Cruise, Cruise, Cruise

People who go on a cruise normally come back raving about their recent sailings and can’t wait to book up their next cruise holiday. Why wouldn’t they? Cruises offer so much variety for all members of the family and, with so many places to visit, each holiday is guaranteed to be the holiday of a lifetime.

P&O Cruises have unveiled their latest ship Britannia, the biggest cruise ship built for the British market. It is a family-friendly ship with children’s clubs, a night nursery and a teen only pool, and whilst the children are off having fun, the adults can be relaxing in the Serenity Pool & Bar.

Royal Caribbean’s newest addition is Anthem of the Seas; it’s a futuristic and modern cruise ship boasting many features that have never been seen before. On board there is a skydiving simulator, the North Star, a capsule that will take you above the ship and over the water with impressive 360° panoramic views of the ocean, and Dynamic Dining with 18 restaurants to choose from.

Both ships will be launching in Spring 2015.

Ventura

If you’re thinking about going on your first cruise holiday, here are a few reasons why a cruise is the perfect option for everyone:

You only need to unpack once

Once you’re on the cruise ship you only need to unpack once, then your floating hotel takes you from city to city. You get the opportunity to see all kinds of amazing cities, and you don’t have to worry about taking your suitcase with you.

Family-Friendly

Cruises aren’t just for adults; they are suitable for all ages! Toddler, teenager or grandparent, a cruise is a perfect holiday choice to suit every member of the family.

Variety of Activities

Cruises offer so much on board! Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships are jam packed with things to do, from rock-climbing for the kids, to spas for the parents. The variety of activities onboard the ships is what makes a cruise holiday perfect for a family holiday.

The Hays Travel Cruise Showcase event takes place on Sunday 14 September 2014 at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Durham. 


Cruise event 2014

Top Five Spanish Islands

Spain is home to some of the most wonderful islands in Europe, many of which are divided between the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. Each island is very different in its own way and all the islands have something to offer everyone.

Formentera

Formentera is a small island to the south of Ibiza, renowned for its pristine white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. If you’re enjoying a holiday in neighbouring Ibiza, a day trip to this little hidden gem is a must. Boats from Ibiza depart regularly throughout the day and the journey is approximately 30 minutes. The island is never as crowded as other Balearic Islands, even in popular summer months, so it’s a breath of fresh air if you’re looking for a secluded place to relax. As the island is flat, many people choose to rent a bike and explore the island’s beautiful beaches. You’ll be sure to find your own perfect piece of paradise in fabulous Formentera.

Formentera East tanga beach

 

Majorca

The largest of all the Spanish islands, Majorca is the king of the Balearics. Majorca has so much to offer and there is something to suit everyone. The island has countless beaches, if you’re after a relaxing beach holiday. Alcudia Beach is famous for its fine white sand and crystal clear shallow waters and Cala d’Or is surrounded by small golden beaches, which are a popular spot for snorkelling and diving. Looking for the perfect city break? A trip to stylish Palma is a must, where the gothic style Bellver Castle and the magnificent La Seu Cathedral are just waiting to be explored.

Cathedral of Palma de Mallorca

 

Tenerife

Tenerife has it all, year round sunshine, stunning nature and lively resorts. Popular resorts include Playa de las Americas, Los Cristianos and Costa Adeje, each offering excellent nightlife, busy beaches and amazing water parks. In fact, Costa Adeje is home to the one of the biggest water parks in Europe; Siam Park. If you prefer to steer away from the bustling resorts, head to northern Tenerife. Here you’ll discover places such as to Puerto de la Cruz with its secluded black sandy beaches, many of which are perfect for surfing. There is more to Tenerife than just its beaches. In the middle of the island you’ll find Mount Teide, the highest point in Spain. On a clear day the views from the volcano are breath-taking.

Las Teresitas Beach, Tenerife, Spain

 

Ibiza

Ibiza, the party capital of the world is known for its legendary clubbing scene. This is the place to be if you want non-stop partying as the majority of clubs stay open till the early hours. During the day there are also numerous beach and boat parties taking place all across the island. Ibiza is blessed with stunning cove beaches – Cala Bassa on the west coast is a particular highlight with its white sandy beaches or there’s Cala Gracio on the outskirts of San Antonio, which is a more secluded beach as its neighbouring hotels are hidden away, so there is a sense of privacy. No trip to Ibiza is complete without watching the sunset in a stylish cocktail bar on the Sunset Strip.

Ibiza Town

 

Lanzarote

Lanzarote provides glorious sunshine all year round and a holiday on this island will not disappoint. The island has various beaches, each blessed with fine white or black sands and calm waters. When in Lanzarote, a trip to Timanfaya National Park is a must – this part of the island is known for its ‘martian’ landscape. Puerto del Carmen is the holiday hub of Lanzarote and if you’re after a variety of pubs, clubs and restaurants, this is the place to be. The beaches are golden and their warm waters are a popular place for snorkelling and scuba diving.

Arrecife

Natural Wonders of Europe

When we think of natural wonders, a few places spring to mind – the Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon and many of the National Parks throughout the United States. But why travel thousands of miles across the globe, when some of the world’s most stunning and fascinating natural wonders are closer than you think?

Northern Lights – Nordic Region

During the winter months, the aurora borealis (commonly known as the Northern Lights) start dancing their way across the skies of the Arctic. The aurora borealis are caused by a collision of energetic charged particles with atoms at high altitude. This natural phenomenon causes many people to flock to Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, where they stand in awe and watch nature’s own light show. Colours can vary from green, pink, purple and orange, this ensures a truly unique experience. It’s no surprise this natural wonder appears on the bucket list of many, many people.

Northern LightsNorwegian Fjords

Breath-taking, picturesque and awe-inspiring are just some words that could be used to describe the fjords in Norway. Created by glacial erosion; they are usually narrow and steep and have shaped the landscape of Norway. By cruising through the gentle waters deep into the fjords you’re met by dramatic cliffs and greenery. You can easily run out of adjectives to describe the fjords, so why not head north and be enthralled by nature’s finest.

Fjord NorwayPlitvice Lakes – Croatia

A must see in Croatia. This National Park contains a series of sixteen tranquil blue lakes and trickling waterfalls and is one of the oldest parks in Croatia. Visitors are able to walk along the paths between the lakes and be charmed by the whole experience. The Plitvice Lakes look like a setting straight out of a fairy-tale, but there are no dragons or unicorns here, just a peaceful environment where visitors can admire the grandeur that nature has to offer.

Croatia - Plitvice Lakes

Top 10 Tips For Keeping the Kids Entertained on Flights

School is out for summer, for many of us this means that a family holiday abroad is fast approaching. With this comes the same panicky questions of ‘where are the kids passports?’, ‘why didn’t I start my diet earlier?’ and the most dreaded of all, ‘how are we going to keep the kids busy on the plane?’ While we can’t help with getting rid of any unwanted pounds (you look great anyway) or help fish the kid’s passports out of the back of the sofa, we can help with the question of how to keep the kids busy on the plane.

family-airport

Here are our top 10 tips for keeping the kids occupied during the flight to your well deserved summer holiday:

  1. Drawing all the things they want to do on their holiday (or drawing what they did on their holiday if it’s on the way back). This is a great way to spark their holiday imagination and excitement. Tip: keep the drawings and tick them off throughout your holiday!
  2. The old favourite: stickers. Cheap, lightweight and good to have on hand as a standby.
  3. The new favourite: iPad.  If the kids have an iPad make sure it’s fully charged, pack a charger in your hand luggage and keep it stocked full of music, videos, films, games and apps. Don’t forget headphones and to keep an eye out for charging stations at the airport.
  4. Take a snakes and ladders board, a small Tupperware box with dice in and have some coins to use as counters. You can roll the dice in the Tupperware box without removing the lid so the dice will never get lost under seats. The game can also be played in airports and on the holiday.dice in a tupperware box(Tip: Take a ruler and some paper and ask the kids to make their own snakes and ladders board!)
  5. Flick through the airplane magazine and set a list of scavenger hunt of items that the kids have to find such as: beach ball, orange juice, picture of the Eiffel tower etc. Tip: Make the game a race to add a competitive edge.
  6. Designing boarding cards/ luggage tags for any teddies that are joining you on the holiday. Bring an elastic band and attach it to the ted at the end. Not only will this be a way to keep the kids entertained but if you put your address and flight numbers on teds boarding card he might find his way back to you if he gets lost!
  7. The Smartie game. When the refreshment trolley comes by ask for 2 cups and a straw for each child and fill one of the cups with half a tube of Smarties (or however many is appropriate). Set the kids a mission to try to move all of the Smarties from one cup to the other by using only the straw (no hands!).
  8. Have fun with an air sickness bag! You can transform it into a hat or a boat or, for the less origami talented, a puppet! Make sure to always have plenty of spare ones on hand just in case anyone starts to feel a bit peaky.
  9. Bring along some sticky notes and play the Guess Who game. Choose your children’s favourite cartoon character or pop star and write the names down on the sticky notes and stick it on each other’s foreheads. The kids will love laughing at the names on everyone’s head and also the fact that they look a bit silly. Only ask yes/no questions and aim to guess the characters within 20 questions.
  10. And lastly, two words…. loom bands.

family-planeIf you have any tips for keeping kids occupied on a flight share your knowledge in a comment below.

If you are lucky enough to be off on your summer hols or if you’ve already been, why not submit a smiley holiday snap here: http://woobox.com/n4z2sa for your chance to win up to £500 of Hays Travel vouchers!

Theme Park Holidays

Mickey & Friends and the Disneyland Band in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle

Mickey & Friends and the Disneyland Band in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle

Meeting up with Mickey Mouse and friends is just one of things you can do on a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland Paris

Orlando and Paris are not just separated by the Atlantic Ocean, but are a world apart in what they have to offer holidaymakers, outside of the traditional theme park activities. They are both action packed holiday destinations and we’ve cherry-picked the highlights of each on our list below – so you don’t miss a thing:

Top Five Reasons to choose a Holiday in Orlando

View of Clearwater Beach from Gulf of Mexico

The WeatherOrlando isn’t called the “Sunshine State” for nothing – it basks in balmy, warm days in the autumn and winter months and hot, sunny days for the rest of the year. Average daily temperatures rarely drop below 22ºC on the barometer year-round.

Beach life – Think sunshine holidays and beaches are the best way of cooling down. Orlando gives you access to beaches in abundance – within an hour’s drive there’s Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach. While a two hour drive takes you to the Gulf coast beach hotspots of Treasure Island and Clearwater.

Shopping – Orlando is a shopper’s paradise. From prestigious shopping centre to enormous discount outlets, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Florida Mall, The Mall at Millenia, Orlando Premium Outlets, Downtown Disney and Park Avenue in Winter Park should be at the top of your shopping list.

Golf Green Island

Golf – The ladies are sorted with the shopping but what about the men? Golf is the obvious pastime to choose. And with no less than 110 golf courses within a 45-mile radius of Orlando, golf fans will be spoilt for choice.  Time to tee off!

Food – You can dine your way round the world in Orlando. From Italian, Mexican and Chinese cuisine to steak houses, gourmet dining, seafood restaurants and all you can eat buffets, there’s plenty of options to tempt your taste-buds. That’s not forgetting the usual American fast food outlets serving up pizza, burgers and hotdogs.

Top Five Reasons to choose a Holiday in Paris

Famous Sights – Where do we start? Paris is home to the famous attractions of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur, Champs Elysee and the River Seine. Whizz around the city on the Metro and avoid the traffic.

ShoppingShopping – Paris is the world capital of fashion and the place to shop til you drop. From designer boutiques to markets, vintage shops and department stores, there’s plenty of opportunity for a spot of retail therapy in Paris. For designer shopping, there’s Rue Saint Honore, Avenue Montaigne and Rue de Sevres. Pick up a bargain at the weekend Paris Flea Market or the La Vallee Village designer outlet.

Romance – Paris isn’t called the ‘City of Love’ for nothing. What better way to impress your loved one than whisking her away on a Paris weekend break. Enjoy romantic strolls along the Seine or take to the water on a bateaux mouche cruise. Or dine under the stars, with the famous Paris landmarks and sights as your backdrop.

Culture – Visit the enigmatic Mona Lisa at the Louvre. The works of the great artists of the 19th century, including Monet, Gaugin and Cezanne, are on display at Musee D’Orsay. Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’ painting and ‘The Thinker’ sculpture, are waiting to be discovered at the Rodin Museum.  Part of the Les Invalides & Musee de L’Arme is dedicated to Napoleon and his body lies there too.

|| OBSERVE || Breakfast @ Lemon || Dublin || Republic of Ireland || Pure Good Morning Pleasure ||Food & Drink – If there’s one thing the French take pride in, it’s their food and drink. Tasty cuisine is served up in traditional bistros, pavement cafes and gourmet restaurants around the city. Start your day with croissant and coffee, pick up a crepe for lunch and then enjoy moules frites (mussels and chips), oysters or frogs legs for dinner. A wide variety of cheese (the smellier the better) and tasty French wines complete the culinary picture.

 

If you want to see the best that Paris has to offer, contact the team at Hays Travel – either click the link here or give them a call on 0800 408 4130 (0191 457 0052 from your mobile). For Orlando holidays, contact Hays Faraway by clicking the link here or by phone on 0808 115 0737.

Top 10 Common Holiday Souvenirs

Holiday SouvenirsA fantastic holiday is something we all love to remember – bringing back a souvenir that we have found on our travels is one of the best ways to remind us of the fun, laughter and good times we had. A souvenir can be small and simple, any shape and any size and, even though these things may get lost or broken, the memories they have attached with them stay with us forever.

Some souvenirs are crazy and will mean absolutely nothing to someone else, but will be completely treasured by another. We have put together a list of top ten souvenirs that we have at some point, or know someone who has, bought back off holiday, or received at least once…

  1. Tattoos: Tattoos are the reminder that we went a little wild abroad, let ourselves go and had an enormous amount of fun. Maybe alcohol played a small part in actually getting the confidence to get a tattoo, or maybe it was the rebellious teenager inside of us, who knows? It’s still a fantastic way to remember your holiday – or mainly, that tattoo will not let you forget it! (Although, individuals may regret the tattoo depending on what it is….. a stranger’s name might be questionable…).
  2. An ‘I HEART’ Mug: Buying a mug with the destinations name and I HEART above it, is a common holiday souvenir. It’s the classic, yet cheap way of remembering you’ve visited a certain place, often with friends and family. The best part is this little souvenir is used by the family for their morning cups of tea.
  3. A T-Shirt: A wacky t-shirt with bright colours and swirly patterns, or even a destination flag or name of a bar visited, is an essential must-have souvenir. Not only can you actually wear your keepsake, but each time you wear it you will be reminded of the experiences you had in it…. (You don’t have to share them all!).
  4. Key-ring: At some point in our lives, we have all received the ‘dreaded key-ring’ off friends and family when they return from a holiday. A key-ring is often a last minute gift, that at no point do we want hanging off our keys, but we hang them on regardless. Those purchasing the key-ring, will find it handy as well as memorable.
  5. Photographs: Photographs are the easiest way of treasuring a holiday and reminiscing anytime of the day. Photographs can be shared with friends and social networking sites; moments you may have forgotten will be triggered by the sight of a photo (Unfortunately this is the same for moments you want to forget; like ‘mug shots’ or embarrassing moments).
  6. Fridge Magnets: Another pointless symbolic souvenir that we all feel we need to buy abroad, just to show off when we get home. It’s mainly bought to prove we’ve visited a destination, or because we’ve blown our budget abroad. However, fridge magnets provide little flashbacks of a holiday and your first magnet may well be the start of a collection!
  7. Postcards: These little pieces of card can make a person smile, especially if you’re sending one long distance. It shows you’re thinking of someone whilst on holiday, although they often have a zoo animal or an attraction plastered along the front of the card.
  8. A Stick of Rock: Rock is a colourful sweet that’s wrapped in plastic and, depending on the amount of time your relative has left it in their bag, it can be teeth-breaking hard or extra soft. Rock is an inexpensive gift, which is left on your windowsill or in your drawers for long periods of time. (But we appreciate the last minute thought).
  9. Seashells: These sweet pretty little sentiments are often given to us by our children, nieces and nephews. They are often charming to look at, although the remembrance of a coastal holiday is something we will daydream about whilst at work.
  10. Ornaments: Finally, we have ornaments. Often covered in a destination flag or maps, these decorative pieces often gather dust on our shelves; but are still a reminder of our holiday and something we couldn’t resist buying.

So there you have them, the souvenirs we constantly buy ourselves or other people and convince each other they’re worth every penny. However, remember it’s not about the actual item, it’s about the sentimental value and caring thought behind every souvenir.

10 Desserts to try on Holiday

BaklavaOn the average holiday abroad, people actually prefer to eat desserts they are familiar with, without attempting to try something new. However, experiencing another country’s food is all part of being on holiday. Being enthusiastic about new foods is one of the pleasures of travelling abroad. The problem is, what should you try? This blog suggests a range of alternative desserts for you to try which originate from different places, in no particular order:

  1. ‘Baklava’- a traditional Egyptian dessert, most commonly served with a mint flavoured tea. Baklava is a pastry-based dessert with a divine sweet taste, due to having honey or syrup embedded in its layers, perfect for afternoon tea!
  2. ‘Churros’ – this popular Spanish pastry has people queuing for a bite of this fried heaven! Try dipping it in a bowl of melted chocolate, or smother it in cinnamon – ideal for a sugary snack whilst taking a stroll along a pier.
  3. ‘Quindim’ - Enjoy a bite of Brazil with this truly unique dessert. With its distinctive green colouring, it will send waves of coconut over your taste buds, just right for munching on through the World Cup!
  4. ‘Gelato’ – Italy is famous for its soothing frozen desserts and Gelato is a spectacular example of this. Rich in flavour, this will cool you down on the beach whilst you bask in the sun.
  5. ‘Apple Strudel’ – a signature German dish, this is perfect dessert for lounging beside the pool, usually topped with cream and oozing with caramelized apples.
  6. ‘Chocolate Soufflé’ - the French are known for their rich tastes and fine delicacies, but who could pass up a gooey chocolate dessert, that’s light on the stomach. Devour it with a cold drink to appreciate the unique texture.
  7.  ‘Bibingkas’ –  get a little exotically festive with these Philippine rice cakes. Boasting a spongy texture, these little beauties are commonly enjoyed during Christmas – but go down a treat at any time!
  8. ‘Asure’ - otherwise known as ‘Noah’s Pudding’, this is a wonderful Turkish pudding, consisting of nuts, fruits and grains. This simple yet mouth-watering dessert was first created as a reflection of love and peace.
  9. ‘Mango Pudding’ – this beautiful silky dessert was introduced by the Chinese, complimenting the raw flavour of mangos; a true favourite on a hot summer’s day.
  10. ‘Paprenjak’ – lose yourself in the marvellously original Croatian biscuit with honey and pepper, intended for more adventurous tastes.

I’m sure there are many more exquisite desserts, we’ve only named a handful! So now you have the knowledge of these delights, will you be brave enough to try them? We are simply dying to know, get in touch and tweet us with some of your own exploratory desserts also!