Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Cruise and stay with Escape Worldwide ⛴🛳

Cruises are amongst the most popular types of holidays at the moment, effortlessly taking you to different destinations throughout your trip - without the need to keep packing & unpacking! Settle in to your ship and wait for the world come to you, ideally with a good book and a gin & tonic. 
At Escape Worldwide we tend to focus on Cruise & Stay Holidays, with the cruise as part of your trip but with a whole load more included too. Invariably you’ve flown to your departure port, so rather than heading straight from the airport to the port we’ll include a few days to explore the destination - places such as Singapore, New Orleans, Cape Town, and Dubai deserve more time than just passing through. After you’ve disembarked we can take you on to another location to round off your trip - a beach resort, perhaps, or another city. Fly onwards from Singapore to Bali or Phuket, take a train from New Orleans to Memphis, pick up a rental car as you return to Cape Town and head to the Winelands, or transfer to the beaches of Ras Al Khaimah or Fujairah from the port at Dubai.

Cruise ships and cruise lines vary enormously, so it’s vital to make sure you’re on board a ship that’s going to suit you. There’s been a plethora of mega-ships launched in recent years, with anything up to 2750 cabins onboard - perfect if you want a huge array of dining options, round the clock entertainment and more leisure activities than you can cope with. If the thought of a mega-ship terrifies you then there are options that are altogether more personal & boutique in style, with fine dining & intimate entertainment, often focusing on smaller ports. 


From family-friendly to adult-only, terribly British to truly international, great value to simply luxurious, there’s a huge variety of cruise ships, cruise lines and destinations available.

Escape Worldwide - Home of Long Haul Holidays

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

The stunning Indian Ocean.....Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles and more! 😎🏖☀

The islands of the Indian Ocean are surprisingly varied, ranging from cultural melting pots to dots on the horizon - it’s important to pick the right one for you! The gorgeous islands of the Maldives are probably the most beautiful beach destination we’ve ever been to - picture postcard stuff, and then some! Each resort is an island in its own right, and as you can't really get off your island it’s important to make sure that your resort is ideal for you.

The Maldives is perfect for relaxation and gentle activity - if it’s sightseeing and culture you’re after, you’re in the wrong place! Water based activities are popular - if you want decent snorkelling and diving (it’s world-class here) then look for an island with a house reef, or if you prefer to potter in the shallows with a good book and a glass of sauvignon blanc (we’re definitely the latter!) then you need an island with a lagoon. Some resorts come with hefty price tags, so it’s important to get things right!

Beautiful Mauritius is a great option if you like to get away from it all, but still with a few things to see and do outside of your hotel - it’s a larger island with more to it than just beautiful beaches. We love colourful Port Louis, the small capital which has great markets and a local feel, and the nearby Pamplemousses Gardens are a must for anyone with an interest in local flora. Combine Mauritius with the likes of Dubai or Cape Town for something a little different.    

The tiny islands of the Seychelles are spread over a vast area, and are truly in the middle of nowhere. Tiny Mahe is the main island and where most visitors head to, but for us a spot of island hopping is essential. Take the ferry to nearby Praslin or a short flight to the likes of Silhouette island or La Digue. It’s a very relaxed part of the world where the emphasis is on the environment - All Inclusive hotels aren’t really found here to encourage you to explore and use local restaurants.

Escape Worldwide - Home of Long Haul Holidays 

Friday, 7 June 2019

We adore South Africa......

We ADORE South Africa! It really has to be one of the most spectacular countries on the planet, with dramatic scenery at every turn - add in fabulous wildlife, great cities, a lovely climate (rarely too hot, rarely too cold) and some of the best food & wine (we’re easily swayed!) anywhere, and it’s easy to see why South Africa is one of our favourite places!

All South Africa trips should take in CapeTown at some point - talk about an incredible city! The setting is stunning, with Table Mountain as its backdrop, plus there’s loads to see and do. We love the hop-on hop-off buses that will take you to all of the main sights, including the beaches of Camps Bay and the seals of Hout Bay. Be sure to head down to the Cape Peninsula – dramatic scenery, incredible flora & fauna, and all just a short drive form the city. South Africa is perfect for a Fly-Drive holiday, or we can also arrange an Escorted Tour, or just a few days in a couple of locations with transfers included if you prefer not to drive. Driving is easy, though, and this is where South Africa really comes in to its own.

One of the most famous drives is the classic Garden Route, but there are many ways to take in this area - we love including a bit of the Karoo region with its barren landscapes and quirky towns. And don’t get us started on the Winelands – anywhere that has a hop-on hop-off tram for wine tasting is top of our list! 

South Africa is also home to some excellent wildlife too, with Kruger National Park leading the way plus numerous private game reserves offering easy game viewing coupled with impressive accommodation options - anyone for safari tents with private plunge pools?! All in all it’s the diversity and natural beauty that makes South Africa so special - plus it’s great value for money, and did we mention the wine?! It’s a big country so don't try to do too much in one go, but we’re sure that you’ll be planning your return trip to take in another area of the Country before you’ve even got home!

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Home of Long Haul Holidays

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Our Top Trips in 2018 - Mark in Australia

We're continuing our look back at our teams travels this week - Mark visited Australia on an epic three-state trip, starting in Sydney, moving to Victoria and driving most of the Queensland Coast in a campervan - here's a quick look at the highlights of his Aussie adventure. . . .

Starting in Sydney

The first time I visited Australia was 27 years ago as an 18-year old backpacker, but I'm always excited to go back - it's one of the most diverse, incredible countries on the planet. As with many visits Down Under I started in Sydney, which is a very easy city to get to grips with - for me, if you stay anywhere between Central Station and Circular Quay you can't go too far wrong, and it's such as easy place to explore. I stayed right in the middle of Sydney at the Grace Hotel, which has pretty much everything you want to see within a 20 minute walk - I took in the Sydney Tower Eye, Darling Harbour and the amazing Sydney Opera House, all on foot.

One of my highlights of my stay in Sydney was a trip to the  fabulous Taronga Zoo , located across the harbour from the city centre - one of the best aspects of a visit here is the journey, taking a ferry from under the Harbour Bridge and past the Opera House - spectacular! The zoo itself is home to a superb array of animals, with plenty of indigenous Australian wildlife - a great place to start an Aussie adventure!

Melbourne & Victoria
A quick flight took me from Sydney to Melbourne, which is such a likeable city - OK so there's no iconic Opera House or Harbour Bridge, but it's all about the lifestyle here, with superb restaurants and funky bars, amazing wines & beers, and fresh local produce. I stayed close to the excellent Queen Victoria Market at the City Tempo Apartments - staying in an apartment for a few days if you're on a longer trip is a great idea as they come with handy laundry facilities! I spent a great few days enjoying Melbourne - including a fair few beers at my new favourite Victoria pub, the quirky Ponyfish Island, in the middle of the Yarra River!

Victoria is one of the best Australian states for exploring by car, with a landscape that changes constantly and not quite the epic distances of some of the larger states. It's a very easy drive down to Lorne, for example, which is the start of the iconic Great Ocean Road, one of the world's most famous drives - spend a few days heading along the coast to Warrnambool to take in the stunning scenery, before looping back inland to the gorgeous Grampians National Park.

Driving through Queensland
Back in 1991 I spent 6 months in Queensland, working in a supermarket on the Gold Coast and camping throughout the state, so I've always had a soft spot for this part of the country. This time I decided to hire a campervan and drive from Cairns in the north all the way down to Surfers Paradise in the south - almost 2000 km, and I only had a week! A campervan is a great way to explore the more rural areas of Australia, although it's not always the cheapest way of doing it - but pulling up at a beachside park and cracking open a beer to watch the sun set is truly special.

From Cairns I took a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef, which is a 'must do' for any visitor - I'm not a great swimmer and certainly not a diver, so I travelled to Quicksilver's platform at Agincourt Reef, which caters brilliantly to everyone from qualified divers to those who don't even want to get their feet wet - underwater viewing rooms, submarines, easy snorkelling and advanced diving are all available here - I even took a helicopter trip over the Reef, which was just amazing!

As you travel through Queensland you can see the landscape changing from the tropical north to the sugar cane plantations further south - you really get a sense of just how big Australia is! Highlights for me included the gorgeous Whitsunday Islands (OK, so the weather was having an off day and the world's most beautiful beach - Whitehaven - was in torrential rain!) and a return trip to the Gold Coast, to catch up with old friends. Lots of Brits have connections to Australia, so it's a great excuse to visit the country to pop in on old friends!

I'm a huge fan of Australia and this trip was packed with highlights and memories - for me it's one of the best countries anywhere for a driving adventure, and I'm already planning my next visit!

Escape Worldwide - Home of Long Haul Holidays

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Karen in New York, Miami & Las Vegas

We're having a look back at some of our favourite travels from last year - Karen headed to the USA, visiting New York, Miami and Las Vegas, on an action-packed trip. Here's a quick look at the highlights of her visit State-side . . . .

I've been to various parts of the States before, but this was my first trip to New York - it's one of those cities that's so well known on TV and in films that you kind of feel that you know it already, so it did feel like I was on a movie set at times - or at least in an episode of Friends! 

I chose to stay close to Penn station as I was taking the train to my next destination - the Wyndham New Yorker is in such a handy location, plus I love the Art Deco feel of the place. I used the hop-on hop-off buses quite a bit - what a great way to get around and to take in all the main sights - plus I took a cruise out towards the Statue of Liberty, which was fab! There's so much to see and do that you could go back time and time again and see new things, but as this was my first trip to the Big Apple there were some basics I wanted to do - the Empire State Building, Central Park and One World Trade Center were top of my list.

I also wanted to catch some sport and take in a bit of nightlife, but being short of time I tried to combined the two - being an avid Liverpool fan I managed to watch one of their matches at the fantastic Carragher's Bar in Midtown Manhattan, but given the time difference the match started at 8 am so the 'nightlife' aspect didn't quite work out. Still, it's beer o'clock somewhere in the world - and at least the Reds won!

I then took the train from New York to Miami - we book a lot of holidays with trains in the US but not normally this route as it's around 30 hours, but as I was travelling with my husband and he's a train nut, I didn't really have the choice! Thankfully it was great fun - we had a fab little cabin - and it was fascinating to see the US countryside pass by. If you're interested in travelling by train in the US just give me a call and I can tell you all about it!

I love Miami - I hadn't expected it to be quite so entertaining! It has to be one of the best places for people-watching I've ever been to - anywhere! We spent an enjoyable few days just watching the world go by in South Beach - Miamians love to see and be seen, so we took a seat in a bar with a view and sat back to take it all in! I was lucky enough to stay at the iconic Fontainebleu Hotel, a gorgeous Art Deco property set right on the beach - it's a resort in itself so there was barely any need to leave, but with so much going on in Miami we took the opportunity to explore. It's an amazing place, and the architecture in South Beach is fabulous - a great place for a lazy day of mooching (and people-watching!)

I also visited Las Vegas, a city that's been on my wish list for some time - and I wasn't disappointed! What an incredible place - such a buzz!  I was treated to a stay at the new-look Park MGM (if it's good enough for Lady Gaga's residency then it will suit me just fine!) and as it's in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip the location is perfect for taking in this incredible city - it really is like nowhere else I've ever been to!

 One of my highlights of my stay in Vegas was taking a hot air balloon ride over the city and Red Rock Canyon - seeing Vegas from the peaceful surrounds of a balloon was really magical, and as you drift away from the city and in to the stunning scenery close by, you start to see a different side to Nevada - Las Vegas makes a great place to start or end a driving trip through Nevada, Arizona & California, rather than just being a party town in the desert (although my big night out at Hakkasan Club at the MGM Grand was a bit on the legendary side and would have been worth the trip to Vegas on it's own!)

My USA trip finished with a helicopter flight over The Strip - what a way to finish an amazing itinerary!

Escape Worldwide - Home of Long Haul Holidays

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Our Top Trips in 2018 - Darren in Bali & Java

As 2019 gets underway we've been having a look back at our favourite trips of 2018 - we love to travel at Escape Worldwide, and one of Darren's favourite trips last year (there were many to choose from!) was to Indonesia, taking in the islands of Bali and Java. Here's a quick look at his highlights . . . .

​I've been to Bali a number of times over the years, but this time I also visited a totally new place for me, the neighbouring island of Java. On Bali I based myself in the lively resort of Seminyak - probably my favourite part of the island - but explored all the main resorts. When I say 'explored' I actually mean 'bar-crawled' - there's no better way to get to know a place!

Seminyak has a real buzz to it, with loads of restaurants and bars, but it's not as lively as Kuta. For me the reason I love Seminyak is for sunsets - grab a beanbag on the beach and a cold Bintang beer, and watch the sun set in spectacular style. The next evening I headed down to Jimbaran, towards the south of the island, which has a very different feel - it's much more relaxed than Seminyak, with a glorious stretch of beach and loads of local seafood restaurants  dotted along the shore. For a few Pounds I had an incredible meal, with my feet in the sand sitting under the stars.
My final stop was in Sanur, on the east coast - so no spectacular sunsets - but for me this resort is ideal if you like a buzz, but not too late night partying. There's a string of places to eat and drink along the beach footpath, with low prices and plenty of choice. I had a fabulous meal at Cafe Bamboo, set right on the beach. All of Bali's beach resorts are very different so it's important to get the right one for you - if you're not sure which, just ask me!

For me Bali really becomes special as you head away from the coastal resorts and start to explore the interior a little - this is where  you really start to see the uniqueness of the island's culture, and the beauty of its scenery. I drove through the countryside passing through small villages, many of which were gearing up for a festival that evening - there's always something to celebrate on Bali! On the way up to Bali there's a string of small villages, each of which specialises in a particular craft - woodwork in Mas, wind chimes in Sukawati and silver jewellery in Celuk. I'm not allowed to buy any crafts on my trips any more (I got banned after an incident with a giraffe carving in Kenya) but it's a great place to window shop!

Ubud itself is a small town in the hills, but the Ubud 'area' takes in gorgeous scenery of rice terraces and river gorges of the surrounding countryside. The town is packed with restaurants, shops and galleries, but for me it was the tranquility of the countryside that really stood out. I visited the friendly Wapa Di Ume Resort, set just outside the town itself and surrounded by beautiful scenery - as soon as you arrive you feel relaxed (the food here is amazing!) There are plenty of hotels in this area, and a few days away from the coast will really show you a different side to the island.

For me the highlight of this trip was Java, an incredibly diverse island of stunning scenery, energetic cities and an incredible history. I travelled overland from Bali to Yogyakarta in Central Java, travelling via Mount Bromo on the way.

Mount Bromo is an active volcano and probably the most spectacular place I've ever been - although to do it justice you have to see the mountain as the sun rises, so it involves a 3 am start (after an 11 hour drive to get there!) Mount Bromo smoulders away and is one of three volcanoes standing in the vast crater that's 10 km across. After sunrise I climbed up to the rim of the volcano itself (seemed like a good idea at the time!), at which point you can really feel the ferocity of it.

From Mount Bromo it was another epic journey through Java to the city of Yogyakarta, the heart of the island and a city rich in culture & history. Yogya is fascinating, but for me the highlights were just outside the city - two phenomenal temple complexes that really took my breath away! Borobudur is the world's largest Buddhist monument and it straddles a whole hillside, with its 500 or more Buddha statues gazing serenely over the surrounding countryside. Nearby is Prambaban, one of the largest Hindu temples in South East Asia, with the 1200 year old structures telling stories of their era.

I've been to Bali a number of times before but it's such a vibrant island and there's always somewhere new to discover. Java came as a bit of a surprise, and I'd say that it was my highlight of the year. Including Yogyakarta in an itinerary is surprisingly straightforward and I'd highly recommend it to anyone!

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