Travel – The Ince Dis Always the real thing,always news. Wed, 13 Mar 2019 09:43:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Best Theme Parks in the UK for Toddlers and Small Children Tue, 03 Jul 2018 14:33:35 +0000 There are plenty of UK theme parks that are suitable for toddlers and small children making them ideal for your next family day out. There’s nothing like a trip to a theme park for a fun-filled family day out. There are thrilling rollercoasters sure to be a hit with kids and parents alike, not to mention plenty of eye-catching attractions for the more faint-hearted.

However when you’ve got little ones, the terrifying rides and height restrictions can quickly turn a fun day out into a logistical nightmare. Luckily, nowadays there are plenty of theme parks offering up toddler-friendly zones and rides tailored to little ones, so they can join in the fun no matter what their age. To give you a helping hand, we’ve searched out the best UK theme parks for families with small children, from toddler-friendly rides to dedicated lands and areas for a magical trip.

1. Paultons Park , Hampshire

Three magical words for parents: Peppa Pig World.

Paultons Park has an entire land dedicated to the beloved children’s character complete with seven themed rides including Peppa’s Big Balloon Ride, Miss Rabbit’s Helicopter Flight and George’s Dinosaur Adventure Ride.

Not to mention they recently sdded two new rides – check out our review here.

Of course, there are also plenty of meet and greet opportunities so little ones can spend time with their favourite characters – and there’s even an on-site toy shop if you want to treat them to an extra memento of the day.

Peppa Pig World is included in the theme park entry fee, and the rest of the park is also tailored to younger kids so there’s plenty to see and do, from the roaring dinosaurs in The Lost Kingdom to kid-friendly rollercoasters.

How much? Children under 1 metre go free. Book online to get cheaper tickets – individual prices start from £29.25.

2. Legoland Windsor Resort , Berkshire

Tailored for children under 12, Legoland offers a relaxed family day out with plenty of adventures to be had for the whole family.

Pretend to be a giant as you wander through the Minilands, relive your favourite stories at the Fairy Tale Brook, or for the brave, there are dragon-themed rollercoasters and rides on offer too!

For something extra special, you can also opt for an overnight stay at the themed Legoland Resort Hotel or Castle Hotel where there are plenty of extras including live entertainment, themed rooms and perks including early entry to the park.

For mums and dads with babies, there’s a dedicated Baby Care Centre where you can breast/bottle feed or change nappies, or buy baby food. Restaurants also offer facilities to help reheat baby food.

Legoland doesn’t always come cheap – but there are plenty of deals and discounts that can make it a bargain.

How much? Tickets start from £32 when booked in advance, from £47 at gate price.

3. Alton Towers Resort , Staffordshire

There are 14 rides and attractions, all tailored to little ones; go on a drive with Postman Pat, watch a show at the Furchester Hotel, take a magical In the Night Garden themed boat ride – and budding thrill-seekers are sure to love the Go Vroomster ride.

Meanwhile for parents there are private feeding rooms and buggy parks throughout CBeebies Land, while the restaurants offer high chairs and bottle warming facilities.

It’s an ideal compromise if you’ve got small children and teenagers, as there’s something to suit everyone.

How much? Kids under 3 go free. Book online to snap up discounts – individual tickets from £33pp (£55 gate price).

4. Gulliver’s Theme Parks

Gulliver’s theme parks are designed especially for families, so all of the rides and attractions are tailored to smaller children. (In fact, groups of adults or single adults with no accompanying children aren’t allowed in the park).

oddlers still too young for the rides? There are plenty of play areas both indoor and outdoor they can also enjoy. Oh, and for animal lovers there’s a Dinosaur and Farm Park in Milton Keynescomplete with petting zoos and a Lost Kingdom.

It’s worth noting that although you can’t hire pushchairs, the park does have ‘funbuggies’ available, that are little cars you can push your child around in.

How much? Children under 90cm go for free. Gate price tickets from £19.95, but you can get discounts online.

5. Drayton Manor, Staffordshire

Home to Europe’s only Thomas the Tank Engine themed land, Drayton Manor has a plethora of themed rides, attractions and the chance to meet all of your favourite characters including Thomas himself! Fly up high on James and the Red Balloon ride, a Thomas & Friends barge, or even Terence’s Driving School where youngsters can drive their very own tractor. As for facilities, there are baby changing facilities in all of the toilet blocks, as well as baby feeding areas in Thomas Land which has a private cubicle for nursing mothers.

Barcelona City Guide: Cheap Stays, Bargain Tips and Insiders’ Tricks Tue, 03 Jul 2018 14:10:41 +0000 We’ve put together a handy guide to Barcelona if you’re planning a city break on a budget. If you can’t decide between a city break or a beach holiday, then there’s no need to compromise – head to Barcelona instead! The breathtaking city boasts plenty of brilliant beaches, seriously spectacular landmarks and a foodie scene that’s unlike any other – seriously, spend an evening sampling tapas and you’ll see what we mean.

Then there the sights from the fascinating Park Guell to the jaw-dropping Sagrada Familia, as well as the Gothic quarter where you’ll find plenty of breathtaking architecture and some of the city’s best nightlife.

The best part about Barcelona is that you don’t need to break the bank to make the most of the city – there are some easy tricks for making your budget stretch that little bit further.

Cheap flights to Barcelona

Booking a bargain flight is not the problem, as budget contenders easyJet, Ryanair, Monarch and others all offer great deals to Barcelona.

For the best prices, book at least three months ahead – and check that the airline flies into the main Barcelona airport (memorably called El Prat), otherwise you may find yourself an hour’s train ride away at Girona or Reus.

  • Cheap Spain holidays 2018: where to find the best deals from all-inclusive packages to cheap flights

Where to stay in Barcelona: luxury, independent or budget?

The main challenge with Barcelona – if you are not buying a package deal – is finding the right accommodation at the right price, especially as hotels can get booked out if there is a big conference. There are four main types of places to stay:

1. Hostals: which are not like youth hostels, but can be more like basic hotels, many with en suite rooms. Tripadvisor has a good list and reviews here.

2. Hotels: again there is a huge range from budget to all-out luxury. Try the reviews on Tripadvisor.

3. Apartment hotels: essentially, a basic hotel suite with a small kitchen/living area, which can really cut the cost of a stay if you cook your own evening meals or want to test out fresh foods from the city’s markets. These flats are offered by many of the big hotel chains as well as specialists, and can start from around £80 a night, sleeping four. Try searching for “apartments in Barcelona”.

4. Private flat or room: Peer-to-peer websites such as airbnb are hugely popular, letting you rent privately-owned spaces through the safety-net of a big company. Places can be as cheap as £15 for a private room in a shared apartment, to £30 a night upwards for your very own flat. Like apartment hotels, they can really save money if you cook some meals, and if equipped with washing machines, dishwashers etc, can be a great solution for families.

Best things to see in Barcelona during the day

Lose yourself in the city centre’s winding medieval streets, dotted with Roman remains, Moorish palaces and shady squares bordered by cafes and orange trees. The main city centre street, the Rambla, is a useful guide – at the top end is the main Placa Catalunya, the lower end leads you out to the harbour.

But do go off to explore either side – to the west there’s a maze of ancient streets, the MACBAmodern art museum and cool Raval area; to the east is the twist of main shopping streets, the old cathedral, fanstastical musical palace and, eventually, the city park, dotted surreally with ping tables, a zoo and crumbling palm houses.

Best time to go

Visiting Barcelona is good any time of year – it is usually hot from May until October, and generally sunny and mild in winter. The sea is warmest in August and September – but August can be steamy and humid, which is why many shops and restaurants close down as owners head to the beaches or mountians. Book early for Valentine weekends, or when a big event is on.

5 of the Best Surf Locations in the World Tue, 03 Jul 2018 13:45:02 +0000 From Mozambique to Mexico, via Cornwall, here are great places to ride waves, find a bed close to the beach and eat drink and party after a day on the water.

Canggu, Bali

A decade ago, Canggu was just a black-sand beach with one food shack, rice paddies as far as the eye could see and a fantastic reef break for intermediate surfers wanting to take their skill to the next level. The wave is unchanged, though a little more crowded in peak season and there’s now a vibrant cafe scene and some hip places to stay, though it’s kept a laid-back, wellness-crowd vibe with none of the brashness of Kuta or swankiness of Seminyak. The Shady Shack is a great new spot for juices, low-alcohol coolers and tasty vegan food. Canteen Café, where vintage surf and skateboards adorn the walls, does excellent coffee and brunch. The Chillhouse (doubles from €110 B&B) also offers surf lessons from €49, including board hire and a ratio of one coach to two guests. Yoga classes cost €9.

Sennen Cove, Cornwall

If Newquay is the loud, beating heart of the UK surf scene, Sennen Cove is its more peaceful and reflective soul. It takes another hour to get there, almost as far as Land’s End, but it’s worth every minute. The waves are some of the most consistent in the country, with a beach break that works left and right and will suit most abilities, but is far less crowded than many Cornish surf spots. The location feels wild and unspoiled with clear ocean, rolling grassy hills and craggy cliffs. The Sennen Surfing Centre offers lessons from £30, and board and wetsuit can be hired on the beach from £14. Yurt accommodation costs £19pp a night at Whitesands Lodge just inland from the beach. Ben Tunnicliffe’s Sennen Cove family-friendly restaurant is worth a visit for fresh, unfussy seasonal cooking, or a guest ale with a view of the waves at its wooden outdoor bar, the Surf Den.

Hoddevik, Norway

Thanks to recent advances in wetsuit technology, surfing in the icy waters off Norway is not just possible but wholly enjoyable. There are zero crowds and the beaches are wild and rugged – in natural amphitheatres with steep majestic mountains all around. The cliffs also protect the waves from the wind and the swell is remarkably consistent, with breaks to suit all levels. Lapoint Surf Camps runs packages in the fishing village of Hoddevik for beginner and intermediate surfers, including accommodation for seven nights, small-group lessons, board and wetsuit hire and use of the house kitchen from €577.

Waikiki, Hawaii

California may be the obvious capital of surfing in the US, but Hawaii, where the sport originated, is its spiritual home. Waikiki, the beachfront neighbourhood of Honolulu, is a great place to learn to surf, as the water is warm, the waves roll in gently and the rides are long, so when you do stand up you really get to enjoy it. With its high-rise backdrop, Waikiki is often dismissed as a tourist trap but it’s now finding fresh favour among visitors wanting a tropical beach holiday with some urban benefits, such as good food and decent coffee. Affordable hotels aren’t easy to come by but Maile Sky Court has doubles from $105. Star Beachboys runs group surf lessons for $40pp.

Lagos, Portugal

In the south-west corner of the Algarve, Lagos is well-placed to pick up swells from every direction; it has breaks for all levels of surfer within easy reach. The town beach, Meia Praia, is a good beginner’s wave, while Zavial, 20 minutes’ drive west, is a world-class point break for experienced surfers. The attractive old fishing town boasts great sea-themed restaurants such as Escondidinho (Rua do Cemitério 38) and The Blue Door (Rua dos Ferreiros 17), but a big part of the Lagos sell has always been that it is a good place to party. Mellow Loco, run by pro surfers Marlon and Melvin Lipke, is the wildest spot, and Stevie Ray’s has popular live funk and soul nights. Health-conscious surfers will love new juice and salad bar Bora, healthy breakfast gem Fresca and the health store and restaurant Mar D’Estorias.The oldest surf camp provider in town, Surf Experience, is introducing a Girl Fitness Surf Week () by sports coach and surfer Sophie Everard from 24 September-1 October. It costs £800 and includes meals, surfing, yoga, trail running, mountain biking, outdoor fitness classes, accommodation and transfers from Faro airport; flights are not included. Lagos Surf Rentals rents boards from €15 a day.

The Best Group Trips for Solo Travellers Tue, 03 Jul 2018 13:04:11 +0000 Striking out on your own needn’t be lonely or expensive. We round up group trips that increasingly cater for solo travellers and waive single premiums.

Sailing and socialising in the Mediterranean

Med Sailors runs skippered sailing holidays for 20- to 35-year-olds, many of whom travel solo. Everyone shares a bunkbed cabin with someone else of the same gender; each yacht sleeps eight and travels in a flotilla of up to eight boats, so there is plenty of socialising. The yachts island-hop around Greece, Turkey, Croatia, or Italy (and the Caribbean too), making ports of call at villages and historic sights. Guests can try watersports, such as wakeboarding, join in the weekly regatta and enter a fancy dress contest on the last night. Each boat has large sunbathing decks, snorkelling gear and paddle boards.

EcoTraining runs year-long courses for professional safari guides – but it also offers week-long tasters for nature lovers who want to experience life in the bush. The Wilderness Trails Skills course for adventurous travellers is great value, offering a stripped-back safari at a fraction of the usual cost. The setting is the Makuleke Concession, a remote part of the Kruger national park in South Africa, or the Mashatu game reserve in Botswana; sightings may include lions, leopards, elephants and rhinos. Guests walk up to 10km a day, carrying their own supplies, and learn to track animals, navigate, set up camp, make fires and leave no trace. Nights are spent wild camping under the stars.

Camino de Santiago, Spain

Solo travellers planning a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain won’t be short of company – 300,000 people completed the journey in 2017, an increase of nearly 200,000 in a decade. The Camino Francés is by far the most popular path, but the oldest route, the Camino Primitivo, is also good for lone pilgrims. The full 311km over the Cantabrian mountains is challenging, but the last 100km can be walked in a self-guided week with Camino Ways. Setting off from the walled town of Lugo, the first three days are spent following quiet Roman roads through forests and farmland. At lively Melide, the path merges with the Camino Francés, so the second half of the walk is more sociable.

Canyoning and hiking in Serbia

Much Better Adventures runs sociable and affordable long weekends to wild places in Europe and north Africa (plus a few lengthier trips further afield). This is a great option for time-poor travellers, filling one or two days off work with adventure. About 55% of customers are single, and there are lots of repeat bookings by people who struck up friendships on their first trip. One recently added options is a three-day canyoning and hiking trip to Serbia’s Valjevo mountains, with monastery visit and full-board riverside accommodation.

Painting and drawing in France

GoLearnTo has a huge range of holidays with no single supplements, including cooking, wellbeing, language, sport and creative pastime breaks. Its French painting holiday, based at a farmhouse with extensive gardens and two pools, is particularly good value, with at least 30 hours of tuition, pre-dinner champagne, all meals and a day on location at Penne d’Agenais, a medieval hilltop village. After lessons, guests can borrow bikes to cycle to the River Lot for wild swimming.

Holiday Guide to Inland Galicia, Spain: Vineyards, Hotels and Restaurants Tue, 03 Jul 2018 12:47:16 +0000 Straddling the provinces of Lugo and Ourense in the middle of Galicia sits La Ribeira Sacra, one of Spain’s least known and most mysterious areas. Its rivers, Miño and Sil, which meet at the region’s heart, mould the landscape, gouging out vast canyons and vertiginous valleys. Thick green forests frame these rivers and hide medieval monasteries, whose presence gives the area a sort of hushed spirituality. The valley slopes are lined with centuries-old terraced grapevines. To visit the Ribeira Sacra is to visit a different Spain, a quieter, greener country, and a world away from its crowded Mediterranean beaches too.

Eighteen monasteries hide in the Ribeira Sacra’s steep, forested escarpments. While achieving a full ecclesiastical sweep would be difficult on a short trip, there are three monasteries you should make an effort to see.

First, the famous 10th-century Benedictine monastery of Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil, which sits on the confluence of the Miño and Sil rivers. Perhaps its most impressive feature is the cloisters, each of which has a different architectural style. Santo Estevo was recently restored and converted into one of the best paradores in Spain (see below) and has its own restaurant.

Nearby is Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil (open to all). Enveloped by trees and shrubs, this 10th-century Benedictine monastery sits in the forest like an abandoned fairytale. It fell from being one of the most important monasteries in the area, when it was built, to being used as a cowshed in the late 19th century. Nonetheless, the mixture of renaissance, gothic and Romanesque styles, cast in ancient grey stone, and lost in the mysterious silence of the forest, is something worth experiencing.

The Sil Canyonv

This gorge stretches for 50km across the region. Its scabrous walls rise, in some parts, 500 metres from the river below, and are packed with olives trees and grapevines. It is, without doubt, one of the most impressive places in Galicia, and Spain. If you enjoy panoramas, head to the town of Parada de Sil, where you will be able to see the Balcones de Madrid, the most rugged and precipitous part of the gorge. If you are looking for a different perspective, the canyon can be explored by boat: from pleasure cruise to kayak. Many companies offer this (€12 for a 75-minute trip,, but if you want a more exclusive experience, it might be worth a visit to the Alguiera vineyard (see below), which provides private cruises from its bodega.


One dish that is exclusive to the Ribeira Sacra, and specifically to the town of Taboada, is caldo de osos (bone broth). In this small town, they even dedicate a party to the dish every year in February. It is essentially a stew of chickpeas and potatoes enriched with a pig bone broth. Although it is mainly in restaurants in winter and early spring, it can still be found in the summer months. Failing that, drop in for classic regional fare at Os Pendellos (Galician beef, octopus and mini-scallops €10-22 a head) in Chantada.

Galician beef is famous throughout Spain, and O Grelo (dinner from €30 a head), a stylish restaurant in Monforte de Lemos, serves entrecot de ternera gallega al queso tetilla (€17.80), a ribeye cooked in a local cow’s milk cheese. If that doesn’t take your fancy, try the percebes (goose barnacles). Shaped like a mini pig’s trotter, they look strange, but are as delicious as any other shellfish.

Where to stay

Slightly cheaper is the Rectoral de Castillón (doubles from €63.50 B&B) in Santiago de Castillón. This a medium-sized hotel, set in a traditionally styled 18th-century house. All the rooms are comfortable and simply decorated. It has a good restaurant and local dishes such as octopus and empanada, pastry stuffed with meat or fish. The hotel also has a living room with an open fire, a library and a garden.

FlightsEasyJet flies from Gatwick to Santiago de Compostela, Ryanair flies from Stansted, and British Airways from Heathrow. Vueling Airlines flies daily from Gatwick to La Coruña.

WeatherThe Spanish think of Galicia as their rainy region, but that’s compared with some other regions’ 12-month-long summer, says the Galicia Guide. It has a mild oceanic climate, with significant variations from the coast to inland, and summer highs can reach over 30C.

Caribbean Islands Post Hurricane – Holiday Update Tue, 03 Jul 2018 12:31:25 +0000 We take a look at how the Caribbean islands are coping after the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Two weeks ago Hurricane Irma devastated the Caribbean and last week Hurricane Maria did her worst as she passed through the Leeward Islands leaving at least 32 dead in her wake.

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) report that 11 islands are in no fit state to accept tourism though plans are in place to resume service in 2018. These include Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands (BVIs), Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, St Barts, St Croix, St John and St Thomas.

In Dominica 15 people are reported dead and 20 are missing. The Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said “our tourism is 95% destroyed” and according to local reports the rainforests on which tourism is based have all but disappeared. Roosevelt sent out a plea saying that Dominica “is going to need all the help the world has to offer”.

St Martin suffered severe storm damage to several buildings including Donald Trump’s £13 mansion. And although the Princess Juliana airport has reopened it has neither a control tower nor electricity making it tricky to land there. Barbuda has suffered such devastation that the entire population of 1,800 people have been relocated to Antigua. It is unlikely Barbuda will return to the tourist map anytime soon.

Turks and Caicos have been declared off limits while efforts to rebuild the infrastructure are being blighted by high temperatures of 37°C or more and a plague of mosquitoes.

Most of the Region Remains Unaffected

Although all this looks bleak for the region, in fact most of the Caribbean remains open for business. Unaffected islands are Antigua, Barbados, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia.

A major marketing campaign is set to launch in a few weeks designed to entice holidaymakers back while hoteliers and Caribbean-centric tour operators are being asked to offer special discounts for a period of time to encourage bookings. They are also being asked donate a percentage of their sales to the recovery fund to help the islands hit by the hurricane. Frank Comito, CEO and director general of the CHTO said he hopes the campaign will also help raise awareness of the actual impact of the hurricane.

“We want to make sure people – agents, operators and their customers – fully understand the geography of the region and the facts around what’s been impacted and what hasn’t,” he said.

“In fact, 70% of the Caribbean was not severely impacted and is open for business. Of those islands which were directly hit, some are already cleaning up and re-opening.”

Comito, who has been in London to speak to partners about the recovery efforts, said even the islands not affected by the hurricane were suffering cancellations and a dip in bookings.

“There is a lack of understanding out there and still lots of people who don’t know how expansive the region is,” he added.

Disneyland Paris Celebrates 25 Years with New Star Wars Attractions Tue, 03 Jul 2018 12:12:08 +0000 With the fantastic new Star Tours and voyages, illuminations and shows, Disneyland Paris is set to be even more popular with parents, teens and tweens. There’s never been a better time to visit Disneyland Paris because this world famous theme and amusement park has reached a milestone 25th anniversary.

Twenty five years ago, Mickey and his entourage made their way across the Pond to set up a theme and entertainment park near the French capital – Disneyland Paris to complement its sister park in Florida. Offering 59 spectacular attractions across Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park, it became an instant hit with millions of guests of all ages who each have plenty to enjoy.

So what’s new? Beloved Disney Characters are hosting a never-seen-before Parade and breath-taking night time spectaculars. New shows will be featured through the day and well into the night including Mickey presents “Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris” where Mickey and his famous friends are throwing a huge anniversary party.

The beloved Princesses are also hosting their own show The Starlit Princess Waltz at the Royal Castle Stage.

Star Wars is a major theme of Disneyland Paris and fans can experience Star Tours: The Adventure Continues – an all-new 4D action-packed intergalactic voyage. Star Tours will take guests to various Star Wars destinations where they can interact with some of the most lovable Star Wars characters. Destinations are randomly chosen so you can experience this several times and each one will be different.

In the Disneyland Park you can join the Rebel Alliance and get to drive the Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain, being nothing less than the famous big thrill ride Space Mountain wearing the Star Wars colours! The Force will be with you as you hurtle through the Star Wars galaxy, following the twists and turns of TIE fighters and the Star Destroyer.

As night falls the spectacular Disney Illuminations will be conducted by Mickey Mouse onto Sleeping Beauty Castle. Dazzling lights and sensational projections with you-have-to-see-it-to believe-it special effects will transport you on a journey through Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Frozen, Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Star Tours will take guests to various Star Wars destinations where they can interact with some of the most lovable Star Wars characters. Destinations are randomly chosen so you can experience this several times and each one will be different. Mickey and his entourage made their way across the Pond to set up a theme and entertainment park near the French capital – Disneyland Paris to complement its sister park in Florida. Offering 59 spectacular attractions across Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park.

4 New Cruise Ships for Carnival in 2018 Tue, 03 Jul 2018 12:03:31 +0000 Carnival Cruise Line is launching four new ships in 2018: the family friendly Carnival Horizon, the sumptuous Holland America, the eco friendly AIDAnova and the luxuriously intimate Seabourn Ovation. You have probably heard of Carnival Cruise Line but you may not know that Carnival sails the sevens seas under several guises – an impressive stable of 10 brands in their porfolio – including Cunard, Costa and P&O.

This year four of the brands will be launching new ships: the family friendly Carnival Cruise Line fleet, the sumptuous Holland America, the eco friendly AIDAnova and the luxuriously intimate cruise line Seabourn.

Here’s what you can expect:

Carnival Cruise Line: Carnival Horizon – expected launch date in April 2018

As the 26th ship for Carnival Cruise Line, the largest cruise line in the world, Carnival Horizon will offer a number of unique innovations, including the first Dr. Seuss WaterWorks aqua park, the line’s first teppanyaki dining venue and Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse | Brewhouse, a new restaurant that combines BBQ offerings created by Food Network star Guy Fieri along with four specifically designed craft beers brewed at an onboard brewery.

Carnival Horizon will also offer indoor and outdoor dining, bar, entertainment and activity options that debuted in 2016 on its sister-ship, Carnival Vista, such as the bike-ride-in-the-sky SkyRide attraction and an IMAX Theatre.

Accommodation includes spa cabins with exclusive privileges at the luxurious Cloud 9 Spa, extra-roomy staterooms in Family Harbor, and tropical-inspired Havana staterooms and suites with exclusive daytime access to a Cuban-themed bar and pool.

The 133,500-ton Carnival Horizon will debut with a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona in April 2018 – the first of four round-trip departures from the port. Carnival Horizon will then reposition to the U.S. with a 14-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York May 9-23, 2018, positioning the vessel for a summer schedule of four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from the Big Apple. Carnival Horizon will shift to Miami to launch a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning Sept. 22, 2018, and will also offer a special two-day cruise to Nassau from Miami Sept. 20-22, 2018.

Seabourn: Seabourn Ovation – expected launch date in May 2018

Following sister ship, Seabourn Encore, launched in early 2017, Seabourn Ovation is set to debut in May 2018. Designed by design icon Adam D. Tihany, the ship will feature contemporary interiors and innovations.

The fifth all-suite ship in Seabourn’s fleet, Seabourn Ovation will carry just 600 guests, based on double occupancy who will enjoy a private veranda in each suite.  Cruisers will be treated to “An Evening with Tim Rice,” the acclaimed English musical theatre lyricist of Broadway, West End and film. The experience highlights some of Sir Tim Rice’s most loved work – from “Jesus Christ Superstar” to “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”

Seabourn Ovation’s maiden voyage will be an 11-day inaugural voyage departing May 5, 2018, from Venice, Italy, to Barcelona. The ship will spend the majority of her maiden season cruising the waters of Northern Europe, offering a variety of Baltic and Scandinavian cruises, which will include the line’s signature three-day stay in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Seabourn Ovation will also sail on longer 14-day voyages, visiting the majestic Norwegian fjords and British Isles. Select sailings will also include the Ventures by Seabourn program, which are optional for-charge expedition-style excursions featuring a team of experts, Zodiacs and kayaks with a focus on allowing guests to experience nature up close.

Holland America Line: MS Nieuw Statendam – expected launch date in December 2018

Nieuw Statendam is the second Pinnacle Class ship for Holland America Line, joining MS Koningsdam, which launched in April 2016.

The 99,500-ton ship is the ultimate expression of the brand’s evolution, with grand light-filled spaces; visual drama; and sumptuous interiors inspired by the fluid curves of musical instruments. created by leading hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany and designer and architect Bjorn Storbraaten.

The ship will carry 2,666 guests and feature fine-dining options at alternative restaurants Sel de Mer, a French seafood brasserie, and Tamarind, an Asian fusion concept, in addition to the Grand Dutch Café with traditional Dutch treats and European beer.

Nieuw Statendam is scheduled to depart December, 2018, on its maiden voyage with guests – a 14-day transatlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale. The ship will then spend the winter season cruising roundtrip from the South Florida port on seven-day Caribbean itineraries, with select three- four- and 10-day options.

Road Trip from Verona Tue, 03 Jul 2018 11:49:30 +0000 Sophie flew to Verona, picked up a rental car and lined up seven days of vineyards and cellar tours, churches and castles, and a stay in the Italian lakes. The Italian Job and numerous James Bond films have taught us that nowhere beats Italy for striking drives. Yes, the local standard of driving can sometimes be erratic, but there’s an undeniable romance to the Ferraris, Porches, and even the little Fiats zipping back and forth along a zig zag of mountain roads, their flashes of red or silver set against a jaw dropping backdrop.

With a week at my disposal and no desire to travel long haul, I flew from Gatwick to Verona and picked up a rental car. It wasn’t the soft top, sporty number I might have dreamed of, as my co-driver tends towards pragmatism and apparently high performance cars rarely have large boots. Google Maps was at the ready, and I’d lined up seven days of vineyards and cellar tours, churches and castles, and a stay in the Italian lakes.

Everyone knows that drinking and driving don’t mix, so the best option is to stay on a vineyard and abandon your car for a while.

La Fonte Degli Dei is just outside Negrar, which has one of the highest concentrations of vineyards in the region. You turn off the main road onto a track which winds its way between the vines and then slowly climbs the hillside to a position with commanding views. A single stone archway stands apart from the house and draws the eye from miles around.

This large farmhouse is Cristina’s home. In recent years, she and her husband have begun to welcome guests who want to enjoy the peace of the countryside. You can walk or mountain bike right from the door, and the various vineyards stretch as far as the eye can see.

One afternoon I walked a little further and chanced upon the gardens at Villa Rizzardi.

From Valpolicella to Lake Garda

The second stage of the road trip was across the mountains from Valpolicella to Lake Garda. As the crow flies, it hardly seems any distance at all, but the mountains are a formidable natural barrier and it is impossible to drive straight across them. Instead, the roads zig and zag their way up to the most accessible passes, then descend in a similarly convoluted fashion. Abandoned forts, plenty of medieval churches, and even an occasional waterfall dot the landscape, so every new twist and turn brings with it intriguing views.

A ring of attractive towns and villages, some larger than others, surrounds Lake Garda. Malcesine, on the eastern shore, is one of the more easily accessible destinations from Valpolicella, and it is just the right size to entertain you for a couple of days.

I stayed at Hotel Maximilian on the southern side of the town. It’s down a quiet road that terminates in a sheltered bay, so every room looks out on the water and the dozen or so boats moored close to the shore. The gardens run down to the lake, the numerous flowering trees creating a shady oasis. I cast off the tensions of the drive with a few lengths in the pool, followed by a rather more drawn out Aperol spritz on the terrace.

The visual centrepiece of Malcesine is its castle, which is nestled amidst a labyrinth of narrow streets. It rises up in many tiers, and though the winds from the lake can whistle sharply around the towers, it’s well worth climbing to the top to admire the views.

Making it up all those steps is hungry work. It’s just as well, then, that the very best restaurant on Lake Garda, Vecchia Malcesine, is only a few minutes’ walk away. His smoked lake fish pasta carbonara was a revelation — who knew how much better carbonara could be without bacon? — and each subsequent course came with a mouthwatering twist.

Vittoriale degli Italiani

You can take the car on the ferry across the lake, or drive the slightly longer way around the shore. This excursions brings you to Il Vittoriale degli Italiani, an extensive and eccentric complex which includes the house of poet and soldier Gabriele D’Annunzio, numerous landscaped gardens, a mausoleum, and, rather fabulously, half a battleship wedged into the hill. Quite how they got it up there, I haven’t a clue, but it is certainly a dramatic centrepiece.

Back to Verona

The final leg of the journey brought me back to Verona, but not to the city centre. On the hillside looking down on the city lights is an estate first given to the Bishop of Verona by a Barbarian sometime in the 8th century. Its name is Delser Manor. There was an active monastery here until the time of Napoleon, but only its cellars have survived.