Cruise wars - Southampton has almost 70 per cent of the cruise market and is due to build its fifth terminal. Liverpool has one terminal that is practically derelict and situated in a scrap yard, and less than 1 per cent of the cruise market. They also have the new landing stage that they wish to convert into one that is able to have cruises start and finish there.
Due to these poor facilities Liverpool is losing services and failing to attract new ones even though the city is now one of our leading tourist attractions. Improved services from Liverpool would help the cruise business to grow in Britain rather than take existing services from Southampton.
The Liverpool waterfront is a stunning World Heritage site, and much of the tourism so vital to the city's economy these days is linked to its maritime history: the home of both Cunard and White Star, a major port for European emigrants to North America, etc. It is madness not to capitalise on all that.
Tips on cruises
I cruised on Princess Cruises in February and opted out of the daily service charge per passenger on the last night. It was readily accepted by the staff, and took just a couple of minutes. Anecdotal evidence suggests many other passengers, who had cruised before, opted out earlier.
Having seen the piece about the move to Avios, I thought I ought to do something sharpish about spending the BA miles I've accumulated. Off I go to BA's website to book some tickets to Bordeaux for next year's family summer holiday. I tried a fortnight beginning 4 August – no availability; 11 August – no availability. OK, when have they got seats? Change of approach to flexible dates. The best I can manage is 2 to 4 August. Some holiday. However, if I am prepared to stump up the cash for my flights there's availability for the whole month. Toulouse, Nice, Malaga, Genoa, all a very similar story. A more sceptical man than me might suggest that BA don't want me to use my BA miles...
Travel post 9/11
Evil acts cannot be met with evil acts. Bringing together peoples in respect and understanding, by air – or by other means – is the real way forward for the world.
Rev. Michael Franklin
48 Hours in Bilbao
So piqued was my interest in Bilbao by this article that I immediately started making enquiries. Sadly, I was thwarted. Brittany Ferries does not carry foot passengers on its Portsmouth to Bilbao route; I declined the offer of travelling as a foot passenger on the Portsmouth to Santander route. It seems bizarre that the ferries have a versatility that allows any number of car passengers to be accommodated, but cannot tolerate a few foot passengers.
Brittany Ferries says: "We do offer a foot-passenger service from Portsmouth to Bilbao, but space is limited. Call 0871 244 1400 to book"
Dunedin railway station
"Sadly no trains arrive these days," you say about the fine station in New Zealand's South Island.
On the contrary, during the summer months between October and April there are six arrivals and departures on most days on the Tairei Gorge Railway and the Palmerston Seasider.
Also, if you are lucky, special steam and diesel trains trundle in carrying well-heeled tourists from the US.
We had two breaks this summer: a week in Lisbon and a week on the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland. In Lisbon, people in shops, restaurants, and those we stopped to ask directions, were generally fairly grumpy. In Northern Ireland, people could not have been more welcoming. We're trying to work out why this might have been: was it related to the state of the economy, or just big city vs small town? Shortly, we are off to Paris for a few days to do some more research.