Paul and Carole's Cruise and Travel 2021 - The Retirement Year
It’s that time of year for our cruise and travel 2021 post reflecting on a year of emotions and a lot of travel, we definitely made up for the travel we missed due to the pandemic. There were some fabulous highs and some extreme lows. The world was still locked down until April and it wasn’t until May also for personal reasons that we were able to travel.
Here is our 2021 cruise and travel yearly round up!
2021 started off in the worst possible way with Carole’s Dad Bo being diagnosed with terminal cancer. As soon as Bo was able to come out of hospital Carole and her sister Jayne moved in with him and cared for him. They spent the most precious time with him until sadly Bo passed away on May 15th. We miss him so much, but thankfully, we all have so many lovely memories.
We are in two books!
After the success of The Joy of Cruising, author Paul C. Thornton approached us again to ask if he could include our story of where our cruising passion began to how the pandemic has affected our plans. We were obviously over the moon and agreed straight away!
The book includes stories of how we all have come to love this type of travel and how the pandemic has affected us all.
Read all about both books here.
Bucket List Cruises and Trips
We are always making plans and with Carole’s retirement happening in July this year we were busy planning our dream trips which we hope we will be able to put into reality in the near future.
We have put all our bucket list cruises and trips in one place and you can find out all about them here.
Why We Recommend Using a Travel Agent
After the challenging time of trying to get refunds/change cruising dates due to the pandemic and now being in a different time from when we used to book all of our trips ourselves, we decided we wanted to give this headache to someone else.
We use two fabulous agents and we recommend you do the same.
Emma Otter of Travel Counsellors – Complete this form for a free quote and no obligation enquiry.
Dan Hammond of GoCruise&Travel who you can be contacted here ➡️ email@example.com
and via their website here.
Cruising was starting to wake up again and becoming a reality!
March 2021 saw the first of the cruise companies starting to tentatively advertise shorter cruises from mid summer, we were so excited that after more than a year of not cruising that is was going to become a reality. Due to unpredictable COVID progression over Europe the first cruises would only be for UK residents and we jumped at the chance to book.
MSC Virtuosa UK Seacation Cruise
Our first cruise was a very emotional one! At the end of May we joined the brand new MSC Virtuosa Cruise Ship on one of her 4 night maiden UK voyages from Southampton. It was so good to be back at sea and we had a fabulous time.
We have written a comprehensive review of our time on board, so if you would like to know more about this ship you can read our review here – MSC Virtuosa Cruise Ship Review.
You can watch our MSC Virtuosa vlog series by clicking the video below.
Cruising on the Anthem of the Seas
To celebrate Carole’s retirement and birthday we booked a cruise on Royal Caribbean cruise ship the Anthem of the Seas. Our last Royal Caribbean cruise had been in 2016 so we were excited to see what how cruising with Royal Caribbean compared from then to now. It was a 4 night seacation cruise and it exceeding all our expectations.
Find out what we thought of the Anthem of the Seas in our review here.
We also filmed a series of vlogs you can watch below.
Our first Princess Cruise!
In August of this year we cruised for the first time with Princess. This was also Paul’s dad John and his sisters jan’s first cruise of the year, it was fantastic to see John’s face when we boarded and have to admit we all got a little bit emotional.
This was a four day seacation cruise on the Regal Princess and it gave us the opportunity to try first hand the Ocean Medallion and the princess plus package which gives you all inclusive drinks, wifi and gratuities for just £30 per person per day at the time of posting. It was also our first taste of the Princess medallion app described as the best technology at sea.
We also got to interview the king of the cruise vloggers and a massive inspiration to us Gary Bembridge.
Watch our Regal Princess cruise vlog series below.
P&O Iona Seacation Cruise
August was turning in to a very busy month as next up was a seven day cruise on P&O cruises brand new ship Iona. This time we would be celebrating my (Paul’s birthday) and with the added bonus of our travel companions Travel Blog Jamie and Matthew with us to help us celebrate we knew we were in for a fabulous time.
This is P&O first new ship for 5 years and is the biggest in their fleet carrying over 5000 passengers. We had a fabulous week and as we booked a guaranteed balcony cabin we were allocated an accessible cabin with the biggest balcony we had ever seen! You can read the complete review here.
We often get asked whether it is worth getting the drinks package with P&O so we have put this post together which has proved to be very popular – P&O Bar Prices and Drinks Packages
If you want to know all about the WiFi costs on P&O you can find that here – P&O WiFi Packages
If you want to know what cruising on the Iona is like do watch our vlog series below too.
Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
To finish off a very busy month we headed off to Portsmouth to join the much talked about Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady and she certainly gave us plenty to talk about, We were once again in the company of travelblog Jamie so a fun time was guaranteed.
We booked this cruise for two reasons, one was just pure curiosity and two the prices were considerably less than when the cruise line originally launched, in fact then were around fifty percent less so it was too good an offer to turn down.
Find out what cruising with Virgin Voyages is really like by watching our vlog series below.
Cunard Queen Elizabeth Cruise Ship
September saw us join cruising royalty as we joined the beautifully regal Queen Elizabeth with Cunard offering massive discounts at this time to blue light card holders this turned out to be the biggest cruise bargain of the year.
We travelled with our good friends Deb and Steve and we were blown away by not just how beautiful this ship is but also how much fun it was. We expected the food and service to be of a very high standard but the biggest surprise was the amount and variety of the entertainment with as much as seven live venues per night.
If you want to know what cruising with Cunard is really like then checkout our Cunard playlist here and the video below. Planning your Cunard cruise and want to know how much drinks cost on Cunard you can find out in our Cunard Drinks post here.
We are also currently working on a vlog series for this cruise that should be live on our You Tube Channel early in the new year.
Sky Princess Cruise Ship
Next up in September was our second princess cruise of the year this time on the Sky Princess. This was also another first for us as we had booked an aft cabin and to say Carole was excited would be an understatement.
The Sky Princess is almost identical to the Regal Princess with the main difference being the omission of crooners bar and a far more passenger friendly Princess live lounge, On the Regal Princess we spent a lot of time in crooners so the lack of this area was a real disappointment to us but the Princess live area almost made up for this with hilarious game shows and interactive quizzes.
We had now got a good comprehension of the medallion app and were using it to the full and could really appreciate why Princess made such a fuss about. We throughly enjoyed our time on the Sky Princess!
Regal Princess Halloween Family Cruise
October saw us back with Princess again and on the Regal. This time there was a massive surprise for my dad and brother as we had secretly also booked my son Lucas and his girlfriend Tess and Carole’s sister Jayne and two of her daughters Jodie and Georgia to join us on the cruise.
Unfortunately this cruise got off to a bad start with the pre boarding testing process being about as well organised as a chimps tea party, we eventually boarded the ship a good few hours later desperate for food drink and the toilet. It was evident almost immediately that something wasn’t quite right with this cruise, the app which we had grown to love on our last Princess cruise was next to useless, staff were spread so thin that coupled with the app failure made it almost impossible to get served.
We later found out that the passenger capacity had been greatly increased from our previous Regal Princess cruise but sadly the amount of staff hadn’t.
Rotterdam was the only port of call on this four day cruise and as we had visited before we knew we were in for a good time. Princess for some strange reason didn’t feel the need to lay on any shuttles in to town so off we walked, we got about have way before the sky’s opened and that’s how the weather stayed until we finally made it back to the ship looking like a group of drowned rats.
Princess Cruises really didn’t cover themselves in glory on this cruise but regardless of this and mainly because of having a lot of our family with us we still managed to have a pretty good time.
On this cruise we stayed in a premier deluxe balcony cabin which suited our needs well. You can watch this cabin tour and review below, and if you want to see more of our cabin reviews please do visit our Cabin Playlist here.
Saga Spirit of Adventure Cruise Ship
November saw us take a long awaited first cruise on the brand new Saga Cruises cruise ship Spirit of Adventure, we were one of only four vloggers invited to the naming ceremony in August so we already knew how beautiful this ship was.
We were cruising with Paul’s dad John and his brother Dean, and the Saga cruise experience begins the moment you leave your house as they provide a door to door chauffeur service which is included in the price. The cruise got off to the best start when we found out we had been upgraded to a mid ship suite.
The cruise lived up to all our expectations with exceptional food service and entertainment, the only negative being the extremely outdated muster drill procedure. Saga cruises do look a bit expensive on paper but when you consider what’s included in the price, drinks, speciality dining, insurance and some excursions as well as the aforementioned chauffeur service they are definitely worth a look.
We are currently working on our vlog series for this cruise which should be ready towards the end of January.
Spontaneous holiday to Benidorm, Spain!
Our only land based holiday of the year was to Benidorm in Spain. This time we were traveling with Carole’s sister Jayne who had never been to Beni before and who’s idea it was to go!
As our flights were at 7 in the morning we decided to go the night before and stayed at the Fox and Goose which is just a 10 minette drive from Bristol airport and proved to be great choice. Our easyjet flight all went to plan and with all our paperwork in order (Carole is an absolute stickler when it comes to paperwork) our transit through Alicante airport went off without a hitch.
We booked the Hotel Presidente a lovely 4 star hotel ideally situated in the heart of Benidorm’s new town, which you can find all about in the video below.
Benidorm tends to get a bad rap for its Blackpool in the sun reputation and there is no doubt that there are elements of this readily available, but what Benidorm also has is a beautiful beach an amazing old town and stacks and stacks of great entertainment. If you are looking for a fun week away then we do recommend you consider Benidorm!
A festive trip to London!
Our last land based jaunt of the year was a weekend away again with our good friends Travel Blog Jamie and Matthew to London with the highlights being some amazing food and a visit to the world famous Winter Wonderland in Hyde park, it really is a fantastic day out for kids of all ages including me who even went on 3 roller coasters, the last time I went on one was 2003!
We stayed in a converted shipping container at Stow-Away in Waterloo which was an excellent location with stacks of bars restaurants and takeaways. The hotel was certainly different and you can find all about what we thought in our video below.
Queen Elizabeth Spain and Portugal Cruise
Last but by know means least was our second cruise of the year on the amazing Cunard Queen Elizabeth this time for ten nights visiting Spain, Portugal and our first ever visit to Gibraltar.
We had booked a Christmas cruise on the P&O Aurora which was sadly cancelled, it was replaced by the Iona but the prices were astronomical so we chose a pre Christmas cruise with Cunard arriving back in to Southampton on the 23rd December.
This cruise actually worked out to be well under half the price of the Iona cruise and because it was so close to Christmas all the festive decorations were in place and were absolutely stunning.
We had the most relaxed cruise we have had for quite some time taking full advantage of all the amazing food, service and entertainment available on board and even though we cancelled our excursion in Portugal because of new testing requirements we thoroughly enjoyed our visits to Seville, La Coruna and Gibraltar and would happily return to any of these destinations to spend more time.
Cruising with Cunard has surprised us in so many ways – find out our thoughts in this video below.
Achievements and Milestones
Following retirement it has been great to spend more time on our Website, Social Media and You Tube Channel and this year we have reached some exciting milestones.
As we publish this post our travel community on our social media platforms is heading towards 40,000 with 3791 followers on our Facebook Page, 12590 onTwitter, 6136 on Instagram and on 8200 Pinterest. We also have 6560 subscribers to our You Tube Channel and have hit over 1,500,000 views, which we can’t quite believe.
It will be interesting to see where we are this time next year!
See our previous years round up’s here
Paul and Carole’s Travel Round Up – 2020 the year of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Paul and Carole’s Year of Travel 2018
2017 – The Year Paul and Carole travelled to Mars!
12 Trips in 12 Months – A look back on Paul and Carole’s Year of Travel 2016
Planning a land based holiday, flights, bucket list trip, cruise or honeymoon then we recommend using Dan Hammond of GoCruise&Travel who you can be contacted here by email – firstname.lastname@example.org and telephone 01622 891895.
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