Volcanoes, black sand beaches and winter sun holidays – that was pretty much the extent of my knowledge of the Canary Islands. But as part of my cruise on board P&O Cruises’ Britannia, I got the chance to visit three of the islands and discovered there’s a lot more to them than I expected. The Canaries are a unique group of islands. They’re part of Spain but are actually far closer to Morocco (60 miles away versus 600 miles). They were formed by underwater volcanoes that erupted millions of years ago. They’re subtropical with long warm summers and mild winters. But what I didn’t realise was just how varied they are. There are seven Canary Islands, with famous names Tenerife, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria as well the lesser-known La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. They’re surprisingly varied – the landscapes, architecture and even the climate can be totally different between islands only a few hours apart. So a cruise was a good way to island-hop and get a taste of the Canaries in La Palma, Tenerife and Lanzarote. Read more: Cruise life: A day on board P&O Cruises’ Britannia La Palma Our first port of call was the […]
Before I went on my first cruise it wasn’t hard to find out about the ship, the destinations and practical things like what to pack. But one question that was a lot harder to answer was what’s it actually like on a cruise? What do you do on a typical day? If you’re a first-time cruiser you have no idea what to expect. So after my latest trip I thought I’d share a day in the life of a cruise, with how I spent 24 hours on board P&O Cruises’ ship Britannia.
Cruising has shaken off the old stereotypes and is attracting a whole new audience – and I’m one of them. I loved my Eastern Mediterranean cruise last summer, but if you’re curious about cruising it can feel like a bit of a risk to sign up for a week-long trip if you’ve never been on a cruise before. So Celebrity Cruises have come up with the great idea of a mini taster cruise, so you can test the waters (excuse the pun) before a full-length trip.
You might spot that this is a bit different from my usual accommodation reviews, being as that it’s a cruise ship rather than a hotel. But when you think about it, what is a ship really other than a massive floating hotel? Albeit more like a mega-resort with 1400 rooms, 10 restaurants, five bars and its own theatre. But it’s still a place to stay and picking the right one is even more important, as when you’re miles out to sea you can’t really change your mind and go stay somewhere else.
Istanbul is up there with places like New York, Paris and London as one of the world’s great cities. Places where each different neighbourhood is almost a separate city in its own right, and where you could spend a few months and still only scratch the surface. But what if you only have one day? Istanbul was the final stop on our cruise itinerary around the Eastern Mediterranean, and with only a limited time to explore, rather than spreading ourselves too thinly across the city, we headed straight for Sultanahmet.
On the western coast of Turkey, Ephesus has some of the Mediterranean’s best-preserved, grandest ruins. As a major port for trade routes to Asia it grew from a coastal town in the 10th century BC to the second largest city in the world. A series of rulers over the years left their mark – from the Greeks and Romans to the Byzantines and Ottomans. But when its port silted up, Ephesus was abandoned and fell into ruins.
Santorini is the classic Greek island – its shades of blue and white featuring on magazine covers across the world. But would it be as impressive in person? Docking in the port, we dodged the cable car queue and the donkey handlers and climbed up the 650 steps to the town of Fira. Despite 30 degree heat it was worth every step for the views that greeted us at the top – a maze of whitewashed buildings spilling down over the edge of a steep cliff, with the backdrop of the deep blue Aegean Sea.
Celebrity athletes, elaborate construction projects, political infighting – when you think about it the Olympic Games haven’t changed all that much since they first started in Ancient Greece. All the way from Olympia 776 BC to Rio 2016, the Olympics have always been about so much more than just sport. But back in Ancient Greece it was less about national pride and sponsorship revenue and more about worshipping the gods.
Before going on my first cruise with Celebrity Cruises earlier this month, it’s fair to say I was a complete cruise novice. Pretty much the only knowledge I had of cruising came from repeat viewings of Titanic and The Poseidon Adventure (so I was paying particular attention when it came to the evacuation drill). I normally do a lot of research before a trip, but this time I was in the dark – especially so as a documentation malfunction meant the only info I had when I boarded the ship was a bit of paper with our flight numbers on.
Conventional cruise wisdom has it that when you get into port, you should be first off the ship to get as much time as you can in each destination. Great in theory, but it didn’t take into account that our arrival into Dubrovnik would coincide with a torrential rainstorm – and an umbrella shortage! So, feeling just a little bit guilty, we hung out in the jacuzzi first while else was trudging around in the rain.
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