Travel advice: Frank Barrett, The Mail on Sunday editor answers your questions

It is always tough to find the perfect trip to suit all the family. Or wade through the myriad of holiday deals to find the best one for you.

So TravelMail's Ask Frank Barrett page hopes to help by putting readers' questions to the all-knowing travel editor of The Mail on Sunday.

Frank Barrett, Mail on Sunday Travel Editor

Whether you want a cheap UK break or the ultimate luxury hotel on an exotic beach, Frank will do his best to answer your holiday questions...

We enjoyed a splendid Archers Addicts cruise some years ago on a P&O ship. I would like to take my auntie, who is a great Archers fan, on this cruise but I can’t find it in the P&O Cruises brochure. Briony, by email

Archers-themed cruises are now run by Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines (01473 742424, and there are two of them next year as part of the company’s ArtsClub programme. On the voyages, Archers aficionados will get the chance to mingle with their favourite cast members from the long-running radio show while cruising in luxury around the Mediterranean. The actors will be available for chats at the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party, and will perform a ‘mock’ recording while they are on board.

Balmoral departs from Southampton on a ten-night Easter cruise on April 23, calling at La Coruna, Casablanca, Gibraltar and Portimao (where she anchors) before returning to Southampton. Prices start at £1,014, based on two adults sharing an inside twin-bed cabin. The price includes all meals and entertainment on board, and port taxes.

The other Archers cruise is on Black Watch, which departs Dover on September 12 for a 13-night cruise around the Western Mediterranean taking in Cadiz, Almeria, Ibiza, Mahon, Palma and Lisbon before returning to Dover.

Prices for this cruise start at £1,392, based on two adults sharing an inside twin-bed cabin. The price includes all meals and entertainment on board, and port taxes.


Stopping point: The Portuguese capital Lisbon is a port of call on the Archers cruise

We are attending a family wedding in Newcastle upon Tyne at the end of January. We will have to stay two nights near the centre of the city with two younger children. A friend recommends Staybridge Suites, but from the website this looks like a businessman’s sort of place. Any comments? Di, by email

Staybridge Suites (0871 423 4948, is a US chain of all-suite ‘extended-stay’ hotels that has recently opened in the UK in two cities: Liverpool and Newcastle. With mini-kitchens and lots of desk space, they appeal to executives on longer stays – but are perfect for families (preparing your own meals is an obvious bonus). The Newcastle hotel is near the Quayside and in walking distance of the Millennium Bridge, Baltic Centre, Tyne Bridge and the Sage Gateshead. Plenty of parking is available for guests for £8 a night. Breakfast and wi-fi are free. Prices start from £79 a room based on two people sharing, or £129 for a family of four.

Is it still possible to get a ferry from the UK to Bilbao? I understand P&O Ferries has dropped the route. Steve Witchell, Birmingham

Brittany Ferries (0871 244 1400, takes the route over from next spring, running two crossings a week. The new route will be in addition to the twice-weekly Portsmouth-Santander and weekly Plymouth-Santander services, giving a total of five crossings a week between the UK and Spain – four from Portsmouth and one from Plymouth. The ferry company says Bilbao is perfectly situated for getting to South-West France and the Costas.

Do you have a question for Frank? Drop him a line at Ask Frank, Mail on Sunday Travel, Northcliffe House, Derry Street, London W8 5TS;; fax 020 7938 2894.
We regret that due to the large number of requests we receive, we may not be able to reply personally to all correspondence.

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