Tag: Cruise

All you need to know about a summer festival at sea that beats Glastonbury

My first article of 2019 was published in Telegraph Travel this weekend, focussing on a new indie-music festival at sea [above]. Here’s the full text.

We’ve seen classic rock at sea and turned the amps to 11 for some heavy metal sur mer — think Spinal Tapmeets Carry on Cruising.

But the latest music-cruise alternative to Glastonbury is one for the post-Britpop indie fans.

Stuart Murdoch, lead singer and songwriter with Scottish indie stalwarts Belle and Sebastian, is setting sail next summer with the Boaty Weekender, a four-day cruise around the Mediterranean in collaboration with theme-cruise specialists, Sixthman.

“We thought we had missed the boat — excuse the pun — as we failed years ago to organise a tour of the UK by boat. But we always liked the idea of setting up the equipment then retiring to our cabins,” he says.

“Having a captive audience puts a nice pressure on the band to host the event.”

Summer sailing

The curated festival at sea, running August 8-12, leaves Barcelona with two day sat sea before a port day in Cagliari, Sardinia.

The passengers will have the run of the 11 bars, 15 dining experiences, casino and spa aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pearl.

“I’ve never taken my family on a cruise but I’m always happier traveling by sea — it’s in the blood,” says Murdoch, whose father was the chief engineer on the Caledonian MacBrayne ferries off the west coast of Scotland.

“Some of my earliest childhood memories were at sea, taking livestock around the Hedrides. I still love that sense of being far away, even if I’m just one hour from Glasgow.”

The band will headline each day with an eclectic line-up of supporting bands across five stages, including Mogwai, a reunited Camera Obscura and Django Django amongst others.

“We’ll be playing a sail-away gig to some 2,500 people on deck as we leave Barcelona,” says Murdoch, whose lyrics are known for their literary references and shades of rainy-day-Glasgow melancholy.

“It’s like organising a huge party for a bunch of friends, so I guess we should steer away from some of our more introspective back catalogue,” he adds.

“We’ll keep it upbeat for that party vibe.”

Shore excursions

It’s also a family affair with father-of-two Murdoch planning to replace the deck quoits with meditation workshops, a daily film matinee screening the band’s favorite films and a host of family-friendly activities.

Guests booking the first 350 staterooms will be invited to an intimate performance of Belle and Sebastian’s fourth album, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant, never before performed in its entirety.

“We’re building a University Challenge-style set for quiz teams, plus there’s going to be indie karaoke. I don’t normally partake but I got up to sing at my kid’s school recently,” he smiles.

Maneater by Hall and Oates is now my tongue-in-cheek, go-to karaoke number.”

Belle and Sebastian formed in Glasgow in 1996 and the Boaty Weekender marks the 20-year anniversary of the Bowlie Weekender festival the band previously curated at the Pontin’s holiday camp in Camber Sands.

If successful, more Nineties indie kids could be combining nostalgia for their favourite bands with a family holidays at sea on further voyages.

Pre-sale tickets are now available with prices from £979pp, based on two sharing, in an interior cabin, including meals and activities.

And if the Med turns unusually choppy next summer? Murdoch is unfazed.

“The intimate play through of our fourth LP requires an orchestra, so whatever happens,” he says, “the string section will keep playing as the plaster crumbles around us.”

The Boaty Weekender

 

 

The golden age of cruise travel with P&O Heritage

A peek behind closed doors last week.

I was at the London Victoria  offices of DP World, the global logistics company that now owns the lion’s share of P&O (minus the cruises).

It’s also home to the P&O Heritage Division with its extensive collection of ephemera — paintings, model ships, silverware and more.

Some of the most colourful items were the printed menus and postcards from the 1930s [pictured above].

I was there to interview the Senior Curator, Susie Cox, as the company celebrates its 180th year in 2017.

It was amazing to see items rarely accessible to the public that take us back to another age. It’s like Susie told me:

“There’s a huge romance around ocean liners and the aesthetics, the posters, the fashion, the visuals, are all fantastic. That’s why it’s the golden age of cruise.”

Read the full feature in a forthcoming Telegraph Cruise.

Multi-generational cruise story for Telegraph Cruise

ncl-copy

I had a piece published this week in the family holidays section of Telegraph Travel.

It was a piece about a multi-generational cruise to appeal to a broad age range — in my case from Olivia, 6, to grandad, 76, [pictured above].

Here’s a preview.

“I’m the ultimate squeezed middle — a single father caught between my 76-year-old father and two primary-school-age children. Granddad wants history and interesting excursions from a holiday. The girls want white-knuckle water slides and pyjama parties at the kids club. No wonder I feel like a stiff drink.”

Do you have a multi-generational holidays experience to share?

Post below.

Read the full story The best multi-generational cruises.

Just back: Harbour days in Hamburg

DSCN4005

It was the morning after the night before.

The overnight rain has diluted the detruitus on the streets but not enough to sluice away the bodily fluids and broken dreams.

It was early morning on the Reeperbahn and the final ragtag of drunks and smackheads were tracing their zig-zag path towards home.

A few had found refuge in a final glass of beer at the Sunday morning Fish Market on the harbour front, mixing in with the tour groups and middle-class couples out shopping for fresh fish.

Both were equally wrong-footed at Jessy’s reggae coffee kart — the proprietor was sky high, or a very good actor. Either way, he insisted over a backbeat of heavy dub, that his coffee was, “Lecker, lecker, lecker” to cheers from the camera-totting crowd.

I was here for the Hamburg Cruise Days festival [pictured above], a bi-annual parade of big ships to celebrate the North German port’s historic role in the development of passenger shipping from Europe.

The night before I had watched the ships file past under fireworks, the harbour bathed in blue light as part of an art installation by the German artist, Michael Batz.

I had explored the urban renewal of the Hafen City district and walked the streets of the waterhouse district, where the city’s seafaring merchants housed their goods in the days when Hamburg rivalled the likes of Liverpool, Antwerp and Rotterdam as a world port city.

Athen, as night fell, I joined a walking tour of the St Pauli district to retrace the Beatles’ footsteps around the city’s former red light district.

The ukulele-playing tour guide, Stefanie Hempel, lead us through the snake pits and dive bars of the Reeperbahn, breaking into Beatles songs en route as a paean to her beloved John Lennon.

It’s like John Lennon said:

“I grew up in Liverpool but I came of age in Hamburg.”

Check out a Flickr gallery of images from my trip.

What did you think of this story? Post your comments below.

Liked this? Try also Following the Pied Piper in Hamelin, Germany.