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Saturday, 29 October 2016

P&O Announce another, newer, bigger ship. 5200 guests

New Ship At P&O - Bigger than the Britannia.

As has been widely expected, P&O have just announced they are committed to another, yet larger ship to add the the famous fleet.

Their press release says ....

"We’re delighted that the P&O Cruises family is about to get bigger, offering you even more holiday choice. Construction of the latest addition to the fleet will get underway next year at Meyer Werft’s Papenburg shipyard in Germany. Cruises on our new ship go on sale autumn 2018 and the ship will enter service in the UK in 2020. At 180,000 tons, it will have a capacity for 5,200 guests, making it the largest cruise ship ever built for the British market.

The ship will offer new levels of entertainment, dining and relaxation, and features a host of innovative features and cutting-edge technology to wow you with new cruising experiences. The signature heart of the ship, the Atrium, will be our boldest and brightest yet. Glass walls spanning three decks will let natural light flood in while a grand staircase, gallery and overhead walkways will provide dramatic focal points.

The ship will also be the most environmentally efficient ship in the history of P&O Cruises. Powered at sea and in port by liquefied natural gas, exhaust emissions will be significantly reduced to help protect the environment.

These exciting new developments will help you and a new generation of guests find even more rewarding holiday experiences. And rest assured, our P&O Cruises DNA will still shine through. You’ll be treated to the best British hospitality and standards of service that you know and love."

Friday, 28 October 2016

Where are you spending New Years Eve? Here is a special party place ...... Party Party Party

New Year's Eve - spend it in Madeira

Madeira is Portuguese and mainly Christian. 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.

So, we have found something special for you. You can get you to Madeira for New Years Eve on a cruise!

SAGA - A festive cruise to the Canary Islands. The SAGA Pearl II departing on the 20th Dec for 17 nights is list price of £3038 pp. On their web site today, click here, they were offering 35% discount on that. It first Visits Cadiz, Christmas Day is at seas, then new years Eve and New Year Morning in Madeira before heading for the Canary Islands.  Click this text to take you to this special offer. 

Now, as you will have the day to spend in Madeira before the night time, what will you do. Three options.

Three things to do before you start the party...

1. Tour Madeira, easy and lots to see

2. Christmas with the Famous Toboggan Run

3. Tropical Gardens.

If you go, please film the party and send it to us.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Iberia Cruise P&O Azura A628, we're you on it, wish you had been. Take a look.

The film to remember where you were, see what you missed, or figure whether you want to do this great trip - it is all here

Below is a list of some of the Canary Island cruises coming up, including one offering New Year's Eve in Madeira. We hope the film and the list is helpful. Please note, even if we mention a price it is best to click the link to go to the operator's web site to get the latest price.

CANARY ISLANDS CRUISE A628 - take a look

OK, you can call it overcast, but 7th October was a great day to sail, nice weather, flat seas and the Azura set sail under Captain Robert Camby, the man who always has a 'thought for the day'. Azura was sailing south westerly for the English Channel and some guests were already dressed for dinner and eating.
Want to read first or watch the whole shooting match ....

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Port Talk video blog with tips+clips on La Palma in Canary Islands on Iberia Cruise A628

Doris Visits La Palma in the Canary Islands

Once you are in the Canaries area, your ship is just a floating hotel, which overnight moves you to another island. La Palma, ‘the fair isle’, was our stop having left Madeira. It is so called because of its fabulous landscape. Of all the many cruise stops, Santa Cruz is up there as one of the prettiest harbours and is again small enough to explore on foot. If you were not on a cruise, your Canary Islands holiday might never see this gem.
Stroll along the Avenida Maritime promenade to the old quarter around Plaza de Espana, with its 16th century fountain and town hall, a magnificent Renaissance church and a handicrafts market. You are in Spain so the cafes will offer wonderful tapas and their specialty are small potatoes cooked in their skins and covered in a hot sauce.
Inside the island is a huge volcanic crater, Caldera de Taburiente, it is crammed with rare animal and plant life and has been designated a national park. It is a sun trap so take water, sun lotion and a hat.
It’s night skies are so clear that a major astrophysical observatory has been built at Roque de los Muchachos.
Although La Palma is the least visited of the Canary Islands it has a definite charm and there is plenty to do and see. There is a naval museum which is under a reproduction of Columbus’ Santa Maria , interestingly made out of concrete but painted to look like wood. It is quite hilly but there are many restaurants along the way where you can have a drink and a rest.

Please share your experiences and comment below with pictures. Also like and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and the video platforms YouTube and Daily Motion. 

Tours available from your ship will probably include

  1. The Heart of La Palma
  2. Volcanoes and Wines
  3. Santa Cruz Trolley Train and Walk
  4. La Palma Buggy Adventure
  5. Leisurely La Palma
  6. Silk Scenery and Sugar Estate
  7. Volcano Hike
  8. Wilderness 4x4 Adventure
Please share, tweet and tell other cruisers

Port Talk and video blog on Gran Canaria, Iberia / Canary Islands Cruise.

Doris Visits Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

Christopher Columbus came across Gran Canaria in 1492 and he instantly liked the verdant palm groves and excellent climate. The harbour may be tranquil but the capital Las Palmas is lively.


Visitors are drawn to explore the atmospheric cobbled streets and leafy courtyards of its old quarter, Vegueta. You can get the bus there just across the road from the ship. There is a lot to see. The cathedral in the main square is charming and there are many museums and Columbus’ house. Although Columbus never actually lived there it is a museum housing relics from when he stayed there to repair his ship.
Playa del Ingles is the liveliest and best-known beach in the Canaries and is not far from the port. Just turn left off the ship and you will come to it after a 5 minute walk.

Just beyond Las Palmas you can explore the stunning desert scenery of Maspalomas.


We got a bus from the bus garage just opposite the port. The buses are cheap and easy to use. Maspalomas is about a 45 minute bus ride away so make sure you allow for that when coming back. There are many restaurants there on the beach and it is very commercialized.  The sand dunes look like a film set. You can imagine Lawrence of Arabia riding out of them on a camel.
Set in a canyon inland from Maspalomas is the Palmitos Nature Park, famous for its vivid tropical plants, birds and fish.
Don’t forget your sun cream. The sun was very hot and I was glad I remembered my bottle of water!

Further afield explorers will find peaceful old towns like Arucas – famed for its lush banana plantations - and Teror, with its fine collection of traditional houses with intricately carved wooden balconies.
Or, Bandama, an extinct volcano set 1,900 feet above sea level, which offers panoramic views over the island.
If you were on the cruise with us please share your photos and memories, tell your friends, follow us and see other great cruise destinations and our on line Port Talks.

Tours available from your ship will probably include

  1. Leisurely Gran Canaria
  2. Submarine Dive
  3. Two Stop on your own
  4. Highlights of Gran Canaria
  5. Walking Trails and Wine
  6. 4x4 Adventure
  7. Paddle Boarding (bathing wear)
  8. Maspalomas Beach Transfer

Port Talk and Video blog on Lanzarote stop during Canary Islands Cruise

Doris Visits Lanzarote

Lanzarote is another volcanic island with the darker black, red and white sand beaches and the moonscape parks that you can tour or drive through. The landscape is best seen from the Fire Mountain in the Timanfaya National Park which is famous for the fantastical shapes created by solidified volcanic lava. These have steaming hot natural holes or wells which the guides enthusiastically show that if you throw a bucket of cold water down it gets spat back up as steam.
Camel rides are available in the National Park, and tours here will also take you to the lush wine country of La Geria to sample the heady local vintages.
Head north instead of southwest and you will discover wonderfully verdant Haria – ‘the valley of a thousand palms’ and can enjoy panoramic views from Mirador del Rio.
Equally fascinating is a visit to Jameos el Agua cave, an oddly shaped volcanic cave overlooking a saltwater lagoon where you will find a colony of white crabs unique to the island.

Puerto del Carmen

I used to have a small bungalow on the beach here in Puerto del Carmen many years ago when my children were small, but the island has developed much since then. However the attraction to re-visit was too great. We got a bus and went on a trip down memory lane to Puerto del Carmen and had a delicious lunch in one of the gorgeous restaurants overlooking the sea.


We arrived in Lanzarote on a Sunday so Arrecife the port was mainly closed although there was a triathlon beginning in the town. It was very easy to get the bus though to either Teguise where there is the famous Sunday market or Puerto del Carmen the main tourist town. We had to be back on board by 4.30. There was so much more we wanted to do. Next time!!

If you were on the cruise with us please share your memories and photos.

Tours available from your ship will probably include

  1. Mountain of Fire
  2. Transfer to Puerto del Carmen
  3. Camel Ride and Fire Mountain
  4. The Magic of Manrique
  5. Hidden Lanzarote – Sunday Calls
  6. Discover the North – Sunday Calls
  7. Teguise Sunday Market
Which one would you like to see us cover on our next trip.
Please share......

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Canary Islands Cruise stop in Tenerife, three places seen on one day by bus.

Doris Visits Tenerife, Canary Islands on the P&O ship Azura A628

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and it has an active volcano, Mount Teide, which often rumbles and has a dramatic moonscape landscape now a National Park. Other landscapes here are the verdant valleys and lush plantations and vast pinewoods to the glorious beaches. There is a lot to see, but a great bus service throughout the island which I tested.

Santa Cruz

Tenerife’s cruise port Santa Cruz de Tenerife has grown from a fishing village to the capital city with 300,000 inhabitants. It is a welcoming city with classy bars and restaurants, shops, and interesting museums. It is easy to walk into the city, follow the blue line, cross the road, round the lake and the tourist office is hidden under an eco garden. The city begins right outside the port gates. If you chose to stay in the city you will find a café-lined boulevard leading to the Plaza de Espana, at the heart of the port’s main shopping area. If you prefer museums and galleries, try the Museo de Bellas Artes, which contains works by Bruegel. The Museo de la Naturaleza y El Hombre shows topography, flora and fauna.

However, I fancied an adventure and wanted to test the buses. The first was a simple tram to Trinidad, not the island but the Avenue in the old city of La Laguna.

La Laguna

Is definitely worth a visit and will take a half day to explore the old houses in the main street. Again, it has a tourist office, get off the tram, walk to the top of the road, turn left, walk a block then turn right and it should be on the corner. Ask someone, everyone is helpful. See my film on Laguna and you will be enticed.


I could have got the bus direct to Puerto de la Cruz and we did get the bus all the way back. But from La Laguna we got the number 30 from the bus garage at the other end of Trinidad.
Here is a tip, get off at the Botanical Gardens then walk down. You will then pass the Orchid Gardens where Agatha Christie and William Wilde, Oscar’s father have stayed, and then can walk down to the sea. If you go all the way in you have to walk UP to the gardens and they close at 6pm.
It is likely your ship sails late from Tenerife so you have time to do the gardens and go down and enjoy Puerto de la Cruz for late afternoon and early evening. The promenade is very attractive and the coastline is dramatic. We treated ourselves to a lovely lunch overlooking the bay.

As always we will eventually cover them the gardens in a separate film .. another time.
We had plenty of time to explore as the ship didn’t sail till 10.30pm but I have to admit we were exhausted at the end of the day.

Tours available from your ship will probably include

Northern Panorama
Loro Parque
Gardens of the Valley
Puerto de La Cruz and Orotava Valley
Mamas and Tapas
Mount Teide National Park
Mount Teide Cable Car
Playa de las Americas on your own
Puerto de la Cruz on your own

Canary Islands Cruise stop in Madeira, Doris covers all the must see places.

Doris Visits Madeira with an overnight stay.

After three days at sea which seemed to fly by, we arrived in Madeira, otherwise known as the Garden Island because of the wonderful display of sub-tropical plants and flowers. A few months before we arrived there was a terrible bush fire that destroyed homes and killed three people. The results were seen from the cable car.
You can walk into town from the ship and it is easy to see the route and how far it is.
It is hardly surprising that large and colourful flower markets are one of the most arresting features of Funchal, Madeira’s capital, though next door is the fish market that reminds you the island has a history of using the sea. Madeira is also known for its aquarium where you can dive with sharks, rays, morays and hundreds of other fish. Whale and dolphin watching are other featured activities for visitors to the island which is about twice the size of the Isle of Wight.
The market town is easily walkable and the further you go the steeper and narrower some of the streets become. On Santa Maria street, where there are many restaurants art work can be found on most of the doors. It features on the main Madeira film. Locally made wicker furniture gives a positive aroma to the clean air. Lacework and tapestries are also local trades as is the ubiquitous Madeira wine.
It will not surprise you that Funchal is also the base for tours to the islands botanical gardens; the fishing village of Camara de Lobos where Churchill went to paint, this also features on our main Madeira film. Camacha, the wicker centre; the Levada walks, part of an ancient irrigation system; and to Reids Hotel for traditional afternoon tea, making cruises to Madeira a must do. Many of these sites and more feature in our madeira film.

The Monte Tropical Gardens

The Monte Tropical Gardens are so extensive that you could spend a day there and walk back to the ship. Inside there is a three storey museum and the gardens and the museum feature in their own film although a short piece is in the main Madeira film. In the museum you will see art and sculptures from Zimbabwe and an exhibition of stunning minerals and stones.

The Toboggan Ride

Lastly the toboggan ride is great fun and one of the things Funchal is famous for. We thought we would show you the run in full although it is shown briefly in the main film. If you want to know what the toboggan run is like the full four minutes is covered.

The cable car, tropical gardens and toboggan ride are enough for one day without all the other things the island has to offer.

Tours available from your ship will probably include

Tea at Reid’s
Famous Toboggan Ride
Evening with Folklore (if overnight)
Deep Sea Fishing
Cable Car and Toboggan (see film above)
Nevada Walk
Jeep Adventure
Discover Whales and Dolphins by ‘rib’.
The Caves of São Vicente
Eco City Tour, Tuhxi Madeira
Farmers Market and Botanical Gardens
Leisurely Scenes of Madeira

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Top Ten places in the world for pick pockets PLUS three.

The worst places for thieves and pick pockets

I am pretty street wise but I have been pick pocketed twice. Twice in the same place and it does not appear on the Trip Advisor top ten so I thought I would run a Doris Visits slant on their pick pocket places top ten, and add to some very simple advice to try and avoid it. I say try, because when a pick pocket goes to work, a few times a day they will succeed.
Don't carry anything. Don't carry a hand bag. Now that seems a daft thing to say but what do you actually need and why are you carrying a bag? The bag might not get stolen but your mindfulness of it means you are not concentrating on something else. There is my key to how these people work. They ensure your mind is on one thing, they take the other. Diversionary tactics.
The worst places are busy centres. The easy ploy is for someone to crash into you and walk on, as you turn in disgust someone else takes your wallet or the lens off your camera leaving the camera body round your neck.
Another well used ploy is the local tour seller handing you a leaflet and encouraging you to look and hold, while you also try and concentrate on your bag, your mind is focuses, they take the shoes from your feet. Not quite, but leaflet handers are to be avoided.
So first I will mention the worst place I have seen for pick pockets lying in wait, in groups, pondering targets. St Petersburg, Russia. That would be my number 1. They are obvious in the main square and too crushed together in the church of the spilled blood to be noticed.
My number 2 is Romania. I watched first hand an actress robbed by children with such style not of us knew it was happening until it was too late. We were all on a day off from filming and walking the city and admiring street kids happily play football. They kicked the ball to the actress and encouraged her to kick back. On achieving this they all cheered and ran up to her and hugged her. They then vanished. I am surprised she had any clothes on for everything she thought she had was gone.
Gentlemen I give you my experience. We were watching the Euros in a bar in Bucharest. I was with Radio 2's Chris Evans who at the time was with our star Billy Piper, and a lot of other guys. At half time I ran to the cash point for cash. Stuff it in my pocket and turned away and into a girl. There are lots of girls in Bucharest offering many things but not football, so as she grabbed me in a place which would be classed as a sexual assort anywhere in the world and asked if she could help, I pushed her away and ran on. I stopped, within steps I knew what she had done. My wallet was gone, I turned, she was gone. Luckily I borrowed a phone, rang my wife (Doris) in London, and she cancelled all the cards straight away. I just lost a couple of hundred pounds and the others stood my drinks for the second half. Romania I am sad to say hit me and the crew many times we were there. We felt like walking targets, so that would be my number 2.
I have to mention a third, that is Innsbruck, where Doris had her bag masterfully taken at the bus station en route to the airport and the police refused to take a statement. That certainly is a way to keep crime figures down. They suggested that we should get our plane and make the report to UK police when we get home. We refused and demanded to see someone higher. It was not a popular or pleasant hour and they seemed very used to this routine, so beware places that claim to have low crime.
To lighten the piece, the safest place I would list as Dubai. There you hardly see crime and there is honour and respect. People leave their wallets and phones on tables and cars unlocked.
So to Trip Advisors top ten, which I guess might be weighted by the volume of people who go there.
1. Fear and Loathing in Las Ramblas: BarcelonaSpain
is their headline for number 1. I have to say I have not had a problem there but I would suggest it is somewhere to be very careful. Las Ramblas is said to be a target area.
2. Rome Rascals: RomeItaly
Rome is another busy city and churches distract people and let them feel at ease so I am not surprised to see that here. I would beware anywhere in Rome
3. Cash or Czech: PragueCzech Republic
Trip advisor suggest that before taking in the view from the bridge of the Vltava River and the Prague Castle beyond, be sure valuables are strapped down. Good advice though again I never felt Prague was as bad as many places I have been. But then we did see it by Segway. I guess the clock and any other outdoor attraction where you wait concentrating on a focussed ever are dangerous.
4. Madrid Mischief: MadridSpain
El Rastro fleamarket and the crowded metro are said to be sites to watch, but hey, London is a nightmare for crime for the same reasons. It is a crowded city so I suggest this means any crowded city.
5. Poaching in ParisParisFrance
As above, a capital city. All places with enormous crowds from the base of the Eiffel Tower to the steps of Sacre-Coeur and everywhere in between.
6. Italian Job: FlorenceItaly
Churches and tourists make easy pickings. Don't carry a bag, hold your camera.
7. Don't Cry for Me: Buenos AiresArgentina
Buenos Aires, hey, they are as likely to steel you as your wallet. No surprise it is there. But, they have a routine there like the girls in Bucharest, plus the bird droppings routine. White flour is dropped and then locals come and brush you down and take your wallet. Any event that happens to you, hold on to your wallet - or don't take it.
8. No Dutch Treat: AmsterdamNetherlands
Amsterdam is there number 8. I have never had a problem there, but watch your wallet not the girls in windows. They are a distraction pick pockets look for.
9. Greek Tragedy: AthensGreece
Parthenon on the Acropolis, or anything else in this crowded city puts this at number 9 on Trip Advisors list.
10. Hands On in HanoiHanoiVietnam
I never had cause to worry in Vietnam, but as Trip Advisor have it at number 10 I will watch for it next time. 
Tips to Avoid Being Pickpocketed
  1. Don't carry anything you absolutely don't need.
  2. Don't be distracted by girls, bird poo or kids playing football.
  3. Any distraction, a barge, dropping something near you, squirting something on you, or simply jostling you means your wallet, camera lens, bag are in danger.
  4. Leaflet givers have partners who come in behind and also take interest while taking your goods. Pickpockets often work in pairs or groups and it's not just the usual suspects. Watch women and children. The artful dodger is based on fact!
  5. Confined spaces, churches and passageways are target areas.
  6. Reduce what you take out, reduce what is in what you take out. Expect to lose it, then you are in the right frame of mind.
  7. No wallets in back pockets, lose cargo pockets, un buttoned inside pockets.
  8. The best tip is a sheet of set sticky soft rubber that sticks to clothing. Put that in your pocket round your money or wallet so it sticks. Double sided tape, masking tape, anything sticky.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Standard Cabin on the P&O ship Azura

Doris Visits goes inside