Go to https://www.royalcaribbean.com for more information or contact your cruise/travel agent.
From next winter, Royal Caribbean will be offering Caribbean cruises that are ideal for UK passengers.
Grandeur of the Seas will be based in Barbados, and its late evening departures will allow guests to fly out from Gatwick and Manchester to join the ship the same day, thus avoiding the extra time and expense of a pre-cruise overnight stay and associated transfers that are necessary on Florida departures. It also avoids the crowds and often lengthy delays involved in flying into popular US airports as well as the two-day sailing time to get to and from the Caribbean from Miami; guests can immediately immerse themselves in the Caribbean atmosphere.
Ports of call for the seven and fourteen night cruises include Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, plus Trinidad and Tobago. Longer itineraries add destinations such as Aruba coupled with visits to Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; and Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, among others. The itineraries also mean that ESTAs would not be requires as there are no American ports involved. Cruises start in December 2021.
Go to https://www.royalcaribbean.com for more information or contact your cruise/travel agent.
The Londoner, on Macao’s famous Cotai strip, is embarking on its phased opening. It joins similar developments The Parisian and The Venetia. The Londoner showcases the best of British history and culture blended with the latest in hospitality experiences.
The Londoner Macao also represents the latest collaboration with Sands Resorts Macao global ambassador David Beckham. He played a central role in the promotion of the integrated resort leading up to its opening with his participation in the eye-catching campaign ‘Bringing The Best of London to Macao’.
Guests enter The Londoner Macao through the magnificent glass-canopied Porte Cochere designed after historic Victoria Station, before arriving at the Crystal Palace, a spectacular space at the heart of the integrated resort. Visitors will also be able to admire the full-scale Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain with Anteros, the Greek god of selfless love on its pinnacle.
Near the reception is main dining area The Green Room, inspired by the musicals of famous British composers, and a reference to the lounge in theatres where actors relax between performances. On display in the Green Room is theatre-related paraphernalia, and the background music is based on West End musicals. Part of the restaurant area is inspired by Victorian-era interior design and style, and features two glass cabinets containing 442 classic British bone chinaware items. Next to the Green Room is The Lounge, a vibrant art gallery-themed room inspired by London’s contemporary art scene. Meanwhile The Bar is inspired by the classic style of famous British wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill. It incorporates a billiard room, balcony and outdoor terrace with topiary based on characters from Alice in Wonderland by writer Lewis Carroll.
The Residence serves an international buffet breakfast with signature dim sum, light refreshments including afternoon tea, all-day snacks and drinks and evening cocktails.
The Crystal Palace also stages the six-minute Changing of The Guard, a colourful display of British pageantry performed several times every day by over 20 talented artists, which will sweep visitors away to London, marking the start of their amazing journey at The Londoner Macao.
Coming attractions later in 2021 include the imposing Houses of Parliament facade and life-size 96-metre Elizabeth Tower (commonly known as ‘Big Ben’) featuring a replica of the famous clock face, which will welcome guests from far and wide with its accurate rendition of the classic bell chimes
Guests will also be able to enjoy London Calling , a 5.2-metre red telephone box where visitors are welcomed to The Londoner Macao by the Queen’s beloved corgi Londi. Black Cab Escape is an adventure inside an iconic London taxi with David Beckham on a fun trip around the capital’s streets, visiting the British star’s favourite spots.
As well as a range of suites, guests will have a range of bars and restaurants. These include Churchill’s Table, inspired by a classic Victorian food hall. It offers an international breakfast, all-day Mediterranean lunch and dinner, themed signature afternoon tea, entertaining evening dessert and cocktail experiences and an extensive retail area, featuring Churchill’s Table’s own branded chocolate, biscuits, cakes, sweets, bakery and pastry items, jams, honey and more.
Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill is the celebrity chef’s authentic British gastropub with an attractive bar and lounge, array of draught beers, cocktails and classic British cuisine. This includes his signature beef wellington, shepherd’s pie, ale-battered fish and chips and some of the best steaks in town. Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill will open later in 2021.
For those seeking retail therapy, Shoppes at Londoner retail mall incorporates over 150 fashion and lifestyle boutiques and stores, from high street to haute couture, including chic boutiques at Bond Street, Mayfair and Savile Row, and quaint stores in Soho and Covent Garden. Already well underway, Shoppes at Londoner will be completed throughout 2021.
For more information, visit www.londonermacao.com
Air Astana, the national airline of Kazakhstan, has received a prestigious Five Star Major Airline award from the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX). This is the third time that Air Astana has received a Five Star award from APEX
Using a five-star scale, nearly one million flights were rated by passengers across more than 600 airlines from around the world. Passengers were also given the opportunity to provide anonymous ratings in five subcategories: seat comfort, cabin service, food and beverage, entertainment, and Wi-Fi.
APEX is one of the world’s largest international airline associations and serves to strengthen the worldwide airline industry by setting key airline standards and highlighting well-deserved recognition across the airline industry. The APEX Official Airline Ratings™ are independently certified by a professional external auditing company.
Air Astana is 49% owned by BAE Systems and its Chairman and CEO is Englishman Peter Foster, OBE. Skytrax has named it The Best Airline in Central Asia and India for the last six yeas in a row.
Commenting on this latest award, Ms. Margaret Phelan, Vice-President Inflight Services said, “We are honoured to receive this prestigious award and be amongst major international airlines awarded Five Stars, the highest rated tier. Air Astana is continuously upgrading its onboard passenger experience to provide the very highest quality of service. We deeply appreciate all those passengers who gave us their vote.”
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It was not that long ago that the generally-held view about the price of a cruise was that it cost double what you initially paid for it. Expensive drinks - to which 20% gratuities were added, a further £8 or so a day for more tips, plus slow and pricey internet access, all helped to rack up the final bill, a significant deterrent to those considering a cruise.
Now Celebrity Cruises have addressed this major issue by introducing ‘Always Included’. From Tuesday, 17th November 2020, every Celebrity Cruises holiday will include fast Wi-Fi, drinks and tips, simplifying the holiday experience and making it so much easier for passengers to budget for a luxury holiday.
Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, said; “Today, nothing is more luxurious than when things are extra simple and extra special. We wanted to bring that big wonderful feeling of ‘everything is taken care of’ to life for our guests.”
Celebrity Cruises have a history of innovation in cruising. These include grass lawns on top decks
and, with Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex, the ‘magic carpet’, an additional piece of deck that can be moved up and down to provide anything from additional party space to a large, stable platform for boarding tenders at ports where mooring alongside is not possible.
As we move slowly back to normality, this latest move will be very welcome to their existing clients, as well as those looking to cruise in style without breaking the bank.
For more information on all Celebrity Cruises offerings visit www.celebritycruises.co.uk.
Even if you can't visit India right now, say hello to PATAKA, a ginger liqueur made from Indian Fairtrade Ginger Root and Fairtrade sugar.
Pataka is the Punjabi word for ‘firecracker’ and the combination of ginger root and an alcohol content of 35% (ABV) gives Pataka fiery, fresh and smooth taste.
It’s great as a base for winter-warmer cocktails. Here are some to try.
Firecracker. Pour 50ml of Pataka into a tall glass with ice and top up with ginger ale.
Mulled Ginger. Warm a glass of red wine in a pan, add 30ml of Pataka, a slice of orange and a stick of cinnamon.
East Side. Add ice to a cocktail shaker with 40ml of Pataka, 10ml of gin, 25ml of fresh line juice, 8 mint leaves and 10rml of sugar syrup. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.
Pataka is available from Master of Malt Whiskey Exchange The Drink Supermarket
The brand is owned by French company Ethical Wine & Spirits and developed jointly with MANGROVE in the UK. EWS is dedicated to producing high-quality spirits sourced ethically and sustainably.
A comfortable, effective and cost-saving re-usable mask
Wearing a mask has become an everyday requirement for many people so it’s great to find a mask that is comfortable, efficient and saves you money.
The Breath Happy mask comes in two forms. Everyday is for low density areas such as shops or outside use, and Commuter is for higher density usage. Initial kits, each containing five filters per mask, can be purchased for one, three or five people
The initial mask kit comes in three parts. First there is the main unit that fits snugly around the face and made of a comfortable soft material. Then there is a front filter holder, plus a pack of five replaceable filter pads. These can be bought separately when your initial supply runs out.
The Everyday filter has a Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) of 95% and the Commuter filter achieves 98%. Each filter can be used for seven days before being replaced. Everyday filters cost less than £1 each and Commuter filters no more than £1.25 each, less if purchased in larger quantities, a massive cost saving over disposable masks, and much more effective.
Because the mask moulds comfortably to the face, it doesn't need to be regularly adjusted, and it won’t steam up your glasses!
Ideal for shopping, work or travelling, if you are looking for a comfortable, efficient and cost-saving mask, this could be the answer.
For more information and to order, go to https://www.breathe-happy.com
Saga’s new ocean cruise ship, Spirit of Adventure, was handed over today in Emden, Germany, by shipbuilder Meyer Werft.
Spirit of Adventure is Saga’s second purpose-built boutique cruise ship, joining Spirit of Discovery which became part of the Saga Cruise fleet with much fanfare in July 2019 when she was christened by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at an elegant quayside garden party.
Spirit of Adventure has 554 all balcony cabins and can accommodate 999 passengers with a tonnage of 58,250 GT. She will soon set sail for the UK with her inaugural cruise now scheduled to leave on the 5th February 2021 for the Canary Islands.
Nigel Blanks, Managing Director of Saga Cruises, said, “Though the inaugural cruise will take place a little later than we had originally planned due to the ongoing restrictions on travel, we cannot wait to welcome guests onboard and see all she has to offer. Having recently visited the ship in Germany, I can assure you, she is worth the wait!”
Over the past few months, Saga has put in place detailed new procedures for a return to cruising in a COVID world. These include reduced capacity, pre-departure testing both at home and before boarding, increased medical staff and facilities and enhancements to their state-of-the-art air conditioning, which already provides 100% fresh air throughout our ships.
Saga’s all-inclusive ocean cruises include door-to-door transport, balcony cabins, insurance, internet access and drinks on board.
For more information on Saga holidays, including ocean and river cruising, go to https://travel.saga.co.uk
DRYNKS, the British alcohol-free craft brewer, has launched the UK’s first full range of alcohol-free (0%) beers and ciders, and they are great!
The Manchester-based business secured one of Dragons’ Den’s best ever deals in March 2020 with Peter Jones amazed at how close to an alcoholic drink its beers and cider tasted.
DRYNKS is the only UK drinks brand who can produce the full remit of craft beers and cider because it owns the first and only state-of-the-art alcohol-free brewery which gently removes alcohol from premium craft beer and cider. The Smashed range uses the finest British ingredients to create authentic tasting craft beers and ciders and then the alcohol is gently swept away in a low impact cool vacuumed environment. This clever process maintains the same bubbly, personality, character and flavour of the full alcohol version.
The Smashed brand of premium craft drinks is now five strong as it launches two new delicious drinks - a Pale ale and a Berry cider. These two new drinks complement its recently launched Smashed Lager, Smashed Citrus beer and Smashed Cider.
All Smashed drinks are vegan, gluten free (where possible), low in sugar and contain less than 100 calories per bottle/can.
Richard Clark, founder of Drynks Unlimited said: “Our SMASHED range of truly 0% beers and ciders have to be tasted to be believed. They taste so good you wouldn’t even realise they don’t have any booze in them.
“Our drinks geniuses have carefully crafted the SMASHED range to allow people to have a great night. Whether you’re looking to reduce your alcohol intake as part of a healthier lifestyle, or if you just want a great-tasting alcohol-free drink you can ‘swap in’ we’ve got you covered.”
The 330ml Smashed bottles and cans have a RRP of £1.99 and are available in Booths supermarket as well as online at www.drynks.co.uk, Zeroholic.co.uk, Drydrinker.com (exclusive Smashed Lager 660ml) and a range of local independent retailers across the UK.
All four Macdonald Hotels & Resorts in Spain have been included in the prestigious Tripadvisor ‘Travellers’ Choice 2020’ Awards. The Doña Lola, Leila Playa, Villacana and La Ermita resorts each achieved top billing in Tripadvisor’s 18th Annual Global Awards.
The awards are based on millions of reviews from travellers around the world and reflect the "the best of the best" for service, quality and customer satisfaction, from hotels and accommodations to destinations, attractions, restaurants and experiences.
Of the 8.7 million tourism and hospitality businesses listed on Tripadvisor, only a tiny fraction – just 4,817 worldwide – received the top award
Michael Stott, chief executive officer for Macdonald Resorts, said: “These prestigious awards are a true reflection of the extremely high quality of service which our staff provide to our guests, day in, day out.
“Over the past six years, our Spanish resorts have consistently performed extremely well based on guest reviews on Tripadvisor and we were inducted into the Tripadvisor Hall of Fame last year.
“This year’s achievement shows our staff and management certainly have not rested on their laurels and I’d like to warmly congratulate them on their fantastic track record of excellence and customer care.
“The majority of our resort staff have been with us for many years and this achievement underlines the strong and positive relationship that they have developed with our guests over the years.
To book a break at any Macdonald Resort in Spain or the UK visit https://resorts.macdonaldhotels.co.uk
This week is World Paella week, a celebration of Valencia’s most famous dish, with World Paella Day on 20 September. So, even if you can’t travel to Spain right now, you can get into the spirit of things by making one to share with friends or family.
Two highlights of the World Paella Day programme are the special edition of the Paella Week that will take place from 17 to 27 September, and the World Paella Cup, an international championship that will bring together chefs from all over the world to prepare this universal dish on the main day of the celebrations, Sunday 20 September.
The key event of the World Paella Day programme of activities will be the special edition of a restaurant week centred around different versions of paella. This will take place from 17 to 27 September and will involve over 60 restaurants in the city. If you want to enjoy the proposals created specially for this contest, bookings are open here.
More than 60 restaurants in the city and province of Valencia, as well as other places in the region, will serve menus consisting of a starter, a special paella and dessert for the set price of 25 euros. There will also be quintessential Valencian versions, such as Alejandro del Toro's traditional paella with green beans and butter beans, La Ferrera's paella made from stewed rice with meatballs, and seafood varieties like the dry rice version with cauliflower and cuttlefish served at Kaymus and the creamy rice with cuttlefish, squid and shrimps favoured by Pelayo Gastro Trinquet.
World Paella Cup: a gastronomic tournament at Mestalla
In this event eight chefs - four men and four women - from Italy, France, Romania, Australia, Japan, China, the United States and Spain will compete in an international tournament inspired by the format of world sports championships to discover which of them makes the best paella. The contest will be broadcast on 20 September from the Mestalla stadium.
For more information on Valencia, go to https://www.visitvalencia.com/en
Images copyright Tourism Valencia
The clever people at Salcombe Brewery have launched a delicious vegan, gluten-free beer.
A blend of American hops gives the beer a strong dry taste that is intensely satisfying, even on the warmest of days; something I can personally vouch for!
Owner of Salcombe Brewery, John Tiner commented: “We’ve spent a considerable amount of time creating the perfect gluten free and vegan friendly beer using the finest ingredients. We want as many people as possible to enjoy our beer and ‘Sun Drop’ has made this possible.” John continued: “It’s been a difficult few months for the brewery industry and its trade customers; we’re absolutely delighted that pubs and restaurants are reopening and hope to get back to some form of normality soon.
Customers can order Sundrop Beer and Ocean Cider from the online shop for nationwide delivery or make use of our free local delivery. Sun Drop comes in 330ml bottles and is priced at just £24 for a case of twelve bottles.
For further information and orders visit www.salcombebrewery.com.
Blue Islands’ codeshare partnership with Loganair, Scotland’s airline, is now live. Customers can book services from Exeter, Southampton, Jersey and Guernsey to destinations on the Loganair network via www.blueislands.com, or their preferred travel agent.
The codeshare enables customers to seamlessly book connecting flights with just one booking and one transaction. All hold luggage will be checked through to the final destination.
Starting from 26 October, passenger can book from Guernsey and Jersey to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle and Manchester via Southampton.
From Exeter and Southampton, passengers can fly to Aberdeen and Inverness via Manchester.
Blue Islands CEO, Rob Veron said, “We are delighted that customers can now book flights using our previously announced codeshare partnership with Loganair. Our initial set of connections enable easy travel to a number of very popular destinations in Scotland and the North for our customers in Guernsey, Jersey, Exeter and Southampton. We expect the network to develop even further very soon, with a wider choice of destinations for next summer.”
Loganair Chief Executive Jonathan Hinkles said “We’re excited our new codeshare partnership with Blue Islands starts today and we’re confident it will be welcome news for customers looking to travel to the North from the Channel Isles and by those in Scotland looking to explore all that Jersey and Guernsey have to offer.”
Bucking the trend in aviation, regional airline operator Blue Islands is today re-launching flights from Exeter to both Manchester and Jersey to service both leisure and business passengers.
Flying with Blue Islands is designed to be as easy as possible with simple transparent fares. Blue Fly includes 1 x 23kg luggage allowance as standard. Choose the Blue Plus fare for inclusive 2 x 23kg hold luggage allowance, complimentary seat allocation, double frequent flyer points and flexibility.
Blue Islands is also working with Visit Jersey to promote late summer/autumn breaks to Jersey. Flights from £49.99 one way are still available this September and October, it’s a world away in just 45 minutes.
Blue Islands CEO, Rob Veron, confirmed, “We are very pleased to reinstate two very popular routes from Exeter. The flights will initially operate three days a week, and for next summer we will increase frequencies with Manchester served three times a day and Jersey once a day.”
He added, “The initial flights in September and October will use aircraft from the Channel Islands. However, as previously announced we will base an aircraft in Exeter from the end of October, employing around twenty pilots, cabin crew and engineers in total.”
For more information, visit the airline’s website https://www.blueislands.com
TUI River Cruises launches on 26 November 2020
All three ships, TUI Isla, TUI Maya and TUI Skyla have undergone a major multi-million-pound makeover transform them into stylish and comfortable floating boutique hotels. Customers will have the choice of two restaurants both complete with floor to ceiling views of the river, - Verdastro, an elegant fine dining experience, and Bistro, a more casual scene.
Two brand new bars will also be onboard, the Observatory with glass sliding doors opening out to the terrace and the Club Lounge, a relaxing coffee and cocktail bar with a digital fireplace and signature scent. Customers can choose from a selection of local wines during lunch and dinner as part of the full board plus board basis. In addition, cruisers can also purchase local wines on-shore which the waiter can serve to them during their meals with no corkage charge.
There is a choice of seven cabin types per ship with three cabins for solo travellers. As part of a sustainability initative, all cabin carpets have been made from recycled fishing nets giving them a unique, subtle finish. For those wanting a more luxurious trip, there are 36 suites across the three ships. All suites come with walk in wardobes, double French balconies and spacious bathrooms.
The river cruise line offers 32 itineraries along the Danube, Rhine, Moselle, Main and Dutch and Belgian waterways with the added flexibility of three to 14 night sailings for those wanting a short break or those opting for a longer getaway.
TUI Isla will sail three festive Christmas itineraries including Mistletoe & Rhine, Yuletide Wonders and Rhine Gems throughout November and December. TUI Skyla and TUI Maya will be preparing to set sail in April 2021 from Frankfurt and Budapest.
Blue Islands, the Channel Islands airline, announced a significant plan to restore key lost routes at Southampton Airport today.
Prices start from £34.99 for Guernsey; £39.99 for Jersey; and £49.99 for Manchester and Dublin. All fares now include a generous 23kg hold luggage allowance included in the price. Flights are now on sale at the airline’s new website, www.blueislands.com and all customers are invited to sign up to the airline’s new Blue Skies Club frequent flyer programme.
Flying in a 70-seat ATR72 in brand new corporate colours, the airline confirmed four initial routes
* Southampton-Jersey – daily rising to double daily - from 31 August
* Southampton-Manchester - daily - from 31 August
* Southampton-Dublin – four times weekly - from 31 August.
* Southampton-Guernsey – double daily from 31 August
Blue Islands is also adding more flights from the UK regions to Jersey. These include:
* Bristol to Jersey - four times weekly, flying Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 3 August, moving to daily from September.
* Exeter to Jersey – three times weekly (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday initially) from 3 September
* Birmingham to Jersey - operating Monday/Wednesday/Friday and Sunday from 31 August.
* East Midlands to Jersey operating three times a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) from 29 September.
“When the market improves, Blue Islands plans to add a second aircraft at Southampton, covering an increased selection of routes and frequencies.” said Blue Islands Executive Director Paul Simmons, speaking in Southampton.
“Blue Islands is committed to simplifying regional air travel - with no hidden costs or stresses over bag restrictions,” said CEO Rob Veron. “In addition, we know that our passengers require strong wellbeing measures before flying and we are pleased to have introduced a very robust set of measures to meet this very important need. More details of our Enhanced Wellbeing Onboard can be found on our website. In addition, we are proud to announce our new product offering, refreshed brand identity and new website. Our offering is tailored to the needs of regional passengers. Our aim is to make flying a pleasure again. It’s the little things that matter and make the welcome difference.”
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