Based in Maidstone

Trevor Smith

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Explore Majestic Landscapes: Canadian Rockies and Alaskan Cruise Adventure

Welcome to a once-in-a-lifetime journey that seamlessly combines the breathtaking beauty of the Canadian Rockies with the awe-inspiring allure of an Alaskan cruise. Prepare to embark on an unforgettable expedition that will take you through two of North America's most stunning natural wonders. Whether you're an adventurous soul seeking thrill or a nature enthusiast craving tranquillity, this unique travel experience promises to exceed your expectations.

The Canadian Rockies: Nature's Masterpiece

Your adventure begins amidst the towering peaks, crystal-clear lakes, and dense forests of the Canadian Rockies. Immerse yourself in the grandeur of Banff National Park, where emerald waters reflect the surrounding mountains and lush meadows stretch as far as the eye can see. Traverse the iconic Icefields Parkway, a scenic highway that winds through glaciers and alpine landscapes, offering jaw-dropping vistas at every turn. Witness the striking turquoise hues of Lake Louise, and if you're feeling adventurous, take a guided hike to explore the wilderness up close.

Setting Sail for Alaskan Wonders

After immersing yourself in the Rockies, your journey continues with an Alaskan cruise that ventures into the heart of the Last Frontier. Set sail through the pristine waters of the Inside Passage, where dramatic fjords, ancient glaciers, and abundant marine wildlife await your discovery. Keep your camera ready to capture the awe-inspiring sight of humpback whales breaching and bald eagles soaring overhead. Shore excursions will unveil the rich cultural heritage of Alaskan towns, offering a chance to interact with locals and sample regional cuisine.

The Benefits of Using a Travel Agent

While the allure of planning your own travel is strong, partnering with a skilled travel agent can elevate your experience in numerous ways:

Expert Guidance: A travel agent possesses in-depth knowledge of the destinations, ensuring you receive personalized recommendations and insider tips that match your preferences and interests.

Time-Saving Convenience: Leave the time-consuming research, itinerary planning, and bookings to the experts, freeing you to focus on anticipation and excitement.

Tailored Experiences: Travel agents craft custom itineraries that align with your desires, ensuring you make the most of your journey and experience the hidden gems that only a seasoned traveller would know.

Peace of Mind: In the event of unexpected changes or issues during your trip, your travel agent will be there to assist, providing a safety net and allowing you to relax and enjoy every moment.

Value and Savings: Travel agents have access to exclusive deals, promotions, and packages that can often result in cost savings and added value for your adventure.

Embark on Your Dream Journey

Are you ready to explore the rugged elegance of the Canadian Rockies and the mesmerizing allure of an Alaskan cruise? Let us take care of every detail and create an unforgettable adventure that caters to your every desire. Contact our experienced travel agents today and get ready to embark on an extraordinary voyage that will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime. Your dream vacation is just a phone call away.


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Norway Fjords Criuse

24 May 2023

Title: Exploring the Majestic Wonders: Unveiling the Best Things on a Norway Fjords Cruise Introduction: Norway, a land of breathtaking landscapes and natural wonders, offers a unique and unforgettable experience through its fjords. A Norway Fjords Cruise presents an opportunity to immerse oneself in the awe-inspiring beauty of this Scandinavian paradise. Join us as we delve into the best things one can experience on such a captivating journey. Awe-Inspiring Scenic Beauty: Embarking on a Norway Fjords Cruise unveils a world of unparalleled natural beauty. The fjords, carved by ancient glaciers, showcase majestic cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and serene valleys. Sail through the Geirangerfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and be enthralled by its sheer size and ethereal charm. Witness the pristine beauty of the Sognefjord, the longest fjord in Norway, and immerse yourself in the dramatic landscapes that surround it. Every moment spent on deck will leave you captivated by the grandeur of nature. Charming Coastal Towns: One of the highlights of a Norway Fjords Cruise is the opportunity to visit charming coastal towns. Explore Bergen, a picturesque city with its colorful wooden houses and bustling fish market. Wander through Stavanger's narrow streets and marvel at its beautifully preserved old town. Discover Ålesund's Art Nouveau architecture, adorned with intricate details. These towns offer a glimpse into Norway's rich history and culture, while their warm and welcoming atmosphere creates an unforgettable experience. Wildlife Encounters: A Norway Fjords Cruise offers remarkable encounters with diverse wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for seals, dolphins, and porpoises as they gracefully glide through the fjords. Look to the skies to spot majestic sea eagles soaring overhead, their wingspan a sight to behold. During certain times of the year, you may witness the incredible spectacle of migrating whales. Whether it's a fleeting glimpse or a close encounter, these encounters with Norway's wildlife will leave you with cherished memories. Active Adventures: For adventure enthusiasts, a Norway Fjords Cruise is a gateway to thrilling activities. Explore the fjords by kayak or take a hike along the breathtaking trails that meander through the mountains. Feel the adrenaline rush as you go fishing or try your hand at rafting in the fast-flowing rivers. The Norwegian fjords offer countless opportunities for outdoor adventures, allowing you to connect with nature in an exhilarating way. Conclusion: Embarking on a Norway Fjords Cruise is an experience that will leave you in awe of nature's magnificence. From the mesmerizing fjords to the charming coastal towns, and the thrilling wildlife encounters to the adventurous activities, each moment will be etched in your memory. Prepare to be captivated as you explore this Nordic wonderland.

The Bernina Express and St Moritz

03 September 2022

I love train travel and this holiday combined with a business thoughts on checking out what can be done was an amazing break. Travelling from London St Pancras on Eurostar to Paris with an overnight break in Paris Holiday Inn near Gare de Lyon made it an easy day on day two to travel from Paris to St Moritz, firstly on the High Speed TGV line to Zurich then transferring to regional services via Landquart to St Moritz. Leaving Paris at 0722, I arrived in St Moritz around 3pm with a quick snack in Zurich. The everchanging scenery from the UK to Paris and then through to Switzerland was a hassle free and exciting journey with fairly short change, but manageable, change of trains. On arriving at St Moritz station, I was greeted by the concierge and transferred the short distance to the hotel, where a warm greeting an a welcome drink was enjoyed whilst speaking with staff and what the hotel and region had on offer. During the Summer Season, hotels give you a pass for unlimited free travel on regional 2nd class transport as well as discounts on many other attractions- great to chat over a drink the options available. My room in the Boutique Monopole Art Hotel was a Superior room overlooking the town square and within a very short walk to all. Photos speak for themselves about the journey but the Bernina Express has a long history from the 19th Century to date and the train from St Moritz had huge panoramic windows and good seating. As my trip was mainly focussed on the trains, hotels and attractions, I booked the Bernina Express from St Moritz departing at 0917hrs to Tirano in Italy then a return at 1315 back to St Moritz - definitely worth a stay in St Moritz and the return journey as so much to see and enjoy scenically! The train gave a two ten minute photo opportunities, one in each direct at Alp Grum, the highest point on the line with magnificent views overlooking the valley and also the glacier above. Check with me options for train travel from your home through to Switzerland and how to enjoy all this amazing (and others) train journeys has to offer in Switzerland. I am available, seven days a week, to look at any train travel in the UK, Europe and around the World.

Scottish Highlands Tour

01 December 2021

Over the past thirty and more years, I have been to the Highlands of Scotland over 150 times also with combinations that include Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness. The small Victorian Spa Village of Strathpeffer has been my base for the majority of my trips as it is fairly central to complete day excursions to the West and East Coasts as well as visiting Speyside. My passion over the years is Scenic holidays, mainly self drive but also love a train! The base of Strathpeffer is ideal to do two main Scotrail lines - The Kyle Line to Kyle of Lochalsh and the North Line to Golspie. The two other journeys are steam hauled with on the Strathspey Line between Aviemore and Broomhills and the famous "Harry Potter" line between Fort William and Mallaig - the Jacobite Steam Train. Great touring also includes great viewpoints and over the years I have definitely benefitted from having my own guide showing my:- Ratagain, Struie Hill, Beallach na Ba and also the best places to stop - Plockton, Eillean Donan Castle, Dunrobin Castle & Gardens, Cairngorms and so much more. In 2022, I will be hosting trips to the Scottish Highlands to share my love of this whole area and would love to share my secrets of what to do and where to go. I do have a separate website showing these day excursions in more details - please ask me for more details of search TrevorsTravelTours on Facebook. Be great to see you and personally show you around my favourite destination.

Amsterdam - Step free from home to ship, Cruise & Crews

10 July 2019

There’s so much more to the Netherlands than windmills, tulips and cheese. Renowned for being pancake-flat, the Netherlands is a hotbed of world-class art, exciting culture, and forward-thinking architecture. And now, it’s a doddle to get there from London St Pancras International, and so easy to get to without flying. I decided that as I had not done the direct Eurostar Service from the UK to Amsterdam - the return is indirect at this stage until immigration and customs facilities are available at Amsterdam, I would try it. To get a better experience of what Eurostar has to offer, I always find out more by speaking to staff in the actual travel cabin of the overall experience. I decided that, as Standard Premier was showing cheaper than Economy that it would be a great option. Check in at St Pancras was effortless and I completed all formalities, check in, security and passport control all within five minutes. I did arrive around an hour before departure as St Pancras does get busy and there were four trains departing for Paris, Brussels, Marseilles and Amsterdam in just over seventy minutes. The service was excellent, with the cabin steward greeting me by name, asking whether I had travelled Eurostar before (yes I have from Marseilles, Brussels, Paris and Euro Disney), and whether I needed assistance. Once the train was loaded I was informed on a one to one basis, what service I would receive for the journey, breakfast, drinks, more drinks, more snacks and then a snack box for lunch before arrival into Amsterdam! Over the past few years, I have taken an active interest into looking and also catering for disability friendly travel, where travel is "for all at any time". I checked about wheelchair access and was informed that they had a ramp and also wheelchair duo seats, where a seated wheelchair user can be seated opposite a carer, spouse opposite a table - a nice touch as a couple can be a couple and be free as they would be at home. I have just returned from Amsterdam after an amazing weekend courtesy of Holland America Cruise Lines. On this visit, I was travelling with around forty colleagues all from Travel Counsellors, Holland America Management and our Product Executive from our Head office. We had a great afternoon at leisure to explore Amsterdam in our smaller groups before getting together for a drinks reception in our hotel, not mentioned it yet, but the Double Tree by Hilton, less than ten minute walk from my train arriving into Amsterdam Central Station. After our drinks reception we had a short walk to Lovers Canal Cruise for a two hour dinner cruise through the amazing Canals of Amsterdam to see the sights from our dinner table and get to meet our fellow colleagues and new made friends. Sunday morning, the hotel had a great Dutch breakfast selection including an English Breakfast. We then had a short walk to the Ocean Cruise Terminal, but on our way passed around six other river cruise ships as it was also their turn around day. Amsterdam Cruise Ship Terminal in Amsterdam was great and again, step free from the hotel to the check in and then onto the ship - as we were all agents, we embarked the cruise ship all together with very little effort and was then greeted by our Holland America Team on board. We firstly greeted by a welcome drink and entertainment, before then a full ships visit - over twelve decks, from restaurants, dining options, entertainment options, food options, spa facilities, gym facilities, swimming pools, private cabanas, Microsoft training, shore excursions office, casino, library, and much much more. Of course, the main reason is always to be able to view cabins, and as the Nieuw Statendam, Holland Americas newest Cruise Ship was also on a turnaround day then we did see all cabin category types, from Inside, Outside, Balcony and Suites, including family suites and cabins to accessible cabins for wheelchair users. We ended with an exceptional dinner experience in their Pinnacle Dining Room for a four course meal, birthday singalong and drinks throughout. Ending our visit to the Holland America Nieuw Statendam, we had farewell talks from our Hosts form Holland America and our HO Product Executive. The return for me was a very quick flight form Schipol back to Doncaster, but I am sure I could have got home quicker by trains! I am eagerly awaiting for Eurostar to announce that they have all Customs and Immigration facilities open in Amsterdam for a direct service back to London, but again feel that I could have easily have done the indirect trains back to the UK via Brussels Journey time by Eurostar was less than four hours...… The total time from leaving the ship and getting home was more than Eight! I love trains and so much easier than flying.

Disability weekend in Derbyshire

03 June 2019

Being a Travel Agent dealing in all travel for all, can be quick and easy at times then at other times needs a lot more thought, consideration and planning. My mother, whose health has not been in a good state for several years now, loves to get out and has always travelled through the UK and Europe, but now with very limited walking, sometimes can manage with a stroller and sometimes needs a wheelchair, especially where there could be more walking that normal. I have now decided that best holidays for both my parents are with me as driver, love doing this as for around fourteen years, I did escorted touring as a coach driver/tour manager, so many things to consider. Car hire - the car needs to be low enough to the road as not to have a large step into the car and enough luggage for wheelchair. stroller and luggage. Avis Maidstone in Kent are amazing and can cater to my requests - this really helps my decisions and helps me take my parents away. Next, hotel choice is important and being able to request a Twin Room adapted for wheelchair use and again having the space is important- the Holiday Inn Riverlights Derby have amazing staff and I was allocated rooms specific to my requests at the time of booking, with my parents room being the first door from the lift. This helped and my mum decided that she could actually use the stroller in the hotel. Derby has many dropped kerbs and much step free access into the city, the market and to the car park. It made my role as "carer" so much easier to look after my parents so we could all enjoy the holiday together. The hotel has great staff throughout and we had a table allocated for dinner and breakfast again with no steps throughout and spacious area to relax and enjoy our meals together. Our four day break involved calling at elderly relatives that we had not seen for more than seven years on the journey from Kent to Derbyshire, a visit to the Crich Tramway Museum and also the National Arboretum so that my parents could pay their respects to a cousin who was killed in 1958 in a conflict in Malta. The Crich Tramway Village were great with disabled parking by the entrance and a marked route suitable for a wheelchair as I had no intention of allowing my mum to attempt walking. The highlight really, other than the history and trams etc was the fact they have a wheelchair adapted tram so my mum could actually do all that me and dad where doing. Again, step free access throughout, albeit a little hilly in places, worked very well. I was really impressed also that I was allowed free entrance as looking after my parents. The twenty or so minute round trip tram ride was brilliant and the driver and conductor could not have been more pleasant to us, especially ensuring that my mother was comfortable and was ok through the ride. Another highlight over the weekend was a visit to the National Memorial Museum and again we were warmly greeted by staff who apologized, as they were busy with National Service Day that a space was not a close to the entrance as normal, luckily I managed to park four spaces from the entrance and with the wheelchair, it caused no inconvenience at all. Again, pleasantly surprised that the whole amazing experience at the National Memorial Museum was step free, clean tidy and had all that we needed - again I could wheel my mum to see her cousin’s memorial at the main memorial area as well as the RAF Memorial. Accessible travel and "travel for all" is something that I am proud to say that with my mother sometimes dependent on a wheelchair is helping me understand all accessible issues for travel, accommodations and facilities at venues/ events and attractions. I also organise an annual holiday for a Partially Sighted group where there is a 1:1 ratio between carer and less abled person. Contact me seven days a week to assist in your perfect holiday.

A day on Gozo

19 September 2017

This is my Day Trip to Gozo from my Hotel on Malta. Meet your guide at the hotel lobby and proceed to Golden Bay. Golden Bay is a stunning sandy beach set within a cliff face, located along unspoiled Maltese countryside. The bay offers one of the most remarkable sunsets in Malta. The azure blue Mediterranean Sea and cliffs surrounding the bay provide an excellent spot for swimming and snorkelling which both adults and children can enjoy. The beach has its own beach hut cafes, sunbeds and water sports available. Enjoy a meeting with Borg Watersports. Take the ferry to Gozo. You will be greeted by your driver at Mgarr terminal and proceed to Ggantija Temples. Explore the Ggantija Temples in Xaghra. The Ggantija Temples are the oldest, free-standing monuments in the world, created 1,000 years before the famous Egyptian pyramids of Giza. The temples are a unique architectural masterpiece and a witness to an exceptional prehistoric culture renowned for its remarkable architectural, artistic and technological achievements. The temple builders used locally available stone; hard coralline limestone for external walls and the softer globigerina limestone for the sheltered interiors and decorative elements. Enjoy a tour of the Citadel; a small fortified city and citadel which lies in the heart of Victoria on the island of Gozo, Malta. The area has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, and in the medieval era it was known as the Gran Castello. Enjoy a light lunch at Ta Philip. This was an amazing restaurant and our host excelled with the quality of food, and the restaurant is fully accessible by all. Tour Dwerja; the area where up until a few months ago the famous Azure Window stood - an impressive natural arch which stood twenty metres high. The landscape is still incredibly beautiful and you can view the Inland Sea - a secluded bathing pool with crystal clear waters surrounded by sheer cliff faces - perfect for snorkellers and divers. Tour the Qbajjar Salt Pans. Carved out from the natural limestone rock, these salt pans are still in use today; 350 years after their origin. The moon-like plains are used to collect salt water which later evaporates; leaving behind raw rock salt. You will be met by Joseph Attard at Gozo Quad Hire to proceed to a Quad Bike Tour. Take the ferry back to Malta.

My experience in Malta

19 September 2017

We arrived at Malta International Airport aboard EZY8823 and greeted by our guide Audrey Marie (she was actually in the Eurovision Country Final for Malta in 2010) at the Malta International Airport Arrivals Lounge to proceed to Valletta. My Itinerary for this Tourist Board trip is below Visit the Upper Barrakka Gardens; a beautiful public garden in Valletta, Malta. The gardens offer a stunning panoramic view of the Grand Harbour and date back to 1661, when it was a private garden of the Italian Knights. Marvel at St John’s Co-Cathedral. The jaw-dropping interior elaborately adorned by Mattia Preti is widely considered to be the best example of baroque style anywhere in Europe. The magnificent Cathedral is also home to the only signed work and largest painting by Caravaggio. Enjoy a light lunch at Caffe Cordina. All aboard a harbour crossing with A&S Water Taxis. Embark on a Rolling Geeks tour exploring the Three Cities; a collective description of the three fortified cities of Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua in Malta. The oldest of the Three Cities is Birgu, which has existed since the Middle Ages. The other two cities, Senglea and Cospicua, were both founded by the Order of Saint John in the 16th and 17th centuries. Despite their picturesque narrow streets and stunning views, the village-like ‘Three Cities’, Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua, are surprisingly off the tourist radar. Explore Vittoriosa; one of the Three Cities of the Cottonera District is still rich in history despite the damage suffered in the bombing of World War Two. Originally known as Birgu, derived from “Borgo” the Mediterranean term for a coastal village under the shelter of a fort or castle, its honorific name of Vittoriosa was granted as a result of its victorious stand in the Great Siege of 1565. Discover the Collachio Area in the old quarter, where the Knights had their inns or auberges, is the quaintest part of Vittoriosa. Visit the Couvre Porte was a complex system of gateways through which one could gain access into Vittoriosa. The Catacombs of St. Paul are not themselves associated with Paul but derive their name from their proximity to St. Paul’s Church. They are a fascinating labyrinth of 3rd-century AD subterranean tombs and the earliest archaeological evidence of Christianity in Malta. St. Paul’s Catacombs incorporates tombs for more than 1,000 bodies in 2,200 square meters. The few surviving murals, although fragmentary, are important as they constitute the only surviving evidence on Malta of painting from this period. Enjoy a Segway tour of Mdina. The history of Mdina and its suburb Rabat is as old and as chequered as the history of Malta itself. The origins of Mdina, Malta’s medieval capital, can be traced back to more than 4,000 years. Mdina is still home to Malta’s noble families and impressive palaces line its narrow, shady streets. Mdina is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city and unusual in its mix of medieval and Baroque architecture. Lamp lit by night, Mdina transforms itself into the ‘Silent City’. Enjoy lunch at Trattoria AD1530 in Mdina. Explore the Dingli cliffs, located beside the village of Dingli, on Malta’s Western coast. They are the highest point of the Maltese Islands and stand at around 253 metres above sea-level. Dingli Cliffs are an impressive sight when viewed from sea level on an island cruise. From the cliff tops, one of the most striking views and sheerest drops is just west of Dingli village. Discover the Hagar Qim & Mnajdra Temples. Tucked in a hollow in the cliffs on Malta’s southern coast, these temples are probably the most atmospheric of all Malta’s temples. They lie in an isolated position on a rugged stretch of coast over-looking the isle of Filfla. The surrounding area is a designated Heritage Park. Take a trip to the picturesque Blue Grotto and its neighbouring system of caverns that mirror the stunning phosphorescent colours of the underwater flora. The Blue Grotto, located near “Wied iz-Zurrieq” - south of the town of Zurrieq, is a popular dive site because of the crystal-clear azure waters. The site also featured in the film Troy (2004) starring Brad Pitt.

Day Out to the Oceania Cruise Ship Nautica

22 July 2017

I had the opportunity to visit the Oceania Cruise Ship Nautica when it called into Leith, Edinburgh so decided to make a weekend of it and spend the night at the Holiday Inn Express, just hundred yards or so from the Ocean Terminal of Leith. Arriving by Train at Edinburgh Waverley from Doncaster, the Ocean Terminal and the Holiday Inn Express is just a short bus journey (bus number 22 and costs £1.60 singles or £4 a day rover). The Ocean terminal shopping centre has many shops and also great places to eat. For those arriving by ship into Leith, of course the reverse is good, bus 22 is just a few minutes walk from the port and takes you to Princes Street and easy walk from there to all the major tourist attractions including the Royal Mile and the Castle. A short piece about the Oceania Cruise Ship Nautica below. The acclaimed Ship Nautica has undergone a multimillion-dollar transformation to create a virtually new ship that is both sleek and elegantly charming. Her decks are resplendent in the finest teak, custom stone and tile work, and her lounges, suites and staterooms boast luxurious, neo-classical furnishings. Nautica offers every luxury you may expect on board one of our stylish ships. She features four unique, open-seating restaurants, a world-class fitness center and spa, eight lounges and bars, a casino and 342 lavish suites and luxurious staterooms, nearly 70% of which feature private verandas. With just 684 guests to pamper, our 400 professionally trained European staff ensure you will wait for nothing. If you wish to talk to me about this cruise, port or other ports and cruises that I have done then please contact me at any time.

Pandas in Chengdu, China

25 June 2017

Giant Panda Base - the main reason to visit Chengdu in China and definitely the highlight of our short trip here! It was an amazing full day to see the two hundred hectare park! Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base is the world's only thematic museum for rare and endangered wild animal species. The base is the best destination to know the giant pandas. The base is composed by functional areas like giant panda disease prevention and control area, rehabilitation area, public education area, logistics area, and natural landscape area. It also has supervision dorm, giant panda disease control and prevention research centre, veterinary hospital, scientific research and education centre, feeding management room and other buildings to meet the demand in rescue, breeding, nursing management of giant pandas. It's definitely worth visiting to see these incredible animals.

Touring from Chengdu, China

25 June 2017

Scenic Touring from Chengdu The Dujiangyan scenic spot was around two hours from the Centre of Chengdu so over two days we stayed at a Hotel in the Qingcheng Mountain area called Qing Yuan Hotel - a five star hotel with plenty to occupy ourselves. A short walk from this hotel was a Spa resort with hot springs and spa treatments available. The Dujiangyan Dam, around 45km north of Chengdu, is an ancient technological wonder of the country. More than 2000 years ago, Li Bing (250-200BC), as a local governor of the Shu State, designed this water control and irrigation dam and organized thousands of local people to complete the project to check the Mingjiang River, a tributary of the River Yantze. For many years the river, flooded the Chengdu agricultural area and local farmers suffered a lot from the water disaster. Due to the success of the project, the dam automatically diverts the Mingjiang River and channels it into irrigation canals. For many years the dam has continued to make the most of the water conservancy works. I found this amazing experience to see how water can be controlled by flow of water down various channels rather than have a fixed built dam. Mount Qingcheng was too short for me and I could have spent a couple of days here exploring the two different mountain areas rather than just the one mountain area - please be advised that the "climb" was on uneven steps and around 3500 steps up and then the same down. Parts of this was completed also by a motorised tram, a lake crossing by a Chinese boat and also a cable car. This would not be easy for some with limited walking difficulties although I was pleased with myself with this climb, a climb that I could not have done a couple of years ago, so proved to be a fantastic personal achievement following the past three years recovery from my car crash in the UK. Mount Qingcheng is around 65km west of Chengdu, Qingchengshan Mountain is one of the ancient cradles of Daoism. The mountain has numerous Daoist temples and sites along the paths to its peak. The area is green all year round and is known for its secluded tranquility. About halfway up the mountain sits Tianshi Cave (Tianshi Dong) the temple and school of Zhang Daolin, a famous Daoist master who taught here and contributed greatly to spreading Daoism in China. Mt. Qingcheng is located at the Dujiangyan scenery spot of Chengdu, Sichuan province. Surrounded by countless peaks and densely covered by ancient trees whose branches reaching the sky, the mountain was named "Mt. Qingcheng" (Green Town in Chinese). The anterior mountain is famous for its beautiful scenery and numerous cultural and historic sites; while the posterior mountain is noted for its paradisiacal scenery, primitive and brilliant, gorgeous and mysterious. Anren Ancient Town was a day trip from our base in Chengdu: Anren Ancient Town in Dayi County has a long history, established under the Jiannan Daoqiong Prefecture. Anren Ancient Town is a famous historical and cultural town, one of top six tourist attractions of the province. There are many Provincial Key Cultural Relic Protection Units in the town, such as Liu’s Manor. The quaint streets and houses in the town make it a famous spot for ancient picture shooting.

Downtown Las Vegas

14 May 2017

Downtown Las Vegas is a 'must do/see' whilst anyone goes to Las Vegas and below are just two of what you can see and do. The area around Freemont Street has been revitalized over the last few years and now is a buzz of old and new. The Mob Museum is a fascinating museum of the "Mob' in the USA and also in and around the Las Vegas area. A visit here should last around 90-120 minutes. The main part of our visit to Downtown Las Vegas was to experience "Lip Smacking Tour" This 'tour" hosted and guided by the Companies President - Donald Contursi lasted around 3 hours taking in the sights and sounds of the Freemont Downtown area and for us, one of the highlights of our visit to Las Vegas. We met at the John E Carson Hotel (this is no longer a hotel but a base for all things new in Downtown) to meet Donald to experience the four establishents - Carson Kitchen, Therapy, Banger Brewing and finally Turmeric @CarsonKitchen @Therapy_LV @BangerBrewing @LipSmackingTour Amazing set of sample menus greeted us at these four places with around 20 dishes and drinks served by the owners of each place. Do not miss this and also Freemont Street, Container Park and also perhaps the ZipLine. Contact me for more details...

On a High in Las Vegas and Higher

14 May 2017

On Sunday 7th May, I met with other travel agents at Gatwick for a four night trip to Las Vegas, travelling on a near eleven hour flight to Las Vegas, we arrived mid afternoon for the transfer to the Encore Hotel. The Wynn & Encore Hotels are a vision of gleaming gold towers and adds the look and feel of luxury to the Strip skyline. Along with its acclaimed entertainment, upscale shops and celebrity chef-laden restaurants, the serene environment incorporated scenic gardens, a manmade mountain, a three-acre lake with a mesmerizing waterfall, a relaxing spa and also a golf-course. The Encore Hotel takes a casually elegant approach to ambiance with sunlit corridors and atriums overflowing with flowers and plants, intimate nooks and theatrical eateries and dramatic flair. There is a butterfly motif on the carpeting and in other accents, as that is a symbol of good luck. High-energy music also wafted through the corridors. Nearly 130 ruby red glass chandeliers made by hand in Italy adorn the ceiling of the casino floor. Shining bright on the Las Vegas Strip, the 550-foot-tall High Roller is a true standout at The LINQ's outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment promenade. Measuring 520 feet in diameter, the High Roller eclipses both the London Eye and Singapore Flyer. Facing north and south (parallel to Las Vegas Boulevard), the wheel took 30 minutes to complete one full revolution and featured 28 glass-enclosed cabins with broad views of the famed resort city. MGM Grand is a colossal, emerald-coloured casino resort fronted by a signature 45-foot bronze lion. It includes 4 pools, 3 whirlpools, and a lazy river, live entertainment, a spa and fitness center, a huge casino, trendy nightclubs, and numerous fine dining and casual restaurants. ARIA is the ultimate luxury Las Vegas Hotel & Casino Resort offering 4004 guest rooms, 568 luxury suites, 4 pools and 150,000 feet of gaming. Its refined rooms (some with views of the Strip) feature floor-to-ceiling windows and 42-inch flat-screen TVs. Wi-Fi is included in the resort fee. Suites add separate living spaces and wet bars. The casino offers slots, table games and poker, and there are multiple restaurants and lounges. The resort fee provides access to the spa and fitness centre, and there are also 3 outdoor pools and 3 hot tubs. Site inspection of Bellagio This sprawling high-end Strip casino resort is housed in an Italian-inspired, 36-story tower fronted by a man-made 8-acre lake featuring dancing fountains. Elegant, modern rooms feature custom artwork and marble bathrooms with soaking tubs. Lavish suites and villas come with private elevator access, living rooms and butler service. Site inspections of suites at Palazzo and Venetian Experience the romance of Italy at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. Beauty and grace surround you at The Venetian, where every detail has been carefully designed to provide guests with a memorable stay – from the world’s largest standard suites to the city’s most elegant casino. An all-suite resort it features 19 remarkable restaurants. Debuting on the Las Vegas Strip in January 2008, The Palazzo soon set the bar for unrivalled accommodations, modern conveniences, and entertainment choices. The 50-story resort is home to 3,066 spacious suites, including an exclusive Concierge Level on the 23rd floor. The Palazzo boasts the beauty of Capri; the lush serenity of Tuscany; and the lifestyle of the Italian rich and famous. Tropicana Las Vegas You may have heard rumours that Tropicana Las Vegas hotel and casino is not the Tropicana that you remember. Perhaps you even heard that they’re all new after a $200 million complete transformation of their property. If this is news to you, then prepare to be surprised because the resort is now one of the best casino hotel properties located directly on the Strip. The all-new Tropicana Las Vegas unveiled a South Beach inspired transformation and its new look, exciting rhythm and vibe, and unique focus on exceptional customer service has earned the property numerous travel industry accolades, officially establishing Tropicana Las Vegas as one of the top resorts in the city. W Hotel opened in December 2016 and takes on a one of a kind experience in Las Vegas, with its intimate layout, secret entrances, private spaces and personalized Whatever/Whenever service. W Las Vegas guests have access to the amenities of the SLS Las Vegas. Treasure Island Connected to the Fashion Show Mall by a pedestrian bridge, this lively casino hotel is across the Strip from The Palazzo. The modern, sophisticated rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows (many overlooking the Strip), free Wi-Fi, flat-screens, living areas and marble-floored bathrooms. There are several restaurants, including an upscale steakhouse, a casual BBQ joint and a pizzeria, plus festive bars. In addition to a casino with slots and table games, amenities include a busy nightclub, an outdoor pool and a hot tub, plus a fitness center, a full-service spa and live shows. Paris Hotel This French-themed casino hotel with a half-size Eiffel Tower is across the Strip from The Bellagio. Most rooms feature traditional, European-inspired decor and have marble bathrooms, flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi. In addition to the casino, amenities include a 2-acre rooftop pool in a French garden, and an indoor Parisian street with live entertainment stages and shopping areas, plus a lounge with pianos, nightclubs, and several restaurants, including a Gordon Ramsay Steakhouse. Caesars Palace and Nobu No matter what kind of experience your clients dream of, with ten unique resort destinations, Caesars Entertainment will provide the playground for their imaginations. From pulse pounding gaming action and A-list entertainment, to soul-soothing spas and storybook weddings. Caesars Entertainment has the perfect Las Vegas destination for everyone. Choose from Nobu Las Vegas, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Rio All-Suite Hotel, Bally's, Flamingo, Harrah's, Paris Las Vegas, The Cromwell and The Linq. Hard Rock Hotel Set 2 blocks east of the Strip, this high-octane, Rock ‘n' roll-themed casino resort is 1 block from the University Nevada, Las Vegas campus. Accommodations, some with pool and mountain views, range from ultra-modern rooms with Wi-Fi, minibars, flat-screen TVs and Bose stereo systems to suites with 40-inch flat-screens, deep tubs and living areas. Some suites and villas also feature band-themed decor, private terraces and wet bars. Breakfast at the Wicked Spoon and site inspection of the Cosmopolitan Situated at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is located directly between CityCenter and the Bellagio. The resort’s uniquely vertical multi-tower design offers spectacular views of the vibrant city. The new 2,995-room resort features oversized residential-style living spaces with expansive, one-of-a-kind private terraces. Resort features include 10,000 square feet of casino space, world class shopping, and 43,000 square feet of spa, health club and salon offerings. There are also three unique pool experiences and multi-level integrated nightclubs. Stay tuned for my nexr blog on the trips and excursions that we did in Las Vegas.

Tours and highlights of our trip to Las Vegas

14 May 2017

Below are our trips that we did whilst we were in Las Vegas - I class all of these as a must see/do whilst you are in Las Vegas The High Roller Las Vegas Shining bright on the Las Vegas Strip, the 550-foot-tall High Roller is a true standout at The LINQ's outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment promenade. Measuring 520 feet in diameter, the High Roller eclipses both the London Eye and Singapore Flyer. Facing north and south (parallel to Las Vegas Boulevard), the wheel takes 30 minutes to complete one full revolution and features 28 glass-enclosed cabins with broad views of the famed resort city. Each spherical cabin can hold up to 40 people. There are benches on either side of the cabin, with plenty of floor space in between. Papillon’s ‘Strip Highlights’ Helicopter Tour A valid government issued photo ID (driver's license or passport) is required at time of check in. This helicopter ride includes a narrated air tour of the world famous Las Vegas Strip and the experience of a lifetime. Views of the Las Vegas Strip could include an explosion of a volcano at the Mirage, marvel at the fountains of Bellagio, fly past the Clock Tower of St. Mark's Square at the Venetian, see the replica of the famous Eiffel Tower and come closer to the Stratosphere than ever before. Tours can include transfers to and from the hotel. The Mob Museum, officially the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, is a history museum located in Downtown Las Vegas. It is dedicated to featuring the artefacts, stories and history of organized crime in the United States, as well as the actions and initiatives by law enforcement to prevent such crimes. Downtown Lip Smacking Foodie Tour (Departs from John E. Carson Hotel) Pulsing with reinvigorated energy, downtown Las Vegas has been transformed into the city’s most exciting food scene with chef-driven restaurants rich in personality and flavour. During the “Downtown Lip Smacking Tour’’, expert guides will provide an insider’s view of downtown’s past, present and future, as you take in significant landmarks, and enjoy signature dishes at the most exhilarating neighbourhood restaurants devoted to farm-to-table, artisanal-crafted fare. LE RÊVE THE DREAM, presented exclusively at Wynn Las Vegas, offers breath taking performances in an intimate aqua theatre-in-the-round. The show features aerial acrobatics, provocative choreography and artistic athleticism. The cast of 93 captures the imagination with their outrageous antics and daring feats of strength and agility. Live music and elaborate special effects immerse the audience into a world of fantasy, adventure and intrigue. Dinner at Andreas’s and Entrance to Surrender Andrea's at Encore is a Forbes Travel Guide Four Star award-winning restaurant that combines Chef Joseph Elevado's menu of Asian-inspired cuisine with a sexy and social atmosphere. Discover for yourself why Andrea's was voted one of the country’s hottest dining spots in the OpenTable Diners’ Choice Awards. Overlooking the pool of Encore Beach Club, delicious beats will set the mood as you dine on specialties like the Wagyu beef and lobster roll, New York strip steak with wasabi demi glacé, or five-spice garlic lobster. Also, I believe "an afternoon in Venice" and "a morning in Paris" would be fantastic for your stay Experience the romance of Italy at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. Beauty and grace surround you at The Venetian, where every detail has been carefully designed to provide guests with a memorable stay – from the world’s largest standard suites to the city’s most elegant casino. An all-suite resort it features 19 remarkable restaurants. Debuting on the Las Vegas Strip in January 2008, The Palazzo soon set the bar for unrivalled accommodations, modern conveniences, and entertainment choices. The 50-story resort is home to 3,066 spacious suites, including an exclusive Concierge Level on the 23rd floor. The Palazzo boasts the beauty of Capri; the lush serenity of Tuscany; and the lifestyle of the Italian rich and famous. This French-themed casino hotel- the Paris Hotel, with a half-size Eiffel Tower is across the Strip from The Bellagio. Most rooms feature traditional, European-inspired decor and have marble bathrooms, flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi. In addition to the casino, amenities include a 2-acre rooftop pool in a French garden, and an indoor Parisian street with live entertainment stages and shopping areas, plus a lounge with pianos, nightclubs, and several restaurants, including a Gordon Ramsay Steakhouse. For more details and things to do and see in Las Vegas then please contact me at any time.

72 Hours in Budapest

07 January 2017

Arriving from Bratislava by train into the Main Railway Station - Keleti Station we did walk to our Hotel, the Intercontinental Hotel in the heart of the Old City, next time I do this, I will definitely catch a taxi as it was a three-kilometre walk, a great introduction to the hustle and bustle of Budapest. Wide open boulevards dotted with designer stores and some monuments. We did treat ourselves by having a River View room and the hotel upgraded up to us to Deluxe River View which gave us a great view of the Danube, the Old City of Buda and also a panoramic view from the Citadel monument right round to the Parliament Building. This was a great vantage point, being on the seventh floor of the hotel, especially New Year's Eve to see the celebrations and a limited selection of Fireworks - Budapest has its biggest Firework Festival in August each year. One of the first things we did when we left the hotel after check in was to book a 48 hour Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour, which gave us unlimited transport around Budapest to enjoy getting to our bearings and the monuments of Buda & Pest. There was an enormous range of restaurants, bars, and cafes to cater for all tastes and budgets. A budget meal for two came to around £16 including drinks, but a great treat was a recommendation from a friend and client - the Korhely Restaurant, around a ten-minute walk from the Opera House. Our third meal was again in the same area as there was a good choice of restaurants - a traditional good quality Hungarian meal for two with drinks was around £60.which included our wine & beer. I believe we covered the majority of Budapest and walked around the majority of monuments - one that should not be missed, although could easily be missed, is the Great Market Hall covering a vast area over two floors, when we arrived it was around and hour before closure so many stalls were closed, I believe if it was full and fully open you would probably need four to six hours to walk around the entire area - as, with all markets, there were several cafes on the upper floor. A note here, visiting Budapest as we did between Christmas & New Year, take plenty of layers and be prepared for extreme cold, traveling for over an hour on the upper deck of the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour gave us the opportunity of sampling more than one hot chocolate to thaw out! An amazing city and one you could no doubt travel to on many occasions and see different things at different times of the year.

48 Hours in Bratislava

07 January 2017

This year, we decided to do a 2 city centre New Year's Break - Bratislava & Budapest 48 hours in Bratislava was enough time to do the city justice - we were based in the Crowne Plaza Hotel near the Presidents Palace which was only a few minutes walk from the Old City - it was great to see that most of the Old City was pedestrianised so it was easy to get around on foot. It felt quite a compact city, so we were able to see all the main sights as well as the modern shopping part of the city. The main must-see monuments were:- 1) Hrad Castle 2) St Martins Cathedral 3) Old Town Hall 4) Primates Palace 5) St Michaels Gate 6) Franciscan Church & Monastery 7) Slovak National Theatre 8) Synagogue 9) Slavin Monument 10) Church of St Elizabeth - the Blue Church 11) Devin Castle 12) Slovak Statue - Men at work Being based very central we could return to the hotel for snacks in the club lounge before going out for traditional Slovak Meals on both nights - both of the restaurants we found were great and having traditional Slovak soup in a loaf of bread was delicious. Food & drink was reasonably cheap compared to other destinations we have visited. These two cities were connected by a two hour, forty minute train journey between Bratislava and Budapest with trains departing ever two hours. Keep a look out for my next blog - 72 hours in Budapest!

Aruba Trip

10 November 2016

As part of my job one, of the perks is that we get to visit some fantastic locations around the world to see for ourselves what we can put together for you, our clients. So when I was offered the chance to visit Aruba with a group of fellow Travel Counsellors it was very hard to turn down, especially as it was a Caribbean island I have not visited before. We set off from London Heathrow to Amsterdam for our connection direct to Aruba. I must say I really liked this idea of getting the short hop out of the way first and after a 1 hour 15 min connection we were off to Aruba with KLM. After a good flight we were met by our host Jonathan from the Aruba Tourist Board and whisked off to Divi Aruba, our host hotel for the week. My first impression of the island was that it was a nice mix of the old and new Caribbean as we drove through Oranjestad, the capital, with lots of Dutch style architecture with some bright colours on show. The next morning we were off on a wonderful island tour taking in the California lighthouse, Alto Vista Chapel surrounded by so many different types of cactus in so many difference shapes and sizes, Natural Bridge, Casibari Rock formations and the Bushiribana Gold Smelter ruins. This really opened my eyes to what this small island had to offer with two completely different sides to the island. Here we saw a barren landscape with dramatic rocks formations and the waves pounding in, creating some lovely pictures. We also saw ATV and jeep safari tours taking place and with the wind blowing hard some windsurfers were taking advantage of the conditions. That evening we had dinner at the Palm Beach Strip which is a collection of lovely restaurants and some open air bars with live singers performing and some great tourist shops selling everything Aruban including their famous Aloe Vera products. Not forgetting the double decker London Bus designed as a clothes shop! Next morning we started our hotel visits taking in the Ritz Carlton which has some lovely hotel rooms and a breakfast service that was superb. From there we made our way to the Renaissance Aruba Beach Resort which consisted of two sites, the first being on the beach and the second across the road in Orangestad’s main shopping complex where we had a lovely lunch. Then to our surprise we were whisked away James Bond style in a speedboat from inside the main hotel, through an underground tunnel, out to sea to their own private island for the afternoon to swim and take pictures with the pink pelicans! It was great but we got back to work by visiting our last hotel of the day, Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa, which was a small rise Caribbean-style hotel with some lovely facilities including a beautiful outdoor spa on the beach and a very intimate restaurant and bar. The following day we were up early and off to see a varied selection of hotels this island has to offer. Firstly, we saw a wonderful privately owned, small boutique hotel called the Boardwalk which was so different, set in lush small gardens with roomy accommodation for families that included kitchen facilities on a self-catering basis. Perfect if you want to hit the beach all day, come back, put the kids to bed and then sit out on your balcony and terrace and open the vino! From here we hit Palm Beach which is on my top three list of beaches. Here you have all the bigger hotels and our first hotel was the Hilton which is currently going through a building upgrade, the artist’s impression of the final look was very impressive. Following lunch at the Hilton beach restaurant with some wonderful prawns cooked on the grill (highly recommended) we made our way along the beach path through the lush gardens and palm trees to the Grand Hyatt which is everything you would expect of a Hyatt property. There was good sized rooms, plenty of space to chill around the different pools and the first sunscreen machine I have seen, which gives you full body sunscreen coverage in 10 seconds! Our last hotel of the day was the Amsterdam Manor Beach resort, a Dutch style property with lovely apartment style rooms for families with the beach just across the road and their own beach bar where you can sit and have a real sunset dinner experience. The day was not finished there. We were back to the hotel for a quick change before being taken out on one of Aruba's party buses for the evening on their pub crawl! This was a lot of fun with no windows, lots of flashing lights, music and maracas to shake and wave at the locals as you drove by with most of them waving to you even though they must see it going past every week! Our second to last day soon came around from the pub crawl the night before and before we knew it we were out on a catamaran cruise for the morning from 9am to 2pm. This included three stops for snorkelling around some shipwrecks and closer to land to see some wonderful sea life. Lunch was included in the tour and the views back to the beaches and rock formations were stunning. The crew were very entertaining and accommodating keeping everybody safe and well by making everybody freeze to count everybody was back on board. After an afternoon chilling back at our host hotel we were off for our last hotel visit and for me, they had saved the best for last. We were taken to the Bucuti & Tara Beach resort for an evening tour and reception on the beach. This hotel is an adult’s only hotel and the vibe was so relaxing and chilled. Couples who come for honeymoon are often repeat clients for anniversaries and birthdays in future years. The resort was lovely with great service, lots of space on the beach and around the pool and the beach restaurant with sunset views was a perfect place to spend our last evening. After a day at leisure we made our way back to the airport and our overnight flight back to Amsterdam and onto London which was a good journey. Overall Aruba is a small Caribbean island but has so much to offer you in choice of accommodation and things to do. Believe me it’s not just a beach location. It is an island that still has the mix of old and new Caribbean, by that I mean you feel you are in the Caribbean but with the luxury of modern day facilities and is an island I will definitely be returning to. Would you like me to take you there?

A day in Praia da Vittoria, Azores

28 October 2014

Our main holiday this year with the family was a Fred Olsen Cruise to the Azores, Madeira and Portugal. After three long days at sea after leaving Southampton, we arrived to our first Port of Call in the Azores - Praia da Vitoria on the Island of Terceira. The Island of Terceira is around thirty kilometres long but we were only visiting the small town of Praia da Vitoria. Along the water front is a wide promenade with cafes, shops and restaurants and slightly in town a couple of roads back from the sea front was a traditional square with more shops around it. A volcanic Island with black sands for a beach made this a stop with a difference which I enjoyed along with my partner and also joining up with the rest of the family for a coffee and cake in a traditional street café.

A day trip to Altos de Chavon, Dominican Republic

07 October 2013

The village of Altos de Chavon (City of Artists) is a must see in the Dominican Republic if you are based in La Romana or Punta Cana. I was fortunate to go here on a recent visit with a group of UK Travel Agents. The name of this little village is dedicated to the arts and has become one of the most visited places by tourists in the Dominican Republic. A luxuriant and rocky mesa in the province of La Romana was chosen by the visionary North American entrepreneur Charles Bluhorn as the site for an extraordinary promise that is today an amazing reality. It appears to be a 16th century Mediterranean village, but its construction actually began in 1976. The village owes its name to its location on the heights, 50 metres above sea level, of the river that borders the village; the Chavon, a name thought to be derived from the indigenous name for the river, Quaibon. Altos de Chavon is part of the prestigious Casa de Campo tourist complex and offers visitors to the village a wide variety of restaurants and shops. Today, a stroll down any of the Altos de Chavon's cobblestone paths reveals in every corner the evocative architecture of another era converging with the 21st Century. In the Central plaza of the village stands the Church of St Stanislaus, consecrated in 1979 by Pope John Paul II. Today, the village of Altos de Chavon is a vibrant hub of artistic creativity, enthusiastic learning, professional activity and cultural expression in the Dominican Republic and for the World.

My first visit to the Dominican Republic

05 October 2013

I had an amazing opportunity to visit the Dominican Republic courtesy of British Airways and the Dominican Republic Tourist Board. There was a group of ten travel agents from the UK of which included myself and two other Travel Counsellors. On these trips, the intention is to visit as much as possible in the shortest possible time, so 15,000 km, 17 hotels, various attractions later and meeting many sales people, I have a great knowledge now of the Dominican Republic. I stayed in four different hotels; Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Dreams La Romana, Hostal Nicolas de Ovando and the Now Larimar Hotel. I visited various resorts including Bavaro, Punta Cana and the Capital Santo Domingo as well as many gated hotel complexes. The Dominican Republic has a population of over nine million and is a fantastic location in the Caribbean. I was amazed how good this destination was as I had little knowledge of what I now know to be a great destination. It is also very affordable, perhaps replacing destinations like Dubai, Maldives and Mauritius. Apart from the amazing hotels and beaches I saw, I also enjoyed great excursions such as the Cave of Wonders, a natural wonder with a great guide to show us around the caves, the Cigar Factory to see how cigars are made and the best one of all the Bavaro Runners - a day out on a 4 x 4 vehicle to show us all the natural products available - sugar cane, coffee, chocolate, pineapples, bananas, passion fruit, vanilla, rum and the list goes on. This is definitely a destination that I want to go back to and making a three centre destination would make it a very enjoyable experience to see the island, the sights, the history and also, probably most important the beaches and water sports. A must is a day excursion to the Isla Saona and a BBQ lunch. I would personally recommend the Dreams Romana for three nights, Hostal St Nicolas de Ovando for three nights and the Paradisus Palm Real Reserve for six nights to make a holiday one to remember. This is a great destination for couples, families, golfers, honeymooners and of course a destination for weddings.

A day out on Holland America MS Eurodam

10 July 2011

What an enjoyable day out -with a difference! An invitation to board the Holland America Cruise Lines MS Eurodam was one I did not want to miss as I had not yet seen the style of cruising they offered. Once again, I am going to say that I do enjoy visiting Dover Cruise Terminal as it is so easy to get to, park and board your chosen cruise without delay and made extremely easy by the very courteous and professional staff of Holland America Line. During these experiences, although limited throughout the year, agents and sometimes guests can board a cruise liner in between cruises. The MS Eurodam would have berthed early, usually around seven and eight in the morning and then the majority of cruises leave the Dover Cruise Terminal between four and five in the afternoon. A very efficient operation of disembarking guests after breakfast and new boarding guests in the afternoon allows for this. With Holland America Line, past cruise guests have priority boarding and can arrive for lunch. As agents and with us today, future potential guests can visit the cruise ship. Embarking for a self-guided tour around ten, I only had a few hours to get to grips, with cabins and cabin types, decks, entertainment facilities, restaurants and bars and whatever can be "squeezed" in, before having to disembark around two in the afternoon after a four course lunch and a short presentation on stage given by senior management of the cruise line. As always, on these visits, I started at the top of a ship and then worked around the decks and facilities taking photos and notes where I could. Starting with the largest of Penthouse Suites, Balcony Suites, Balcony Cabins, Outside Cabins and also a quick glimpse of an Inside Cabin, the most noticeable feature was actually the size of the cabins, with Holland America Line boasting around 25-35% bigger cabins than comparable other cruise lines. The array of features on board, was again impressive with spa and relaxation, swimming pools, bars, theatres, restaurants and cafes - I feel that I now know what I want to do for my 50th birthday in a couple of years. The short presentation, after a fantastic lunch, was very beneficial to understand more of the different ships within the fleet and also the areas that Holland America Line cruise around. With over 500 ports of call in the seven continents and a great choice of departure points around the world really highlighted the 135 year history of this company. The cruise that I am now seriously considering for 2013 would be a cruise tour of Alaska, taking in the vast amount of scenery with a land based tour and cruise combined through Holland America Line. For more information and/or help with your next cruise, please contact me at any time.

An afternoon in Stavanger, Norway

19 June 2011

All cruises never seem to be long enough and an afternoon in Stavanger was a delight with so much to see and do. I stayed in the city centre and the "Old Town"of Stavanger. Stavanger is a city in the county of Rogaland, Norway with a population of around 122,000 people, the third biggest city in Norway. Stavanger was a mix of new and old influences and boast's Norway's oldest cathedral, Stavanger Domkirke. The cruise terminal in Stavanger where the MS Braemar docked was only 100 metres from the old quaint cottages of the Old Town of Stavanger with the city centre being around 300 metres - such a great stop for all ages and cruises.

Stunning Sandane Scenery, Norway

29 June 2011

During a cruise with family & friends to Norway, I woke early and was on deck of the MS Braemar from 0530hrs through to 0700hrs for the arrival at Sandane, Norway to disembark guests for a day trip through the mountains to Olden. After breakfast we departed for the port of Olden and I am not going to say more than that in this journal as these stunning "mirror" images speak for themselves I have around forty photos that you can invert to view and some are hard to say that they are "upside down"!

Village of Olden, Norway - Sogn og Fjordane

19 June 2011

After a great morning cruise aboard the MS Braemar we arrive at Olden Cruise Terminal for the afternoon. Olden is a village and urban area in the municipality of Strym in Sogn og Fjordane in Norway. Located at the mouth of the Oldedalen Valley, by the Nordfjord we had a great excursion of the local area and scenery.

A day in FLAM and the Flamsbana Railway

19 June 2011

Arriving into the Flam Cruise terminal, it was a short stroll to the Norwegian village with around 500 inhabitants at the inner end of the Aurlandsfjord, arm of the Sognefjord. The town is located in the municipality of Aurland, in Sogn og Fjordane, Norway. The name Flam is documented as early as 1340 as Flaam, and is derived from the plural form of the Old Norse word fla meaning “plain, flat piece of land”, and refers to the flood plains of the Flam River. The village of Flam is a popular tourist destination and has been so since the late 19th century and currently receives almost 450,000 visitors per year, many by Cruise Liners and come to enjoy the spectacular 20 kilometre Flam Railway (Norwegian, Flamsbana) between Flam and Myrdal, one of the steepest railway tracks at 1 in 18 gradient, in the world. There is a former rail station in Flam, which now houses a museum dedicated to the Flam Railway which is certainly worth a visit. For all cruise guests, the Flamsbana is a must see activity and is easily accessible from the main Flam Cruise Terminal or from where the tenders land when they are used. The trains depart Flam at 0835, 0945, 1100, 1220 and 1335 for the 50 minute ascent to Myrdal, returning at 0939, 1055, 1211, 1327 and 1443 respectively. The cost is around 350 Norwegian Kroner (around £40) per person for the return trip. Other attractions which we enjoyed whilst on land were the mini tourist train visiting the Flam Valley and the “Old village” of Flam. For more information to this or any other Cruises then please contact me at any time and I will be very pleased to assist with your holiday planning.

A day in Copenhagen

01 September 2010

So, the last port of call on our Baltic adventure and our Fred Olsen Cruise on board the MS Balmoral, Copenhagen and almost a fleeting visit! Arriving just after dawn, the ship berthed very near the centre of Copenhagen and our awaiting coaches were on the quayside to take us on our City Tour and Canal Cruise - a great way to do the city on the limited time there. It was great to see so much in such a short time on our four hour sightseeing tour. Many monuments scattered through the city of Copenhagen combined with the many bicycles made the drive thoroughly enjoyable. Over two hundred guests from the ship was on this excursion and the canal cruise proved to be the highlight seeing the canals of Copenhagen and the quaint quayside painted houses together with the many house boats, restaurants and cafes. Our small canal cruise boat took out into the main harbour for some great views of the various aspects of the port of Copenhagen with Military, commercial and of course the tourist element of the many cruise ships that visit Copenhagen through the year. A great day in Copenhagen and of course the legendary "Sailaway" party on board the MS Balmoral made this a great end to the touring part of the itinerary. Next stop, would of course be Dover after a full day at sea to finish with leisure time with new found friends, an opportunity to enjoy the boutique shopping on board and of course the final meals with our amazing ships staff. My next cruise, will of course be with Fred Olsen and be back to Norway on a different cruise itinerary from the one done previously and with my group of family and friends from the past few years. If you would like to do a cruise and have the peace of mind having me as your host then please get in contact at a time to suit you and perhaps your next cruise will be in my company and onboard the MS Braemar with Fred Olsen.

Baltic Cruise - Day in Tallinn, Estonia

08 August 2010

A day in Tallinn was achieved during my 12 night Baltic Cruise on board MS Balmoral with Fred Olen Cruise Lines. An early morning arrival to Tallinn Cruise Terminal gave us the opportunity of exploring the city at leisure. Our shuttle bus from the Cruise Terminal took just around ten minutes and at our drop off point was very conveniently a "Hop on, hop off" tour bus which we gave our time to. Around eight drop offs points around the city was enough to see the overall views and information of this fantastic city. We decided to get off in the Old City which was possibly the highest point in the city so made all the other attractions very easy to see by foot. Walking around the city, I was very pleased to see the majority of the city and great architecture. Ample restaurants and bars scattered around the main squares and tourist vantage points gave interludes to our visit. One great hotel was found in an ideal location that I would definitely recommend as being the best to return to as a mini break, perhaps two or three nights - I would love to go back sooner than later to do more exploring of Tallinn and also the surrounding countryside. Whilst we were in Tallinn, there was also a Flower Festival around the old walls which was a fantastic break from the many monuments and buildings. Tallinn blossomed since the fall of the Soviet Union and the magnificent old town is dominated by the fairytale presence of Toompea Castle with acres of parks hidden behind turreted battlements which must not be missed as well as the towering domes and ornate facades of the Orthodox cathedral. More details are available about how you can too visit Tallinn, Estonia as a special mini break.

Baltic Cruise - Two days in St Petersburg

14 August 2010

Our Baltic cruise with Fred Olsen on board the MS Balmoral and St Petersburg was perhaps the highlight of the Cruise This overnight stay in St Petersburg on board the ship gave two fantastic days of excursions To do the Ships own shore excursions eliminated the need to pre book a visa in the UK and just an immigration slip was needed when passing through the immigration controls at the Russian Cruise Terminal Choosing to do two half day excursions and our first excursion was to Peterhof Palace and Gardens and its magnificent gravity driven fountains Many fountains, all different, proved to be a very popular excursion, especially with the hydrofoil transfer from the cruise terminal to Peterhof. A two hour guided trip around the gardens and fountains gave us a great insight into this beautiful Palace, Gardens and Fountains. Overnight in the Cruise Terminal surrounded by other Cruise ships gave some guests on board the chance of a private visit to the Hermitage followed by a classical recital, whilst others choose "an evening at the ballet". Our second excursion was a city tour involving road by coach and also a canal cruiser to see the highlights of this grand city by road and water. Many city highlights was covered in this four hour excursion. Again, full details of all excursions available at this port can be supplied so please contact me and I can supply you with all the information needed to perhaps make your trip to St Petersburg very special. I can be contacted at a time to suit you including evenings and some weekends.

A Taste of Bornholm, Denmark

11 August 2010

Continuing my theme of short Travel Journals for the Baltic States during my cruise, we had a day on the small Danish Island of Bornholm where the Fred Olsen MS Balmoral was berthed just a short distance away from the delightful town of Ronne. Gently winding streets and passages had differing views of the quaint houses and shops. The main high street in Ronne had a great selection of shops where everyone I encountered was friendly and attentive to our needs. A Danish Pasty and coffee in one of the town's street cafes was pleasant in glorious sunshine The Cruise terminal is around a twenty minute walk from the main part of the town, but many guests on board took this option to walk along the harbour walls pass a small harbour scattered with small boats and yacht's. Again, a good destination to visit on a cruise with many of the other guests commenting on the quality of the excursions available at this port - full details are available of each excursion. Contact me for further details of cruises that call at Ronne, Bronholm, Denmark.

Baltic Cruise - Warnemunde, Germany

08 August 2010

What a great stop point for our Baltic Cruise, first time ashore since leaving Dover a few days ago and two places of great interest and beauty - Warnemunde and Rostock in Germany. A wander around the delightful seaside town of Warnemunde was welcome after being on board our cruise for a couple of days. Pleasantly surprised of the beauty of the town alongside the river and sea frontage - miles of sand and traditional "victorian" seating - quite quaint! The cruise terminal is so close to the town centre as well as the train station, which gave us the opportunity of visiting Rostock at leisure. Arriving in Rostock, we commenced a self guided tour of the centre of this city with its century old red brick architecture. As the roads in the centre are very narrow and partly closed to traffic, our visit to Rostock was easy to see the old market square and beautiful City Hall and also St Marys Church, Rostock's landmark at the Goat Market. A pleasant day in Warnemunde and Rostock during our 12 night cruise of the Baltic States on the MS Balmoral with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines.

Cruise the Kiel Canal

08 August 2010

This was the first highlight of my Baltic Cruise, departing Dover on Monday 26 July, 2010 and arriving at the entrance to the Kiel Canal soon after lunch. The Kiel Canal covers some sixty four miles from Brunsbuttel to Kiel in Germany and many cruise liners use this route alongside many commercial and private boats and ships to reduce the distance from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea by over two hundred miles Our transit took a little under eight hours and took us through some very interesting places along route as well as passing beneath many bridges. Much farmland was alongside this narrow canal for the forty three thousand tonne vessel of the MS Balmoral run by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines at a cruising speed of a little over six knots. I was definite not expecting this transit to be eight hours in length but gave us a good day sunbathing and taking note of what was around us - a very interesting cruise

Cruise the Baltic States

08 August 2010

You may see a theme with my Travel Journals, Cruises with Fred Olsen, but I love these cruises as I travel with my mother and father and having a Dover start and end point makes it so easy for them both. Both, now seventy and my mother needs some special attention at times as cannot walk too far. This Cruise, our fourth with Fred Olsen, is a celebratory cruise, and one not to be forgotten. The "Beauty of the North" as the brochure indicated was truly that for a twelve night cruise to the Baltic States;- Germany, Denmark, Poland, Estonia and Russia - St Petersburg being the highlight for the thirteen hundred guests on board. This travel journal is an outline of what we encountered, but I have added more as, I believe, all the ports of call would make ideal "weekend breaks" to discover the wonders of each city further. Firstly, sailing the Kiel Canal through Germany was a terrific experience, which I did not expect to be for eight hours! Gentle country scenery very close to both port and starboard sides of the Balmoral. Warnemunde, our first port of call, was a pleasant and interesting visit with the added bonus of a train station being at the cruise terminal allowing us to visit Rostock also. Short sailing overnight saw us, next in Ronne, a Danish Island of Bornholm, a modern town in a pleasant location for morning teas or coffees with a traditional Danish pastry. Next to Gdynia in Poland and industrial, military and commercial port being the port to explore Gdansk, and I was pleasantly surprised on the beauty of this bomb devastated city from the last World War - I could have spent much longer here and whilst there made contact with a hotel that would make the perfect base for a weekend break overlooking the river. Much here to explore, see and do with more detailed information on another travel journal. A day at sea was next before entering St Petersburg and a new Cruise Terminal just a short drive to the main sights of the City. I decided on the Ships own tours programme as this saved me money for not having my own visa, but the ones for the Balmoral. The first half day excursion was to the magnificent Peterhof Palace and Gardens with their magnificent set of gravity driven fountains - many photos available of these if you would like to contact me! The highlight of the cruise, being St Petersburg, was the fact that the Fred Olsen Balmoral enjoyed an overnight stay here. My next half day excursion, organised by Fred Olsen, was the "Waterways of St Petersburg" which also enjoyed a city tour, this giving the best impression of this magnificent city. So much to see and do with also a visit to a traditional Russian Bazaar. Tallinn, Estonia, for me, was a surprise and great experience for myself, as not exactly expecting the splendour of the features of this city, the Old City Walls, the heritage of this city and the many places to eat, relax and enjoy a drink in many of the squares watching the "world go by" - tremendous and Tallinn will go further up my list as being a City Tour "not to be missed" To conclude the cruise, a short visit to Copenhagen and a guided city tour including the canals of Copenhagen bought this cruise to a fantastic conclusion of the Baltic States. For me and many others guests on board the Balmoral was the attitude of the crew on board, all immaculate at all times with service the main focus to ensure all guests had a truly fantastic time. I will definitely "stick" with Fred Olsen as my preferred Cruise line for me and anyone that asks me who to travel with as I find the overall experience a pleasure and enjoyable at all times. My next Fred Olsen Cruise will be in June 2011 and to the Norwegian Fjords to which I invite anyone to join me! I can be contacted at any time to talk further and also would be pleased to visit WI's, Active Retirement Association's, in London, Kent, Essex and Surrey to give talks about Fred Olsen Cruises and what they can offer

Dubai - 5* Beach Resort & Spa

01 October 2009

WWOW - what a trip! Dubai has daily flights from many UK airports and is a great Beach Resort destination I wanted a chill out week in the sun…. What did I get? A great deal more than what I was expecting! After a near 7 hour flight from London Heathrow, we landed at Dubai International Airport, a shopper’s paradise with many boutique stores and a shopping mall that exceeds much more on offer than in the UK and even the opportunity to win a Lamborgini in the monthly draws. A ski resort, dune buggies, gold souks, adventure and style, to name a few! We were welcomed very quickly after we left the aeroplane and given our tour pack and instructions on where to meet after Baggage Reclaim for our private taxi transfer, a facility I offer to all my guests as arriving to the hotel directly is so much better pre booked. The Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa, as a name, does not do justice to the superb reception we received and the facilities on offer. Booking a Club Room with Half Board supplement gave us peace of mind that we would not run up a large bill on food and drink as included in the price is soft drinks, teas and coffees, canapés and pre dinner drinks, as well as the Dinner, Bed and Breakfast option - just what I have experienced on the cruises that I have completed. On speaking with the Hotel Sales Team, I learnt that the staff to guest ratio is near 1:1, so you can imagine the attention to detail and levels of service that we received for our five night stay. An impressive Awards Display in reception does indeed recognise the very high standards that this hotel has to offer, with the superb spa facilities and the multitude of restaurants, bars and cafes throughout the resort. During this stay we only experienced but a few of them. It was great to listen and talk to many of the guests (yes we in travel don't actually turn off) and hear of the last time they visited Dubai and why they have become regulars to this hotel. The main reasons were the spacious rooms, the excellent service, the superior beach and sunbathing areas, the array of sports on offer as well as a children club for 4-14 years of age. For families visiting this hotel, a Tower Suite interconnecting with a Tower Deluxe room can accommodate a family of six very easily, whereas couples and perhaps the more mature clients can appreciate the extras in the Club Tower rooms for those extras that always add tremendous value to anyone’s holiday I would recommend that Honeymoon Couples have a Tower Deluxe Room or Suite, all with a sea-view or a Club Tower Room as offers that special touch of class and service The Grosvenor House Hotel is the sister hotel to the Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa and offers excellent facilities to the Business and Corporate traveller as well as giving guests from either hotel the opportunity to use the bars and restaurants on the same room account - a visit to Bar 44 on the forty fourth floor of the Grosvenor House hotel is a must for every visitor. As for what can be done on a trip to Dubai, the list is endless, but for us on a peaceful sunbathing break, we visited the Emirates Mall - the World's largest shopping centre with its own Alpine Ski Resort attached. It also houses a supermarket the size of a small town. This is the hotel that I will be recommending to so many people now for a value for money five star break! Best time to visit Dubai is no doubt October – April, as the heat and humidity in summer season is not to everyone's liking Please contact me at anytime to discuss this hotel further and how you can have a value for money luxury break for perhaps the cost of a European holiday at peak season!

Fred Olsen Mini Cruise to Rouen

11 September 2009

Another Fred Olsen Cruise with my Mum & Dad and what a great mini break it was. From leaving home to arriving on board the Balmoral in Dover took less than ninety minutes, with plenty of time to explore the ship before leaving the port of Dover. Dover is great for us as we live in Kent and it is such a short time from leaving home to boarding any ship in the fantastic Cruise Terminal in Dover. Our third cruise with Fred Olsen, and what a coincidence, was the same Captain as we met on our Norway Cruise in 2008! Three nights on board with two days in Rouen was the break we all needed after such a busy summer. A relatively short distance but the slow pace and the warm welcome received made this short break one to remember. And a must to view the brochures for other mini cruises available - this is a great way to discover the fantastic value of cruising without being on board too long and not being happy - I would recommend a mini cruise to everyone now as they are some of the best value holidays around. Special moments on this cruise include being personally met in the Cruise Terminal by our wine waiter to order our wine to go with our first evening meal, being met by our fantastic cabin stewardess and of course all the crew and entertainment staff that we met along the way. A good point with Fred Olsen’s smaller cruise ships is that we were able to navigate into the centre of Rouen along the River Seine which many of the larger liners cannot do. Rouen itself is full of history; being where Jean or Arc had many interesting days back in the fifteenth century. The old town centre is full of Gothic architecture of interest combined with the usual mix of modern present in any city. Rouen itself is Europe's third largest port for the exportation of wheat! You will get a better view of Rouen with the photos attached to this travel diary. We enjoyed two days in Rouen with overnight sailings from Dover to Rouen and vice versa. My mother and father are both in their late sixties now and the ease of boarding at Dover with the combination of Fred Olsen hospitality go hand in hand to give them a thoroughly good time, and of course which I enjoy as well seeing great places by cruising. Contact me any time to talk through what your own thoughts are of cruising in Europe and around the world.

TC Conference on the Costa Del Sol

01 December 2008

The Travel Counsellors Conference is one of the highlights of the year and this year was no exception with over six hundred Travel Counsellors from the eight countries around the world represented, and over 140 suppliers and tourist boards from around the world represented. The Costa del Sol was not a destination that I know well and this visit changed that. We enjoyed a fantastic session with the Costa del Sol Tourist Board who gave us so much to think about and leave conference with. The Costa del Sol has so much history, tradition, style, elegance, flamenco, food & drink, fiestas, museums, beaches, National Parks and golf & spa resorts. In fact so much for so many, a destination to suit all and with a fantastic Mediterranean climate so a great destination all year round and we only had three nights to check out this location. Malaga as a city break destination was bought to life in the presentations that we received and I am sure that I will be visiting sometime in 2009 as a city break! Malaga is also a major port for many Cruise operators with many ships destined for Malaga in 2009. One of the highlights of our visit to the Costa del Sol was a visit to Mijas, the White Village of Andalucia, a beautiful village set up in the hills with its narrow cobbled streets with the many craft and pottery shops.The village of Mijas can itself be your base for an idyllic holiday in Andalucia. Whether you are after a beach holiday, a city break, or golf & spa holiday then the Costa del Sol has it all. I had a wonderful weekend break and will definitely be returning.

Thursford Christmas Spectacular

24 November 2008

Another one of my "mini trips" for my mum and her friends - a three day weekend to Norfolk with the highlight of the weekend being the 'Thursford Christmas Spectacular'. Three days with six different attractions to discover and enjoy for a late Autumn break staying at the four star Ramada at Kings Lynn, great for the ambience and the hospitality of all their staff. Setting off after breakfast from Kent, the first stop was Tiptree Jam museum, shop and tea rooms with a lunchtime stop in Norwich to visit the Castle and Cathedral. After breakfast, a short visit in Fawkenham to look around this historic town before going to the highlight of this mini break - 'the Thursford Christmas Spectacular' - much to do with the many Christmas gift shops and restaurants and a visit to the Thursford Christmas Fantasyland, before the main show started. The show lasted three hours with a twenty minute break and was the best show I have ever seen, on the largest stage I have seen! The cast of over hundred entertained throughout with many costume changes to celebrate the season and Christmas, being fully booked every year for many years now - I definitely will be going again and next year will be that time. The last day, returning home, we stopped at Caithness Glass Outlet in Kings Lynn before a fantastic visit the Shuttleworth Collection near Biggleswade. As you can see from the above, this is a tour that I had put together myself with the minibus so that my mother and her friends would have a break to enjoy with no stress and no long days - this is a service that I can offer to anyone!

Travel Counsellors to Mauritius

26 September 2008

My 'working' holiday to Mauritius was a Travel Counsellors Incentive Educational that we, that’s myself and twenty other colleagues, had won earlier in the year as part of a team building and sales competition between the one thousand Travel Counsellors from the eight countries around the world. We enjoyed our direct flight to Mauritius with AIR MAURITIUS and were greeted by our hosts and escorted to our first hotel in Mauritius – staying in two different hotels during our stay and visiting a further fourteen hotels, covering the North West, North East, West, East and Southern parts of the Island. We were welcomed; as all guests at all hotels are, with a refreshing flannel as well as a tropical cocktail to make us feel very special in the Indian Ocean and Mauritius. We visited so many great hotels, from three to five star luxury, to get ideas for all types of holidays – from couples, friends and families, as well as requirements for honeymoon and wedding packages. All the hotels that we visited had different styles and standards for the various requirements of so many discerning guests. I have my own preferences now for some and know that I can match everyone's requirements for a holiday to Mauritius. There is so much on offer for a holiday to the Indian Ocean and Mauritius: from Golf & Spa Resorts to kids clubs and special occasions like honeymoons, anniversaries and of course the complete wedding package tailored made to each and every special couple. Many hotels only offer one wedding per day as a standard maximum so every bride & groom can experience that extra special touch and to made to feel so special on the very special occasion. Whilst here I have experienced fine cuisine from around the world at all the hotels with a choice of between three and nine restaurants depending on the hotel of your choice. There is so much variety with seafood playing a large part at all the hotels, and then other restaurants offering, Indian, Chinese, Italian and also traditional A La Carte menus at all. There were lots of water sports, land sports, golf, beach volleyball, and of course the many infinity swimming pools at many of the hotels. I was spoilt for choice! Large swimming pools, sometimes for adults only, give all the hotels a great sense of calmness and tranquillity as well as a sense of purpose for the overall ambience of the hotels with Feng Sui playing a role in some of the hotels that we visited. That very special meal for a wedding couple, right through to the beach BBQ for a group of friends or even perhaps a group of work colleagues for a conference are all on offer to ensure that you return back home with many happy memories of your visit to Mauritius. After a fantastic time here in this paradise land I am now able to help my clients even more now with some great choices of hotels to suit any requirements with a far greater understanding of Mauritius, its culture, the people, the hotels and the distances involved for various visits. Whilst here I enjoyed visiting Grand Bay, Port Louis and its market and the famous Pamplemousses Gardens where I had a peaceful day and was able to see the collection of exotic tropical trees and vegetation. I would certainly love to return here one day.

Fred Olsen Cruise - Secrets of Norway

05 August 2008

My first experience of Fred Olsen, I believed “ticked all the boxes” to ensure that we would have a fantastic holiday. A tremendous start to our holiday with our cases placed in our cabins as we boarded, and after a quick check in and embarkation, I felt immediately that the right choice had been made! We were soon addressed by Captain Olav Sovdsnes and our Cruise Director Alison Bellamy. Into the North Sea - the tour programme was studied and we understood its busy itinerary that would take us to one of Europe’s most scenic areas on our Cruise - “Secrets of Norway” - What would the Captain and crew have up their sleeves? A leisurely sunday was spent exploring our ship - Black Watch and all it had to offer, meeting the many “charming” characters that would be “friends” within days. Was there time between lectures, presentations, quizzes, eating and drinking for the sleeping and tour programme? YES, of course, we felt totally looked after on board Black Watch and we were eager to start exploring a country unfamiliar to ourselves. Arriving in Ålesund, we were off on foot and only a few minutes from the ships berth to the centre of the town. A recommendation here is the walk to the top of Mount Aksla, just 417 steps to the viewpoint with its many points and seats en route! Tuesday and the first of our planned escorted tours – “Glorious Fjordland”. We started by launching into the small harbour of Hellesylt, our coach immediately came across the mighty Hellesylt Waterfall cascading into the aqua Fjord with a backdrop of a lovely mountain valley dotted with small farms and livestock. We then descended to the shore of Europe’s deepest lake, Hornindalsvatnet, with its amazing depth of over fifteen hundred feet and glorious panoramic vistas. Then the lovely Nordfjord came into view, before continuing on to the village of Stryn along the Stryn River, infamous for its salmon fishing along the shores of the beautiful turquoise Stryn Lake towards Hjelle and uphill around nineteen hairpin bends along the Strynefjell Road. Crossing the Jolbrua Bridge across the three hundred foot deep gorge, we witnessed the thunderous Buldrefossen Waterfall. What a great morning travelling through fantastic scenery, passing the Tystig Glacier to reach the Grotli Hotel for lunch. An amazing day followed as we made our way to Fjellheimen, passing lakes to Djupvasshytta and driving the spectacular steep toll road to the top of Mount Dulsnibba and what a fantastic view – with snow-capped mountains, glaciers, lakes and far below us the Geirangerfjord which allowed one last great photo stop at the Flydalsjuvet viewpoint. What a great end to this Fjords Panoramic Adventure! Wednesday and two short day excursions from Flam and Gudvagen. After Flam we cruised the narrow Fjord into Gudvangen so had some great photo opportunities. The lovely Sognefjord was followed by a short stop in Aurland to visit the church there before passing Vassbygda Lake and a hydroelectric plant. Some hairpin roads and numerous tunnels gave us some more great photo opportunities of the Låvisdall Valley and the Aurlands Valley before a short refreshment stop at the Sterbo Mountain Lodge. Travelling along the River Næroy from Gudvangen we arrived at the spectacular Tvinde Waterfall with the afternoon climaxing with a visit to the Stalheim Hotel, spectacularly perched upon a cliff at eighteen hundred feet and a delight to any photographer! What a great city Bergen is, where old and new combined to make this a great city to explore, perhaps even as a city break by air throughout the year!! With the historic part of Bergen, Halseanic Port of Bryggen and the famous Fish Markets selling a vast array of seafood as well as the many berries available – all make visiting Fjordland so special and a must is to enjoy just a simple dessert of Vanilla Ice Cream with Cloudberry Jam! We also took a visit to the Floibannen and the funicular railway to the viewpoint overlooking the city of Bergen to the top of the tallest Mountain in Bergen – Mount Ulrik at over two thousand feet. So what was the “Secret of Norway” mentioned in the brochure description for this cruise? The secret involved guests to stay on deck until after 2330hrs, ( and I also believe some crew members left their posts to witness this amazing experience!) With three long blows on the ships horn, many photo flashes from on board, from shore, from other boats, and with firecrackers going off around us, we had arrived at the Captains Secret..... Contact me, and I can explain this to you! My next cruise will be with Fred Olsen Cruise lines. A truly unforgettable experience!

Blooming Marvellous break in the Netherlands

14 May 2008

Being lucky enough to have been a coach driver / tour manager with some of the major coach operators in the UK, and touring the UK and Europe on a regular basis for around fourteen years, I had the ideal knowledge to arrange our short break! Two groups of friends and some family wanted to go to the Netherlands and visit Keukenhof Gardens for an extended day! There was no operator that matched this request ideally and with my connections in the coach industry and still holding my driving entitlement for PCV (Passenger Carrying Vehicles) I jumped at the chance to book that ideal break to satisfy the groups request. I booked the four star Golden Tulip Hotel at Lisse which on the map was the ideal location for visiting Keukenhof Gardens for the day. The hotel was an excellent choice as some of my guests had limited walking ability and so we all had ground floor rooms. Talking through with my clients, we decided to make three varied and interesting days of our three day, two night break to the Netherlands. On Friday, we called in on the town of Ypres in Belgium for lunch, but also to view the majestic Menim Gate, a great monument to those who sacrificed so much for us today back in the 1914-1918 war. Ypres is a great stop off point for all, with a variety of restaurants, bars and street cafes as well as the infamous Belgium chocolate shops. Making our trip into Holland via Antwerp and Rotterdam we were extremely pleased with my choice of hotel, the views across the bulb fields (in full bloom at this time of year) was a delight on the eyes and enforced the fact that we were in the great Dutch Bulfields! Keukenhof was not disappointing either, being just a few minutes (six actually) away from the hotel, we could enjoy seven hours viewing the vast array of colours of all the different flowers available. We even enjoyed a cruise round the some of the Bulbfields for a little under an hour. Keukenhof Gardens is a show piece garden with all the major suppliers in the Netherlads putting on their best shows. For me the Orchid House was the most impressive display, with so many varieties. The Orchid House is a four star hotel with a great restaurant and will be the venue of our repeat journey in 2009 to see the great Flower Parade held of the weekend of 24 April 2009. Our return journey bought us down the coastline and across the Main and Rhine Delta ending up in Sluis for a visit before a lunchtime visit to Brugge - a venue that can be visited at any time of the year.

Sydney - My Favourite Long Haul Destination

28 April 2008

Sydney is my favourite long haul destination and I have enjoyed seven visits here over the past nine years. Whilst in Sydney I thoroughly recommend that you explore Darling Harbour, the Circular Quay and the Opera House. Sydney is amazing but my most enjoyable experience was coming across the 'hard to find' information centre located behind the Imax Theatre in Darling Harbour. From here you will be able to enjoy a live aboriginal demonstration and talk. Another must is also the many water activities - in particular the ferries and cataramans. A day trip not to be missed is to the Blue Mountains where one of the many highlights is to view the Seven Sisters. Definately ride the Sceni-Scender - the steepest cable car in Australia and the awe-inspiring Gondola ride. There are so many things to see and do in Sydney that I cannot possibly re-live them all. Sydney for me is the perfect holiday destination and a place that I will return to time and time again.

Majorca - Palma Nova - a week in the sun!

26 April 2008

I visited Palma Nova for the first time for a week from 30 September 2007 and before I left upgraded to a half board option at the Hotetur Vistanova. This was a very pleasant surprise and the service received from the hotel far exceeded my expectations. The food was great, breakfast was a great way to start the day with a choice of breads, cheeses, fruits, as well as a hot selection; all you could possibly want for breakfast was available. In the evening the choice of food changed every night with a large array of buffet selection available - just what I was looking for on my much needed week away. I enjoyed the area very much and took advantage of the beautiful warm days. Holiday resorts like Palma Nova and Magaluf are places that I very rarely visit, I usually prefer a more adventurous holiday, but I just needed a week in the sun before I started work for the winter season. It really did not disappoint. A visit into the capital Palma, is easy and well worth it. It is easily accessible on the regular public bus service and this was a great day out which I thoroughly enjoyed. Palma is very different from the beach based resorts and I took advantage of the cosmopolitan atmosphere and beautiful architecture. A must visit is also the Pirate Show. A fun night out for all the family. For adults only, you must definitely enjoy the late 'Pirates Uncut Show' which comes with supper and drinks included. My week in Majorca was relaxing and came as a welcome alternative to my usual holiday choices.

Prague - a Great Short Break

28 April 2008

Prague is a great city to visit as a European destination. The hotel that I chose was just outside the city and was around a 10 minute tram ride into the historic city centre. I was positioned perfectly near the 'old castle' and had an excellent restaurant within my hotel that overlooked this beautiful city. Whilst in Prague I recommend that you visit Wencelas Square, as this is the centre point of the city and a place that I found to be truly magical. Whilst in Prague I also visited the Mechanical Clock and Prague Castle to admire the Saint Vitus Cathedral. Steeped in culture and history I really did enjoy wandering around the old cobbled streets taking in the various sites and sounds of this eastern european city. A boat cruise that is definitely worth doing and leaves from under the Charles Bridge is very reasonable and includes a drink and cake! A personal favourite of mine! Prague really is unique, there are so many interesting places to visit and a variety of shops that you will inevitably miss the crowds and really get the feel of this wonderful city. It was a great break and I would love to return.

My customer stories

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Thanks for all your support with our travels to New Zealand its been much appreciated - looking forward to seeing our family!

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Due to poor weather and Covid related issues we faced a lot of disruption. One call to Trevor had everything dealt with including transferring part of the holiday to another time. Having a person to call upon when things don’t go to plan made all the difference. Its great to have one point of contact throughout from enquiry, booking through to returning home - thank you Trevor

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Trevor has booked holidays for us since 2012 he has always been very helpful and always available when we rang no matter when, he is also very friendly.

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Please accept our thanks for your fantastic services in making the travel arrangements. The quality and professionalism of your services never fail to impress. Appreciated! Bevil Digital Pipeline (Computers4Africa)

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Trevor is always available for advice, always able to assist with our problems and he is always cheerful and pleasant to talk to. A very stress free and relaxing way to book your holiday.

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I have always used Trevor for all my bookings and he has always been plesant and accommodating. I can be very particular but nothing is too much trouble for him.

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Trevor managed our requests and bookings efficiently and in good time and was always available to deal with changes that we made to our tour plan. Our holiday went well and we were impressed with the standards of the airline and car hire company that Trevor booked for us. We would definitely recommend his services!

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Trevor was recommended to me by a friend who has used him many times. We were looking to go to America and we sent Trevor a rough outline of where we wanted to go and for how long. Trevor came back very quickly with a brilliant itinerary and a good price to match. After a few tweaks we booked our holiday, it was so quick and easy. Trevor is very approachable, responds quickly and always lets you know if he is going to be unavailable. He offers suggestions and has a vast knowledge of places to visit. I found Trevor very helpful, easy to deal with and not at all pushy. We will use him again and would recommend to anyone.

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Trevor is amazing at his job. Travel is his passion. He will ensure he gets you the best price and he's on hand 24/7 throughout the planning and the travel. I will certainly be using him for all my future travel requirements.

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I have not many people as accomodating as Trevor! Any time, any place he will always produce the goods! Enjoy your holiday!

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January for my wife and I is a special month. Why? A group of us, some of whom are visually impaired, go for ten days to Tenerife. This started around 5 years ago with a recommendation from one of our group (the organiser) to use Trevor. Nothing is too much trouble and he always goes that extra mile, such as organising rooms close to each other on the ground floor where possible. It has come to the stage where all we have to do is give him the number of people travelling and pay up and he does the rest. This takes the worry out of booking a holiday and I can thoroughly recommend him and his organisation.

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Trevor has booked several tours/cruises for me. He certainly comes up with the full works and a big smile to go along with them.

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Very many thanks for organizing my latest trip to NZ. You somehow managed to get the cost down quite substantially from my previous trip there. A special thank you for your patience when I twice had to change my travel dates because of unforeseen circumstances. Already looking forward to making a further booking with you.

Sent by Samantha Jung-Fielding

I've known Trevor for over ten years. When we migrated our family to New Zealand five years ago, Trevor was the obvious choice for this important one-way trip! Due to visa difficulties, we had to change our flights three times, and Trevor remained calm and helpful throughout our many frustrations. Once we arrived, family and friends began talking about holidays, and we gave Trevor's contact details to everyone. Trevor has looked after each of our guests, offering guidance on stopovers and providing thoughtful tourism advice to those wishing to explore en route. One close friend has already visited us three times, and she is now planning her fourth trip. She has special requirements when travelling, and Trevor has accommodated her needs every time. We are so grateful for his care and attention, because it's the little things which make all the difference on such a long trip. I highly recommend Trevor, whatever your budget, your destination or your occasion. I simply wouldn't use anyone else.

Sent by Marsja Priston-van Duijn

Trevor is great at organising holidays. All I have to do is tell him where I want to go and when and he will come up with several options. I then choose which one and it is all sorted. Not only does he help here, when you are on holiday he is still only a phone call or email away to sort out things for you. If you want a holiday that is well organised from start to finish, I can't recommend Trevor strongly enough. He makes sure your holiday experience is absolutely fantastic!

Sent by Mark Beadle

Having now booked a few holidays through Trevor, I can only describe the service he gives as outstanding. Nothing is too much trouble. Trevor will take care of you from start to finish. Pick a destination to go and let Trevor work his magic, you will not be disappointed. He has all the bases covered and does everything for you, all I have to do now is turn up and enjoy my holiday. No more stress of thinking whether something is missed as I know every little detail has been taken care of. I really can't reccomend Trevor enough.

Sent by John Gellling

Trevor and his colleagues strive to be up to date on market information. I have used Trevor for 11 years and I can contact him 7 days a week which makes it easy for me as I am also a busy business man. Thank you

Sent by Philip Kent

Highly recommended. Trevor is extremely conscientious and always reliable. A great guy.

Sent by Robert Maddison

A very good bespoke service for my group of blind people and guides. He arranges everything for the holiday and handles all the payments directly from the group members.

Sent by Florence Ndukuyu

You have been doing a wonderful job as a Travel Counsellor

Sent by petra prince

I would like to recommend Trevor, he has looked after our holiday arrangements from big budget family holidays ( we have a boy and three girls) to the Caribbean, to organising short city breaks including a surprise one for my husband to New York, to just travel insurance both for us as a family and now for the children alone as they have got older and moved away. All his recommendations where exactly what we wanted. Thank you Trevor!

Sent by Jacqui Offen

Haven't worried about my holiday details once!!

Sent by James Marett

Fantastic service would highly recommend

Sent by Julian Squiers

Trevor sorted me a trip to see one of my Sporting dreams come true when team GB lifted the Davis Cup in November 2015. Everything about the trip was awesome but it could have finished on a low note with The Eurostar not being able to get me back on time. Despite having a heavy cold Trevor was there to sort things out so I got an extra night in Brussels and the train home the next morning.

Sent by Mark Morgan

Trevor has a wealth of relevant travel experience which is immensely beneficial to his current and potential clients. Always warm, friendly and accommodating, you can't ask for more to make your travel plans a pleasurable experience. Trevor prides himself on ensuring his clients get exactly what they are looking for and helps with the planning process to give the personal touch that makes all the difference

Sent by John Sawyer

Trevor is the definition of service

Sent by Karen Spearpoint

A very professional travel counsellor who took on board all my requests and came up with a value for money holiday package for our visit to family in Australia. Delivery of our tickets, visas and other paperwork to our home was much appreciated.

Sent by Mark Beadle

Nothing was too much trouble for Trevor. Always sorts everything out for you. All you have to do is turn up and enjoy your holiday.

Sent by Sarah Chapman

Trevor has been fantastic with helping us book our honeymoon cruise round the Caribbean! Very helpful and friendly attitude. Always happy to help!

Sent by David Apps

All the hard work has been done by Trevor for our Round the World trip including a cruise from New Zealand to Australia. His expertise and knowledge has been invaluable and nothing has been too much trouble for him to arrange with Trevor always being available to us..

Sent by Jacqueline Offen

Trevor's knowledge, care and consideration are second to none when arranging my bookings for my regular short breaks. I was an eternal sceptic, but since using Trevor's services I feel safer and more comfortable that I have his expertise to help me. I would thoroughly recommend using him - there is no difference in costs, but massive benefits....

Sent by Mig Howard

Trevor has been brilliant and given a service above and beyond

Sent by Sam Howlett

Trevor provides consistently excellent customer service and takes the time to understand what you really want from a holiday. I would heartily recommend him.

Sent by Ian Morgan

A fantastic personal service with a successful large worldwide company backup. Nothing is too much trouble with Trevor, he has a wealth of travel knowledge and a huge amount of patience to ensure his customers get what they ultimately wish for. I always highly recommend Trevor

Sent by Fiona Prentice

Our trip to the USA for our daughter's wedding was made stress free by having Trevor Smith book our airline tickets and hotel. He gave us good information at all times and we would have no hesitation in recommending him to our friends. In fact we already have!

Sent by Graham Bird

Trevor has always provided us a first class service, nothing is too much trouble. He is always on hand to answer our concerns regarding which cruise/ship to book, even outside of office hours! We appreciate his honesty with his recommendations. He delivers what he promises!! We are totally confident when booking our holidays through Trevor. Top guy!

Sent by Kirstie Meredith

Trevor is the best travel advisor we have ever dealt with, which is why we recommend him to all our friends and family. We use him for our own personal and business travel. Nothing is too much for him. Our son has been travelling for his gap year this year, when our son has altered his travel he has dealt with Trevor direct and we only find out after the event which is perfect. My son has learnt to be independent but if it was really a concern Trevor would have let us know. As a mother with Trevor sorting his Gap year travelling out has meant I can sleep peacefully. THANK YOU TREVOR xxx

Sent by Sam Tissham

We are finally down to earth with a bump having moved 10 days after our return. What can I say - we knew that the arrangements you made for our honeymoon would be spot on but we were totally blown away! At every stop they knew we were on honeymoon and this prompted lots of free drinks at bars and bottles of fizz on ice in our rooms. For me the outstanding moment was arriving at the Grand Palace in Montecatini to find that Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier had also spent part of their honeymoon there. Grace Kelly is my favourite Hollywood actress, John actually gave me two collectors item Mont Blanc pens that were commissioned in her memory as a wedding gift. You could not have known it but it put the icing on the cake for me. All the hotels were perfect. I don't know what else to say as I could praise you all day! Thank you so much.

Sent by Bob Bale

Trevor Smith has been a great help to us in the past when organizing a holiday to Canada and Alaska and using the train between Toronto and Vancouver, we would never have been able to organize it ourselves. He is always at the end of the phone whenever we ring and is always extremely friendly and helpful on the numerous times we have rang him. We highly recommend him to all our friends. We are looking forward now to our next holiday booked with Trevor - a cruise out of Southampton to the Canaries.

Sent by Henry Lee

Hi Trevor, this is just a few words to thank you so much for organizing our holiday to Spain. The Hotel was lovely, the room was brilliant and the views and beach front was fantastic. We now want you to book EVERY holiday and business trip for us! Best Regards, Henry & QJ.

Sent by Andrew Taggart

I use Trevor Smith as my Travel Counsellor and find his dedication and commitment second to none. He is always happy to sort out any little or big problem for me any time of the day or night. I would like to personally thank him for all his efforts in the supporting my travel needs. A great team player.

Sent by Petra Prince

Thank you for organising the trip to New York for us. The hotel you recommended was perfect and met all the requirements we gave you. As it was such a short trip your help with pre-booking the outings was really useful (just a shame you couldn't heat up the weather by a few degrees but I guess that would be asking a bit much!) We would definitely use you in the future and recommend you to anyone we know is travelling so a big thank you once again.

Sent by Tony Line

My wife and I had been searching intensively on the internet for days trying to find what we thought was a simple holiday request, but nothing was coming up that was right. I knew Trevor, but wasn't actually sure whether he could help. After my phone call, I was reassured and within an hour Trevor had provided us with a range of holidays that fitted what we had been looking for. He understood our brief, and also provided invaluable advice regarding which countries are currently the best value to visit. Great stuff Trevor, and we are really looking for to our summer holiday.

Sent by Martin Roberts

As always Trevor was lightning fast and efficient. It's good to know when you head off into the distance that you have such a sound support team back at base (should anything go wrong!)

Sent by Peter Richardson

Trevor Smith has arranged many flights, transfers & accommodation for us for several years now. We have travelled to the Far East,USA & Europe and my wife & I are constantly amazed at Trevor's knowledge and the effortless way he arranges things & the care & attention to detail he gives. Travel Counsellors certainly proved the value of their guaranteed financial bond covering all their holidays when our airline went bust 2 months before our holiday, but travel counsellors sorted it all out behind the scenes without us having to do anything! Thank goodness for Trevor Smith & Travel Counsellors!

Sent by Colin Hall

Trevor organised a trip for my wife and I to tour Memphis and Nashville and New Orleans. Just prior to departure we had a problem with "hurrican Gustav" and we were advised not to travel to New Orleans. Had we booked this trip through a regular travel agent we would have incurred additional fees because of changing booking arrangements etc etc... Travel Counsellors re-arranged flights and accommodation at the last minute, with no fuss, and we were able to enjoy our trip.