Saturday, 25 August 2012

Worse than Nothing?

This is a real grumble.

You can read below about our cruise in March 2012 to the Canary Islands. The trip was marred by an ongoing outbreak of Norovirus on the ship. Many passengers were affected, and part of the remedy was to ask them to remain in their cabins for 48 hours. As an incentive, there was mention of a discount on on a further cruise for those who comply. As a precaution passengers who might not have been affected, but showed symptoms were also asked to comply. My Mrs was one such - it cost her two days of a 12-day holiday, and myself, too to some extent, although I was able to make more of the time since I was able to leave the cabin and go ashore as well as sitting and keeping her company.

The voucher for a future cruise discount had not arrived by mid-August, so I wrote to ask why not. To be fair, the reply was very prompt, and came with a voucher for £61 off a future cruise, valid until the end of 2013.

Now £61 compared with a ticket price of £1259 amounts to a discount of 5% for one person. Better than nothing I suppose, in monetary terms, at least. Worse than nothing in terms of customer relations. I doubt whether we will use it. I just negotiated a discount of more than 5% for two on our next cruise, but with a different cruise line. I don't think we will be using our Fred.Olsen voucher.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Short Stories to Read on the Bus

I belong to Panocticon, a small creative writing group in Whalley, Lancashire, UK. We meet every week at Whalley Abbey to swap ideas, consider each other's work and socialise. We have published a few things that you will find on That's where you'll see my own book, a collection of short stories: 'Short Stories to read on the Bus'
I just thought I'd mention it, but I won't dwell on it - I have much more interesting things to say here.

Thursday, 10 May 2012


It may be this blog will have to be discontinued soon, or switched to a new provider.  The thing is that the new Blogger interface is incompatible with Windows 7.  So far I have been able to switch back to the old interface when it has changed to the new one without asking, but I'm not getting a new computer just so I can get Windows 8 just so I can use Blogger.  What's more I am definitely NOT going to be coerced into installing Google Chrome.  Watch this space.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

More On Cruising

One issue to be addressed when considering a cruise is where to start from.

Cruising from a UK port has advantages and drawbacks.

A recent cruise from Southampton to the Canary Islands took three days at sea to reach our first port of call: Funchal Madeira.  The return leg from Lisbon took two.  That's quite a chunk from a two-week holiday, and to be honest the time spent in Lisbon was disappointingly short.  Some will opine that every minute on board is part of the experience to be enjoyed and I wouldn't argue with that.  I would assert that waking up in a different port every day is an attraction, too, and the more of that the better. 
On the other hand there's effectively no luggage limit if you're not flying.  A 2-week cruise with themed and formal nights has a hefty luggage demand and flying guests will invariably be up to the limit.  And if you're bringing lots of presents back...  don't get me started on that one.
Even sailing from the UK there is still the matter of reaching your departure port - with all your luggage.  You can fly from the north of England to Southampton, which gives you the worst of both worlds, or go by the shuttle coaches arranged by cruise companies.  These rarely pick up near home so you still have the same problem on a smaller scale.  We invariably end up driving there, staying overnight and leaving our car by arrangement at the hotel.  (Hilton Hotel, Chilworth, I'll give you a plug here so long as you promise to prompt your guests to book the with-taxi-to-the-port option when they book to keep their costs down.)

There is another issue likely to cost you days from your holiday.  The ship we travelled on seems to have an endemic problem with Norovirus.  (That's winter vomiting virus to you, and an attack is very unpleasant, if short-lived.)  Not short-lived is the 48-hour quarantine period.  They'll confine you to your cabin if you get sick, even if it's just a tummy upset, so every aspect of hygiene deserves attention.  Wash hands often, use the germicidal gels and be very picky about what you eat and drink.  Use your own pen to sign the tabs and use your pen as a prodder for the elevator buttons.  They promise a voucher for discount on your next cruise is you are confined, but we haven't seen it yet.  Perhaps you have to ask.  I'll give them to the end of the month before I begin to push the issue.

The third issue which is close to my heart is that of disabled access.  Some ports put on shuttle buses if the ship is very far from the port entrance or resort: others do not.  Similarly cruise lines, who should always do so in my opinion.  Even when they are provided they might not run all the time, so beware.  And  cruise lines please remember: "Only 500 metres to the port gates.."  means exactly the same as "A full half-kilometre to the gates and them some."  Would you say that to a guest with mobility problems without offering help?