Our day in Vancouver had been superb. With friends, a good meal and wine and we arrived back on board in time for the usual safety drill and sail-away cocktails, meeting a good number of people we had met on previous voyages. And so we headed north.
Our visits to Ketchican 3 and a hlaf, Juneau, Skagway and Sitka, were all excellent. The weather cooperated pretty well, and nothing was spoiled by rain. In Ketchican we tripped out to a totem museum and gazed in wonder at the carvings and houses, and in Juneau we bussed to the Mendenhall Glacier, iridescent blue with its neighbourly waterfall pouring forth from the mountains. On the return journey two black bears chose to lope along the road, to the astonishment of all of us, especially the driver!
In Skagway we took the White Pass train up to the top, viewing the trails of old prospectors and adventurers from the Gold Rush of the 1890’s – an excellent experience. The ship took us to the Hubbard Glacier and danced pirouettes to allow a good view for all. Awesome. In Sitka we visited the site of the raising of the first US flag in Alaska after the purchase from the Russians! And back south to Victoria in British Columbia for a pre-booked boat trip to view the whales. And what a trip it was. Just 4 of us in the boat and the Captain took us in amongst the Humpbacks and Orcas as they dived and swam around us. Then on to view the seals, sealions, sea otter and bird life. A most exhilarating afternoon.
In Astoria we were able to pass on the ‘ale tour’ this time and meet up with friends Doug and Ruth and visit the home of Milt and Judi where we could stare at the ocean and watch the deer and elk in the pastures close to their house. In celebration of the this occasion (and we did have Margaret the cruise director with us!), they fired off their vintage black powder cannon!!
A sea day brought us back to San Francisco and the day of debarkation and flight home. All the lectures went well and the shows were well attended and appreciated…but its back home to unpack, launder and prepare for the concert in just a few days time…..Busy, busy!
Here are my ‘assignments for the foreseeable future. They are subject to change due to the wishes of the cruise management, anno dominii, family issues and health!!
10th Sept – Join RSSC Navigator in Oslo
14th Sept Stockholm to Dover (26th Sept)
8th Jan Southampton to Portsmouth (West Africa) Saga Pearl 11 (28th Jan)
15th Feb Sydney to Fremantle RSSC Navigator (part World Cruise)
25th Feb Fremantle to Singapore “
13th March Singapore to Cape Town ”
7th April Cape Town to Rio “
30th April Rio to Los Angeles(25th May) “
14th August Copenhagen to Stockholm RSSC Explorer
24th August Stockholm to Copenhagen
3rd Sept Copenhagen to Southampton (leaving in Amsterdam 12th Sept)
14th Sept Malaga to Civitavecchia (24th) Oceania Riviera
17th Oct Piraeus to Civitavecchia RSSC Voyager
29th Oct Civit to Monte Carlo
5th Nov M.Carlo to Barcelona
12th Nov Barcelona to Miami (26th Nov)
4th Jan LA. To New York (15th May) RSSC Navigator World Cruise
24th Jan San Francisco to San Francisco RSSC Mariner World Cruise
NORTH TO ALASKA
It may seem strange to begin a trip to Alaska with a flight to Miami!. But here we joined the Regent Seven Seas Navigator. A hotel overnight and a wonderful lunch with Pat Higgins (my ‘booker’) by the waterside, watching the ships come and go into the city, and we were once again boarding the ship on which we have spent a good few weeks recently. And so to work. With a series of lectures ranging from ‘The Rules of Cricket’ (we were in the Caribbean!), the British attack on Cartagena, the history of the Panama Canal, the Last Emperor of Mexico, the Maya, and Alcatraz etc. we made our way via stops in the Cayman Islands (great visit to new found friends in the ‘antique shop’, and trying to run over feral iguanas on the highway on the way to their gorgeous home!), Colombia (a trip out a nature park and waterfall which involved wading across several streams and small rivers, and the hop-on, hop-off bus around Cartagena), the Panama Canal in all its usual glory and activity, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica with a mangrove boat tour, many crocodiles monkeys and exotic birds etc and Mexico with the famous cliff divers of Acapulco, a bucket of beer and food in Cabo San Lucas, and under the Golden Gate bridge and past Alcatraz island into San Francisco to meet up with good cruising friends Bruce and Kim for a full day in this amazing city, complete with cable car ride and a great meal in the Italian quarter. We moved on up the coast to Astoria in Oregon and engaged in an ‘ale tour’ of three breweries, tasting 9 different beers – all before 10.30 in the morning! A walk around the harbourside in Victoria on Vancouver Island in Canada was so pleasant and on to our changeover stop in Vancouver and a meeting with Wendy and George – Wendy we had not seen for about 23+ years, so a lot of catching up over a bottle of wine and a great meal. With a new group of guests we headed off for Alaska. Able to look back on a job well done – 3 cabaret shows (including a sell out ‘Ain’t Patricks Night’ party, and lectures so well attended. The weather forecast is not too promising…..but after all what do you expect in Alaska!
SPRING IN ANDALUCIA
This morning there has been the tragic news from Manchester, 22 dead and scores injured, for what purpose? Wanton terrorism with no known target or preferred outcome is indeed wanton violence for the sake of violence – no demands, no conditions, no outcome – just death and destruction of innocent peoples lives.
It is indeed hard to put that into any context, except that unhappiness, unrest and violence seem to be part and parcel of this 24 hour news world we live in. How many will die in Caracas this week, or be killed in misplaced air strikes in the Middle East…terrorism comes in many forms…
The context is spring in Andalucia….where the sun is shining and the spring flowers are giving of their best, the oleander vying with the poppies. Just yesterday as I drove home along the dirt road I disturbed two hoopoes hunting for ants and they flew away in front of me, ducking and diving along at bonnet height to be joined by a golden oriole who fell into formation and led the procession towards the now dry stream bed. The oriole flashed its bright yellow body and took off at great speed like Robin Hoods golden arrow, and I am left with the image of the blur of colour and the look of jealousy in the eyes of the hoopoes who continued to lead me on, flashing their black and white stripes, until they too decided on a different route and disappeared into the trees…….
What can I say….live for the day….carpe diem.
It seems a long time ago that we boarded the Seven Seas Navigator in Darwin Australia, in pouring rain, and yet it also seems just like yesterday! But we are on day 46 of this cruise and due to debark in Civitavecchia (Rome) the day after tomorrow and head for home.
We have spent the past almost 7 weeks with around 350 people who are doing the world cruise, with others joining and leaving on the individual segments of the trip. The main group will finish in about 20 days time in Miami, but we are leaving early as I had been sent to the Voyager in Auckland for the 26th January.
And so we can reflect on this cruise which has seen us travel through 4 continents – Australasia, Asia, Africa and Europe, experiencing a multitude of cultures, menus and sites. From the rain in Darwin to the dragons of Komodo Island, the sultry heat of Bali, the volcanic islands of Thailand, the history of Malaya, the chaos that is Colombo Sri Lanka and the mysteries and delights of 5 days in India. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are modern tinsel towns resting on the income of oil, but struggling to find a new identity as holiday resorts with artificial style. The Crowne Plaza beach resort in Oman was so good we even checked the prices for a possible holiday, and we were swept across the desert dunes at Wadi Rum in Jordan, and transited the enlarged Suez Canal to reach Haifa. A daylong trip to the Dead Sea and the fortress of Masada was exhausting but full of wonder and fun as we first explored the ruins atop the monolithic mountain and then floated in the thick saline that constitutes the lowest part of planet earth!
Cyprus and Greece offered opportunities to taste the joys of a Mediterranean menu again and gaze of ruins of centuries past. And so to the Strait of Messina and onward to Rome airport for the blessedly short flight back to Malaga. It’s been a busy time with lectures (22) and cabaret shows (8), and Julie has entertained with the card making sessions. We have been asked to do the ‘world’ next year, and whilst we cannot do it all we plan to join the Navigator in Australia and do most of it….I reckon that it means 40+ lectures and many shows! But we have more cruises to do before then….if we can stay strong and fit!