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Monday, 16 October 2017

Madeira Tropical Gardens, blogs and film set to Mark Blackledge's music

At the top of the cable car, many people walk straight past the gardens to get to the toboggan ride. That is fair, but if you want to see the gardens then do that first or you will have to come back up again as opposed to going down from the base of the toboggan.
The Monte Tropical Gardens are so extensive (70,000 sq meters) that you could spend a day there and walk back to the ship. They are tiered gardens on the mountainside. In the grounds is a three storey museum

The Monte Palace Tropical Garden has an huge exotic plant’s collection, coming from all over the world. There is manor house and lake with water features, swans including Black swans from Australia, Tasmania and New Zeeland, and duck’s. Peacocks and chickens walk free in the grounds.
The Monte Palace Museum is an ideal exhibition space nestled within the beautiful surroundings of a tropical garden. There are three floors, two of which are dedicated to sculptures and the third houses a unique mineral collection gathered from the four corners of the world as seen in the film. 'African Passion' shows part of a collection of contemporary Zimbabwean sculpture from the period 1966 to 1969. 'Mother Nature's Secrets', on the lower floor, proudly exhibits one of the finest private collections of minerals, predominately from Brazil, Portugal, South Africa, Zambia, Peru, Argentina and North America.
Around the garden is a large collection of tile panels placed along the walkways and amongst the vegetation. The collection is considered to be one of the most important in the country after that of the National Tile Museum, is made up of Hispano-Moorish tiles of the 15th and 16th centuries and panels produced in Portugal from the 19th to the 20th centuries.

If you are new to Doris Visits Cruise TV then welcome, we invite you to comment at the end of our blogs, and ask you for follow us on here on www.DorisVisits.com and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube Channel to get the best from us. We are always looking for a social media persons to help us expand so drop us a line anytime at press@DorisVisits.co.uk  PLEASE SHARE
SEE THE CRUISE BEFORE YOU CRUISE THE SEA. We show cruise destinations all over the world. From St Lucia to Barcelona, from Tallinn to Tenerife, from Rome to Russia. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Top 5 attractions to catch while in New York - our list will be different to yours...

What are you going to see? The churches, Ground Zero, Central Park, the Empire State Building? There is a lot to choose from and we have started with a real favourite and one you might not have had on your list. Everyone has a different idea of a top 5 list, and most lists are obvious, which is why we wanted to feature our number 1 choice of things not to miss in New York.

New York, New York, there is so much to do, and we have so many films, this is just our top tips of what not to miss. It is a huge city where even the locals, the taxi drivers and the police don't know everywhere, they can't know every building which is why everyone works in blocks. If you want a building or a hotel, mention the two streets it crosses, like 42nd and 7th. Then it makes sense to everyone. Once you are close you can look for the building.

So, what and why, well why because it is easy and free - easy because you will probably be in mid town, most likely go see Grand Central Station but not this. But it is just a short walk from the station, two blocks up on Madison Avenue. .....  You might not put the New York Library on your list, unless you are a Ghostbusters fan - but you should. It is one of the most impressive buildings in New York, it houses (in all buildings) over 18 millions books and is iconic.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

P&O cruise ship Azura, ship tour all passenger areas

The Cruise Ship from P&O Azura has a 3100 passenger capacity but doesn't feel like a big ship which is why it has its fans and such a high returning customer base to its 14/19 passenger decks.

With some bigger ships having over 6800 passengers and the P&O flagship Britannia having approx 3640 passengers, maybe, the Azura will soon no longer be referred to as large. It no longer makes the top 30 biggest cruise ships. However, it is three sets of corridors long as opposed to the Arcadia's or the even slightly smaller but spacious Aurora's two sets, so it is larger. It is the sister ship to the Ruby Princess and the Ventura.

It is said to be the ship that the raunchy romantic novel Her Virgin Voyage was written on during a Canary Islands cruise, but not the ship in the second book which predicted P&O's venture into the first same sex marriages at sea in the second book The Perfect Storm. The Azura is an easy ship to navigate, it offers a lot in the way of fine dining options and entertainment with three large venues as well as quiet areas and a library, so it has the best of both worlds. It also has a pub and casino on the lower decks if you wish to avoid dressing on formal nights. Take a look at our film of all passenger areas first. Please subscribe to us on You Tube and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Check out some of the great Cruise Routes, our concise films of what a ship offers when it takes a specific route. These are typical routes but we do have films to help cruisers on every popular cruise destination in the world.                                                          

If you are new to Doris Visits Cruise TV then welcome, we invite you to comment at the end of our blogs, and ask you for follow us on here on www.DorisVisits.com and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube Channel to get the best from us. We are always looking for presenters and social media activists to help us expand so drop us a line anytime with ideas at press@DorisVisits.co.uk  PLEASE SHARE

SEE THE CRUISE BEFORE YOU CRUISE THE SEA. Worldwide destination films for cruisers; New York to BarbadosRome to StavangerBora Bora to TallinnTenerife to Cork.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

A cruisers guide to Boston, Massachusetts

Boston harbour was a mess a generation ago, and the docks like all docks have changed from the warehouses to containers. That means the old warehouses are now offices and apartments and the seafront is totally different, the water cleaned up. In order to save public access, the Boston Harbour Walk was developed and is 43 miles of a 12 foot wide boardwalk along the seafront. It links parks, harbours, working boat and dock areas, ferry and parks, amenities and toilets, bars and restaurants. Boston has become a fun young city with much to offer. Inland there is another path, a brick line as Dorothy might follow in the Wizard or Freedom, because it is the Freedom Trail with many stops of interest from the Boston Massacre, to the Tea Party. From the real Cheers bar to the one at Quincy Market, from Museums to lectures and information by Park Rangers, Boston is a city you can walk around, will walk around, the question that remains is which way? That is where Doris Visits comes in. Here is our overview film. The guide to Boston.

Check out some of the great Cruise Routes, our concise films of what a ship offers when it takes a specific route. These are typical routes but we do have films to help cruisers on every popular cruise destination in the world.           

If you are new to Doris Visits Cruise TV then welcome, we invite you to comment at the end of our blogs, and ask you for follow us on here on www.DorisVisits.com and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube Channel to get the best from us. We are always looking for presenters and social media activists to help us expand so drop us a line anytime with ideas at press@DorisVisits.co.uk  PLEASE SHARE

SEE THE CRUISE BEFORE YOU CRUISE THE SEA. Worldwide destination films for cruisers; New York to BarbadosRome to StavangerBora Bora to TallinnTenerife to Cork.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The New England Cruise Route

Nothing is as impressive as autumn on the east coast of North America, a perfect time of year to witness the superb spectacle of colour in the Fall or Autumn - whichever.

These New England cruises offer a contrast between some of the most British of American harbours with the familiar colours of leaf fall, and the rugged Cornish-like sea coast. Boston is many people's favourite American city with its huge park and "Cheers" bar. Our films there take in the Parks and Freedom trail as Boston is an easy city to explore on foot although there are trolly buses for tourists.

Bar Harbour is a port that is a tender port and often missed due to bad weather so the dreamed of ''lobster roll' was missed - it has been for us every time. One day we will get there.

New York’s wonderful Statue of Liberty against an instantly recognisable skyline is an amazing sight as the ship cruises along the Hudson River. Then the ships start to creep further south to Baltimore, then to Charleston and Bermuda before taking in the Azores on the way home. All these are featured on our East Coast menu, so if you have not cruised there yet, take a look at this route. Our destinations are split into route sections to make it easy for you, have a look around and let us know your thoughts. This was the main section of the Aurora 715 Boston down and back to the Azores.

A cruise route is like a road trip at sea, if you have missed our previous blog on the road movie film The Last Flag Flying, please take a look. Great movie.

Check out some of the great Cruise Routes, our concise films of what a ship offers when it takes a specific route. These are typical routes but we do have films to help cruisers on every popular cruise destination in the world.              Baltic Route - Canary Islands Cruise - New England CruiseCaribbean Cruise (from Barbados) - Norwegian Fjords - Mediterranean Routes

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Strictly Come Dancing - tickets to the adventure

Have you applied for Strictly tickets. Do you know the chances? - about the same as the Lottery. Elstree studio holds 600, Blackpool at best 900, and there are guests and relatives who have to be looked after, so the ticket allocation is really a lottery. But, you can get up close and personal at the shows, or See more than a show at Sea.... It has stared, it looks like the final is a forgone conclusion already but who knows. What we do know is there will be a great show on board ship. The dates for the 2018 Strictly Come Dancing cruises are released and many passengers have already booked. Though P&O do suggest they are subject to change that is probably more to cover an eventuality they cannot control because the system all fits into a calendar year as we will explain. There will be two on the Azura, one on the Britannia and one on the Ventura. The dates normally sit in the summer because the show itself has a timetable. There is the TV show until Christmas, the live shows, then the dancers take their own shows on tour. They finish and they come straight to the Cruise shows, and when they finish that they begin rehearsing for the main TV show in the run up to Christmas. Here is exactly what happens on ship.

This year it is
As the main presenter for the online and Opera TV cruise show Doris Visits I get to cruise a lot, but I was keenly looking forward to Strictly Come Dancing at sea last year. You may wonder why they are all on a similar route and all on the Med, I can only suggest, knowing the routine and how timed to the minute the crammed entertainment programme is, that the access to airports on the days the stars change over is well worked on this route. So, what happens? What can you expect? They suggested there would be more this year as if there wasn't more than enough last year.
Here is what happened last year. I normally work at every port stop filming from the moment the ship docks until the moment it leaves, and I try and see every entertainment act so I thought this might be a busy cruise for me. I had no idea just how busy and exhausting, I have never been on a cruise with so much on offer! If you have never cruised take a look at the ten-minute film of our blow by blow of ports, the ship and what was on. It is an education. Here is last year in the Med. Actually, as this blog is content heavy you might want to read it then come back to the links. This is a day by day or what happens.

Day one, a Sunday the Britannia left Southampton and quite a few of the three and a half thousand passengers were finding their way round the ship for the first time. The tone of the cruise was set as we found costumes from Strictly, soon to be known as SCD on mannequins around the ship. SCD is now very organised on board, so if you are worried that such an event filled cruise might be a battle to see things I cannot stress enough that is not the case. Britannia holds 3600 passengers and the Headliners Theatre holds 950. Each special SCD act performs four times and they are ticketed to ensure that everyone gets to see the show, almost always when they want. Now it is down to you, the passenger to plan how you will get round the event filled day and find time to eat! With choir, other entertainers and port visits the list of events looked daunting.

Monday 26th morning it started early with the opportunity to book private lessons with Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec in the Atrium where passengers were also encouraged to book to compete for the final grand passenger dance off. There was an SCD help desk set up in the Atrium. At 2pm there was a Masterclass with Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec in the Crystal Ballroom, this was busy but people were in good spirits. Then at 4pm Janette and Aljaz were in the packed 950 seat Headliners theatre. The charming couple were introduced by Tracy Clegg and Aljaz told the story of how the last question two years ago on the same cruise was ‘when are you going to propose?’ He said he went straight to the on board jewellers and bought the ring, he told how he proposed and they then revealed their wedding plans which are to take place just a couple of weeks after they disembark the ship. Three weddings, London, Cuba and Slovenia. They also announced that they have both been confirmed back on this year’s Strictly with three new female dancers and a new female judge. We were off to a great start. Black Tie evening I was spoilt with an early treat at Michelin star chef Atul Kochhar’s Sindhu Restaurant.
10am on Tuesday 27th there was the first of a hosted wardrobe tour of the SCD costumes. On board at midday Janette ran a Master Class in the Crystal room. Later in the Limelight Janette and Aljaz ran a dance class for youths in the more private area of the Limelight Club. Everything worked like a well-oiled machine with Eric Lanlard doing both a Master Cookery Class in the morning and an 'Audience with' in the Headliners in the afternoon. Because some of the events are ticketed, there was a Strictly help desk established in the Atrium from 9am to 10.45 daily.
Wednesday  28th June the costume tours repeated but there was the additional live fashion show at 4pm from the resident ship’s show cast. Janette and Aljaz did a 'meet and greet' session, signing and having photographs with guests at midday. Film director Stuart St Paul who did many of the 1980's pop videos like Wild Boys with Arlene Phillips, revealed the secrets to filming on location and spilt the beans on how little of Angels and Demons was shot in Rome. (that is a fun way to see Rome, see the blog) (He also reveals the best way to shoot the Trevi Fountains in the Rome blog)
The black tie evening was quite special and very full so we ate early. I had the lobster main course and the two of us shared the suggested wine. Delicious! Janette and Aljax did the first of their evening shows and we were there. This was a ticketed event, not because there was a cost, but because everyone wanted to see them and it was the perfect way to ensure everyone did. There were two shows that night in the Headliners, 8.30 and 10.30, then two more to follow tomorrow. That meant four chances to see the show. The Headliners theatre is bigger than most West End theatres, it has an LED back wall for effects and backdrops but that was not used. The whole stage was a dance area and they performed. It was a joy to watch such master talent close up and personal and I have not seen such great dancing since Patrick Swayze danced with his wife at the Oscars. The specialist dance instructors on board for the two weeks were also in the show. They were also magnificent dancers, but, the sheer excellence of the stars was obvious. The show was funny and engaging and mixed clips with anecdotes as well as dances including the Russian Tango, the American Smooth and a Jive. The ‘Evening With’ event at the Headliners felt like a longer very full show and one can see why the dancers need to eat well because the energy they must use twice a night plus their day time training, as well as dance classes must burn huge amounts of calories. Opposite them in the live lounge at the other end of the ship Kai McKenzie was Michael BublĂ©, a tribute act even Michael says is the best. We left the theatre having been spoilt with a great show and managed to find seats to watch another hugely talented individual.

Thursday 29th June was our first stop in Alicante and I was off filming one of our usual films for Doris Visits. In the evening were the next two shows for Janette and Aljax to ensure the whole ship had seen them.

Later the same evening we went to see the very funny comedian Tucker, who we have seen many times before but he had new material and even the ones we had heard before made us laugh out loud.

Friday we were in Barcelona. Janette and Aljaz left the ship and Karen and Kevin Clifton got on. Eric and Ern, the Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise tribute who we also play golf with back home in The Stage Association, the next small world phenomenon happened. Another of the golfer's partners was on board to sing. This was a real treat because we have heard about her for a long time as one of the top female West End stars but had never seen her, Jenna Lee-James. She had just finished playing the lead in Mamma Mia and had previously been in We Will Rock you for nearly six years. She sang everything from Streisand to Freddie Mercury and we were in the presence of greatness once again.

Saturday 1st July. A cruise ship does make the world a small place because although it was too windy for the Britannia to pull into Cannes, plans were made for us to detour to Corsica. Having missed Cannes, film director and Cannes veteran Stuart St Paul was on board to explain the Cannes Film Festival and what goes on there. In the evening Tucker held a late night comedy session. The entertainment kept coming day and night and it was exhausting reporting on all of them. Tucker was a treat.

Sunday was La Spezia and we took the train to Pisa and filmed the leaning tower, cathedral and town for Doris Visits. On the way back we did a short film on La Spezia for the many who like to see the local town and never venture further. Back on board was an audience with Karen and Kevin.

Monday 3rd we arrived in Civitavecchia and we travelled into Rome where I presented an Angels and Demons film made for Doris Visits. Kevin and Karen performed the first two of their shows in the evening. Or there was a cookery club dinner at the chef's table in the Cookery Club on deck 17. Bucks Fizz star Cheryl Baker started her four nights in the Limelight.
Tue 4th July Black Tie - Peter Andre performed the first of his four shows and in the live lounge was Rieta Austin one of the Strictly singers performing her show. Film and action director Stuart St Paul was in the Headliners theatre in the afternoon talking about his years of Pop Videos like Wild Boys with Strictly’s Arlene Phillips and Elton John Videos with Strictly’s Bruno adding the action, the fire and the somersaulting gymnasts into the routines.
Wed 5th July we stopped at Cartagena, a regular stop but I had not been there since a very early Britannia cruise and noted that since then they have hidden the entrance to the amphitheatre that was accidently found in 1980. Now you have to accidently find it again, though the best views of it are still from above it, the castle and the park.
Peter Andre did the last two of his four shows and Jayne Middleton was in the Live Lounge as Annie Lennox.
Thur 6th saw Craig Revel Horwood start the first of his four shows in the headliners and soul legend Jimmy James played in the Live Lounge. Darren Day started his run in the Limelight.
Friday 7th was a Black Tie night, and Strictly’s Natalie Lowe hosted a chat session at midday then judged the passenger dance finals with Craig and Executive producer Richard Curwen. Lven Johnson played the live lounge as Whitney Houston while we watched Darren Day in the Limelight perform an incredible show.

Saturday 8th, the last sea day saw things wind down with Exec Producer Richard Curwen talk about the 'behind the scenes'. Natalie Lowe did a signing session and then the ships company of inhouse entertainers did the second of the Strictly fashion shows. Director Stuart St Paul did his final talk about directing on Petra and the Wadi Rum as an introduction to the Arcadia's 99 day circumnavigation next year. That night I had dinner in the Sindhu, feeling totally spoilt and exhausted and needing a holiday to get over the busiest and most entertainment filled cruise I have ever been on. Even Richard Curwen said it was the biggest Strictly Cruise show ever and that talks were ongoing for next year to be even bigger. It is a good job I am boarding the Azura for the Fjords in two weeks time as I need a break! Click the picture or here to get to the ten minute fast cut  blow by blow film of the cruise.

Where are you spending New Years Eve

Renowned for being one of the top New Years' Eve destinations, and maybe the top for cruisers, Madeira is normally on the Canary Islands route. It is Portuguese and mainly Christian so Christmas is special, the streets of Funchal get beautifully dressed with thousands of lights. Even outside Funchal, almost every lamp post will be dressed up. However, on New Year's Eve, they go crazy. Crazy, Crazy! Fireworks and activities make Madeira Island one of the most special places to celebrate New Year's Eve. So Much so, that people travel there just for this celebration. The curved bay acts as a huge theatre with barges in the bay shooting a massive firework display into the sky. Whether you watch from the beach, a bar or the ship this is one of the star places to be at New Years' Eve. And who wins that size this year? The P&O ship Ventura. Take a look at our Madeira films. Toboggan or sleigh ride. The Botanical Gardens. Madeira Guide.
Sydney Australia is also aways popular.

Where are your favourite ships on New Years Eve?

Sally Katz
used the films on Doris Visits to peg her books on! With permission. Book 1 Violet stops in Madeira and is on a Canary Island Cruise on a ship like the Ventura layout. Each book takes place over a cruise and has incredible inside news and information on cruise lines and shipping. She told of the same sex marriage at sea (book2) plans a year before they were released!! Book 1 is a Canary Islands cruise, Book 2 is in the Baltic, Book 3 is in the Caribbean. Adult romance, Bridget meets 50 Shades on a ship!