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Well, this page is supposed to be about me….I’m now in my late 60s, I’m retired, I’m married to Val – we celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary in 2017 – and we have two adult daughters. We’ve lived in Sheffield for nearly 35 years, in a family semi in a leafy suburb. It’s the house where we raised our daughters, and I suppose it’s a bigger than we actually need these days, but to to be truthful we do enjoy the space.

I used to work in IT, and for the last twelve years of that I had the luxury of working from home for a small internet-based software company. Some mornings my commute was hell! – it could be a long way from the kitchen up to my office after breakfast…. Previously I had spent a few years working as a contractor in the IT industry, often away from home; and for most of the time before that I was a civil servant, starting in 1976 and leaving in 1994. Indeed, it was my job with the Manpower Services Commission (as was – later a division of the Department of Employment) that brought me to Sheffield from London in the early 80s.

That small software company I worked for got a bit bigger and opened an office in Wiltshire, and it was becoming obvious that the most interesting jobs were going to be based down there – the company had reached the stage where relying on Skype conversations to stay in the loop wasn’t really working. We looked at moving, we really did, but given my age – I was 64 by then – and the other things happening in our lives, the decision to retire was easy to take. It also helped that I am in one the very last cohorts of men who qualified for their state pension at 65, and not some higher age, so I retired pretty much on my 65th birthday.

Val is still working, for a (different) software company, and has been with them for almost 30 years. Before that she got a degree in maths and computing from the Open University. Her work history is typical of the present era – although she’s had one continuous employment for all that time, she’s had more than half-a-dozen employers, as the enterprise she’s in has been bought and sold by various large corporations.

Now, about our interest in cruising…we went on our first cruise in 2005. Well, actually, that’s not not quite true…. Val had cruised on the old Oriana in 1969 – 12 nights or so from Southampton to the Med, calling at Lisbon, Palma, Naples, and Athens. She was only 14 and went with her grandmother, with whom she shared a cabin. She remembers it fondly, but also remembers thinking how much more she might have enjoyed it if she’d been a bit older, and as a result she’d always fancied cruising again.

She’d mentioned this a few times during our years together, and in the early winter of 2004 I decided to look into it. And so I started the process of finding out about cruise lines, ships, and types of cruises. At that time I’d heard of Cunard, P&O and possibly Fred Olsen, and probably not a lot more – I’m not sure I knew even the names of the major US-based lines. For some reason I got hold of some information about MSC Cruises, and they started to sound attractive. We decided we liked the idea of cruising on a foreign ship – we’d be ‘abroad’ even when we were on the ship, as it were.

Looking back on that first cruise on MSC Sinfonia in 2005, I can now see a lot that was wrong with it. But we had nothing against which to compare it, and it was certainly good enough to spark considerable enthusiasm in us for cruising. In some respects, even, I wish I could be as enthusiastic about the next cruise as I was about that first one. But that’s not possible, and I think that after you’ve done a few it’s inevitable that you become a bit blasé about it all. Hopefully however we haven’t reached the stage where all we can see are the negatives. I hope that as long as we go on cruises we’ll continue to think that ‘a day at sea is always better than a day ashore’.

16 Responses to “Bio”

  1. Graham Stokes says:


    Thanks for your blog however are we to guess the missing word(s) from ‘a day at sea is always ” ” than a day ashore’ Better? worse? longer? shorter? more interesting?

    I think a day or two is better than being in most ports, what did you mean?

    • Tom says:

      Thank you for spotting that! – it was supposed to be “a day at sea is always better than a day ashore”. I’ve now updated the page.

  2. Charlie says:

    Hi there – might you have an email address I can contact you on? I’m writing from http://savvyguides.com – I’ve found the site, love the content and would like to get in contact as our sites seem to compliment each other!

    Best wishes

    Charlotte (on behalf of Russell and Sue)

  3. Charlie says:

    Hi Tom,

    I’ve just tried to email you but it bounced back? I tried: tom_uk@mac.com, is that the right address?

    Many thanks


  4. Malcolm Oliver says:

    Hi Tom, you do not look like you sound in the text! Mind you I can talk, look at my images of ‘me’!

  5. Richie says:

    You have a great blog, Tom. You seem to be very experienced when it comes to cruises. Maybe you could write a post about tips for those going on a cruise for the first time (if you haven’t done that already)? I have been on a cruise before, a European river cruise with Viking River Cruises. It was a Rhine river cruise and basically, my girlfriend and I didn’t know anything, it was completely new to us. We just wanted to have a great holiday. Tips would have been helpful. What is your worst cruising disaster?

  6. Lasse says:

    Hi Tom,

    It really is an impressive range of trips that you’ve been on. We had our first cruise last year. We had a trip to the Norwegian fjords, and it was definitely an experience and it’s not the last time we have been on the cruise. Through your blog, I have found a site to get inspiration for the next trip. Thank you.

  7. Ben Edwards says:

    Hi Tom,

    I was wondering if you would be interested in featuring in an article I’m currently creating, the premise of which being a beginner’s guide to cruise holidays.

    If you are, please forward your reply to ben,edwards@accordgroup.co,uk.


    Ben Edwards

  8. Dear Tom, just found your blog and would like to say thankyou. I have found it extremely useful, informative, interesting and entertaining. My husband and I have been on four cruises so far and we have most definitely caught the cruising bug, especially those that leave from and return to Southampton. It is so easy for us as we live in Portsmouth, within 2 hours from leaving our house we are generally onboard having our first drink, so much easier than all the delays at airports and then the transfers. I just wanted to say how I have enjoyed your blog, long may you continue to write it.

  9. Hi Tom, well done you have the second best cruise blog on the net.

  10. Malcolm Oliver says:

    …so I guess the photo above was taken on a cruise excursions (sticker on shirt), Rome?

  11. Lynn says:

    My husband & I love all the cruising updates on your site Tom. Thanks for all your interesting updates! Lynn

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