North to Alaska

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!

 

Carpe diem

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.

Homeward bound

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!

Cruises to avoid?

The cruises listed below are those that I am currently scheduled to be on…

But things can change, things can happen both in the areas of organisational requirements and personal issues that mean it might not stay the same!

As Ned Kelly once said (his last words in fact!) ‘Such is Life’…..

Happy cruising

Terry

2017 Cruises 

9th March        Darwin to Singapore                          RSSC Navigator

16th March      Singapore to Abu Dhabi                                “

3rd April          Abu Dhabi to Rome   (25th)               “ 

 

17th June         Miami to Vancouver                                      “

9th July            Vancouver to San Francisco (20th July)        ” 

14th Sept         Stockholm to Dover (26th Sept)                     “ 

13th Nov          Miami to Miami                                             “

25th Nov          Miami to Los Angeles (11th Dec                   ”

 

2018 Cruises 

8th Jan             Southampton to Portsmouth (West Africa) Saga Pearl 11 (28th Jan) 

15th Feb           Sydney to Fremantle              RSSC Navigator

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)          “ 

1st August        Barcelona to Venice              Oceania Riviera

13th August     Venice to Rome                                 “

23rd August     Rome to Monte Carlo                       “

30th August     Monte Carlo to Barcelona                “

5th Sept           Barcelona to Lisbon (15th Sept)        ” 

26th Oct           Venice to Rome                     Oceania Marina

2nd Nov           Rome to Monte Carlo                       “

9th Nov            Monte Carlo to Barcelona                “

16th Nov          Barcelona to Lisbon (28th Nov)         “ 

2019 (A real possibility as I’ve been asked to do it and said ‘yes’) 

The Navigator World Cruise – Los Angeles to New York (131 days)

Voyager

It’s Monday 20th February, my 66th birthday and I’m in the airport in Singapore heading for Perth for a family reunion.. It’s been an amazing 26 day trip on this wonderful ship the Seven Seas Voyager. The guests have been a special group, seemingly ‘up’ for everything, certainly everything I’ve been asked to do, with a large number who have previously sailed on cruises with me. The flight to Auckland was long and tiring with stops in Madrid and Dubai, before a morning arrival on North Island, and a car to the ship. Waiting for a beer and a bite were Den and Jen, friends from a previous Oceania cruise. And so off on our travels to explore the various ports along the ‘far side’ of both north and south islands. Tauranga, with a walk around the old volcanic hill, Napier and Picton, reminiscent of England in the days of yore, and Akaroa and Port Chalmers with their huge wood piles for export to China. It was a pleasant experience all around and topped off by our entry into the fjord of Milford Sound, with a ‘talk-in’ by me, where the clouds cleared and the sun gave of its best as we cruised in, pirouetted in front of the waterfalls and waited for our ‘overland’ guests to rejoin the ship.

And so to Australia. Two sea days across the Tasman Sea could have been much worse, as it often is, but we enjoyed mixed weather but nothing to be concerned about, for an early morning sail in to Sydney. As we went past the Opera House and under the Harbour Bridge the sun broke through and we began to appreciate this amazing city. I was able to spend most of the day with Terry and Sue, again friends from a previous cruise, and had a great lunch by Narra Been Lake, before we sailed away in the late afternoon. In Brisbane I met with Mike and Cassandra (yes, again good cruising friends), and a lunch by the water had been preceded by a meeting with an old school chum who I had not seen for 48 years! It could have been 48 days. I was able to visit Bee Gees Way, an avenue dedicated to the memory of the Gibb family who raised their sons here…full of photos, films, statues and music. It was a memorable experience to walk the street and sink into the nostalgia of the location.

In Cairns we experienced proper rain forest weather. Ten minute bursts of torrential rain and then ten minutes of brilliant sunshine. With many folk heading off to view the barrier reef (mostly disappointed by the lack of clear water), it was just pleasant to walk the streets of this well organised town.

At Cooktown  the weather did turn against us, and the Captain’s decision to allow tendering was greeted with some incredulity by many – I had been preparing a reserve programme believing my services would be required to fill the gap…but they went ahead and ploughed through the rough seas to visit a small town shrouded in rain and low cloud. Many regretted the undertaking. Darwin was very special. I had met a couple, Linda and Don, from the USA. Linda had told me that Don had been the first pilot to land a huge B52 bomber at Darwin airport 36 years ago. I told her there was a B52 bomber in the aviation museum at Darwin – facts unknown to each of us. Put them together and you have an occasion. The three of us visited the centre, to be welcomed as honoured guests, to view the giant machine and for Don to regale them with his memories of the event. A ships tour party arrived and Don was able to help them understand what had occurred those many years ago. A day to remember.

At Komodo Island, Indonesia, the dragons were awaiting us in the forest. We trooped through in small groups, learning about the flora until we came to the waterhole where four or five of these giant lizards – the largest in the world – were dozing. They blinked, stuck out their tongues, but did little else. Remarkable none the less.

And so on to Bali for an overnight stop. For me it turned into a surreal event. The Cruise Director told me she was to make contact with another cruise director she had once worked with who was holidaying on the island. It was a man I knew well! Ray picked us up and we went to his beach front villa, where a big BBQ was being prepared. And other guests included two past cruisers that I knew well. It was surprises, hugs and smiles all round and we left with a feeling of ‘how did that all happen?’

And so the two sea days to Singapore. The trip ended with the completion of 18 lectures (I prefer to call them ‘presentations’), 4 cabaret shows, including an amazing ‘Aint Patricks Night’, where I was able to do all the Irish stuff complete with jokes and a star appearance of the guest entertainer violinist Juliette who joined me in a couple of tunes, where people were being turned away due to lack of space… a Liars Club session (Call my Bluff in English), the ‘bridge talk in’ to Milford Sound and the usual appearance as King Neptune for the crossing of the line. I sold nearly all the CD’s I brought with me, and a goodly number of the ‘Adventure before Dementia’ badges. It’s been very busy, but the crowd have been universally accepting of everything. A final flourish of a four hour city tour of the ‘Lion City’, complete with a ‘sling’ at Raffles, and then the superb organisation and comfort of the airport …I wish all cruises were like this.

A few days in Western Australia and Julie and I fly to Darwin to connect with the Seven Seas Navigator ploughing its way through rough seas (we hear) on its world cruise. We have 47 days through to Rome….many talks and shows in store…and hopefully smoother seas.