A Travellerspoint blog

Cruise Day Twenty Six - 18th Day @ Sea

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

There was a significant swell this morning and the temperature was down and the wind stronger. While doing my laps on Deck14 I took time out to watch the antics of what I think is an albatross. The bird glided effortlessly low over the waves, it would turn and climb all without moving a feather. When travelling in line with the ship it actually travelled faster than the ship. The sky held hints of a possible storm and when the sun started to light up the sky there were some interesting colours.

Joined Jenny in the cabin and prepared the laundry bag for the last time until after Cape Town. Had our usual breakfast in the Horizon Court and then sat outside the Future Cruises Office. We've decided to lash out and book a cruise for June 2017. We've booked an 18 Day round trip Dover England on the Pacific Princess visiting many Norwegian ports with names I can't pronounce, many of them inside the Arctic Circle. It will require a lengthy flight both before and after the cruise.

Went to the $15 sale where Jenny found a scarf she liked, with our Elite Discount it cost a mere $13.50. Attended Lyn Hurry's talk about the famous fictional characters created in the literature of the past 100 years. Many of these characters are from children's books and even comic books. Her list of top 100 characters was based on an American survey.

A simple lunch and we return to the Theatre for another movie. Today's offering is "The Hurt Locker", a frightening view of the work carried out by EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) specialist in Iraq dealing mainly with command detonated bombs. Most of their work carried out under threat of sniper fire from surrounding buildings. The film may have been somewhat dramatised but the stress and pressure was quite authentic.

Lovely dinner in the dining room where we decided to skip the entertainment in the Theatre. We returned to the cabin and watched a movie on the TV. Based on true events "The Bridge Of Spies" starring Tom Hanks tells the story of the negotiations that resulted in the exchange of the U2 pilot who was shot down and captured by the Russians. An intriguing tale with lots of twists and turns. Cape Town tomorrow for a three day stay.

I rather like the capture of the sky at daybreak, 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 11:24 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Cruise Day Twenty Five - 17th Day @ Sea

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Had a rough night and didn't get up until about 09:00, just in time to report to the Medical Centre. I've been frequently sneezing and battled a runny nose most of the night. At the Medical Centre the nurse measured my vitals and assured me that they were about normal. She advised me to monitor my condition and report back if I developed a cough or became feverish. So I'm OK and not likely to infect the ship with a dreaded lurgy.

Went up to the Horizon Court for lunch and then to the Theatre for Today's Movie - one of the most confusing plots with two main roles played by similar faces. "The Departed" has a cast of famous Hollywood names including Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martie Sheen and many more rugged individuals. It was impossible to keep track of who were the bad guys, who were the good guys and who were the undercover rats. By the end of the film there were more corpses than I could keep track of.

After dinner we returned again to the Theatre for tonight's performance by Paul Baker in front of a full house. His voice is nothing short of brilliant. Finished up this blog entry and was well ready for bed. Tomorrow is another sea day before we dock in Cape Town.

I took no pictures today so used one of the ship from yesterday, 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 10:58 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Cruise Day Twenty Four - Richards Bay, South Africa

Monday, 1 February 2016

View 2016 Indian Ocean on greynomadm's travel map.

Sunrise was due at 05:20 but it was difficult to see any evidence through the storm clouds and rain squalls. The excitement today is the unusual method of the harbour pilot's arrival. For the first time in our experience the pilot will arrive by helicopter. As there is no helipad, he will be lowered to the deck on the end of a winch wire.

Well before the arrival time crowds of passengers took up any and all vantage points. We were politely but firmly told to clear ALL open decks in case there were loose objects thrown around by the aircraft's rotors. The pilot was to be lowered to the aft section of Deck 14 thankfully the forward section of Decks 14 and 15 were considered safe.

It was well past the planned arrival when the helicopter arrived and made a number of circuits of the ship. It then hovered for some time as the ship adjusted its position to safely receive the pilot. In less than 30 seconds the pilot was lowered and the helicopter took off to where it came from. With the pilot aboard the ship proceeded into one of the wharfs of the Richards Bay harbour. The wharf was definitely set up for commercial bulk handling with little to no facilities for passengers. The local flea market vendors were huddled in the hot sun without shade and their goods displayed on a ground sheet.

About 30 minutes behind schedule the Immigration Process has commenced. We are Group #17 scheduled for 13:00, it will likely be later than that. Once our group was called the Immigration Process ran quite smoothly and we were through by 14:00. Picked up our gear and went ashore to board the complementary shuttle. A monster of a bus with very tight and narrow seating and no air-conditioning. The trip to the drop-off was not the most comfortable but was mercifully short.

First task was to withdraw some local cash, the 50 Rand (AU$5) fee was a little steep but was unavoidable, the ship charges $6. We had been dropped off at a giant shopping mall and while the merchandise and store names were different the general feel of the place was not much different to any mall in Australia. We bought a replacement pair of sandals for Tony, found some cold soft-drink and found our way out of the place. Back on the shuttle and our beautiful floating home. Spent some time looking at the handcraft items for sale, all were beautifully made and very inexpensive but most could well be banned or require treatment by Australian Quarantine.

No plans to dress for dinner tonight, we'll grab some food in the Horizon Court. Ate way too much, now all we want to do is go to sleep. The entertainment has no great appeal so when I've posted this I'll put my head down. We have another day at sea tomorrow as we head for Cape Town for a 3 day/2 night stay over.

I've created a collage of the helicopter event, 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 08:38 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Cruise Day Twenty Three - Maputo, Mozambique

Sunday, 31 January 2016

View 2016 Indian Ocean on greynomadm's travel map.

Early sunrise this morning as the forges South Westerly with the coast of Africa on the starboard side. The wind has abated but there is still a significant swell. The ship is still making 20 knots but we've made no improvement on our arrival time which is still scheduled for 13:00, still five hours late.

The Internet has been down overnight and is still inaccessible at 08:00 this morning. I suspect a re-boot of the server is required. I'll need to post yesterday's entry as soon as I can. Fortunately the delayed arrival in Maputo has left me with lots of time on my hands.

Standard breakfast and Jenny has her eyes glued to the TV for the Australian Open Tennis coverage. I'll find somewhere to hole up and read the Kindle. The scheduled activities are a bit unusual, we should have been in port but spent most of the day catching up so it was more of a sea day. The Internet connection finally showed signs of working but after 10 minutes connected I still couldn't open my Email. Tried again just before lunch and was finally able to post yesterday's blog and image.

Went up to the Horizon Court for lunch and I stayed up on Deck 15 to watch the arrival in the port. It was a long slow approach and we finally tied up at 14:30. This delayed late arrival required additional changes to scheduled tour departures. The tennis final completed Jenny was looking for something to watch and found "A Walk In The Woods" on the TV. An interesting movie that kept us entertained during the afternoon.

At 17:00 our hard-working steward delivered our Passports and we signed his sheet confirming we'd received them. There was also an individual South Africa Arrival Form, nicely pre-printed with our details. There was also a letter detailing the Immigration Inspection schedule. We are required to present ourselves to the officials. Finally there's a note advising us that we are required to vacate the cabin during the arrival of the Pilot by helicopter. Likewise we will need to vacate when the Pilot disembarks when we leave. Looks like an 'interesting' day ahead.

Up to the Horizon Court for dinner and stayed up there to witness the sunset and watched the return of the last of the shore excursions. Went to the Theatre for John Lenahan's "Comedy and Magic" show. Unfortunately we were in the middle of the row and couldn't leave. His jokes were short of pathetic and his tricks were presented in a supposedly comical way. May have been good for a kid's birthday party.

Will try and upload this tonight. My selected shot of today is a sunset, 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 11:39 Archived in Mozambique Comments (1)

Cruise Day Twenty Two - 16th Day @ Sea

Saturday, 30 January 2016

A stiff breeze and storm clouds with occasional lightning on the horizon made for an interesting start to the day. The sunrise was interesting rather than spectacular and changed as clouds scudded across the sky. In addition to the wind gusts the ship was rolling and pitching creating a difficult platform from which to take the shots.

A standard breakfast which has settled to a bowl with prunes, fresh fruit salad and plain yogurt. A banana and some papaya or other fruit. Glass of orange juice and a fried egg on toast with grilled tomato and some sausage. There are three or four flavours of sausage being rotated daily, this mornings was a spiced pork sausage - very tasty.

After breakfast, attended the Destination Lecture providing an overview of Cape Town and various tourist's options. Stayed in the Theatre for Lyn's talk on Australian poetry and rhymed verse. During her talk there was an urgent message from the bridge. The Captain explained that despite running the ship at over 20 knots the effect of an adverse current has us arriving in Maputo at least five hours late, 13:00 in stead of 08:00. With the day half gone, it being a Sunday and the expense of the Visas and shuttle services we've decided to cancel. We will need to remain aboard for the day, something we rarely do.

A bowl of soup and a toasted croissant from the International Café for lunch. Jenny's hooked on the tennis lady's final on TV so I'll go to see the movie without her. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert starred in "It Happened One Night", a romantic comedy with a hint of slapstick and many unlikely events.

Dinner tonight was excellent with both of us leaving completely empty plates. Jenny is off to claim some seats for this evening's show while I hold back to try and capture a sunset. The ship has become quite lively with gale force winds and a rising sea.

Tonight's show featured Paul Baker an amazing West End performer who provided a solid hour of incredible songs from many famous stage shows. The clocks go back another hour tonight as we bump our way towards Maputo. With no specific image to show today, I've created a simple collage of the sunrise,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 00:20 Archived in Mozambique Comments (0)

Cruise Day Twenty One - 15th Day @ Sea

Friday, 29 January 2016

Overcast sky, occasional showers and some ship movement created a daunting prospect for walking on Deck 14. Decided to get my exercise walking back and forth in the long corridors of Decks 10 and 11. Managed to achieve over 5,000 steps on the FitBit before joining Jenny for breakfast in the Horizon Court.

Flopped onto the bed to take advantage of the gently rocking ship, woke up almost three hours later !!

Managed to turn up for Lyn Furry's talk on all things nautical from sea shanties, familiar expressions and the meaning and derivation of words and phrases. The sailing history has left a rich legacy in the English language.

Simple lunch from the International Café on Deck 5, readily accessible and limited portion size. I've notice that my belt has shrunk a bit, I'm not admitting the alternative reason. 8-)

Went to the Theatre to watch the Movie of the Day. They've dipped deep into the past and dragged out "On the Waterfront" starring Marlon Brando and Karl Malden released in 1954. Despite the black and white film and some of the over-dramatic music it was worth watching even though the plot and conclusion was almost transparent from the start.

Dinner in the dining room was good and without the usual sense of urgency, tonight's show is not on until 20:00. We went to the Vista Lounge on Deck 7 Aft to watch Mickey Finn. This was the same act we'd decided to skip last night. The 'crowd' in the Lounge was sparse and even tolerant Jenny didn't last past 15 minutes into the show. I followed her out some 5 minutes later.

The clocks go back another hour tonight. The end of a rather uneventful day.

The day has been devoid of photographic opportunities and I've resorted to a collage of the shopping area on Deck 6, 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 09:08 Archived in Mozambique Comments (0)

Cruise Day Twenty - 14th Day @ Sea

Thursday, 28 January 2016

The ship is showing a bit more movement as she clips along at a very respectable 20.5 knots on a slight sea. The sky is overcast again and the temperature is up to 28 °C with a continuation of the tropical humidity. Laps on Deck 14 followed by breakfast. Watched some tennis and read the Kindle as we filled in time for the Destination Lecture. The destinations of Maputo and Richards Bay were given a brief coverage. There was mention of some significant petty crime in Maputo which has raise doubts in Jenny's mind about going ashore. Will have to see how that goes.

The talk by Lyn Hurry covered the topic of famous speeches and the techniques that can be used in preparing for a public speech. She warned against lengthy speeches, Stand Up, Speak Up and Shut Up sums up her advice. Sadly her slides containing mostly text are generally unreadable. A light lunch from the International Café and back to the Theatre.

Today's Movie starred Russell Crowe in the Biography "A Beautiful Mind" the story of a famous Professor of Mathematics with serious mental disorders who went on to win the Nobel Prize. A heavy story line that had us wondering what was reality.

Formal Night tonight and the Captain's Cocktail Party. The most frequent cruiser on board has sailed over 2,000 nights. There was also a large number of repeat Princess cruisers, about 1,700 out of the 2,048 passengers.

We were only a little late for our dinner. The dining room looked most elegant with the majority taking the trouble to dress appropriately. Attendance was up from the numbers on recent casual nights. Even so I estimate that over 25% of the seats were vacant.

Went to the Theatre for a sneak preview of tonight's show and figured it was not worth lining up for. Back to the cabin and sorted out today's images. I took a photo of a painting in the art gallery, 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 08:22 Archived in Seychelles Comments (1)

Cruise Day Nineteen - Port Victoria, Mahé, the Seychelles

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

View 2016 Indian Ocean on greynomadm's travel map.

Just 4° South of the Equator with a temperature around 30 °C and a humidity that causes your clothes to be saturated within minutes. Calm seas and overcast sky as we approach the Port of Victoria on the island of Mahé in the Seychelles. Quite a different island to that in the Maldives with significant hills along the length of the island. The Captain brought the ship alongside the dock which we shared with the Costa Romantica.

After a quick breakfast we collected our things and walked off the ship. There's a total lack of formalities which contrasts again with the over-officious Indian Border Security regime. We walked into the town as far as the markets and were totally saturated in the high humidity.

The markets were typical of other island communities with a mixture of fresh produce and trade goods. The fruit and vegetables were typical of the tropics. The fish were greater in number and much larger in size than any we've previously see. It was as well that we were early as there was no refrigeration for the fish which were displayed on bare benches. The atmosphere would have been quite ripe by midday.

On our way back to the ship we stopped for some Coke at the local 'Supermarket'. The name has a different meaning here to what we're used to. They stock a different range of items and there are far fewer choices with most commodities only available in a single size and brand.

Arrived back at the ship just ahead of a tropical shower, not sure that we could have been wetter than we were from sweat. Refreshed ourselves and ducked up to the Horizon Court for lunch and headed for the Movie of the Day. Just over two hours of Old Wild West killing and drinking. Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman stared in the 1992 film "Unforgiven".

Back to the cabin to prepare for dinner. Great meal in the dining room and then off to the Theatre for a tribute to Johnny Cash show by Cash and Friends. He was pretty good and his wife sang well in the style of Patsy Cline. The ship is sailing at somewhere near top speed as we head South West to Maputo. Three Sea Days before we get there.

After visiting the fish markets in Victoria we found a Hindu Temple, 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 09:09 Archived in Seychelles Comments (0)

Cruise Day Eighteen - 13th Day @ Sea - Australia Day

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The sky is overcast, we sail on a moderate sea and there's a stiff breeze across the deck which made walking difficult. I completed a few laps on the open deck then decided to complete my exercise by walking the corridors of Deck 10 and Deck 11. Joined Jenny in the cabin before having breakfast in the Horizon Court.

Spent some time watching the tennis and reading my Kindle before heading for the Theatre to listen to Lyn Hurry talk about the practise of 'Black Birding' which brought Indentured labourers from the Pacific Islands to Queensland. A practise not much different to the trading in slaves that continues in parts of the world to this day.

Decided to have a pizza in "Verdi's Pizzeria" on Deck 8. There is nothing wrong with the pizzas but that is all they have, No coffee, no fruit, no side dishes and just water. Wine can be obtained but the waiter has to go down to the bar on Deck 5. Another underutilised area of the ship but a quiet retreat to read in reasonable comfort.

Off to the Theatre for today's movie starring Russell Crowe and Olga Kurylenko in "The Water Diviner" a film we've seen before but well worth seeing again.

Decided to skip dinner in the dining room and went to the early show in the Theatre instead. Excellent choice, we spent 30 minutes or so watching people stream in, by show time the room was packed. Danny Elliot surpassed his previous show. Tonight he added the didgeridoo, the bag pipes and a fiddle to his repertoire of instruments. He paid homage to Australia day and was thoroughly entertaining throughout the one hour show.
The queue of people waiting to get in surpassed last night's, all the way back to the stairwell. After that fabulous show we went up to the almost deserted Horizon Court for a quick dinner.

We managed to avoid the outlandish Aussie events but noticed lots of people decked out in a range of obviously Australian attire. Just as well there were only very few other nationals, they would have wondered which planet they had landed on.

Clock goes back by an hour overnight as we've been sailing a generally South Westerly course.

Australia Day was celebrated with a display cake in the Horizon Court, 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 07:36 Archived in Seychelles Comments (0)

Cruise Day Seventeen - 12th Day @ Sea - Crossing the Equator

Monday, 25 January 2016

We appear to be sailing away from the hazy weather we've experienced since Singapore. The sky was clearer this morning while I roamed Deck 14. The sunrise was not a class worthy of posting. On my way up from Deck 5 to Deck 14 I captured a few images of the atrium which occupies a space from Deck 5 to Deck 8 Midship. Looks quite opulent at 05:30 before there are people to clutter up the space.

Joined Jenny in the Horizon Court just before 07:00 for what's become a routine breakfast after which we readied the cabin for Romulo, our cabin steward, to wave his magic wand and make it look good again. Spent some time in part of the Casino where there were three large screen TV screens showing the Australian Open from Melbourne. Jenny watched the tennis and read my Kindle.

With about an hour to go to the Lyn Hurry talk we wandered forward to the Theatre and joined a regular group of early-birds who sit quietly reading hard-copy and electronic books. The Theatre provides a quieter space than the bars and lounges where there are inevitably people talking in raised voices. One group starts and before long others try to talk over the top of them.

Lyn talked about many of the aspects of the famous Mutiny on the Bounty including some of the mysteries and unexplained events that occurred at that time. Up to the Horizon Court for lunch and to hear the Captain's 12:00 announcement. It appears we crossed the Equator back into the Southern Hemisphere at 09:00 this morning, didn't feel the bump or notice the line 8-)

After lunch Tony returned to the Theatre to watch the movie Mad Max - Fury Road. It is the only film in this series I've seen and it leaves me confused and somewhat bewildered. There's a hint of a story line but it is not much more than collection of improbable machines and bizarre characters performing unlikely feats. Jenny chose the better option and went to the Vista Lounge for the Passenger's Talent Show.

Dinner in the dining room, the lamb shank was delicious. Arrived at the Theatre well ahead of time. Because the early and late show were scheduled one after the other there were people queued up halfway back to the stairwell. The congestion became worse when the early show crowd tried to exit into the face of the late show attendees. Decided that a repeat performance of Jacques Renay was not worth the hassle.
Returned to the cabin and filled out the forms for Mozambique Visa, it will cost US$25 each but we're unlikely to ever return here. There has also been a change to the shuttle service for Maputo. We are now scheduled as Group A into town at about 08:30, back to the ship at 12:15.

Great Australia Day Celebrations planned for tomorrow. Face Painting, Pie Eating Contest, Thong Trowing Competition and an Aussie Day BBQ. Bloody disgusting!! I think it is insulting that this is the level of entertainment considered appropriate.

I've created a collage of the Atrium area, 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 Seychelles Comments (0)

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