Welcome to my personal webpage at Travel Counsellors. Since graduating from Hull University (with a degree in Drama) I have gained nearly 30 years experience within various sectors of the travel industry. Previous positions have included overseas sailing instructor, holiday rep, corporate/VIP flight attendant, cabin crew manager, cruise product manager as well as long-haul and cruise sales. All of which have given me a broad knowledge of travel as a whole.
Having spent several of my childhood years in East Africa, I've had the travel bug from an early age, and have travelled extensively worldwide throughout my life. I've also been fortunate enough to live and work in Sweden, Bahrain and New Zealand.
My specialist areas of expertise are cruising, Australia/New Zealand, Africa and tailor-made long-haul itineraries, as well as honeymoons. However, I am able to book all types of holiday arrangements including UK breaks, European packages, flight only etc. I am an accredited specialist for Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Tahiti, the Caribbean, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai, South Africa and Namibia, as endorsed by the relevant tourism authorities.
I am also one of only a few Masters with CLIA (previously known as Association of Cruise Experts), and in December 2015 I was awarded "Cruise Expert of the Year" for UK & Ireland by a panel of leading industry executives. I have since also been nominated for, and awarded, various other national cruise awards, including River Cruise Ambassador. As a cruise specialist I cruise every year and visit as many ships as possible to familiarise myself with the different products on offer - in the last few years I have either cruised with or visited ships belonging to all of the major cruise lines.
Working from my office at home without the distractions and limitations of the high street, and the impersonality and noise of a call centre, I am available at a time that suits you. I offer exceptional customer service to ensure each and every trip exceeds your expectations. I will give a bespoke personal service when arranging your holiday requirements, whether it be a package, tailor-made holiday, business travel, flights or accommodation only and car hire.
If you would like regular updates of my special offers, please do get in touch.
I look forward to hearing from you and helping to plan your dream holiday.
Whatever your holiday needs I'm here to help you, so simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact details on and I can get things started for you:-
I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.
15 August 2020
Located off the east coast of Africa, and part of Tanzania, the island of Zanzibar is one of my favourite destinations. I was brought up in Kenya & Tanzania as a child and have fond memories of visiting Zanzibar on holiday. Recently I returned as an adult and here are my top tips: 1. Combine with a safari in Kenya or Tanzania for a truly magical experience 2. Do a multi-centre by combining a stay with the historic capital, Stone Town, and a beach hotel either on the mainland and/or one of the smaller islands such as Pemba 3. Visit Jozani forest...
12 July 2019
2 nights Anchorage, 3 nights Seward & 10 nights Alaska cruise on Azamara Quest from Seward to Vancouver Day 1: Anchorage Landing into Anchorage gave me my first glimpse of the stunning scenery and backdrop of the mountains. I stayed in an area of downtown called Ship Creek which is situated on the salmon river, popular with local fishermen. In order to get myself into the right time zone (9 hours behind the UK) I forced myself to stay up and go out, so I went to the Moose’s Tooth pizzeria and bar. This is renowned as having the 3rd...
12 July 2019
Day 6: Joining Azamara Quest Up most of the night to experience midsummers night in Alaska. Took photographs at 10pm, midnight, 4am, 5.30am (ship coming in!) - all in daylight. Packed in the morning and headed over to Zudys for a coffee before the hotel shuttle took me to the cruise terminal. A very quick and easy process here as only one ship in at a time in Seward as a whole, and as Azamara ships are small, I was there early and being a Discoverer level of Le Club Voyage (giving a priority queue) I sailed through and was on...
12 July 2019
Day 10: Juneau The largest port on our itinerary so far - although most shops seem to be tourist jewellery traps! I did manage to find a nice T-shirt though! Perfect port if you’re a cruise ship geek - apart from us there was also Golden Princess & Star Princess (both Princess Cruises) & MS Noordam (Holland America Line). Today I did another ship’s excursion called “Mendenhall Glacier & Whale watching photo safari”. This was a great tour led by a professional photographer with a very small group (only 9 of us), so he could take us to the best...
12 July 2019
Day 13: KETCHIKAN Sadly the final day in Alaska, before we headed down to Canada. Another beautiful day sailing into Ketchikan. We were the 2nd ship into port, but ended up being busy with 4 ships! Today’s excursion was another boat cruise - this time the Misty Fjords Wilderness Adventure. I’d been a little bit concerned that after all the magnificent trips I’d done that this would be slightly disappointing as it was billed as a scenic cruise, however it was excellent, with some wonderful scenery, excellent narration from the naturalist on board, and a fascinating talk from a...
03 May 2019
You’ve booked your cruise, and are all excited when you get on board. So, what should you do first? Here’s my top tips for things to do in the first couple of hours: Personally I try to get to the port in good time so that I can be one of the first on board. Please note however that some cruise lines, especially those with large ships, stagger the boarding process and you are given a check-in time so that they don’t have 6,000 guests all trying to check-in and board the ship at the same time – nothing worse than...
14 July 2017
Have you ever considered meandering along the waterways of southern France on a luxury barge, converted from an original working boat? No? Nor had I until I was invited to travel with Belmond on one of their “Afloat in France” barges on the River Saone. This is one of those rare products that unless you know of it already you wouldn’t know to ask for it – something truly special and once experienced a) never forgotten and b) desperate to be repeated! For all lovers of luxury, intimate travel, boutique high end accommodation or river cruising on a personal level, this...
19 June 2015
1. Type: Firstly decide on whether you are looking for an inside, ocean view, balcony cabin or suite. Take into consideration the size of the cabin, whether you might be claustrophobic, prefer a view (can check the weather when you wake up, and see the world go by), would like your own balcony to sit out on and get fresh air, whether you require entertaining space, space for a large family, concierge/butler service etc. Also at this stage, if you need a wheelchair adapted or disabled cabin with additional facilities, look at the options available. 2. Location: Check to see the location...
19 June 2015
Istanbul is the ultimate “East meets West” city, spanning both Europe and Asia. Many cruises start/end in Istanbul, and cruise lines have realised that this fascinating city deserves some time spent there, and therefore now include an overnight in port. However I would also recommend that you extend your stay pre- or post-cruise in order to make the most of this wonderful place, as there is so much to see and do, and to rush around would spoil the experience. Half the enjoyment of Istanbul is taking in the sights, sounds and smells, so take time to stop, people watch...
06 June 2015
In June I was part of a small group of Travel Counsellors to be hosted by Africa Collection on a wonderful educational trip to South Africa and Mauritius. We flew into Johannesburg with Virgin Atlantic, and transferred to our own privately chartered light aircraft for the 50 minute flight to Madikwe East airstrip. You can drive to Madikwe Game Reserve, but this takes 4.5 hours, so flying is the best option. Although little known to many first-time safari-goers, Madikwe is a great game drive destination, including the Big 5 - and is malaria-free. We stayed three nights in Madikwe, at three lodges...
23 July 2014
I travelled on my own on this holiday – Azamara is great for solo travellers due to the following reasons: Single supplements as low as 25% on selected cruises Small ships so more opportunity to get to know other guests and crew Officers and crew go out of their way to look after people on their own Special events for solo travellers e.g. hosted lunches and dinners. The lunch I attended was hosted by Alex and Alina – the professional ballroom dancers on-board – a lovely couple from Eastern Ukraine, and the dinner by Russ the Cruise Director. Cabin: I booked a grade 5 outside...
23 July 2014
For my personal holiday this summer I did a back to back cruise 14 night cruise on Azamara Quest. Itinerary: Athens – Chania, Crete – Day at sea – Kotor, Montenegro – Dubrovnik, Croatia – Korcula, Croatia – Venice (2 days) – Zadar, Croatia - Split, Croatia (overnight in port) – Hvar, Croatia (overnight in port) – Kotor, Montenegro – Dubrovnik, Croatia – Venice (overnight in port) Ports of call: I joined the ship in Piraeus (the port for Athens) – a pretty uninspiring place in itself, but the main port for the many ferries and cruise ships. I overnighted...
11 September 2013
Stockholm: This was our embarkation port, and we overnighted here before sailing the next afternoon. This is something Azamara is good at - allowing a couple of days in some ports, and sailing late at night to allow you to go ashore in the evening if you wish. Having been to Stockholm a couple of times before, I took the hop-on hop-off bus round the city. It is a great way to see everything in a short space of time. Helsinki: Being a small ship and a premium brand Azamara strives to obtain the best for its guests....
11 September 2013
Each year I try to get away over my birthday - last year was Prague, and this year I did a Baltic cruise on-board one of my favourite cruise ships, the Azamara Quest. The itinerary started in Stockholm and ended in Copenhagen. It included calls at Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn, Kiel, Warnemunde and Travemunde. The Azamara Quest is a premium ship which is small, with a relaxed style, refined feel and friendly atmosphere. I chose a cabin with a picture window, as I personally like to watch as the ship dock. It’s a great way to see the port and to get...
09 December 2012
II decided I needed a break at the end of the year, and chose Morocco as somewhere close to home that I wanted to explore. Morocco has culture, scenery and clear distinctions between the old town medina in Marrakech, the new Palmeraie area, and the beautiful mountains. I knew of several places I wanted to see, and ended up staying in three places over four nights - hardly a relaxing holiday! The first two nights were spent at the Angsana Riads Riad Blanc, situated 10 minutes’ walk from the main square, Jemma Al Fna in the old town of...
27 October 2012
Many people visit the east coast of Canada as part of a multi-centre holiday and, quite often, will visit the Niagara Falls region as a daytrip from Toronto. On my trip we went purely to Ontario and we stayed in Niagara, Toronto and Ottawa. Having flown into Toronto we transferred to Niagara, and checked into the Sheraton on the Falls hotel into a Falls view room – it’s definitely worth upgrading as the views and sound of the falls are magnificent. There is so much to do in and around Niagara that it is definitely worth staying in the area...
13 October 2012
It was recently my friend’s birthday and, as she had never been to Paris, she decided that she just had to visit the French capital before she hit the big 40! We decided to go for two nights and make it a long weekend. The Eurostar train service makes these sorts of trips very easy and manageable, with comfortable trains running frequently. We stayed at the lovely boutique hotel, Hotel Littre, located south of the river near Montparnasse. We'd opted for a superior room, and really appreciated the extra space it gave us, with a small hallway, large...
26 September 2012
I have just returned from 2 1/2 days at the Dusit Thani (yes I know - far too short!), and had the most amazing time. I am lucky enough to have experienced many luxury hotels both in the Maldives and around the world, and fell in love with this place. Recently opened, in February 2012, the Dusit Thani, situated in the Baa Atoll, is a perfect blend of Thai and Maldivian hospitality. It's a wonderful place to go and escape the world and leave all your cares behind. The resort is what I call "relaxed luxury" and gives you the...
28 June 2012
For my birthday I decided to visit Prague for 5 days - somewhere I'd always wanted to go. Travelling anywhere alone can be a little bit daunting but I had no trouble at all, and felt safe and welcome wherever I went. I chose a boutique hotel, the Archibald at Charles Bridge, having done hours of research, and am so glad that I did as it was the perfect choice in the perfect location. The hotel is situated on Kampa Island, just steps down from the famous Charles Bridge, on the Old Town side of the river, and has...
04 May 2009
Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to go on an educational trip to the Maldives. With the Maldives being a popular destination for honeymoons, anniversaries and luxury exotic holidays, it was a wonderful opportunity to see some of the islands for myself, and see what the different hotels have to offer. We visited a total of 8 properties, and did in-depth "site inspections" of each one, to give us a real insight into them. It was extremely useful to see these as although they are all 5* properties, each one of them is different in...
13 November 2008
The launch of a cruiseship is always a special occasion, but this time was the first one I'd attended in the US. Firstly I was very surprised just how close Port Everglades cruise terminal is to both Fort Lauderdale airport and good hotels in the area for pre and post cruise stays. Even flying in and out of Miami airport, as we did, was an easy 40 minute taxi journey. Solstice is the newest ship in Celebrity's 5* fleet, and definitely lives up to their reputation for elegant and stylish ships with 1st class service. Solstice is the...
28 October 2008
As one of the Australian Tourist Board's Premier agent I aim to visit Australia every year, and try to see and do things that I haven't covered before. My sister and her family live in Perth, and therefore Perth is normally always included in my trips, and this year was no exception. This October I took my dad with me (mum had been over for 2 months earlier in the year for the birth of her 3rd grandchild!), and we flew to Sydney with Etihad before connecting onto Qantas through to Perth. I hadn't flown with Etihad...
10 March 2008
HURTIGRUTEN'S MS TROLLFJORD TROMSO - KIRKENES This year saw a chance to tick off another thing on my list of things to see/do in my lifetime - seeing the Northern Lights! You may have seen the TV programme earlier this year with Joanna Lumley fulfilling her dream of seeing them, and being awestruck at the sight - well, it happened to me too. There is never any guarantee of seeing the Northern Lights, so to see them on 2 nights in a row was wonderful. The best way of having a chance of seeing them properly is to go somewhere...
Sent in by Angela Horton
Sutton Coldfield, 10 October 2021
This is the third cruise we've booked with Sarah and each time she has made the process very easy and stress-free. It's great to have Sarah at the end of an email to answer our queries and she always responds promptly. As our confidence in travel resumes we look forward to booking with Sarah again for our future holidays both sea and land.
Sent in by Marilyn Bays
Gateshead, 10 October 2021
Sarah Bolton of Travel Counsellors helped us book a very special holiday for 2023. She held Armchair Adventures & also raffled a 3 course meal with wine at a rather wonderful Asian Restaurant which I had the pleasure of winning. It was amazing. Sarah booked our holiday when we travelled across Canada and the service we received then was exceptional. I can't praise Sarah highly enough. She really goes the extra mile to get you what you want. I can't wait for our special holiday in 2023, I am confident that we'll be well looked after.
Sent in by Paul Maddison
Sidmouth, 10 October 2021
Very responsive and knowledgeable. Takes a lot of the stress out of the booking process and gives great advice.
Sent in by Nick Lumb
Wrexham, 10 October 2021
Sarah has (again) made my travel arrangements in an efficient manner and then gracefully changed them again when asked. So much more pleasant than wading through the sort of arrangements that I do not cope well with. Thank you Sarah Bolton :-)
Sent in by Huw Millington
Fareham, 10 October 2021
Sarah is always very helpful, and accommodating when travel plans change. I will not hesitate to book more holidays with her in future.
Sent in by Ian Carroll
Southend on Sea, 10 October 2021
Sarah has been a great help with our holiday planning, from securing a cruise we were unable to book because of demand, to helping us think outside our comfort zone and recommending exciting holidays we would never have looked at, she has helped with all aspects of the booking.
Sent in by Sarah Smits
Broxbourne, 20 August 2021
Always a 10 for Sarah! Faultless efficient and knowledgeable.
Sent in by Angela Horton
Sutton Coldfield, 16 August 2021
My first time of using a TC for booking a cruise and I was extremely impressed with how easy the process was. It was great to have Sarah's expertise and the travel documentation came through very quickly. I will certainly be contacting Sarah when I book my next cruise.
Sent in by Elaine Holland
Bedford, 10 July 2021
What I found most difficult was handing over control as so used to organising everything myself but due to these covid times it has been very useful to hand over the responsibility and not have to worry, once the decision was made! I would certainly recommend you Sarah, and thank you for your patience !
Sent in by Gary Bembridge
LONDON, 06 July 2021
Efficient, knowledgeable and great to work with.
Sent in by G Bembridge
London, 08 January 2021
Friendly. Knowledgeable. Efficient. Always cheerful (even when its all cancellations and rescheduling......!)
Sent in by Jennifer Mouser
Chelmsford, 23 March 2020
Very happy to recommend Sarah Bolton, which I do already to friends and family, such an excellent service is always offered.
Sent in by Matthew Reid
Southsea, 22 January 2020
Sarah Bolton at Travel Counsellors has consistently arranged our holidays with all the fine details taken care of. She’s got to know our preferences, while using her experience, knowledge and contacts that have always made sure we enjoy each trip.
Sent in by Elizabeth Penrose
Edinburgh, 27 November 2019
Sarah is incredible. Her service is impeccable. She always manages to find the perfect fit for our requests which are often made at the last minute. Couldn’t recommend her more highly.
Sent in by Gillian Townsend Green
Oakhampton, 06 November 2019
Sarah made the whole process easy and offered sensible advice - it would have taken me a long time to make all the bookings myself and I would probably have made mistakes and torn my hair out.
Sent in by Brian Peach
Chelmsford, 01 October 2019
Always gives great advice on getting the best from your holiday
Sent in by Hilary Banks
Liverpool, 20 September 2019
Sarah was really helpful patient and professional and talked me through all my options as a first time cruiser.
Sent in by Vesta Darnell
Bexhill on Sea, 30 August 2019
Sarah knows us well and gives good advice and help when we need it.
Sent in by Carol Booth
Kingham, 06 June 2019
Sarah is extremely helpful and courteous.
Sent in by Jill Jackson
High Easter, 31 May 2019
Sarah satisfied our brief perfectly and made the whole booking process straightforward and easy. I have no hesitation in recommending her.
Sent in by S Bell
Maldon, 14 August 2018
Sarah has a wealth of knowledge of the travel industry and her service is always prompt, informative and courteous.
Sent in by Jennifer Burt
Bishop's Stortford, 05 June 2018
We have just booked our honeymoon through Sarah, our local Travel Counsellor in Bishop’s Stortford and we have been delighted with the service that she offered. We didn’t really know exactly what we wanted and she had lots of suggestions. Sarah was happy to change our quote multiple times until we reached the perfect holiday which we were after.
Sent in by Jennifer Lupton
Milton Keynes, 24 April 2018
Sarah was fantastic in finding us a holiday which fitted all our criteria. She patiently answered all questions and gave knowledgeable answers without prejudice. We would definitely use her services again and highly recommend her, to both seasoned travellers and those just starting to explore new travel options alike!
Sent in by Yvonne Theophilus
Madrid, 27 October 2017
A reliable and friendly service. Sarah comes up with ideas we wouldn't have thought of on our own. Takes the pain and worry out of organising a relaxing and interesting holiday!
Sent in by G Wickham
Maldon, 25 September 2017
Sarah is always very efficient, helpful and friendly and will go the extra mile to to put together the holiday of your choice.
Sent in by Heather Blenkinsop
Southbury, 13 March 2017
Fantastic, friendly support and service. I highly recommend Sarah Bolton!
Sent in by Jane Rigg
Huddersfield, 28 February 2017
Sarah has looked after us for many years. She is knowledgeable, pleasant, patient and efficient. Can't ask for much more!
Sent in by B Clark
Bristol, 13 February 2017
One phone call - I left a message and had a call back within 15 mins. I explained our requirements and was given six options within an hour, from which we chose our holiday. The personal service was excellent and follow up e mails with all the information you needed was very helpful. The experience was hassle free - brilliant
Sent in by Tony Wakefield
Sawbridgeworth, 09 January 2017
I had an amazing time and absolutely loved New York. I was very pleased with everything Sarah did to ensure I had a great holiday, and can't wait to go back next year. Once again Sarah thanks for everything you've done.
Sent in by Janet Wilson`
Millom, 09 January 2017
Having received top class service and advice from Sarah Bolton, we knew what to expect - the best!
From the pristine white-sand beaches of Thailand’s idyllic islands to the sprawling wide-open roads of the USA; the historic and breathtakingly beautiful architecture of India to the crystal-clear turquoise waters of the Maldives – there’s a world of wonder out there and it’s just waiting to be explored.
Contact me on 02380 981420