Spreading it around: why cruise lines ban sick people

It seems like a case of damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Here’s a news story about a cruise line that’s under fire because it ruined a family’s holiday when it refused to allow two sick children to board.

Serenade of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

And yet the same web site — and many others — regularly runs stories (such as this and this) about large numbers of passengers whose holidays are ruined because they got norovirus (“gastro” in Australian headline-writing parlance) on cruise ships.

Continue reading Spreading it around: why cruise lines ban sick people

Tourism opens up the world, don’t shut it down

If ever a headline were designed to boil my blood, this was it. And it’s in The Guardian, that bastion of liberal values.

Cruising makes travel affordable — and that’s a very good thing.

It says: “Only governments can stem the tide of tourism sweeping the globe“. As if tourism, one of the great forces of good in this world, were a disease that needed elimination.

Continue reading Tourism opens up the world, don’t shut it down

Five reasons not to believe all that travel advice

This might seem like a strange thing to read on a travel blog, but you shouldn’t believe everything you read, or hear, about travel.

Some things last forever, others change.

It’s a big, bad world out there, and not everybody is being entirely honest in their posts, newspaper and magazine articles, podcasts, vodcasts, tweets, instas, Facebook Live broadcasts and so on.

Continue reading Five reasons not to believe all that travel advice

Five reasons why your next holiday should be a cruise

Cruising is said to be the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry. It’s no surprise why.

Explorer of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)
Explorer of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

In case you have reservations about making a reservation on a ship, here are some good reasons why sailing is the answer.

Continue reading Five reasons why your next holiday should be a cruise

Travel by numbers

A former colleague of mine has travelled to more than 100 countries. I don’t know if it’s his aim to visit them all, as others have done, but it’s a fairly impressive tally nonetheless.

We don’t all travel in the same way,

And, as far as I know, he doesn’t just dash in and out. He takes his time to see the sights, meet people and go off the beaten track. My country tally is about half of his, but I don’t see it as a competition.

We all approach travel in our own way.

Continue reading Travel by numbers

The show’s the thing

People take cruises for many reasons. So, apart from the niche players in the market who cater to very specific interests, cruise companies have to design their ships to provide something for everyone.

That means paying close attention to the menu, the shore excursions, the amenities and, crucially, the entertainment program.

Continue reading The show’s the thing

Captain’s correct call

Along with other passengers on my recent cruise on the Pacific Aria to New Caledonia and Vanuatu, I missed out on two out of three scheduled port calls due to bad weather.

The Pacific Aria

I could complain, I could ask for compensation — which wouldn’t be forthcoming, since this eventuality is covered in the fine print — but, while I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to see Noumea and Mare, I believe it was the right call.

Continue reading Captain’s correct call

The price isn’t right

As a solo traveller who likes cruising, I’m always desperate to find a fair deal in a market that’s clearly geared towards groups of two or more.

I understand why there has traditionally been a bias towards catering for couples and families, but times are changing and more people — young, old and in the middle — are travelling on their own. With this in mind, I sometimes get riled when a see “deal” that is patently biased against solo travellers.

Continue reading The price isn’t right

Peaceful, picturesque Port Vila

I’ve rarely felt more welcome than I did in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific about 1900 kilometres east of  Brisbane, Australia.

The people I met were friendly and very proud of their country. Taxi and bus drivers eagerly volunteered information and pointed out interesting sights.

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Cruise update

I’m having a little trouble posting to this blog from the middle of the South Pacific. I am, however, updating Instagram and Twitter (see the menu at left for links). There are also new cruise-ship-related  articles by me here  and here.

Meanwhile, on the Pacific Aria, bad weather has meant the cancellation of stops in Noumea and Mare, so we’re steaming towards Port Vila. It’s a bit bumpy ..

Pacific Aria: first impressions

I’ve arrived onboard P&O Cruises Australia’s Pacific Aria for a seven-day journey  from Brisbane to New Caledonia and back.

Ship’s webcam view of port in Brisbane

I’ll be blogging when I can, and posting updates on social media. In the meantime, I’ve undertaken a reconnaissance mission and here are some pictures of the ship and the port.

Continue reading Pacific Aria: first impressions

I’m sold on this sailing deal

On a whim, I’ve booked a week-long cruise starting in four days — on Friday, May 19. I nearly booked it yesterday, but by waiting a day I saved about US$75 (A$100) on what was already a bargain price.

Last-minute deals are fantastic if you are at a loose end — on holiday with no firm plans (as I am), retired, or otherwise flexible with your time — and you don’t mind missing out if it’s already sold out. Continue reading I’m sold on this sailing deal

It takes a village …

The northern Italian village of Bormida has hit the headlines because its council is offering €2,000 to anybody who wants to come and live there.

Savona (Brett Debritz)

The idea is to boost the population of the village, where rents can be as low as €50 a month. I, for one, am tempted — particularly given Bormida’s close proximity to the borders with Monaco and France, and to the beautiful port of Savona, where Costa Cruises has a terminal.

Continue reading It takes a village …

Extras. Read all about them

We’ve all been asked if we “want fries with that” or otherwise been enticed to buy something more than we originally planned.

Are special touches worth paying extra for?

It’s no different in the travel business, but sometimes what’s part of the package and what’s extra isn’t quite as easy to understand as an upsized Big Mac meal deal.

Continue reading Extras. Read all about them

Is your attire ship-shape?

Frequent cruisers will be familiar with formal night. It happens at least once on every voyage: the night where you either dress up in your finest to enjoy silver service in the dining room or you slum it in your shorts and sloppy joes at the buffet.


Even in this egalitarian age, most cruise ships still have a dress code for their restaurants — especially on the formal nights — and some people think that the code sometimes goes too far.

Continue reading Is your attire ship-shape?