I know it’s the national obsession but I can’t seem to avoid talking about the weather during our alleged summer of 2012.
I know we should not be surprised, but it’s a subject that naturally crops up in every conversation as the UK is shrouded in what seems like global watering.
Wimbledon fortnight just about survived thanks to the centre court’s retractable roof but there have been scores of events in my part of the country which have been completely rained off.
It’s such a disappointment knowing how much effort has been put into organising the various village fetes and shows. Last weekend’s local barbecue was canned due to the torrential rain and we ended up having people around for impromptu supper at home.
The Isle of Wight Festival turned in to a quagmire and those camping at the Larmer Tree Festival up the road from me in Wiltshire at the weekend will have needed their umbrellas.
I’m certain I’m not alone in having disappointed children after their school sports day was cancelled because the playing field was waterlogged, although some parents were visibly showing sighs of relief at avoiding the adult races.
Incredibly the rain held off as we had the Olympic Torch run through our village last Thursday but sure enough the skies opened again shortly afterwards drenching runners later as the relay travelled on through Dorset to Weymouth.
With the Olympic Games now just a week away, I hate to think what it will be like shrouded in dark clouds and storms.
It just feels so grim and wintery. I’ve even resorted to lighting the woodburner in the evening to take the edge off the never ending dampness.
Time to escape
However, the seemingly permanent gloom is having one beneficial knock-on effect. Everyone is just getting so thoroughly fed up they want to get away to the sun, and that’s proved be a welcome bonus for travel companies in general and cruise lines in particular.
My industry contacts tell me that there has been a perceptible uplift in bookings over the past few weeks as school holidays approach and people want to escape the dreadful British climate.
Fly-cruises to the Mediterranean as well as departures from UK ports on ships sailing anywhere to the sun are attracting interest.
My brief experience on board Carnival Cruise Lines’ new ship Carnival Breeze between Barcelona and the port of Rome last month proved just how valuable even a few days away from the unremitting rain can be. Admittedly I was working to review the ship, but the feeling on sun on deck was such a bonus, it made life seem worth living again.
Given that July is more like November and you feel as washed out as the weather, how to escape?
What’s on offer
Here are a few options available for this summer at www.virginholidayscruises.co.uk
• Norwegian Cruise Line’s mega ship Norwegian Epic, complete with water slides, multiple dining options, comedy shows, a blues bar and outdoor film screen, is running seven-night departures from Barcelona around the western Med. Parents with young children probably won’t see them the entire time they’re on board given all the activities available while single passengers have their own dedicated area and cabins.
• Celebrity Cruises’ ultra-cool Celebrity Eclipse is in its third summer of sailing from Southampton. Perfect for couples and those looking for rejuvenation, fine food and wines, the ship resembles a chic upmarket hotel and comes complete with a vast spa, an ice-topped Martini bar, funky Qsine restaurant where iPads are used as menus and a lawn club perfect for catching up on the latest best-seller. Sister ship Celebrity Equinox is offering fly-cruises from the port of Rome to the Greek islands and Turkey.
• Norwegian Jade sailing out of Venice around the Greek islands is smaller than Epic but still has plenty of bars and restaurants, a children’s pool, café and club together with a spa and fitness centre.
• Royal Caribbean International’s Serenade of the Seas is running 12-night fly-cruises from Barcelona providing a fun escape ideally suited to families with a whole range of facilities and onboard activities including an Adventure Beach area for children and a nursery for babies and toddlers.
• For the ultimate children’s adventure, combine an Orlando theme park visit with a cruise with either Disney Cruise or Royal Caribbean International.
• The classic Med cruise is offered by classy laid back US line Princess Cruises from the port of Rome to Venice via the Greek islands and Split in Croatia over 12 nights on board Crown Princess.
• Last but not least, Carnival Breeze is running 12-night sailings between Venice and Barcelona in its maiden season. I’ve already raved about the ship and highly recommend it for families with children of all ages who will just love the water park, ropes course, 5D cinema and sports facilities. And that’s not to mention the vast choice of food and exemplary service.
These are just a taster of the kind of getaways still available for this summer. And for those of you not wanting to miss the Olympics, most lines have arranged to screen the main events live.
I’m especially glad I’ve booked my week’s cruise around Italy next month as I’m fed up having to wear waterproofs and boots whenever I leave the house. Bring on the REAL summer.
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