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Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Caribbean Explained

Caribbean - round up

The Atlantic crossing has long meant so much; the journey to a new world, to wealth, freedom, and discovery - for some. For others, it was the nightmare of slavery and abuse, of rape and pillaging. The slavery museum in Tortola is hidden away, the lights in this building are not often on in this building even though it is open, but it is a dreadful reminder of how man is repeatedly shown to have poor standards and a convenient justification of actions. In Solo Cruiser book 3, American Portrait, Aled, the young painter straight out of art school takes Violet there and she stands in horror at the history of the near past. Book 3 and book 4 are set in this area and I am sure the islands will be re-visited in future books and I hope we are still involved. We like these books because aside from the romance the stories unveil so much about the past as well as cruising. For the winter sun, many ships sail off for the 'Caribbean season'. So, Columbus discovered America, which was already there, already populated and had been discovered before. What he discovered was how special these places were, how they could supply fruits, sugar and rum, minerals and gems. Money changes hands, people lived off supplying facilities to these sailors and traders from bars and sex to shipping repairs and farming tools. Plants and plantations were moved with slaves to work them. Even after the slavery act had been agreed, British ships dropped their British flag and the owners continued to ship slaves under another flag to their wealthy relatives who needed a continuous labour stream. From the TV show Roots to the recent Taboo starring Tom Hardy to Pirates of the Caribbean there has been filming all over these islands so what is this area to a cruise fan? It is a means of income for the families that live there now.
The Cruisers Caribbean - Area
The Caribbean Sea is a finite area but the Caribbean route is not. South America and the Amazon are at its base, the land joining the Americas with the fracture made by the Panama Canal is to the east, the Gulf of Mexico and Florida is to the North and the Caribbean Islands themselves to the West, form the barrier to the Atlantic Ocean. Barbados for example is on the east edge. On this island, the west coast is a holiday resort and has beautiful beaches as it faces the Caribbean. East coast Barbados has a rugged stormy coast line facing the Atlantic, we have a film of each. For a cruiser, one could include Charleston in the North as the top of the circuit, with the growing Port Canaveral as the most northern Florida stop. Here you will find Space Parks and Disney and so much more as Jean shows in our film there. Canaveral is a transit stop for many Caribbean cruises to fly into. Also to the North you get New Orleans. To the South, most maps and routes include Trinidad as the last island, but then some will add the Amazon as an extended adventure. All these places can be on a route, so we have broken it into three menus in our cruise destinations. We have all the islands.

please check out our menus for the Caribbean and films on every island. www.DorisVisits.com

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Pizza Festival - what's not to like

Pizza Village is before, Pizzafest is after school holidays

Pizza Village is where the Pizza world Championship is held.

It is a free event featuring pizza demonstrations and exhibits on the waterfront of Naples. It is huge with much partying for a whole week, the third week in June. Pizza experts from all over Itally come to compete especially in the first two days. It draws chefs from over 50 historical Neapolitan pizzerias and over half a million visitors. It has an official web site to list the special events. Click Here.

Pizzafest where the dough is thrown around

For two weeks after the main school holiday season, that is weeks two and three of September, Pizzafest centers at Mostra d’Oltremare, Naples’ main convention centre.

Full blog with film at www.DorisVisits.com in the Mediterranean-Italy  menu and the Themed cruises menu.

Naples is said to be the birthplace of Pizza in the Mediterranean, but the flat bread dish was long established in the middle east before it got to Italy, just as the noodles now know as spaghetti were taken to Venice by the Chinese. Sure, there is a lot to do in this area, just look at the tours to give you a clue, but when someone says Pizza, and they aim to be the best pizza's ever, and fine fine or beer might be involved along with music and dancing lots of street entertainers and a real atmosphere of party! In 2004, in Italy rules were drawn up prescribing how a real Neapolitan pizza must be. Firstly, the dough must rise for at least six hours and must be shaped by hand. Secondly, pizza must be round and not more than 13.7 inches in diameter. Thirdly, it must be cooked in a wood-fire oven with three versions only permitted: Marinara with garlic and oregano; Margherita with basil, tomatoes and cheese from the southern mountains; and the ‘Extra Margherita’ which must include buffalo mozzarella from the Campania region. Pizza professionals from all over Italy arrive to compete in the competitions.

Doris Visits lists the cruise ports of the world - new huge menu up now. www.DorisVisits.com

In the book charts, SOLO CRUISER BOOK SERIES. Violet Becket has never cruised. In fact, she has been nowhere in a long time. Too long. Book 1, Virgin Voyage has been in the book charts for some weeks now.Violet has never had romance, never ever. As an older woman time is running out and she needs to make a change. This romantic read is based around cruises because once she cruises she loves it. That is her romance, well, there is a little more. Sally Katz used the films on Doris Visits to peg her books on! With permission. Each is a good read but there has yet to be a book based in this region, even though each book takes place on a cruise! Book 1 is a Canary Islands cruise, Book 2 is in the Baltic, Book 3 is in the Caribbean, and Book 4 goes from the ABC islands through the Panama Canal.
 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

8.4 Billion dollars expanding the Suez a few years ago is having positive effect. Oceana adds Arabian Adventures to its 2019 itinerary, so it won't just be the Arcadia World or Fred Olsen who takes you there. Who else will go through the canal?

SUEZ CANAL to SALALAH, MUSCAT, DUBAI

When Doris Visits went to the World Travel Market at the end of last year, one of the things that was being pushed very hard was the work between governments and tourist agencies to open up some areas of the world that were being avoided. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi who has now held power in Egypt since 2014 is said by some to be building Egyptian stability through achievements. His 8 billion dollar expansion of the Suez Canal is having a positive effect. Egypt means business! It also opens the Middle East for bigger business and cruise ships adding the over 100 mile transit through the canal may be a sign of its success. The Middle East is changing fast; over 80% of Dubai's population are non native and have gone there to live, work and play hard and have better life styles than they could achieve at home. The expansion of the Suez Canal can be a historic sea change in people getting to know each other, integrate and mix more, that always achieves something! This connection is so important that Pharaohs as far back as the 2nd millennium BC were trying to achieve this. This video takes you through at motorway speed in under two minutes.

The Suez Canal makes the Middle East closer and quicker to get to. However, even with the canal Dubai is still a long way away to be in a short cruise unless you fly cruise, and the Oceana offers that in 2019. We have never travelled on this ship, but before it goes there we will have joined the ship at least twice and will be able to show you round and its many special destinations. The Oceana is probably a ship for those who like history for it often explores Greece and the Roman empire. Valletta in Malta with it’s 16th century bastion walls and spectacular views of the Grand Harbour are in the outward journey. This port may get much busier if cruise traffic increases.
The Suez passage is then an unforgettable route from Port Said, Suez in the Mediterranean to the Port Tewfik in the Red Sea. Originally a one way passage for a considerable length when built in 1869, it contains no locks system. Seawater flows freely north of the Bitter Lakes flows north in winter and south in summer. The expansion of the Ballah Bypass, some 35 km of waterway, cost 8.4 billion. Suez extends from the northern terminus of Port Said to the southern terminus of Port Tewfik at the city of Suez.
Salalah originally the capital of Dhofar it is the largest city in the Province and the second largest city in the Sultanate of Oman. It became famous for its incense trade in the 13th century and is said to be fragrant with frankincense, littered with ancient ruins and home to the Queen of Sheba’s palace. Much history has been told and retold here and a fantastic day awaits you. The sultan traditionally lives in Salalah rather than the capital Muscat your likely next stop. Muscat has been known as an important trading port since the first century and is a fast growing multi ethnic city rapid advances to infrastructural development that has led to a vibrant economy heading towards a population of 2 million. The influences of  the Persians, the Portuguese the Ottoman Empire and its own influence extending as far as East Africa and Zanzibar are all still evident.
Dubai is likely to be next, often called the ‘Pearl of the Arabian Gulf’ it is a heady mix of hot sun, parties, alcohol, high-rise architecture, the cleanest metro ever, youth, polo playing, the tallest building in the world and boutique shopping. We have ten films on Dubai and our son and his wife lived there for years. The Oceana then goes on but it is your choice whether to disembark in Dubai or further explore. The ship cruises the area for some time after this and takes in the ports listed below. Please share and use our links into P&O to book. Thank you. Hey, if you film a port let us know.
visit us at www.DorisVisits.com
Take advantage of Early Saver Deals when available for these cruises. We have videos of many of the cruise stops you might make from Miami to Tahiti, from Bruges to St Maarten. With your help we will build more and be a better resource for cruisers. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share and book via links on our site. Thank you.
SOLO CRUISER BOOK SERIES. Violet Becket has never cruised. infant she has been no where for a long time. Too long. And she has never had romance, never ever. As an older woman time is running out and she needs to make a change. This romantic read is based around cruises because once she cruises she loves it. That is her romance, well, there is a little more. Sally Katz used the films on Doris Visits to peg her books on! With permission. Each good read shows off a typical good cruise. But it is not about the places or the ships, you will know them back to front, if not you will get to know them. It is about Violet's journey. Warning, there are two versions; HER VIRGIN VOYAGE is the lighter version, but VIRGIN VOYAGE is the full fat with full raunchy version like 50 Shades. Her Virgin Voyage has all the story just about 2500 words shorter. It is about a woman discovering life late in life, Violet's story ranges three books. The second is a Baltic Cruise, again there are two versions, the third in the USA / Caribbean and there is only the lighter romance version as her story concludes for a while. Book four follows another character you have met and liked.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Cruise the Norwegian Fjords, this is what a typical cruise looks like

A fjord is a deep, narrow and elongated freshwater lake drain into the sea, so the waters mix. Basically sea water with fresh water means it is crystal clear water with steep land on three sides. I guess you can explain everything in print, but the fjords are something to see, possibly with classical music playing. At one end of the ship it probably will be playing on the address system, because they know it works too. This is a cruise where people from all nations travel to join British ships because of the spectacle. Sailing between huge mountains that nearly touch the side of the ship has a majesty and reminds me of old Hercules movies. I ski a couple of times a year or more and have done for twenty years, I have seen some of the worlds biggest waterfalls like the Zambezi and worked filming a commercial on the one on the Thai / Burmese border about forty minutes out of Chiang Mia so I don't trek up to glaziers on this cruise, it has a different appeal. There is something majestic and peaceful, huge yet serene, there, I said you could perhaps tempt a few words but take a look at the video then I will give you a run down of the cruise, the route, the week.

After leaving the UK there will be a day sailing across the North Sea. This is very likely to be a Black Tie night, the entertainment will be good and the fine dining restaurants busy. Day two you will arrive at a gateway, one of two, either Stavanger, Haugesund or Bergen, before heading further north. It is normally Stavanger and as long as it is not a Sunday it will be open. Sunday is a quiet day. Stavanger's old town is the best place to start, it is on the hill up from what used to be the fishing quay and will now undoubtedly have a cruise ship parked against. It has a canning museum, an old worker's cottage and next to it a glass artist. The tourist office has been moved down out of the town into the quay. There are normally two ships in at least every day. Other things we show on the film are the cathedral, the lake and the street of coffee shops in the market.
Day two is often Flam, which is maybe the adventure centre of the Fjords. Much to do, buzzy and busy, organised and friendly, this is the place to hire an electric talking tourist car for two (small people with driving license) and much more. In the car you can easily travel to Aurland or into the Stegastein Valley. For the mountain train book in advance or on the ship it has limited ability and will and does sell out. Walking in the mountains is fun and we have covered was 3 to Brekkefossen Waterfall on film. In contrast day two might be Skjolden where you can hire a bike and cycle to the glacier or just stroll around the tiny town.
Olden is often on Day three and it is a small village. Olden has a population of only 500 people, which is about 40% of the size of the cruise ship Azura's crew and as many children as were in the passenger section on board. It is a time to walk and relax.
There are normally four stops so the last is on the way back south, and normally Bergen. My funny story is that we had Jon Fisher on board entertaining us, he is the foremost Gary Barlow tribute act, and the Princess ship that was also in had Tony Fisher on board who is the foremost Robbie Williams tribute act on board and they met in a bar for the first time! Our week's entertainment was full and also included comedian Manuel Martinez who guest appeared in the Bergen film. We should have filmed that rather than the city, maybe next time. Bergen has a steep mountain train or vehicular to the top where there are incredible views and gardens. The town has a fish market where you can taste whale meat, and an old village within the town of wooden houses, shops and coffee houses. Bryggen is a must for all visitors.
It can rain at all of these stops. The ones onside the fjords have been mostly sunny for us and the gateway towns always rain at some point. Be prepared for hot and cold. So the trip is the same, the glory of the Fjords, cut by nature during the ice age.
See all the other videos we made during this and other cruises. The Fjords are very filmatic and the our video of a typical Norwegian Fjord Cruise shows that to Mark Blackledge's wonderful music. The guides of the towns like this one is just of the town. We also have guides on Olden, FlämStavanger, Skjolden and Bergen. Please share this page. The Fjords can take in other stops and head further north to Iceland, so choose your route.
Check out our travel web series on www.DorisVisits.com

Thursday, 20 July 2017

STRICTLY ON A SHIP by actress Jean Heard. TV cruise presenter for Doris Visits.

As the main presenter for the on line 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. 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 tale a look at the ten minute blow by blow of ports, ship and what was on. It is an education. B718 in the Med. Actually as this blog is content heavy you might want to read it then come back to the links.

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 battle to see things I cannot stress enough that is not. 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 and I think 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 stops 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 a SCD help desk set up in the Atrium. At 2pm there was a Master Class 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 Slovinia. 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 Koochar’s Sindhu Restaurant.

10am on Tuesday 27th there was the first of a hosted wardrobe tour of the SCD costumes on board and 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. I was spoilt with an early treat at Michelin star chef Atul Koochar’s Sindhu Restaurant.

Wednesday  28th June the costume tours repeated but there was the additional live fashion show at 4pm from the resident ship’s show cast. Jeanette and Aljaz did a meet and greet session, signing and having photographs with guests at midday. Film director Stuart St paul 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 eat early. I had the lobster main course and the two of us shared the suggested wine so we were off to a great start. Jeanette and Aljax did the forst of ther 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 bigget than most West End shows, 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. Two other dance couples danced with them twice, and they were the specialist dance instructors on board for the tweo weeks. They were also magnificent dancers, but, the sheer excellence of the our stars was obvious. The show was funny and engaging and mixed clips with antidotes 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 they need to eat 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 KaiMcKenzie was Michael Bublé, 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 Jeanette and Aljax to ensure the hole ship had seen them, we went to see the very funny comedian Tucker, who we have seen before but had new material and even the ones we had heard before made us laugh out loud.

Friday we were in Barcelona. Jeanette and Aljaz left the ship and Karen and Kevin Clifton got on. Eric and Ern, the Eric Morceombe 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 golfers 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 Risk you for nearly six years so she sung 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 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 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 and Angles and Demons film made for Doris Visits. Kevin and Karen performed the first two of there show in the evening. Or there was a cookery club dinner at the chefs 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 of his years of Pop Videos where he co choreographed pop videos like Wild Boys with Strictly’s Arlene Philips and Elton John Videos with Strictly’s Bruno adding the action, the fire and the sumasulting gymnasts into the routines.

Wed 5th July we stopped at Catagena, 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 amphi theatre 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 midaday then judged the passenger dance finals with Craig and Executive producer Richard Curwen. Lven Johnson played the live lounge as Winey Houston but we saw Dareen 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 whe behind the scenes, Natalie Lowe did a signing session and then the ships company of in house 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 Arcadias 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 cruise I have ever been on. Even Richard Curwen said it was the biggest Strictly Cruise show ever and that talks were on going 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 film of the blow by blow cruise.

Doris Visits is a cruise travel Channel now with over 200 films up and many informative blogs. If you would have told me when we were shooting the 60 episodes of the web series Shades Of Bad, that it would turn into this I would have laughed. Now I look at the next twelve months in the diary, having already cruised three times in 2017, and there are with more cruises. I am looking forward to the two round Greece next year. Please share and flow us at www.DorisVisits.com

Note from the editor, she never even mentioned the stop in Gibraltar !



Thursday, 18 May 2017

We are on the last Strictly Come Dancing Cruise of the season.

B718 Britannia - Strictly Come Dancing


Presenter Jean can hardly contain her excitement of being on the Strictly Come Dancing Cruise, on the Britannia B718.

see our web page.
http://dorisvisits.com/2017/05/18/strictly-cruise/

We have just come off the ship, Britannia, and just been to Rome, but you cannot have too much of a good thing. Jean, having started as a dancer before working in film and TV with Oscar winning stars like Mark Rylance in Grass Arena to TV guests in The Bill and a regular mum in Grange Hill. Jean now presents the travel show Doris Visits for OPERA TV and on line in the rest of the world.

So if you are on B718 you might like to do some research before you go. Like how to see Barcelona by Metro, that will save you some money.


If the YouTube video above does not load try the dailymotion link
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5lv5bz

Then we have many films on Rome, you might like to look at the Big Bus tour or the Vatican, we have six films. This is the one on where to get the best view of the Trevi Fountain.


Enjoy the cruise and come and say Hi !!