Win a Hotel Stay in my Summer Giveaway with Hotelscheap.org

Whether you fancy getting away to enjoy the summer sunshine or are planning a weekend break in the autumn once things have cooled down, I’m happy to announce my summer hotel-stay giveaway in partnership with HotelsCheap.org. I’m giving away a HotelsCheap.org voucher to one of my readers, worth $250 (or equivalent value of £145/€185) which you can use to book yourself a stay in a lovely hotel and treat yourself and that special someone to a relaxing summer break. The voucher can be redeemed for a hotel booking on the HotelsCheap.org website up until spring next year, so if you prefer you can wait until the autumn or even next spring to enjoy your hotel stay.

Hotels Collage 3

HotelsCheap.org is a hotel booking website that specialises in finding discount hotel rates for travellers worldwide and you can use the voucher to book a hotel stay in the UK, US and Canada, Europe and many other destinations worldwide. To inspire you in your choice of hotel getaway, I’ve come up with a few ideas, based on destinations and hotels I can personally recommend. If you’d like to enter this giveaway, please follow the details at the bottom of the article to find out how you can gain the maximum chances to win the HotelsCheap.org voucher.

Winchester Hotel and Spa in Winchester Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Winchester Hotel and Spa in Winchester

 

A historic getaway in Winchester

Why go?

The best of England packed into an ancient market town, Winchester has a very walkable historic centre, plenty of green spaces, river walks, interesting artizan shops and great places to eat. If that’s not enough, you have the beautiful Hampshire countryside on your doorstep, with walking and country houses to explore within a short drive of Winchester.

Where to stay?

The Winchester Hotel and Spa is a short walk from the historic centre and has rooms in August and September Saturday nights for £150 and under. Read my review of The Winchester Hotel and Spa

What to see?

Wander around the medieval market town and visit the famous cathedral where Jane Austen is buried – perhaps you’ll find a farmer’s market in full swing. Shop in the craft markets or artizan shops that line the narrow lanes, walk along the river to the city mill where you can see flour being ground as it has for centuries and perhaps spot some otters in the mill stream. The South Downs Way starts at Winchester so you may like a hike in the lovely Hampshire countryside or walk to the top of the town and visit the medieval Great Hall with King Arthur’s round table.

Read more about Winchester here: 10 ways to spend a wonderful weekend in Winchester

Hotel Valencia in San Antonio Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotel Valencia in San Antonio

 

A lively stay in San Antonio, Texas

Why go?

This town is one of the most historic in Texas, set on the San Antonio river, with some buzzing bars and restaurants along the Riverwalk making it a great choice for a relaxing getaway.

Where to Stay?

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk is an elegant boutique hotel on the Riverwalk and has Saturday night stays in August and September for under $200 although you may prefer to wait until the sweltering Texas heat and humidity reduces and take your hotel break in October or November. Read my review of Hotel Valencia Riverwalk

What to see?

Take a boat tour along the Riverwalk or stroll on foot as evening falls and the area buzzes with bars and restaurants. Of course you will want to visit the Alamo, a landmark in the struggle for Texan independence and perhaps drive out to some of the other historic Spanish missions in the area. You can hire bikes and cycle on the path beside the San Antonio river or shop for local crafts and artizan souvenirs in the La Villita Historic district.

Read more about our stay in San Antonio here: Texas Podcast Part 1, Houston, San Antonio and Picosa Ranch

The library in the Ibsens Hotel in Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The library in the Ibsens Hotel in Copenhagen

 

A cool weekend in Copenhagen

Why go?

Haven of Scandi-cool, Denmark’s capital has a compact centre that is easy to explore by bike or on foot and in summer you can take in the party atmosphere as locals enjoy the summer in the parks and around the harbour.

Where to Stay?

The Ibsens Hotel is a stylish hotel near the Copenhagen lakes that is furnished with quirky finds from neighbourhood shops and local artizan businesses and has Saturday night stays available in August and September for €130-180.  Read my review and video of Ibsens Hotel here

What to see?

A boat tour of the canals and harbour will help you get your bearings and locate some of the major Copenhagen landmarks, such as the Opera House, Royal Palace and the Little Mermaid statue. Stroll along Stroget where you’ll find luxury Danish design stores and climb the medieval Round Tower, for views over the city. You’ll want to enjoy the food scene too, with some of the best restaurants in the world where Michelin stars abound, but you can also find inexpensive snacks and deli-meals in the Torverhallerne food halls.

Read more about Copenhagen here: In photos: Our weekend stay in Copenhagen

The Intercontinental Hotel in Budapest Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Intercontinental Hotel in Budapest

 

A spa break in Budapest

Why go?

Hungary’s capital has all the sophistication of Paris but with far more affordable prices and warm, friendly locals. There’s so much to see whether you love sightseeing, relaxing in the numerous traditional and trendy cafes or visiting one of the thermal spas.

Where to Stay?

The Intercontinental Hotel is a 5 star hotel that’s centrally located for sightseeing by the Chain Bridge with views of the Danube and there are dates in August and September available from €100 per night. Read my review and video of Intercontinental Hotel Budapest here

What to see?

Take the funicular up to the top of Castle Hill to visit the colourful Matyas church and take in the views from the Fisherman’s Bastion over the Danube and Hungarian Parliament building. You’ll want to visit one of the Hungarian spa baths such as the Gellert or Szechenyi complexes to enjoy a massage or a soak in the warm baths and perhaps afterwards have coffee and cake in an elegant cafe. The House of Terror is a compelling reminder of Hungary’s communist past, while a visit to the Hungarian State Opera House for a concert or ballet is a must for culture lovers.

Read more about Budapest here: 48 hours in Budapest, top things to see on a weekend break

About HotelsCheap

HotelsCheap.org specialises in finding discount hotel rates for travellers worldwide operating in 75 countries for hotels, bed-and-breakfasts and holiday apartments. On HotelsCheap.org you can find anything from hostels and popular brand hotels to boutique hotels to luxury resorts, so getting the best hotel price doesn’t mean compromising on where you stay. You can also find more tips, traveller interviews and accommodation guides on the HotelsCheap blog

Follow HotelsCheap.org on their social media channels for travel inspiration and tips for the places you’ll want to visit; follow along on Twitter @hotelscheap, on Google+ and on Facebook

About the giveaway

I’m giving away a voucher to one of my readers worth $250 US (equivalent value £146 or €185) which can be redeemed on HotelsCheap.org any time before June 2015. The giveaway is open to all readers regardless of your location although the voucher will be redeemed in $US. The giveaway will run for 2 weeks and end on Monday 4 August 2014. To enter the giveaway all you have to do is;

  • Leave a comment below telling me how you’d like to spend your HotelsCheap voucher; which destination would you love to visit, who will you be going with, where would you like to stay?

You can also add 5 additional chances to win by doing any of the following through the Rafflecopter widget below;

  • Like the Heatheronhertravels Facebook page
  • Spread the word about the giveaway on Twitter, for example; I’d love to #win a summer hotel stay with @hotelscheap in the #giveaway at @heathercowper http://ow.ly/zmLnX
  • Follow Heather on her travels on Twitter @heathercowper
  • Follow the HotelsCheap Google+ page
  • Follow HotelsCheap on Twitter @hotelscheap

Entering this giveaway gives permission for you to be added to the e-mail lists of both Heatheronhertravels.com and our sponsor HotelsCheap.org, but you can unsubscribe at any time.

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This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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Walking the beaches of the Gower – staying in our luxury Mumbles cottage – video

Friday night and it’s time to cross the Severn Bridge and exchange a working week in Bristol for a weekend exploring the glorious beaches of the Gower peninsula and the seaside nostalgia of Mumbles. This part of South Wales is no stranger to me, in fact I was in Swansea only a couple of weeks earlier on the trail of Dylan Thomas and visiting my son who is at Swansea university. This time I wanted to see more of Mumbles, all lovespoons and Welsh-Italian ice cream, as well as combining my favourite activities of walking and being beside the sea (but not necessarily in it).

Caswell Beach, Gower Peninsula, South WalesPhoto: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather and Guy at Caswell Bay, Gower Peninsula, South Wales

Mumbles is one of those happy seaside towns that enjoyed its heyday in the early 20th century, when a trip to the seaside was a highlight of the summer for every family. With the establishment of the railway and steam trains running from Swansea from 1877, the population of this little seaside village grew and it became popular for the people of Swansea to visit Mumbles at the weekend and for holidays. Here you could enjoy an ice cream or pot of tea, take a walk along the promenade to the pier and reach the beaches of the Gower Peninsula that lie beyond.

Promenade View, the luxury holiday house that was our base for the weekend lived up to its name, with a perfect setting on the sea front and views through the trees across the curve of Swansea Bay. From our first floor bedroom we could watch a constant stream of walkers and cyclists passing up and down the promenade on the path that runs all the way from Swansea to Mumbles pier. In front of the house is a stretch of seaweed-strewn pebble beach where children were playing, with sailing boats parked in rows further up the promenade. The train line no longer exists, but there is a little tourist train that runs up and down to Mumbles from Blackpill Lido.

On the Promenade at Mumbles Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

On the Promenade at Mumbles

From Promenade View we took a stroll past Verdi’s Italian Cafe, a large glass building on the seafront where the participants from the triathalon earlier that morning were draped over the chairs outside, basking in the sunshine with wrap-around shades and wetsuits rolled down. Fishermen sat in their deck chairs with their rods propped up, where the restaurants and cafes that line the main road give way to houses with the rocky cliff rising steeply behind them.

Past the rocks exposed at low tide, where seagulls hopped between the stagnant rock-pools, we reached Mumbles Pier. Newly restored to its former glory, the building at the pier entrance was garlanded with exhuberant hanging baskets, with the Beach Hut Cafe serving fish and chips, a small boating pool for children to navigate pirate ships and the thumping and clanging of slot machines in the background. The man taking money at the pier entrance wasn’t doing a roaring trade but we were impressed by the secret sandy beach that you can reach by the steps down beside the pier.

I hope that you enjoy the video below of our weekend in Mumbles exploring the glorious beaches of the Gower

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Promenade View Holiday House

Our Promenade View holiday home provided a delightful weekend base for exploring Mumbles and the Gower peninsula where we were hoping to do some walking on the coastal path. The house has been recently renovated by owner Kim Davies, who grew up in Swansea and often returns to visit family. The colours are light and soft with a subtle seaside theme, plenty of personal touches and the amenities that you would normally expect from a hotel. Kim eventually hopes to run the house as a boutique B & B, so every room has its own en suite bathroom, with fragrant toiletries, limestone tiling, oak topped vanity stands and walk-in rain showers (or rain-forest showers as our kids know them).

Our master bedroom on the first floor had a practical wooden floor with soft green Welsh wool throws and cushions and a cosy rug on the floor. With the plantation shutters open we could lie in bed and watch the world go by, with a fabulous view of Swansea Bay through the picture window.

Promenade View Holiday Cottage in Mumbles, South Wales Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Master bedroom at Promenade View Holiday Cottage in Mumbles, South Wales

The two other bedrooms on the second floor were beautifully furnished in similar light, muted colours. The double bedroom at the front also had views over Swansea Bay and was decorated in a dove grey theme with woollen throw, linen cushions with a Welsh dragon motif and sparkly bedside lamps. The third bedroom which can be set up either as a double or twin had a velux window giving views over the trees and rooftops at the back of the house, with navy and white striped knitted throws and a large en suite bathroom. All the bedrooms had a flat-screen TV and we spotted kettles, hairdryers, full length mirrors and all the little conveniences that show the care and thought that has gone into making this house a home-from-home.

Promenade View Holiday Cottage in  Mumbles, South Wales Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Promenade View Holiday Cottage in Mumbles, South Wales

Downstairs, we relaxed in the elegant sitting room with the same plantation shutters that are found throughout the house, allowing light in while giving privacy from passers by. The wooden floor was covered with pale striped rug and we sank into the cream linen squashy sofas, with cushions of striped silk and soft, shaggy sheepskin. Under the flat screen TV was a cream leather Barcelona chair with cosy knitted throws and plenty of seaside touches like the jar of polished pebbles, pottery lighthouse lamps and rope covered doorstops.

At the back of the house, the kitchen and dining room had been knocked through to make one large area, with a painted dining table and chairs where we found a vase of flowers, as well as a welcome pack of some local goodies like Welsh cakes and biscuits, milk and breakfast cereal. The kitchen was extremely well equipped with plenty of attractive touches and the sunny patio at the back was the perfect place to sit with a coffee. We really enjoyed the many personal touches around the house, such as the old prints of a town in Italy that Kim had visited and the model sailing boat in the dining room, given to Kim by her sister.

If you’d also like to stay at Promenade View, you can check out the Facebook Page and book through local holiday rentals company HomefromHome.com.

Promenade View Holiday Cottage in Mumbles,  South Wales Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Promenade View Holiday Cottage in Mumbles, South Wales

Vintage motorbikes in Bracelet Bay

For the three years our oldest son has been at university in Swansea, I’d always planned to walk the coastal path that encircles the Gower peninsula, with views of some of the most stunning beaches in Europe. Since he’s now finished, this weekend was going to be a case of better late than never, but I was determined to cover at least some of the distance. On Saturday morning we strode forth from Promenade View, wearing our walking boots and an optimistic covering of sun cream.

Once we reached the Mumbles Pier, the path took us up the steps for a view of the lighthouse and round the headland to Bracelet Bay where the annual “Under Milkwood” classic vehicle road run was gathering in the car park. Guy immediately spotted one of his favourite classic motorbikes, an Enfield Bullet and we stopped for an in depth discussion and photo opportunity with two older gentlemen of the road, Terrence and Derek, or “Tel and Del” as they introduced themselves. They would be taking their vintage motorbikes to the Dylan Thomas heartland of Laugharne later that day, while we continued a little further down the road to Limeslade Bay.

Vintage Enfield Bullet at Bracelet Bay, Gower Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Vintage Enfield Bullet at Bracelet Bay, Gower

Gelato at Limeslade Bay

Here we found more distractions in the form of Fortes ice cream parlour, another of the numerous cafes run by Italian families who emigrated to South Wales in the early 19th century. We stopped in conversation as we ordered our cones from the young lady behind the counter, ” Is it still heaving in Mumbles?” she asked, “we were very busy this morning with the triathlon” . We asked whether the ice cream was made on the premises, and she confirmed as we expected, “yes, my Mum makes it out the back”. We took our black-current and caramel ices and walked on licking them, following the path as it climbed away from the road.

The path here was newly paved in concrete, cutting through heathland above the old one lower down the slope, which looked as if it had been about to slide off the cliff. Below us the swell of the sea rose and fell with the white foam licking the rocks and a little robbin hopped in the hedge beside the path then flew away. A couple of cyclists passed us and got off to push as the path steepened, then turned into steps as we neared Langland Bay.

Limeslade Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wales Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Limeslade Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wales

Retro beach huts at Langland Bay

Langland Bay has a wide expanse of beach which is popular with both families and surfers, since there is easy parking and it’s not too far from Swansea. Along the back of the beach are rows of cheerfully retro green and white beach huts that are in hot demand to rent for the season, where you can store all your beach essentials, make a cup of tea and sit in a deckchair sunning yourself with your friends. The good weather had brought the families out in force, making sand castles, playing with dogs and passing round the sandwiches, surrounded by colourful wind breaks and beach tents.

Green Beach huts at Langland Bay, Gower Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Green Beach huts at Langland Bay, Gower

Langland beach has an almost tropical air due to the spiky palms planted in front of the beach huts. The tide was a long way out and we could just spot a few surfers and a kayak lesson going on. Walking along the path above the beach we reached the Langland Brasserie at the end, the smartest of the three beach cafes, where we had enjoyed a coffee in the rain on a previous winter visit to Langland and Caswell.

Langland Beach, Gower Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Langland Beach, Gower

Buckets and Spades at Caswell Bay

After Langland Bay, the path was still good but the flat concrete surface disappeared and the shore became wild again with pock-marked rocks like calcified sponges exposed at low tide. On our right the heathland sloped upwards, with new growth sprouting in places and other patches that were dry and brown, even blackened as if by fire. Offshore a lone paddleboarder was taking a parallel course to us, making surprisingly good progress despite or perhaps because the sea was calm with hardly any waves. The day was warm but now becoming overcast, with a patch of blue sky topped by a lid of grey clouds and we hoped there wouldn’t be rain ahead as Caswell Bay came into view.

Where Langland has a touch of old world elegance about it, Caswell feels much more buckets and spades, candy floss and burgers. I had been rather looking forward to stopping for a light lunch in the Surfside Cafe, but Guy was put off by the crowds on the beach and so we only stopped long enough to eat our Welsh cakes and have a swig of water. We continued across the sand in front of the lifeguard hut to where the path passed through woodland and around the cliff.

Caswell Beach, Gower Peninsula,  South Wales Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Caswell Beach, Gower Peninsula, South Wales

Wildflowers and woodland by Pwll du Bay

The path was so narrow in places that there was not much to stop you falling down if you missed a step, although we could look back down on Caswell with a sheen of water like a mirror over most of the surface. The coastal path took us through a very pretty stretch of lush undergrowth with wildflowers like ox eye daisies and pink foxgloves blooming, contrasting with the lunar landscape of rocks below us, exposed at high tide.

Through a stretch of woodland we came down to the National Trust beach at Pwll du Bay which was more remote than the others we had passed with no car park and access that seemed to be only via the footpaths, although there were a couple of cottages with cars outside. A large bank of shale backed the beach and behind it a stream was running, creating a marshy area with a small pool and a bridge to cross. The area was once a limestone quarry and the buildings that remain were inns for the thirsty quarry men (and maybe smugglers) according to the National Trust website.

Up the steep path we now skirted the open headland through a field of cows, heading for Pennard where we were able to catch the bus back to Mumbles using the excellent regular bus service that makes it easy to walk parts of the coastal path as we had done. The information leaflets in the welcome pack that came with the cottage gave us plenty of information about the walks and bus service but you can also pick them up in the local tourist information office or check the BayTrans website here.

Llangennith Beach on the Gower Peninsula, Wales Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Llangennith Beach on the Gower Peninsula, Wales

Surf’s up at Llangennith

On Sunday morning we decided to check out one of the Gower beaches that I’d heard a lot about from my son, but never visited, the surfer’s favourite beach at Llangennith. Half an hour’s drive from Mumbles, we parked by the cafe above the Hillend campsite and walked down to the beach, although we afterwards realised that we could have parked right by the sand dunes.

This beach is huge and extends in both directions, bounded by Rhossilli at one end and Broughton Bay at the other. As we arrived it was low tide and there was a constant stream of surfers walking through the dunes with their boards under their arms, across the flat sand, sheeted with water and down to the surf. As every good surfer knows, winter is by far the best time for surfing, when the wind and storms in the Atlantic create the swell, but in June the water was quite flat. Every so often a surfer would pop up and make a few curves, otherwise there seemed to be a lot of bobbing heads in the water.

Llangennith Beach on the  Gower Peninsula, Wales Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Llangennith Beach on the Gower Peninsula, Wales

There were plenty of people sitting close to the beach entrance through the dunes, but as we walked further along we had the beach to ourselves with wide open skies and a gentle breeze. I love the sense of freedom and space you get beside the ocean on a wild, unspoilt beach like this. Those in the know were pulling their belongings along the sand in a beach cart so that they could walk further along to the quieter end of the beach. Even in the most crowded weekend in August I imagine you could have plenty of space here if you can be bothered to walk.

By lunchtime it was time to head back to Mumbles, leaving Promenade View and on back to Bristol, our heads a little clearer for the coastal walking and sea breeze. Next time I’d love to continue my walk around the rest of the Gower, passing some of the other fantastic beaches of Three Cliffs Bay, Oxwich and on to reach Rhossili and Llangennith again. Until then I’m holding on the memory of that wind in my hair and the lovely, luxurious Promenade View in Mumbles.

Visitor Information for Visiting Mumbles and the Gower Peninsula

Our holiday house at Promenade View can be booked through local holiday rentals company HomefromHome.com and you can also follow the Promenade View Facebook Page . Promenade View has 3 en suite bedrooms and sleeps up to 6 people in comfort with off street parking for one car and a small courtyard garden. The house is very well equiped with washing machine, dishwasher, dryer, internet as well as games and useful information for the area supplied in your welcome pack. Promenade View can be rented by the week from £535 (low season) – £1085 (high season) per week

You can find out more about visiting the area on the Visit Swansea Bay, Mumbles and Gower Website and for holidays in Wales on the Visit Wales Website

Thanks to Kim Davies who extended me a complimentary weekend stay at Promenade View

View my photos on flickr here.

More stories from Swansea and South Wales

A winter weekend on the Gower in Wales – Langland and Caswell
An ugly, lovely town Part 1 – a return journey to Swansea with Dylan Thomas
A long day’s walk on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path

Sunset from Mumbles, South Wales Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Sunset from Mumbles, South Wales

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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A quick tour of Celebrity Eclipse with Celebrity Cruises – video

I have to admit that since I took my first cruise last year, I’ve really caught the bug, so it was a pleasure to be invited to spend the day on board Celebrity Eclipse, a ship and cruise line that I didn’t know much about. Being quite new to cruising I’m realising that every cruise line has its own unique style and atmosphere and each has points of difference that will appeal to different types of guest. This does mean you need to do your homework before you book, in order the choose a cruise that’s right for you, but the good news is that there really is a cruise line for every age, budget and taste. Although I was only on board Celebrity Eclipse for a day, these were my first impressions of what you can expect when sailing with Celebrity Cruises.

Celebrity Eclipse in Southampton Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Celebrity Eclipse in Southampton – big but not too big?

Size Matters

Size is one thing to watch out for when deciding which cruise ship to book and the new ships being built seem to get bigger and bigger. My first sight of Celebrity Eclipse as I came up to Dock 10 in Southampton is of a pretty big ship, accommodating around 2800 guests, but not as big as some. However, as I walked around the ship throughout the day there didn’t seem to be too many large open spaces, like the open atriums on other ships, but instead a larger number of medium sized bars and restaurants, all with their different character. Of course, we were visiting the ship on changeover day, before all the guests had boarded, but I got the impression that the guests would be well dispersed in the different areas of the ship which makes for a less crowded feel, and that’s a big benefit on a larger ship.

I hope you enjoy the short video below I made from my day on board Celebrity Eclipse

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A boutique country house style

Considering that Celebrity Cruises is a mainstream cruise line with larger ships I loved the appearance of the ship which I’d describe as Contemporary Country House style. The colours were warm and welcoming, the furnishings stylish and each different part of the ship seemed to have a slightly different character. I loved the library, not so much for the books, as an elegant space with the tall bookcases and wing chairs where you could sit quietly and relax. Another favourite spot was the lawn club on the top deck. A lot of things in cruising can feel a bit fake, but here the grass was real and I could imagine enjoying a drink up here with the sound of croquet being played or the clink of a game of boules on the lawn. So very English.

Celebrity Eclipse; Contemporary Country House style Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Celebrity Eclipse; Contemporary Country House style

I loved the library as a welcoming space where you could imagine coming to escape with a good book.

Library on board Celebrity Eclipse Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Loved the library on board Celebrity Eclipse – a place to curl up with a good book

The Lawn Club on the top deck is a special place to relax, and yes, the grass is real!

Lawn Club on Celebrity Eclipse Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lawn Club on Celebrity Eclipse – yes the grass is real!

A Grown up feel

The atmosphere on board Celebrity Eclipse felt quite grown up, although I suspect the upcoming cruise to Iceland and Norway would attract an older crowd anyway. Although there is a kid’s club on board, the average age of guests seemed to be 60+ and I noticed a few areas of the ship, such as the solarium, that were reserved for adults only. I think this ship would be ideal for couples and groups of adults or perhaps families travelling with older children but the atmosphere didn’t seem conducive for those with younger children.

Where are we staying?

We were treated to a tour of all the suites on board which generated lots of oohs and aahs and certainly had the wow factor. The penthouse suite was like a small apartment with the biggest bathroom I’ve seen and a baby grand piano in the sitting area.  If you have a cool few thousand to spend I could imagine the wealthy grandparents staying here and inviting all their extended family in for an evening en famille. My favourite was the slightly more modest Sky Suite where Celebrity Ambassador Ben Fogle had recently been staying with his family, which had a corner location and was lovely and light with colourful artwork. Back to reality, the ‘normal’ balcony stateroom we saw was still very nice with a light and classic theme and lovely bed-linen. There seemed to be sheets on the bed rather than a duvet, perhaps due to the unusual rounded ends of the bed.

I was also impressed with the staff that we met, who even though we weren’t staying on board, greeted us with a “Hello, how are you?” and a welcoming smile. As we came on board there was a glass of wine or juice waiting for guests and everyone had a little joke or a laugh to put you in the holiday spirit.

The Stateroom on board Celebrity Eclipse Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Stateroom on board Celebrity Eclipse

The Penthouse suite on Celebrity Eclipse had a baby grand piano and a meganormous bathroom for super wow factor!

The Penthouse suite on Celebrity Eclipse Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Penthouse suite on Celebrity Eclipse

My favourite was the Sky Suite with colourful contemporary artwork and a corner position with double windows.

The Sky suite on board Celebrity Eclipse Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Sky suite on board Celebrity Eclipse

Food glorious food

Celebrity Eclipse is definitely a ship for those who enjoy food and wine and are looking for a gourmet experience on board. There are so many different speciality restaurants that I was starting to lose count by the end of our tour. We had lunch in the main restaurant which is of course a complimentary part of your cruise package, but there were examples of the different dishes laid out in each speciality restaurant so we could see what was on offer. For those special celebration meals there is the high end Murano restaurant, that wouldn’t be out of place in a 5 star London hotel, with over the top flower arrangement and a private dining room. More my style for less formal dining there was the Tuscan Grill for steaks and meat dishes with red glassware and wine bottles on barrels, or the Qisine restaurant serving contemorary Asian fusion small dishes with menu selection from an iPad. I also liked the look of Bistro on 5 which was a great lunchtime venue.

Murano restaurant for high end dining on Celebrity Eclipse Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Murano restaurant for high end dining on Celebrity Eclipse

I could totally imagine having a nice juicy steak in the Tuscan Grille restaurant

Tuscan Grille restaurant on Celebrity Eclipse Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Tuscan Grille restaurant on Celebrity Eclipse

A classy lunchtime venue in Bistro on 5

Bistro on 5 on Celebrity Eclipse Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bistro on 5 on Celebrity Eclipse

Here’s a flavour of the dishes you might try in the Qisine and Tuscan Grille restaurants on board Celebrity Eclipse.

Top: Asian Fusion small dishes in Qisine, Bottom: Tuscan Grille Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Top: Asian Fusion small dishes in Qisine, Bottom: Tuscan Grille

The speciality restaurants are all very well if you are prepared to pay the extra supplement charges to eat there, but what about the main dining room where guests will eat their evening meals on most nights? Well that’s where we ate lunch and it is an elegant, light and airy restaurant, double height with a huge sparkly central lighting. On the lower level is the set time dining, with two different sittings, which you choose at the start of the cruise, while on the upper level is Celebrity Select dining, where you have flexibility on the time you come to dinner, just like a normal restaurant. Of course there is also a self-service restaurant on board, but we didn’t have time to look at that on our tour.

The Main Dining Room on board Celebrity Eclipse Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Main Dining Room on board Celebrity Eclipse

We chose from a shortened menu which had a couple of choices for each course but would also normally have some classic favourites too. I tried a prawn cocktail on a bed of lettuce and a very pretty and colourful salad with pomegranate seeds and raspberry vinaigrette, followed by a delicious filet mignon steak and a soft chocolate mousse cake and strawberry dipped in caramel with ice cream. It would be a treat to eat food of this standard every day, as well as trying out some of the speciality restaurants during the cruise to spice things up a bit.

Lunch in the main dining room on Celebrity Eclipse Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lunch in the main dining room on Celebrity Eclipse

The Spa difference

Celebrity Eclipse is a wonderful ship if you take your spa holidays seriously and you can even book a special Aqua Class package, with luxury staterooms that are close to the spa area. Aqua Class guests also have exclusive use of the Blu dining room and the Persian Garden spa relaxation area with heated lounge chairs and different steam areas. During our day on board, we were offered a spa treatment and I decided to go for the pedicure to get my feet in good shape for the summer.

I sat with Kelly, one of the other bloggers in a little private area for pedicures which had a view out to sea and spent a lovely hour having my feet massaged and my toe nails groomed and polished to a professional gloss finish that I could never have achieved myself. It would be a treat to have a pedicure with a friend, as there is room for 3 people at one time and the nail technicians from Jamaica were also super-friendly and easy to chat to.

Having a pedicure on Celebrity Eclipse Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Having a relaxing pedicure on Celebrity Eclipse

After the beauty treatments we relaxed for a bit in the Solarium area, just outside the spa which was for adults only, where I wouldn’t minded have spending an hour or two on the sun lounger with a magazine. There was a very nice cafe area which served healthy snacks and small salad dishes which were a complimentary part of the cruise.

Relaxing in the Solarium on Celebrity Eclipse Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Relaxing in the Solarium on Celebrity Eclipse

Unfortunately the weather was not being kind as we passed through the outdoor pool area – where did those Caribbean blue skies go?

Pool deck on Celebrity Eclipse Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Pool deck on Celebrity Eclipse – where did the blue sky go?

Overall Impressions?

I had a lovely day looking around Celebrity Eclipse. Of course it was only one day, rather than a full cruise, but my impression was of a ship that has a luxurious, grown up feel, with great service, spa facilities and superb food options if you are looking for a gourmet experience.

Thanks to Celebrity Cruises who hosted my day on board Celebrity Eclipse

These were the other lovely lifestyle and travel bloggers that I was on board with, all of whom I was meeting for the first time. From left to right they are: Elle from a bird in the hand, Sarah from Energy for Life, Kelly from Around the world in 80 pairs of shoes, me, Inna from Start up your happiness. Nice to meet you ladies!

The Destination Bloggers on board Celebrity Eclipse; Elle, Sarah, Kelly, me, Inna Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Destination Bloggers on board Celebrity Eclipse; from left Elle, Sarah, Kelly, me, Inna

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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