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Exclusive for Mail on Sunday readers: Take the ultimate Royal palaces tour with Robert Hardman










This two-night tour will give you a fascinating glimpse into the lives, homes and history of the Royal Family.

Celebrate the capital’s regal connections and prepare for Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee on visits to Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle, where you’ll go behind-the-scenes on a private tour of the State Apartments and enjoy a champagne reception.

From Henry VIII to the present Queen, the British monarchy features some of history’s most captivating figures – as well as its most grisly tales – and these iconic palaces on the Thames are the ultimate seats of power. So who better to give you a unique insight into them than our very own Robert Hardman?

Grisly secrets: The Tower of London on the banks of the Thames, once a prison for traitors, now home to the Crown Jewels

Grisly secrets: The Tower of London on the banks of the Thames, once a prison for traitors, now home to the Crown Jewels

OUR SPECIAL GUEST  

You will be joined by Robert Hardman

You will be joined by Robert Hardman 

A journalist for more than 30 years, Robert Hardman is one of the UK’s leading authors and commentators on the Royal Family. His books include Monarchy, Queen Of The World and Our Queen, and he has written and produced documentaries including Prince Philip – The Royal Family Remembers, Anne – The Princess Royal At 70, George III – The Genius Of The Mad King, Charles At 60 and The Queen’s Castle for the BBC and ITV. He now writes the How I See It column in the Daily Mail.

As a Royal writer, commentator and film-maker, he has had privileged access to the Family and the Household for more than 25 years and can give you an insider’s view, on their past, present and future. Robert, a much loved Mail columnist, will join you for an exclusive talk and Q&A.

You will also receive a copy of Robert’s book Queen Of Our Times: The Life Of Elizabeth II (one per booking) which he will happily sign for you.

Don’t miss your chance to explore these four magnificent palaces and celebrate 1,000 years of regal history on the ultimate Royal tour of the capital.

REASONS TO BOOK

Exclusive talk by Robert Hardman: As one of the UK’s most respected Royal reporters, Robert Hardman will give you an extraordinary insight into the workings of the modern British Royal Family in a private talk and Q&A session. He has covered more than 60 international tours and has interviewed many members of the Royal Family including Prince Charles, and is the author of the forthcoming biography Queen Of Our Times: The Life Of Elizabeth II.

Royal castles and palaces: The walls may not be able to talk, but you will hear astonishing true tales of the monarchy in the most important Royal houses across the city: Westminster Abbey, which has witnessed the coronation of every monarch since William the Conqueror; the Tower of London, the mighty fortress that is now the permanent home of the Crown Jewels; and Buckingham Palace (exterior view only), the official Royal residence in London since Queen Victoria’s accession in 1837.

Hampton Court with Robert Harding: You’ll enjoy a fascinating guided tour of Hampton Court, forever associated with Henry VIII and the Tudor court. Admire the magnificent Great Hall and the huge Tudor kitchens, and walk down the infamous Haunted Gallery to the State Apartments.

Behind the scenes at Windsor Castle: Another highlight will be Windsor Castle, a Royal stronghold since just after the Norman Conquest, where you will journey through 1,000 years of Royal history on a private tour of the State Apartments at a time when the castle is otherwise closed to the public. You’ll also enjoy a glass of champagne at the end of the tour.

Historic hotel stay: You’ll be based at The Talbot, a charming former coaching inn in the historic Surrey village of Ripley. It has many period features from its 500-year history and was reputedly visited by Lord Nelson – it is said his love affair with Lady Hamilton blossomed here.

WHAT’S INCLUDED 

  • Two nights’ bed-and- breakfast at the four-star Talbot Ripley Hotel in Surrey. 
  • First- and second-night set menu dinner at the hotel restaurant.
  • Exclusive talk and Q&A with Robert Hardman.
  • Private, after-hours tour of Windsor Castle and champagne reception.
  • London palaces tour including Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace exterior and the Tower of London, and all admission fees.
  • Coach transfers.
  • Services of a tour manager throughout.

YOUR ITINERARY: DAY 1 Check-in, afternoon tea and Windsor DAY 2 Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, National Gallery and exclusive talk with Robert Hardman DAY 3 The Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace

HOW TO BOOK

The dates: October 10 to 12 and 17 to 19, 2022. The price: From £649pp*.

Call 02045 719 750 quoting ref MOS HARDMAN.To find out more, visit mailtravel.co.uk/royaltour.

Terms and conditions: * Price based on two sharing a twin/double room. Single supplement: £112. Itinerary subject to change. Transport to hotel not included. Our travel partner, Travel Editions, is ABTA-bonded. For full terms and conditions, go to mailtravel.co.uk/royaltour.

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Exclusive for Mail on Sunday readers: Meet West End stars Charlotte Wakefield, Bonnie Langford and John Owen-Jones on a Danube cruise










The romantic Danube is the perfect setting for our musical-theatre-themed luxury river cruise – and musical stars don’t come much bigger than Charlotte Wakefield, Bonnie Langford and John Owen-Jones, who will join you during your trip.

The trio have appeared in every notable musical in the West End and on Broadway, from Les Miserables, Cats and The Phantom Of The Opera to The Sound Of Music and Mamma Mia!

On this exclusive eight-day Danube river cruise, you’ll be treated to a special private performance by the three stars in the majestic setting of Vienna’s Palais Liechtenstein, as well as having an opportunity to ask them about their lives and careers in a talk and Q&A session.

Light entertainment: The magnificent parliament building in Budapest, where you’ll spend two days on our musical-themed Danube cruise

Light entertainment: The magnificent parliament building in Budapest, where you’ll spend two days on our musical-themed Danube cruise

MEET OUR SPECIAL GUESTS 

Charlotte Wakefield

Charlotte Wakefield 

Charlotte Wakefield has twice been nominated for Best Actress in a Musical at the Olivier Awards and has appeared in shows from Oklahoma! and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to Mamma Mia! Her television credits include The Royal, Holby City and Waterloo Road.

Bonnie Langford

Bonnie Langford 

Bonnie Langford won Opportunity Knocks aged just six. At 13, she starred as Violet Elizabeth Bott in TV’s Just William before becoming a Doctor Who companion, a Dancing On Ice star, a Masked Singer and an EastEnder. Bonnie’s theatre credits include Chicago, 9 To 5 and Pirates Of Penzance. 

John Owen-Jones

John Owen-Jones

John Owen-Jones is a record-breaking and award-winning West End and Broadway performer who has released six studio albums as well as working extensively in theatre and appearing on television, radio and in concert all over the world. 

Sailing on board a five-star Scenic Space-Ship in all-inclusive luxury, you’ll start your journey in beautiful Budapest. 

Next, you’ll head to Vienna, the home of music and culture, from where you can take a Scenic Freechoice excursion to the spectacular Slovakian capital, Bratislava.

There’ll be a musical-themed disco and a waltz lesson on the ship, plus a piano concert.

In Salzburg, more musical-themed experiences await. 

Based on the timeless film of the same name, the exclusive Best Of The Sound Of Music & Salzburg Show will wow you with its stage sets while you enjoy a delicious Austrian lunch.

REASONS TO BOOK

Watch Charlotte, Bonnie and John perform:  In the opulence of the Palais Liechtenstein, while enjoying a glass of Austrian bubbly, you will be enchanted by a private live concert of musical theatre featuring Charlotte Wakefield, Bonnie Langford and John Owen-Jones.

Meet the stars: Enjoy an exclusive talk and Q&A session with our special guests as they share anecdotes about their lives in theatre and discuss their favourite musicals.

Sail in style: Sailing on a luxury Scenic Space-Ship, you’ll enjoy a five-star experience, including a three-to-one guest-to-staff ratio, all-inclusive premium drinks, several fine dining options and new salt therapy rooms for relaxation.

Early-bird discount:  Book a musicals cruise before February 18, 2022, and take advantage of a special discount of up to £1,500 per couple*.

Learn from the experts: You will have an opportunity to flit around the floor during a waltz masterclass aboard your Space-Ship.

See the best of the Danube: Take a tour of Budapest and the Old Town in Bratislava, and travel through Austria’s breathtaking Wachau Valley. 

You’ll also visit Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, a Unesco World Heritage site.

Extend your stay: Explore the highlights of the Czech capital, Prague, including the medieval Astronomical Clock, the castle, Jewish Quarter and the fabulous food and drink, by adding a three-night city break to your cruise (supplement from £480pp**).

WHAT’S INCLUDED  

  • Exclusive performance by Charlotte Wakefield, Bonnie Langford and John Owen-Jones in a Viennese palace.
  • Private talk and question- and-answer session with Charlotte, Bonnie and John.
  • All-inclusive trip on an all-suite, five-star Scenic Space-Ship.
  • Up to five dining options, plus all-inclusive premium drinks.
  • A vast selection of Scenic Freechoice and Scenic Enrich excursions.
  • Flexible booking policy.
  • Deposit protection plan.
  • Butler service and pillow menu.
  • Use of e-bikes.
  • Taxes and transfers.
  • Tips, gratuities and free wi-fi on board.
  • Extend your stay with a three-night Prague city break (from £480pp**).  

YOUR ITINERARY: DAYS 1 & 2 Budapest DAY 3 Vienna DAY 4 Bratislava visit and Vienna musicals concert with Charlotte, Bonnie and John DAY 5 Durnstein to Melk DAY 6 Linz to Passau DAY 7 Regensburg DAY 8 Nuremberg to Munich and return home to UK

HOW TO BOOK

The dates: September 29 to October 6, 2022. The price: Eight days from £2,595pp*.

Call 01615 160 184, quoting MOS MUSICALS. To find out more, visit mailtravel.co.uk/musicals.

Terms and conditions: * Prices correct at time of going to press and are per person, based on two sharing lowest-priced available cabin, and include relevant discounts. Early-bird discount (£550 per person) valid for new bookings made by March 31, 2022. Additional £200pp Early Payment Discount also available when full balances are paid by February 18, 2022. Supplements apply for single travellers and cabin upgrades. Drinks are included, except a selection of rare, fine or vintage wines and champagnes. Deposit: £750pp. Full balance due 120 days before departure. For booking conditions, visit scenic.co.uk. ** Based on twin/share. Extension is optional. Itinerary and experts subject to change. Experts will be on board from October 1 to 3, 2022. Scenic Cruises is ABTA-bonded and ATOL-protected. Holidays are operated by and subject to booking conditions of Scenic Cruises.

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‘The guy was a genius. What was inside his mind was crazy.’ So says my guide, Victor, of the late architect Antoni Gaudi. And I have to agree.

I’m looking up at the golden base of the new Virgin Mary tower on a private tour of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The church, Gaudi’s famously unfinished masterpiece, has been under construction for nearly 140 years.

I’m here on a historic day – hours previously, the Virgin Mary tower became the first tower of the Sagrada Familia to be officially opened to the public since 1976.

Pictured in the centre is the golden base of the Sagrada Familia's new Virgin Mary tower

Pictured in the centre is the golden base of the Sagrada Familia’s new Virgin Mary tower 

The Virgin Mary tower, pictured on the right, is the first tower of the Sagrada Familia to be officially opened to the public since 1976

The Virgin Mary tower, pictured on the right, is the first tower of the Sagrada Familia to be officially opened to the public since 1976

Ailbhe (pictured) gets the chance to go on a private tour of Gaudi’s famously unfinished masterpiece hours after the opening of the new tower (in the background)

Pictured is the much-anticipated 'lighting of the star' ceremony, illuminating the new tower. Pope Francis sends a video message to mark the occasion, hailing the ‘great architect’ Gaudi

Ailbhe (pictured on the left) gets the chance to go on a private tour of Gaudi’s famously unfinished masterpiece hours after the opening of the new tower (in the background). Pictured on the right is the much-anticipated ‘lighting of the star’ ceremony, illuminating the new tower. Pope Francis sends a video message to mark the occasion, hailing the ‘great architect’ Gaudi

When finished, the church will have 18 towers. This 138m- (452ft) high spire is the ninth tower to be completed in the drawn-out construction.

At its tip, the Virgin Mary tower is crowned by a 5.5-tonne, 12-pointed glass star, known as ‘Bethlehem’s Star’.

During the private tour, Jordi Fauli, the Sagrada Familia’s Director of Architecture – who was just 31 when he joined the architectural team as a local in 1990 – tells me that this star was part of Gaudi’s otherworldly vision for the church. 

Above you'll see the roof of the Sagrada Familia's central nave, with the base of the new Virgin Mary tower in the centre foreground

Above you’ll see the roof of the Sagrada Familia’s central nave, with the base of the new Virgin Mary tower in the centre foreground

Pictured is the installation of the 5.5-tonne, 12-pointed glass star atop the Virgin Mary tower in late November

Pictured is the installation of the 5.5-tonne, 12-pointed glass star atop the Virgin Mary tower in late November

'Bethlehem's Star' on the tip of the new tower - pictured in the centre - remained in darkness until the official ‘lighting of the star’ ceremony on December 8

‘Bethlehem’s Star’ on the tip of the new tower – pictured in the centre – remained in darkness until the official ‘lighting of the star’ ceremony on December 8

Pictured is Jordi Fauli, the Sagrada Familia’s Director of Architecture, inside the church

Pictured is Jordi Fauli, the Sagrada Familia’s Director of Architecture, inside the church 

‘He designed a sketch of all the church, completely finished. He represented the star as a big circle, illuminated,’ Fauli says. 

The star was installed atop the Virgin Mary tower in late November. It had remained in darkness until December 8, when I join the masses of locals outside the Sagrada Familia for the official ‘lighting of the star’ ceremony.

There’s a hush in the air, before an almighty cheer, and light travels up the tower, turning the star into a luminous beacon. Pope Francis sends a video message to mark the occasion, hailing the ‘great architect’ Gaudi.

It’s a historic moment for the team behind the long-running construction, who have been labouring over the project for decades.

Describing the ceremony, Ailbhe writes: 'There’s a hush in the air, before an almighty cheer, and light travels up the tower (pictured on the far right), turning the star into a luminous beacon'

Describing the ceremony, Ailbhe writes: ‘There’s a hush in the air, before an almighty cheer, and light travels up the tower (pictured on the far right), turning the star into a luminous beacon’

Fauli says: ‘When I arrived, only three of these columns [in the central nave] were built and they were only 10m (33 ft) high.

‘I was lucky enough to design and see the construction of the entire interior, then the sacristy and now the main towers.’

When it’s completed, the church’s tallest tower – dedicated to Jesus Christ – will rise 172m (564ft) over the streets of Barcelona. This will make it the highest church in the world, overtaking Germany’s Ulm Minster.

Pictured is the Sagrada Familia's 'Passion Facade'. When the church is complete, it will become the highest church in the world, overtaking Germany’s Ulm Minster

Pictured is the Sagrada Familia’s ‘Passion Facade’. When the church is complete, it will become the highest church in the world, overtaking Germany’s Ulm Minster

Sculptures on the 'Passion Facade'. The church was originally due for completion in 2026, but the coronavirus pandemic has delayed this deadline

Sculptures on the ‘Passion Facade’. The church was originally due for completion in 2026, but the coronavirus pandemic has delayed this deadline

So, when does Fauli think the entire project will be completed? A 2026 finish line was previously proposed, marking the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has delayed this deadline. Visitor numbers are down, meaning funding has dwindled – the foundation relies on tourists and private donations to finance the completion of the project.

‘It’s not possible for us to propose a new date because we don’t know how many visitors it will have. We need the tourists,’ Fauli tells me. 

The Sagrada Familia under construction in 1887, four years after Gaudi took over the design of the church

The Sagrada Familia under construction in 1887, four years after Gaudi took over the design of the church

Gaudi’s death in 1926 heralded a new era for the church, with seven new architects taking turns to realize his vision of the construction

Antoni Gaudi circa 1882. The modernist architect is buried in the crypt beneath the Sagrada Familia

Gaudi’s death in 1926 heralded a new era for the church, with seven new architects taking turns to realize his vision of the construction. Pictured on the right is Antoni Gaudi circa 1882. The modernist architect is buried in the crypt beneath the Sagrada Familia

He is hopeful the buzz around the completion of the new tower will inspire more to visit and fund the construction. ‘Perhaps from today [there] will be new donations from around the world,’ he says.

Gaudi took over the design of the church in 1883, replacing the original architect, Francisco de Paula del Villar, who initially set out to design a Gothic revival house of prayer.

It became a life’s obsession for Gaudi. The modernist architect devoted himself to religion in his later years and took to sporting ragged suits and a wild beard. In June 1926, he was struck by a tram on his way to confession at the Sant Felip Neri church. 

Director of Architecture Fauli is hopeful the buzz around the completion of the new tower (not shown) will inspire more to visit and fund the construction

Director of Architecture Fauli is hopeful the buzz around the completion of the new tower (not shown) will inspire more to visit and fund the construction

The central nave. Construction work on the church is based on the meticulous study of photographs, drawings and testimony from Gaudi

The central nave. Construction work on the church is based on the meticulous study of photographs, drawings and testimony from Gaudi 

Due to his dishevelled appearance, he was mistaken for a beggar and was left on the side of the tracks. Eventually, he was taken to the pauper’s ward in the Hospital de la Santa Creu, where he died three days later.

When news spread that the pioneering architect had met his end, thousands of people lined the streets for his funeral. He was buried in the crypt beneath the Sagrada Familia.

Gaudi’s death heralded a new era for the church, with seven new architects taking turns to realize his vision of the construction.

Fauli believes that the ‘main aim’ of the Sagrada Familia's design is ‘to elevate the people’

Fauli believes that the ‘main aim’ of the Sagrada Familia’s design is ‘to elevate the people’

The Sagrada Familia is Spain’s most popular tourist attraction. Pictured is the baldachin [a ceremonial canopy] over the church's altar

The Sagrada Familia is Spain’s most popular tourist attraction. Pictured is the baldachin [a ceremonial canopy] over the church’s altar 

‘Gaudi wanted the interior of the church to resemble a forest,’ explains Victor, a tour guide for the travel company GetYourGuide

‘Gaudi wanted the interior of the church to resemble a forest,’ explains Victor, a tour guide for the travel company GetYourGuide

Gaudi's vision of a forest comes to life through 'stone, concrete and tinted glass', according to Ailbhe

Gaudi’s vision of a forest comes to life through ‘stone, concrete and tinted glass’, according to Ailbhe 

Many of Gaudi’s original designs were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.

But Fauli – who has led the architectural team since 2012 – insists that the project remains faithful to what Gaudi had planned as it is based on the meticulous study of photographs, drawings and testimony from the late architect. Fauli believes that the ‘main aim’ of the design is ‘to elevate the people’.

Inside, I find that the church is quiet, still, and bathed in psychedelic swirls of coloured light from the stained glass windows. The only sound is the patter of our footsteps.

Ailbhe learns it's a rare privilege to see the Sagrada Familia without its usual hordes of tourists - pre-pandemic, it attracted more than four million visitors annually. The picture above was taken during Ailbhe's tour

Ailbhe learns it’s a rare privilege to see the Sagrada Familia without its usual hordes of tourists – pre-pandemic, it attracted more than four million visitors annually. The picture above was taken during Ailbhe’s tour 

TRAVEL FACTS 

Guided group tours of the Sagrada Familia with GetYourGuide cost £46 per person. Private tours cost £117.88 per person. 

GetYourGuide curates 48-hour itineraries of Barcelona experiences, such as walking tours, local food tasting experiences and tickets to museums and galleries. For more information visit: getyourguide.co.uk.

 

Victor, who works for GetYourGuide, a travel company that specialises in unique experiences, tells me that it’s a rare privilege to see the Sagrada Familia without its usual hordes of tourists. It’s Spain’s most popular tourist attraction, and before the pandemic hit, it attracted more than four million visitors annually. ‘I’m used to seeing a lot of people [here] all the time, but this is great. You’re very lucky,’ he says.

‘Gaudi wanted the interior of the church to resemble a forest,’ Victor adds. This dreamlike forest comes to life through stone, concrete and tinted glass. Giant sweeping columns flow from floor to ceiling, sculpted to resemble tree trunks. Dappled light filters through the windows, like sunshine seeping through a canopy of leaves. ‘Gaudi thought that the forest would be a nice place for prayer,’ Victor notes.

Other nods to the natural world make up this surreal space. A hefty oyster shell – a gift from the Government of the Philippines – holds holy water by one entrance. A stout turtle and tortoise guard the church’s Nativity Facade – one facing towards the sea, the other to the mountains.

I’m ushered into the sacristy, an area that the public is normally forbidden from entering. The room is filled with furniture and ornaments – twirling candleholders, carved benches – that Gaudi designed specifically for the church.

The exterior is just as incredible as the interior. The church looks like a beautifully iced cake, with encrusted spires stretching into the sky.

Though it’s a work in progress, it’s a sight to behold. And with that, I exit the Sagrada Familia – the world’s most beautiful building site. 

For more information visit getyourguide.co.uk.

An aerial shot of the 'work in progress' Sagrada Familia rising above the Barcelona skyline

An aerial shot of the ‘work in progress’ Sagrada Familia rising above the Barcelona skyline 

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Exclusive for Mail on Sunday readers: Sail the Seine with Strictly’s Shirley Ballas










The latest series of Strictly Come Dancing is reaching its glittering climax – and if you’re wondering where you’ll get your next ballroom fix, this dance-themed French river cruise is the perfect remedy.

On our memorable eight-day trip, you’ll experience the romantic scenery of the River Seine while learning to dance with Strictly’s very own head judge, Shirley Ballas.

You’ll visit Normandy’s picturesque towns, including the beautiful and historic city of Rouen, famously the place where French national hero Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431, aged just 19.

Your unforgettable cruise includes two nights in Paris (above), known as the City of Light

Your unforgettable cruise includes two nights in Paris (above), known as the City of Light

OUR SPECIAL GUEST 

You will be joined by Shirley Ballas

You will be joined by Shirley Ballas 

Shirley Ballas is a professional ballroom dancer and has been serving as head judge on Strictly Come Dancing since 2017. She started competing in dance contests at the age of 15 and has won several championships in the International Latin division. She works as a dance coach and in 2020 published an autobiography entitled Behind The Sequins: My Life.

You’ll also travel to pretty Les Andelys and Caudebec-en-Caux, passing blossoming meadows and dense forests, and peaceful Vernon, where you can stroll through Claude Monet’s famous garden or wander in the lovely park at the Chateau de Bizy.

But the highlight of your trip is sure to be a dance masterclass and demonstration on board ship with Shirley, a world-renowned Latin dance champion.

She will show you how to fine-tune your own moves and will give an exclusive talk about her career, with plenty of behind- the-scenes secrets from Strictly.

The grand finale to your holiday will be two nights in Paris, known as the City of Light. You’ll have time to explore the capital’s iconic sights, elegant boulevards and classy cafes.

REASONS TO BOOK

Events with Shirley Ballas: You’ll get the inside track on Strictly from its head judge, Shirley Ballas, who will teach you some moves during an on-board dance class. She will also host a talk and Q&A session in which you’ll be able to ask her about her life and career and everyone’s favourite dance TV show.

Explore Paris: You’ll have two nights to discover all the romantic sights, cultural highlights and chic shopping streets of the French capital. Browse the famous Parisian boutiques, visit the Eiffel Tower, wander the Champs-Elysees… or just stop in a buzzing cafe to rest your feet and watch the world go by.

Fabulous food: Normandy is celebrated for its rich cuisine, from creamy cheeses and silky chocolate to the cider and calvados produced by its orchards. Rouen, the 2,000-year-old capital of Normandy, was recently named Unesco City of Gastronomy, and you will have an opportunity to try all these mouthwatering specialities while you’re there.

Historic Rouen: This fascinating Norman city on the banks of the Seine is packed with stunning architecture, including church towers and half-timbered buildings, and has many fine museums.

Sail in comfort: A-ROSA VIVA is a sleek, stylish river cruise ship featuring a spacious sun deck with comfortable recliners, an outdoor whirlpool, putting green and giant chess board, and an outdoor bar and dining area. On board the ship you’ll enjoy daily buffet meals of regional and seasonal specialities, with live cooking from the experienced chefs, as well as all drinks, including fabulous wines in the bar.

WHAT’S INCLUDED 

  • Seven-night cruise aboard A-ROSA VIVA. 
  • Return flights between London and Paris.
  • £50pp discount early- booking offer, valid until February 28, 2022.
  • Hour-long dance class and demonstration, plus talk with Shirley Ballas.
  • Premium all-inclusive dining and drinks served a la carte or buffet-style, plus live alfresco cookery on the sun deck.
  • More than 100 international and local wines, beers, spirits, cocktails, mocktails, speciality teas and coffees and soft drinks served free all day and evening, every day.
  • On-board entertainment.
  • Free use of on-board facilities such as sauna, fitness room and bikes.
  • 15 per cent discount on treatments in Spa-Rosa.
  • Services of an English- speaking cruise manager.
  • Port charges and shared overseas transfers.

YOUR ITINERARY: DAY 1 Arrive in Paris DAYS 2 & 3 Rouen DAY 4 Caudebec-en-Caux DAY 5 Les Andelys – Vernon DAY 6 Paris DAY 7 Paris, dance class, talk and question-and-answer with Shirley Ballas DAY 8 Return to UK

HOW TO BOOK

The dates: June 2 to 9, 2022. The price: From £1,889pp*.

Call 01858 589 612 quoting MOS SHIRLEY SEINE. To find out more, visit mailtravel.co.uk/shirleyseine.

Terms and conditions: * Price is per person, based on two people sharing a Deck 1 Outer Cabin. Single supplement from £639 per person. Prices shown are subject to availability and change. Upgraded cabins available at a supplement. For full terms and conditions, go to mailtravel.co.uk/shirleyseine.

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Exclusive for Mail on Sunday readers: Visit the Cotswolds’ finest gardens with Christine Walkden










For a taste of quintessential England, look no further than the honey-coloured villages and bustling market towns of the Cotswolds, which are home to some of the finest country houses in the UK.

On this exclusive four-day tour you will have the chance to discover the gardens of some of those houses for yourself and meet Christine Walkden, The One Show’s popular resident gardening expert. 

Christine will join you for a visit to the famous Arts and Crafts garden at Hidcote Manor, before giving a private talk and answering your gardening questions in a special Q&A.

Royal approval: Pictured is the exotic Carpet Garden at Prince Charles’s Highgrove House

Royal approval: Pictured is the exotic Carpet Garden at Prince Charles’s Highgrove House

Enjoy a visit to the famous Arts and Crafts garden at Hidcote Manor (pictured)

Enjoy a visit to the famous Arts and Crafts garden at Hidcote Manor (pictured) 

OUR SPECIAL GUEST

Meet Christine Walkden (pictured), The One Show’s popular resident gardening expert

Meet Christine Walkden (pictured), The One Show’s popular resident gardening expert 

Christine Walkden started her horticultural career as a ten year-old when she grew flowers and vegetables on her allotment to sell to teachers and neighbours. During her career, she worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew before going on to present Gardeners’ World, Christine’s Garden, The Great British Garden Revival and the Royal Television Society Award-winning Glorious Gardens From Above. She is a panel member on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time.

You will also be able to explore the historic estate of Highgrove House, Prince Charles’s country home; Rodmarton Manor and its eight-acre garden; the Knot Garden at Cerney House; the spectacular Broughton Grange; Sezincote’s ‘Hindu’ garden, inspired by Humphry Repton; and Batsford Arboretum.

It’s the perfect UK break for anyone who loves gardening.

REASONS TO BOOK

Meet Christine Walkden: Knowledgeable and engaging, Christine is the perfect special guest to join you on this superb tour. She will give a private talk about her career as a broadcaster, author and horticulturist. You will also have the chance to ask her your own questions in a Q&A.

Explore Hidcote House: Christine will also join you for a tour of the delightful and intricately designed Art and Crafts-inspired gardens at Hidcote House.

Tour Highgrove House*: Since buying Highgrove in 1980, Prince Charles has redeveloped the garden, taking on a new project each year. With the help of his friend Lady Salisbury, he has surrounded the house with scented wisteria, honeysuckle, jasmine and thyme, as well as creating an experimental wildflower meadow of some 32 varieties of endangered native plants.

Wonderful gardens: You will also explore Broughton Grange, with gardens designed by multiple Chelsea Flower Show gold medal-winner Tom Stuart-Smith; and Rodmarton Manor’s ‘outdoor rooms’, each with their own individual character.

Beautiful setting: You will be staying throughout at the delightful four-star Oxford Witney Hotel, just a short walk from Witney’s centre. Relax in the elegant bedrooms, take a dip in the pool or unwind in the spa. 

WHAT’S INCLUDED 

  • Three nights’ accommodation at the Oxford Witney Hotel.
  • Exclusive talk and Q&A and tour of Hidcote Manor with Christine Walkden.
  • Tour of Highgrove House*.
  • Three breakfasts and three dinners.
  • Excursions to Rodmarton Manor, Hidcote Manor, Sezincote, Broughton Grange, Cerney and Batsford Arboretum.

YOUR ITINERARY: 

DAY 1 – Cerney House. 

DAY 2 – Highgrove House*, Rodmarton Manor. 

DAY 3 – Hidcote Manor with Christine Walkden, Broughton Grange. 

DAY 4 – Batsford Arboretum, Sezincote; return to pick-up point.

HOW TO BOOK

The dates: June 7 to 10, 2022. The price: From £895pp**.

Call 01334 440 115, quoting MOS Christine Walkden. To find out more, visit mailtravel.co.uk/ChristineWalkden.

Terms and conditions: * Subject to successful application.** Price based on two sharing. Single supplement: £195. Subject to availability. Exact order of itinerary may vary according to local conditions and at the tour manager’s discretion. This offer is exclusive to Mail Travel and selected media partners. Holidays are operated by and subject to the booking conditions of Brightwater Holidays, who are ABTOT-protected. For full terms and conditions, go to mailtravel.co.uk/christinewalkden.

 

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Exclusive for Mail on Sunday readers: Watch Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag dance during a fabulous cruise along the Danube










The Strictly Come Dancing glitterball trophy has been packed away for another year – but there’s no need to wait until the show returns to see the best in action.

Fresh from his first term as a judge, Anton Du Beke and his longterm dance partner and fellow Strictly favourite Erin Boag will join you on our fabulous and exclusive eight-day Danube river cruise.

After flying to Budapest, you will board Emerald Star with stops at Linz in Austria and at the Unesco World Heritage-listed town of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic.

Highlight: Visit magnificent Budapest during our exclusive tour

Highlight: Visit magnificent Budapest during our exclusive tour

MEET OUR SPECIAL GUESTS 

You will be joined by Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag

You will be joined by Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag

Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag have been dancing together for two decades and are two of the nation’s all-time favourite ballroom stars. Their charisma, chemistry and dazzling choreography have wowed audiences around the world. Before becoming a Strictly Come Dancing judge, Anton, known affectionately as ‘the king of ballroom’, was the show’s longest-serving professional dancer.

You’ll visit three of Europe’s great capitals, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest, and watch Anton and Erin perform at an intimate and historic venue in Vienna.

The pair will also take part in a special interactive dance masterclass on board the ship.

During this memorable holiday, you’ll sail past terraced vineyards and apricot orchards en route to Melk and Durnstein in Austria.

Anton and Erin will host an entertaining question-and-answer session, during which you will be able to ask them about their lives and careers and find out what really goes on behind the scenes on Strictly. One reader said of a previous trip: ‘It’s been such a wonderful experience seeing Anton and Erin perform. I cannot imagine anything better.’

REASONS TO BOOK

Sail in style: You’ll travel on an elegant Emerald Cruises Star-Ship which has an indoor pool with retractable roof, an open-air terrace, a cinema and a putting green as well as beautiful staterooms and suites. You can choose indoor or outdoor dining. Your cruise will include EmeraldPLUS and EmeraldACTIVE excursions in each city, such as visiting a Hungarian folklore show in Budapest or taking part in a guided biking tour from Melk.

See Anton and Erin dance: Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag will give an unforgettable one-off performance in the unique setting of Vienna, home of the Viennese waltz. You will join the stars for a cocktail reception and photo opportunity.

Join a dance masterclass: Work on your waltz and finesse your foxtrot during a fun dance class on board the ship with Anton and Erin. You will also have the chance to hear them talk about their long-term partnership and love of dance during a private Q&A session.

Flexible booking policy: Book with confidence knowing that Emerald Cruises allows you to transfer to an alternate date or cancel up to 60 days prior to your cruise with no fees.

WHAT’S INCLUDED 

  • Seven-night deluxe cruise.
  • All on-board meals, including a welcome and farewell reception and dinner.
  • All activities and excursions (as listed online), including performance, masterclass and question-and-answer session with Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag.
  • Wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner.
  • Tips, gratuities, port charges and free wi-fi aboard ship.
  • Flexible booking policy.
  • ABTA- and ATOL-protected.

YOUR ITINERARY

DAYS 1 & 2 Budapest DAY 3 Bratislava DAY 4 Vienna DAY 5 Durnstein – Melk DAY 6 Linz – Cesky Krumlov DAY 7 Passau DAY 8 Passau – Munich

HOW TO BOOK

The dates: April 14 to 21, 2022. The price: £1,795pp* for eight days.

Call us on 01615 165 354 quoting ref MAILSUNANTONERIN. To find out more, visit mailtravel.co.uk/antonerin.

Terms and conditions: *Prices correct at time of going to press and are per person, based on two people sharing a category E cabin, and include relevant discounts. Supplements apply for single travellers and cabin upgrades. Itinerary and experts may be subject to change. Experts will be on board April 17 to 18, 2022. Beer, wine and soft drinks are included with lunch and evening meals only. For full booking conditions, visit emeraldcruises.co.uk. Our travel partner, Emerald Cruises, is ABTA-bonded and ATOL-protected. 

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Exclusive for Mail on Sunday readers: Dance with Strictly star Shirley Ballas on a Seine cruise










If you’re a fan of Strictly and don’t want to wait until autumn for your next fix of glitterball magic, here’s an offer you can’t refuse: a dance-themed river cruise during which you’ll learn with the show’s very own head judge, Shirley Ballas.

Our memorable seven-night holiday begins on the beautiful Seine in Paris and will visit fascinating and picturesque cities and towns in Normandy, including historic Rouen, famous as the place where French national hero Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in May 1431.

The cruise will also take you to pretty Les Andelys and Caudebec- en-Caux, passing blooming meadows and dense forests, and peaceful Vernon, where you can wander through Claude Monet’s famous garden or in the lovely park of the Chateau de Bizy.

High point: Visit the Eiffel Tower during a two-night stay in the ‘City of Light’ at the end of your cruise on the Seine

High point: Visit the Eiffel Tower during a two-night stay in the ‘City of Light’ at the end of your cruise on the Seine

OUR SPECIAL GUEST 

You will be joined by Shirley Ballas

You will be joined by Shirley Ballas

Professional ballroom dancer Shirley Ballas has been Strictly’s head judge since 2017. She has been competing in dance contests since she was 15 and has won several championships in the International Latin division, earning her the nickname ‘The Queen of Latin’. She also works as a dance coach and has published an autobiography, Behind The Sequins: My Life.

The highlight of your trip will be a dance masterclass and demonstration on board your ship with Shirley Ballas, a world-renowned Latin dance champion. Shirley will show you how to perfect your moves and give an exclusive talk about her career – with plenty of behind-the-scenes secrets from Strictly.

The grand finale of your holiday will be two nights in Paris, known as the ‘City of Light’. You’ll have time to explore its iconic sights, elegant boulevards and classy cafes.

REASONS TO BOOK

Events with Shirley Ballas: You’ll get the low-down on Strictly from its head judge, Shirley, who will also teach you some moves during an on-board dance class. She will host a talk and Q&A in which you’ll be able to ask your questions about her life and career and everyone’s favourite television dance show.

Explore Paris: There will be two nights to discover all the romantic sights, cultural highlights and chic shopping streets of the French capital. Browse the famous Parisian boutiques, visit the Eiffel Tower, stroll down the Champs-Elysees… or simply take a break in a buzzing cafe to rest your feet and watch the world go by.

Fabulous food: Normandy is celebrated for its rich cuisine, from creamy cheeses and silky chocolate to the cider and calvados produced by its orchards. Rouen, the 2,000-year-old capital of Normandy, was recently named Unesco City of Gastronomy, and you’ll be able to try all of these mouthwatering specialities while you’re there.

Historic Rouen: This magnificent Norman city is packed with stunning sights including church towers and half-timbered buildings.

Sail in comfort: A-ROSA VIVA is a sleek, stylish river cruise ship featuring a spacious sun deck with comfortable recliners, an outdoor whirlpool, a putting green, a giant chess board and an outdoor bar and dining area. You’ll enjoy daily buffet meals of regional and seasonal specialities on board, with live cooking from the experienced chefs, as well as all drinks, including fabulous wines in the bar.

WHAT’S INCLUDED? 

  • Return flights between London and Paris.
  • Seven-night cruise aboard A-ROSA VIVA.
  • £50pp early booking offer, valid until February 28, 2022.
  • Hour-long dance class and demo, plus talk with Shirley Ballas.
  • Premium all-inclusive dining and drinks served à la carte or buffet-style, plus live alfresco cookery on the sun deck.
  • More than 100 international and local wines, beers, spirits, cocktails, mocktails, speciality teas and coffees and soft drinks served free all day and evening, every day.
  • On-board entertainment.
  • Free use of on-board facilities such as sauna and fitness room.
  • 15 per cent discount on treatments in SPA-ROSA.
  • Services of an English-speaking cruise manager. 
  • Shared overseas transfers and port charges 

YOUR ITINERARY: DAY 1 Arrive in Paris DAYS 2 & 3 Rouen DAY 4 Caudebec-en-Caux DAY 5 Les Andelys – Vernon DAY 6 Paris DAY 7 Paris, dance class, talk and Q&A with Shirley Ballas DAY 8 Return to UK

HOW TO BOOK

The dates: June 2 to 9, 2022. The price: From £1,889pp*.

Call 01858 589 612, quoting MOS SHIRLEY SEINE. To find out more, visit mailtravel.co.uk/shirleyseine.

Terms and conditions: *Price is per person, based on two sharing a Deck 1 Outer Cabin. Single supplement from £639pp. Prices shown are subject to availability and change. Upgraded cabins are available at a supplement. For full terms and conditions, go to mailtravel.co.uk/shirleyseine.

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