prefer to read a newspaper in a pub with a roaring fire - you will certainly find a holiday to suit you in the UK.
Tasteful Travel design bespoke UK tours so why not book a consultation now? We also have a range of short breaks and accommodation so check out our latest offers here. If you need some inspiration for your travel planning just head over to our Destinations page and get booking your staycation now.
Not take a cruise yet? Wonder if you might feel claustrophobic or feel seasick? Well as a sufferer of both conditions I can tell you that neither affected me on my first cruise.
Instead cruising was an experience very like what you see on the adverts, sitting in the pool on deck watching the children play and looking out to sea at the endlessly changing vista. The food was amazing and there was something for everyone to do. No doubt any of your friends who have cruised will also tell you this type of holiday has a lot to recommend it. Here are some of the reasons you should give it a try.
1. Great value for money
Fares include food, accommodation, daytime and evening entertainment and transfers. On land for a hotel, dinner and a show you could pay considerably more for the same standard. There are often even better deals including free kids places, drinks packages and more. Luxury cruise lines are even more inclusive, drinks, gratuities, shore excursions, onboard credits, and even flights packaged into the fare.
2. Unpack once
You float from one destination to the other without having the hassle of getting on and off trains, planes and automobiles! Choose your cruise dependent on the ports of call you wish to visit and then just relax.
3. Stress-free planning
If you don't want the hassle of planning your itinerary before you go on holiday then a cruise is the perfect choice. Once you book you just need to turn up! All the details are planned for you and all you really have to do is choose the destination, the dates and the shore excursions you wish to take. It really is a relaxing way to vacation.
4. Fun for all ages
There is entertainment to suit your whole intergenerational party. Many cruise lines now feature a range of activities for the kids split into different age ranges. From rock climbing to zip wires, kids clubs to surf simulators, video games to dancing. But cruises don't just entertain the young, there are top class shows, lectures, cookery classes, spas, exercise classes and much, much more for the adults - no matter what age. So take your grandchildren, children or just cruise as a couple, you'll find all you need to keep you busy, happy and entertained.
5. Great range of ship styles
Cruises are no longer a 'one size fits all' holiday. The ideal ship may be a 'mega-liner' with all the amenities from outdoor cinemas to skydiving simulators. You may prefer a smaller, more intimate cruise experience with old-style elegance. More of an explorer? Choose one of the newer ships which are being purpose built to cruise the less explored destinations of Antarctica or the Amazon. Alternatively pick the ultimate luxury of a clipper ship or a smaller vessel with impeccable service and amenities. Whatever your style there is a ship to suit you.
6. A world within a world
Cruise liners are like miniature worlds of their own. If you left something at home, need to wash your clothes, have health issues or just need to keep in touch with your loved ones there are ways to do this onboard. So ships are equipped with onboard shops, laundries, medical facilities, Wi-Fi and many other useful services as well as all the fun stuff.
7. Sightsee with ease
Nervous of sightseeing in an exotic destination on your own? Worried about the language barrier? No problem. Explore with the shore excursions arranged by the cruise lines. With these you will be transported from the ship to the sightseeing location with crew or a local guide (or both). This gives you the security of a group as well as local knowledge and English-speaking guides. Alternatively you can always team up with other passengers to share a taxi or a local guide.
8. Cruising is romantic
A cruise provides lots of together time. The sweeping vistas passing by, the wind in your hair and being on deck under the twinkling stars can certainly set the mood for romance. Take the love of your life with you or perhaps you'll find that special someone onboard. Don't forget, cruise lines can do special packages for honeymoons, anniversaries and you can even get married onboard.
9. A social occasion
A cruise gives you plenty of opportunity to mix and mingle. There are people from home and from all over the world who cruise and you may meet them at the pool, at the dinner table or in the bar. Children can meet lots of new friends too during the many youth-centric activities. A ship is a safe environment too - so you don't have to worry about the teenagers going off with their friends. Meet new friends onboard and you may cruise together next time.
10. World class food
There is so much choice onboard a cruise ship that the only thing you need to worry about is your waistline! There are buffets with a dazzling array of dishes for you to choose from so you can be sure that even the pickiest eater is catered for. There are also a la carte restaurants, often serving a particular cuisine, such as Italian, Chinese or French. Fine dining options will be available on the more luxury ships. Rest assured that no matter how much your cruise costs the food will be wonderful and served with style. On some cruises you might even get to tour the kitchens and try your hand at the chef's creations. A cruise is definitely a great choice for the foodie.
So what are you waiting for? Take a look at our latest cruise deals here.
Travelling in comfort is so important in these days of bustling airports and high security. This is especially true for the over 50s when travel comfort is a greater consideration than budget. If, like me, you suffer from back problems, the thought of sitting on a plane for hours and struggling through airports with heavy luggage does not fill you with joy! Here are our top tips for getting the most relaxing holiday ever.
1. Arrive at the airport in style
Be chauffeur driven to the airport in a luxury executive vehicle or use the airport's valet parking service. You will arrive at the airport relaxed and stress-free.
2. Send your luggage ahead
Use a service to handle your baggage so you don't have to lug it around at the airport. For example Airportr can pick up your luggage from home so you can pick it up on arrival at your destination.
3. Upgrade your flight
Treat yourself to a more luxurious flight experience. With more legroom, complimentary drinks, seats that turn into flat beds and many other services, a flight upgrade is well worth splashing the cash for. Better still, make sure you are a member of an airline loyalty club, like the award winning American Airlines Advantage club. Business and first class cabins tend to be quieter than economy too, improving the chances of getting some restful sleep. Arrive more rested and refreshed with a flight upgrade - you know you're worth it!
4. Stay in quality accommodation
To ensure a relaxing stay it is important to book top class hotels, villas and guesthouses. Properties should be a blend of comfort, style, great service and value for money. Be sure to do your research on review sites, or have your travel consultant recommend the very best for your budget. Sometimes it can be worth splashing out for the best but it is always worth getting personal recommendations.
5. Use a concierge service
This could be provided by your travel consultant, your hotels, airlines, or a specialist supplier. Find out more about the services provided in this Travel Weekly article. The services offered vary wildly from obtaining tickets for shows, excursions, ferries, etc, to access to exclusive members-only events and services, such as cocktail parties and private yachts. They can even arrange to have your luggage unpacked/packed. Using a concierge can certainly take your holiday experience up a notch.
6. Visit a spa
For total relaxation you can do no better than visit a spa. If staying at a hotel with a spa it is likely that access to the facilities is included in your room price. Treatments will always be additional unless you have pre-booked it as part of your travel package. Spas come in many guises but they all have one thing in common, after a visit you feel fabulous. Should your accommodation not incorporate spa facilities then the reception desk can usually furnish you with details of a local spa. Alternatively your concierge service can certainly book a visit for you.
7. Try a yoga retreat
If you are looking to completely switch off from the hustle and bustle of daily life, check yourself into a yoga retreat. Escapes are from as little as a day and offer a truly holistic experience. Most retreats offer other activities that complement yoga, such as swimming, massage, walking and getting in tune with the surrounding nature. After your peaceful retreat you are sure to come back to everyday life with renewed vigour and optimism.
8. Book a private guide
Unless you are on a group tour with a tour manager to arrange the logistics of your holiday, you may wish to hire a private guide. Not only do you get local expertise as you travel around but it can give you peace of mind in an unfamiliar country. This takes the strain of planning your journey from your shoulders as your guide will take care of all the details to ensure you have an excellent trip.
9. Eat great food
On holiday you want to experience the local culture of your destination. This includes trying the cuisine of the region. Don't just stay in the hotel restaurant, no matter how good the food is, you will miss out on one of the reasons you travel! Ask the hotel reception for recommendations or do some research on the internet to find out the best local eateries. You can even enroll on a cooking class to learn how to make your favourite local delicacies to enjoy at home. If this doesn't appeal you could always take a food tour instead.
10. Wear comfortable clothing
It sounds obvious but it really is important to wear comfy clothes on holiday, especially for travelling. On planes particularly you should wear loose clothing and shoes (ideally wear slippers or socks during the flight so your feet are not constricted). Scheduled airlines, especially if you have upgraded, will generally provide socks, blankets, eye masks and so on to add to your onboard comfort. Otherwise don't forget to pack these essentials. When in your destination be sure to dress appropriately for the climate and local customs.
Don't forget, if you have any mobility difficulties you can book airport assistance in advance. This can be done via your travel agent or direct with the airport (check out their website for details). For inbound journeys you cannot book in advance so will need to arrange this with the airline prior to your homeward journey. If you are on a Tasteful Travel tour you will be able to do this via your tour manager.
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