Cruises We’d Love to Try – Part 2 – Itineraries

We’ve talked about our first cruise experience, and we’ve talked about cruise lines we’d love to go on. Now it’s time for us to talk about cruise itineraries that appeal to us – although if we’re being honest they all appeal to us, there just happens to be a few that stand out for us.

First up, the Norwegian Fjords. Because Norway is apparently rather expensive to holiday in, we feel like this would be the best way for us to see this beautiful part of the world. We did have a cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette booked for August 2021 to the Fjords, but we’re now planning on cancelling that one, as we have a close friend getting married during that time. But we’ll definitely be planning another cruise up around that area at some point.

Another cruise we’d love to go on is one around the French Polynesian islands. This area has been on our bucket list for the longest time, and we think a cruise would be the best way to get a taste of it without paying high prices for flights and accommodation.

We also love the possibility of doing a Caribbean cruise, especially ones that would allow us to visit Aruba and Cuba. We’ve talked about the idea of going on a Caribbean cruise at Christmas time some year. We imagine it would be a cool experience to spend Christmas day on board a ship in the middle of the Caribbean!

Alaska is another area we’ve always talked about going to. Like a trip to the Norwegian Fjords, we think a cruise here would provide us with breathtakingly beautiful scenery. We both have family on the west coast of America, so we’d love to incorporate a trip to Alaska if we go visit them at some point.

Two of our closest friends spent their honeymoon on a cruise around Japan, and after hearing about the experience and seeing their photos we knew had to add it to our bucket list of cruises. Aside from Norway, this is probably the cruise we’d be most keen to try out next.

Finally, a transatlantic or a transpacific cruise – either one appeals to us. We found that when we cruised last year we loved the sea days. They were the perfect opportunity to just relax and enjoy the ship, plus there was something exciting about going up to the top deck and seeing no land in sight. Also, if we did a transpacific one we’d get the chance to cross the International Date Line!

Who know where our next cruise adventure will be. But we think it’s safe to say that wherever we sail to next it’ll be an exciting trip.

Until then, stay safe and keep planning the next adventure!

Brianna and Iain

A Well Needed Break

Last week we had the chance to take some time off work together, something we were both in desperate need of. We’ve both continued working throughout the pandemic, and hadn’t really had any time off since the beginning of February. Needless to say, we were beginning to feel burnt out, so a little bit of R&R was needed.

First up was an overnight stay at Castle Leslie, located in County Monaghan. This beautiful hotel is situated just over the border, and has the most beautiful grounds to walk around. You can choose to stay in either the castle itself, or the lodge. We chose to book ourselves into the lodge, as the rooms looked more modern and to our style. We were not disappointed in the slightest. Our room was more like a small studio apartment, minus a kitchen. With a massive bed, a sofa for chilling on and easily the nicest bathroom we’ve ever had, it was one of those rooms you don’t want to leave when checkout time comes.

We spent the day walking around the grounds taking photographs, although in typical Irish fashion the rain was never far away from us. We also went for afternoon tea, something we had never had before. After a quick drink in the bar we headed back to our amazing room to get ready for dinner. A delicious four course dinner followed by a couple of drinks in the bar and then back to bed.

We did feel like the service was quite hit or miss at times during our stay, and to be honest wasn’t on par with other hotels of that level that we’ve stayed at in the past. Overall though a lovely stay at Castle Leslie, with beautiful surroundings and delicious food (easily the best breakfast we’ve had out by far!) We left feeling the most refreshed we’ve been in a long time.

Next it was on to County Down, and the wonderful Slieve Donard. We booked this night as a last-minute thing while we were in Castle Leslie because we weren’t ready to go home and stop living the high life. So we headed off from Castle Leslie towards Newcastle. When we arrived the Mourne Mountains were completely hidden behind a veil of clouds, with no clearing up in sight. We were quite early when we arrived, and our room wasn’t ready, so we decided to go to the Percy French for a bit of lunch. We ended up getting a great deal, as they had a set menu offer on, along with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. We enjoyed a delicious meal, a couple of drinks, and the lovely relaxed atmosphere in the restaurant.

Afterwards we made our way back up to the hotel to get our room. This one wasn’t as nice as the one we’d had in Castle Leslie, nor was it as nice as previous rooms we’ve had in the Slieve Donard. But that was our fault – we chose to book a standard double, rather than the superior we’d usually book while staying. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys spending time in their room, we’d recommend paying that little bit extra when staying here. Because while our room was perfectly clean, and comfortable, we really did miss the space, and those sweeping views of the Mournes.

We had another lovely meal in the Oak restaurant for dinner, and again a few more drinks in the bar. It was nice to see that the hotel had a real buzz about it, while still feeling like it was taking the necessary precautions with Covid-19. Slieve Donard is probably our favourite place to stay in Northern Ireland, and Hastings in general just never let us down. The setting is always beautiful, the food delicious, the atmosphere relaxed, and the staff are always incredibly friendly and helpful.

After checking out of Slieve Donard on Tuesday we made our way back home to a bit more normality. We spent the next few days just chilling out in the house, and then went for a drive up to Ballygally Castle on Friday afternoon for some lunch and a dander around the gardens. It was the first time we’d been back since getting married almost 3 years ago, and it was lovely to be back.

We finished off the week at a family BBQ on Saturday. Overall a great week off together, and a well needed one. We went back to work feeling more refreshed. And the best part is that we don’t have to wait as long for our next bit of time off! So watch this space for more updates on what we get up to.

Until then, stay safe and keep planning the next adventure!

Brianna and Iain

Our Honeymoon

It’s almost the weekend again and after a very busy week at work we were reminiscing about our Honeymoon! Two years ago we decided to go to Italy for our honeymoon. We spent two weeks there which allowed us to visit Rome, Florence and Venice – a dream trip for us.

At this stage we weren’t earning a huge amount of money. One of us was a student working part time for a charity, and the other working in their first office job, so we had to save and plan carefully to make sure it was special but also budget friendly – we always say this stage in our life helped us realize the value of money.

To find our flights we always use Skyscanner, this website is brilliant for finding the cheapest option and we regularly use it when we have a bit of time off but haven’t booked anything to find the best deals.

For accommodation on this trip we used Airbnb, this was our first time ever using this platform for holiday accommodation. We found it really easy to navigate the website to book our ideal home from home and all of our hosts were great. We stayed in apartments in all three cities near the tourist hot spots and they were all clean and comfortable! Check out our comparison on Hotels Versus Airbnb!

To get between the three cities we took trains. We booked these a few months in advance which allowed us to get a really good rate. We were a bit nervous about travelling across a country we didn’t know by train but we found the trains in Italy to be really easy to navigate and comfortable to use.

We are going to write a short piece on each of our stops during our honeymoon trip over the next few weeks and hopefully get the chance to finish our Causeway Coast series!

Until then stay safe and keep planning the next adventure!

Brianna and Iain.