My Year in Travel 2018

Catherine Mackey on 28 December 2018
In 2018 I’ve created some wonderful trips – including tailor-made adventures, cruises, safaris, road trips, luxury beach getaways, city breaks, honeymoons, school trips, business travel, and ending the year with lots of families enjoying the magic of Lapland. I’ve also been lucky to visit some exciting destinations - seven of these being places I’ve never been to before and one new continent – South America!


Travel Counsellors are at the forefront of making travel accessible for all. In January I completed specialist training and now have the tools at my fingertips to plan travel for anyone with simple or complex access requirements. I’m proud to be able to offer this highly personal service, enabling EVERYONE to enjoy wonderful travel experiences all over the world.


Karl and I took a trip to Krakow, a vibrant city steeped in over a thousand years of history. We enjoyed a food tour of the local restaurants and bars, visited the labyrinthine Wieliczka Salt Mine with its spectacular underground cathedral, and spent a sobering day visiting Auschwitz.

In half term Travel Counsellors held a TC Kids event where we learnt from real-life NASA astronaut, Nicole Stott, and came home with bags of NASA space ice cream! If we visit Florida in the future, we will definitely be including a visit to the Kennedy Space Centre.


I travelled to Italy for a CLIA Conference on board Carnival Horizon. I spent the day before embarkation in Naples, taking the funicular railway to Castel Sant’Elmo for panoramic views over the city, the sea and Mount Vesuvius. We stayed in the Spanish Quarter with its network of back alleys, where laundry hangs from balconies and mopeds zip around at breakneck speed over the cobbles – just like in the movies! Our cruise also visited Rome and Pisa, where we took the train to Florence for lunch al fresco before returning home. The Carnival Horizon is great for fun loving families with its Dr Seuss themed water park!


A busy month for ship visits including the beautiful Viking Sun, Cunard’s classic Queen Victoria and food lovers Oceania Nautica.

I also went on a mini-cruise on the re-launch of one of the UK’s favourite cruise ships, Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas, after her multi-million-pound makeover. This ship is perfect for active families and groups of friends with its rock-climbing wall, waterslides, laser tag, escape room, bungee trampoline, surf simulator and ice-skating rink.

In May I did my first ever slot on Trafford Sound radio. I must have said all the right things as I’ve been invited back every month since for a regular spot! Follow my Facebook page to find out when I’m on next!


I went on a wildlife safari in Kenya with one of my favourite suppliers of adventure travel, Intrepid. It was an amazing experience, shared with an international group of travel agents. We explored rural Kenya, were welcomed by singing villagers, camped out under the stars with Maasai Warriors and saw the Big 5 in the Maasai Mara.

In June I was proud to be part of the Urmston in Bloom project. I volunteered to adopt a couple of planters in Urmston town centre, watering my floral displays over the summer. Thankfully my daughters were on hand to help with the watering and tidying to make Urmston look blooming lovely!


In July I visited Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth in Liverpool – completing the full set of all three Cunard ships! This year our family holiday was also a cruise. We set off on Ms Magellan from our local port of Liverpool calling at Dublin, La Coruna, Cadiz, Gibraltar, Lisbon, Porto & La Rochelle. It was a wonderful family holiday. We were blessed with amazing weather, and the children loved visiting lots of different countries in one holiday and floating about in the pools and Jacuzzis on board the ship.


In August I visited Fred Olsen’s Black Watch, a wonderful ship providing a home from home whilst exploring the oceans.

At the end of August, we set off on our annual trip to our favourite music festival, Solfest, in Cumbria, for a long weekend of no Wi-Fi, letting our hair down, dressing as we please, late night dancing and enjoying great music. It's our favourite weekend of the year!


September ship visits included MSC Magnifica in Newcastle and Seabourn Ovation in Liverpool.

I also visited Arabia with Fred Olsen, on board Ms Boudicca, starting in Oman, visiting Qatar, and ending in Abu Dhabi. I would highly recommend a cruise in this part of the world. There is so much to see, and you can return to the ship to cool down in the pool, sip ice-cold cocktails and beautiful sunset sail-aways. Highlights were an excursion on a traditional Dhow in the Omani fjords with dolphins swimming right alongside and visiting the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi at sunset.

In September I was very proud to complete my training to become a CLIA Cruise Master, the highest level of accreditation in the cruise industry, reached with the completion of many hours of training, lots of ship visits, blogs (and cruises!)


In October I travelled to Brazil, visiting Rio de Janeiro and Salvador - two equally vibrant but completely different cities by the sea. Brazil is a diverse destination and I’d love to go back and explore more of the country, especially the Amazon. Rio highlights included standing at the foot of Christ The Redeemer watching it appear from behind the mist and visiting the Carnival Factory with a top-secret insight into next year's Carnival floats. Salvador is a colourful, vibrant and musical city where locals genuinely do spontaneously samba in the streets!


November is Travel Counsellors annual conference - a weekend filled with learning and motivational speakers including Olympian Sir Chris Hoy. Evening entertainment included Craig David, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Marti Pellow! It was also great to catch up in person with my TC friends from across the world.


I spent lots of time at Manchester Airport visiting aircraft and learning about the service on board Qatar Airways A350 with its World’s Best Business Class, Emirates mega A380 with its on board cocktail bar, and I took part in a fly-around short flight with Ethiopian Airways to launch their new route from Manchester to Addis Ababa and a new gateway to Africa.

Wishing you happy travels in 2019 Xx