Oceania Nautica – Jewels of the Mediterranean Cruise

Quite an interesting day, actually better than that! It started badly with a gale blowing and rain smashing against the windows of the upper observation lounge – we were an hour late in reaching Split, Croatia. But as we berthed in the inner harbour of this interesting place the wind did ease and the rain reduced to mild monsoon level. But duty called and I took up my flag to escort Bus Number 1 with its 31 soggy occupants and local guide Maria out of town to the Roman ruins of the old city of Salona. We stared at hundreds of damp rocks and sarcophagi seemingly floating in the nave of the early Christian church looking like so many discarded dog kennels. But Maria was enthusiastic and her enthusiasm and energy worked its magic among the usually sceptical and culture-shy Yanks, who were soon traipsing and stumbling over the grassy hillocks and rocks to ‘use their imagination’ to re-create the scene of 1700 years ago. But to a jaundiced ancient Brit raised on a diet of quality Roman remains, it was essentially another pile of old rocks, enjoyable but not wondrous and the real treat was waiting back in town. Here were the remains of the Palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, the persecutor of the Christians, who chose to ‘retire’ to this seaside town, safe from his own enemies. Much of the Palace remains embedded in the newer buildings of the town, but the arches, domes, towers and pillars remain for all to see. The Emperors burial mausoleum is now part of the Catholic Cathedral, with the irony of the situation not missed by the local guides!
As for my work on the cruise itself, my first lecture was delayed by 24 hours so there was time to do a recorded interview for broadcast on the ship’s TV system which raised the subject of musical entertainment and the real possibility of doing a show or two on this and the next cruise…..and so we sail for Dubrovnik –  a brief visit of some 8 hours, and then the first lecture session – Julius Caesar!

Oceania Nautica – Jewels of the Mediterranean Cruise

The day in Venice was one dominated by the rain and the high wind. Having ‘done’ the town early in the morning to find myself alone in St.Mark’s Square and almost alone on the Rialto Bridge (what other fools would be out at 7.30 on a Sunday morning in the rain?) I felt liberated enough to take to my cabin and watch ‘Invictus’ on the movie channel…the story of Mandela, Pienar and the Rugby World Cup in ‘Seth Efrica’. No as good as the book is my verdict, but it passed the time until tea was served in the upper lounge with the string quartet playing away ignored by most and appreciated by a few. Continue reading “Oceania Nautica – Jewels of the Mediterranean Cruise”

Oceania Nautica – Jewels of the Mediterranean Cruise

To reach the ship in Venice necessitated the usual flight to Madrid, as in American Football, all action must pass first to the Quarterback and then on into the real area of play, so it seems with Iberia, you must get first to Madrid, kill a few hours and then take the real flight to your destination. I was booked with extra leg-room throughout and arrived in Venice in pretty good spirits. A taxi van was allocated to me and two other passenger/guest for the ship and my transfer from Casa Sin Nombre to Cabin 6038 was effected without any pain whatsoever. I took a brief walk, but in anticipation of being required for the ‘Introduction Show’ I spent my time around the ship. As it happened I was ‘not required’ for the Intro Show.

What do you do at sea?

This is a question I’ve been asked many times! The simple answer is that like a Troubadour of old, I tell stories, and sometimes sing some songs. I do not tell the passengers about the places they going to visit, as there are people already employed to do just that – and if they take a trip ashore then the local guides earn their crust by doing the same thing….so I tell stories about the areas we pass by, the countries we visit and the people that may have lived, or indeed did live there and what they did. So as we leave Venice on Sunday night, assuming I am programmed to give a ‘talk’, or ‘lecture’ as the Americans like to call it, I will be telling the story of Julius Caesar, his life and death and what he did for the Roman Empire – with a little help from William Shakespeare!! As we sail around the Eastern Med I will be recounting the tales of the Greek Heroes, Alexander the Great and the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World…..finishing with the sad tale of the abortive invasion of Turkey at Gallipoli in the First World War…. – not a lot of laughs in that one! Across the Med I will talk about Napoleon in Malta and Egypt, Hannibal and Carthage, The re-conquest of Andalucia by the Catholic Kings and their sponsorship of  Chris Columbus, and the Battle of Trafalgar as seen through the eyes of one who was there – with a lot of songs. and on down the west coast of Africa with stories about Slavery, the Boer War, the Zulus, Napoleon in St. Helena and the First World War in Africa…..and then maybe a few cabaret shows thrown in to keep me busy! So maybe that answers the questions about what I do on these cruise liners! Well someone has to do it!!

Off to Sea!

The suitcase lies open on the floor waiting to be filled and the guitar is polished and ready to go. So it’s off to sea once more, first to Venice and then on to Istanbul and Tenerife and finally Cape Town in early December. The 19 or so lectures are primed in the net book and the notes are filed. I have dates, names and tunes whirling in my head as I await the timetable of my ‘duties’. It is always good to go, but also difficult to leave this beautiful place called home here in Andalucia. Yesterday, with a good friend I was in the mountains on the trails and footpaths where we gasped and stumbled up the slopes to take in the clear air and mind-blowing scenery of the Sierra de Tejeda and the Maroma peak, in glorious autumnal sunshine. The tired legs and bruised feet are a small price to pay for the inner satisfaction of being able to view such sights and still be able to make the climbs…..and then descend to the village carrying the vision of the large glass of ‘amber nectar’ waiting in Miguels bar! Another walk in the hills tonmorrow and then it must be some serious packing of that open suitcase….