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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Futuristic cruising and cruise ships

The Future is something many try and ignore, but it is coming, and it starts tomorrow.

It appears tomorrow is only the start of the future, so let's just dream and look at the dreamers. Some ships now have two surfing ramps, climbing walls and merry go rounds as well as multiple pools and sea screens. Why? They are just hotels, hotels that move you from place to place while you sleep. Hotels that are there to offer you the best and more, to keep you entertained and go home with a wow factor.

So as cruise ships get bigger and offer more and more, not just a choice of areas from ultra exclusive to the fun filled bar with karaoke, you realise they are sailing towns, sailing mega hotels, with night clubs and theatres and stages and fine dining. This is why you need to learn to cruise before you go. You need to ask, what you want from a ship.

Do you want an outside cabin with a view of the sea, or an inside cabin with a view of the pools, climbing wall and zip slide. Yes there are ships with a hollow inside and inside cabins, that is not the future.

If you do not want the fine dining option as the restaurants are a treat enough, and they are, and you don't want the many night clubs and zip wires, then the smaller ships are the ones you may feel happier in.

As the smaller ships get moved out to specialist cruising like the volunteer cruises where you go and help on islands like Haiti during the day and relax in style at night. (The P&O ship Adonia has been posted thus for a while, and one now looks at what used to be called mid sized ships like the Arcadia and they are the new small). Why not take a look at a ship like the Arcadia with our simple tour and see how easy it is to become familiar in the mid size (smaller) ship. Doris Visits takes you round the ship and gives you the numbers. Click this text to tour  the Arcadia with Doris.

 A ship such as some of these pictures have yet to be built, but they are getting bigger and some that have been built have 6,000 plus guests.

The Azura is a regular ship we travel on, and it used to be called a bigger ship, but at 3100 guests is it still large, or are they now the medium sized ships? The Azura packs a lot in, but it is still really easy to find your way round and it manages to keep the children so busy you don't know they are there most of the time. Take a look around the Azura. Click this text for the tour.

Here is another futuristic image, the ship car park. Will ports start to look like a shipping car park?

When we stopped recently at Tallinn, there were 6 ships parked there. Click here for the Tallinn film, a beautiful stop.

At the end of last year when we stopped at Tortola, they were rebuilding the Port to house more ships. When we were there this spring at the end of the Caribbean season if was finished, or that phase was, because cruising is being discovered by thousands more each week and is growing. Click this text block for one of our Tortola films.

Will large ships continue to visit the tiny places like Bequia in the Grenadines? ... that Doris Visits Bequia film is a must for island lovers. Click here for Bequia.

Or, and here is a thought, will giant cruise docks like space station docking stations be built, similar to oil rigs but with mega wow facilities which means travellers will want to visit space station like cruise stops. You see, the future is unpredictable, which is why there are betting shops on the High Street.

But the purpose of this blog is to say, if you thought you weren't a cruiser because you like ..... then you can find it cruising, whatever you like. I am tempted to quote the Status Quo track, only because as you know, Doris took Quo to Fiji and made a feature length comedy caper with them. Yes, what ever you want....

As we sweep gracefully into the future, it is about, what would I like to do, how, on what and where.

Imagine being waited on hand and foot, in the finest hotel and saying, take me to.....  and maybe you could be taken there in style.

This might be a post to share, if nothing else it will generate discussion. Let Doris Visits show you the stops and a few of the ships and you do the choosing. But please follow us on twitter and our films on DailyMotion.

The future is watching these films on your television again, going full circle.
So if you have a new television, super new, and it is connected to the web; try and find the Opera App and search for Doris Visits in Opera on your television. Let us know if you find us.... please.

Please share this blog.

1. Choose the right ship, that offers what you want.
2. Work out the additional costs of any extras you wish to take, from Exclusivity to Fine Dining and consider them part of the cost.
3. Don't expect Yorkshire Pudding on a Sunday if you are the other side of the world.
4. Walking Shoes. Bathers, sun cream.
5. Share your pictures with us and share these films with other cruisers.

For now, we have the ships that are in the fleet and Doris tours some of them. Here is the Azura. Check others and films on fine dining options and please follow and subscribe to the channels.

Don't forget we have films from all over the world......  DORIS VISITS, please follow us on Daily Motion, our main channel. Click here and click follow

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Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Edinburgh Festival draws near ... the Royal Mile will be heaving.

Edinburgh: Festival, Royal Yacht and Harry Potter, what a mix!

Edinburgh Festival is one of our favourite times of the year. The comedy on show is of the best, the bars and alfresco gatherings are as good as any in Europe if the weather holds, and from memory it seems to.

Edinburgh is also a cruise stop, so all these places can be seen however you spend a day there.

Doris Visits thought it would go there before the rush of the Festival and shoot a different side of Edinburgh, so, if you are going it might give you some ideas to cover. We had the help of two local lads, who to be honest had encouraged us to go up. Sam and Finlay.

Once again, click the text to see the films, not the photographs.

In the main film Doris shops for Scottish oysters, caught that morning in Glasgow and sold with the fresh Hake she had for main course cooked by Sam and Findlay's father Mat, who is an incredible cook and took us to Musselburgh and introduced us to the Clark Brothers fishmongers. 

Edinburgh is a diverse city from the ocean to the castle. Built on three volcanoes she climbed Arthur's Seat and looked back at the city, here is the main film. It will help your orientation if new to Edinburgh.

This film also crosses over and finds a place where Lillie Langtry visited, another theme Doris Visits in the UK Doris Visits films.

Doris Visits found the origins of Harry Pottery which was written in part in the Elephant Cafe and based on the vision of Fettes College amongst others. 
The last book was written in a posh Edinburgh Hotel and Doris also shows you the Castle at the top and the distant view of a school which was also used as a model.

Every building is Potter like. Click this text, here for the Harry Potter origins.

Then the jewel in the crown to pardon a pun, the Doris Visits film just on the Royal Yacht Britannia. It surprised us and goes on our must see list.
It is the number 1 attraction in Edinburgh and you can see why. We spent a good 2 hours there and it is a whirl wind tour film that we could not reduce from 10 minutes. Doris walks you all over the ship from the Queen's bedroom, her study, the state dining room, drawing room, sun lounge or tea room and the deck where they partied and played, to officers quarters of all ranks, the wheel house and engine room.

The queens typical day started by being brought tea by her maid then starting in the office for a full day after a bath with the water at the perfect temperature. Such with the family was a buffet, but the evening meal was a very dress for formal occasion.

Take a look at the new Britannia and the cruise stops you can stop at when travelling like royalty, by clicking for the full Doris Visits travel list.Whether you like beaches, discovering, botanical gardens or the military forts and guns, you will find a film by clicking here. Please follow us and share the films.

1. It is a full day start early. see the sites before the Royal Mile gets busy.
2. The local bus will take you to the Royal Yacht, and good place to visit early then get back.
3. Don't start drinking alcohol too early, the night will be longer than you expected.
4. Walking Shoes.
5. Share your pictures with us and share these films with other cruisers.

Don't forget we have films from all over the world......  DORIS VISITS, please follow us on Daily Motion, our main channel. Click here and click follow

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Monday, 18 July 2016

Stockholm is famous for 3 things, Abba, Ikea and Nobel. The Mamma Mia / Abba Museum is a hoot.

Stockholm is famous for 3 things, Abba, Ikea and Nobel. The Mamma Mia / Abba Museum is a hoot.

The Nobel Peace prize is still presented in Stockholm each year, there is a Nobel Museum. There is also an Abba Museum which is fantastic. Ikea do not have a museum, to our knowledge, not yet.

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden made up of 14 islands joined by bridges at the mouth of Lake Mälaren which makes the sail in very peaceful. The whole Baltic Cruise was a smooth ride.

The total number of islands making Sweden is in the thousands and every blog seems to offer a different number depending on what it classes as an island, but, there is a lot of water.

The first thing is to try and get your bearings, but that might not happen until a second visit because whatever you do, whether boat or bus, it is not until you have done both all and walked that you see how it all joins up.

There is no doubt that some forms of transport can be quicker for some journeys and the answer is not automatic. However, this medieval town, that has had people migrating to it since the stone age is a must because in the middle of a street you can find ancient palaces as you will see from this main film of the city tour. Click here for the film on Stockholm old town. The end of the film takes you across on the ferry to the Tivoli Park and Abba museum, then Doris walks back across the bridge.

The Abba museum is fun, and is a must whatever your music tastes for it is a piece of real history.  A band that had huge success and still do as their music is used in film and on stage. The Mamma Mia sensation has brought a whole new generation to the music who never saw them win Eurovision. Despite the popularity few realise that much of their music is about being unhappy, breaking up, and divorce.
The museum offers an inter-active commentary device and Doris Visits highly recommends you give yourself a couple of hours there. Click here for a small sample of what the museum has to offer.

There lies the problem with the stop in Stockholm, you cannot do everything and the Changing Of The Guards is quite a spectacle but it happens mid day. Add to that - if you wish to be able to see on the flat parade ground you need to be there for about 1130 to get a place at the front. Around 12 noon it starts and plays for some time, so you will be leaving around 1300 hours. Here is the film of the changing of the guard, click here.

So, planning the time and the movement between the places is key.

1. It is a full day start early.
2. Abba Museum first by ferry from the shuttle coach drop off.
3. Back for the midday Changing Of The Guards, then the Old Town.
4. Walking Shoes.
5. Share your pictures with us and share these films with other cruisers.

Don't forget we have films from all over the world......  DORIS VISITS, please follow us on Daily Motion, our main channel. Click here and click follow

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Saturday, 16 July 2016

The Changing Face of Russia, St Petersburg - freedom without a visa.

The Changing Face of Russia, St Petersburg - freedom without a visa.

Click the text to see the films - not the pictures.....

The first thing that hits you about Russia is that it is just the same as everywhere else, people and places and the Roman old religions form part of their history. Sure there is passport control, but of all the Baltic stops we were also told to carry passports in Belgium and Germany, which are / were supposed to be one with the UK. Those of us that cruise regularly will know that in most countries around the world, some in extreme corners, only require the cruise card.

Whilst Russia needs a visa to visit, if on a cruise ship  you take an excursion from the ship into St Petersburg, at this moment that allows you a visa waiver. Then once the coach drops you off you are remarkably free to explore.

The tour company gives you a very simple card whether guided or on your own, which says in Russian the equivalent of I am lost, please ring this number. That goes to the tour operator's office and they will get someone to you. Given the huge number of tours all over the city, like Uber taxi's, there will be someone near you.

Passport control in and out is a little longer than landing at say an airport in Portugal, but not much, and far less intrusive than arriving in India. So, it is not much of an inconvenience.

There is a lot to see in St Petersburg and the Emperors and Assassinations tour is an old favourite because it rounds a part of the city and gets to the Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood. Walking you down through the Fields of Mars to the Canal in the lands which Peter The Great took from Sweden, you come up through the fountains and statues and arrive at the Mikhailovsky Palace before going into the church on a group ticket. The coach is collected in Art Square by the tourist office which has a lap dancing club below it and is surrounded by theatres offering tourist shows, concerts and Ballet Evenings. Click anywhere in this paragraph for an overview of a very comprehensive walking tour.

The Ballet Evening is one of many available excursions for an overnight stay, there will be a concert and a traditional evening. 
We were hoping to have gone to the Mikhailovsky Theatre but our show was changed to a smaller theatre seen on the video, a hall which looked like an old concert hall but had space for a 40+ orchestra and  well equipped surround sound system. We obviously can't show the whole Ballet so there is just a clip. The lead Ballerina stood out. Click here to see the evening.

The St Petersburg Explorer is a new excursion, and one which if it were politically allowed might be called St Petersburg on your own. The coach loops you round the city and has three stops or centres. The first is by St Issac's Theatre which is sadly well before it opens at 10.30 so if you want to see inside you need to loop back later, but that is easy. 

Back with our coach trip we headed for stop three which was the Nevsky Prospect. Here we had three hours on our own, and the provided map showed a suggested route up and down the 4.6km main road. You will see we went to a few places, left some of their suggestions out, and added a few others. They also suggest a canal boat trip with times, which would have been an additional cost but the currency is time as well as roubles and we were taking in an overview of the city. We went down into Palace Square as you will see, but the buildings themselves are closed on Mondays. With these two tours we now feel we have a handle on St Petersburg, so when we go back we will try to get into some of the places and museums and share what you can expect. It is all covered in this film. Click here for the film.

We have omitted the second stop of the Explorer as it is by the Field Of Mars to the Church (entrance not included in this tour). We had done this yesterday with the above tour Emperors and Assassinations, so, we left the group and went rogue. Only to find we were not the only ones who crossed the bridge to the Peter & Paul Fortress. We had just enough time for an overview and to know that we will go back there on our next trip to see the Fortress in more detail.

Although we didn't do the Church of Our Saviour on  the Spilled Blood as the tour suggested on this day, which was a Monday, (and although it said the church was closed on a Monday it was open), we covered the church the day before quite extensively as you will see from this film (click anywhere on this paragraph). 
Please beware of pickpockets in this church.

1. The Audio Pen is a spoken commentary hearing aid, and it is highly recommended.
2. Take something to eat and drink or schedule a stop, the day is long and can be tiring.
3. Do not carry a wallet or bag you do not need, do not talk to hawkers or people handing out leaflets unless you are aware of the situation and someone is watching your back. Pickpockets work with leaflet givers and book sellers.
4. Walking Shoes.
5. Share your pictures with us and share these films with other cruisers.

Don't forget we have films from all over the world......  DORIS VISITS, please
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Thursday, 7 July 2016

Tallinn in Estonia, what an undiscovered gem. Doris Visits Tallinn on the P&O Arcadia Cruise J610

Tallinn in Estonia, what an undiscovered gem. Doris Visits Tallinn on the P&O Arcadia Cruise J607. Click here for a tour of the Arcadia.

Doris Visits is the spin off show from the dark humorous web TV show SHADES OF BAD where actress Jean Heard was twice voted Best Actress in the USA for this UK web soap.

The spin off series DORIS VISITS has gone everywhere from the Red Sea to the Caribbean and now fully covers a Baltic Cruise with films at each cruise stop.

Click any of the text below for the film on Tallinn.

Tallinn was an unexpected pleasure. Not that Jean didn't expect it to be nice, but in that it rocked and blew the other stops off the chance of a number one.

Yes, Tallinn is both beautiful and friendly. 

The walk from the ship is probably under a mile and easy, and as you get near there is an old city map and the couch spires are a clue. Once through the castle walls you are in an old walled city that is full of new buildings. It is said that Tallinn has one foot in the past and one foot in the present but that is the charm of this port which was a major trading stop between the 13th and 16th century making it one of the Hasciendic League.

Tallinn used to have the tallest building in the world. That must have been a long time ago because the tower on St Olav's is not that tall, but the narrow winding stone stairs are for 'two way traffic' and some might find them too narrow for single climbing. Only the fit should attempt this because the view is replicated across town.

There is also a tour of the underground tunnels, those that are not closed off because of the protected bats and 9 inch giant spiders in the other parts which must not be disturbed. The tunnels are cold and blankets are supplied and advised. the walk through the tunnels is about an hour so plan the time in order to find your way back to the ship.

Though the town is small, it is best to get a handle on landmarks early if you are not on an organised tour that always guarantees to get you back or make the ship wait.

One of our friends in the entertainment department on board tried the Honeydew beer and warned us off, so we stayed coffee and cake at the Toompea castle viewing spot. Click any of the text above from the Tallinn picture to here to be taken to the Tallinn film.

The Doris Visits will help to orientate you before you go and give you just a little taste of what is a very special place. With six ships in port you can tell it is popular. If only they gave us more votes in the European Song Contest, that would be perfect ... you are only reminded of that because of the Abba Museum in Stockholm. You did see our film on that didn't you? If not click here.

Don't forget we have films from all over the world......  DORIS VISITS, please
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Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Baltic Cruise. Arcadia J612 & Britannia B716 both go to the Baltic Sea; videos of ports help plan and orientate your Baltic Cruise

The Epic Baltic Cruise !

Throughout the summer many ships cruise the Baltic. It is a packed cruise that just does not stop giving, with major city after city taking you through history of these busy cities built on the sea.

There are many stops to choose from, however as you might not be able to afford a tour on every stop, or if you want to see certain things, you may need to plan and consider options. As many of these places are still very religious, the Christmas markets also become huge attractions as they get celebrated in huge style.

P&O Aurora R621 & Arcadia J620 both sail at Christmas and will have the wonderful Christmas Markets to enjoy in the many countries who really celebrate Christmas. The Silver Wind and Silver Whisper also travel these routes.

Aurora R705 then goes back to the Baltic in May 2017, Arcadia again in June 2017, Aurora R710 goes in July, Arcadia J713 in August, then December 2017 the Christmas markets are the joy of the Aurora going there twice; R722 and R724.

Denmark, Copenhagen

Let us start with Copenhagen.

The Little Mermaid statue is just that, a statue of a little mermaid and it is between town and boat, so unless you have a burning need to see it, the town offers so much more. Look at the film. Click here for the harbour walk LITTLE MERMAID to PALACE.

Take a look at our film of Copenhagen City, and then you can decide the best way to spend your limited time there. See how far you might have to walk if you do it by foot. Jarrad says his oldest walker was 103 yrs old! Click here for CITY TOUR.
With information like this you can decide for yourself and choose an excursion to suit you.

Sweden, Stockholm

Sweden is another city with so much to do and cover, you need to have a plan and study the available options and excursions. It is spread over 14 islands and although there is a metro and bus service the problem is connections and getting lost. The Abba Museum and other museums and parks are away on an island. If you were around in the 70's and 80's this might just be a must. Click here for TRIP TO AND INSIDE ABBA MUSEUM.

The Town might be accessible from the shuttle bus, but again you need to consider the amount of walking. 
The old town is fantastic with the Royal Palace and the town square and Nobel museum. The old town has much to offer and many photo opportunities. A tour will release a lot of information. 
Click here for a CITY TOUR.

The Changing of the Guard is spectacular, no doubt, but it is smack in the middle of the day and to get a good view you will need to be at the rope by 1130hrs. The guards start around 1215 and you will be standing for an hour and half. It has to be considered as it means you will be there at the middle of the day. If you like the Military, it will be on your list. Click here for the CHANGING OF THE GUARDS.

Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn has one foot in the 15th century and one foot in the present and the Honeydew beer should come with a warning. 
This charming city instantly becomes a favourite and there is more than enough to feast eye and camera on. Doris climbs the St Olav's tower as well as the sites from the hill and a walk of town. Actress Jean Heard who plays Doris in Shades of Bad and presents Doris Visits, also visits the church with 100 coats of alms.
In this tour Doris Visits also goes underground into the medieval tunnels, refurbished for the 2nd World War and then again for Russian nuclear bunkers before becoming the punk party scene of the later 1980's. Click here for the video. It is a must.

Helsinki, Finland
Another Baltic Cruise stop in Helsinki and you start to realise just how much sight seeing a Baltic Cruise has, and how much it needs to be planned to take the harder work out of the hard work. Helsinki is an easier port with normal huge shopping centre and markets and an esplanade, or you can go to the beach or visit a cathedral. There maybe things you think you can omit. take a look. Click here for Helsinki. 

Bruges, Belgium
The chocolate and mussels stop on the cruise. Or was it the chocolate and chocolate visit, for chocolate gets it's very own film with every shape of chocolate from spanners to bosoms.

Doris meets with Gino Lasoen at the shop he owns with his wife Sofie, Chocolates and Happiness and gets to try a chilli chocolate.
The canals in Bruges should seriously be considered because the tours cost only a few euros and only take 30 minutes, that means you see a lot in a small time for a small cost.
The restaurants near the canal station seem to have a slight premium on those away from main areas.
Finally the city has the usual fantastic buildings and churches with shops also featuring Christmas and lace. The chocolate is probably the purchase you take home. There is also a horse and carriage ride that starts in the main square. Maybe we will do that next time as time is always a problem which is why we help you plan with these films. Click here for the general Bruges City tour.

St. Petersburg, Russia
It is unlikely any ship goes to St. Petersburg and does not do an overnight stay. As a tip, that is the night the fine dining might offer a free bottle of wine on board ship. Even with two days it is not enough time to see all of St.Petersburg so choose your excursions to hit the spots you wish to see most. Book early, book on line if possible before you leave. Russia is a place where a visa is needed unless you leave the ship on an organised tour where a visa waiver has been agreed.

The first stop on most people's list is the highly ornate Church of the Saviour on Spilled blood. It has the pavement where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated, and where his blood was spilled. That is why the couch is there and has the name. Beware of pick pockets everywhere in Russia, but in this church it is a serious problem. Click here for the video of the must see church.
The Church of the Spilled Blood is amazing, whatever your calling or not, it is a part of history and the shear time and money spent on this church is a wow factor few places can give. However, crammed with tourists and pick pockets it does not feel in any way religious. I wonder what it is like at night with the lights off. Click here for must see film.

During the overnight, you will have a number of excursions offered. There will be a traditional night, or a concert or a Ballet Evening. Doris took the Ballet Evening as she was a dancer and dance examiner. Click here.
St. Petersburg is very free and easy and the tours let you wonder at ease. However one guided tour which is probably amongst the most popular is the Emperors and Assassinations. It takes you down through the Fields of Mars, back up to the Makhailovsky Palace then into the Church of the spilled blood. It ends at the tourist shop in Art Square which notably has a lap dancing club underneath. Click her... for the tour run down not the lap dancing.

There are other films on St Petersburg including a Peter and Paul Fortress.

Also the St Petersburg Explorer tour allows you to explore on your own.

Kiel Wocke
OK, so Kiel is in Germany, best known for the canal, but few people stop there. EXCEPT this week, Kiel Tall Ships Festival week. The place is heaving, seriously full of food and beer stalls and people partying. If you ever plan a journey through this way try to clash with the Tall Ships festival. My brother and many friends filmed Hornblower in Yalta, a cruise I wish to make sometime, and they all still have firm connections with Tall Ships. Something in the water ... forgive the pun. Kiel film click here.

The Baltic cruise packs in a lot and as you can see can be a lot of work for you as a guest, so it is best planned with a little knowledge, and in at least a few stops you will want the excursion coach to take the strain. Check in again with us to see the newest films.

Check back on this post for more videos as they come out of the edit, there is a queue at Doris TV which includes the Shades Of Bad web TV series, the Status Quo behind the scenes series from Bula Quo, as well as the Dubai Top ten Doris Visits favourites, but they will be up soon.

If you have never cruise, know your ship, we have tours of two that will help you visualise as you compare what the brochures say.

Don't forget we have films from all over the world......  DORIS VISITS, please
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