RHS Chelsea Main Avenue show garden designer Jo Thompson to join Saga Sapphire cruise

Thursday 21 May 2015

RHS Chelsea designer Jo Thompson’s Retreat garden is a watery haven featuring the show’s first natural bathing pool, edged by a sea of soul-stirring planting.

RHS Chelsea Main Avenue show garden designer Jo Thompson to join Saga Sapphire cruise

The garden is a 21st century place to unwind which Jo says is ‘a timeless hang out to think, read, snooze or star-gaze’.

Jo will therefore feel very much at one on Saga Sapphire when she sails to the Canaries in November. The chic and contemporary cruise ship offers passengers complete comfort and relaxation away from the stresses of everyday life.

Jo’s eye for design brought her a silver-gilt medal for the 2015 M&G Investments Main Avenue show garden, following a double gold in the Fresh Gardens section and The Great Pavilion in 2014.

Once the busy gardening season is over she will share her love of gardens with passengers on Saga Sapphire and join guests on garden tours during the 14-night Canary Island Contrasts cruise which sails on November 8.

Jo said: “It will be lovely to talk to passengers about garden design and I will also join a Question and Answer session, so that should be fun!

“The natural bathing pool is bound to be a talking point. I love the idea of using natural ecology to create clear, healthy water for bathing – no chemicals or filtration systems – just marginal and aquatic planting to oxygenate and biologically filter the water.”

Jo said she is ‘hugely excited’ about her first cruise. She said: “It’s such a different form of travel and a much slower pace than usual.

“Going from destination to destination overnight, without having to pack and unpack all the time is really appealing.

“Everyone talks about the fantastic dining options on Saga ships. I am a real foodie so I will be in my element. Toast, pasta, fish, cakes, I can’t wait.

“And maybe a lovely mojito for pre-dinner drinks? Yes, please!”

She added: “It was great to hear that there is free wi-fi on board so I can keep in touch with my family and business. That is important to me.

“I also like the sound of The Beach Club with a swimming pool and 60s-style seaside theme. I like the idea of fish and chips, ice cream and a sweetshop beside the sea!”

Jo says she is a ‘real holidays person’.  She said: “I love holidays! City, country, sea, poolside. I like to explore and discover more about the place I am visiting.

“My father is Italian so I love Italy and I spent time in Venice as a student. It is magical.”

Jo, a single mum of two, takes her children for annual beach holidays to Positano, on the Amalfi coast.  She said: “As well as Italy I also really like Cornwall, Daphne du Maurier country, and Dorset, Thomas Hardy country.”

The Canary Islands and Madeira will be new destinations for Jo, so she says it will be a ‘fantastic opportunity’ to see some of her favourite plants in their natural habitat.

She said: “Madeira is known as the Garden Island and has long been on my bucket list.”

Jo now travels worldwide for her design practice. She said: “My private clients are spread across the globe. One large project I am working on is the Komarovo Resort, in St Petersburg. Life is very exciting and I hope that my cruise on Sapphire will give me time to reflect on this fabulous year!”

The 14-night Canary Island Contrasts cruise departs from Southampton on November 8 with prices starting from £2,307.


Fare quoted is per person based on two people sharing the lowest available inside cabin, was correct at time of going to print and is subject to availability and change. Price includes UK travel package to and from Southampton, all meals and entertainment, afternoon tea, 24-hour room service, welcome cocktail party, unlimited tea and coffee in selected venues, free Wi-Fi internet, all on-board gratuities, porterage, free shuttle bus to nearest town centre (whenever possible and when the ship is berthed more than 500 yards away), optional travel insurance and additional cancellation rights or a discount of £53 if passenger has own insurance cover. For details call free on 0800 096 0079 or visit travel.saga.co.uk/cruises

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