March 31, 2014

Edinburgh and London in style: Part 1

Virgin Atlantic Little Red plane flying to Edinburgh

What could be more luxurious than exploring Edinburgh and London in style – from the moment you step on board your flight? Ro-Shana, Sure Online Ticketing Supervisor, found out just how fantastic it is flying in style - in Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class (business class) and their Little Red (domestic) service on the first leg of her stylish adventure…

“I was asked to join a group of travel agents to go on a familiarisation trip to Edinburgh in Scotland and London in England. And the best news ever? We would be flying business class as well as staying in 4-star hotels. I was thrilled as I had never experienced business class until this trip.

Virgin Atlantic London and Edinburgh travel agent group

So many things to sort out… visas, travel insurance, forex, etc. First I had to sort out my flights and accommodation as well as my travel insurance, bank statements, Identity document copies, proof of employment and two passport photos to apply for my UK visitor’s visa -  at least 15 days before departure.

I got everthing sorted and before I knew it the day of departure had arrived! Before I left for the airport I double checked that I had my passport, travel itineraries and forex. I also made sure that I bagged my LAGS and packed a change of clothing and the essential toiletries to freshen up on-board.

I arrived at Cape Town International Airport at least two hours before check-in as I was travelling on Mango from Cape Town to Johannesburg and then I had about four hours in Johannesburg before my Virgin Atlantic flight was due to depart. These connections worked well for me as I could check-in and make my way through the airports to the boarding gates at a leisurely pace.

I was a bit sceptical about the Mango flight as I have flown on Mango before domestically and I experienced quite a bit of turbulence as the aircraft was old and tiny, but I was pleasantly surprised that the flight I was on was one of the newer aircrafts and we had a smooth flight.

Mango plane arriving in Johannesburg

I did not mind the long wait at Johannesburg International at all, because when I checked in for my flight I was issued with my Upper Class boarding card to travel to London. This gave me access to the fantastic Virgin Atlantic Upper Class lounge - the Clubhouse. There I wined and dined whilst eagerly waiting for the rest of the group.

The lounge was stunning and had shower facilities for travellers to freshen up too. I received a warm welcome when I arrived and the service was awesome. I was trying so hard not to look too excited and make as if I was used to travelling Upperclass all the time! I also just had to try Virgin’s signature cocktail ‘The Redhead’ as well. (Note: A Virgin Redhead cocktail consists of Bombay Sapphire, Cassis, Framboise, Raspberry, fresh lemon and bubbly).

Snacks in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse OR Tambo

Snacks in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse OR Tambo

Food in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse OR Tambo

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Lounge in OR Tambo

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Lounge in OR Tambo

When our flight was called, we were warmly welcomed on-board by the very efficient flight attendants in their stunning red uniform, escorted to our seats and were served French Champagne. Once the aircraft started moving we were given a set of pj’s for comfort and once we departed dinner was served. It was a 3 course dinner with stunning silverware and porcelain dishes - totally different to what you would normally get flying economy!

Virgin Atlantic Upper class suite

Cuisine in the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class suite

Cuisine in the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class suite

Virgin Atlantic flight to London

I was living the dream. After a phenomenal meal the flight attendants offer to make your bed. Yes, your own flatbed on an aircraft and it's so comfy. At first I was afraid to sleep at the risk of snoring and waking the other passengers so I decided to check-out the entertainment system. There were many options to keep any nervous flyer occupied for the duration of the flight. After just one episode, I drifted off to sleep.

When I woke we were close to our destination and flying over France.  After landing at London Heathrow we made our way to the next terminal by shuttle bus, went through a security check point and through to the duty free area.

Welcome to London Heathrow

We then went through another security check point to go through to the next boarding gate for our Virgin Atlantic  ‘Little Red’ flight - which actually is not so little. This flight was in economy class but the service was equally good and the aircraft was good too.  Leather seats, hot beverages and a snack. After the long journey we arrived in rainy (no surprise there!) Edinburgh and got ready for our land-based holiday to begin… "

Virgin Atlantic Little Red flying to Edinburgh

Virgin Atlantic Little Red flying to Edinburgh

Virgin Atlantic Little Red flying to Edinburgh

Next in Part 2: Ro-Shana explores Edinburgh inspecting hotels, whisky tasting and trekking across the Highlands and Lochs.

After her first international trip with Contiki, the travel bug firmly sunk its teeth into Ro-Shana. She fell in love with France, Italy and Switzerland but didn’t care much for London (until this past trip). She loves being outdoors in nature, the theatre (watching the Moulin Rouge at the original theatre in Paris was a highlight), music and would love to visit Phuket one day. 

March 26, 2014

"Happy" across the world videos

Pharrell Williams “Happy” music video has inspired a whole host of “Happy” videos in cities across the world. The Grammy winner partnered with the United Nations on the second international Day of Happiness (20 March) to encourage people to share videos of themselves dancing to “Happy”. And the results are just so… happy!

Our favourite one of all is the Cape Town one – no surprise there. Five Cape Town filmmakers made an amazing “Happy” video in just one day, starting at Muizenberg at 6am and wrapping up at 10pm in Long Street, all with no budget.

Our other favourite videos are London, Paris and Jamaica – all managing to showcase the uniqueness and appeal of their surroundings, along with all those happy faces.

March 17, 2014

Sure Travel agents win at ASATA Diners Club Awards

Sure Travel celebrated our very own Sure “stars” at the Oscars of the South African travel industry – the ASATA Diners Club 2013 Awards – at a gala event at Montecasino on Saturday 1 March.

In the Retail category, Angelique Anderson from Sure African Imprint Travel in Pretoria won Corporate Consultant and Rachael Penaluna from Sure Maritime Travel in Port Elizabeth won Key Accounts Executive – top positions in the whole country.

The awards are considered the highest accolade in the South African travel industry, with nominations coming in from all over the county. The Awards had been terminated for a few years but were re-instated this year with a new focus on individual excellence.

Winners of the ASATA Diners Club 2013 Awards

Angelique Anderson from Sure African Imprint Travel
Angelique Anderson from Sure African Imprint Travel

Rachael Penaluna from Sure Maritime Travel
Rachael Penaluna from Sure Maritime Travel

It’s clear that only the very best of the best get nominated, let alone win, so we are incredibly proud of our Sure stars. Congratulations Angelique and Rachael, from all at Sure Travel.

Sure African Imprint Travel contact details:
Northdale Centre, Nina Park, Cnr. Rachel de Beer & Grafenheim street, Akasia, Pretoria.
Call: 012 542 1911

Sure Maritime Travel contact details:
Shop 1, Block D, Fig Tree Park, corner Circular Drive & Mofatt, Port Elizabeth.
Call: 041 397 3200

March 14, 2014

Farewell MSC Sinfonia

MSC Sinfonia leaves Cape Town, South Africa

After a superb season, the MSC Sinfonia is setting sail tomorrow on her last local cruise – Cape Town to nowhere – before saying farewell to South Africa and heading for Genoa, Italy, on Monday.

The popular cruise ship will be replaced by the newly revamped MSC Armonia for the 2015/16 local season. The MSC Opera remains in South African waters until the 28th April this year, running the popular Mozambican cruises.

The MSC Sinfonia arrived in South Africa in 2009 and quickly became one of the most popular cruise ships in the local market.

“MSC Sinfonia will be sadly missed by the South African market but we are confident that the arrival of her sister ship MSC Armonia in 2015 after she has been stretched to accommodate an additional 500 passengers will herald a new dawn in local cruising and that she will quickly become the new S.A. favourite” said Allan Foggitt of MSC Cruises SA.

MSC Sinfonia, along with the MSC Armonia, MSC Lirica and MSC Opera are part of the €200-million MSC Renaissance programme which will see the stretching and upgrading of the vessels. The transformation is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Have you enjoyed a cruise on the MSC Sinfonia or one of her sister ships? Comment and share your story with us.