In Reykjavik at the end of the second segment of this Arctic quest cruise. And we’ve done very well. Dublin was sunny and busy, a hop-on, hop-off bus took us around and we hopped into a pub (of course) to add to our Guinness experiences….and as we left this city I took to the stage for an ‘Ain’t Patrick’s Night’ show of Irish humour and songs to a full house. Across the Irish Sea to Fishguard to meet with David and Alison for a trip out to the Roman/Victorian gold mines near Lampeter – a superb picnic lunch in the car park – and back to the ship and on to Waterford Ireland, and a trip along with Copper coast…to a pub of course – more Guinness and local entertainment. Galway was beautiful, and busy with people and street entertainers, and of course a Guinness and fish and chips!! Portree on the Isle of Skye was next and a rendezvous with fellow lecturer Michael Scott and his wife Sue for a trip out into the drizzle to visit the dinosaur footprint museum and then to look for footprints on the rock of the nearby shore (Julie found one)…..and of course a fish and chip lunch!
The Faroes were chilly and damp but we walked around Torshavn having had our mountain hike cancelled…Akureyri was a trip to the big waterfall and the turf houses, and Isafjordur was a trip to ‘Bird Island’ to see a few thousand puffins and to be attacked by a few hundred Arctic Terns protecting their eggs and young. As we sat in the sun a flying Black Guillemot flew into me with a fish in its mouth….I’m not sure who was the most surprised!
And in Reykjavik we took a whale watching trip to see Minke whales and assorted dolphins…..
And so to today with a walk into the city for some shopping, keeping out of the way as the changeover take place for new guests to come on board for the next segment, via Norway to Southampton…….. not had a Guinness for a while, I must do something about that!
With a few more assignments agreed with Regent Seven Seas cruises this is what is planned for the next couple of years…..2019 still has the exciting Arctic Quest to come on board the Navigator from the 18th June through to early September….a busy 77 days around the UK, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and finishing in New York!
The 2019 World Cruise that finished just a couple of weeks ago was a personal success with high guest ratings for all 7 segments….so why not give it another go, when asked? So off again in early 2020 (and again in 2021!) Later in 2020 we get to go on the brand new Splendor closer to home around the Mediterranean with a welcome return to Istanbul.
6th Jan …Miami to Miami 17th May – World Cruise 7 Segments RSS Mariner
14th Sept..Monte Carlo to Barcelona 13th Nov – RSS Splendor 6 cruises
5th Jan…Miami to Barcelona 3rd May – World Cruise 7 Segments RSS Mariner
11thSept…Southampton to Southampton
22nd Sept ..Southampton to Barcelona
6th Oct…..Barcelona to Venice
18th Oct…Venice to Istanbul (finishing 28th October) RSS Splendor
AROUND THE WORLD – DONE
Sitting in the airport in New York waiting for the flight to Frankfurt and then on to Malaga…bags packed and checked in. The sail in past the Statue of Liberty brought it home….this cruise was over. 131 days, over 80 performances and a jumble of memories. Amazing places seen and some great people to share it all with. The final leg from Rome to New York gave us stops in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Malaga. And the first ever cruise ship visit by guests to Canillas de Aceituno. This proved a great success with all guests saying it was one of the best tours of the entire cruise. The weather, the village welcome, the food, the walking tour and the entertainment (flamenco guitar and dancers) was acknowledged as superb. The crossing of the Atlantic, whilst the seas were not very kind, gave us amazing days in the Azores and Bermuda, leading to a final run into the Hudson River and New York. Just over 150 guests had completed the circumnavigation, with others (over 1,000) joining at times for the 7 various segments. The final show for the ‘worlders’ was special, a good show, and many tears at the end.
The ‘highlights’ include revisiting Petra (amazing at any time), visiting Myanmar and swimming with the rays and sharks in Bora Bora. There are so many other experiences, great food and sights that it is difficult to manage to recall them all. This needs to be done with a leaf through the diary over the coming days. In the meantime it is about having a rest…..and dare I say, to start thinking about the next cruise coming up in one months time!
Having tried a few times over the years to get to Myanmar (Burma), efforts that have been foiled by erratic river tides and street violence, we have finally made it to this secretive historic country. We made it to Yangon city, via a ride over roads that we were told were being up-graded (which meant it was ride worthy of a theme park) but it was all worth it to see this city resplendent in its Ying and Yang (as befits its name), with poverty and wealth side by side. The temples and pagodas of Buddha with their golden spires reaching to scratch the sky are amazing. gold leaf abounds alongside bare footed monks begging for food. The city centre boasts a Christian Cathedral along side a mosque and a golden pagoda….all we were told, living in harmony. (Tell that to the Rohingya people being persecuted just up the road!) a country that its previous military dictators have sold out to China (all gas, oil and even the water the river have been contracted to the Chinese, leaving little for the citizens of the country).
The Shwedagon Pagoda, although undergoing a 60 ton gold leaf ‘refit’. complete with a covering of bamboo scaffolding, was an amazing sight, surrounded with hundreds of Buddhas each in his own temple of amazing construction. It was a visit well worth waiting for. The religious significance of everything mostly by-passes me, for Buddha was a simple man seeking a simple life of meditation and peace, yet the temples and shrines set in his honour would, I believe, baffle him were he to re-appear from Nirvana.
We are here in Yangon for a further day and a half….with further adventures planned – particularly in the region of local food!
Sailing into Sidney Harbour is always a joy, and then anchoring opposite the Opera House in full view of the Harbour Bridge adds to the pleasure. A tender ride to the shore to be whisked away from friends Terry and Sue meant foregoing the shoreside ‘special event’ for the World Cruisers, but a few hours of peace and quiet, a private swim, good company and an overnight stay was a real benefit. A morning tour of the hills and bays around Sidney took us to Manly for fish and chips and a ferry ride back to the ship, now docked in Circular Quay. Two ports were missed – Mooloolaba, (where we didn’t meet with friends Rich and Heike) and Thursday Island – but it was a Wednesday! adverse winds and waves were the problem said the Captain. Cairns meant a trip into the rainforest for a ride on an ex-army DUKW through the water and trees of this site designed to show the culture of the aborigines (we both failed the test of throwing a boomerang – mine in probably still in the tree!) The resort Island of Hamilton on the Whitsundays was a pleasant stop – luxurious apartments and money shouted loudly from here, and so to Darwin and a visit to the local hospital for a check up (all clear), and on to Komodo for many (not us) to visit the dragons! An overnight stop in Bali, with a trip to eat their lovely food and watch their dancing. It was hot and steamy – both the food and the weather! After a visit to Makassar in Indonesia where we viewed the crowded market, bought hot chilly peppers and sweated, we crossed the line with a ‘Neptune’ ceremony where again I played the part of Daft Wader daring people to cross to the ‘other side’. 4 days in the Philippines were fun. the last one in Manila with a tour of the old city, and a watching the crews visiting friends and family coming on board to view the working conditions of their loved ones – always a delight to watch and be part of. And so to Hong Kong – to the mist and rain. Julie left for a quick visit to the UK and her father, returning in Singapore in 12 days time. This segment from Sidney has meant a few talks a couple of shows and dying on stage as Daft! A few memories there, and also many good people as we maintain our relationships with the World Cruisers and meet, greet and bid farewell to those who join us for a few weeks….
and so on to Singapore, via Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. A full diary of ‘things to do’….including ‘St. Patrick’s Day’, and i hope I don’t ‘die on stage’ during that one!