There’s a saying that the gift of experience is more meaningful than a physical gift. At Barrhead Travel we totally agree. And we think that Mother’s Day is the perfect time to show your mum how much she means to you with the gift of travel.
You have two options. The first is to purchase one of our Travel Vouchers and let her choose her own destination and hotel. Or if your mum likes the element of surprise, you can go ahead and book a fully-paid-for holiday. Everyone’s mum is different, but we reckon the following five holidays are perfect for a mum and her grown-up children to visit together.
Theatre break in London
London is busy enough to keep every type of mum happy. But if your mum is a fan of live shows, book some tickets to see a theatre production. There are shows in London almost every night and Barrhead Travel can even book your tickets for you when we put through your hotel and transport.
Lake Garda and Verona
Italy is an incredible destination for a Mother’s Day treat – with almost every city and destination catering for parents. But we recommend Lake Garda and Verona above the rest. Verona is full of beautiful architecture and culture – including sites mentioned in the world-renowned Romeo and Juliet. Then Lake Garda is the perfect place for relaxing, with a glistening lake, laid-back atmosphere, and some incredible cuisine (read our previous blog on a Foodie’s Guide to Lake Garda).
New York City
If you fancy a longhaul holiday, then there’s nowhere better than NYC. Whether you want to treat your mum to a shopping trip, a live show on Broadway, or explore some of the world’s most iconic sites – NYC is perfect!
Cunard ships are chic but traditional, making them perfect for a relaxing break with your mum. Not to mention the iconic on-board Afternoon Tea! Their selection of mini-cruises that leave from Southampton is perfect for a weekend away with your mum. There’s a cruise on-board the Queen Mary 2 on the 22nd September 2019 for 4 nights and stops off in Hamburg.
If your mum loves luxury and sunny days, then we recommend stylish Santorini. The island is Greece at its traditional best and offers incredible views of white-washed houses and volcanic cliffs. For beachy mums head to Kamari, which has been awarded Blue Flag status. Or if your mum enjoys fine wine, visit the vineyards of Megalochori. But don’t forget to visit the capital of Thira for one of the most beautiful sunsets in the Mediterranean!
Where’s the best holiday you’ve ever had with your mum?
Dubai is incredible at any time of year, but late spring and early summer offers a different perspective of the city. It’s a peaceful time, where cultural events take centre stage. If you’re looking to visit Dubai during its relaxation period, then late spring and early summer is the best time to visit. Here are five unique activities to experience in the city during this time.
1. Taste traditional Emirate food
During May and June in Dubai, you’ll spot early morning and late night feasts, known as iftar and suhoor. Fruits, sweetened grains, yoghurts and puddings are the main features of a suhoor meal, eaten just before sunrise. While Iftar feasts, served at sunset, are your chance to experience traditional Emirati cuisine, where Iftar tents and Majlis present a plethora of mouth-watering regional delicacies.
2. Indulge in late night shopping
Late spring is when the larger-than-life shopping malls stay open late in Dubai. Sometimes giving shoppers the opportunity to shop until as late as 2am. Most of the malls in Dubai will also put on a host of cultural activities to keep shoppers entertained into the early hours.
3. Watch the Desert Road Run
During both May and June, you’ll have the chance to either take part in the Desert Road Run or watch it (for free). Taking place on the Sevens Stadium on Al Ain Road, there will be 3, 5 or 10k races where runners can compete against each other, or their own personal best. The fastest three will win a trophy, but everyone will go home with a medal!
4. Admire art
Throughout March and April, Dubai turns into an art lover’s paradise. In 2019, Art Dubai will coincide with Sikka Art Fair and World Art Dubai, where thousands of artists, designers, curators, gallery owners, and art experts will arrive in the city.
World Art Dubai will run from 3rd to 6th of April, and bills itself at the ‘affordable art fair with a difference’. During the event, there will be a diverse collection of modern, contemporary and fine art work for every budget, with hundreds of local, regional and international galleries and artists taking part. World Art Dubai will close with an event that celebrates the city’s unique fusion of art, education and entertainment.
5. Watch the Burj Khalifa light show
Visitors between May and June will be in for a treat when the sun goes down. The LED light show at the Burj Khalifa is a dazzling and awe-inspiring sight. Every evening after sunset, this hi-tech and highly artistic show will use state-of-the-art video mapping technology to wow visitors.
Seabourn is a cruise line that expertly combines adventurous travel with impeccable luxury. Not only are their ships decked with style and opulence, but Seabourn ventures to some of the furthest corners of the earth. Here’s just an example of some of the most exotic ports you can discover with Seabourn Cruises.
1. New Zealand
New Zealand is one of the few places on earth that is a perfect combination of untouched natural landscapes and colourful cities. Auckland is its main cruise port, and is one of the few cities to have a harbour on two different bodies of water. Then half an hour drive from the city there is an abundance of outdoor activities, including sailing to a secluded island, trekking through the rainforest, picnicking on a volcano, sampling wines at a vineyard, or exploring a black sand beach.
2. French Polynesia
Bora Bora has long been noted for its stunning beauty and impeccable luxury. The atmosphere here is also incredibly friendly and laid-back. Where you can spend your day scuba diving in the intricate coral reef structures, then unwind at night by relaxing under some of the clearest skies in the world.
Seabourn offers a wide range of Mediterranean cruises to some of the world’s most popular ports. But somewhere that is a little different is Jerusalem, one of the oldest cities in the world and considered sacred to more than a third of the world’s population. Aside from the ancient wonders - such as the Jewish Sacred Western Wall, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – you can also enjoy scorching temperatures and dip your toes into the rejuvenating Dead Sea.
4. South Korea
Cruises through northern Asia are very popular, but not many include elusive South Korea in their itineraries. The city of Busan is the main cruise port, which is home to delightful urban scenery, and the Pusan International Film Festival – oh, and there are hot springs nearby.
If you’d like to witness an iceberg up close, then we recommend the Greenlandic town of Ilulissat, which is the Greenlandic word for ‘iceberg.’ The Jakobshavn Glacier is located not far away and drains 6.5% of the Greenland ice sheet and produces about 10% of all icebergs in the world. Despite that, people have lived there for 4,000 years and as you sail into the harbour you’ll be greeted by an array of colourful houses that are typical of the Greenlandic aesthetic.
The northern Canadian province of Nunavut is not a place many people can say they’ve explored. Seabourn stops in Akpatok Island, a remote uninhabited Arctic island located in Ungava Bay. It’s been named a Key Migratory Bird Terrestrial Habitat site thanks to the sheer number of thick-billed murres and Brunnich’s guillemots who breed here. It’s also an incredible place for spotting walrus, seals, polar bears and whales.
Known as the world’s final frontier, Alaska should be on everyone’s cruising bucket list. Bears, salmon, and eagles roam freely in large numbers, undisturbed glaciers shimmer during daylight hours, and the landscapes are dotted with rustic towns. Most Alaska cruises start off on the stunning Canadian city of Vancouver and stop off in the Alaskan capital Juneau, historic Sitka, authentic Haines, and the beautiful Seduction Point.
8. Tabuaeran (Fanning Island)
We’d forgive you if you haven’t heard of this Pacific Ocean Island. Lost in a vast ocean halfway between Hawaii and Tahiti, it is rarely visited by anyone. Which is part of its appeal. It’s a place where you can spend your days relaxing on untouched beaches while sipping fresh coconut water and listening to incredible stories from the friendly locals.
Words cannot describe the incredible feeling of witnessing Antarctica in real life. This is nature in its rawest form, where seabirds, whales, seals and penguins outnumber humans, and glaciers dominate the skyline without even a speck of urbanisation.
When you cruise to Antarctica with Seabourn (either from South America or Patagonia) you’ll be treated to zodiac landings, digital photography workshops, complimentary Seabourn parka and backpack, and an onboard Expedition Team providing insight to all aspects of the experience.
10. World Cruise
Not technically a destination, but if you’re struggling to choose from the exciting range of destinations – a World Cruise is always an option. Itineraries vary and can include anywhere from South America, to Australia, to the exotic islands of the Indian Ocean!
Where will you visit first with Seabourn Cruises?
Hi Rachel, tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Barrhead Travel?
I am currently a member of the web content team. Specifically, I mainly deal with the testing and sending of all our e-mail newsletters, and updating web pages with new holiday deals and marketing campaigns we have running. I have also been one of the key members in the migration of our online systems. In other words, I make the website as pretty and user-friendly as I possibly can.
What does an average day look like for you?
I start an average day by sending out the e-mail marketing schedule for the week. I will then look over my e-mails to see if any evidence is needed for our campaigns and collate this along with the statistics for the individual Marketing Executives.
Then, I would make any web updates that have been requested. This could be updating offers for the product team or updating new videos or images for marketing. I will also ensure I have pulled all the customer segments for the e-mail newsletters being sent out (I usually try work a day ahead).
Once another member of my team has created one of our emails, I am always the first round of testing for every e-mail newsletter that goes out. We then may make any necessary amends and send out to our larger testing data. Once a newsletter has been signed off, it is then my responsibility to ensure it is going out to the right customers and schedule it for a time that will increase its success rates.
When did you join the company?
I joined the company in September 2015 as a Modern Apprentice.
What did you do as part of your Modern Apprenticeship?
I had to demonstrate that I was developing skills on the job. My assessor would come in and I would explain everything I was learning and show them what I could do.
What kind of person would you say is suited to a career in content editing? And what advice would you give them?
Firstly, you need to be a very organised person and good at prioritising workload as things can get quite hectic. You also need to be good with computers. Being in web content is essentially being online all day and working on difference Content Management Systems. Knowledge of HTML is also valuable. However, learning on the job was key for me.
And finally, what’s your favourite thing about working at Barrhead Travel?
Honestly, the people. I met some really great, intelligent people who I am and will remain friends with since starting with this company.
I’m thankful for the people in my team who helped and trained me when I first started, which must have required a lot of patience! Without them, I never would have got through the apprenticeship and secured a job at the end.
The Australian state of New South Wales boasts many accolades. Not only is it home to Australia’s biggest and busiest city - iconic Sydney - but it’s also home to the country’s highest peak, its very first winery, and is the birthplace of Australia’s obsession with surfing.
Covering an area of 809,444 km² in south-east Australia, there’s a lot of ground to cover on a New South Wales itinerary. So it’s worth saving up your holiday leave for, or embarking on a trip as a retirement holiday. To make the most of your time in this incredible part of the world, we’ve compiled this mini-guide that includes things to do, attractions to see, where to stay, and how to get there.
Things to do
As we’ve mentioned, New South Wales is expansive and it’s difficult to tick everywhere off your list - but we recommend that the following five things make your final itinerary.
Organise a road trip
Here are three of the incredible road trips on offer in New South Wales: The Grand Pacific Drive (on the South Coast from Sydney to Shoalhaven); The Legendary Pacific Coast (up the North Coast from Sydney); and the Greater Blue Mountains Drive (through the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains). The drives vary in length and we recommend taking a few days to enjoy them and to explore the towns along the way.
Whales migrate in their thousands along the New South Wales coast, with Humpback and Southern right whales a common sight. You can book yourself onto an organised boat tour from towns including Jervis Bay and Port Stephens, but there are many vantage points along the coastline where you might be lucky enough to spot whales in the distance. There are 38 vantage points in Sydney and in the surrounding area, including two spots near popular beaches such as Bondi Beach and North Head lookout near Manly.
Seek out an adrenaline rush
Adrenaline-seekers are in for a treat in New South Wales. Try hang-gliding and skydiving in Wollongong, snorkelling in Byron Bay, quad-biking in Port Stephens or abseiling in the Blue Mountains. You can even try white-water rafting on an Olympic course in Penrith Whitewater Stadium in Sydney’s west.
Catch some surf
The home of Australian surf culture is Freshwater, on Sydney’s northern beaches, where Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku popularised surfboarding in the summer of 1914-15. Surfing tours depart from Sydney to world-famous surf breaks on both the South Coast and North Coast of New South Wales.
Explore the Outback
Broken Hill, a remote mining town, is a good place to start an outback adventure, where you can take part in a heritage trail of the town’s mining history. Nearby you can also admire Aboriginal rock art - dating back thousands of years - in Mutawintji National Park.
Then there’s the town of Silverton, which has been attracting filmmakers for decades. The tiny township and the surrounding areas have featured in many popular movies, including Mad Max 2, Mission Impossible 2, Razorback and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
Food and Wine
Australia is famed for its wineries and New South Wales is no exception. The Hunter Valley (north of Sydney) is Australia’s oldest winegrowing region; offering both historic family-owned businesses and up-and-coming wineries. Mudgee (northwest of Sydney), the Southern Highlands and Orange (west of Sydney) are the other wine regions that are popular with visitors.
To explore the best produce in New South Wales we recommend a journey along a dedicated food and wine touring route. You can join an organised tour or rent a car to follow them at your own leisure. Popular trails include Hawkesbury Harvest Farm Gate, the Hunter Valley’s Around Hermitage Food and Wine Trail, the Southern Highlands to South Coast trail, and the Poachers Way in the Canberra district.
New South Wales boasts a variety of accommodation types to suit all styles and budgets. If you are seeking something special, a self-contained apartment or spa resort might suit your plans more. You can also spoil yourself with a spot of glamping.
Getting there and getting around
Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport is the usual starting point for people embarking on a New South Wales adventure. There are no direct flights between the UK and Sydney, however there are dozens of ways to reach the city via one-stop connecting flights – with some key changeover locations including Singapore, Dubai and Los Angeles (the perfect excuse for two holidays in one!).
Sydney Airport is about 10km from the city centre and easily accessible by train, bus or car. Trains depart frequently from underground stations in the airport’s domestic and international terminals, while public buses depart from bus stops outside T1 and T3 (but not T2). There is also a taxi rank outside, and at the T1 and T3 information desks you can book a Shuttle Bus that takes you directly to your hotel.
When it’s time to explore regional New South Wales, it’s best to opt for a rental car or an escorted tour. These are best booked in advance through your Travel Consultant, who can help you get the best price.
January is the warmest month, with an average temperature of 18.6–25.8°C, and the coldest month is July, with an average range of 8–16.2°C (46–61°F).
Popular shopping precincts in Sydney are open seven days a week, from 9am-10am to 5.30pm. On Thursdays, stores open until 9pm. City supermarkets are open for up to 24 hours.
The currency is the Australian dollar (AUD).
There are two time zones in NSW: Australian Central Standard Time and Australian Eastern Standard Time.
When you book a luxury cruise, you want the VIP treatment. Whether that be splurging on luxury spa treatments or booking yourself dinner in one of the speciality restaurants.
The VIP treatment could also extend to more practical aspects of your holiday. The first thing that enters your head might be first-class flights, or even upgrading your room type to a multi-room suite.
But have you thought about upgrading the way you get to the airport?
From mid-March, we will be offering VIP door-to-door chauffeur service exclusively for our luxury cruise customers based in Scotland, who are embarking on a six-star ocean, yacht or river cruise. Clients will enjoy door-to-door pickup service in an executive vehicle, which will include itinerary tracking and full airport chauffeur assistance including luggage handling.
Luxury cruise brands that we currently sell include:
Azamara Club Cruises
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
We also have a dedicated luxury branch located in Glasgow City Centre. Found on St.Vincent Street, the branch is home to private cabanas and an events space. There is also a dedicated luxury specialist in each branch who will also help non-Glasgow customers book their perfect luxury cruise, including the new chauffeur service.
Hong Kong is one of South-East Asia’s most popular city break destinations. Home to soaring skyscrapers, some of the most celebrated food on the planet, fluorescent nightlife, and theme parks – there’s plenty to keep even the most cosmopolitan of travellers happy. Not only that, but there is also a beautiful landscape surrounding the city. Plus, it’s well connected to other destinations in the southern hemisphere, making it an incredible opportunity for a multi-stop adventure. Here’s how to make the most of your city break in Hong Kong.
Things to Do
Explore Lantau Island
On Lantau Island, you’ll find Buddhist architecture, beautiful sandy beaches and a historical picturesque fishing village. The highlight of Lantau Island, however, is The Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. Sitting at 34 metres high and facing north to look over the Chinese people, this majestic bronze Buddha draws pilgrims from all over Asia.
Po Lin Monastery is one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist sanctums and has been dubbed ‘the Buddhist World in the South’. This monastery is rich with colourful manifestations of Buddhist iconography and its pleasant garden is home to birdsong and flowery scents. You can also enjoy a meal at its popular vegetarian restaurant.
Shop at Temple Street Night Market
What could be better than a night spent searching for locally-made souvenirs while enjoying home-grown entertainment? You’ll find trinkets, teaware, electronics, watches, menswear, jade and antiques here, alongside delicious food like claypot rice, seafood, and noodles. With a backdrop of opera singers and fortune tellers.
Party in Lan Kwai Fong and the other party districts
Lan Kwai Fong is Hong Kong’s main party district with over 90 restaurants and bars. However, there are other areas if you’re after something specific. SoHo, just moments away from Hollywood Road, offers chic bars and hip restaurants. Knutsford Terrace is home to alfresco patios and upscale bars. While Wan Chai is where you’ll find colonial style pubs, sports bars, and live music.
View the city from The Peak
If you do nothing else in Hong Kong, you must visit The Peak, aka the highest point on Hong Kong Island. By day, you’ll take in incredible views of the city’s skyscrapers, Victoria Harbour and all the way to the green hills of the New Territories. Then, in the early evening, you’ll be treated to one of the most beautiful sunsets in Asia.
Enjoy a day at Hong Kong Disneyland
Did you know that Hong Kong is also home to Disneyland? Disneyland Hong Kong boasts seven lands - Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street– with key attractions including Tarzan’s Treehouse, Fairy Tale Forest, and Iron Man Experience. You’ll find the park on the eastern shores of Lantau Island.
Food & Drink
Home to more than 11,000 restaurants, Hong Kong is a foodie’s dream and the only difficulty is knowing where to start. Chinese BBQ, dim sum, Hong Kong style milk tea, noodles, and tofu pudding are just some of the foods that are must eats of the city.
As for where to eat these dishes? That’s another question entirely. On Hong Kong Island you’ll find the world’s largest floating restaurant, Jumbo Kingdom. The neighbourhood of Kowloon is home to gourmet Asian delicacies. While the New Territories & the outlying islands offer international flavours if you’re seeking something familiar.
As for drinking, Hong Kong boasts one of the most magnetic bar scenes in the world. Old fashioned G&Ts are common, while whiskey is a very popular drink – giving a nod to the city’s British roots. As for cocktails, you’ll find the traditional, the exotic, and the millennial hipster favourites (such as a cocktail served in a Japanese wooden doll, or a bathtub!) be sure to check out one of Hong Kong’s most popular bars, The Old Man which was voted in the top 50 of the World’s Best Bars for 2018.
How to get there and how to get around
The 24 hour Hong Kong International Airport is serviced by more than 100 airlines that provide connections to major cities throughout the world. From the airport, you’ll have direct access to train, bus, taxi, and hotel transport to get you to and around town, as well as shuttle buses and ferries to transport you to Mainland China.
There are plenty of ways to get around the city, whether it’s by MTR, taxi, ferry, rail, bus or tram. The city claims one of the world's safest, most efficient and frequent public transport systems and a convenient payment method in the form of the Octopus Card. You can read our previous blog on working the Hong Kong Subway System here.
Where to Stay
Hong Kong is home to 72,000 rooms in over 200 hotels – including modest guesthouses, youth hostels, palatial hotels, and chic boutiques. Most hotels are located on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon. In recent years, there have been more hotels opening in the New Territories and outlying islands, some of which offer a resort-type experience.
Beyond Hong Kong
Hong Kong is an incredible destination in its own right – but it’s also a gateway to both South East Asia and Australasia. It’s a popular place to break up a long-haul flight to Australia and New Zealand, and to start off a Southeast touring holiday. Plus, it’s one of Southeast Asia’s most popular cruise ports!
Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate with distinct seasons, with September to April widely considered the best months to visit
The legal tender in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD)
British citizens whose passports have at least six months’ validity can enter Hong Kong for a period of up to 180 days without a visa.
The majority of electrical outlets in Hong Kong take a three-pronged UK style plug.
Hong Kong has strict laws about maintaining environmental hygiene, including fixed penalty fines of $1500 for littering or spitting.
Eating and drinking are not allowed on most public transport in Hong Kong.
Have you ever been to Hong Kong? What advice would you give to a first-time visitor?
Canada is a multi-faceted country that is bursting with memorable experiences. You have a world-famous mountain range, striking Pacific and Atlantic Ocean coastlines, the world’s highest concentration of lakes, arctic terrain, and cosmopolitan cities.
This exclusive mix makes for once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you won’t find anywhere else. Known as Canadian Signature Experiences, these tours and activity packages are offered by local Canadians who are passionate about their country and love to share their knowledge with visitors. There are over 100 experiences on offer, covering everything from ventures into the Arctic to foodie tours in the big cities. There is something for everyone but we have rounded up 15 of most memorable experiences to give you an idea of why Canada is one of the world’s most unique holiday destinations.
1. Witness the highest tide in the world
New Brunswick in Atlantic Canada is home to the Bay of Fundy – where you’ll find the world’s highest tide. You can witness the high tide from the cliffs, but you can also walk along the ocean floor when the tide is out and admire the erosion on the Hopewell Rocks.
2. Voyage into the Niagara Falls
No holiday to Ontario is complete without a day-trip to Niagara Falls. While admiring the falls from the sidelines is still a breath-taking experience, everyone should voyage beyond the falls into the 130-year-old tunnels where you can hear the thundering Horseshoe Falls all around you.
3. Live 19th Century British Military Life
On the island of Nova Scotia you can fire the rifles, eat the food, and live the life of a 19th century soldier at the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site of Canada. The Citadel was once a key defence point of Halifax Harbour and the Royal Navy Dockyard
4. Witness the aurora borealis
The Yukon is one of the best places on earth to witness the stunning Northern Lights. Tucked into the corner of northern Canada and far away from any of the major cities – your chances of spotting this beautiful display are very high. Book yourself a guided tour into the wilderness to increase your chances.
5. Bike through the Canadian Rockies
We all know about the iconic Rocky Mountaineer and the self-drive opportunities – but did you know that you can book a bike trip through the stunning Rocky Mountains?
6. Explore the Arctic
If you’ve ever wanted to embark on a wilderness adventure through the Arctic – Canada is the place to do it. Several adventurous tours are on offer: including a cruise around Baffin Island, sailing through the Northwest Passage, a dogsled ride in Nunavut, and an arctic safari where you’ll be on the look-out for polar bears, beluga whales and the mysterious narwhal!
7. Ride an Olympic Bobsleigh
At Winsport in Calgary, you can ride down the track made famous by Team Jamaica during the '88 Winter Olympic Games, which was also featured in Disney’s Cool Runnings film. The pilot will slide a group of 4 through 10 turns hitting speeds of 80+ km/hr and you will feel the force of over 2 G’s!
8. Sail along Iceberg Alley
Newfoundland & Labrador is home to the fascinating Iceberg Alley, where you can get up close to these natural wonders. You can choose to stand on the shore and view them or you can book a day cruise that also includes whale watching!
9. Immerse yourself in Cowboy Culture
In both Saskatchewan and Alberta, you can fully immerse yourself in the cowboy culture that is integral to the culture of these two provinces. Including a horseback ride through the prairies, ranch-style meals, and cowboy storytelling.
10. Fish for your own dinner
Love seafood? The Atlantic province of Prince Edward Island serves it up fresh at its many seafood restaurants. Some of it was caught literally 10 metres from the table, but if that’s not quite fresh enough – you can also catch your own. Book yourself onto either a (or both!) lobster fishing tour or a clam digging adventure, where you’ll then boil your catch on the shore for a beach-side feast!
11. Walk along the edge of the CN Tower
You’ve seen the images of the CN Tower soaring above the Toronto skyline. Now imagine looking out over the edge with only a harness. It is the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk, and circles the top of the Tower’s main pod, 356m/1168ft (116 storeys) above the ground.
12. Hunt for fossils
Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta is one of the richest dinosaur fossil locales in the world. Fifty-eight dinosaur species have been discovered at the park and more than 500 specimens have been removed and exhibited in museums around the globe. The park is also noted for its striking badland topography.
13. Stay in a hotel made from ice
Twenty minutes north of Quebec City you’ll find Hôtel de Glace, aka the Ice Hotel. Home to 42 rooms with intricate ice sculptures, this is one hotel experience for the bucket list. You can even get married there!
14. Visit the world’s first museum dedicated to human rights
In Winnipeg, Manitoba, you’ll explore 11 galleries covering different aspects of human rights. Including the life of Indigenous Canadians, the Holocaust, the long campaign for human rights, and where society and human rights are today.
15. Watch the sunset from the stunning Cabot Trail
The Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia is one of Canada’s most scenic drives. It laps around the top of Cape Breton Island and passes through scenic mountain ranges as well as seaside towns. Remember to stop and catch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean during your journey.
Today is the inaugural sailing of the MSC Bellissima . A sister ship to MSC Meraviglia, she boasts innovative technology, exciting entertainment, extensive dining options, and superb family facilities.
The earliest itinerary available to book through Barrhead Travel is a 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise on the 26th of May. She’ll stop in Genoa, Naples, Messina, Valletta, Barcelona and Marseille, before returning to Genoa. Prices start from £1,099pp and includes exclusive return flights from Glasgow with British Airways, transfers, and all-inclusive board.
As part of the all-inclusive board you’ll enjoy unlimited spirits (except premium brands), liqueurs, aperitifs and cocktails from the bar list; a dedicated selection of wines by the glass, draught beer, sodas, fruit juices, mineral water, espresso, cappuccino and other classic hot drinks. Even better, it includes take away ice cream in a cone or cup. The drinks included in this package can be consumed in all bars, self-service buffet, and restaurants - including the speciality restaurants!
Here are just 10 of the incredible facilities and features you’ll find on-board.
1. Artificial Intelligence
Passengers on-board the MSC Bellissima will experience the world’s first digital cruise assistant, Zoe, a voice-enabled Artificial Intelligence device fitted in every cabin. She can keep you up-to-date with your cruise balance and you can check dinner times.
2. Cirque du Soleil at Sea
Twice every night, six nights a week, guests on MSC Bellissima can choose between two original shows by the world famous Cirque du Soleil, while savouring a superb dining experience in the purpose-built Carousel Lounge.
3. 96m central promenade
The Galleria Bellissima is filled with boutiques, restaurants and tranquil spots for shopping, eating and relaxing. Then in the evening, it comes alive with music, parties and entertainment.
4. 10 square metres of public space per guest
And there’s a 1:5 staff to guest ratio.
5. A Balinese spa
The MSC Aurea Spa is a luxurious Balinese spa offering signature relaxation treatments to revitalise body and soul. Fitted with a thermal area, beauty salon and nail boutique, there are dozens of treatments here to keep you looking tip-top during your holiday.
6. MSC Yacht Club
MSC’s beautiful ship-within-a-ship concept has made it to the MSC Bellissima. Away from the majority of other passengers, you’ll enjoy lavish suites, an exclusive 24-hour butler service, and a dedicated concierge.
7. Polar AquaPark
An established MSC favourite that the children will love. It is home to three twisting slides, a ‘Himalayan Bridge’ and a range of pools, features and activities for all ages.
8. 12 dining venues
Including two new speciality restaurants: HOLA! Tapas Bar by Ramón Freixa and French l'Atelier Bistrot. As well as old favourites such as Butcher’s Cut, Marketplace Buffet, and Kaito Teppanyaki Restaurant and Sushi Bar.
9. Mini and Juniors clubs
Kids from 3 to 11 years of age can participate in fun activities thanks to MSC’s partnership with LEGO®. What's more, every cruise includes a special event, the LEGO® Experience On Board: an entire day dedicated to fun LEGO activities for the whole family to enjoy.
10. F1 Simulators
Compete head-to-head with your family members with two Formula 1 virtual-reality racing cars. You’ll find it on the Meravilgia Deck.
Which feature on-board the new MSC Bellissima is your favourite?
The Canary Islands are well known for their beautiful balance of volcanic landscapes, natural seawater swimming-pools, black sand beaches, and year-round sunshine. La Palma, one of the smallest of the islands, gets this combination spot on.
La Palma is known as both the greenest of the Canary Islands and the steepest. It’s more relaxed than the other islands, making it the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts looking for incredible landscapes and a slower pace of life. Here are six reasons why everyone should visit La Palma as part of a Canary Island adventure.
1. It’s a World Biosphere Reserve
La Palma is home to incredible landscapes, imposing volcanoes, deep forests, welcoming beaches and star-filled night skies. So it’s no wonder that in 2002 it was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
2. There are 1,000km of walking paths
Including the Volcano Route, which is considered one of the world's most beautiful hikes. The trail reaches a high point of 1932 metres with spectacular views over areas of the island while also boasting sights of both green pine forees and the yellos flowers of the indigenous coraconcillo lotus flower in spring.
3. You can see the stars
Clear skies and strict light pollution laws mean that La Palma is the perfect place for stargazing and astronomy. So much that it has earned a Starlight Award. To get as close as you can to the cosmos, head to the Roque de los Muchachos observatories, which are 2,420 metres above sea level.
4. It’s home to one of the most important laurel forests in the Canary Islands
Los Tilos Forest is one of the few strongholds left in the world when it comes to laurisilva: a dense, verdant, primitive forest full of broad-leaved trees that dominated the planet millions of years ago. This is the reason why Los Tilos was declared as the first World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO on the island in 1983! You can learn more about the forest at the Los Tilos visitors’ centre, which is home to themed rooms, and videos.
5. There are beautiful black sand beaches
One of La Palma’s most famous black sand beaches is Puerto Naos on the west coast of the island. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but it is also home to a stunning underwater world for keen divers and snorkelers.
6. Its capital is rich in history
Santa Cruz de La Palma’s Old Town hasn’t changed much since colonial times. Spend your day walking past manor houses, wooden buildings with balconies, and stone-paved streets, all while soaking up its maritime atmosphere.