Oh my goodness, is it just me or the first half of the year has gone at the speed of light?! It’s already the end of May… where has spring gone?! Time really seems to fly when you go to hot countries out of season. Floyd and I went away in November, and then again in April, to relax and recharge after a really busy few weeks. When I go on holiday I also take longish breaks from the blog and work (when I can afford to), and I know it’s not the best thing to do, but one thing I was adamant I would not do when I decided to go self-employed was to let work define me and every hour of every day of every week. Keeping focused in the last few months has been a real challenge, so I needed this break like never before.
So where have I been? Egypt. Again? Yep. Again. The first time we went, back in November, I felt 100% at home, which is a bit of an irony, because the moment I booked that trip I actually started panicking about all the warnings and alerts I read online about the Sinai region. I nearly listened to my gut instinct and cancelled the whole thing, but I’m so glad we didn’t! Not only we felt incredibly safe, but Floyd and I had a fantastic experience and met some amazing people – kind, generous and hospitable. I was really looking forward to be going back to Egypt, and I was not disappointed; it’s been even better than the first time – 16 days of pure sea, snorkelling and enjoying the company of beautiful people. Bliss!
I like this blog to be about the positives, a place to encourage and support others, so I will use this space to praise, once again, the fantastic service and hospitality we received in Sharm, and ultimately recommend a couple of companies that made the difference – places and people I would happily recommend to anyone looking for a great honeymoon destination or simply a fun holiday abroad.
Props to the whole Cinderella Activities team, our snorkelling guides and friends. This company offers a range of activities and excursions; their strap line is: ‘Come as a guest, leave as a friend’. And in all honesty, I don’t know any company that lives and breathes their motto as much as the staff at Cinderella do. Our first excursion to Ras-Mohamed National Park back in November really impressed us – the guides were helpful, friendly and very serious about their job. They took their time to explain what would happen throughout the day and constantly checked on us while snorkelling. By the end of the day, Floyd and I had so much fun that we were determined to do another snorkelling trip. And so we did. We went back to Ras-Mohamed and, just to give you an idea of how considerate these guys are, the team decided to stop in 3 different places from the first time just so we could see different places from our previous excursion. So for approximately £40/pp we had a whole day on the boat, 3 guided snorkelling stops, lunch, drinks for the whole day, and we made new friends… Not bad, eh? 😉
Needless to say, for our April trip we didn’t even look for any other company. We went straight back to Cinderella, had 3 boat trips (2x Ras-Mohamed, 1x Tiran Island) and loved each and everyone of them. If you’ve never done snorkelling before, the team will allocate one of their guides to look after you and the other inexperienced snorkelers, so that hopefully, by the second stop you can follow the larger group. Children are also well looked after, everyone equipped with life-jackets, and kept entertained throughout the day by the staff who never seem to get tired! And if you are sea-sick (luckily I’ve never experienced it, but have seen a few people on the boat really struggling with it), the team will attend to your needs and give you advice on how to minimise the symptoms.
Will you find cheaper companies offering similar services in Sharm? Yes, you will; but snorkelling is one of those activities that sound fun but could actually be a bit risky if done carelessly (meeting barracudas is a possibility, and so is swimming in rough sea if it’s a windy day). Cheaper companies might claim that they are just as good, but as far as I’m concerned, if they are that cheap and they still offer a whole day on the boat, with food, drinks and equipment included, they must be lacking something else – hopefully not something to do with your safety on the boat, but would you want to take that chance? I sure don’t.
I have been on one of Cinderella‘s boats enough times to be able to guarantee that this company is dead-serious about your safety, and since £40 really is value for money, do yourself a favour and don’t waste your time looking elsewhere. If you’re planning to do some snorkelling or any other type of excursion, book with Cinderella and you’ll have a blast!
(Special mention and huge thanks to the guys that looked after us so well and made us feel 100% feel safe and at home during our 3 snorkelling trips: Ahmed M, Ahmed, Alex, Mahmoud, Mohamed, Ali, Sayed and lastly but not least, Cinderella‘s new addition, Sabina. You guys rock. Your professionalism, dedication and kindness is something to be proud of. Thank you so much!)
Secondly, the hotel we stayed in – Iberotel Il Mercato. This hotel is all about exceeding expectations. It’s classified as a 5 stars hotel which, as some will tell you, is not exactly the same as a UK 5 stars hotel. BUT travelling is all about appreciating differences in culture, customs, standards and traditions, AND you have to understand that unless you go to one of those internationally renowned luxury bad boys, like Marriott, Sheraton or Hilton, you will be experiencing a slightly different type of 5 stars service. Yet, even just for the effort to try and keep up, if not even match, the service of those hotels, this place deserves 6 stars! With guests from a mix of nationalities, this hotel is located in the newish Il Mercato area, just £2 away and 5 minutes drive from Old Market (great if you want a local, traditional shopping experience) and one of my favourite beaches for snorkelling, El Fanar.
Service is top notch. Every member of staff works terribly hard to please guests, not for a tip, but because they really care about you leaving the hotel feeling like you want to come back. All I can say for now is that service and facilities have improved since the last time I visited (4 months ago) and I’m continuously impressed with the service they provide. If you are planning a honeymoon, I feel confident that this hotel will treat you splendidly well. If you want a full review with details about swimming pool, food bedrooms and entertainment (which, by the way, has greatly improved), check out my previous post back in November.
This is certainly not the last time in Sharm El Sheikh. In fact, if all goes well, I have plans to travel to Sharm more than once a year for a little business idea… I have a lot of others recommendations for you if you are interested in places to eat, beaches and evening hang out spots. So if you need any tips, hit me up – happy to help!
Have a fab week everyone!
xoxo (aka baci e abbracci),