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Monthly Archives: January 2012

How do you define safe? Well every year a Global Peace Index (GPI) is published that ranks countries on a number of different categories including terrorism threat, wars & conflicts, homicide rate, political instability, imports of major weapons, percentage of prisoners and the public’s perception of safety.

In the 2011 report the top ten safest countries in the world were classed as;

  1. Iceland
  2. New Zealand
  3. Japan
  4. Denmark
  5. Czech Republic
  6. = Austria & Luxembourg
  7. Finland
  8. Canada
  9. Norway
  10. Slovenia

Iceland and New Zealand switched round from the 2010 report where New Zealand came top, coupled with the low cost of living there makes New Zealand seem like the best choice when you combine safety with cost of living. Czech Republic is a country where safety is quickly improving, jumping up from #12 last year and #17 in 2008.

At #12 on the list just missing out on the top 10 is Qatar…which some people may find surprising, yet a reminder that not all middle eastern countries are unsafe. Qatar is due to host the 2022 fifa world cup and their economy is the fastest growing in the world.

Here’s where some other major countries ranked;

Australia – #18, United Kingdom – #26, Spain – #28, USA – #82

Now on to the most dangerous countries in the world, places where you should perhaps avoid visiting unless necessary.

  1. Somalia
  2. Iraq
  3. Sudan
  4. Afghanistan
  5. North Korea
  6. Democratic republic of Congo
  7. Russia
  8. Pakistan
  9. Israel
  10. Central African Republic

Unsurprisingly Somalia tops the list as the most dangerous country in the world mainly down to the government not having control for over 20 years now add in problems like active pirating and it doesn’t look like the idea vacation destination. At number 11 on the list, Libya has gone from the 56th safest country in the world in last years report to one of the unsafest.

It is worth noting that these figures that make up the GPI are taken from the country as a whole and while the country may be dangerous it doesn’t mean to say there aren’t relatively safe cities there. For example, while Israel continues it’s conflicts with Palestine over the Gaza Strip, the city of Tel-Aviv has low crime rates, considerably lower than say Birmingham, England.

But wherever you go, stay safe. There are countries where it’s common not to lock your doors at night but you are only increasing the danger levels if you don’t. Any city has it’s rough parts and you should always be aware of pick-pockets in crowded areas.

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Copyright Brand New Eyes Photography

The Disney Magic will be returning to Europe in June 2013, with Barcelona once again the departure port. It will be revisiting ports such as Villefranche, La Spezia, Civitavecchia and Naples but exploring new ports like Croatia, Venice, Turkey, Palma de Mallorca and the Greek Islands.

Beginning December 23rd 2012 the Magic will set sail from Galveston, TX and visit the Bahamas & the Western Caribbean. (Nassau, Key West, Castaway Cay, Cozumel and St Marteen)

The Wonder will continue sailing in Alaska but also setting sail from the port of Miami.

Rates start at just $440 for 4 & 5 night cruises departing from Miami.

1. Camp Nou (FC Barcelona) 

Whether or not you like Barcelona, you can’t deny they have a wonderful ground with an amazing atmosphere. Built in 1954 and taking 3 years to complete the total cost of the build was around 173 million Euros. Today it’s capacity stands at 99,354, with plans to expand put on hold due to the current economic crisis. The Camp Nou isn’t just a football stadium it has also played host to some of the world’s great music performers over the years including Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra and Madonna. No trip to Barcelona is complete without a visit to the Camp Nou.

2. Old Trafford (Manchester United) 

Copyright Brand New Eyes Photography

Nicknamed “The Theatre of Dreams” you can feel the pre game buzz and excitement before you even step foot in the stadium as you pass the many fast food bars and stalls as you approach Sir Matt Busby Way and pass by the Old Trafford Cricket ground but it’s when you walk up the steps into the stadium that it really takes your breath away. Built it 1909 and only taking a year to complete it was designed by Scottish Architect Archibald Leitch at a quoted cost of £60,000 that later rose to £90,000. A German air raid in 1941 destroyed much of the stadium during world war II but was rebuilt and play resumed in 1949. The stadium holds the current Premier league record attendance at 76,098 set against Blackburn Rovers in 2007. Old Trafford will host some of the Olympic football matches including the women’s Semi-Final and hospitality packages for all fixtures are available from the official club website.

3. San Siro (AC Milan & Inter Milan) 

The San Siro hosts both Italian giants AC & Inter Milan and if there’s something that’s certainly not lacking it’s atmosphere. The Italians, much like most things, are very passionate about their football. It has a current capacity of 80,018 and was built in 1925 and took a year to complete. The average attendance for the clubs has exchanged ever since it was opened with Inter being higher in the last 2 years but AC the previous 2. A great experience to add to your itinerary of a trip to Milan. A free bus from the Metro station to the stadium is available.

After the tragic fate of the Costa Concordia last Friday when it sunk after hitting rocks and running aground, it begs the question, What does this mean for the cruise Industry?

Costa cruises are owned by cruise giant Carnival, who own 11 cruise lines including; P&O, Princess, Cunard, Holland America and of cause, Carnival Cruise line. This takes up a huge portion of the cruise line market and Carnival saw their shares down in November and they fell a further 18% over the weekend. Carnival are estimating ¢95m loss from the Concordia being out of service alone.

My guess is a lot of people, especially first time cruisers are going to think twice before booking right now. Financially, this disaster couldn’t have happened at a worse time, with January – March being the peak cruise booking period.

The way I see it, this is a great time to pick up a bargain cruise. Safety is going to be huge focus right now so if anything, you’ll be even safer on a cruise ship.

One thing that did alarm me about the Concordia disaster is that it happened only hours into the cruise, BEFORE the passenger safety drill had been carried out. Apparently it is only British and American ships that carry out their safety drill upon the sail away, something I hope they enforce on all ships and a positive to come out of this disaster.

My advice, don’t let this put you off, book, find a good deal but stick to a decent cruise line. It all depends on what you’re looking for, stay tuned for my Cruise line guide.

Portugal topped the Post Office Travel Money annual Worldwide holiday cost barometer. The survey collected prices of 8 common items to buy while on vacation in resorts and compared the total costs. The items compared were; A cup of Coffee, Bottle of Beer, Can of Coke, 1.5ltr bottle of Mineral Water from a supermarket, Suncream, insect repellent, pack of 20 cigarettes and a 3 course evening meal for 2 adults with a bottle of house wine.

A Typical street in Lisbon, Portugal. Copyright Brand New Eyes Photography

With the total cost of those items being just £32.84, Portugal led the list, with Australia being on the other end of the scale where the same items would set you back a whopping £157.51.

Other bargain holiday hot spots high on the list were Spain (£36.68), Czech Republic (£37.98) and Bulgaria(£39.39).

If you want to travel further afield and can budget for the flight cost, good deals can be found in Sri Lanka (£40.62), Thailand (£44.26), Mexico (£45.36) and Malaysia (£47.68).

Thailand was actually very cheap on all items except the 3 course meal for 2, at £34.82, it takes up a large portion of the total costs, with a can of coke only setting you back 28p there, compared to 89p in Portugal so this could be a great option if you are planning on going full board with your meals already accounted for.

New Zealand polled in at 33 out of 36 with a total cost of £111.37 for the 8 items, showing that while it may be a cheap place to live, it’s not so cheap to vacation there.

Other places to stay away from if you are on a budget include; Hong Kong (£138.64), Canada (£119.32) and Barbados (£111.27).

The cheapest cigarettes can be found in Indonesia, a steal at only 95p for 20 marlborough lights, the same pack in Australia will set you back around £8.42.

Walking up and down the cobbled streets of Lisbon feels like you’ve stepped back in time. The charming, winding streets by the port feel you with a real sense of “The old world”.

Perched overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, a walk upwards will reward you with stunning views but be sure to stop off at one of the little cafe’s on the way where you can take in the local cuisine.

Cruising is a great way to see Portugal’s capitol, with many mediterranean routes departing from Southampton visiting here as well as transatlantic cruises.