There’s been a lot of stuff going on around this website over the last few weeks but none of it will have been particularly visible unless there’s been a specific bit of travel-writing that someone’s come back to again and again, and then thought “Huh!? That looks a little bit different!”

Not to completely bore anyone who might read this, but simply as a log of changes and a means to explain the lack of new travel-writing, I’ve decided to swap out the existing image gallery system I was using for something else and, at the same time, do a bit of pruning of images in posts to both reduce the overall disk space usage at my host and reduce the bandwidth for individual posts when some mad fool decides to read one. And there are a surprisingly high (and increasing) number who do that for some reason. The new image gallery isn’t perfect by any means but it allows me to implement lazy loading too (I couldn’t reliably do that with the last one because the link between my web host and the CDN was flaky to say the least and it would sometimes cache broken imagery that drove me insane) so the end result should be a much faster, more pleasant experience and with travel photos on mobile devices you might actually be able to see as they won’t be rendered in microscopic form. The resulting HTML is a lot cleaner-looking too. You never know when someone might take a look at your HTML.

There. A single paragraph – not a short one, admittedly – but nobody should have completely nodded off.

Now, that’s not the only thing that I wanted to mention. Tradition dictates that when we book a new trip somewhere then we mention it pretty soon afterwards. So, guess what’s coming up now!

We’ve gone and booked our first bit of travelling for 2025, a mere two days after I remarked to my wife at the start of the month “Wow! It’s June and we’ve got nothing at all set up for next year yet.”

Travel details, then. We will be cruising with Ambassador Cruise Line for the first time; that to take place in March aboard their cruise ship Ambience. We know a few people who’ve cruised with Ambassador before and they’ve generally had positive things to say about the line despite the older ships and some of the things you might take for granted on more modern vessels not being present. That doesn’t bother us at all, and it’s not the reason we booked the cruise anyway.

A look at where we’ll be cruising.

Cruise itinerary to Norway

We’ll be cruising out of London Tilbury for the first time so a little bit more in the way of logistics to sort out yet. We’ll likely find a hotel a bit nearer London, head up there the night before, then make our way across the top of the M25 to the port on the day of the cruise just to avoid the irritation of the Dartford Crossing. Similar to when we fly for a cruise, we like to be within a reasonably short distance of the departure point the night before if we can.

The cruise itinerary and its price are why we booked this cruise with Ambassador.

Norway is a familiar country to us – which you can tell just by looking at how many posts there are already about it on this site (see: Norway), and that’s not including the bits that haven’t been written up yet – but there are five new ports to look forward to. Trondheim, Tromsø, Alta, Leknes (in Lofoten), and Bodø are all further north in Norway than we’ve ever been before, and all but the first one will be north of the Arctic Circle. We’ve technically crossed that line on a cruise before but it was overnight and briefly and we don’t really count it.

There will also be a new Scottish port to visit on the way back to the UK in the form of Aberdeen. That’ll be two years in a row of cruising to Scottish ports after never having done it before.

The time of year should be in that range where it will still get dark enough that spotting the aurora is possible (though never guaranteed) and it would be lovely to see it again but we’ve seen it enough times now to not be too disappointed if that doesn’t happen. We’ve just wanted to get up to the top of Norway for a long time now, ideally with snow on the ground or in the mountains and no midnight sun, and this will finally do that.

We took advantage of a deal Ambassador are running right now for half price for the second cruiser which made the cruise very good value. Even factoring in an upgrade to the drinks package and moving to a balcony – typically quite expensive on these sizes of ships – we were surprised enough by the per person per night cost to almost immediately book it. Our Ambassador cruise will be seventeen days longs with nine ports, one overnight, six sea days, including drinks, and works out over a thousand pounds cheaper than the closest comparable cruise with Princess – who we normally think are great value – that is significantly shorter in duration and therefore substantially more on a per-night basis. Ambience won’t be as big or flashy but it’ll be different and new for us, and that’s more important when your travel raison d’être is for the experiences.

Right, back to pruning those old posts now. I’m up to our 2017 cruise in the Baltic at the moment so just another seven years of content to get through.


  1. Penelope Rice

    I’ve booked a cruise with Azamara for the first time, based on a recommendation from my doctor. It’s a 15-night Eastern Caribbean cruise in Oct, 2025. We’ve held off on booking anything else for next year, as I’ve used up quite a bit of leave this year. Need to build up again. The Indian Ocean cruise with Silversea was nice, but HOT. The ship’s A/C wasn’t working very well, so everything on Decks 6 and above ranged from warm to stifling, including our cabin on Deck 6. Sadly, we couldn’t just leave the balcony doors open to cool off, as the “lows” for each day were 82-84 F with 9000000000% humidity. We felt bad for the poor bastards working the bar in Panorama Lounge. They had to endure those temps in tuxes. The other aspects of life onboard were fine, and the excursions were excellent (Gunung Leuser NP in Sumatra, Galle Fort, a river boat cruise in Kerala, Uligamu and Vagaaru Islands in the Maldives). Very pretty beaches. Water was like a hot tub–very comfortable for a human, not so comfortable for the sea life. We saw a lot of bleaching. And a lot of plastic trash washed up on the beach. Even on Vagaaru, which is uninhabited and hundreds of miles from any inhabited place, the beach was piled with waste plastic, washed in with the tide.

    Going through customs in India: NOT fine. Not fine at all. Even though we were first making landfall in the Lakshadweep islands, we had to sail further east to Cochin to “check in” to India, then sail back west to the Islands, then sail back east to Cochin for our excursion. Our final stop was in the Andaman/Nicobar islands, where we had to check out of India. I think we all spent more time standing in line at customs at the port than we did on our tour. Customs in Sri Lanka and Indonesia were a breeze by comparison. Our poor excursion leader and the ship’s financial person were run off their asses trying to navigate Indian immigration paperwork.

    My husband and I had been considering an Indian land trip, as we wanted to see some tigers and all the cultural spots, but I’m not sure now. I can’t see trying to navigate that bureaucracy by ourselves. And it was SO. FUCKING. HOT. We may try a cruise on Princess in the future. I’ve been reading the reviews on your blog, and the ships seem pretty decent.

    • Well, that’s a very good doctor you’ve got there. Shame it’s just a recommendation and not a prescription.

      Azamara: we know a few people who cruise on them a fair bit. We still look at that whole getting value for money thing since a lottery win still eludes us, so we just can’t seem to justify Azamara’s pricing for ourselves, but they’re supposed to be very good indeed. Caribbean is still on our list of places to cruise, just like a lot of the world.

      That’s a surprise about the Silversea ship and the air conditioning. I suppose mechanical issues can strike anywhere at any time, but I’d expect for the supposed level of service you’re paying for that would be something checked and fixable quickly. India, unsurprisingly, also on the list for us, but I think we’d cope far less well in high heat and humidity than you so your review isn’t inspiring confidence in us taking a chance on it in the near future. Still, I’m sure it’ll all get cooler in that part of the world in the near future when all those initiatives and promises to stop climate change kick in, eh? Eh? Oh.

      Princess, we like a lot, but they may be a bit too conventional for your more expedition tastes. But you never know until you try and they’re decent value. They do some things well, although they’re moving more towards a something-for-everyone line rather than the relaxation and destinations specialists they used to be so they’re becoming less distinguishable from their rivals. But we still like them. At the moment. If you do want to know anything about them then just shoot me a message.

  2. Penelope Rice

    Yeah, I felt so bad for the people in the Maldives. Those islands are completely flat, barely above sea level. And not very big. The main island with the capital is unbelievably crowded. And unbelievably hot. There’s no respite from the heat even at night. I’m pretty good with heat, but this was too much even for me. Twenty minutes outside, and my shirt would be soaked through. Maldives was the worst as far as heat goes, but Cochin was not far behind. If you go, go soon. And don’t go during the end of the dry season like we did; that’s the hottest part of the year.

    Thanks much regarding discussing Princess! We do like expedition cruising, but we’ve also been on traditional cruises. We did 4 with Celebrity and still have status with them, but I’ve heard that they’ve gone off in recent years. Silversea’s traditional cruise boats are nice–I really like the Silver Moon–but I’m not sure I’m interested in their trad itineraries for the prices they’re charging. With Silversea, we’re paying more for access to unique places rather than oh, looky, we have our own private butler for our suite, and we get Elemis beauty products in the spa. My husband is very much a small boat person, which is why he prefers Silversea. I’m not a fan. There’s not much to see and do on small boats, and they also tend to bounce around a lot when the weather gets rough. I also like to have multiple dining options when I’m aboard versus “are we going to the main dining room again or hit the Grill again?”. I’ve considered booking on one of the mega-ships like Icon of the Seas just to see what it’s like, but none of their itineraries interest me, and they’re all very short. The one thing I really like about Silversea, which was different from our experience on Celebrity, is that we didn’t have to worry about whether this or that alcohol was included in our package, or how much excursion X was going to cost, as it was all included up front in the price we paid for the cruise. We’ve heard that Silversea is going for the typical multi-tier pricing package in future, and that dismays us.

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