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12 indulgent experiences to enjoy onboard a cruise ship

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Everyone should take at least one cruise in their lifetime. Want to visit multiple places on one trip? Experience different cultures while living in luxury and trying something new every day? A cruise offers this and more.

Cruise lines are becoming increasingly creative in the activities and experiences they put on for their passengers – here are 12 of the most indulgent waiting for you onboard.

Four Jandals Blogging on Amsterdam River Cruise

1. Pamper yourself in a spa

Cruises are renowned for their relaxing atmospheres, and this is reflected in the high quality of their spas. There are a mind-boggling number of treatments on offer, from hot-stone massages to facials, massages and even seaweed body wraps. Spoil yourself by booking a spa package and enjoying a day of your favourite treatments.

2. Indulge in afternoon tea

Afternoon teas are a staple of the cruise experience. The best cruise ships for afternoon tea present their customers with mouthwatering pastries, dainty sandwiches and the best scones on the high seas. Debate continues to rage about which comes first – the cream or the jam– but whichever way you take yours, your taste buds are in for a sumptuous treat.

3. Champagne tasting

What could be more romantic than sipping Champagne in the luxury of a lounge bar with your better half? Try various Champagnes from the best houses, learning more about the styles vary, or if you’re cruising with friends, why not try a bottomless brunch where the bubbles flow non-stop while you nibble on delicious food prepared by top chefs.

4. Win big in a casino

If Vegas is your thing, a visit to the casino is a must. Pop on your tuxedo or little black dress and try your luck on the slot machines. Or test out your poker face in a card tournament while drinking a Martini – shaken, not stirred…

5. Watch a show

Take your pick from live music (remember Jane McDonald?), a Broadway show or a comedy performance. Some cruises even have aqua or ice shows. Take your seat and enjoy exhilarating performances you’ll never forget.

6. Take a dance class

Fancy yourself as the next Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers? Take a dance class and master the skill of not standing on your partner’s toes with a professional dance instructor. From ballroom dancing to salsa, you’re bound to find something that suits your dance style.

7. Watch a movie under the stars

If you’re after a quieter night, snuggle up under a blanket on deck and watch the latest Hollywood has to offer on the big screen.

8. Go skydiving

Even the impossible is possible on a cruise – on some cruises you can find out what it’s like to skydive. Pull on a jumpsuit, launch yourself into a specially made air machine and feel the adrenaline rush and the wind in your face.

9. Book on a culinary class

Want to learn how to make sushi? Or maybe create the ultimate dinner-party menu for your family and friends? Then take a culinary class and learn the top tips in the trade from an experienced professional chef.

10. Attend a formal night event

The pinnacle of any cruise has to be attending a formal or gala night. Experience fabulous food, excellent entertainment and the height of cruise-ship fashion during these exceptional evenings. If you’re going to go, go big. Dust off that tux or ballgown and show your fellow travellers what you’re made of.

11. Get married

What could be more glamorous than getting married onboard a magnificent cruise ship? Appoint a wedding organiser to take the stress out of the planning and say ‘I do’ in idyllic surroundings with your friends and family. Weddings aboard cruise ships have become more popular, and all aspects of your wedding, from the cake to the photographer, will be catered for.

12. Dine at the Captain’s Table

If you want to get yourself seen, an invite to dine at the Captain’s Table is the way to go. You may have to do a bit of schmoozing with the ship’s social team to secure an invitation but once you’ve got one, put on your glad rags and enjoy a fun-filled evening with free drinks and entertaining tales from the Captain or a senior crew member.

 

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Travel Tips

See it all: what you may have missed on your first visit to London

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See it all: what you may have missed on your first visit to London

London has recently won the accolade of the world’s best-rated destination in TripAdvisor’s annual Travellers’ Choice awards. The capital is consumed by creative energy and cultural vibrancy that can be felt in just about every aspect of London life. From its food to its fashion, its arts and exhibitions and its shops and nightlife, the city has so much to offer.

The capital is the birthplace of punk and the catwalks of today, as well as being a haven for all things Shakespearean. During your first trip to London, you’re likely to visit the likes of the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Tower of London. On your second trip, it’s time to really see it all and head to all of the places you missed during your first visit.

Eltham Palace

Regardless of your feelings on Buckingham Palace, Eltham Palace is definitely worth a visit. It’s rich in style and elegance, and a truly beautiful stately home of which you are sure to be in awe.

This southeast London abode is far more than an old medieval palace; its stunning 1930s art décor, for example, is unbelievable. For its era, the Palace’s interior was completed to the highest of standards, resulting in a historic cache of complete décor chic.

If you’re into your TV detectives, you may recognise the Palace’s foyer from Poirot. If you’re after further dosages of combined heritage and contemporary elegance during your trip to the capital, the Dorsett Hotel, City of London accommodation is a convenient place to stay.

Little Venice

We concede that just about every major city has a “Little Italy”, from New York to Buenos Aires to Gothenburg. That said, there are none quite as authentic as London’s Little Venice. The majority of other Little Italys tend to focus on Italian cuisine; however, Little Venice features colourful narrow boats and beautiful tree-lined avenues that border the canal flowing to Camden Lock.

The canal-side pubs serve a whole manner of locally crafted ales – the ultimate refreshment on a summer’s day. This is certainly one London location you don’t want to miss.

Belgravia’s chocolate making workshop

One of the most affluent districts in Central London, Belgravia is almost worth a visit in itself, particularly due to William Curley’s chocolate making workshop.

Whether you’re an aspiring confectioner, a wannabe chocolatier or a diehard sweet tooth, you can try your hand at making your favourite treat. The velvety truffles and salted caramels receive rave reviews, and this is one workshop that will have your mouth watering.

The Globe Theatre

The Globe Theatre is a modern reconstruction of the original theatre, closely associated with William Shakespeare. The original structure was first built in the 17th century, and some of Shakespeare’s finest works were performed there. Unfortunately, the original structure burned to the ground after a canon sparked a fire during a performance of “Henry VIII”.

Banksy Graffiti on Rivington Street, Shoreditch

Mexico City, Melbourne and Prague are some of the best cities in the world for street art, and Shoreditch may just be able to hold its own against such prestige. Just about every wall, office block and bridge arch is adorned with mesmerising street art. As a result, the area proves rather popular with tourists.

One of the area’s earliest and most famous attractions is Banksy’s Rivington Street. The artist’s earlier works can be found here, including “Guard Dog” – how’s that for an Instagram photo? There are even free graffiti walking tours led by local street art enthusiasts.

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Travel Tips

Sights to See in London

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If you’re traveling to London, congratulations. You are going to enjoy yourself. The capital of the United Kingdom has something for everyone – history, theater, art, and of course, the monarchy. Before you go, make sure you have attended an english course. It will make your trip all the more enjoyable. While there is much to do across the pond, make sure you put these destinations on your must-see list.

British Museum

Considered by many to be the best museum in England, this architectural marvel is free to visit. Constructed in 1753 and opened to the public six years later, the British Museum became the world’s first national public museum. Nearly six million people visit the museum each year and explore its 10 departments – Africa, Oceania and the Americas; Ancient Egypt and Sudan; Asia; Britain, Europe and Prehistory; Coins and Medals; Conservation and Scientific Research; Greece and Rome; Middle East; Portable Antiquities and Treasure; and Prints and Drawings. Famous antiquities housed in the museum include the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles and the Lindow Man.


Buckingham Palace
The home of Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace is available to tour from July through October. It costs $34 for adults, $19 for kids 17 years of age and younger and is free for guests under 5 years old. When you visit, make sure to check out the 19 State Rooms, the Grand Staircase, fine art, a Prince Charles-narrated audio tour, fine art, the Throne Room, Sèvres Porcelain, the royal gardens, flags and clocks, special exhibits, the Garden Café and the Garden Shop. If you don’t want to pay for a tour of the palace, you can still witness the storied Changing of the Guard. Executed by active soldiers from the Foot guards who have protected the Sovereign and the Royal Palaces since the 17th century, this special ceremony is forever linked to the British monarchy.

Westminster Abbey
The famed royal church offers daily services and is a World Heritage site. Since 1066, Westminster Abbey has served as the coronation church. It is the resting place of 17 monarchs. Started by Henry III in the 13th century, the church is considered the most famous Gothic building in England. At its center is a medieval shrine of an Anglo-Saxon saint. Abbey’s most popular spots include Poet’s Corner, Coronation Chair, The Lady Chapel, Pyx Chamber, Royal Tombs, Unknown Warrior, The Quire, Cloisters, Chapter House and College Garden. Admission to Westminster Abbey is $26, but you can visit for free. Evensong services are offered seven days a week. While not highly publicized, simply walk over to the iron gate by the church’s main entrance and enjoy a beautiful service performed by a world-class choir.

London truly has it all. Depending how long you are in the country, you may not have time to see everything that makes the country great. If that’s the case, make sure you put the British Museum, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey on your to-do list.

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Adventure Travel

Review: 10 Day Egypt Explorer Tour with Expat Explore

A comprehensive review of Expat Explores 10 Day Explorer Tour through the stunning country of Egypt.

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Expat Explore Group in Egypt

We have been wanting to visit Egypt for a while now so when the opportunity to get away over the Christmas and New Year period arose we knew we needed to head there for a break. We joined Expat Explore on their 10 Day Explorer Tour through Egypt taking in the sights of Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and Hurghada.

Expat Explore Group Photo

The reason we chose Expat Explore was that they were the cheapest in price with all the same sights and in the end we were happy with our choice.

Pre-departure they emailed us our itinerary with the optional excursions and additional costs for entry fees included so that we could budget properly. As well as following up with our pre-trip questions regarding flights, insurance and uhealth and safety advice.

From the start they were very professional. Landing in Cairo we were personally greeted the day before our tour and transported to our City centre hotel. That drive was an eye-opener to Egypt with crazy lane changes, honking, swerving, flashing lights with animals, people and vehicles everywhere.

El Tonsy Hotel is your base for your arrival and last night. Luckily we didn’t expect much as our door didn’t lock which was a bit dodgy and the rooms were freezing cold with a broken heater and only one blanket. You wouldn’t think you would need heat in Egypt but it was the middle of winter and it was chilly at night. No complaints with the location though as we could see the Pyramids in the distance and were only 5 minutes walk from the Nile and 15 minutes to Tahir Square (perfectly safe by the way). Plus they have a little bar/restaurant with cheap food and free Wi-Fi. Just buy your snacks and water from the supermarket across the road and you will get on fine.

El Tonsy Hotel View of Pyramids

It’s quite hard to break down a whole trip into one post but here goes:

Day One

Your tour starts with the best in my opinion by touring some sights of Cairo. The steeply angled Step Pyramid, mind-blowing Pyramids of Giza and the smaller than expected Sphinx. This day was definitely the highlight.

That night is spent aboard the train for 10-12 hours to Aswan. I highly recommend the Sleeper train for an extra £50 per person. Others that caught the standard train froze their butts off while we had a toasty sleep with a served dinner and breakfast. Unfortunately Expat Explore never told us about the provided food so we ate before we got on-board but what we could fit in was delicious.

Day Two

The tour splits in Aswan as one group embarks on a River Cruise aboard a 5 star ship while the others spend time in hotels and on a Felucca. No surprise that we went with the cheaper option aboard the Felucca so the next few days are from that point of view.

The afternoon is yours at Sara Hotel on the banks above the Nile. We lapped up the beautiful rays of the sun and managed to turn our pasty white bodies a more fitting slightly white shade. The Hotel was great until the toilet next-door erupted sending a river of smelly waste across our bedroom floor (throw your toilet paper in the bin not the loo)! Luckily we woke in time to rescue our bags from the watery mess! Not the fault of Expat Explore and we didn’t blame the Hotel either as shit happens.

Day Three

Your day begins by visiting the monstrous High Dam for 10 minutes (fairly boring) and a drive past the Unfinished Obelisk. While the highlight is definitely the Philae Temple. When the sunsets across the Nile reflecting off the stonework it really is quite magical.

Philae Temple Sunset

The evening ended with an optional dinner in a traditional Nubian families house. The food was scrumptious and you better bring your singing and dancing shoes.

Day Four

The following day and night is spent relaxing aboard the Felucca for a sail up the Nile for several hours. Sleeping no more than 8 people you will be snug if you bring your own sleeping bag like us. The rest of our crew were jealous as it did get quite chilly in the evening however blankets were provided.

With delicious pita bread and falafel cooked on the boat you will not be disappointed with the food either.

The day ends with a bonfire on the Nile shoreline as you sing and dance with the crazy fun Nubian crews. This was definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip for us.

Travel Tip: Don’t be put off by doing your “business” amongst the reeds of the Nile. Just enjoy the view and remember to bring your own toilet paper (which you need everywhere in Egypt anyway).

Felucca on the Nile

By all accounts, from the other tour members, the River Cruise is just as great with 3 nights on-board in comfortable accommodation, a pool and  buffets morning, noon and night.

Day Five

Waking to a sunrise breaking the morning chill is a glorious way to start a new day. Unfortunately there is little time for relaxation before you are off the Felucca and on a bus to Kom Ombu and Edfu Temples. I must say, all of the transportation was more than adequate with toilets on the buses and room enough for everyone. It’s lucky because you do spend the majority of the time being driven around.

The Lotus Hotel in Luxor was probably the pick of them all. Situated on the Nile bank with a swimming pool and tasty buffet breakfast.

Day Six

One more day, one more busy schedule. Rushing to beat the crowds at the Valley of the Kings it’s another 8am start. You are only allowed to visit three tombs and we recommend the guides picks which were Ramses II, IV and IX.

Travel Tip: You are NOT allowed to take your camera with you off the bus. Please don’t ruin it for everyone by taking photos as you will be charged by security when caught.

We also squeezed in the crowded rock carved Hatshepsut Temple but only drove past Luxor Temple as we ran out of time as you need to drive 6 hours to reach Hurghada that night.

Day Seven and Eight

The next two days at the Red Sea are yours to do whatever you like so use them wisely. We joined most of our group for a spot of snorkelling and diving. The dive and the staff were great but the whole day seemed a little rushed which was a shame. Keep an eye out for our post on our diving experience in Hurghada.

Diving in Hurghada on the Red Sea

So nice being able to relax on a beach and read a book after such a hectic schedule. It’s hard to leave and the 6 – 8 hour bus ride back to Cairo is tough.

Travel Tip: If you plan to do the tour over New Years Eve then you will have to depart Hurghada half a day early which sucked as it meant celebrating the New Year at the Hotel in Cairo. Bit of a let down but when hasn’t New Years Eve been!

Day Nine

Your final day of sightseeing is spent around Cairo. Our favourite part of the day was definitely the Cairo Museum with an excellent tour guide. It fits perfectly at the end by seeing all the history close-up after having learned about it over the last 8 days.

By the time we hit the old area of Cairo and the Coptic Hanging Church we were spent on history but our guide made a good effort at keeping us entertained.

The last group activity is free time for an hour or so at the Khan El Khalili souk markets where the touts try to prise your cash from you for the last time from every nook and cranny.

Day Ten

With the tour over it’s time to head home. Our flight was late the following night so we walked around the city and Souks on our own for the day. Expat Explore provides transport back to the airport which was great.

The Negatives

The trip was awesome but we think it’s important to note the little things that could make a huge difference to the overall experience:

  • It felt like we were always hungry. Maybe it is just Kiwi’s and Aussies that eat all the time but it seriously felt like we were constantly starving with lunches being served usually after 4pm and dinner at 9pm onwards. It might be the Egyptian way to eat at those times but not for us. Travel Tip: Buy lots of snacks for the road which are very cheap at supermarkets.
  • There was sometimes a lack of direction in what seemed to be happening. Everything is done on Egyptian time so be patient.
  • We were often delayed or behind schedule with little to no guidance as to how long it would take to get from place to place. A little knowledge goes a long was as then we can plan ahead.
  • More free time would be great to explore places on your own rather than have our hands held everywhere.

The Positives:

As we said above, the trip was amazing and the little positive things far outweighed the negatives which helped make it a memorable trip.

  • Pre-departure information and care was extremely good.
  • The tour was exceptional value for money and it was the cheapest tour we could find even though we still saw all the same sights the other groups did.
  • The guides were extremely knowledgeable and never failed to answer any questions we had. The insights into the daily lives of the people around us was a nice break from all the history. They also ensured you never felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • The Felucca trip was better than expected and overall so was the accommodation and transport options.

All in all we highly recommend you book with Expat Explore if you are considering a trip through Egypt.

Make sure you subscribe now and come back soon so you can enjoy reading our new posts which will cover everything else in more detail.

Disclaimer: Expat Explore provided us with a discount for our 10 day tour of Egypt however as always our thoughts are always our own.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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