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Saturday, January 20, 2018

The True Cost of Cruising – Tips & Tipping, Tours, Drinks, Fine Dining

You can go on a cruise and enjoy just what was in the ticket price, and why not, it is a great full-board holiday. You can still dine in the main restaurants, dress up and enjoy black tie nights and see the great acts all in your holiday cost. You may be able to, in some cases argue that the tip added to your bill is removed, but is that may be a step too far? Loss of income whether tips or wages sees staff making decisions about where they work, we are all the same. Tips are a restaurant staffs and cruise staffs bonus which, is long established in the world.

A cruise may be full-board and include entertainment, but it is not all-inclusive. Not unless you pay more. A Regent Seven Seas cruise can cost up to seven times more than many cruise operators, but you get more and it is a different cruise. To help we have explained a few basics

TIPS and TIPPING 

For a brief first example, P&O they add a discretionary £6 per head (guests aged 12 and over) per day, service charge, to every bill. It is like going to a restaurant that has a service charge, compulsory means it is a charge, discretionary means you can debate you didn’t have the service. The tip collection on ships is split between cabin, restaurant and other crew. Many guests may additionally tip their cabin steward and maitre d at the beginning or the end of the week. Other cruise operators are dealt with below after this cost overview.

DRINKS

Drinks are charged for at the table or the bar for what you consume, including water. Can you take your own drinks on board? With most cruise ships no, with P&O there is a slight waiver, best dealt with in this blog. Taking your own Drinks on Board

FOOD

There is so much food and choice on board, and for special diets, so the answer is often ‘no’ although we know guests who take their own type of tea bags and biscuits. The simple answer is most operators say no food is necessary to be taken on board and they don’t allow perishables.

DRESS CODE – Suits and Dresses.

To be clear, on most ships it is about making the effort, and a dark suit or jacket with a dark tie may work on many ships, ladies with a nice dress, children no jeans etc. Dress code is strict, it is upheld, and the reason all cruise ship shops do sell dinner suits and dresses – and they do – is because people realise they want to do what the others do and not be restricted to the buffet and pub if they only have jeans. We have a separate detailed blogs on Dress Code because some ships are very much more strict that others, and it is different for different areas of the ship. We suggest, join in, avoid the restrictions.Dress Code Fred Olsen Dress Code P&O  Dress Code Marella SAGA do not enforce a dress code but suggest most people do dress up and that you should pack your ‘glad rags’.

Shops and Shopping

Most ships have shops, stall and or a market place. Some have a shopping centre to rival a small village. The stock is rotated in many shops almost daily, so every day is a different shopping experience. If you like to shop, you may well end up buying another bag, a rotating world-globe, a dress or fridge magnet of a ship. The big seller are flip flip diamond spangled beach shoes. Shopping will be a holiday cost, but it might cost what you might spend at home. There are also general shops for headache remedies and sick bands. We always carry sea sickness bands, they have been used a few times, they are cheaper to buy before you go. Click picture for details. Some ships have art galleries and sell lots!

TOURS

If you want to get off the ship in St Petersburg Russia, a tour is as good as compulsory, but almost every where else they are an option. Two mentions – 1. If you were a non UK cruiser landing at Tilbury or Hull would you just walk round the docks? Unlikely! – 2. If you do your own tour the ship does not have to wait for you if you are late, do not be late. It does wait for ship arranged cruises. We, like many guests do a mixture of ship excursions and public buses as you will see from our blogs. Sometimes public buses are better than private taxis, like in much of the Caribbean, because taxis want to get you back way too early. A family with children may find a public bus allows them to see more, especially in places like Barbados and St Maarten, or a trip to the beach in Antigua. Or the best Free Walking tour on the planet in Copenhagen.

INTERNET

For many guests communication is compulsory, and it is rarely free and rarely cheap and works via shared satellite so can be slow with data limitations. The rush to find free wifi abroad is like a stamped so the secret, if the port has free wi fi, go there first as soon as you dock, then go back for breakfast when it gets busy.

FINE DINING

There is no need to eat anywhere other than the restaurants available on your holiday cost. If you do not frequent restaurants at home, you may not while on board. But there are options and if you want a special night out, then there are small premiums for this. Depending on the cruise operator, you may be offered Jamie’s Italian, Ollie’s Wine Bar or The Beach House which are both walk-in premium restaurants. Or, you might want to book a table at the Epicurean or the Sindhu.

ADDITIONAL COST ENTERTAINMENT

There is so much entertainment in your tick price, you may not need to go to the Casino, a premium speakeasy type entertainment venue like the Limelight Club, or bath in the private exclusive area. You might not want a massage, hair or nails done or a personal trainer, but these all cost a little more. As might golf lessons or private dance lessons depending on the ship. However, the football and golf nets will be free, as will the disco is the ship has them.

FIRST CRUISE

We hope the above has helped, the dress code, the tours. But we have other blogs that might be useful. Choosing a First Cruise. What to Pack. Coach to Southampton.

CRUISE DEALS AND BOOKING

We always hope you book via a Doris Visits link direct with the site, any of our links work. We also appreciate you telling us you have done that so we check we have been credited. You get the best deal the cruise line is offering and not a room someone is selling off above the engine room and below the football pitch. Here is a Deals Page which saves you time looking for all the deal pages. 

Drinks Packages and All Inclusive

There are both all inclusive offers with limitations and without limitations, as well as drinks packages. These can be offered free or sold at a premium. Coffee packages and much more too many to list and they change so often. The secret is to understand what you are booking.

TIPS and TIPPING and Cruise Operators Differences

The different deals and what is offered, the strictness of dress code and atmosphere changes from ship to ship and operator to operator. Here is a very brief description of how the differences work. More details to follow.

  • P&O £6 per person per night over the age of 12, on bill. P&O page on tipping.
  • Fred Olsen £4 per person per night over the age of 12, can be paid on booking and balance corrected on bill.  Fred Olsen page on tipping
  • SAGA spend a page suggesting we should tip, but never mention how it is done and say just looking at your booking, this is probably because you can book many cruise operators through them and they are all different. The Daily Mail claims it is £8 a day.
  • Azamara Club Cruises offer a more all inclusive cruise deal, many of their cruises can be booked via SAGA on our deals page, all tips are included in the cruise fare. 
  • Marella say  – All tips and service charges are included in the price of your cruise. You’re not expected to tip any of our crew – unless you want to, of course. Here is where we found that. 

We hope you can now see what a cruise might cost – and book with Doris Visits via our Deals Page.

Planning a cruise will make the experience so much better. So, if you are off to the Canaries, we have films on every Canary Island, the same for the Baltic, for Norway, for the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. We have even filmed the Pacific!

 

The Limelight club normally rotates four menus, it is a three-course menu because you are there to watch an act, it is like a speakeasy. As we are official affiliates of P&O, you can book your holiday here now, or if you have booked already and have your details which will all come via the internet, you will be sent tickets and plans, you can book a table at the Limelight Club as well as excursions via your cruise planner below. The internet is a wonderful thing!

P&O EARLY DEALS   Menu 1  Menu 2  Menu 3  Menu 4   P&O LATE DEALS

 BOOK A TABLE – GO TO YOUR PERSONAL P&O CRUISE PLANNER HERE

BOOK A SHIP EXCURSION – GO TO YOUR PERSONAL P&O CRUISE PLANNER HERE

But here are examples of how to research your destination, you might not book a private tour, but these and the Doris Visits films and guides might help you choose which stops are tours and which are more relaxing. See what are the hot offers. Really enjoy your holiday before and afterward by sharing Doris Visits.

The Ancient Hanseatic City of Bergen – Cunard’s travel film

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This is Cunard’s film on Bergen. If you are a fan of the Cunard ships then we have a chat site for you. JOIN THE NEW CUNARD CRUISE CHAT GROUP ON FACEBOOK

Many Fjords Cruises will either start or finish with Bergen, which is why it earns its name the ‘gateway to the fjords’. The ancient city has much Hanseatic history and offers spectacular sight seeing. The fish market is quite small but very friendly and our team tried whale meat. If the weather is good take the funicular or cable car up for spectacular views and an enchanting park. In our own Doris Visits film we have a tip on how to miss the ticket queue for the funicular. There may also be a chance to take a vintage steam train, but this is one town where the ship docks close and you can walk through history.

Jean’s Doris Visits film on Bergen

P&O ship Azura dropped us there on A720, if you are thinking of a Fjords Cruise here (click) is a quick overview of a number of ports and cities. If you are worried how to choose which cruise, which ship and where to go, take a look at our how to choose a cruise blog

P&O GO HERE – CLICK, VIEW and BOOK with confidence via this direct link to P&OFRED OLSEN GO HERE – CLICK, VIEW + BOOK with confidence via this direct link to FO

This is a selection of our Fjords Guide. Flam Guide. Flam Mountain Walk. StavangerSkjolden. Olden. Enjoy and if you visit somewhere we do not have a film of, and manage to make a film especially if it has guides and tips, please let us know.

FJORDS DESTINATIONS MENU – get guides, information and see every Fjord stop here
Clicking the DORIS VISITS COMPARE CRUISE DEALS BOX takes you to a variety of deals and explains how they are all found.

TAKING DRINKS ON BOARD ? CAN I ? HOW MUCH ?

CHAT and share your love of small ships, and answer other peoples questions. Join the Fred Olsen Cruise Chat Facebook Group. Fred Olsen Chat Group. Disaster in the Baltic ! The book series has been in the charts for months. Book 2 all happens in a Baltic Cruise ! Adult action romance on a cruise.
Follow author Sally Katz by clicking her name and then on the author page on Amazon, click follow. Then as she releases a new book your are informed.

Marella Cruises Cruise Chat – share your experiences, reviews, pictures, films and help others with their questions. JOIN THE CHAT GROUPWalking Shoes and what to pack. This is cruise of discovery and in maybe seven port stops with seven cities to explore you might need good shoes and few things. CHAT GROUP – Cruise the Fjords Chat – New Group, be one of the first to join and start a thread on your forthcoming or past cruise by number – CLICK HERE TO SHARE & CHAT 

Steam Train fanatics may have an opportunity in Rauma – if not there is a modern train

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A trip on Rauma Railway reveals the most spectacular scenic areas in Norway. Rauma Railway goes between Åndalsnes and Dombås with four daily departures all year, in very modern trains and the trip takes 1 hour and 40 minutes. In the summer an electronic guiding system provides information about the sights along the route like a bus tour guide system. Big panoramic windows will make sure that you can enjoy the splendid view. The train also contain a toilet, a wheelchair elevator and a NSB MENY Automat service.

We are also told of the steam train, but we have not done this so we searched out a video of someone who did follow the stream train. We have no details of how to book it but the ship may well have it as a tour.

Elsewhere in the area there is much to do, including base jumping off the top of the mountain – not recommended as it is now against the law to jump off the 6000 ft high troll wall. Some do.

FRED OLSEN GO HERE – CLICK, VIEW + BOOK with confidence via this direct link to FO

Ship arranged tours may not include this but they are likely to include a farm visit, Rødven Stave Church and the Troll Wall, or extreme Norway and Waffles – Enjoy. Then there is the Steam Railway. Take a look at all our Fjords films and live the cruise before you go and plan you excursions.

our DV FJORDS DESTINATIONS MENU – get guides, information + see every Fjord stop hereMARELLA FJORD CRUISE OPTIONS – CLICK AND VIEW THEIR FJORDS PAGE

CRUISE INSURANCE  CAR PARKING DEALS ON BOARD ENTERTAINMENT

Aurora Ship Tour  Azura Ship Tour  Britannia Ship Tour  Arcadia Ship Tour Disaster in the Baltic ! The book series has been in the charts for months. Book 2 all happens in a Baltic Cruise ! Adult action romance on a cruise.
Follow author Sally Katz by clicking her name and then on the author page on Amazon, click follow. Then as she releases a new book your are informed.

Marella Cruises Cruise Chat – share your experiences, reviews, pictures, films and help others with their questions. JOIN THE CHAT GROUPWalking Shoes and what to pack. This is cruise of discovery and in maybe seven port stops with seven cities to explore you might need good shoes and few things. CHAT GROUP – Cruise the Fjords Chat – New Group, be one of the first to join and start a thread on your forthcoming or past cruise by number – CLICK HERE TO SHARE & CHAT 

Jumping off the mountain is unlikely to be a ship arranged tour at the Troll Wall

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Andalsnes attracts far more than cruisers to the tiny town nestling in the Norwegian Alps, and I don’t mean troll hunters. These could be called thrill seekers, the people who choose to jump off the 6,000ft wall, the tallest in Europe, with or without a parachute. Base Jumping, or B.A.S.E. jumping, with a chute or a winged suit.

From where the cruise ship stops you can get a steam train and admire the vistas in safety. Back in 1980 the new sport appeared when the Finn Jorma Øster was the first to parachute off Trollveggen. Guinness World Records first listed a BASE jumping record with Carl Boenish´s 1984 leap from Trollveggen (Trollwall). It was described as the highest BASE jump. In 2010 Northern Norway celebrated with a world record with 53 Base jumpers jumping from a cliff. Between 1980-86 almost 400 jumps were performed with several accidents. These forced dangerous rescue missions and parachuting in Trollveggen was prohibited by law in 1986.

P&O GO HERE – CLICK, VIEW and BOOK with confidence via this direct link to P&O

Elsewhere in Norway, BASE jumpers can go from Strandkolvet, Lysefjord (from the mountain Kjerag). However do not be surprised if you see someone jump because if they are prepared to jump off a 6,000ft wall, they are probably prepared to be arrested. We suggest you can enjoy Andalsnes without jumping but we thought you might like to see the size of the mountains.

FRED OLSEN GO HERE – CLICK, VIEW + BOOK with confidence via this direct link to FO

Ship arranged tours may not include this but they are likely to include a farm visit, Rødven Stave Church and the Troll Wall, or extreme Norway and Waffles – Enjoy. Then there is the Steam Railway.

our DV FJORDS DESTINATIONS MENU – get guides, information + see every Fjord stop hereMARELLA FJORD CRUISE OPTIONS – CLICK AND VIEW THEIR FJORDS PAGE

CRUISE INSURANCE  CAR PARKING DEALS ON BOARD ENTERTAINMENT

Aurora Ship Tour  Azura Ship Tour  Britannia Ship Tour  Arcadia Ship Tour Disaster in the Baltic ! The book series has been in the charts for months. Book 2 all happens in a Baltic Cruise ! Adult action romance on a cruise.
Follow author Sally Katz by clicking her name and then on the author page on Amazon, click follow. Then as she releases a new book your are informed.

Marella Cruises Cruise Chat – share your experiences, reviews, pictures, films and help others with their questions. JOIN THE CHAT GROUPWalking Shoes and what to pack. This is cruise of discovery and in maybe seven port stops with seven cities to explore you might need good shoes and few things. CHAT GROUP – Cruise the Fjords Chat – New Group, be one of the first to join and start a thread on your forthcoming or past cruise by number – CLICK HERE TO SHARE & CHAT 

Andalsnes at the top of the Fjords

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As a cruiser going into Andalsnes you might not be thinking of ‘base jumping’ off tallest vertical rock face in Europe (6,000ft), or even climbing it. The fact the train from Oslo stops here might not be a factor for you, but rest assured it is there to facilitate others to the spectacular sights that have to be seen to be believed. It is the reason cruises have been sailing into Tindekaia Harbour for this Alpine town at the northern end of the Romsdalfjord that you will sail in on to see the towering Romsdal Alps, since before the turn of the year 1900. Andalsnes is close to the famous Trollstigen road. This leads through other picturesque villages, past scenic fjords and more majestic mountain peaks then across the stone bridge over the cascading Stigfossen waterfall to the Trollvegen (Troll Wall).

P&O GO HERE – CLICK, VIEW and BOOK with confidence via this direct link to P&O

The relaxing way to see it is a trip on the Rauma steam train which leaves from a station right by the cruise port. You will see the Troll Wall and amazing views from various vantage points around the fjords. You may just want to go and fish sea trout, the Fjord was of the first Norwegian rivers to host English fly fishermen in the nineteenth century and after a reduction in numbers due to an infestation or parasites the fish have recovered. There is much to do and see. Andalsnes may have way under 3,000 inhabitants but it does have an association football team.

FRED OLSEN GO HERE – CLICK, VIEW + BOOK with confidence via this direct link to FO

Ship arranged tours may include a farm visit, Rødven Stave Church and the Troll Wall, or extreme Norway and Waffles – Enjoy.

our DV FJORDS DESTINATIONS MENU – get guides, information + see every Fjord stop hereMARELLA FJORD CRUISE OPTIONS – CLICK AND VIEW THEIR FJORDS PAGE

CRUISE INSURANCE  CAR PARKING DEALS ON BOARD ENTERTAINMENT

Aurora Ship Tour  Azura Ship Tour  Britannia Ship Tour  Arcadia Ship Tour Disaster in the Baltic ! The book series has been in the charts for months. Book 2 all happens in a Baltic Cruise ! Adult action romance on a cruise.
Follow author Sally Katz by clicking her name and then on the author page on Amazon, click follow. Then as she releases a new book your are informed.

Marella Cruises Cruise Chat – share your experiences, reviews, pictures, films and help others with their questions. JOIN THE CHAT GROUPWalking Shoes and what to pack. This is cruise of discovery and in maybe seven port stops with seven cities to explore you might need good shoes and few things. CHAT GROUP – Cruise the Fjords Chat – New Group, be one of the first to join and start a thread on your forthcoming or past cruise by number – CLICK HERE TO SHARE & CHAT 

Dancers Announced for the SCD STRICTLY COME DANCING CRUISE !!!!

The excitement has been boiling up for some time, will there be a change in dancers, will you get your favourite. And yes there is a change !!!  AJ, Pasha and Oti all jump on board !! Never done an official Strictly Come Dancing Cruise? Want to know what happens and why it is one of the most important set of events in the SCD calendar? We will explain it all after we list the new dancers on board, and with the best rumours we have heard for new TV stars being Holly Willoughby and Graham Cole OBE, we do have new faces in the shows on the ships.

AZURA A808 13th April    –  click here for room availability and to book – Spain, France, Italy. (Med) and Atul Kochhar is on board, and the dancers and team are – Dianne Buswall, Gorka Marquez, Neil Jones, Katya Jones, AJ Pritchard, Chloe Hewitt  and Judge: Craig Revel Horwood

AZURA A808 – CLICK HERE TO CHECK AVAILABILITY – LOOK AND BOOK ! 

 

VENTURA N809 11th May    –   click here for room availability and to book  Spain, France, Italy. (Med) , and the dancers and team are – Dianne Buswell, Gorka Marquez, Neil Jones, Katya Jones, Giovanni Pernice, AJ Pritchard, Chloe Hewitt  and Judge: Craig Revel Horwood

VENTURA N809 – CLICK TO CHECK AVAILABILITY – LOOK AND BOOK !

 

BRITANNIA B816 3rd June   –   click here for room availability and to book Spain, France, Italy. (Med), and the dancers and team are – Janette Manrara, Aljaz Skorjanec, Pasha Kovalev, Anya Garnis and Judge: Craig Revel Horwood plus you can expect great stars in the Limelight Club and other names to be added.

BRITANNIA B816 – CLICK TO CHECK AVAILABILITY – LOOK AND BOOK !

 

AZURA A819 21st July   –   click here for room availability and to book  Spain, Monaco, Italy. (Med)  and the dancers and team are – Janette Manrara, Aljaz Skorjanec, Giovanni Bernice, Oti Mabuse  and Judge: Craig Revel Horwood

AZURA A808 – CLICK HERE TO CHECK AVAILABILITY – LOOK AND BOOK !

And if you are going, or not, join the chat and get excited. AZURA CHAT. VENTURA CHAT. BRITANNIA CHAT.

There are those who just know SCD as a TV show. It is not, it is a whole year round world wide phenomena. From the USA to the UK and at sea the producers and staff work all year and in more places than you can imagine. The show is best seen on ship for many reasons, not least not just because you do get to be with the stars up close and personal, and hear more about their lives and what goes on from their own lips, but Elstree holds 600 audience of which many are friends family and stars and the ships hold 3000. Now we will start to detail, day by day, what happens on a SCD CRUISE. The ships leave Southampton for the Mediterranean and as we have done this cruise, best cruise ever, we can explain what is involved from meeting Darren Day in the Limelight in the Britannia to me learning the cha cha with Janette. Barcelona to Rome and other great destinations, and we can tell you the best view of the Trevi Fountain as well as what you see on stage. This is a cruise you will remember for a long time and will be the envy of your friends.

As the main presenter for the online and Opera TV cruise show Doris Visits I get to cruise a lot, but the Strictly Come Dancing cruise is the best treat ever. You may wonder why they are all on a similar route and all on the Med, I can only suggest, knowing the routine and how timed to the minute the crammed entertainment programme on board ship is, that the access to airports on the days the stars change over is well worked on this route. So, what happens? What can you expect? They suggested the SCD Cruise show will be bigger this year, as if there wasn’t more than enough last year. I have never been on a cruise with so much on offer! If you have never cruised then take a look at the ten-minute film of our blow by blow of ports, the ship and what was on. Here is last SCD Med cruise on the Britannia. Actually, as this blog is content heavy you might want to read it then come back to the links. This is a day by day or what happens.

ADRIATIC CRUISE OUR ANGELS & DEMONS TAKE ON ROME P&O LATE DEALS

2017 – Day one, a Sunday the Britannia left Southampton and quite a few of the three and a half thousand passengers were finding their way round the ship for the first time. The tone of the cruise was set as we found costumes from Strictly, soon to be known as SCD on mannequins around the ship. SCD is now very organised on board, so if you are worried that such an event filled cruise might be a battle to see things I cannot stress enough that is not the case. Britannia holds 3600 passengers and the Headliners Theatre holds 950. Each special SCD act performs four times and they are ticketed to ensure that everyone gets to see the show, almost always when they want. Now it is down to you, the passenger to plan how you will get round the event filled day and find time to eat! With choir, other entertainers and port visits the list of events looked daunting.

Monday 26th morning it started early with the opportunity to book private lessons with Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec in the Atrium where passengers were also encouraged to book to compete for the final grand passenger dance off. There was an SCD help desk set up in the Atrium. At 2pm there was a Masterclass with Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec in the Crystal Ballroom, this was busy but people were in good spirits. Then at 4pm Janette and Aljaz were in the packed 950 seat Headliners theatre. The charming couple were introduced by Tracy Clegg and Aljaz told the story of how the last question two years ago on the same cruise was ‘when are you going to propose?’ He said he went straight to the on board jewellers and bought the ring, he told how he proposed and they then revealed their wedding plans which are to take place just a couple of weeks after they disembark the ship. Three weddings, London, Cuba and Slovenia. They also announced that they have both been confirmed back on this year’s Strictly with three new female dancers and a new female judge. We were off to a great start. Black Tie evening I was spoilt with an early treat at Michelin star chef Atul Kochhar’s Sindhu Restaurant.

10am on Tuesday 27th there was the first of a hosted wardrobe tour of the SCD costumes. On board at midday Janette ran a Master Class in the Crystal room. Later in the Limelight Janette and Aljaz ran a dance class for youths in the more private area of the Limelight Club. Everything worked like a well-oiled machine with Eric Lanlard doing both a Master Cookery Class in the morning and an ‘Audience with’ in the Headliners in the afternoon. Because some of the events are ticketed, there was a Strictly help desk established in the Atrium from 9am to 10.45 daily.

CRUISE INSURANCE MED CRUISE  MOVIES MADE AT CRUISE DESTINATIONS

Wednesday  28th June the costume tours repeated but there was the additional live fashion show at 4pm from the resident ship’s show cast. Janette and Aljaz did a ‘meet and greet’ session, signing and having photographs with guests at midday. Film director Stuart St Paul who did many of the 1980’s pop videos like Wild Boys with Arlene Phillips, revealed the secrets to filming on location and spilt the beans on how little of Angels and Demons was shot in Rome. (that is a fun way to see Rome, see the blog) (He also reveals the best way to shoot the Trevi Fountains in the Rome blog)

The black tie evening was quite special and very full so we ate early. I had the lobster main course and the two of us shared the suggested wine. Delicious! Janette and Aljax did the first of their evening shows and we were there. This was a ticketed event, not because there was a cost, but because everyone wanted to see them and it was the perfect way to ensure everyone did. There were two shows that night in the Headliners, 8.30 and 10.30, then two more to follow tomorrow. That meant four chances to see the show. The Headliners theatre is bigger than most West End theatres, it has an LED back wall for effects and backdrops but that was not used. The whole stage was a dance area and they performed. It was a joy to watch such master talent close up and personal and I have not seen such great dancing since Patrick Swayze danced with his wife at the Oscars. The specialist dance instructors on board for the two weeks were also in the show. They were also magnificent dancers, but, the sheer excellence of the stars was obvious. The show was funny and engaging and mixed clips with anecdotes as well as dances including the Russian Tango, the American Smooth and a Jive. The ‘Evening With’ event at the Headliners felt like a longer very full show and one can see why the dancers need to eat well because the energy they must use twice a night plus their day time training, as well as dance classes must burn huge amounts of calories. Opposite them in the live lounge at the other end of the ship Kai McKenzie was Michael Bublé, a tribute act even Michael says is the best. We left the theatre having been spoilt with a great show and managed to find seats to watch another hugely talented individual.

Thursday 29th June was our first stop in Alicante and I was off filming one of our usual films for Doris Visits. In the evening were the next two shows for Janette and Aljax to ensure the whole ship had seen them.

Later the same evening we went to see the very funny comedian Tucker, who we have seen many times before but he had new material and even the ones we had heard before made us laugh out loud.

Friday we were in Barcelona. Janette and Aljaz left the ship and Karen and Kevin Clifton got on. Eric and Ern, the Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise tribute who we also play golf with back home in The Stage Association, the next small world phenomenon happened. Another of the golfer’s partners was on board to sing. This was a real treat because we have heard about her for a long time as one of the top female West End stars but had never seen her, Jenna Lee-James. She had just finished playing the lead in Mamma Mia and had previously been in We Will Rock you for nearly six years. She sang everything from Streisand to Freddie Mercury and we were in the presence of greatness once again.

MED CRUISE  CRUISE INSURANCE  IBERIA CRUISE

Saturday 1st July. A cruise ship does make the world a small place because although it was too windy for the Britannia to pull into Cannes, plans were made for us to detour to Corsica. Having missed Cannes, film director and Cannes veteran Stuart St Paul was on board to explain the Cannes Film Festival and what goes on there. In the evening Tucker held a late night comedy session. The entertainment kept coming day and night and it was exhausting reporting on all of them. Tucker was a treat.

Sunday was La Spezia and we took the train to Pisa and filmed the leaning tower, cathedral and town for Doris Visits. On the way back we did a short film on La Spezia for the many who like to see the local town and never venture further. Back on board was an audience with Karen and Kevin.

Monday 3rd we arrived in Civitavecchia and we travelled into Rome where I presented an Angels and Demons film made for Doris Visits. Kevin and Karen performed the first two of their shows in the evening. Or there was a cookery club dinner at the chef’s table in the Cookery Club on deck 17. Bucks Fizz star Cheryl Baker started her four nights in the Limelight.

Tue 4th July Black Tie – Peter Andre performed the first of his four shows and in the live lounge was Rieta Austin one of the Strictly singers performing her show. Film and action director Stuart St Paul was in the Headliners theatre in the afternoon talking about his years of Pop Videos like Wild Boys with Strictly’s Arlene Phillips and Elton John Videos with Strictly’s Bruno adding the action, the fire and the somersaulting gymnasts into the routines.

Wed 5th July we stopped at Cartagena, a regular stop but I had not been there since a very early Britannia cruise and noted that since then they have hidden the entrance to the amphitheatre that was accidently found in 1980. Now you have to accidently find it again, though the best views of it are still from above it, the castle and the park.

OUR GAME OF THRONES TAKE ON DUBROVNIK   ON BOARD ENTERTAINMENT

Peter Andre did the last two of his four shows and Jayne Middleton was in the Live Lounge as Annie Lennox.

Thur 6th saw Craig Revel Horwood start the first of his four shows in the headliners and soul legend Jimmy James played in the Live Lounge. Darren Day started his run in the Limelight.

Friday 7th was a Black Tie night, and Strictly’s Natalie Lowe hosted a chat session at midday then judged the passenger dance finals with Craig and Executive producer Richard Curwen. Lven Johnson played the live lounge as Whitney Houston while we watched Darren Day in the Limelight perform an incredible show.

Saturday 8th, the last sea day saw things wind down with Exec Producer Richard Curwen talk about the ‘behind the scenes’. Natalie Lowe did a signing session and then the ships company of inhouse entertainers did the second of the Strictly fashion shows. Director Stuart St Paul did his final talk about directing on Petra and the Wadi Rum as an introduction to the Arcadia’s 99 day circumnavigation next year. That night I had dinner in the Sindhu, feeling totally spoilt and exhausted and needing a holiday to get over the busiest and most entertainment filled cruise I have ever been on. Even Richard Curwen said it was the biggest Strictly Cruise show ever and that talks were ongoing for next year to be even bigger. It is a good job I am boarding the Azura for the Fjords in two weeks time as I need a break! Click the picture or here to get to the ten minute fast cut  blow by blow film of the cruise.

SHIP & CABIN TOUR VIDEOS  IBERIA CRUISE   ROMANTIC CRUISE BOOKS

Doris Visits is a cruise travel Channel now with over 500 films up and many informative blogs. If you had told me when we were shooting the 60 episodes of the web series Shades Of Bad, that it would turn into this I would have laughed. Now I look at the next twelve months in the diary, and have 6 cruises lined up for 2018 already – but they are hard work, see the films. Note from the editor, Jean never even mentioned the stop in Gibraltar – too exhausted to leave the ship! Book early if you want to ensure a good cabin. Once again here are the links.

Atul Kochhar + Strictly Come Dancing – click for details, availability & booking direct @ P&O

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Strictly Come Dancing themed cruise

The Strictly Come Dancing themed cruise as explained in the 2017 SCD day by day, step by step description above. You do get close to the stars and even if not a fan you cannot but wonder in their skill and ability to entertain.

P&O suggest each cruise is subject to change, however this route is well worked for swapping stars at airports and ports. More names will be added.

Atul Kochhar on board this cruise

Atul Kochhar on board this cruise – click picture for details – There are normally two-hour masterclass with twice Michelin-starred Atul Kochhar. He prepares some of his favourite mouthwatering dishes and you learn about the art of spice and flavour, and how to prepare and present dishes that look as good as they taste. 

 

TAKING YOUR OWN DRINKS ON BOARD – what, how much and the catch

Can we first start by sharing the huge number of times we see shock, anger and disappointment at airports because a traveller has bought a bottle in duty-free with all the intentions of enjoying their holiday, and as they change planes the bottle is confiscated. Where have we seen that? Numerous airports:- South Korea changing planes for Australia, Fiji etc, Canada changing planes for the Pacific or down to connect with a USA port (you will also need a Canadian transit visa even though you never step inside Canada! See our Visa’s page). Changing planes inside the USA to connect with a USA cruise. The Middle East and Dubai, Singapore also can see you change planes to continue. There is also the chance that if your plane changes flight pattern and you need to connect to continue to your port, then expect that getting on a new plane could see you have to go through a restrictive practice.

There is a similar shock on some young guests faces when in the USA ports they cannot even buy alcoholic drinks over the bar on board because the laws of the USA say drinking alcohol cannot start until they are over 21. Ships may ask your age if the details do not show on your cruise card. Buying a drink for a minor is a serious offense which the ship has to take seriously to comply with the laws of the country whose waters they are in.

Saving money needs some thought, just to ensure it does not turn into losing money. The ships do not normally confiscate, but take your excess non-allowed drinks and store them until you leave the ship. P&O may be the most lenient allowing one bottle – so what can you take on board and what can you not?

Join the Chat, click the picture for VENTURA CHAT – share your knowledge and experiences – others may have questions you can answer

At P&O they publish that each adult of the correct age (18 in the UK, 21 in the USA) may take on board one bottle of the following; wine, Champagne, beer, spirit or liqueur (up to 1 litre in size) as they embark the ship for the first time only. Then there is a further rule, that alcohol taken on board is for in-cabin consumption only. There is no corkage charge, however, if you consume that alcohol in a public area you will be charged corkage. You are on a hotel and that is a very common hotel and restaurant practice. So as not to be disappointed also look at their dress code. After finding your cruise, please book direct with P&O through a Doris Visits link.

Aurora Ship Tour  Azura Ship Tour  Britannia Ship Tour  Arcadia Ship Tour

Join the Britannia Cruise Chat – click the picture

If you buy bottles of alcohol at ports along the way, you will not be able to drink them while on board. There also may be local laws that the ship would have to uphold. Few ships encourage food or drink to be taken on board, as they all like to think that all your culinary desires and special diets are more than adequately catered for. Few will allow any perishables even if you have a fridge. Water is often carried on board by guests, but cases of soft drinks may be treated as non-encouraged.

Subject to variations to the age limit; when not in the USA waters and other restrictive countries, 16 and 17-year-olds may be bought beer, cider or wine to drink with a meal in the restaurants when accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

We suggest you read the P&O Code of Conduct – click here

The rules are even more harsh for crew members who on or off duty may be required in an emergency to man a lifeboat station, and so under maritime law have drinking restrictions imposed upon them with random breath and sometimes drug tests. If they fail they will often be put off the ship at the next port, whether dancer or bar staff, engineer or officer. Each ship and cruise line will have similar regulations, so rather than repeat them all saying similar we will add all their codes of conduct as we find them.

Click the picture to join the Fred Olsen Chat and become part of the growing information resource centre of people who cruise

At Fred Olsen, they are more strict. Any alcohol brought on board, whether at embarkation, or during a port call, will be stored and returned to you at the end of your cruise. They also have a tougher dress code. After finding your cruise, please book direct with F.O through a Doris Visits link.

Fred. Olsen – a look at some of their conditions – click here

 

Join the Marella Cruise Chat

Marella Cruises – are also strict, once onboard their ships, you can only drink the alcohol that ship cruise staff serve you. They appear to allow alcohol purchased on a flight during a fly-cruise, however during embarkation, they reserve the right to search luggage and hold any alcohol that they believe has not been purchased on your flight – they will ask to see the proof of purchase.  Any alcohol that is not permitted onboard will be returned to you on your departure. Marella Rules Page. After finding your cruise, please book direct with Marella through a Doris Visits link. If flying from Birmingham for the first time, see our film on how this is one of the easiest and best airports. 

click here for the New Canary Island cruise menu including West Africa & Cape Verde
 DORIS VISITS COMPARE CRUISE DEALS BOX takes you to a variety of deals.

Singles Cruising, travelling alone – our new Single Cruisers Chat Site.

Single, want to holiday? – then cruising might be made for you – All the cruise lines take great care of all guests and that includes passengers travelling by themselves. However, it can be a minefield typing single into the internet, because so many of the websites do not reach out for ‘single’ searches. We have done some research and found safe links for you to follow with Marella, Fred Olsen and SAGA and P&O have lots of FAQ’s, (answered questions). In speaking with people who do travel by themselves there are many stories. There is the story of Mama Lee who won’t get off a ship, she cruises permanently!

Please Click the picture to join our Facebook Chat site for Single and Solo Cruisers. Share which cruises you are on and which ships work best for you. Please book your next cruise using a Doris Visits link to your favourite cruise operator.

Whilst the smaller ships can feel less threatening, others say that the larger ships can do so much more, like daily meetings or coffee mornings. These meetings came over as important, also the fact that on the larger ships you don’t get stuck with the same people. This research was done in the choir on the Azura. Please share your stories, we have started a Cruising Alone – a chat site for solo cruisers, but as with all chat sites we ask you to use it sensibly and respectfully and with caution, it is not a dating site just for those who travel alone.

Fred Olsen’s singles page – click here

SAGA single’s page and they offer a lot more than cruises

FRED OLSEN

Fred Olsen take care to ensure singles continue to have great holidays, they have a section on it. Click here.

Click the picture to join the Fred Olsen Chat and become part of the growing information resource centre of people who cruise

I like the term new found friend because that is what cruising is about whether you are single or in a group. It just seems harder when you are single, until you step on the ship. The first evening, at dinner you will sit with others at a table and instantly make friends. That happens to all cruisers, but if you are single there is just a little help.

Just as the waiters and kitchen will know your dietary requirements if they have been informed, they will know who is cruising alone and there will be opportunities to meet and sit with other cruisers. It is a choice, you are in control, but you may as well sit with someone, there may be other singles amongst them.

The smaller, more intimate ships may be less intimidating, and allow you to mix more easily, but on our last Azura cruise there were more than a few singles and I made some lovely friends in the choir, who were traveling alone.  The choir is a great place to meet. The smaller ship on the P&O fleet is the Adonia and it’s sister ships are now both with Azamara Club Cruises. See our section small ships under Cruise ships.

There are some meet-ups for singles arranged in the daily programme, and whilst that might seem a stretch, it will soon feel like a mustn’t-miss. In the evenings, when the dancing starts, Fred Olsen still have dance hosts. There are normally four on most ships and they are there to dance and will. If asked you can say no, but you are just naturally included.

So, Fred’s fleet of smaller-sized, more intimate ships might be the perfect choice for single travelers where the warm, sociable atmosphere will just mean you are on holiday like the others who may have partners. You will find new-found friends in like-minded travelers for a truly memorable and enjoyable experience whether you stay in touch afterward or not. Fred Olsen also understands that it’s often difficult to find a holiday for one without huge single supplements and charges. They offer some fantastic ‘no single supplement’ deals on a wide selection of stunning cruise holidays and room grades in 2017 & 2018 offering solo travellers the chance to visit breathtaking destinations in Norway, the Mediterranean, the Canaries, the UK and many more in the space and comfort of a twin room at no extra cost.

I have been looking at the cruises they list when talking about Singles Cruises and Christmas and New Year both seem to feature.

Fred Olsen’s blog on Single Cruisers. http://www.fredolsencruises.com/cruise-offers/singles-cruises

SAGA

Click the picture to join the cruise chat – and please book your next cruise with Saga through one of our links

SAGA has a wide section of Singles Holidays. Look at the holiday choices on their page mid page menu and click either the last option far right which is Singles Holidays (Click here and we have done it for you if the old search link still works) Or you can click Special Interests, then the sub-menu Solo Traveller. The results seem to be the same. They then offer Hotels and land-based holidays as well as cruises. The Queens Hotel in Dorset is one of a few that is exclusively for solo travelers. There is a long list of Hotels that seems to come first, that may make you think you will never find a cruise there. To be honest, almost every cruise will have singles on, but SAGA does feature some cruises. It is not that they are just for singles. If you go in via the Singles banner, the prices they show are automatically for a Solo Traveller. The Islands Of the Aegean is one they currently feature. Use this link or if it fails, on the menu look far right for Singles/ single Holidays. 

MARELLA CRUISES

Join the Marella Cruise Chat

Marella Cruises have a Social Host or Hostess arrange get-togethers for solo travelers, like dinners and coffee mornings. If you’re worried about dining alone, have a chat with the ship’s maître d’, who’ll make sure you’re seated with other guests at dinner.

P&O Cruises

P&O welcome many single cruisers, I have met them in the choir, then seen them walking around the towns together exploring. They have no Singles section, but in the Q&A on their website they do answer some questions

Join the Aurora Cruise Chat – click the picture and start to share knowledge and experience with others

There are coffee mornings for passengers traveling by themselves these are often advertised but not always hosted. These coffee mornings are not available on 2 or 3-night cruises. Please see ” What activities are available on board? ” for further details of activities available on board for all passengers. All their ships have single cabins. You can share with a friend, but they do not allow you to share with someone you do not know. If you have not cruised before you might like to see our tours of the Arcadia and Azura.

  • Single Inside Cabins are graded as SC grade (Arcadia, Azura & Ventura), SF (Britannia), SE (Oriana)
  • Single Outside Cabins are graded as RE grade (Aurora), RC grade (Azura & Ventura)
  • Single Balcony Cabins are graded as QF grade (Arcadia and Britannia)
  • Click here for the P&O site and explore.
PUSH THE BUTTON – Click here to join the ORIANA CHAT

If you are packing by yourself, and have no one to run a checklist with, then you might just like to check my Doris Visits checklist, which I will always add to if you remind me that I have forgotten something. Add your tip in the Comments.

….Oh, the feature picture, it is Cocoa Beach on the Port Stop Canaveral in Florida. Which we sold to the publishers of Solo Cruiser. We like holidays that do stuff and go places where you meet and interact with people. Golf and skiing both fall into that group which is why you find them here, though not as featured as cruising. Bridge and dancing you need a partner, but many things are solo. Is it too late to try golf? Doris started as she was approaching the 6-0.

Azamara has bought the Adonia and now have three sister ships in their fleet. Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ will have a new addition to their fleet, but it is not a new ship. The Columbus will be thirteen years old this year but it has just had an extensive refit. The importance to single travelers is that there are now 150 new single cabins, which reduces the ship’s previous capacity from 1,800 to an expected 1,400 passengers.

CRUISE INSURANCE BELOW – OR OUR BLOG

 FJORDS DESTINATIONS MENU – get guides, information and see every Fjord stop here
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Walking Shoes and what to pack. This is a cruise of discovery and in maybe seven port stops with seven cities to explore you might need good shoes and few things. CHAT GROUP – Cruise the Fjords Chat – New Group, be one of the first to join and start a thread on your forthcoming or past cruise by number – CLICK HERE TO SHARE & CHAT 

 

Fly Cruise? Birmingham is London’s best Airport

If you had asked me yesterday which was my preferred London airport I would have had to think hard. Not today, the answer in a flash is Birmingham. Seriously, Gatwick is nowhere near London, Luton is a building site with no direct transport and a bottleneck approach road that needs much more serious thought, Stanstead is OK, but where is it? Suffolk? Southend is improving, and Heathrow is a fight; either an hour on the tube or the unpredictable M25. If you drive and park for Heathrow, you’ll be miles away with a transfer in traffic. Birmingham however, as much as I hated the idea when my tickets were delivered, is easy!

Birmingham is ‘the’ London airport. A simple uncrushed, hour long overground train ride sitting in a civilised seat with a table. The train stops in the airport and you wheel your cases to the check-in a hundred yards away.  My advance train ticket which, my employer does not pay for, cost half the Gatwick express price, and almost the same as a tube ticket; where I would be unlikely to get a seat. It goes to show that you have to think out of the box. However, if your plane is flying from one of the lesser London airports there is no point in travelling to Birmingham.

‘It fits with my less than direct life that I am about to land at Orlando, Florida for a Caribbean Cruise. Surely everyone else on the plane is heading for a theme park. My direct route would be; find a man, fall in love, get married; but I have left it a little bit late in life; the panic is on. Have you noticed that now there are more and more single women that they lock the Captain in his flight cockpit? The route my life has taken since waking from my cryogenic state has been a very educational set of diversions with no road map.’

STOP – The words above, every word, unchanged are the opening words to the novel AMERICAN PORTRAIT. Now you may say she (Violet Becket) sounds off her head, but she is, in a nice way. We do like to feature novels set on cruises, and seriously, with American Portrait, it is like you are there! See or page Novels set in Cruise Locations and on Ships.

We smiled when we read this about Birmingham, because we have flown regularly from the nightmarish London airports – except Southend, where did that come from? But, we have also got on the train at Watford, got off in Birmingham Airport and said – wow, why is this so easy. So just saying, let the train take the strain, try Birmingham, and also before you go, for less than a tenner, download the first three Solo Cruiser books to your Kindle. You will be shocked, not talking about the romance, though that might shock too. Should you decide to drive to Birmingham Airport and need parking; Birmingham Airport Parking with Holiday Extras

Join the Marella Cruise Chat

So, we also index Birmingham as a cruise Port. Maybe that is going too far, but many will check in for the cruise at Birmingham and not see their cases again until they are delivered to their cabins, even if you don’t get your cruise card there. You maybe on one of the 13 or so flights to fill the Azura in Barbados, or one of the 15 or so flights to fill the Britannia. The excitement builds. Whilst in the queue read a cruise novel. If you are on a P&O flight to a P&O ship, a big tip from us. The excursion desk will be crammed when you arrive so book your excursions by looking at the destination films here then using your personal cruise planner below. Also book your table for dinner (in the second week all fine dining restaurants fill fast and you can always cancel).

The Limelight club normally rotates four menus, it is a three-course menu because you are there to watch an act, it is like a speakeasy. As we are official affiliates of P&O, you can book your holiday here now or if you have booked already and have your details which will all come via the internet and you will be sent tickets and plans, you can book a table at the Limelight Club as well as excursions via your cruise planner below. The internet is a wonderful thing!

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 BOOK AN EXCURSION OR A TABLE – GO TO YOUR PERSONAL P&O CRUISE PLANNER HERE

If you are new to Doris Visits Cruise TV then welcome, please sign up to our Facebook Page and share with fellow cruisers. We are at sea every month of the year somewhere and post new films of cruise destinations each week.  Facebook.

SEE THE CRUISE BEFORE YOU CRUISE THE SEA. We show cruise destinations all over the world. From St Lucia to Barcelona, from Tallinn to Tenerife, from Rome to Russia. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share.

READ THE CRUISE BEFORE YOU CRUISE THE SEA. 

The Caribbean is often the first choice for new cruisers, so you have come to the right place to look around for it here and for cruise stops all over the world. It is not just about us familiarising you with the destination first, but connecting you to others, for you are all the knowledge base that helps others decide whether to walk or tour, beach or bar, shopping or diving. See our blog on choosing your first cruise. CHOOSING A FIRST CRUISE.Click here for the special CARIBBEAN SEASON destination menu. Each major Island and Caribbean Season Destination has a guide or film about the tours here !
DORIS VISITS COMPARE CRUISE DEALS BOX takes you to a variety of deals and explains how they are all found.

CHAT GROUP – Cruise the Caribbean Chat – If you love the Caribbean then share here. Chat and answer other people’s questions. Here is where you are the knowledge base – CLICK HERE TO SHARE & CHAT

TO BOOK A SHIP ARRANGED TOUR OR A SPECIAL DINNER OR CLASS ON P&O IF YOU HAVE BOOKED YOUR CRUISE – GO TO YOUR PERSONAL P&O CRUISE PLANNER HERE

ICELAND – just a step further than the Fjords

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In the summer the Fjords are a delight. Sailing between the huge mountains, wondering how you are not hearing the sound of the ship scratch the rocks is incredible. Classical music often plays in a section of the ship to set the mood, but you feel like a Viking on an adventure. 

Join the Azura Cruise Chat – click the picture and share your knowledge or ask question.

Sometimes, sandwiched between two Fjord cruises is a cruise to Iceland chasing the midnight sun. This year the Azura makes this fantastic cruise and people will travel from all over the world to do it. This year the Azura travels there on the 30th June. See itinerary here. If you are booking please book direct using this link to P&O. A number of people are chatting about this cruise and going, so join in. Click the Azura Chat picture.

Aurora Ship Tour  Azura Ship Tour  Britannia Ship Tour  Arcadia Ship Tour

This route normally goes from Southampton, north stopping at Kirkwall then Lerwick in Shetland which is where we made the movie Devil’s Gate which starred Laura Fraser. It will be beautiful at that time of the year. You are then straight to Reykjavik, Isafjordur, Akureyri then back via Belfast, then Cobh before returning to Southampton. There are two full days on this particular cruise to enjoy Reykjavik. You will have the opportunity of many splendid tours like the Hraunfoss and Barnafoss waterfalls or the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. In Isafjordur you can experience the magnificent natural beauty of the West Fjords. Then catch the midnight sun from Akureyri’s stunning setting on Iceland’s longest fjord – Eyjafjordur.

In the meantime, enjoy the majesty of sailing between the fjords.

P&O ship Azura dropped us there on A720. If you are thinking of a Fjords Cruise here (click) is a quick overview of a number of ports and cities. If you are worried how to choose which cruise, which ship and where to go, take a look at our how to choose a cruise blog

This is a selection of our Fjords Guide. Flam Guide. Flam Mountain Walk. Bergen. StavangerSkjolden. Olden. Enjoy, and if you visit somewhere we do not have a film of, and you manage to make a film especially if it has guides and tips, please let us know.

FJORDS DESTINATIONS MENU – get guides, information and see every Fjord stop here
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Great cruise dramatic stories about Violet Beckett, a Bridget Jones like character. Romantic with bouts of embarrassing laughter CHOICE of KINDLE or PAPERBACK or AUDIOBOOK