Valentines cruise reunites couple with the ship they met on 26 years ago

Looking to relive some of their fondest memories, Vanessa and Cliff Ellams will celebrate their 25th Wedding Anniversary on board Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) cruise ship, Astor, this year.

While it may not seem unusual to celebrate such an anniversary on board a cruise ship, in Vanessa and Cliff’s case things are ‘just a little different’, the British cruise line, CMV, says in its release.

On February 2, 1987, Cliff and Vanessa met for the first time on the day that the Astor set off on its maiden voyage around the world, departing from Southampton. Cliff was the chief engineer on board and Vanessa was a nurse.

Their first chance meetings were far from romantic. Cliff first saw Vanessa in the engineer’s accommodation giving out condoms to engineers preparing to go ashore. The second meeting was in the corridor to the Nurses accommodation, where Cliff was talking to the first engineer as he tried to clear a blockage in the toilet’s vacuum system.

Destiny, and their responsibilities on board, brought them together again. Vanessa’s many duties included checking potable water was safe to drink and to satisfy Port Health Authorities. Then, some few months after working together, the chef de cuisine arranged for the couple to join a group of the crew to go ashore for dinner in Istanbul, but it turned out to be just the two of them, with the chef playing cupid.

The success of that first dinner date led to them going ashore together again in Venice. They both regarded their meeting on board as a ‘shipboard romance’, but by the time, they were preparing to leave the ship they had decided to stay together and were married 25 years ago, in 1989.

One of Vanessa’s most wonderful memories comes from the night when Cliff invited her to walk on the Astor decks with him. It was a lovely night with stars hanging close to the sea and the moon shimmering on the glass-like ocean. To her surprise, Cliff then took out a notebook and pen and asked Vanessa, who was anticipating a romantic stroll, to count the number of bulbs for a fresh order; he was checking lights that needed replacement on board.

Even so, the couple enjoyed life on board and made many friends around the world, two of whom are godparents to their two boys, John (23 yrs) and George (21 yrs).

Cliff and Vanessa are now looking forward to cruising on the Astor once more and reliving some fond memories. Their favourite public areas are the Hanse Bar on Bridge Deck and the Ubersee Club on the Boat Deck.

‘Astor was such a friendly ship, because of its relatively small size. You can get to know everyone and go to places where other ships are too large to enter,’ they told CMV.

Adventurous trips favoured over beach holidays by honeymooners

A honeymoon is usually a luxury holiday; a beach somewhere exotic is the natural choice for many newly weds.

But a survey has shown that 81 per cent of British honeymooners are favouring an adventure on the trip of a lifetime rather than a beach holiday.

Only 12 per cent of Brits said they would opt for a poolside holidays lazing around.

The survey by Unique Honeymoons magazine found that many newly weds wanted a ‘unique and adventurous’ start to married life.

Only 3 per cent were opting for a budget break, and four per cent opting for a ‘mini-moon’ despite the struggling economy.

‘So that’s a no to Caribbean all-inclusives and yes please to floating tents in Cambodia or Swedish tree hotels’.

Top of the list of hotspots for 2012 was Tanzania, thanks to wild safari’s the challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and the odd gorgeous beach in case you don’t want to laze around for a day or two.

Followed closely by Burma and Borneo, which offer jungle environments, spicy food and spectacular wildlife.

When it coming to rekindling romance on Valentines day couples from the UK and Ireland spent the least when booking a break. Uk couples only spent £145, whereas the Spanish spent an average of £218. London came out top of the places to spend the Valentines weekend, followed by Edinburgh and Manchester.

Unique Honeymoons’ hotspots for 2012:

1. Tanzania

2. Burma

3. Borneo

4. Namibia

5. Japan

6. Ikaria, Greece

7. Western Australia

8. Lake District

9. Argentina

10. Kyrgyzstan



Unusual places to propose this Valentines Day

If you want to propose on Valentine’s Day this year, and you want to make it as memorable as possible, romance experts have searched and selected the world’s best places to propose in honour of the occasion.

“A wedding proposal is the height of romance, making Valentine’s Day a natural time to pop the question. Our advice is to skip the flowers and chocolates and take romance on the road for the moment that neither of you will ever forget,” says Nadine Hallak, Travel Expert for

Top five unusual places to propose:

London – but not the London Eye

A private capsule on the London Eye with truffles and champagne is one way to do it, but our alternative suggestion is Monument, the 17th-century flame-topped tower that stands in the heart of the City of London. Climb the 311 stone-cut steps to the top, as generations of Londoners have done before, and see London laid out in all its glory. The candle-like construction with its fiery orb suggests love’s eternal flame and a new beginning.

Paris – but not the Eiffel Tower

No, not the Eiffel Tower, or Arc de Triomphe, glorious and memorable as these locations are. Jardin du Luxembourg was much loved by writers such as Baudelaire, Victor Hugo, Balzac, Hemingway and Sartre and our favourite spot for a proposal is a shady one by the Medici Fountain. Commissioned by a king’s widow in the 17th century, the focal point is the statue of Acis and Galatea, young lovers embracing, watched over by the powerful Polyphemus. Flights to Paris from £102 return.

Verona – it’s not Venice

“In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,” is Juliet’s House. Verona’s romantic credentials are well established but if you’re thinking about proposing to your beloved here, forget about the Via Cappello and take a stroll through the Giardino Giusti instead. From the belvedere of the Renaissance garden are tower-strewn and timeless views of Verona. Flights to Verona from £102 return.

New Orleans – not New York

It’s easy to fall in love with the Big Easy, famed city of music, cuisine and a Phoenix-like character. Bourbon Street will call you with its siren song of bars and booze but proposing here wouldn’t have the necessary ‘Wow’ factor. Pop the question on a romantic old mahogany-lined streetcar instead, or under the ancient moss-clothed oak trees in Audobon Park. Flights to New Orleans from £436 return.

India – but not the Taj Mahal

There are few more enduring testaments to true love than the Taj Mahal. Built by the Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, it’s one of the iconic monuments that needs little introduction. Ram Bagh, the oldest Mughal garden laid out in a way that suggests paradise, is a less clichéd location. The pathways and waterways are fed by the Yamuna River, while the shady pavilions offer an unparalleled setting for that all-important question. Flights to India from £358 return.