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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Free for all at sea?

I’ve written before about my concerns about a cruise line offering passengers free, unlimited alcoholic drinks. My comments then related to certain Norwegian Cruise Line sailing.

Now another cruise operator, Thomson, has announced that on its new TUI Discovery, “everyone goes all inclusive from summer 2017”.

TUI Discovery Atrium Bar (Thomson)
TUI Discovery Atrium Bar (Thomson.co.uk)

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Are we having fun yet?

So you’ve spend a shed-load of money, rearranged your work and life schedule, paid well in advance and raced around like crazy to put everything in place, all so you can enjoy your dream holiday without a hassle. Yes, it’s been hard, but you know it’ll be worth it

Things not purrfect? Make a complaint!
Things not purrfect? Make a complaint!

But what if things don’t turn out the way you expect? Continue reading Are we having fun yet?

Review: Oman Air to Singapore

Oman Air A330-300* business class
Abu Dhabi-Muscat-Kuala Lumpur-Singapore-KL-Muscat-Abu Dhabi
June, 2016

Yes, it’s the long way around to get from Abu Dhabi to Singapore and back, but with Oman Air it was a pleasure.

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As I discovered when I flew to Bangkok recently, Oman Air has a very good business-class product. Continue reading Review: Oman Air to Singapore

Revisiting Raffles

A trip to Raffles features on many a bucket list — especially for those interested in Singapore’s colonial past who want to see (or stay in, if they can afford it) arguably the most celebrated hotel in the world. For me, this was my third visit, and a somewhat sentimental one as I remembered a departed friend with whom I first visited Raffles many years ago.

Raffles
Raffles

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My neck of the woods

Those of us who like to travel sometimes forget about the delights of where we live. While researching the next exotic destination, we are sometimes oblivious to changes in our own neighbourhood.

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It pays to have a look around; to go somewhere new but nearby. I did this today with my first proper visit to Al Maryah Island, which has been designed to be the new central business district of Abu Dhabi (which, in case you don’t know is where I live).

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Booze cruises

We go on holiday to relax. And, for many of us, that means some overindulgence, especially when it comes to food and drink. And when the food is free and all you can eat, you can see why cruise passengers are wont to put on a kilogram or two on holiday.

Norwegian Sky (NCL)
Norwegian Sky (NCL)

But overeating isn’t the only danger. Cruise ships do a roaring trade in alcohol. Most lines offer an all-you-can drink package that can cost as little as $30 per day.

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