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Top Ten Tips For Your First Cruise

Is a cruise something you have always considered? A first time cruise is always exciting but if you have never cruised before you may feel a little overwhelmed with everything. Here are my ten top tips for your first cruise.

1. Save money when you can

If you are looking to go on your first cruise, you will want to ensure you are getting the best value for your money. Why not look for a last minute cruise ship deal? You can find some really good deals for great prices with a little bit of research.

2. Pick a room that suits

People often say to pick one in the middle of the ship, especially if you feel you may suffer from seasickness. Being situated here means you are close to the ship's attractions but not so high that you’ll feel every rock of the boat. You may also want a room with a balcony so you can sit outside and take in the views. If you have the money or are celebrating a special occasion, a luxury suite may be on your agenda too. Pick a room that suits you, your circumstances and your budget.

3. Make an itinerary

It is always a good idea to have a plan of what you want to do on the cruise. Whether you want to spend plenty of time on board sampling the facilities such as spa, pool and so on, or visit some of the different ports, create a personal itinerary for you, so you always know where you stand.

4. Think about money

How you manage your money is something you seriously need to consider when going on a cruise. Some cruises operate a cashless system where you use a card onboard which charges everything to your account. Some use a specific type of currency such as dollars. You will also need to consider buying the currency of the places where you may be stopping. You may have a package where drinks are included on board or you may have to pay for drinks separately so allow for that too.

5. Research the ports

If you know you will be stopping off in various ports,  research what things you want to do whilst there in the time you have. Are you exploring on your own or with an organised excursion? If you are paying for excursions budget for this if they are not included.

6. Research the ship

Cruise ships have so much to do on them - why miss out on anything if you can help it? By checking out the ship, you will know exactly what there is to do and what is expected of you as a guest. I find watching YouTube videos from channels focusing on cruises like Tips For Travellers beneficial. Check out if there is a Captains dinner, check out the entertainment on the ship, check out the facilities of the room and so on. Also, you may need to make reservations for shows on the big cruise ships so think about what you want to see before you get there.

7. The tipping culture

Another thing to consider money wise is tips. Some cruise lines do not ask or expect tips and build such things into the prices. Others allow tips in cash and some charge a gratuity. Do some research before you go to see what your cruise line does and budget accordingly.

8. Make sure you have a carry on with essentials

So when you get to your ship, you won’t get your luggage straight away when you’ve boarded - just think about how many passengers there will be, all waiting for their luggage too. Pack a bag with the essentials to keep you going until it arrives.

9. Let everyone off first

Why waste time standing in a queue to disembark at a port when you can have a bite to eat and drink as you watch the queue dissipate, especially if you are exploring on your own? Wait for the queues to die down and then disembark.

10. Have fun!

Finally, have fun! There is so much to think about when going on a cruise but the most important thing to enjoy yourself. Immerse yourself in the activities and visit the ports, there is so much to see and do you will never be bored.

Have you ever been on a cruise? Where would you like to visit on a cruise ship?

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Father's Day Gift Guide With The Gift Co

Father's Day is slowly creeping up upon on, and you may have bought the same sort of gift every year. So where do you look for Father's Day inspiration? Well, one place you can look is here! Today I have a Father's Day gift guide for you from the website The Gift Co. The Gift Co sells a range of personalised items for everyone and they have a great selection for dads everywhere. Here is my choice of the best items for Father's Day from The Gift Co.

For the cyclist dad

Personalised bicycle travel bottle £19.99

If your dad is into cycling, what about this water bottle? Stylishly designed in matt black and stainless steel, this water bottle will keep drinks hot or cold for an extended period of time, which is perfect for hydration after a long cycle. It's also spill proof too. A great gift for the exercise enthusiast dad.

For the sentimental dad

Personalised daddy and me photo frame £9.99

I really love this daddy and me photo frame from The Gift Co. Made with an oak veneer finish, it would be a cute gift especially if you insert a photo of you and your dad. It's easy to personalise too which is free of charge and it's also pocket money prices at £9.99. A lovely gift any dad would cherish.

For the gourmet dad
Personalised head chef apron £12.99

The perfect gift for the dad who likes cooking, this 'head chef' apron will keep his clothes clean when he cooks dinner. Made from an easy to care for polycotton mix, with a chef's hat design and the words Head Chef printed permanently, the apron can also be printed with a name of your choice up to 12 characters. 

For the dad who likes a tipple

Personalised initials black hip flask £12.99

This classic black hip flask makes a cool gift for a sophisticated dad. In a silk lined presentation box and with a funnel attachment to fill it easily, this black hip flask would make a great gift for the dad who likes a drop of whiskey, vodka or rum. The design is made out of stainless steel and it's a quality gift that won't break the bank. You can also personalise it with two initials as well. A great gift for a stylish dad.

For the dad that likes to fish

Personalised fishing travel mug £14.99

If your dad likes to fish this personalised fishing travel mug would be perfect for him. It's hardwearing and durable and has a lid designed to reduce spillage. This travel mug will keep dad's hot and cold drinks at the correct temperature when he sits and fishes. With a decent 400 ml capacity, and the ability to personalise the mug just for him, I think any fishing mad dad would love this.

For the chocolate loving dad

Personalised worlds best chocolate bar £5.99

There are not many dads that hate chocolate so a personalised chocolate bar for dad would be a lovely little gift. At pocket money prices, it's a gift that can be given by little ones and big ones too as an extra present. You can also personalise this gift with any name as well as a message on the back.

So these are my picks of the best present for Father's Day from The Gift Co. With a dedicated UK based customer service team and express delivery available to your door, what have you got to lose when choosing a perfect present for dad this Father's Day from this company?

Let me know, what item would you pick for your father. What do you normally give dad on Father's Day.

How to Work Out Which Perfume is Right for You

There are many different fragrances out there. Head into any perfume shop, and you’ll notice shelf upon shelf of scents; from designer offerings to celebrity-endorsed options. Not only is it virtually impossible to know which to select, but it’s also tricky to understand the terminology. With that in mind, here are some useful tips.

Understanding perfume, and choosing the perfect one for you

  • Firstly, you’ll probably have noticed that there are all sorts of different words for perfume.
  • Perfume. If a fragrance is called a perfume, that means it’s got a high concentration of ingredients. It lasts longer than other scents, and as such, is the most expensive to buy.
  • Eau de parfum. Eau de parfum is still a high-quality product, but contains a slightly lower concentration of ingredients, so it’s a little bit cheaper.
  • Eau de toilette. This is the next level down, which means it’s more reasonably priced, but won’t last quite as long.
  • Eau de cologne. Eau de cologne is weaker still, and tends to be only splashed on to add some temporary scent.

What ingredients? 

  • Fruity aromas. If you’re in love with more natural beauty, look for perfumes with fruity notes. Plenty of fragrances are citrus-based, for example (like Neroli Portofino), and some feature apple, such as Creed Aventus. These scents are often fresh, invigorating and ideal for day-time wear.
  • Floral scents. Floral-dominant perfumes tend to be reserved for feminine fragrances (though some masculine scents use them too). Common floral ingredients tend to be lavender, rose (Velvet Rose and Oud is a great example), jasmine or violet. Coco Mademoiselle is a good example of a fragrance that uses floral notes in an updated, interesting way.
  • Exotic aromas. Exotic scents immediately take you to the Far East or Middle-East, with scents such as oud oil, sandalwood, patchouli or amber. They tend to be rich and intense, and ideal for evening wear – sites like Copycat Fragrances are good for searching for inspiration.
  • Unexpected notes. Some perfumes (especially contemporary ones) have unexpected ingredients, such as pink pepper, coconut, pineapple or vetiver (which smells quite grassy). If you’re looking for a signature scent, this could be a good option for you.

How to sample the right one

Work out if you’d rather have a fr
esh, fruity perfume, or something a bit more sultry and mysterious. Then, head to your nearest department store and tell them the sort of ingredients you’re looking for. A good salesperson should know their products, and thus be able to assist you. 

As it’s a treat, you should embrace the experience wholeheartedly. Take your time. Don’t, for example, try to sniff too many in quick succession, as your sense of smell will be confused! If you don’t love the idea of testing them in a shop, try ordering some sample-sized bottles from an online retailer. These often have a few applications each, providing you with the ideal chance to test them out in a range of different circumstances.

Let me know, do you have a perfume you love?

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Going Green In The Office

With such a focus on going green to help the environment in the media, it is little wonder people are looking to go green in all aspects of their life. So how can you go green in the workplace? 

I’ve been attempting to go green in every aspect of my life but sometimes I need a little guidance. When I was doing research recently into a more ecological way of life I came across Pebble magazine, a magazine about sustainable lifestyle and green living which I really enjoyed reading. I also came across research by a company called Seareach. 

Seareach, carried out a survey to find what makes your office green and which elements play an important part towards an improved workspace. These are their findings. 

Paperless – Work is stored digitally 20%
Labelled waste bins – Suitable for recycling 18%
Solar panels for electricity 14%
LED bulbs – Use less energy and more efficient 12%
Green heating 9%
Reusable bottles 7%
Bike facilities 6%
Electric car charging points 6%
Motion-triggered lights 5%
Plants and natural light 3%

So how have I gone green in the workplace? Like 20% of offices, I’ve gone paperless and chosen to store my paperwork digitally. It is very rare that I need to use paper but even if I do, I scan it in and save it digitally for the future. I then back up important documents on an external hard drive as well as Cloud storage.

We have also installed LED bulbs where possible - did you know the energy consumption of LED lights can be up to a 75% saving, compared to halogen bulbs? Although LED bulbs are more expensive initially to buy they use less energy and are cost-effective in the long run.

As my workspace is in my house, I don’t have the need for labelled recycling waste bins as it is only the three of us but I can definitely see the need for them in a large office - it certainly encourages staff to recycle.

Another way we’ve tried to go green, both in and out of our workspace, is by using reusable water bottles. We take them everywhere, filling them up wherever we can, rather than buying bottled water. Bottled water is expensive compared to tap water and I would only use bottled water in a country where the tap water was not safe.

Something I really wish to install is solar panels - these are great for the environment as they allow you to have lighting and run lower power appliances. There are many houses and businesses in my area who have made the move so it is definitely something I feel the need to move towards as I go greener in my day to day life.

The final way I’ve been going green in my office which also features in the survey is plants and natural light. I always like having plants in my office and around the rest of my home. Not only do they look good but they also help oxygenate the office - a double whammy! I’ve made sure I have plenty of natural light in my office too - I find plenty of natural light makes me feel more motivated to work.

I know I’ve still got a way to go when it comes to going green in the workplace, and in fact, my life. By reducing my energy consumption and moving towards digitally storing my paperwork, I know I’m slowly but surely getting there. How are you going green in your workplace? Do you have any things set up to help reduce and reuse?

By contributing little by little every day, we can all do our part towards creating a healthier environment. 

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Why We Love Traditional Watches In The Digital Age

Watches have come a long way since they evolved from spring-driven clocks in the 16th century to the classic and technologically advanced timepieces we know today. We have had the pocket watch, the wristwatch and the smartwatch and with the advent of the latter many thought the traditional watch would go out of fashion, but that is not the case, read on to find out why.

The history of the watch

Thought to be invented by German watchmaker Peter Henlein in Nuremberg in 1505, the first watch was a portable pomander watch designed to be worn on the body with a chain as a necklace. Henlein started a trend and pomander watches, which kept time with only an hour hand, and were made of drum-shaped cylindrical brass boxes became popular.

These portable watches were made possible by the invention of the mainspring, and kept time with a rotating balance wheel. 

Styles changed and in the 17th century, the pocket watch became popular. This made the watches flatter in style and smaller so they could fit in a pocket, and glass was used on the watch face so the time could be read easily. A watch fob attached the watch to the pocket by use of a chain or ribbon.

The first wristwatch is thought to be designed by Robert Dudley for Elizabeth 1 of England in 1571 and wristwatches were worn almost exclusively by women when men used pocket watches.  Most watchmakers produced a range of wristwatches by the mid 19th century but it wasn't until the end of the 19th century that military men wore wristwatches to help with synchronising manoeuvres. 

The watch continued to evolve with a notable point being the invention of the quartz watch in the 1960s, which ran on electricity and kept time with a vibrating quartz crystal. During the 1980s quartz watches took over the market from mechanical watches.

Today many of us have smartwatches that have the power on a small computer on our wrist, able to connect to social media, track our exercise, play music and more but there are plenty of us who still covet a traditional wristwatch.

Why we love traditional watches

Of course, a simple traditional wristwatch is a classic item that can do one thing well - tell the time at a glance and many people like that simplicity, but it is also a style statement. Fashion watches with different colour faces and straps can be matched to our clothes, the weather and even the seasons. 

When we get to more expensive luxury Swiss made watches they have many fans for a variety of reasons. We love the tradition, the craftsmanship, the heritage, the status and the nostalgia. In a world where everything evolves these traditionally made watches stand the test of time! 

The crafting of a luxury watch like a Breitling is a skill that has been learnt throughout years of training, and years of hands-on experience and watchmakers are true artisans. Handmade automatic and mechanical movements last decades. These very best watches have durability and longevity that you don't get these days with many things.  We love the nostalgia of them, how they are made by craftsmen and how precise they are. 

There is a certain status observed with a luxury traditionally made watch, and many people aspire to own a luxury watch such as a Breitling, a Rolex or an Omega. These are watches for big life events, a 21st, a 40th, retirement. These watches are also precious items, handed down over generations to pass onto their children. They are a way to stay connected to our loved ones even after our death. 

Another part of the appeal is the association with sport and a glamorous lifestyle. You only have to look at watches being marketed with film stars and sports stars as ambassadors.  Although men do wear jewellery a watch can be seen as a more acceptable item of adornment to wear as well. Men love the nerdy features of watches too and the more complicated it looks the better for most men, and you don't have to be a pilot to wear a pilot's watch.

A collection of luxury watches or a collection of any type of watch is coveted and enjoyed by many people. Men, in particular, appreciate watches as an accessory and love collecting luxury watches. taking care of them, protecting them in watch cases by The Case Farm, and servicing them regularly. The pleasure of looking after a traditional watch like this cannot be ignored.

As you can see we love traditional watches as much as ever. Let me know, do you have a traditional watch? Do you covert a luxury watch?

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5 Surprising Ways to Invalidate Your Travel Insurance

One of the greatest pleasures in life is travelling. There are several important things to prepare before travelling such as visas, itineraries, passports, accommodations, and all other trip details. One important aspect of travelling is travel insurance. There are a number of travel insurance policies available in the market today. The best travel insurance coverage will give you peace of mind, ensuring that you are protected and safe while on a trip. 

One thing that you don’t want to happen is to have void travel insurance. First time and frequent travellers sometimes overlook travel insurance claims that are invalid. How does this happen? In order to avoid these mistakes, here is a list of 5 surprising ways to invalidate your travel insurance: 

When you have a pre-existing medical condition that you fail to declare

One of the major questions that travel insurance companies ask is if you have pre-existing medical conditions. If you fail to disclose existing illnesses or medical conditions, it may invalidate your travel insurance claim. Your policy will cover unexpected medical expenses that incur while you are travelling, but it will not cover pre-existing conditions. You should also not travel when your personal physician advises against it. If you decide to ignore your doctor’s advice and still go on a trip, you will not be covered for medical expenses incurred as a result of a previously diagnosed health condition. 

When you participate in reckless or illegal behaviour

This seems pretty obvious: your travel insurance will not cover any claim that is a result of fraudulent or illegal actions while travelling. Your travel insurance will also not cover behaviour that arises from irresponsible or thoughtless actions such as ignoring rules or going to unrestricted places. 

When you fail to provide proper documentation

As a traveller, it is your responsibility to provide all the proper documentation needed for your trip. If you lack proper documentation and it results in a delayed or missed trip, you cannot reimburse expenses incurred. 

When you go to places that are dangerous

You will have void travel insurance if you decide to go to places that are deemed dangerous for travellers to go to. The World Health Organization (WHO) and your government usually give travel advice and have a list of places that are deemed dangerous to go to because of armed conflict or the presence of contagious diseases.

When you participate in extreme sports and dangerous activities

Most standard travel insurance policies do not include coverage for extreme sports and dangerous activities. However, if you pay an additional premium, you may be covered for such activities like skydiving or paragliding. You can participate in dangerous activities and still get proper coverage as long as you pay an additional premium.

In order to make sure that your travel insurance claim is not invalidated, make sure that you watch out for these things. You also need to read your policy thoroughly in order to know what is covered and what is excluded.

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