Travel With Bradley


A Few Canary Island Pictures

Thanks to McDonalds Free wifi on Gran Canaria, Canary Islands here are a few pictures from our time in the Canary Islands.  We depart soon for Lisbon, Portugal – hate to leave 23C weather.  We are all enjoying this pre-Christmas cruise on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth.


Cunard Britannia Restaurant Incident – Shower Anyone?



At 815am or so while sitting in the dining room enjoying a relaxing breakfast a loud sound similar to a whistle filled the room for about 10 seconds or so and then ……….
the fire sprinkler system came on in the middle of the first sectioned the dining room and those sitting under the sprinklers soon jumped to their feet while others that didn’t move as fast ended up getting their morning shower – a “drenching” shower as the longer the sprinkler system was on the more powerful the jets of water were….

I was quick enough to get a bit of video – my nephew, Schyler would be proud of me.

The area of the dining room where the accident occurred is where the Captains Table is located – maybe the beautiful flower arrangement on his table needed some water?

They moved those of us that were in the “Shower Area” to the back of the dining room. The Maitre D’ then treated me like Royalty – he even served me personally and stopped by a number of times to make sure all was fine.

It was interesting hearing the British passengers talking afterwards – one couple said, “well at least we know the sprinkler system works” (true but there was no fire) – and another lady said she felt as though she was on the “Titanic” – that was a bit of a stretch as we were tied to the dock and the Titanic had no sprinkler system.

In Cunard fashion – nothing closes and they continued to sit people for breakfast in the dining room even though everyone had to walk over the wet carpet in order to get to the dry section of the Dining Room.



Tenerife – Thrilling Day Visiting Volcano Teide

The Canary Island named Tenerife attracts 6 million tourists a year. Tourism is the #1 industry here. This island is just a 4 hour flight from London, England.

Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth docked here at 8am this morning. After we docked the Horizon a cruise ship that Celebrity Cruise Lines owned a few decades ago passed us. I was so excited to see her – I first spotted this ship as it was sailing into port and even from a long distance away I knew it was the Horizon. The Horizon was a sister ship to the Zenith and I hosted groups on both of them at least 20 times. Back then those ships were pretty prestigious and were considered large. Of course the Queen Elizabeth towered over the Horizon today but seeing her brought back so many amazing memories.

Tenerife is the largest and most populated Canary Island. It holds one of the world’s largest carnivals in February and Carnival Santa Cruz de Tenerife is working to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Agriculture is important here too – bananas, chestnut trees, avocados and 20 varieties of potato’s are grown here (producing 3 crops a year).

The North Side of the Island is Green and the South Side is Dry.

There are 321 volcanos on this island and today the majority of us traveled 1 hour and 40 minutes to Volcano Teide. The scenery was spectacular the entire way – as we started to climb elevation soon were surrounded by Canary Pine forests but at 7000 ft and higher there was next to no vegetation. For about 20 minutes we traveled through misty clouds until we climbed passed them into sunny blue skies. It was thrilling to be higher than the cloud line.

Teide is 12198 above sea level so it often sees 10 days of snow a year but this year it only saw one. The roads at high elevation are marked with red poles to help those clearing snow.

When we reached the base of Teide temperatures dropped to -1C. I was wearing summer shorts so my passengers had lots of fun teasing me. It was a comedy of errors today – this morning when we exited the ship I was leading everyone and a gentleman from shore excursions guided me to what he thought was our coach. I handed my ticket to the tour rep at the coach and took my seat but after a few minutes he announced I was on the wrong coach – my passengers had a good laugh.

NASA studies and runs experiments at Volcano Teide as the landscape is similar to Mars.

We had a timed ticket entry to board a gondola that took us close to the peak of Teide. The gondola moved a quite the pace only taking 8 minutes to reach the peak. The gondola was large enough to carry all the passengers on our coach.

It was an exciting ride but at the top the wind was fierce and the temperatures frigid. The scenery was spectacular – very moon like.

After we got back to the ship I decided to skip a late lunch so took the complimentary shuttle into the town of Santa Cruz. It’s a fun city to roam around in but since its Sunday it was pretty quiet.

Once again temperatures reached into the 20’sC – perfect touring weather.

We enjoyed another excellent dinner tonight in the Britannia Restaurant. Tomorrow night we all look forward to our speciality dinner evening in the elegant French Restaurant – the Veranda.

Tomorrow our island tour of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria doesn’t start until 9:30am – we can sleep in!

Pristine, “Santa Cruz de La Palma”


After we left the port of Funchal, Madeira the Queen Elizabeth traveled South across the eastern edge of the Canary Basin enroute to the port of Santa Cruz de La Palma.

La Palma is the World’s steepest island – a lush, green hideaway far removed from the hustle and bustle of the better known Canary Island resorts. In its centre is one of the largest craters in the World, the Caldera de Taburiente.

This is a land of rugged beauty with superb panoramas and breathtaking contrasts of height and depth. La Palma is the most northwesterly of the seven Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

High temperatures throughout the year and an abundant rainfall, leads to luxurious vegetation. We experienced another beautiful weather day – couldn’t be better.

Santa Cruz de la Palma is the capital, chief port and the second largest town (20,000). Its known as the most elegant Canaria capital due to its many flower covered wooden balconies. The population of this island is 82,000.

Most of my group joined me on Cunard’s 4 hour Scenic Island Tour. Our guide arrived on this island in 2002 when he was 21 years old from Belgium. He came looking for a job but ended up studying Forestry at a local school and then nabbed a position working for the National Forest department.

This island has five, 4 star hotels but has not yet attracted mass tourism as its current initiative is all about agriculture not tourism. The local Black sand beaches are not as popular as white sand destinations. Bananas provide the #1 crop. Sugarcane is also grown and sugarcane juice is a popular refreshing beverage.

Our young guide feels this is a perfect place to raise his family as a Slow Life = A Good Life.

We first stopped at the impressive Iglesia de El Salvador Church one of the few building to survive the French pirates. This remote area consists of the church, their gift shop and a bar just Incase you wish a drink instead of attending service!

The views from our panoramic stops were impressive.

We traveled through a long tunnel to the drier West side of the island which is dominated by Canary Pine Trees – it was here that we entered the National Forest with scenery similar to what you would expect in British Columbia, not on a small island in the Atlantic.

We stopped at a visitors centre before heading out on a beautiful scenic walk through the forest.

The World largest telescope can be found at the Islands International Observatory. Chile is currently installing a bigger telescope but for the time being La Palma is the leader. This island brags that it is so close to the stars. They are also very cautious that there is only limited light pollution so that everyone can admire Milky Way.

On our way back to the ship we stopped at home surrounded by , “Bird of Paradise” Gardens. We sampled many local foodie products along with wine and honey rum while we sat surrounded by their gardens – beautiful!

This island is perfect for nature lovers. We were told that many tourists get off flights from Germany already wearing their hiking boots.

Our guide told us that we can expect to meet friendly locals that like to chat. Our guide explained that he doesn’t want this to change so makes sure he takes the time to embrace the local conversations.

We arrived back on board ship at 130pm – I headed to the grill for a turkey burger.

The stores in La Palma cater mainly to the locals – no chain stores except for IKEA – they have opened a pick-up location store. Once you place your order it arrives by ferry and is transferred to this location.

Some of my passengers purchased local embroidery products.

Last nights showroom entertainment featured a talented group of 4 guys from the UK who’s show is similar to the, “Oh What A Night” and “4×4” that perform at the Walters Theatre. The showroom was packed last night – not a single empty seat to be found – my passengers loved their performance.

We enjoyed a terrific day! Our first Canary Island port was a big hit!



Breathtaking Island of MADEIRA, Portugal

Last evening was formal night on board the Queen Elizabeth. It was cute seeing the young children dressed in Formal attire – even the babies were dressed for this special occasion.

There was a pre-dinner party where we met the Captain. He spoke with every passenger that went to meet him – this just wasn’t a quick photo opportunity for the on-board photographers. Complimentary cocktails were served and the Senior Officers were introduced by the Captain. He is very personable and has a great sense of humor.

When the Captain announced where the passengers on this cruise are from my group cheered when he announced Canada. It didn’t surprise me that afterwards a number of Brits came to chat with us. We have been made to feel more than welcome by them.

One thing that Cunard Cruise Lines is well known for is their elegantly themed, “Balls” which occur on formal nights. I don’t know of another cruise line that does anything quite like it. These are held in the Queens Room where the dance floor dominates the space. The event involved a number of people – Master of Ceremonies, Full Orchestra, Crooner Singer and British Champion Ballroom Dancers.
Extra chairs are set up because the, “Ball” is so well attended but very few people sit – the dance floor is packed mainly with those that do a beautiful job, Ballroom Dancing. It’s wonderful to be a spectator – a great place to people watch!

The production show in the Grand Theatre was well done too. The music consisted of famous songs that most would know – even some Tom Jones hits including, “Release Me”. The cast suited the show – 4 lead singers, 10 dancers and a full orchestra.

Today we visited the city of Funchal on the flower filled Island of Madeira, Portugal.

This really is an idyllic destination. The climate is pretty much consistent year round – never too hot and never too cold. Today was a very comfortable 22C – I wore summer attire – shorts and a short sleeve shirt.

The Scenic Tour that I suggested to my group didn’t depart until 1:30pm so I offered to take those interested on a, “Travel With Bradley Morning Tour” so we could make the most of our time.

The catch was we needed to head out when we reached port at 8am. Seven of my group jumped at the opportunity and we had a GREAT time. While we were waiting to get off the ship we chatted with a very young Gentleman from Vancouver who is traveling on his own. After he finishes this cruise he is continuing to Morocco.

We met an amazing young Taxi Driver when we exited the ship and he laid out the best way for us to visit the attractions that I suggested – the Cathedral, Toboggan, Cable Car, Botanical Gardens, Downtown Farmers Market and the Pedestrian Streets.

He suggested that we head to the Toboggan first to avoid lines. After we took pictures inside the Cathedral we were literally the first ones to board the famous toboggans that scream down the city streets – our two drivers controlled the direction and stopped the toboggan using the rubber soles on their shoes. It’s one a unique one-of-a-kind experience that Madeira is known for. At one time with was a public transportation method the locals needed a way to get down the steep hills. The tradition has kept alive due to tourists that want to experience this thrilling ride.

We continued on to the Botanical Gardens which are built into a slope. We started at the top of the gardens and walked down – this is not a massive garden but the displays are beautiful especially the one show garden – our driver was once again waiting for us.

He drove us back up very steep hills on very narrow roads until we reached the Cable Car station. We once again beat the crowds as we rode the Cable Car down instead of up. The views were wonderful. You may recall that Madeira endured a devastating fire that destroyed many houses and a forested valley. We sadly saw some of this damage while we were on the Cable Car. The quiet, smooth ride took around 20 minutes or so.

It was a short walk to the Farmers Market. We started by walking through the fish market. The locals enjoy eating an ugly looking, long black fish with an elongated head and manny of them were available for sale – its often served with cooked bananas.

The fruit and vegetable market smelled so much better than the fish market. The just picked Christmas clementines were so fragrant. We finished by touring the colourful flower section of the market.

We then came across a bakery so I purchased for everyone one of the famous Portuguese Custard tarts – I can never pass them up (as you have read in previous blog posts) SO good!

The pedestrian streets were filled with Christmas shoppers. Overall, I found that shop prices were quite good.

Madeira is known for their Christmas light displays that dot the city – over 1 million lights. They are famous for their fireworks display on New Years Eve that will attract 11 cruise ships this year.

This is currently high tourist season so hotel prices and food is quite expensive. We were told that there is just not enough hotel space to meet the demand this time of year.

Took a taxi back to the ship and had 15 minutes to spare before leaving getting off the ship again in order to join Cunard’s Scenic Island tour. I arranged to have my passengers meet me at a central point on board the Queen Elizabeth and then we walked off together. On this cruise you always meet your tours on the pier – it was well organized today.

The coach was beautiful and offered excellent wifi access on board so I was able to get a couple Facebook posts done and I got caught up on some emails during the tour!

At over 3000 ft we were above the clouds for the first portion of the tour. The views were just breathtaking. Everyone held their breath as our driver drove around hairpin turns the circled steep valleys.

We stopped at an Inn with a view where we had a choice of coffee, tea or the well-known Madeira Wine (sweet sipping wine) along with a plate of home-made cake and sweets.

The tour continued so we could see the terraced part of the island where the vineyards and market gardening is so impressive.

At another lookout they have recently added a glass floor attraction which is still free of charge but they are currently working on turning it into a pay attraction.

Of course all of the attractions had gift shops – cork products are so popular.

We arrived back to our Cruise liner around 5:20pm so everyone quickly got ready for our 1st sitting 6pm dinner in the Britannia Dining Room.

What an exceptional day!





The “Luxurious” Queen Elizabeth

It was perfect staying in Winchester as we were so close to the Port of Southampton – less than 30 minutes away. After an enjoyable breakfast buffet many of my passengers strolled the town to get daytime pictures. Some were lucky enough to see the in-house Orchestra rehearsing in the Winchester Cathedral.

Luckily the coach driver for our transfer to the cruise terminal was able to park very close to the hotel – this can be a challenge as the street is so narrow. The driver reported that there were still many highway issues due to the weather. In the height of the snowstorm many drivers abandoned their cars on the highways and other cars blocked entrances and exits to the highways. Even though there was no snow to be found on our short journey to Southampton there were pockets of black ice – the locals are not use to these conditions.

News reports said that it will take a few days before both Heathrow and Birmingham airports get back to normal capacity after the storm. Heathrow was still trying open one of their runways.

Heard many snow storm stories from passengers on the ship. Some didn’t think they would make the cruise. In one instance neighbours helped to clear snow from a 1/4 mile of a residential street so a couple trying to get to the ship could get to the highway.

Check-in was very well organized. There were many porters looking after the luggage and the walkway was covered into the terminal building. Many passengers arrived extremely early because of the weather – they just started boarding when we arrived at 1130am so when we finished checking in we were onboard in no time. Security was quick and efficient.

Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth is the youngest Queen at Sea. Her grace and Art Deco design have won her many accolades and made her a firm favourites with guests. The heyday of Hollywood glamour is instantly evoked by her elegant wood paneling, gleaming chandeliers, marble flooring and beautiful decorative touches.

For relaxation, Queen Elizabeth offers wide open deck spaces, the Garden Lounge – a large conservatory based on the famous hothouses of Key Gardens – as well as a unique Games Deck, where you can try your hand at a game of croquet or paddle tennis in the middle of the ocean.

A nice bonus when we boarded was that all staterooms were ready so we could drop off our carry-on bags before enjoying lunch. This is a definate perk as on most cruises you wait until mid-afternoon before getting into your stateroom. My checked luggage arrived soon after – I think the quickest I ever received it on a cruise ship.

Walking around my first impressions of the ship – luxurious, looks brand new, easy to find everything, manageable size, impressive size balcony staterooms with ample closet space, comfortable bed and pillows – nicely designed but smaller bathrooms (vanity/desk with hairdryer is located in the main stateroom).

The interior in the public space is timeless – this ship will not quickly date itself like others that are currently modern in style but after a few years may look dated. This ship reminds me of interior of a classic Ritz Carlton hotel.

There is a wide screen television in our balcony staterooms, generous storage, mini-bar, complementary Penhaligon’s toiletries, bathrobes and slippers. Excellent quality, Godiva chocolates are placed on your bed prior to turning in.

After check-in, I joined some of my passengers in the ships Pub for traditional fish n chips – light batter, hot, fresh, melt-in-your-mouth-deliciousness as I would expect in the UK.

Overall the cuisine onboard is healthier than many other lines – hardly anything is deep-fried which is a refreshing change.

The crew is mainly from the Philippines – very efficient but not as warm as the Indonesian crew on Holland America.

My passengers were so pleased with their gifts. When they arrived in their staterooms the Cunard bathrobes that I ordered for them were sitting on their king-size bed with a card and a box of Godiva chocolates. Some of my passengers are using these fluffy bathrobes during this cruise because they are so much nicer than the thin ones that are in our staterooms but others like me, are leaving them packaged which will make it easier to get into our luggage for our journey home.

We experienced some choppy seas during the first day of sailing and it bothered a couple of my passengers – probably a combination of the movement and being tired but after some rest and gravol they are up and running again. Seas have smoothed out and as we continue to head South the temperature increases.

This sailing is at capacity. Many of the crew considers this the Christmas Cruise as there is much anticipation building. The entertainment cast will present a Christmas Show later in the cruise and there will be carol singing. The Winchester Boys Choir presented two Christmas performances before we sailed on Day 1. I’ve already met 3 of the production cast members and one of the 2 resident piano players on board. They feel honored being on this ship because of its 6 month World Cruises – the piano player has performed on 7 World Cruises!

The ship is tastefully decked out for Christmas – a couple from CALGARY, Alberta did all of the decorating just prior to our boarding. Some of my passengers met them.

The elegant High tea during at-sea-afternoons is a glorious affair which attracts 100’s of people. Held in the Queens Court – a vast ballroom with a humongous dance floor. I watched them get set up for the tea and let me tell you its quite the process – in 20 minutes them time they had white table cloths on the tables, china set, jams, sugar, cream were put out, the pianist who I met earlier today started to play and the white tux jacket with black tie, white glove dressed waiters started serving but not before posing with their trays filled with goodies. Sandwiches arrived first – smoked salmon, egg, cheese, cucumber followed by dainty dessert and freshly baked scones. They kept pouring the tea and the Brits know how to brew their tea.

We have noticed that the Brits enjoy the dining room – unlike North American based cruises you see very few passengers dining in the lido buffet but the dining room is typically packed – the Brits love their breakfasts. On this ship the name of the main dining room is the Britannia – it has been designed extremely well so it doesn’t look or feel like a massive place – tables are situated so there is ample space in between. The dining room is not loud like on many other ships – it is very easy to hear as you speak with others at your table.

There is one official alternative dining room, the Verandah – we are all going to dine in this French themed restaurant next week – $35. Fee which in comparison to other lines is quite reasonable. The Lido Buffet restaurant has many theme food nights where a section is cordoned off for a menu not buffet meal – $20.00 Fee – themes include Indian, BBQ, Oriental.

There are two sittings for dinner 6pm and 830pm. There is no any-time-dining offered unless you book the intimate Britannia Club restaurant – higher stateroom charge.

I have 4 passengers celebrating birthdays on this cruise so when ordering cakes I was surprised there is a cost but after I saw and tasted George’s birthday cake last night I realized they are worth the money – excellent. The cakes that are provided for no-cost on some other lines don’t compare.

There is a wide-variety of age groups on board but mainly seniors. I’ve noticed a few very young families and even a couple baby strollers. The ship is full with 1800 Brits, 35 Americans, 33 Canadians (my group), 22 Germans and 18 Irish. The Brits are so friendly and are always up for a conversation. Some accents are thicker than others and I am often embarrassed when I sometimes have to ask them to repeat themselves but I can typically understand what they are saying on the 2nd go around.

The main theatre is beautiful with elegant side boxes that you can rent – includes champagne. The balcony seating isn’t as good as there are some obstructed seats. The theatre is packed every night so you need to arrive early to get decent seats.

I have a great group of passengers – they enjoy our group luncheons and this morning I arranged a private galley tour with the Executive Chef and everyone showed up for the fun tour.

Many of the passengers from the UK that I have met told me that when deciding what cruise to book it’s the ship that is most important to them and the itinerary comes second. I feel this is the current trend. Many passengers told me they won’t even get off at the ports of call so they can just en this beautiful vessel.

One surprise is the casino is one of the smallest I have ever seen on a ship. Gloria, one of my passengers was a winner yesterday so she is pretty excited. I hear Glen did pretty good too! You hardly see anyone in the Casino – obviously not popular with the Brits.

This afternoons movie in the Grand Theatre was, “Churchill” and of course it drew a huge crowd.

It’s time for our group luncheon (white onion soup and shrimp seafood salad -excellent) so I will close for now but will blog again once we arrive in the Canary Islands!

Being a passenger on the, “Queen Elizabeth” is certainly a glamorous way to travel!