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

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

The lowdown on the UAE

Having just finished a five-year stint in Abu Dhabi, I find myself bombarded with questions about the United Arab Emirates. Generally, it comes down to three questions: What’s it like in Dubai? (Abu Dhabi and Dubai are conflated in many people’s minds, apparently), Should I visit? and Can you get a drink there?

Sunset on the Abu Dhabi Corniche

Bars are plentiful in the UAE, although they are generally hidden away from public view inside hotels. But there are other, more important things, visitors and would-be residents ought to know about the UAE. And here they are:

Continue reading The lowdown on the UAE

The man from the Mercure

I’ve moved from the Ramada Downtown and I’m now ensconced at the Mercure City Centre, Abu Dhabi.

As this is an Accor Hotel, I’m on more familiar turf here. The hotel — one of the oldest in the Abu Dhabi CBD (and, I believe, originally The Novotel), is showing a bit of wear and tear, but the experience so far has been very pleasant.

Continue reading The man from the Mercure

A dummy’s guide to travel

I recently read an online guide to budget travel that really got my goat*, as my granny used to say.

Spending more is sometimes worth it

It also got me thinking about all the bad travel advice I’ve read online, and how some of it ought to be challenged. Which is what I’m about to do.

Continue reading A dummy’s guide to travel

Qantas unveils Brisbane lounge

Some travel news from my home town: Qantas has released details, and images, of its new business lounge at Brisbane international airport.

The lounge, which will open in October, will be the first of several new facilities the national carrier will open at Brisbane Airport as part of a multi-million dollar upgrade this year, according to Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans.

Continue reading Qantas unveils Brisbane lounge

Considering a cruising career?

I once wanted to work on a cruise ship; part of me still does. What’s not to like about working on board a ship; to get paid to see the world, with accommodation, food and drinks thrown in?

Vision of the Seas

Well, there are quite a few things to think about if you are considering taking the leap into the world of hospitality and entertainment on the high seas.

Continue reading Considering a cruising career?

Secrets of the sea

One of my favourite activities onboard a cruise ship is the question-and-answer session with the captain and senior officers. Not every cruise line does it, but Royal Caribbean does on at least some of its ships, and it’s called Captain’s Corner.

On my cruise aboard Vision of the Seas, I learned — or was reminded of — quite a few “fun facts” about that particular ship and cruising in general in a session hosted by Captain Marek Slaby.

Continue reading Secrets of the sea

World’s cheapest, and dearest, cities

Zurich, Switzerland, is the most expensive place on Earth for tourists, according to research by airport transfer company Hoppa.

Sofia (bulgariatravel.org)

And the cheapest of 84 cities rated is Sofia in Bulgaria. The survey threw up quite a few surprises.

Continue reading World’s cheapest, and dearest, cities

Brew with a view

A lot of us can’t face the day without first facing a cup of coffee. But what if that coffee featured a famous face — perhaps even our own?

(Tub of Butter, Dubai; Instagram)

Special stencils for commercial coffee machines now mean your latte can feature just about any design. And in Dubai — where else — you can see yourself, or your favourite photo, in your cup the day after emailing an attachment to the barista.

Continue reading Brew with a view

One size doesn’t fit all

The most depressing thing about travel stories and advertisements — be they in newspapers or magazines, on radio or on TV — is that they assume that we all want the same thing.

Typical planesailing.co reader

Sure, relaxing on a beach with a colourful drink in hand may be some people’s idea of a good time, but other (misguided, to my mind) people would rather be scaling a rockface, riding the rapids or swimming with sharks.

Continue reading One size doesn’t fit all

Christmas is all around

Christmas markets, Christmas lunches, Christmas shopping … it’s all happening, and not just in traditionally Christian countries.

From Kakadu, Shanghai

Not long after I moved to Abu Dhabi, somebody sneered on social media about  “politically correct” Britain, where some councils had (allegedly) banned Christmas, and then added for good measure: “I bet you’re not allowed to celebrate it in the UAE, either.”

Continue reading Christmas is all around

Review: Courtyard by Marriott, Bangkok

The first thing that struck me on arrival at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel, near the busy Siam central shopping district, was the security.

King-size bed, Courtyard by Marriott
King-size bed, Courtyard by Marriott

The taxi boot was checked and I had to go through a airport-style scanner before entry to the foyer.

Continue reading Review: Courtyard by Marriott, Bangkok

Food for thought

I’m pretty much an omnivore, but I am sensitive to other people’s dietary requirements. And I feel for those with diet restrictions when they are travelling.

IMG_20160319_185034

So, it’s great to note that there are organisations that do the research and spread the word on the web so these people know where to go to get a good meal.

Continue reading Food for thought