The latest in a semi-regular update about changes to the site, news and information from the social media channels, and any other bits of general business.

Site Changes

There are two new additions to the floating menu on the left of the site now.

The sixth icon now takes you to Flickr Photos which will always show the latest images I’ve uploaded onto the photo-sharing site. It’s just a basic page right now and I do have plans to make it a little prettier in time but it’s another one of those pages that will automatically update and keep the site content refreshing.

The seventh icon was inspired by something I saw Emma mentioning on Twitter, that being a random post page on her website Cruising Isn’t Just For Old People. From the looks of things she’s probably used a WordPress plugin called randomPost by Pat O’Brien. The feature is something that takes me back many, many years to this site in a former life and the random, categorised links I used to have to promote other people’s content so I thought I’d add it too. Sadly, the plugin in its native form won’t do what I need to do as the travel content is presented in a non-standard post type but the changes required were simple enough and now the lowest button on the left pops the visitor to some random cruise or travel article when clicked.

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The floating icons had introduced an annoyance in that the post content was covered on the left when viewing on narrow device widths. Subsequently, I’ve increased the left and right padding of the content on posts now in order to ensure that the text remains visible even when reading on mobile. And who knows! Maybe, one day, somebody will.

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Processing of May’s Sapphire Princess cruise photos and production of the subsequent posts has been slow, partly due to work, partly due to discovering the latter half of that cruise saw a huge amount of sensor dirt get into my camera making going through every photo to clean it up extraordinarily painful. Nevertheless, the first port is now complete and you can read and see what we did here: Guernsey. French and Spanish ports will be along soon.

Social Media News

Following the launch of a dedicated Facebook page to reduce the spamming on the platform to friends and family who may not really care for our travelling adventures quite as much as we’d love – Mark and Marie’s Travels – I decided to align my Instagram page along the same branding line (I don’t really like to use the term “branding” as I’m not a business, don’t run any ads, and don’t do this for money or glory (chance would be a fine thing)) especially in light of the fact I’ve been using it to feed updates to the page. You can now find it at if you’re an Instagram-type person and aren’t already following me.

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I’ve started cross-posting site updates to a new Facebook group called Bloggerclan and using their tag on Twitter to get retweets. To be frank I’m not a huge self-promoter (I’m very shy, don’t you know) so this doesn’t come easy to me but the group seem a friendly bunch, there have been quite a few articles from other users I’ve enjoyed reading, and it seems to work at about the right level for what I want.

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I’ve also finally joined the P&O Cruises – UK Fan Page after some time not wanting to flood my groups and liked pages on Facebook with just cruise-related options. It’s a friendly group and worth joining if you’re thinking of taking a cruise with P&O. Part of the reason I did join is that the two main admins of the site, Jamie and Gav, are good guys who I interact with regularly on Twitter and felt I probably owed it to them. The other part of the reason is…

Cruise News

We’ve booked another cruise and this one’s with P&O. We had four days left to book for this year and figured we’d probably end up taking two long weekends, one probably in the summer to break up the gap between now and our big cruise in October, and one probably late November or early December. Long weekends means short weeks either side and for people who dislike working for a living as much as we do that’s an important thing to factor in. Anyway, it just so happened that we spotted a short cruise on Arcadia coming up that falls across a long weekend very nicely indeed.

So, Arcadia will be a new ship for us, a new class of ship for us (Vista-class), and we’ve done something we’ve never done before and opted for a guaranteed cabin. We like balconies and the only ones we could choose for ourselves (because it’s a late booking) were at the high end of the balcony pricing structure and not actually in locations we favour so we figured as it’s only a three-night cruise we’d take a gamble and save some money by selecting the lowest price. We’ll still get a balcony, it’ll be a surprise where it is, but we’ve also made sure to still use P&O’s slightly higher “Select Price” in order that we can dine when we want (we’re not fans of fixed time dining) and, as this gives us some onboard credit too, we’ve used that to pre-book some specialty dining at the Marco Pierre White restaurant on the first night which is also a first for us.

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But that’s not the only cruise we’ve booked since the last update. We’ve also looked a bit further ahead and put the deposit down on a cruise that will take us from Chile to Peru, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Mexico before finishing in Los Angeles next year. We’ll be visiting four new countries. We’ll be crossing the equator. We’ve got a free excursion as part of a Princess promotion. And we’ll be back on Star Princess almost three years to the day that we disembarked her following our most incredible cruise yet, around South America. It’ll almost be like taking a cruise from Buenos Aires around the bottom of South America and up into California with just a short, 36-month break in the middle. Works for us. Fair to say, we’re pretty excited about that.

On The Internet

Finally, a few articles and videos I’ve been reading or watching recently and which have earned an outbound link from me. Such prestige!

Turkey is a country we’ve never been to and would like to because of the ancient history associated with the place. Historical places very much like this – Visiting the Ancient Ruins of Phaselis, Turkey – are what we want to see. It’s a great read, especially the concerns over allowing tourists such free access to the site, and the warnings about Russian party boats is not one you often see in travel articles.

I have been to Morocco as a kid with my family (see here: Hotel Arabian Sands, Morocco) but my wife hasn’t and it’s a place that’s got a lot of appeal. Day trip to the Atlas Mountains and Ait Ben Haddou is exactly the sort of thing that I’d love for us to do during a short break in the country at some point. Like Turkey, it’s a destination where we’re going to need to be careful about daily average temperatures when we finally visit but the sights and experiences are definitely calling to us.

This video shows what Jamie (I’ve mentioned him before) got up to in Hong Kong for four days a couple of years ago. The reason this is of interest to us is that, yes, we’ve been to Hong Kong before, but we’re also stopping off there later this year on our anniversary cruise aboard Diamond Princess. Our original plan was to do our own thing as most of the obvious tourist draws had been done already but seeing what he experienced on Lantau Island has made us reconsider this. Still weighing up options and possibilities here.

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The featured image for this post is a photo taken from the coastal walk south of Guernsey. At sea you can see the Sapphire Princess at anchor off St Peter Port.

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