Our Arab World

Our first stop was in Muscat, Oman. It is beautiful.

The Grand Mosque, a gift from the Sultan to his people, was our first tour stop.The Swarovski crystal chandeliers were lovely. Here are a few of the interior details.One of our other destinations was the Sultan’s palace. He wasn’t available for tea the day we were there.Nice digs!

In Dubai we went on an evening desert safari. We drove on sand dunes through the desert to a camp where we rode a camel, saw a falconry demonstration, tried a shisha, got a henna tattoo (just me), and watched entertainment. It was the most fun!Here are the camels going home just before we did.After several sea days cruising through pirate infested waters without an incident, we arrived in Aqaba, Jordan, where we visited the lost city of Petra which was carved out of the mountains about 80 AD. It was a long walk downhill and a longer walk back up but it was worth it. The weather was cool and sunny.

Unfortunately this is all I can upload due to the whims of internet at sea. Until next time, adios.

Malaysia & Thailand

We stopped at three Malaysian islands after we left Singapore.

Our first stop was at Kuala Lumpur where we used the subway to go from the Petronas towers to Central Market.After spending time there we walked the river walk where we saw some neat old buildings. The mosque was holding prayer service. All men are required to go at noon on Friday. It was a hub of activity.We got rain to end the day.

The next day we were in Penang. We took the hop-on-hop-off bus and also road the funicular to get views of the city. Here are a few of the photos from the day.The following day we went to Langkawi where we had a great day in town shopping and a fun time on the beach. The ocean was as warm as bath water. We were just a few degrees north of the equator.

Finally we got to Phuket, Thailand, which many of you were anticipating. It is pronounced Poo-ket, by the way. It wasn’t our best day. We should have just stayed on the beach and relaxed but we went into town instead. It was a 45 minute ride on an un-air conditioned bus. This is the tropics. It’s always hot and humid. After recovering from that we visited some shops and took another slightly air conditioned bus back to the ship. But we had a detour so it took an hour and a half. I was half-dead and very sweaty.After Phuket, we went to Colombo, Sri Lanka, which turned out to be king of a dud. The shuttle usually takes us to a central location with lots of shopping and we go on our own from there. This time it took us to a single store with nothing around it so we went back to the ship. There was a little market set up just off the gangway so we shopped there and had a pretty good day, really. There seemed to be a lot of uniformed men with automatic weapons in the harbor area. Not sure why.

Our next stop was Cochin, India. We didn’t get Indian visas so we were confined to the ship. Cochin isn’t really a wonderful stop. If it had been the Taj Mahal, I would have tried harder. Here’s all we could see.In a few days we will be in Oman followed buy Dubai. Looking forward to a camel ride.

Hong Kong

This is some city. It’s huge!We went to a market place the first day and then went to a black tie dinner for the passengers on the world cruise from both the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth. They were berthed together.Next day we rode the tram to a look out point over the city and took a sampan ride.

Two days later we found ourselves in Nha Trang, Vietnam. We went to Nagar, a Cham temple built before 781 C.E. We also Went to Long Son Pagoda to see the White Buddha.We had a welcome two days on the ship. Today we are back in Singapore for the day. This is the first day of 5 days in a row in port. Fun but exhausting. These are all tropical stops. Singapore was 91 today but felt like 101 degrees. It’s very humid. I’m sure you would like a little of that! Since the last blog didn’t have pictures, here are some scenes from both days of Singapore.

ChinatownBay of GardensMarina Bay Sands Hotel with a garden on top. Very cool.And the famous Singapore Merlion.You guys have had quite the weather. So sorry to see that a friend got socked by a tornado but glad to hear that he, his family and the animals are okay. I hope the rest of you are too.

We’re off to Kuala Lampur next. Stay well and safe.

Some Australia and Beyond

This will be either too much information or not enough. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve revised this post.

We went from Bay of Islands NZ back to Sydney where we visited the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and other parts of the city. It was just a very pleasant day. Sail away was beautiful!

0Brisbane is where we went to the Koala Sanctuary and saw dingos, koalas, and more.

Going to the Great Barrier Reef was the highlight of my trip so far. I loved snorkeling there. Our trip on the catamaran to and from was really fun too. It was bouncy and seasick inducing but just like a really good amusement park ride. Here’s the reef.

We were supposed to go to Darwin for our last stop in Australia but they had the worst cyclone in 30 years instead. Then due to a whole bunch of circumstances that started with skipping the Darwin stop we also had to skip Bali. This is all we saw of the island as we passed by.

After nine days at sea and crossing the equator going north, we finally got to go ashore in Singapore. Mike and I actually made it from place to place on the subway system. We went on a food tour of Chinatown which was quite (ful)filling. Singapore is beautiful and very, very hot and humid. We were both taken with the Marina Sands Hotel, Bay of Gardens and Chinatown.

Our next stop was to be Brunei but they are dredging the harbor and we can’t go there so we went to Bangkok instead. Here we saw The Grand Palace and the emerald Buddha.

We also saw the gold Buddha.

Bangkok was very hot and humid, like Singapore.

Next we went to Saigon, AKA Ho Chi Min City. We saw the old Post Office and did some bartering on the street. We also found a great restaurant where our bill amounted to $6.29 for two meals, two beers, and a Diet Pepsi (which cost more than a beer)!

Today we are in Hong Kong. Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite.

More about Hong Kong later. We went to a black tie dinner for all the world cruisers from QM2 and Queen Elizabeth which is tied up at our stern. Very fun time. Happy Easter to all!

Good Bye New Zealand

Paradise describes this land pretty well.

We first hit land on the South Island in Dunedin. It’s a smallish place with some great buildings including a Cadbury factory. This is a photo of the railway station done in, as I’m sure you’ll all recognize, Flemish Renaissance 🙂

Next day we were in Akaroa which was a tender port. There we visited what is known as the giant’s house. The lady who lives there made these wild sculptures for her garden. It was pretty interesting. Wellington was our next stop. It is the capital of NZ and was our first stop on the north island. We took a cable car up the hill to get a pretty good look at the city and then we walked down to the city through Wellington Botanic Garden and Bolton Street Cemetery.

Our next stop was Tauranga, although we never quite made it there. The port was in Mt. Manganui and that’s pretty much where we stayed except for our trip to Hobbiton which was about an hour away. It was the movie set for the Hobbit and to a lesser extent Lord of the Rings. Here we are at Bag End.

Plantings and gardens were pretty everywhere in the Shire.<<<
ur final day (we were in port 2 days) we walked around Mt. Manganui which was uphill the whole way. There were some great views.<<<<<<<<<
final stop in NZ was Bay of Islands. We went on a tour to Waitangi and saw the Maori meeting house and the war canoe being educated about the Maori.<<<<<<<
his is so long, but we were at a port 6 out of the last 7 days! Now we are off to Sydney and a few more stops in Australia.

On this leg we were as far south and as far east as we go. We now start going west and north until we get home in 2 months.

NZ Fjords

Today we cruised by some of the fiords of New Zealand. These are views of the fiords and the southwest coast of NZ’s South Island. There was a ranger on board to tell us about them as we slowly made our way through Milford Sound first. It was early morning as we approached so there were some pretty skies to see.

Next came Doubtful Sound.

Our final drive by was Dusky Sound. The little black things on the rock are seals.

Just gorgeous views all day long.

Tomorrow we will be ashore at Dunedin.

Here’s some random information about time. We are currently 18 hours ahead of you EST people. We gained those hours one at a time by jumping from noon to 1:00 on 18 of our 55 days. No jet lag but it is like going to Daylight Savings Time 18 times. In Adelaide, Australia, we lost a half hour which really threw me off. Adelaide is 14-1/2 hours ahead of EST. After New Zealand we will start getting back those hours we lost. I’m told the addition will occur 6at midnight. The time of day that the time is deleted and added is for the benefit of the crew so that they don’t lose sleep. The crew is fantastic. They work hard.

Leaving Australia…Temporarily

Southern Australia is a place I could call home. All of our stops have been super. Adelaide is a rather small city where we visited a mall (a street closed to traffic with shops on both sides), the oldest surviving Victorian house, and a park. Just lovely. All the cities seem to have lots of green space and parks. I was taken with these four pigs in the mall.

Kangaroo Island was like another world. I don’t think the pictures can capture that feeling. We visited Seal Bay which is a reserve for some endangered sea lions. While there we had a little pup come over to us wanting to play. According to our guides, it is rare to see a pup that young (about 2 months). We saw some kangaroos but have no photos of them. Here are a few of the sea lions and the island as best as we could capture it.

We went to Melbourne twice – before and after Kangaroo Island. I’m not sure who thought that was a good idea, but we enjoyed both days. The city is full of both old Victorian buildings and new skyscrapers. We managed to get involved in a Chinese New Year celebration on our first day. The second day we got haircuts, completed a few errands, and took a tour called “Booze Makes History Better.” Yes, it truly does. It was a fun time with two guides, Flo and Angus. There were only 5 of us: two Mikes, two Wendys, and one Ann! We had great conversations. Some of our favorite views in Melbourne follow.

Sydney was our last stop in Australia before heading to New Zealand. We arrived early and had a sunrise view of the opera house and bridge as well as he whole skyline. We went on a tour and ended up at Bondi Beach where we shared a bench with a woman from New Jersey who was backpacking her way around Australia. We just meet so many amazing people. We finished our day by bankrupting ourselves at a Saturday market place.

We are headed to New Zealand now but will be back in Sydney in about 10 days. Looking forward to it!

Getting to Australia

G’day mates! They really say that here. But before getting here we had to cross the Indian Ocean. On the way we stopped at two volcanic islands just west of Madagascar: Reunion which is French and Mauritius which is independent. Both were beautiful little islands warm with high humidity. The first picture is Reunion.

It took us six days to cross the Indian Ocean to arrive in Fremantle, our first Australian port. Australia is divided into only six states even though it’s a good size continent. The people in Fremantle are the most polite people I’ve ever seen. We went around on our own and saw a lot. Our first stop was Fremantle Prison. That was a fun tour. The conditions were quite primitive and it was closed in the 1990s.

The only legal form of execution was by hanging but Australia no longer has a death penalty.

After the prison we had lunch and then took a bus to a shipwreck museum and the Round House which is the oldest building in Freo and also started life as a prison. Great views from here. This is one of the city. I can’t tell you about the yellow circles but blocks and blocks of buildings have been painted with portions of these circles and this is the view from the RH.

The view of the this park and the ocean is also wonderful.

The very next day we went to a little town called Bussleton. The biggest experience here is that the ship had to anchor three miles out due to shallow waters and we took tenders (which turned out to be our lifeboats) into land.

This is where got off the tenders. That jetty is 1.87 km long and we went clear to the end. We got a ride on a small train for part of the trip but in all we walked the entire length.

Bussleton was a sweet little town. People again were quite friendly and helpful. I loved this postal box!

Now I’m going to say a little more about the ship so you can stop reading if that doesn’t interest you. We have met really wonderful people and continue to meet more. Mostly they are Brits. We attend a lot of lectures given by people such as retired members of parliament and retired military people. We also hear from historians and experts in various fields. One of my favorites was a pathologist. The people and these lectures really help broaden my tiny little world. In the evenings we have live entertainment. Some of it is outstanding like this tenor we had last week. He played the phantom in “Phantom of the Opera”. He sang both opera and broadway type show tunes. We also went to hear a comedian a couple of times. I love the sea days almost as much as the days on shore. Here are a couple of shots of our dining room. Honest. We eat here every day.

Port Elizabeth

Before I tell you about PE, some of you asked about the drought in Cape Town. It’s serious there. Nothing gets watered and swimming pools are empty except for saltwater pools. There is no green grass but most trees and bushes look okay. Mostly they are succulents. Day Zero is April 12 when water supplies run out and water will be turned off. People will have to go pick up their daily ration. The botanical park we went to is on the other side of the mountain and has it’s own reservoirs and mountain streams so they aren’t as stressed as the rest of the area.

Today we arrived at Port Elizabeth and went on a safari at Addo Elephant Park. Here we are in our safari hats ready to take off in this vehicle.Addo started with just 11 elephants after all the rest had been killed by some guy named Pretoria. They now have 700 and I’m sure we saw at least half. We also saw 100+ zebra. There were also some wildebeests, warthogs, and a springbok or something like that. It’s SA’s national animal.My favorite moment of the day was when we stopped to watch this elephant and her baby. She turned her back to us and farted. Now that’s a sound to behold!It was really neat to see the animals in such great numbers doing what they do in their natural habitat.

Over and out for now. Our next stop is Reunion Island in 4 or 5 days.

Thanks for all your comments. We love to hear from you and for me it makes all the time and effort it takes to do this worth it. Getting cell reception and internet access can be such a frustration that I’ve quit many times. But I always try again and that’s what you end up seeing.