Sunday, 25 November 2012

Guest post - A look at what a Royal Caribbean cruise offers

Royal Caribbean brands itself as 'the nation of why not' and with good reason. There are quite an incredible array of activity options for guests to investigate and enjoy while on-board any one of the company's near two-dozen ships. From enormous outdoor climbing walls to ice rinks and everything in between, Royal Caribbean offers ships tailor-made to deliver spectacularly enthralling holiday experiences that combine seamlessly with the opportunity to relax and unwind in some serious luxury.

Beyond all that, anyone who manages to book themselves some time on-board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship can expect to be met with one of the most impressive selections of dining options they've ever seen on land or at sea. There are typically a good range of restaurants all serving high quality cuisine, which you can enjoy unhindered as one stunning coastline after another goes by outside the windows. 


 The Independence Of The Seas is perhaps the best known cruise ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet and it is truly a sight to behold. Within its gigantic frame are promenades full of shops, eateries, bars and ambience, and so many activity areas it would simply take too long to try to list them here. What you can do if you'd like more information on the subject and on holidays aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships is get yourself over to the Thomas Cook Cruise website. The search and booking process has never been easier and there are deals available right now for the final few months of 2012 and for throughout the early months of next year. You can book at the last minute if you are extremely keen to make sure you grab yourself a bargain or else you can plan well in advance and make the absolute most of your adventure by lining up an all inclusive package.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

History and charm in New Orleans

New Orleans has always held a fascination for me – elegant Southern architecture, jazz, creole cuisine and the mighty Mississippi River. I wanted to experience it all!

The largest city in the state of Louisiana, New Orleans combines French Creole architecture with world class cuisine and fascinating annual celebrations and festivals. One of the top ten most visited cities in the United States, the city is home to the French Quarter and the notorious nightlife of Bourbon Street.

The French Quarter is bounded by the Mississippi River, Rampart St, Canal St and Esplanade Avenue and is the oldest neighbourhood in the city. The most well-known of the French Quarter streets is Bourbon Street. Bourbon Street is lined with drinking establishments including Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, The Old Absinthe House and Cat’s Meow. It is largely quiet during the day but really comes alive at night! Local open container laws allow drinking in the streets which creates a great ‘street party’ atmosphere.

One of the most popular drinks is a ‘Hurricane’ which is made with rum and fruit juice, syrup or grenadine.

 I was lucky enough to visit during Mardi gras which made the atmosphere even more electric. Mardi gras translates as ‘Fat Tuesday’ and refers to the practice of the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before fasting commences on Ash Wednesday. Everybody dresses up in colourful masks and costumes and dancing, parades and all round revelry prevails!

As I previously mentioned, New Orleans is world famous for its food and one of the most popular styles of cooking is Creole. Creole cuisine combines French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Native American and African influences. Classic dishes include Crawfish Bisque, Gumbo and Shrimp Creole. I visited The Gumbo Shop whilst I was there and had my first taste of delicious gumbo!

To top off an amazing stay in New Orleans, what better way than boarding a steamboat and cruising down the mighty Mississippi River. I took a trip on the Natchez steamboat which was built in 1975 and is operated by the New Orleans Steamboat Company. The Mississippi River is the chief river in North America and borders or cuts through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

New Orleans really does have it all, from raucous nightlife to French inspired architecture to leisurely trips on the river, I urge you to visit.