Website Structural Changes

I’ve simplified the home page layout on the site now to speed up loading. The slideshow has been replaced with a static image (that I’ll probably manually switch from time-to-time) and some more text describing what the site covers as it may not have been obvious to anyone visiting here and who didn’t bother to scroll down, attention spans being what they are in the average internet user these days.

The number of latest portfolio posts shown on the home page has been reduced down to 12 from 24 as it doesn’t really seem to be a driver of clickthroughs anyway. 12 still means the images look good at various device widths as the number neatly works at 6, 4, 3, 2, and 1 across.

The tag cloud on the home page has been removed, the code has been altered to break up the tags by initial letter, and the list of tags now have their own page here. This makes both the home page and the tag cloud look less cluttered and now opens up the possibility of going back through and adding more tags to posts too.

Website Content Changes

The Russian posts of our June 2017 Baltic Cruise on the Crown Princess are now finished and can be found here: Russia. This just leaves Finland, Poland, and general cruise ship-related posts to bring me up-to-date with cruise holidays we’ve taken. Phew! If I’m really lucky then I’ll get them done before our next cruise which is only a few weeks away now.

Social Media Updates

I’ve made a change to the Twitter handle of my travel-related account from Mark’s Travels to Mark & Marie Travel. This brings it more inline with many other travel accounts I follow that often list both partners and it will be interesting to see if there’s more interaction and more instigation of comments, shares, and likes now that the account name is not exclusively male. General interaction on Twitter is still poor with the overwhelming majority of people being obsessed with self-promotion and horribly transparent attempts to get freebies from companies; I had to stop following one person who regularly retweeted everyone who retweeted her own post which often led to my Twitter stream (and her own and everyone else who followed her) being a dozen or more posts, all identical. People!

I’ve logged back into Pinterest recently for the first time in probably two or three years in a bid to see whether that’s a decent driver of traffic or not. The two problems I’m seeing are that, firstly, my previous use of the site had nothing to do with travelling which means that my followers aren’t really going to be that interested in my pins right now and I’ll have to work on building up new followers who might find them of use; secondly, the text content of the pins seems to have vanished which makes the actual site far less useful (a picture of a temple doesn’t really tell me what it is, where it is, etc.) although this may end up forcing people who truly are interested in it to click the link and see more details. We’ll see. There has been some traffic from the site already and I’ll see if it picks up or not. To aid with using the site I’ve started adding pin-friendly images to my posts (you can see them at the bottom of each of the Russian travel posts at the moment) and I’ve activated a plugin that allows any image on the site to be easily pinned for people who have Pinterest accounts of their own.

Recent Reads And Views

Finally, here are a few things I’ve been reading or watching recently related to travelling.

I absolutely love watching Kara and Nate‘s travel adventures around the world and their recent posts from India look to have been a challenge to their digestive systems. In this particular video from Varanasi, however, that might have been a blessing in disguise as the revelations towards the end about the dangers of travelling should never be overlooked.

Crete’s Archaeological Site of Aptera shows that there’s not just Minoan history on the island and looks like exactly the sort of historical ruins we were hoping to see when we visited the very disappointing Knossos a few years back. It’s not particularly close to the cruise port but if we were visiting Crete again this is something we’d look into doing.

Our night at Hotel Czocha Castle is a lovely review with some gorgeous photos of a hotel in southwest Poland. We’ve been recently looking at taking a cheap flight with weekend break somewhere in Europe and Poland has been on our radar so this was definitely food for thought.

Two reviews of two different cruise ships from two different lines by two different pairs of people I follow on Twitter now. P&O Britannia Cruise Review by Gavin and Luke is the first review; Majestic Princess Preview Cruise 31st March 2017 by Sandra and Chris is the second. They make interesting reading because both vessels are derived from the Royal-class with modifications and our own experience on one of those, the Royal Princess, wasn’t brilliant. The differences between P&O and Princess, though, and in particular the differences between the Royal and Majestic make both ships sound surprisingly appealing to us. We’re going to have to give this particular class another try at some point, clearly.

Finally, a recent review of the Diamond PrincessExperiencia y Valoración del Diamond Princess: Pros y Contras – which, as you may have already guessed, is in Spanish. Translation services online are readily available and do a pretty good job these days. This was an Australia and New Zealand cruise and the reason it was interesting was that Diamond Princess was not only our first cruise ship but we’re also getting back on her later this year for another Asian trip. The review is one that makes me happy to see the service and food are still as good as ever and it provides some balanced criticism of the time in ports on this particular itinerary that are good to see as it’s an area of the world we’ve not yet visited.

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