Site Changes

The obvious first site change is the addition of floating links to the left of the screen. The first two are shortcuts to the image and review portfolio items for cruises and general travel. The last two are links to the list of recent blog posts and the tags page. Those same links have been removed from the sidebar menu to avoid duplication.

The middle link heads off to the new aggregated feeds page which is a throwback to my very early days on the internet crafting websites (you probably don’t know my long history on the net but one of the things I used to live for was RSS aggregation; I created plugins, had a very popular aggregating site, helped out dozens of other website owners (and TV presenters, but no name-dropping) around the world). Back in the day (insert wibbly wobbly time effect here) linking to and pulling in content from other people to keep your site fresh with relevant content was all the rage; that’s changed into a publish and yell about it model that fuddy duddy me tuts and shakes his head at.

The plugin I’m using for this is a reasonably-featured, free one I’ve picked up via WordPress (WPRSS Aggregator) and it has payable extensions to improve it by grabbing extracts, images, etc. but I’ll probably end up crafting my own solution for those features (plus some others I’m considering) in due course as gaining knowledge of plugins and the WordPress architecture won’t be wasted effort.

The aggregated feeds are all travel-related as you’d imagine and I’ll always be on the lookout for more sources; if you’ve got a suitable blog with reasonably regularly-updated content and a functioning feed (there were some sources of people I follow on Twitter who didn’t have anything I could parse) then feel free to let me know in private or public.

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In exciting news I’ve finally caught up with all the portfolio posts about every cruise we’ve been on (just before we head off for another one) which means I can start diving back into some of the general travels still not covered (of which there are a great many) and add them periodically too. You can read the overview of that cruise and get links to the various ports of call in the previous blog post here: Crown Princess Baltic Cruise Review.

Social Media

The big news is that I’ve launched a Facebook page.

Mark & Marie’s Travels

This came about as a result of chatting with a few people on Twitter about engagement. The general consensus is that the two big drivers of traffic are Facebook and Pinterest; the latter is mostly for brand awareness and where it’s used in pinning groups which doesn’t really suit what I’m trying to achieve; the former attracts friends and family for the most part. Neither are ideal – I’d like to be of use to people interested in cruising, travelling, and possibly photography too, and I have zero interest in earning money through advertising or affiliation nor is my goal to see which company’s PR people I can convince to give me free stuff – but Facebook’s page option seems to fit the bill a little better.

Initial impressions from a very small number of people who have liked the page (I’ve not invited anyone because I want it to be organic and not out of a sense of duty) is that it does indeed generate traffic and considerably more than from any other platform. I’ve made sure to add tags to anything posted in order to ensnare anyone using Facebook’s search and I’ve no intention of boosting any post right now despite urges from the behemoth company to do so every single day.

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I quite often notice things wrong with posts people make (bad links, wrong images, wrong information; not simple spelling mistakes or anything like that) and generally try to be helpful and point out issues where I can. I’ve done this probably a dozen times over the past few months and am pleased to say that the number of people thanking me has reached the giddy heights of two now. For those that didn’t (and in one case a couple of prominent vloggers simply deleted my comment and fixed the issue without acknowledgement) I’m now no longer following or engaging with them. I know that the vast majority of people I see on these platforms are selfishly self-promoting and trying to stroke their ego with follower counts without ever really giving back but would it hurt to be polite?

On The Internet

A couple of plugs for sources of interesting travelling posts, both of which I’m now aggregating and people I recommend following on whatever platform you prefer if you like to read good content:

  • Brits On A Ship – Very engaging couple of avid cruisers who are currently on the Norwegian Bliss inaugural cruise and posting daily updates. I’ll link here to the Day 5 diary entry which covers trying out the silent disco experience on board ship: News from the Norwegian Bliss Inaugural Transatlantic Day 5
  • Ramble On – An Irish couple who decided to move to Crete for a year and document their experiences. They’ve only recently arrived so content is light at the moment and mostly covers their journey just getting to the Greek island. Here’s their stop in Ancona which looks like it’s my kind of place to visit at some point.

A couple of other recent reads coming up now.

Firstly, an Instagram post by someone who lives very close to us and whose posts are typically about dating, lifestyle, etc. although there are plenty of great travel accounts too. This particular post covers body weight and health and is a great, positive read: Rainy Bay, BMI.

Secondly, here’s a guest post on The Cruise Blogger‘s site from a P&O crew member’s diary of a world cruise aboard Arcadia. World Cruise Diary Part 4 covers the overland Chinese excursion offered on the cruise and, of course, that brought back a lot of great memories of our own time on the Great Wall, in Tiananmen Square, exploring the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, and the unforgettable Temple of Heaven too.

Finally for this update here’s a video of Canadian travel agent Don taking a Princess Cruises shore excursion that didn’t live up to the hype or the cost, and him politely getting a partial refund.

The featured image for this post comes from our excursion down the Beagle Channel just over two years ago.

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