Red, White or Blue – What’s the Choice for You?

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School break, in our experience, has always been quite difficult to plan. It’s a holiday, so naturally one wants to take the family away, but for a holiday it’s just not long enough. So, what does one do, and where does one look, when planning a break to de-stress from the New Year? Let us share with you some of our insights…

White is for Skiing!

A great bonding experience for active families, with endless outdoor thrilling adventures! However, it may be over budget as 80% of skiing families actually book 8-months or more in advance, and now it’s really tricky to get good value for money.

Checking on 1st January 2014, we found availability for 15th February 2014: Chalet Les Arcs on ‘chalet board’ from £1,108.00pp, so about £4,432.00 for a family of four. And that excludes ski packs and passes! (Allowing for £1k to £2k…)

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Blue is for the Caribbean!

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Again holidays to the region are at the high end of the budget, but there are ‘value’ buys out there. For example, a deal for a family of four:

Date: 15th February 2014 Resort: Smugglers Cove, St Lucia Details: 7-nights All Inclusive, departing from Gatwick Price from…£8,031.00 total

You can also include a ‘Learn-to-Dive’ Package from £320.00pp or a 5-Day Dive Package from £230.00pp. The weather makes it a popular choice with average water temperatures of 23°C, air temperatures at an average high of 27°C and an average of 1.9 inches of rainfall.

Unfortunately, charter flights to the more affordable Caribbean destinations are mainly midweek. So, if you have to travel at the weekend, some of the best and most affordable destinations are ruled out like the Dominican Republic and Cancun, which are half the price of St Lucia!

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Red is for the Red Sea!

Everything is ‘good’ here: price, Sun, the lack of rain…To give you an idea, take a look at the following example for a family of four:

Date: 15th February 2014 Resort: Sharm Resort Hotel, Sharm-el-Sheikh Details: 7-nights All Inclusive Price from…£2,100.00 total

As for the weather, in Sharm the average water temperature is 21°C, with an average air temperature of 25°C. For the sporty families, you can also include a ‘Learn-to-Dive’ Package from £255.00pp, or dive packages for the more qualified from £135.00pp.

The biggest issue is country stability, however despite the upset over the last two years, all is back to normal. There are no travel ‘advices’ in operation.

So, what’s the problem?

The Red Sea has ‘fallen from grace’, as it were; the disturbances in Central Egypt and all the news about ‘The Middle East’ has caused prices to drop drastically. 4* and 5* hotels on prime dates are selling at ½ the price of Ski holidays (before adding ski packs), and a ¼ of the price of a comparable Caribbean holiday – and they are available.

There is ample choice here, with resorts to suit every need – we explored ‘like for like’ holidays, comparing the Red Sea against other destinations. So, if you want simpler; more rustic, or can travel midweek? We have some really good deals – just enquire!

Check back in two weeks for our next blog: Family Scuba Discovery Options – a review of the best and affordable destinations to take kids for Learn-to-Dive.

See you then!

The Holy Land

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Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Red Sea, the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea – places we hear about on a daily basis at this time of year. Christmas remembers the birth of Jesus Christ, and the travelling three kings.

Is it safe? You may ask. Of course I say it is, but I am biased since my family live in Eilat. My eldest daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren run dive centres in Eilat, Israel and Taba, Egypt.

Would I go there on holiday? Yes, and I do.

The last two years have seen terrible civil disruption over the region, but it is quiet now. Tourism, most importantly, has a big role to play in bringing normality back to the unsettled communities. Moreover, visitors from afar are very welcome at this time – there is nothing more encouraging and cheering than seeing friendly faces from foreign lands.

The UK Foreign Office has relaxed the advice on Egypt and Tunisia some time back, while Israel, Jordan and North Tunisia have always been open for travel.

After the unrest, Egypt’s incredible value-for-money Nile Cruises are back on the menu and are offered with ‘Upgrade from 4* to 5*’ at no extra cost, and for single travellers we have some good news in that there is no single supplement charged! Beach Holidays to the Red Sea are better value than ever, despite the heavy air travel tax. Adventure, fishing holidays on Lake Nasser, liveaboards (boats for dives in the Red Sea) and fly drives in Jordan and Israel – they’re all back to normal.

And it is hot – actually, at this time of year, the weather is especially good for touring since it is warm. The average outdoor high at this time of year is 23°C, with the sea being a wonderfully warm 21°C or over.

You can see a sample of the best prices we have on our Red Sea Late Offers, and there are special departure to Sharm on 19th December 2013, Luxor on 23rd December 2013 and Eilat on 26th December 2013. All of them have good prices for seasonal dates.

10 Things You Don’t Know About Sicily

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Sicily is one of those rare gems of the world where you’re likely to have an experience like no other. Largest of the Italian Islands, Sicily is rich in history and culture – you wouldn’t think this idyllic retreat would harbour such charming secrets, and it’s all there for you to discover.

To start you off, though, we would like to shine a light on the following ten:

  1. Grown at the base of Mount Etna, Sicily is the home of the seedless Tarocco Blood Orange – the sweetest and most flavourful of the three types. Almonds are also a specialty, and are a staple of the Sicilian culture – being associated with love and fidelity, and symbolising good fortune; sugar-coated almonds – ‘confetti’ – are given at weddings and baptisms. You will also find them used in Sicilian cuisine, often in their delicious desserts.
  2. The island shares a volcanic complex with the Aeolian Islands, where you will find a number of smaller dormant volcanoes lining the way between Mount Etna and Mount Stromboli – both of which are currently active. There are also volcanoes off the southern coast of Sicily, including the underwater Ferdinandea and the island of Pantelleria – itself a dormant volcano. What’s more – you can hike the big three: Etna, Stromboli and Vulcano. Continue reading

Why the Red Sea for Christmas…

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The Red Sea might not be the first place that comes to mind when deciding where to migrate over Christmas; more so, perhaps, given the media coverage on the Arab Spring, which might have unsettled some travellers. However! ‘Tourists’ and travellers have been visiting the Red Sea for millennia – Moses started it! Rumour has it he was fond of water-sports and long mountain hikes.

Holiday prices to the region are affordable – I would say that you should consider the holidays as ‘a good buy’, and the UK Foreign Office has moderated the directive over travel to Egypt, allowing the region to rejoin the ranks of Israel and Jordan, who have been keenly welcoming tourists as before. This news also means that the ever popular Nile Cruises are back.

The Red Sea is rich in culture and history, with resorts catering to everyone’s needs. There’s always good climate of warm days; it’s great for kids, as a number of hotels and resorts have kids clubs and a range of activities to keep them engaged, happy and occupied. There are fabulous beaches, amazing mountain ranges and seascapes – and as for diving and snorkelling, the Red Sea has the nearest coral reef to Europe. Often dubbed ‘The Underwater Classroom of the World’, the area proves to be a great place to learn to dive, with a number of dive schools to choose from, all with fully qualified and professional staff, who are always willing to help and make sure your experiences are safe and memorable.

There are also famous sights to be seen – many with religious significance – including: St Catherine’s Monastery famous for its collection of Byzantine icons, close by is Mount Sinai, Petra the Nabataean Rose City, Jerusalem the holy city of the three Abrahamic religions, and the lowest point on Earth at 427m below sea level: the Dead Sea – it’s all there, waiting to be discovered!

Here are some offers to get you thinking…

Resort: Isrotel Royal Garden
Details: 7 nights room only for two adults and two children under 11 years, including flights.
Departure: 26th December 2013.
Price from…£953.00 per adult.

Resort: Isrotel Agamim
Details: 7 nights bed and breakfast, including flights.
Departure: 26th December 2013.
Price from…Adult: £899.00pp / Child (under 6 years): £699.00pp.

Vessel: Viking Princess Nile Cruise
Details: 7 nights full board, including flights, transfers and 10 excursions.
Departure: Various dates from 2nd December 2013 flying from Heathrow or Manchester.
Price from…£799.00pp.

Activity: Christmas House Boat Safari – Aswan to Abu Simbel
Details: 7 nights full board in 5- or 6-share.
Departure: 21st December 2013
Price from…£1,270.00pp

Activity: New Year House Boat Safari – Abu Simbel to Aswan
Details: 7 nights full board in 5- or 6-share.
Departure: 27th December 2013
Price from…£1,200.00pp

Check out more on our Red Sea Late Offers page, and read more information on Fishing Safaris and the full itineraries.

DEMA Happens Once a Year, and with it comes Good Cheer!

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Every year, the good and the great of the sub-marine world gather somewhere in the USA for the annual DEMA Dive Show.

DEMA is a traders-only event and, as you may expect, the best; the most exotic; the most adventurous, and the newest operations are launched – and, invariably, as you can imagine, they bring with them some of the best offers for worldwide diving.

Please read on for some of what we have available.
NB: All of the following offers are Liveaboard or Land Only – contact us for flight arrangements.


Destination: Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Vessel: MV Sea Hunter
Dates: 28th November to 8th December 2013
Price from: £2,803.00pp – save up to $800.00pp!

NB: There is a $245.00pp park fee to be paid locally


Destination: Yap Pacific Dive Resort
Travel between 1st December 2013 and 1st November 2014 – book by 15th December 2013 – and enjoy a choice of the following two Special Package Rates:

Package One
4 nights bed and breakfast with 3 days boat diving (6 dives)
£450.00pp double occupancy / £540.00pp single occupancy (Upgrade options available)

Package Two
7 nights bed and breakfast with 5 days boat diving (10 dives)
£773.00pp double occupancy / £927.00pp single occupancy (Upgrade options available)

To further sweeten the pot…
Pay for 7 divers, the 8th diver gets free stay, breakfast and dives!
Pay for 10 divers, the 11th and 12th divers get free stay, breakfast and dives!

Also, both packages include: NITROX, weights, weight belt, full equipment service, refreshments, transfers, taxes, Mandarin Dive, Shark Feeding and 3-Course Gourmet Welcome Dinner.


Destination: Fiji – Dive the Rainbow Reef! | Read more on Fiji!
Resort: Garden Island Resort, Taveuni
Dates: Travel by 31st March 2015 – book by 31st March 2014
Details: 7 nights with 5 days boat diving (2-tank dives), including return flights, transfers, taxes, daily continental breakfast; 2-course lunch and 3-course dinner, unlimited shore diving during shop hours and use of kayaks.
£2,251.00pp double occupancy / £2,380.00pp single occupancy. Contact us for upgrade and non-diver options.

To further sweeten the pot…
Pay for a group of 10 and get 2 free on entire package! Also includes two extra afternoon dives and a Traditional Meke dance performance and Lovo – Fijian-style barbecue – feast!

NB: Return flights are from Los Angeles to Nadi, and Nadi to Taveuni Island – contact us for flight arrangements to Los Angeles or alternatives.


Destination: Pulau Weh
Vessel: Thailand Aggressor
To celebrate the addition of this new dive destination, save up to $500.00pp – book by 30th November 2013 for the following benefits:
– Pay for 8 and get 2 free!
– Pay for 15 and get 3 free!

Also, secure 2014 rates for 2016!

Price from: £1,477.00pp in a Master or Deluxe Cabin / £1,219.00pp in Value Twin Cabin


Destination: Malpelo Island
Vessel: MV Yemaya
Dates: 9th to 19th February 2014
Details: 10 nights / 7 days diving – save up to 30%!

Price from: £2,009.00pp Master Cabin 1 / £1,964.00pp Master Cabin 2 / £1,892.00pp Standard w/ Private Bathroom / £1,670.00pp Standard w/ Shared Bathroom

NB: Additional costs as follows:
– Malpelo National Park fees: $90.00pp, per day (6 days)
– Nitrox: $100.00pp
– Fuel surcharge if Brent oil is over $100.00 15 days prior to departure