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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 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 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.

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

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 !!

Saturday, 13 May 2017

TREVI FOUNTAIN, ROME - the best place to take a picture

Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain

The best time to take a picture is early, but that might not be possible due to your travel arrangements. Cruise passengers will not get into Rome early not matter how hard they try. But there is a spot that misses the crowd and gives you the great shot.
Take a look at our video. Click here to link.

Luckily we have a camera man and director and when awake !!  They look for the spots that maybe others miss. That is not to say they always get it right but for the Trevi Fountain they did. In the bottom of the frame you can see the tourists fighting to get the great shot. Let us show you where we went to get this.

This film, the first out of the edit on Rome, starts to the Spanish Steps and shows a little of the short walk to the Trevi Fountain.

After the fountain we found a Pimp Your Magnum ice cream shop, why not re dip it in chocolate and choose your toppings. We are sure that was not there last time we visited.

This series of blogs and videos are from a cruise on the Britannia, so we have covered the ship, we covered glass blowing in Gibraltar and shot our first travel film in Barcelona.

There will be a few films from Rome and we hope to clear the edit before our next assignment in the Fjords. Others this your include back from Venice, Boston to Bermuda and a few others, so the videos of cruise destinations should grow.

We also plan to rebuild the web site but time as well as final design are the enemy there. Finally as always we rely on you enjoying the Doris Visits films and telling others. We would like some social media marketeers to join the team but that is another thing on the to do list, Alexa!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Britannia Cruise ship, take a look all over it

Cruise Ship, never been on the Britannia ?

We invite you to take a look around, as usual the Doris Visits way. See the Cruise before you cruise the sea. We might not have blogged for a while but it is because we have been mega busy. Our web site is due for a major redesign now we have way over 100 films and so much more going on for cruisers, but it is still the best place to stay in touch. Follow us there. Here

So, the Britannia is big. A Night Club lounge that holds over 600, a theatre that holds 950 and a dining cabaret club called the Limelight, added to a cinema that holds 200 and other areas. There are fine dining restaurants like the Epicurean and Sindhu as well as the Glass House.

You may have never seen kids clubs but it is worth taking a few seconds to see why you don't see many kids on board, because they are in here. Cookery classes and much more, the Britannia is huge. Because it is big, it can only dock at big ports so will not get to locations the small ships can. We never docked at Monaco because of high winds, so had an extra day at sea.

It is best you take a look. Click here.


Our films on Rome and Barcelona will follow, on our site we also have films from Bora Bora and Tahiti, we have been busy !

Saturday, 26 November 2016

London Christmas Lights; Oxford St, Regent St, Carnaby St, Liberty's Windows

London Christmas Lights; Oxford St, Regent St, Carnaby St, Liberty's Windows

Every year the London lights are an attraction. There have been some fantastic years, normally when a huge Christmas film comes out and they buy the streets for promotion and go to town. There have been some ordinary years. If you can't get to London and some of the other attractions we will find a few and show them to you. So, the very first is the special area.

Oxford Street and Regent Street

Oxford Street is the one people mention, but Regent Street often has the better lights. Oxford Street has a collection of lit hung ball balls and Regent Street has the huge Christmas Angels whose wings light up as a graduation, then go out and rotate again. This is the first year we have filmed them so I cannot compare, but there was a hint of me having seen these before.

Liberty's Windows

In Great Marlborough Street just down from The Palladium, Liberty's window is always worth a look and this year it is the Nutcracker Suite and as they mention the Royal Ballet, there may be some connection. It it is I saw no mention of the ballets golden girl Darcey Bussell who christened the cruise ship Azura. Did you know every cruise ship had a godmother, see our list. They missed a treat there as Darcey is very in vogue in the Strictly Come Dancing run up to Christmas.
Liberty have also got a famous clock adjoining the building across the road to the block that sits between it and Regent Street. Try and make the hour so you can hear the chimes. I suggest not one near rush hour.

Carnaby Street

The centre of 1960's fashion the street now features a Miss Sixty as well as the fabulous Irregular Modes, Doris's favourite show shop. Their lights are always different and never the same which makes them very special. The pubs round this area are also worth taking a break in. As Carnaby Street is just blocks from the attractions above it would be amiss not to take it in with the others. For the shops and the lights.
Click here for the film. It is on Daily Motion so does not appear as a box in Blogspot.



Happy Christmas, don't drink more than you need to be Merry.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Does every cruise ship have a Fairy Godmother? Which ship is Darcey Bussell godmother to?

As we approach panto season, what better question to ask, Ships? Godmothers?

The first time I entered the Arcadia I wondered why Dame Kelly Holmes had a framed picture on the wall in the atrium then on inspection I realised she had Christened the ship. Compared with Dame Helen Mirren's christening of the Ventura, Kelly's was a tame affair. Kelly had stilt walkers and balloons.

Dame Helen got a team of Royal Marine Commandos and she abseiled down the side of the ship with them before breaking the bottle of Champagne! That is the style I would expect of her having worked with her on Prime Suspect just a few years ago.

But talking of history, the picture I am using is from 1978 Sunderland Empire Panto when Doris was the Fairy Godmother, but alas not to a ship. Doris is the character that comes from the award winning web series that put 61 episodes on line, Shades Of Bad.

Earlier that year she got off a ship called a Floatel in Zsa Zsa where she was on tour with the then hit BBC TV show Seaside Special.

Little did she know then she would be presenting a TV Travel Show nearly 40 years later and off and on ships like they were taxi cabs.

BBC's Strictly Come Dancing star judge Darcey Bussell CBE can hardly be referred to as a retired ballerina. Ballerina she was and is, but retired no. She seems to work tirelessly on the dance show, with appearances and supporting good causes. She is Godmother to the P&O ship Ventura, and after smashing the bottle, she presented a Ballet on board from the Royal Ballet.

We wonder if she will be on the Strictly Come Dancing Cruises now lined up for 2017? Who will be on there, will Louise Redknapp win, will she be on the cruise? We do know there will be dancers, will be at least one judge, and the costumes will be on board ship on display. Click here for Strictly Cruise blog.

But, back to pantos and the godmothers, the list is long but we have one or two missing which you might just know, so please, take a look and help us out.

The Queen makes the list a few times and when christening the Britannia used British sparkling wine...

Does every Cruise ship has a Godmother? The fullest list of ships Godmothers in existence ! http://bit.ly/2grMgvG 

Sign up and follow us on www.DorisVisits.com, and follow Doris Visits on Twitter and Facebook and share. Latest cruise deals can be found from our links.

Doris Visits will be streaming our first live TV show in 2017.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Fiji - A Cyclone then a rock band

Fiji, first rocked by a cyclone , then rocked by Status Quo.

This is an interesting blog about Fiji for those interested on how one works in a foreign place, then in the face of disaster. In 2012 people were losing and had lost their homes, but nearly a million pounds of some other people's pension funds had been invested in a film with Status Quo. So, disaster or not, life has to go on.
Not everyone would have flown to Fiji in the aftermath of the disaster, there genuinely was a food problem, no film catering, no electricity and in many places no water. That included many hotels. One of our locations, the spectacular Intercontenental had no water or electricity and closed. They did not comprehend that that would ideal for us to film in, no one to be bothered by us. So we had to wait until the tourists came back then had to move them.

Much is discussed in this film of Fiji and dealing with film making, as well as the story of the film and Status Quo themselves slowly unfolding. So as we can steal time from Doris in the edit, we will continue this story of the making of Bula Quo in the Pacific Island of Fiji.

The actual live show of this is told by director Stuart ST Paul occasionally, and he next tells it in the Pacific, on the cruise ship Arcadia during its world cruise of 2017. He joins the ship in Hawaii and will be telling the story as the ship sails down to Tahiti.

To see the part 2 of the behind the scenes film click here.