A Travellerspoint blog

Cruise Day Forty Six - Fremantle and Home

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

View 2016 Indian Ocean on greynomadm's travel map.

Right on schedule we sailed into the port of Fremantle and time for us to grab a breakfast for the last time this cruise. There's a busy atmosphere in the Horizon Court with farewell chats, promises being made to keep in touch and email addresses being exchanged. We're in no hurry as our disembarkation is not scheduled until 09:50. We've been asked to vacate the cabin by 08:00 so we head for the Vista Lounge which is our assembly point.

Shortly after 10:00 our group is announced and we head to the gangway at Deck 7 Fwd. We're checked by the Border Protection Force and our entry form scrutinised. We've ticked Yes for drugs and medications and were complimented by the official. He commented that we were one of very few that made an accurate declaration. He said that given the ages of the passengers he'd be confident to over 90% could be fined for making a false declaration. We've never bothered declaring our medication but there were rumours on board that the Border force was getting tougher.

Picked up our luggage and walked through to where our transfer bus was waiting to take us to the airport. There was a delay as one couple had been held up in Quarantine for an inspection of some of their items. Our transfer was uneventful and we checked our baggage and were given Emergency Exit seats for the additional leg room. We sat at the second-rate Departure Lounge - without an air-bridge - for almost 3 hours. It was interesting to see the 'fly in, fly out' workers check through, many of them dressed in HiVis work gear and safety boots.

When it came time for us to board, the check-in operator questioned Jenny's walking stick and the allocation of the Emergency Exit seats. Jen had pulled out the stick because we faced a long walk out to the aircraft. We were directed back to the Customer Service Desk to be allocated alternative seating. It all worked out in the end.

The flight was routine and the cabin service was excellent, four hours after take-off we were back on the ground in Canberra - local time 22:30. Natalie was there to take us home even though we'd offered to catch a taxi home. She caught up on some pent up news and even stayed for an extended chat when we got home.

I'm dreading the days ahead as we restock the fridge and the pantry, catch up on the mail and rediscover my way around the unit.

This is the last entry in this blog, thanks for following me. There appear to be at least 40 or so views each day.

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 14:39 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Cruise Day Forty Five - 30th Day @ Sea

Monday, 22 February 2016

A calm sea and slight swell made it quite comfortable to walk some laps on Deck 14. The temperature was down a few degrees from yesterday and the wind across the deck was not much more than that caused by the speed of the ship. Heavy clouds on the horizon blocked any sight of the rising sun.

The morning routine was not varied significantly and I wound up in the Theatre for Lynn's final talk. Today's subject being the etiquette and suggested format for a "Toast", the most obvious rule being to make it appropriate for the occasion and not to stray into another direction. She correctly suggested that we'd all suffered long winded boring speeches.

A final lunch in the Horizon Court and farewells to staff member we'd grown accustomed to. Next item on the agenda was the final performance of the Sun Princess Pop Choir in the Vista Lounge. Somewhere between 70 and 80 passengers have been learning songs and rehearing for this one off performance. The lounge was a perfect setting and the event attracted a full house. The choir received well deserved enthusiastic ovations. Despite less than optimum conditions I managed to capture some shots.

Back to the cabin to start the dreaded task of packing for our departure tomorrow. Deciding what to keep or throw out in the way of maps, brochures and information leaflets is always a challenge and paper weighs so much. By the time we were ready for dinner we had completed the task and had changed into the clothes we'll wear until we reach home.

Enjoyed our dinner again and bid a bittersweet farewell to Conrad, Rene and the Head Waiter who has often stopped for a quick chat. After dinner headed for the Theatre for tonight's entertainment. Missing from some previous cruises we're looking forward to the Crew Show. With at least 30 minutes to show time the Theatre was packed. To keep us amused the staff handed out balloons and in no time there were dozens being punched back and forth. Amazing how much fun can be derived from a $1.50 packet of balloons.

Overall the show was fantastic, we started with the carpenter why sang a brilliant song, next was a technician from the engine room with another beautifully presented song. A Hawaiian lady danced to a hilariously funny sound track and a little waitress made an excellent fist of Whitney Houston's "I will always love you". This was followed by a cook who performed a Michael Jackson number complete with all the dance moves. Finally, the Cruise Director's staff staged that old chestnut "If I was not upon the sea" which left the audience in gales of laughter. One of the better shows for the whole cruise.

Returned to the cabin to post this last entry on an Internet connection that is under pressure from the many users using up their last free minutes or contacting family and friends or confirming travel arrangement. If I don't get it posted today, I'll upload it when I get home. This is our last night at sea as we dock in Fremantle in the morning.

For this last day I've created a simple collage of the Pop Choir performance in the Vista Lounge, if you have time you can view it by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 05:52 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Cruise Day Forty Four - 29th Day @ Sea

Sunday, 21 February 2016

The sea conditions have improved some more in the past 24 hours and the temperature was low enough to justify a jacket. The rising sun was interesting as it played amongst the clouds and rain squalls on the horizon. The forward deck was open for the first time in almost a week but with the full force of the wind it was difficult stay steady.

Joined Jenny for breakfast after which she attended the Interdenominational Sunday Worship Service conducted by the Captain in the Theatre. I left the cabin in the hands of Romulo and sat in the International Café until Jenny joined me. Jenny has had a rough night so tried to catch up on some lost sleep while I attended Lynn's talk on the evolution of English as words were added from the Australian and New Zeeland colonies. She also lightly touched on the variations spoken in India, the Caribbean and parts of Africa.

On the way back to the cabin I snapped some images of the art work on display in the Wheelhouse Bar for today's Art Auction. Each time there's an auction, the furniture is rearranged and hundreds of art works are brought out of storage and put on display. At the end of the auction the majority are returned to their storage and the bar area is reconfigured.

The Terrace Grill on Deck 14 was the venue for today's culinary special, the Aussie Style Fish and Meat BBQ. It looked like it was very popular as an hour after it started there was still a long queue of people lined up for the many variations of salad and cooked meat. I've no idea what meat was available from the many covered serving dishes. My previous experience is that the meat is stewed and overcooked within 15 minutes of being placed out for service.

The Movie of the Day "Southpaw" has been on before so after lunch I spent a while in the cabin with the intention of meeting up with other Military in the Wheelhouse Bar at 14:45. I'm sure you can figure out what happened - yes !! I slept through it and woke at 15:30, well after the daily "Happy Hour" was in full swing.

Formal Night tonight so will need some extra time to get the body and clothes into some form of respectable shape. Lovely dinner again with many normally absent diners deciding to turn out for the lobster tails. Managed to get some snaps of Conrad and Rene our waiters. Posed for a formal photo with no real intent to buy one, but we may be convinced.

Tonight's entertainment was the Production Show "Sweet Soul Music" lots of high energy dancing. As a surprise ending, Mark the Cruise Director. welcomed to the stage representatives from every department. They received a richly deserved thunderous ovation. Great end to a fabulous evening.

I've created a simple collage of the Art Work in the Wheelhouse Bar, if you have time you can view it by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 06:18 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cruise Day Forty Three - 28th Day @ Sea

Saturday, 20 February 2016

The swell has eased and the wind across the deck is tolerable so I managed to put in a few laps on the open deck. The temperature has dropped and a jacket was a wise choice. The ship is heading directly towards the rising sun and the front of the ship is closed because of the strong winds.
A breakfast followed by a brief stay in the International Café. We try to vacate the cabin to allow Romulo to do his duties. We've tried to convince him that the room is tidy enough and just replace the towels but he won't allow that. I guess his supervisor could drop in and inspect the cabin and he'd be blamed for anything that wasn't perfect. After a cup and a sweet roll Jenny returned to the cabin and I went off to listen to Lynn's. Her topic today is the development of American English, the leading players like Webster and the contributions from the black population to the language, literature and music.

Had my one-bowl lunch again. I'm getting hooked on that tasty soup and will need to see if I can create it back home. Some of the ingredients will be no problem but I'll have to research a recipe for the broth.

Today's Movie of the Day is one we've seen so Jenny will try to find something from the selections on the TV. Being able to call up movies and recorded events on demand is a vast improvement on the old system when individual movies were shown at specific time during the day and night. Scrolling through the On Screen menu is a bit tedious but the ability to pause the show is a handy and positive feature.

I thought an event in the Atrium at 14:15 promised a chance to capture some useful images. Based on similar events in the past I knew it would be difficult to gain a vantage point so I staked out my spot from 13:45. The performance by the "Syncopated Ukulele Orchestra" fully justified the hundreds of fellow passengers who crowded all levels of the venue. There were over 40 players who played and sang through a number of typical ukulele friendly songs. It was worth the wait and I managed to snap some acceptable images.

Managed a short nap before dinner in the dining room. As happens from time to time there were 2 or 3 items that I'd have liked to try. I ordered fish and just before I finished it Rene came up beside me and made some comment about the lamb rack, would I like to try ?? I shouldn't but did. Both meals delicious and I'll have to seriously diet when I get off the ship.

Tonight's show was an encore performance by Patrick Roberts. This time we snagged a seat in the Theatre and there was a definite sparkle that was missing the other night from the simulcast in the Vista Lounge. Fabulous show and well deserved ovation.

I've selected an image of the Ukulele Concert for today, if you have time you can view it by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 06:26 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cruise Day Forty Two - 27th Day @ Sea

Friday, 19 February 2016

The wind across the deck was still very strong when I went out on Deck 14. The swell has moderated and overnight calmed down to that gentle rocking that puts you to sleep. There were a surprising number of people up and about by 08:00. I should have realised that with almost half the passengers being seasoned sailors, these conditions were no challenge. There are 748 Elite Status passengers, Elite Status indicates 150 or more days on a Princess ship so that's a lot of sea miles under their belts.

My photographic attempts failed to capture anything of note. Looking back on some sunrises I've captured over the years, they were mainly taken on the beach in Moruya, nothing I've seen since comes close. Looks like I'll have to find another favourite subject as we settle into life in Canberra.

The morning schedule has been changed with Lyn's talk moved to 13:00 so I was at a loose end until after lunch. Lynn's topic today focused the Scott's Tongue and the Irish Brogue and how both languages have almost become extinct. She also traced the migration of these Celtic people to all parts of the British Empire often as soldiers of the crown.

I stayed in the Theatre for the 14:15 Movie of the Day, dusted off from the archives a B&W "Grand Hotel" with Greta Garbo and John Barrymore. It was an unlikely melodrama with each character larger than life and some scenes that must have seemed risqué at the time. It neatly filled in a couple of hours before dinner. Jen and I both chose the same main course and were very happy with the meal. It was "Italian Night" and all the waiter dressed in striped tee shirts and a menu that reflected the theme.

Off to the Theatre for tonight's entertainment in the form of multi-instrumentalist Andy Joy. His upbeat performance managed to involve most of the audience, a rare achievement. His segment honouring the late Peter Allen was excellent, in my opinion better than the original.

Clocks go forward another hour overnight and the captain has forecast a continuation of current conditions. I'll have no trouble getting to sleep.

Over the past few days I've posted some collages of the ship's interiors taken before anyone else was up and about. To show that life exists on board I took some shots of a few popular meeting places with people in them. I've stuck together a simple collage, if you have time you can view it by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 07:35 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cruise Day Forty One - 26th Day @ Sea

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Last night was the roughest 12 hours we've spent on a ship. We've had short spells of rougher seas but not this severity for so long. We've been sailing East SouthEast for three days now and appear to have kept the maximum distance between us and the cyclone. Reports from the bridge have kept us aware of where it is relative to us. Although we ware over 500 nautical miles from the centre of the storm we are still experiencing the effects with 40 knot winds buffeting the ship.

Any walking on the open decks was out of the question. Even walking inside with handrails was a bit of a challenge. I managed to capture a short video clip showing the stern of the ship pitch through almost 30°, there wasn't anything worth while to take images of. There was also a problem holding the camera steady. Did the usual breakfast routine, just a bit later than usual.

I attended Lyn's talk in the Theatre, I'm pretty sure it was interesting but don't honestly know. I suspect I dropped off, hopefully without snoring, and woke up when she played her exit music. Visited the Horizon Court for lunch where I've been restricting my intake - a bit. I have a bowl of Asian soup consisting of noodles, some protein (prawns today), cabbage, slices of fish and a hot tasty broth. I then add a little seaweed and some sesame oil. It probably is no healthier than any of the other offerings but at least I can predict the meal size.

We're not watching the Movie of the Day as we've already seen it recently. Instead we found an action movie on the in-room TV. The November Man had enough action and suspense to keep me awake.

The passenger accessible decks on the ship have names. Don't know how they are derived but they are constant across all the ships in the fleet. Starting at the top :
Deck 15 - Sun - the Sanctuary, Topsiders Bar and the Sports Court
Deck 14 - Lido - Horizon Court, Terrace Grill and Sundowners Bar
Deck 12 - Riviera - some accommodation, Riviera Bar, the Pool, Fitness Centre and Spa facilities.
Deck 11 - Aloha - all accommodation
Deck 10 - Baja - all accommodation
Deck 9 - Caribe - all accommodation
Deck 8 - Dolphin - some accommodation, the Casino and the Pizzeria the Lifeboats and Tenders are stored externally.
Deck 7 - Promenade - Walking Deck, Theatre, Wheelhouse Bar, Crooners Bar, Shooting Stars, Vista Lounge, Art Gallery, Internet Cafe, Library, Kai Sushi and Photo Gallery
Deck 6 - Emerald - some accommodation, shops and Regency Dining Room
Deck 5 - Plaza - some accommodation, International Café, Guest Services, Atrium and Marquis Dining Room
Deck 4 - Fiesta - Medical Centre and Tender Embarkation.
The latest ships, Royal, Regal and Majestic have decks numbered to 19, the lower decks 4 to 12 have the same names, after that they've had to be a bit more creative and Lido has moved up to 16.

Off to the Dining Room where I tried the Pork Belly dish again. It is really very tasty but varies significantly from day to day. Tonight there was a good amount of meat and little fat.

Tonight's entertainment is the 'Ye Olde Pub Night' in the Vista Lounge with a simulcast in the Theatre. Jenny has an invitation to an event in the jewelry store, with a chance to win a gift. You have to be there to win. So we went along after dinner, there were two names called who were not present and missed out. The third name wasn't Jenny's though. The Vista Lounge was packed by the time we got there so we watched the show via simulcast in the Theatre. The show was great and although we missed out on all the participation, the camera gave us a better view of the action then if we'd been present.

Clocks go forward another hour tonight, with a few more to go. Just noticed the ship has turned to port and we're on an Easterly course to take us to Fremantle.

For today I've created a simple collage of some images of the Atrium viewed from Deck 5, if you have time you can view it by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 08:07 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cruise Day Forty - 25th Day @ Sea

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The rough weather continues with wind speed across the deck exceeding 30 knots. Today's weather is forecast to continue for the next 48 to 72 hours. The swimming pools have been emptied and the upper decks closed to passengers. All deck furniture has been roped together and secured to the bulkheads. The sick bags are once again deployed in the stairwells and the public areas are less crowded than normal.

Very few up in the Horizon Court as we enjoyed what has become a routine breakfast. Filled in some time in the International Café while the braver passengers got up to see what was causing the bumps and thumps. The morning schedule was pretty much a repeat of yesterday. Here's what's on offer for this afternoon :
12:00 Slot Tournament in the Casino
12:15 Cricket Open Play on the Sports Court (weather permitting)
13:00 Movie of the Day in the Princess Theatre
13:00 Guitar Melodies in the Atrium
13:30 Ballroom Dance Class in the Vista Lounge
14:00 Burn Fat Faster in the Aerobics Studio
14:00 Texas Hold'Em in the Casino
14:00 Arts and Crafts in the Dining Room
14:15 Ukulele Class in the Shooting Stars night club
14:30 Line Dancing Class in the Vista Lounge
14:30 Paddle Tennis Open Play on the Sports Court (weather permitting)
15:00 Carpet Bowls in the Casino (interesting ?!!)
15:00 Ukulele Class in the Shooting Stars night club
15:00 Happy Hour Drinks in the Wheelhouse Bar
15:30 Jackpot Bingo in the Vista Lounge
15:30 Red Hatters Get-Together in the Dining Room
16:00 Friends of Dr Bob and Bill W in the Shooting Stars night club
16:00 New Vogue Dancers in the Wheelhouse Bar
16:15 Afternoon Trivia in the Vista Lounge
16:15 Water Volleyball in the Pool (not likely !!)
16:30 LGBT Get-Together at the Sundowners Bar
16:30 Evening Grooves on the Pool Deck (weather permitting)

The remaining activities are grouped under the heading "Enchanting Evening" - may be tomorrow. Most of the activities are of 45 to 60 minute duration. Most are hosted by the Cruise Director's staff while others are unhosted and rely on the participants to sort out what they want to do. In my limited experience they fall rather flat.

Out of that extensive list we attended the Movie of the Day, "Kramer vs Kramer" with Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep. A movie we think we've seen but have only vague memories of. I thought the little boy almost stole the show. Once again a few wet tissues in the audience.

After the movie we returned to the cabin and I spent an hour or so typing up this blog. Dinner tonight in the dining room was excellent and Jenny particularly enjoyed the peanut butter ice cream. Tonight's entertainment is expected to attract a sell-out audience and the ship has decided to simulcast the show from the Theatre into the Vista Lounge. Their expectations were fully met, we made the decision to watch the show in the less crowded Vista Lounge. The artist tonight is one of the very best to have visited the ship. We were royally entertained by the sensational violin of Patrick Roberts, an incredible artist.

We continue to rock and roll our way across this stirred up ocean. The cyclone heads to the NorthWest and we run in the opposite direction to put as much space between us as possible.

For today I've created a simple collage of some images of the Horizon Court buffet, if you have time you can view it by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 08:20 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Cruise Day Thirty Nine - 24th Day @ Sea

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Overnight we've sailed into some wet and stormy weather. It was too wet and windy to spend much time on deck. I ran the risk of drowning the camera but didn't achieve any spectacular images for my trouble. Took some internal shots before there were people up and about.

Had our breakfast and with Romulo's help managed to scrape a collection of mud from the shoes I wore yesterday. While there are lots of activities there was only Lyn's talk that interests me. Here are some of this morning's offerings:
07:00 Long & Lean Stretch Class in the Aerobics Studio
08:00 Morning Tai Chi in the Aerobics Studio
08:00 Mahjong & Board Games Players in the Library
08:30 Bible Study in the Shooting Stars night club
09:00 Zumba in the Vista Lounge
09:00 500, Whist and Other players in the Dining Room
09:15 Holy Rosary in the Shooting Stars night club
09:15 Knitters & Natters in the Dining Room
09:30 Beginners Bridge Play in the Dining Room
09:30 Free Massage Tasters in the Lotus Spa
10:30 Morning Trivia in the Vista Lounge
10:30 Arts & Crafts in the Dining Room
10:30 Acupuncture Clinic in the Lotus Spa
11:00 Lyn Hurry Lecture in the Princess Theatre
11:15 Carpet Bowls in the Casino
11:15 Bingo in the Vista Lounge
11:30 Pop Choir Rehearsal in the Shooting Stars night club

All that before lunch and twice as many from lunch to dinner. I may include the afternoon list in a future entry. Only six more days at sea to go. Attended Lyn's talk on the development of a global language with English as the dominant language for diplomacy, commerce and technology. I was surprised to learn that there are about 500,000 English words but only 100,000 French ones.

After a quick lunch I joined Jenny in the Theatre for the Movie of the Day, an old B&W classic "Going My Way" staring Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald. I was vaguely familiar with some of the songs but had not previously seen the movie. A wonderful 'feel good' story that had most of us reaching for the tissues.

Spent an hour or two composing this blog and making the best of the limited number of images for today. Off to the dining room for a three course dinner that my body could well do without. The chowder was hot and satisfying, the pork belly delicious and the torte was rich and almost decadent. Now all we need is for tonight's entertainment to better than average to make this a satisfying if not memorable day.

Went to the Vista Lounge to see the "Bionic Comic", no idea where that title came from. Mike Harris was typical of the breed, a loud red jacket, a fat gut, a pommy voice and some very stale jokes. To give him credit, he recognised that this late in the cruise most of the jokes would already have been told, sadly he wasn't wrong.

Clocks go forward another hour as we continue to sail generally in an Easterly direction. Strong winds and increasing swell are in the weather forecast, could be an interesting night ahead.

For today I've created a simple collage of some images of the ship's interior, if you have time you can view it by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 09:07 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cruise Day Thirty Eight - Port Louis, Mauritius

Monday, 15 February 2016

View 2016 Indian Ocean on greynomadm's travel map.

Rain squalls threatened as we sailed into the harbour of Port Louis the capital of Mauritius. The morning routine was disrupted as all 2000 passengers were required to present to Immigration Officials for a 'face to passport' check. It was simplified as there was just a need to compare the face to the passport photograph. We then surrendered our passport and the search for a free page, the application of the rubber stamp and initials was performed while we were ashore.

The shore excursions have been delayed by an hour to allow for the immigration process. As the process was so swift we had almost an hour to fill in. The meeting place - the Wheelhouse Bar was rather crammed as large numbers crowded in. At the due time we were escorted to the wharf where we boarded the coach. We drove out of the port area into the morning traffic rush of the nation's capital. There were police on point duty but despite their best efforts it seemed to take ages to get moving. Before long we were on the highway heading Northeast to the Botanical Gardens at Pamplemousses. The gardens contain trees from all over the world with many specimens being over 200 years old.

We spent an hour being escorted around by our tour guide. Her stories about individual trees were delivered with a strong French accent and seemed tedious at times. The shade of the trees was most welcome as the temperature climbed to 30 °C and up. After an hour we returned to the welcome air-conditioned coach. A shot trip took us to what was the island's largest sugar mill. It has now been converted to a museum presenting the history of Mauritius, the processing of sugar and the distillation of rum. The material is displayed amidst the original machinery, the processing tanks and old pipe-work. All painted and suitably illuminated. It would take a day or more to go through all the material.

After the museum there was the obligatory 'gift shop' selling many interesting items, many associated with the theme of sugar. Co-located with the old mill is an elegant restaurant set in some beautifully maintained gardens. We'd been allowed an hour and a half but I found myself looking for things to look at in just over an hour. Having visited sugar mills and rum distilleries previously, there wasn't much in the way of new material. There were at least a dozen people from our coach also looking for some shade.

Back on the coach we headed for a short stop at a fabric/fashion outlet store. We all got off but only one or two people actually bought anything. This stop was not included in the tour description and was a bonus. Back on the coach we continued through the narrow and busy streets of Port Louis on our way up to La Citadelle where the ramparts provided an amazing 360° panoramic view over the city. The driver then performed some incredible feats of precision driving to squeeze the coach down the narrow streets back to the city centre.

Back to the ship for a refreshing shower and a short nap. The tour was interesting but did little to endear me to Mauritius which left an impression of a poor country with many of the issues faced by some of the Latin America countries we visited last year.

Lovely dinner in the dining room after which we returned to the cabin to watch a movie as we've seen this evening's entertainment a number of times on previous cruises. Seven days at sea as we head for Fremantle. The Captain has warned us of a possible encounter with a cyclone to the North of our track.

For today I've selected an image of the giant lily pads in the botanical garden, if you have time you can view it by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 07:50 Archived in Mauritius Comments (0)

Cruise Day Thirty Seven - Pointe Des Galets, Reunion

Sunday, 14 February 2016

View 2016 Indian Ocean on greynomadm's travel map.

The island's mountains blocked the sunrise which limited my photo opportunities. Decided to stay up on Deck 15 to take some images of the port as we entered. The size and extent of the infrastructure is surprisingly extensive. While we were still at least a mile off shore a woman with a high end DSLR came up to shoot some images with the camera flash on. I suspect the camera was set to full automatic and she had no idea of the futility of the flash over that distance. Seems a shame to see such equipment in incompetent hands.

Unlike the Maldives and Seychelles this island has massive steep-sided hills dominated by the Piton des Neige a 10,000 foot high volcano as a result the visible development is on the shoreline and the lower slopes. The wharf is remarkably clear of clutter and looks to be well maintained. There are no passenger facilities ashore and with an expected temperature in the thirties it is to be hoped there are no long lines as waiting will be in the full sun.

There are lots of red hearts decorating the Horizon Court and the dining rooms. Our cabin steward Romulo has fashioned some small hearts for each of our cabin doors. A small, over the top touch. We have nothing to do until our shore excursion at 12:45. Sat in the International Café and eavesdropped on some loudly voiced criticisms from independent travellers regarding the availability and outrageous costs of taxis. They'd been ashore and were back on the ship looking for ship sponsored transport only to find it was fully booked. To add to the general frustration it being a Sunday and locals are advising them that shops are not likely to be open. Thankfully Jenny had booked a tour and we're not effected.

A quick early lunch and we get our gear sorted for the tour. When we assembled on the wharf for our tour the rain clouds had moved in. We boarded the coach and headed Eastward along the coast of the island passing through La Possession and while driving through the capital St Denis the rain came down as only tropical storms can do. Further along the coast we turned inland to one of the three craters that make up the centre of the island.

Along a road that twisted and turned and appeared far too narrow we wound our way along the edge of a gorge to arrive at Salazie where we stopped for an all too brief comfort stop. The remnants of once opulent mansions lined the narrow streets and although the rain had eased there were only limited photo opportunities. Back on the coach and we drove back out of the crater to the coast.

Our next stop was the vanilla plantation in the town of St André where we were greeted by the head of the family run operation. Under a makeshift shelter she explained the history and life cycle of the vanilla bean. All the flowers need to be manually pollinated by the "Match Maker" a lady trained to perform the job that an insect performs in native Mexico. The life of the flower is very short and she has to complete as many as she can before noon by which time the flower is passed its prime. It takes two years from pollination to final packaging as the beans grow, ripens, are picked, dried and processed.

There ware a number of vanilla products for sale and a complementary punch to try. Made on coconut milk with rum, vanilla and a little sugar, it lived up to its name, it packed a punch. Most of us felt no pain as we boarded the coach and returned to the ship after a quick detour through St Denis. Being Sunday, all the shops were closed and shuttered, the place resembled a ghost town. Many of the buildings had shutters over the windows and doors as protection from the cyclones that visit the island from time to time.

Back on board we changed for dinner and afterwards took a seat in the theatre to listen to an encore performance by Toni Stevens and Jenifer Gray. Don't know how we missed Jenifer's first show but we're sorry we did. She looks great and belts out a song as well as anyone we've seen on ships. Great performance.

Managed to capture a shot of some immature vanilla beans, if you have time you can view it by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 09:32 Archived in Reunion Comments (0)

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