Cruising to the Monaco Grand Prix

Sitting at my desk yesterday afternoon I discovered what must be the perfect holiday for fans of Formula 1 and cruising. As of next season you will be able to jump on an Azamara cruise to the Monaco GP.

For people like myself who would love to go to the Monaco GP finding a centrally located hotel of a luxury standard on race day is near impossible. The idea of jumping on a four day cruise that arrives first thing Sunday morning and leaves on Monday afternoon on a 5* luxury ship for a fraction of the cost of a 5* hotel in Monte Carlo does appeal.

On broaching this with my partner, a semi fan of F1, who isn’t convinced a cruise is for her, on mentioning this something clicked. ‘You mean we get to spend a day in Portofino and another in St. Tropez before the race and all night in Monaco’ she asked. The idea of lunching on the Italian Riviera in one of Portofino’s infamous waterside restaurants on the Friday, and celebrity spotting over dinner in St. Tropez the following day did indeed appeal to her. on mentioning the cost of a balcony cabin, full board, with flights was only a fraction more then the cost of our average ski holiday she was convinced.

Azamara’s decision to offer this itinerary is inspired. Their ships are more intimate than the super-liners at around 700 people, the service is renowned for being impeccable and you are dining in 5* quality everyday. Once you’ve bought your tickets to one of the most iconic race’s in the world it is the perfect weekend away.

Monaco GP

The only problem is that this cruise deal doesn’t start until next season as this year is looking like a cracker. The Red Bulls are flying but having a few issues, Ferrari aren’t far behind and have two talented drivers with former champ Alonso and there eternal unofficial number two of Massa, and not forgetting the Battle of Britain at McClaren with two British champs, the smooth driving defending champ of Button vs the prodigal son of Hamilton. Let just hope the 2011 race looks as exciting as next month’s encounter.

After watching the race unfold it’s back to the ship, freshen up, favorite suit then off the enjoy the famous nightlife. Do you try and blag your way into one of the after-race parties, if Buttons wins his celebrations are infamous, or is a trip to the casino’s more up your street. For those die hard fans who prefer a more relaxed pace there is always dinner and a show on the ship and a morning of site seeing to follow. Whatever you preference if you like F1, luxury holidays and intimate cruise ship them you can’t miss this special event.

For more info Iglucruise have got some great deals and regular updates on the cruise.

An easyCruise Review: Who Said Cruising is for the Over 60s?

Ever since easyCruise started, I’ve been interested as to just what they’re like. Sailing on the easyCruise Life, two of my friends Lindsay Pratt and Louise Aldridge took a week’s break around Greece. They wrote an easyCruise review below and you can see their easyCruise photo gallery on Flickr.

Having just enjoyed a week’s cruise around the Greek Islands with easyCruise, we have to say that if you are thinking of taking your first cruise or want a great value way to see the Greek Islands, give easyCruise a try. You won’t enjoy the same level as luxury as a Cunard cruise but you will have a great time. We spent everyday at a different beach and partied until the early hours in seven different destinations; it’s a really great way to go island hopping in Greece.

easyCruise Life at port

Together we (both in our mid 20s) set out on the seven night Greek Island and Turkey itinerary on the new ship easyCruise Life last week. Our expectations were low and we were somewhat sceptical of what we might get on this “no frills” cruise, having paid just £100 pp for the week’s accommodation. We arrived with expectations of a bright orange ship and staff dressed in orange polyester, but once onboard we soon ate our words.

The ship was modest (but not orange at all) and was kept spotlessly clean. The facilities were all very modern with a swimming pool, three hot tubs and cosy sun loungers, plus a gym, restaurant and bar. The cabins are quite small but unlike other cruises, you only really sleep on the ship, so it really isn’t a problem at all.

As we set sail out of Piraeus, we enjoyed a drink on deck in the sunshine and met some of our fellow ship mates. The passengers onboard were very mixed with but we’d say that half were made up of young groups under 30. The other half comprised of smaller groups, couples, as well as a few families. There were a lot of South African and North American people as it works out to be an affordable way for them to holiday in Greece. That night, we enjoyed some Greek dishes at the ship’s modern restaurant, followed by a boogie on the dance floor.

The next morning we arrived at our first port of call – Kalymnos, where we took the local bus and explored the island. We spent the afternoon lying on the beach with our new found friends. That evening we dined ashore and discovered our first delicious taste of souvlaki, a popular chicken kebab wrap with tzatziki sauce and a bargain at just €1.80.

Beach Party in Greece

We asked our waiter for the best place to go and he recommended a beach bar a short drive away. We hopped in a taxi (the driver’s family also in tow) and headed to the Dolmus bar in Kantouni which is situated just 5 meters from the shore line. We enjoyed a drink looking out to sea with the moon shimmering down and waves crashing around us. Being out of season, it was fairly quiet, but in the peak summer time this place would be an amazing place to party. By midnight, it had filled up with locals and after a few free shots from the friendly manager we realised it was 4am. We hurried back to the ship as it was due to sail at 6am and were told by security that we were the last onboard!

After sleeping until 2pm, we arrived at Bodrum in Turkey only to find that most of the museums and sites were closed on a Monday, so back to the beach to enjoy a bit more sun. Being a popular resort with the Dutch, the town was covered in orange flags and people wearing orange shirts as Holland was playing Italy in the Euro2008 football. Everyone got into the spirit of things with flares going off at the end of the game when Holland won. The party started at midnight at a lively disco bar called The White House, where we danced on the window sill to RnB and Funky House with the local waiters. There was also an incredible dancer dressed as spider man who jumped from building to building and hung off the roof whilst body popping and strutting some very funky moves. – impressive!

Kos has some great walks along the mountain range, but due to sleeping until midday we missed the last buses to any of these places, so make your way out early if you want to explore. We headed to a pleasant beach near the marina instead but the more pristine sandy beaches can be found on other parts of the island. Again, in the evening there were no shortages of places to party, with friendly locals offering a warm welcome and yet more free shots.

Duckies taking a walk down the beach

Next was Paros, our favourite island on the trip. It has lots of white washed buildings and little fishing villages along the coast and gave you a true representation of a traditional Greek island. The local bus service runs frequently and you could easily do a full circle around the island. It didn’t have as much night-life as the other islands but after three nights of non-stop partying, it was nice to take it easy even though we still made it back to the ship at 3am.

The next day everyone on the ship was ready to spend a full day in Mykonos. We spent the morning getting lost around the town, taking numerous wrong turns around its maze like streets. We eventually found the south bus terminal and headed on the busy local bus to Paradise Beach with half of the easyCruise people in tow. The beach is a hot spot for the gay community and nudism isn’t frowned upon. We soon discovered that that the right hand side of the beach was a lot more naked than the left – these guys really don’t want any strap marks at all. There are three major bars on the beach and by 4pm, the music was pumping and most people were on the bar dancing. We stayed till about 9pm as things were dying down, but in the height of summer, the party continues until the sun comes up. We also missed the Ministry of Sound evening by one day which we’re sure would have been pretty impressive. We headed back to Mykonos Town and found the famous Scandinavia bar along with all the easyCruise people. It seemed the place to be.

At our final destination of Syros we decided to escape from the other tourists and headed to a deserted beach on the other side of the island. A quiet time sunbathing before an early dinner as the ship was leaving at 10pm. We rocked the ship with a party on deck, but the ship was soon rocking us as the waves got a little choppy. We had to dance from one side of the ship to the other in order to keep standing upright –(honestly due to the waves, not the alcohol).

A few sore heads in the morning but we still had a full day of sightseeing to do around Athens before our flight home. We decided the heat was too much and took a little train around the ancient sites to save our aching legs. We wondered around the Acropolis and eventually found the Temple of Zeus. We spent more time in cafes drinking water that day, than on any of the islands. We guess our farewell party was paying the price.

Would we go on this holiday again? – definitely!