If you’re reading this, you’re coming on a fascinating journey with me. On October 3rd, I left the port of Dover aboard Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines‘ ‘Boudicca’ for her 168-night ‘Grand Voyage’. She is taking me to some of the most incredible destinations on the planet and I’m looking forward to sharing the cruise with you. I’ll be updating this page LIVE throughout the cruise, so please save the URL and check back for daily updates on where in the world I am and what exciting places I’ve been exploring.I’ll also be sharing daily content on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you have any questions about the ship or any of the destinations along the way, please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
OCTOBER 3RD – DOVERTo say my adrenaline levels were through the roof this morning is the understatement of the century. I was like a kid on a sugar rush. I arrived at the terminal earlier than I should have, but that was only because I had to check out of my hotel by noon, and when you have 4 cases in tow, you’re limited to where you can go! Check-in was a doddle and I was soon onboard. My cabin is an outside (portholes) on Deck 3 and I’ve started turning it into home. I’ve got a double bed (YES!) and a bath!I’m going to spend tonight settling in to my new home and catching up with old friends.
OCTOBER 4TH – AT SEAWe’ve spent today at sea, heading through the Bay of Biscay. It’s been a bit on the choppy side, but I’ve loved every minute of it. I enjoy being reminded that I’m on a ship. Everyone is settling in and I’ve met a mixture of interesting people. I’ve also bumped into several people whom I met last year on the World Cruise and catching up with them has been a lot of fun. We seem to have just picked up where we left off.Tonight was our first formal evening, which also meant it was time for the Captain’s welcome onboard party. I don’t always go to those gatherings, but I did tonight. I’ve never sailed with this crew and I wanted to put faces to names. Resisting the canapes while enjoying the jokes was hard (they had sausage rolls and I love a sausage roll) but I managed to do it. I wanted to save space for the gala dinner. I sat at my table in the Tintagel restaurant and got right down to business, ordering the chateaubriand. It was cooked exactly to my liking and I cleared the plate. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but what came next was chocolate pudding perfection. I really WISH you could have tasted it! Warm, with a melting middle and finished with a zesty orange sauce. Let’s just say I’m not going to Supper Club tonight because the pudding disappeared just as the beef did. I don’t know what happened! 😉 It was the best chocolate pudding I’ve ever tasted.Day one has been a blast! We’re in La Coruna tomorrow.
OCTOBER 5TH – LA CORUNA
We’re in La Coruna today, in Spain. It’s warm and sunny, and there’s no wind! I’ve been here a few times, but I can’t remember much about the port, so I’m going to head ashore very soon, once all the tours have left, and have a walk around. Boudicca’s RIB’s have just left the ship on their first excursion of the cruise. I didn’t book for today, but I am booked further into the cruise and I can’t wait to share that experience with you. I love a high-speed boat ride.
OCTOBER 6/7 – AT SEA
Boudicca has been at sea for the last 2 days and they have been absolute heaven. Sunday was warm and sunny, and although I didn’t sit in the sun, it was nice to feel the warmth in the air. Honestly, I didn’t do much, I just wanted to sit on the deck, listen to the sea and start my book. So, aside from looking for marine life, that’s exactly what I did. That’s one of the nice things about cruising, you can do as much or as little as you like and sometimes, we all need a ‘do nothing’ day. My marine life spotting went very well. I stood at the front of the ship for almost an hour and there were dozens of flying fish (some of the biggest I’ve seen), a pod of dolphins and 1 whale. Sadly, I don’t have any photos, but I suspect in time, I’ll catch them!
In the evening, I went to the Silent Disco in the Lido Lounge and it was hilarious. I can’t wait for the next one. The headphones have 3 different music channels, so you can choose which tracks to listen to. Some of us were dancing to rock and roll, while others went for more modern pop.
Today has been overcast but still quite warm. I was up early, walking the Promenade Deck and getting ready for the day ahead, and come lunchtime, there was only one place I wanted to go, the Poolside Grill. It’s absolutely my favourite place for lunch on sea days, I like being able to sit outside in the fresh air and watch the world go by. I ordered the bruschetta but changed the avocado for halloumi. It was fresh and very tasty. Although, not something I’d usually order, I wanted to try it and I’m glad I did. I’ll definitely have it again.
This afternoon I’ve been taking photos and writing this update for you. I’ve also spent a lot of time with other passengers, some of whom will be leaving us in Tenerife and then Cape Town. I’ll be sad to see them go, but some are coming back for other sectors of the cruise, so it’s not all sad. As the sun is shining, the crew have been going around the decks with fresh fruit skewers and cool towels, which I think is a nice touch. I’ll certainly be grateful for it once we get to more humid destinations.
We dock in Funchal tomorrow on the island of Madeira, so I’ll be back soon with more updates for you.
OCTOBER 8TH – FUNCHAL, MADEIRA
Hello from a hot and sunny Madeira! What a beautiful day we’ve had for our call here, and we had the best berth. I’ve not long been back onboard. I’ve walked all over the town, through the pretty gardens and stopped for one of my favourites, a Pastel de nata. Technically, I’m in Portugal, so it had to be done. I’ve been here several times so again, decided to go off and explore under my own steam. I know a few people were going to try the cable car, which I’d recommend if you ever visit the island and the dolphin watching tours are also worth considering. I ended up coming back to the ship with Christmas decorations, as one does! I’m living here for 6 months, so I’m decorating as I go. Well, not with Christmas things just yet. ;)We’ll be sailing soon, heading for Tenerife where we’ll stay overnight. I love the sailaway from here. Funchal always looks so pretty, it’s best admired from the sea, and you quite often see dolphins in the bay. I’ll be on lookout and let you know if I spot anything.
OCTOBER 9/10 – TENERIFE
Tenerife offered us more sun and heat, and the biggest individual pizza I’ve ever seen. I enjoy eating ashore on port days and would usually try local dishes, but this time, I went for Italian and Greek. My first gyro experience and it was nice, but huge! While I’m on the subject of food, let me tell you about the Rooftop Terrace evening we had a few nights ago. It was set up on Deck 9 aft and beautifully presented. There was paella, which was bursting with seafood and being cooked on deck, other light nibbles and a selection of olives and breads. It really was something a little extra special and the deck looked so nice. I’ve also sampled the new gelato bar onboard. I had 2 scoops of salted caramel ice cream in a giant cone that had a chocolate coating. It was lovely. Just what I needed to cool down.We’ve got lots of new passengers joining us today, so we don’t ssil until late tonight. Tomorrow, we’ll be in the last of our Canary Island ports, Gran Canaria.I can’t believe I’ve been onboard for a week already. I’m enjoying everything and taking the days at my own pace. My tours begin in St Helena, so be prepared for info overload. 😉
OCTOBER 11 – GRAN CANARIA
So, I originally thought we were going to the island of La Palma, but I was wrong. We docked in Las Palmas this morning, in Gran Canaria. I’ve had a girls shopping day in the mall which is right behind the ship. We’ve got a great berth, just a short walk to town, too. I found a bargain pair of shoes for 9 euro, so I’m very happy. I was going to walk to the beach, but I just wanted to keep out of the hot midday sun. I sat on a bench on the waterside for a while and enjoyed the breeze before heading back onboard. We have 2 sea days coming up before we reach the Cape Verde islands, so I’m looking forward to those and maybe a dip in the pool and a visit to The Grill.
OCTOBER 12/13 – AT SEA
We’re on our second sea day of two and they have flown over! Last night, there was another themed event involving food and drink, but this time, it was held in the Lido Lounge. The theme was ‘Salsa and Sangria’ and come 8:30pm it was in full swing and packed with people enjoying cocktails, canapés and dancing.Since the cruise began, I’ve spent a lot of time with a gentleman named Alan. He’s 82 years old and is my absolute favourite passenger, we’re virtually joined at the hip. I love to listen to his stories from years gone by, the experiences he’s had in life and the places he’s visited in the world. A ship like Boudicca is the perfect place to meet people and form friendships, because she’s small enough to see the same faces day after day. Meeting new people is a huge part of the cruise experience for me, I really do enjoy hearing what they have to say, and in some cases, learning about the world and life as it was before I even existed. It’s fascinating.Alan does have his quirks and I’ve been learning what I can only refer to as his ‘Boudicca Lingo’. I’ll share a few snippets with you.
- Express lift – Forward lift between 6pm and 10pm
- The Shed – The Secret Garden
- Paradise Deck – Deck 8
- Bubbles – Tonic water
- Home- Boudicca
- Playing out clothes – Non-formal wear
We dock in Mindelo early tomorrow morning, so I’ll be back soon!
OCTOBER 14/15 – MINDELO & PRAIA, CAPE VERDE
We docked in Mindelo yesterday and I had such a good day. I used the shuttle bus service into town and had a walk around. I collect African masks and bought one a few years ago in the Mindel Gift Shop. Of course, that was my first stop. There was nothing that caught my eye this time, so I walked along the seafront, through the fish market and then back along to the main town square. It was there that I found a gorgeous hotel with swimming pool and cabanas. They allowed us in and I spent the rest of the afternoon there. It was completely empty and absolute bliss. I felt like I had my own private retreat.
Today we’re in Praia and it has been so incredibly hot and humid, it was too much for me, so after a walk through the town and a browse of the huge fruit and veg market, I plonked myself down at a cafe and enjoyed an ice cold Fanta before heading home.
I wasn’t blown away during my first visit to the Cape Verde islands, but I’ve explored more of the local towns this time and enjoyed it.
We’ll sail in a few hours and start heading for Ascension Island. I’m hoping we have good weather so I can go out in the RIB. Keep your fingers crossed!
AT SEA X4
Boudicca has been at sea for the last 4 days and rather than give you updates each day I decided to save everything and update you in one post.
Lots of people have been asking about the activities on offer during sea days, so let me fill you in. To give you the short version, you could never be bored, that’s for absolute sure. There’s so much to get involved with, you couldn’t possibly do everything that’s advertised. I went to the line dancing class with Joan and Jeff and that was a lot of fun. It’s also a great option for people that want to do something active that’s not too strenuous.
Tony’s ukulele class is another popular option and on sea days there are sessions in the morning and afternoon, meaning you can drop in at any time and join as a beginner or at a more advanced level. Tony is a barrel of laughs and very patient with his students. We met last year in the world cruise and instantly got chatting. Several people have made comment on the fact his classes are relaxed and enjoyable. If you miss a note, don’t worry, just catch up. It’s all about having fun.
Other activities on offer include daily quizzes, bridge (beginners and advanced), golf putting, craft classes (very popular), art classes, whist (hosted and un-hosted), lectures, shuffleboard, deck quoits, dance classes, Nintendo Wii bowling, table tennis, darts, aerobics classes, carpet bowls, dolphin racing, dog racing, drama classes, spa seminars, internet tutorials, flower arranging tutorials, guest choir and so much more. Like I said, you couldn’t possibly do everything on offer in a day.
It’s been very hot and sunny for the most part, which meant a fun afternoon on the outer decks on Wednesday, as the various onboard departments teamed up for a tug of war. It was hilarious and each man and woman involved really went after the winning position, but the title was taken by the engine department. Apparently, they’re undefeated and we could all see why when they heaved the bridge officers across the deck.
I enjoyed a delicious meal in the Poolside Grill on the evening of our first sea day and before I forget, let me tell you that the menu is now presented in a lightbox folder, which I think is a brilliant idea. I ordered scallops to start which I followed with a 10oz filet minion and then to finish, a passion fruit chocolate cylinder that I can only describe as being the absolute paramount dessert for chocolate lovers. The entire meal was flawless, and I enjoyed every mouthful, although I couldn’t finish it all. There are lots of options on the menu and you can add little extras to your main course, such as shrimp, scallops and lobster. I’m here for quite some time, so I’ll try some other dishes and share those with you in the coming months – the grilled lobster is calling me.
On Friday October 18th we crossed the equator at noon and of course, we had a good old ‘Crossing of the Line Ceremony’ to celebrate. I’ve been fortunate enough to cross the equator 4 times and honestly, the party to go with it never gets old, it’s great fun. The ceremony is an initiation rite that commemorates a persons’ first crossing of the equator. Those that have crossed before are known as Shellbacks and those that have never previously crossed are referred to as Pollywogs. It’s the Pollywogs that are put on the spot and ridiculed. King Neptune commanded over the ceremony, the fish was kissed, and several crew members ended up in the pool, including our Executive Chef, Chief Officer, Security Officer, Hotel Manager and Captain. Several passengers also got involved and subsequently ended up in the pool, fully clothed.
We’ve had some amazing sunsets over the last few evenings, lots of interesting cloud formations made for some wonderful photo opportunities, so I’ll leave you with the one below and check back with you again soon.
We’re calling to Ascension Island tomorrow and I’m booked on the 9am RIB tour, I can’t wait! I’ll be back with more updates very soon.
OCTOBER 20 – ASCENSION ISLAND CIRCUMNAVIGATION
We were hoping to tender ashore today but sadly the swell cancelled our parade. It wasn’t too rough for us to tender, but the waves were crashing against the rocks shoreside, meaning the local authorities were unable to launch their boats in order to come to us and give the ship clearance. Because of this, my RIB tour was also cancelled. It’s a shame because I would have liked to have went ashore and explored, but as Ascension Island wasn’t originally a port we were visiting – it was always noted as a circumnavigation only – all is not lost.
Boudicca sailed around the island for 3 hours and the scenery was absolutely incredible. The colours and textures were wonderful, in some places, the rock facades looked like paintings. We had regular commentary as we went, and it was very interesting to find out about this remote island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. Discovered by Portuguese navigator João da Nova in 1501, It’s mostly a desert of dormant volcanic craters, but it’s also a hugely important and critical nesting site for endangered green sea turtles. They come ashore between January and April to lay their eggs. The island is a popular nesting place for numerous bird species, including the masked booby, frigate bird and brown booby. Some of the birds take safe haven on Boatswain Bird Rock, which you can see to the right side of the image below. It’s a white coloured boulder approx. 300 yards off the east coast of the island.
The island was uninhabited until 1815 but it’s now a hub for NASA (operating a Meter Class Autonomous Telescope for tracking orbital debris), the U.S. Air Force, Royal Air Force (RAF Ascension Island), European Space Agency (rocket training station), BBC World Service and British and American intelligence organisations. As I said, very interesting.
We’re back out at sea now, heading for St Helena, so please keep your fingers and toes crossed that we arrive to fair weather on Wednesday.
AT SEA X2
We finished our circumnavigation of Ascension Island and continued heading south for St Helena, where we’re due at our anchorage point at 8am local time tomorrow.
A deck BBQ was the evening highlight 2 nights ago and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You could choose from various different things, including fresh salad, burgers, hot dogs, jacket potatoes, BBQ chicken and more. I do like a BBQ beneath the night sky and the coloured lights around the pool created a nice atmosphere. It was quite full, actually, more people turned up than I expected.
Last night we had a party on the Marquee Deck for those of us that are doing the entire Grand Voyage and what a fabulous hour it was. We were offered a variety of drinks and canapés, and there was a chocolate fountain for dipping sweet strawberries that the ship took onboard in Tenerife. There are 62 of us in total going all the way around and then back to Dover.
Evening entertainment has been varied, everything from illusionists to singers. It’s difficult to take pictures during some shows because the Neptune Lounge is quite dark, but I’m working on it and in the coming months, I will share some images and video snippets from a selection of the nightly shows. I’m going to watch Shimi Goodman perform tonight. He’s a friend of mine and a fabulous singer, you’ve probably seen him on one of your cruises.
OCTOBER 23 – ST HELENA
I don’t even know where to start my blog entry today, that’s how brilliant our time in Jamestown has been.
My tour left via tender just before 9:30am and we were soon on our way up to the Plantation House, which was built in 1792 by the East India Company as a country residence for island’s Governors. The exterior and grounds were absolutely beautiful, and the interior was full of rustic charm. There are 35 rooms inside the mansion with the dining room being the largest of them all. My favourite room was the library which led out into an open courtyard and visitors are welcome to enjoy the books that are available. The house was interesting – Napoleon once stayed there – and we had the chance to meet the Governors’ wife, but honestly, it was Jonathan I was there to see.
Jonathan (a Seychelles Giant Tortoise) is the oldest known land vertebrate in the world, at approx. 187 years old, and it’s believed he was brought to St Helena from the Seychelles in 1882. He is huge and not bothered by the presence of humans in the slightest. I guess he’s used to people flocking to see him after being on earth for as long as he has. He’s still very active, although he is now hand fed because he’s not as quick as he used to be. His diet consists of mainly fruits and vegetables. He’s blind in his right eye and has blurred vision in his left, but aside from that, he’s doing very well. He shares his paddock area with 3 other tortoises: Emma, Fred and David.
St Helena is a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic and is one of the most remote places on earth. It has a rich history, incredible culture and very friendly locals. Before returning to the ship, we had a photo stop and I then stayed in town to have some lunch and a walk around. In places it feels like you’ve stepped back in time and I loved seeing smiles on the faces of almost every person I passed on the street. It felt like a tropical England in some ways. Jacobs Ladder was a big attraction for many people, but I like being able to breathe, so I passed on that. There are 699 steps to climb in order to reach the top/bottom and it’s almost vertical!
Of course, St Helena is also famous as being the place where Napoleon was imprisoned in exile by the British in 1815. He died on the island in May 1821.
I don’t quite know what I was expecting from the island, but I’ve left satisfied and I’m so glad I can say that I’ve been here. I feel very fortunate indeed.
Our next port is Walvis Bay, Namibia.
SEA DAYS X3 (October 24 – 27)
The last three sea days have been a perfect relaxation opportunity before we reach Namibia and have two port days back-to-back. They’ve also been the perfect opportunity for me to catch up on other things, such as washing and ironing, and deciding what spa treatments to indulge in. I’ve been going through the menu and have picked out a few things that I’ll share with you in the coming months.
Alan and I enjoyed a meal at The Grill 2 nights ago and we had a very pleasant evening. We both ordered the Caesar salad to start, but I had a garlic dressing with mine as I don’t like anchovies and they come pre-mixed into the sauce. When it was served, I thought to myself this looks interesting, I had expected more shrimp, but when I cut into the little lettuce parcel my prayers were answered. It was full of shrimp, sauce, more lettuce and little croutons. It was very, very nice. My main course was an 8oz filet with lobster tail and then to finish it just had to be the chocolate cylinder.
Since joining the ship, I’ve met some lovely people and there are a few of us that get together on a daily basis. Several will leave in Cape Town, so I’m not looking forward to that, but Moira and John, and Alex and Lorna are going all the way back to Dover, which I’m very happy about. I spend a lot of time with both couples and we always have a good giggle. I refer to Moira as my partner in crime because when we get together, there’s no telling what could happen.
At the moment, we’re in a section of the South Atlantic that is known for being cloudy and chilly. I don’t know exactly why but was told it has something to do with the water temperature. Yesterday was very hot and sunny, today is a total contrast as it’s cold and cloudy, aside from the real sailors among us, I don’t think we were expecting such a temperature change overnight. It was a good excuse to have a lazy morning in bed.
I’ll update you on our Namibia calls in a few days. I’m off to get my bag and clothes ready as I have a tour right into the Namib Desert tomorrow and temperatures are looking to be around the 35 Degrees Celsius mark
OCTOBER 28/29 – WALVIS BAY & LÜDERITZ, NAMIBIA
Yesterday we called to Walvis Bay and after clearing immigration it was time to start The Living Desert tour. It was a short drive to the dunes and within minutes of arriving our guide Gerald found a Palmetto gecko. They’re nocturnal and transparent, so he didn’t keep it out in the daylight for too long. Being transparent means they can easily burn in the sun.
As we continued through the dunes, we also came across a sidewinder adder, horned adder, sand diving lizard and chameleon. I’d never seen any of them before and it was a huge privilege to find and admire them in their natural habitat. Apparently, we were quite lucky to see the chameleon. In 2018 they didn’t find a single one. We were followed for the duration of one walking section by 2 very friendly little birds. Gerald hand fed them some meal worms to show us how unbothered they are by humans.
It was a fantastic tour, I’d highly recommend it, but in the strong wind that we had, it was quite cold. I thought the desert was hot! My advice is to wear a t-shirt but take a jacket with you, just in case. I didn’t, but Gerald kindly let me wear his coat. The drive back was also good as the wind had picked up even more. The sand was being blown across the road and in the distance, it looked like a thick fog. It was pretty impressive – even the dunes off to our left disappeared from view – but my photo doesn’t really do it justice. I think we all arrived back at the ship dusted in a fine coating of Namibia.
We docked in Lüderitz this morning and it was another windy arrival but not quite as windy as yesterday. It’s blowing a gale out there now, but the sun is still quite warm if you find the right spot.
I spent the morning at Kolmanskop Ghost Town which is approx. 10km outside of the port, in the Namib Desert. It came to life in 1908 when a local worker found a diamond in the area. He showed the stone to railway inspector August Stauch and soon after, German miners began settling and exploiting the diamond field. The town was built in typical German architectural style and had numerous amenities, including a school, casino, theatre, hospital, power station and sport-hall.
The diamond field started to deplete following World War II and the town began to decline. In 1928, the richest diamond-bearing deposits ever found were discovered 270 km to the south and many of the town’s inhabitants rushed to the new and wealthy land. By 1956, Kolmanskop was completely abandoned, with some residents leaving behind not only their homes but many of their possessions. Today, it’s a major tourist attraction and you can walk through many of the buildings that have literally been reclaimed by the desert. Some structures have several feet of sand within them, making for some incredible photo opportunities.
I absolutely loved it. I did go on an organised tour, but I broke away from the group after a brief introduction by our guide. I wanted to see as much as possible in the time we had, so I went into Dora the Explorer mode. It really was fascinating, and I’d definitely recommend you visit if you’re ever in Lüderitz.
We’re at sea tomorrow before arriving in Cape Town on October 30th.
AT SEA X1 (October 29th)
Today has absolutely flown over, I’ve been so busy!
I won’t bore you with all the details, but I went along to watch the ukulele concert and will say they were very good. They have all clearly worked hard over the last several weeks to harmonise and they came together perfectly for their showcase.
The galley team have been showing off their pumpkin carving skills on Deck 6, just look below to see the incredible creations. I can’t even carve a pumpkin to put a candle in, let alone create wonders like these. It really was something to see. Passengers could vote for their favourite.
The rest of the day has been spent doing things such as washing, colouring my hair, eating (of course), exchanging currency at reception and generally tidying up my cabin. There’s always something that needs to be done, even if it’s not part of the entertainment.
We’re in Cape Town for 3 days from tomorrow, so it will be a few days before I update you again. I’ve got quite a packed schedule of tours and sightseeing, so watch this space.
OCTOBER 30 – NOVEMBER 1 – CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
My first day in Cape Town was spent on an all-day tour titled ‘Cape Point Peninsula’. We drove along one of South Africa’s most scenic routes toward Cape Point and it was breath-taking. The views were incredible. As we went, we passed through the suburbs of Green Point and Sea Point en route to Camps Bay before going through Hout Bay and finally into the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, where we stood at the most south-westerly point of Africa.
Parts of this tour were a real eye-opener. We passed a rather large shanty town in Hout Bay and it was very different to some of the places we’d driven through earlier in the day. People living in ramshackle huts and with little to no income.
The last stop of the day was made at Boulders Beach where we observed the gorgeous little African penguins. That was the highlight of the day for me. I’ve read about the penguins and watched documentaries, but to see them with my own eyes was just magical. There were hundreds of them, and they weren’t afraid to come right up to us humans for a good look. They used to be known as the Jackass penguin because the noises they make are similar to that of a donkey, but the name was changed to African as it was felt Jackass was a bit harsh.
I took day two at a more leisurely pace and explored the V&A Waterfront. What a place! It was a hive of activity and full of restaurants and shops. One shop in particular had my attention for over an hour, the African Trading Port. It’s full to the brim with all kinds of African masks, statues and more. I left with 2 new wall masks, a Punu and a Yohure.
Today I went on a Table Mountain tour. I’m terrified of heights and the cable car was the steepest and highest I’ve ever been on. I was shaking by the time we got to the top, but I can say I’ve been to one of the 7 New Wonders of the Nature! Table Mountain was added in 2011.
The views were spectacular, and we were very lucky that there wasn’t too much low cloud coverage. This trip is an absolute must if you’re visiting Cape Town for the first time. The cableway has been in operation since October 1929 and to date, more than 28 million people have enjoyed the ride (some more than others). At its highest point, Table Mountain is 1085m above sea level and the views in each direction are stunning. Each cab can carry a maximum of 65 people and as you ascend, the floor rotates, allowing everyone a chance to see the views from each direction.
We’re at sea tomorrow before reaching Port Elizabeth on Sunday for a day of safari!
AT SEA X1 (November 2nd)
It’s windy and cold outside today and although the sea is quite rough, we can barely feel any movement. Having spent 3 days in port, I’ve had lots to catch up with today, ready for my first ever safari tomorrow!
I’ve had lunch, today opting for a Nicoise salad with Halloumi, and now I’m watching a movie. Sorry I’ve nothing too exciting to report, but most of today has been spent charging camera batteries, sorting out my bag and clothes for tomorrow (I like to be organised) and washing clothes. It’s amazing how quickly a sea day passes when you have a dozen things to do and only one day before your next port.
Before I leave you, I must show you the photo I snapped as we sailed from Cape Town yesterday, isn’t it just stunning! What a fabulous way to end our time in such a great destination.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more updates and hopefully lots of pictures of animals.
NOVEMBER 3 – PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA
I don’t even know where to begin on telling you about today, it has been so good.
Poolside lunch today was exciting because there were new additions to the menu and obviously, I had to try one. There was a shrimp wrap and a spiced chicken with yoghurt and salad, so I tried the chicken. It was delicious, even the grilled aubergine had tons of flavour. I also had entertainment thanks to the pool spilling out over the deck every now and then. You’ve got to love sea days, you really have. I love sitting on Deck 6 to have lunch. I can people watch, enjoy the smells coming from the kitchen and admire the view. It’s one of my favourite places on Boudicca and it was on Black Watch, too.
I’m heading back out on deck now to meet up with some friends and have a drink before dinner. I’ve met some lovely people since being onboard, several of them are going all the way around with me and we have our little chats and sunbathing sessions throughout the day.
Hello! I need to give you an update on our itinerary as it’s changed slightly. As I mentioned yesterday, we’ll dock in Richards Bay tonight and all tours will run as usual tomorrow (we should have arrived at 8am this morning). Originally, we would leave Africa and head for the island of Mayotte, but sadly, that call has now been cancelled. On a happier note, we’ve lost one port but gained another. We will now make 2 calls to Madagascar instead of one.
That’s my main update for today. I’ve cocooned myself in the Oriental Room since 8am as I’ve had lots to catch up on with work. I’m also covering this cruise for World of Cruising magazine, so there’s always something to do. When I have left Deck 6, I’ve been ironing, eating, packing my bag for my second safari tour tomorrow, looking at tours for our new port of call (Diego Suarez) and slurping hazelnut cappuccinos from the Bookmark Café – I’m slightly obsessed with those and the little sweet treats that come with them.
My most important job of the day has been handing out chocolate biscuits to some of the crew in the Lido Lounge and on that note, I want to take a minute to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Kyle, Kevin, Nirin and Camille. And Freddie, my right-hand man in The Secret Garden. When I get a dessert, I’ll say to him what’s our deal and his reply is always the same, “you were never here”. Everyone needs a Freddie in their life.
My last day in South Africa and my second safari experience. I went to the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, which is roughly 1.5 hours from Richards Bay.
Hluhluwe-Umfolozi is 96,000 hectares in size and offers an abundance of wildlife, flora and fauna. It’s a small country compared to Kariega and it protects the wildlife of Zululand.
Our visit landed on a very hot and humid morning with temperatures peaking at around 31 Degrees Celsius. For safari, that’s not great as the animals, just like us humans, search for shade to stay cool. However, we spotted wild boar, baboons, dung beetle, white rhino, zebra, antelope, water buffalo, warthogs, kudus and more. So, I think we did quite well. Almost everywhere we looked there was something to see, including the beautiful reserve itself. We did also see giraffe, but ironically, they were at the reserve next door.
The rhino at Hluhluwe have not had their horns removed. Our guide explained that the base of the horn, which is below the skin, is the heaviest part, so even a dehorned rhino is still at the mercy of poachers. Sadly, this reserve has lost a lot of rhino to poachers over the years. It must stop!
All I’d wanted to see were the African elephants, I was desperate and anything else was a bonus. Hluhluwe gave me exactly that. These majestic beasts were everywhere! Herds with their young passing just feet in front of us and not threatened at all. It was absolutely incredible. I became quite emotional. I didn’t get the perfect herd photo I’d been craving as the vehicles at this reserve have roll bars and a material roof, so there was never any real clear line of sight, but I did get to see them playing in the mud and at the watering hole. We saw no less than 30 of them. I can’t put into words how magical it was. I came to South Africa, I saw, and I definitely conquered. I returned to the ship happier than anyone else onboard, I’m sure of it.
Safari sightings are never guaranteed and that’s why I booked 2 for our time in South Africa. If you’re thinking of doing a safari tour, I’d highly recommend booking more than one, if you have several ports that offer it. It gives two opportunities to see as much as possible, which both of my tours have proven.
The next 3 days for us will be spent at sea before we reach our first port in Madagascar.
AT SEA (November 7-10)
The last few sea days have been very hot. The temperature peaked at 32 Degrees Celsius today but thankfully, there was a breeze. It was nice to watch the ice carving at lunchtime (although it was melting so quickly) and sample the spiced rice with chicken that the chef was cooking on the open deck. Without that breeze, I doubt many of us would have stayed out to enjoy it. I gave in and retreated to the air conditioning at around 1:30pm.
While I’m here, I want to mention Room Service to you. We have all used it as some point I’m sure, and the team on Boudicca have been brilliant. I tend not to eat a lot of bread at home, but I’ve become slightly addicted to the Traditional Club sandwich since being onboard. I don’t even have to tell the guys my order anymore, they tell me what I’m ordering and where it’s going. That’s service!
On one of the sea days I woke up at 3:30am, I just couldn’t sleep, so I got ready and made my way out onto deck. It was so peaceful, not another soul anyway to be found. I sat and just took a few hours for myself, watching the sky get lighter as the sun came up. Moments like that are priceless in my eyes.
We’re in Madagascar tomorrow, well, the island of Nosy Be and I’m going to go and see the lemurs. I’ll be back soon.
NOVEMBER 10 & 11 – NOSY BE & DIEGO SUAREZ, MADAGASCAR
Yesterday, Boudicca dropped anchor off the island of Nosy Be, Madagascar. It was a lovely morning and I was soon on a local speedboat heading off on my ‘Nosy Komba – Isle of Lemurs’ tour. The journey took around 20 minutes and it was such good fun. Our group was last leaving the ship and much smaller than the others. They were on much larger boats that couldn’t quite go at our speed. Of course, we waved as we passed them! 😉
After a shallow wet landing, we started making our way through Ampangoriana village and up towards the Black Lemur Sanctuary. There were fewer lemurs than I’d expected, and it was very crowded, but it was lovely to see them jumping through the trees and I did take the opportunity to feed one male lemur some banana, once he’d perched himself on my shoulder. Just to note, male lemurs are black, and the females are a light brown colour. We spotted more males than females.
Once we left the lemurs, we walked through an area that was home to various birds, tortoise species and lizards. It was steep in places and very hot, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. At certain points, a breeze was coming through the trees and I relished in it.
Before heading back to Hell Ville for our tender back to the ship, we stopped for refreshments on the beach and enjoyed some music and dancing from a few locals. It was a very pleasant tour and we all enjoyed the boat ride to and from the island. Our guide was also very good and super friendly, not sure it would have been the same without him.
Today we’ve been docked in Diego Suarez, on the northern tip of the mainland. I decided to explore under my own steam but there wasn’t a great deal to see. In hindsight, I should have booked a tour. Nevertheless, it was nice to wander around and see the locals going about their daily business. I stopped for a cold drink before heading back to the ship and sat watching the world go by. Tuk Tuk’s were speeding around here, there and everywhere, and local women were wandering the streets selling fresh fruits and savoury cakes.
AT SEA (November 12th)
I’ve spent most of the day sitting in the sun. After 2 hot and humid port days, I was ready for some relaxation time. I like to sit on the wing on Deck 7 aft, there’s usually a nice breeze so you can enjoy the sun but stay relatively cool. I can’t sit for too long, though, I get restless, so I’ll sometimes go for a walk to stretch my legs and get the blood flowing again. I wandered up to Decks 9 and 10, briefly stopping to take advantage of the cool water misters at the Marquee Pool. I love those things! Such a good idea for warm days.
I’ve packed my bag ready for my tour tomorrow, but the weather forecast isn’t looking too good at the moment for our 3 days in the Seychelles. Thunderstorms are predicted. I really hope it changes, I’m going snorkelling and to various beaches!
We’re now 4 hours ahead of the UK. The last few time changes have been made at noon rather than in the evening. I much prefer doing it this way. I know it technically makes no difference, but I like it.
Until next time, I’ll leave you with Captain Sartela’s noon comment:
Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and beer belly, and still think they’re sexy.
NOVEMBER 13-15 – MAHÉ & PRASLIN ISLAND, SEYCHELLES
I’m a day late with my blog, I’m sorry, but I just haven’t had enough hours in the day. So, to update, we left the Seychelles yesterday and we’re now at sea heading for the Maldives. I’ll update my 3 sea days as usual on November 18th.
We docked in Victoria, on the island of Mahé, on the morning of November 13th and it was time to start our Seychelles adventure! I did the ‘Moyenne Island & Snorkelling’ tour and we boarded our private catamaran just across the dock from the ship. It was huge and very comfortable. Shaded seats inside and then sun hitting the outer areas. Before reaching Moyenne, we stopped briefly to feed bread to the fish, it was brilliant and there were hundreds of them. We moved a little closer to Moyenne and then dropped anchor. We could snorkel first from the catamaran or board a small speedboat and be taken across to the beach, the order in which we did things was entirely up to us. I decided to snorkel first. The water was lovely and warm, but it wasn’t very clear, and the current was so strong. Needless to say, I didn’t see any fish from the water, only from the boat above, so I made my way across to the island.
Moyenne Island is located within the Ste Anne Marine National Park, and it has been a flora and fauna reserve since the 1970s. From 1915 until the 1960s, the island was abandoned until its purchase by Brendon Grimshaw, a former newspaper editor, originally from Dewsbury in Yorkshire, England. There is an entrance fee to visit the island. It was absolutely gorgeous, just how I’d imagined this part of the world to be. The beach (named the Jolly Roger) is only small but because people tend to walk through the island, it was never crowded. The water is also quite shallow for some way out into the islet. I spotted a young girl sitting on a small sandbank at least 60 metres away from the beach and when she stood up to come back, she wasn’t even waist deep.
After a few hours to snorkel and enjoying the beach, we made our way back to the port and our awaiting Boudicca. I absolutely loved the tour and would definitely recommend it be something you think about booking.
On day two, following a short walk around the town of Victoria and a visit to the Sir Selwyn Clarke Market, we made our way up to the viewpoint. We could see dozens of other islands in the distance, Boudicca was to our left, a beautiful reef to our right and directly in front was Eden Island, where we’d have lunch. We could also see Praslin Island, which would be our next call.
Bravo! is right on the waterfront and has a varied menu offering everything from pizza to local curry. I was really looking forward to trying a local dish, so I went for the prawn and chicken curry with rice and a papaya chutney. It was excellent. Hints of lemon grass came through the coconut flavour which dominated the dish. Not too spicy. I cleared my plate.
After lunch we made our way to the north of the island and it was beautiful. So much scenery and some stunning beaches. We stopped at Sunset Beach, Beau-Vallon and Carana Beach. Each was stunning, but quite different and unique in its own way. I’ve seen some gorgeous beaches over the years, but these were truly something else and the water was bursting with tropical fish. I was kicking myself for not taking my snorkel.
We also stopped at a beach that technically has no name, but is locally known as L’ilot Beach, as that’s the name of the small island just at the edge of the bay. Not many people know how to get there, so we were very lucky to have Marlon with us, a guide from the Seychelles Tourism Board. He was brilliant and knew all the best places to visit, and the secluded little secret spots. This particular beach is accessed via private land, hence not many tourists get the chance to see it. It was like something out of a movie. Just before we left, a huge fruit bat flew above us. It was a lovely end to what had been a fabulous day on Mahé.
Yesterday morning we set off on the shortest cruise from one place to the next that I’ve ever experienced. It took around 1 hour to get to the anchor point off Praslin Island from our berth in Victoria.
Our first stop was at Cote D’or Beach and it too was impressive. Miles of soft white sand, clear water and some shaded areas beneath the palms. Paradise and nothing less. I dipped my toes in the water but didn’t swim. We had a lunch reservation at a local restaurant, so I just enjoyed the view. I’d swim at Anse Lazio later in the day.
Lunch consisted of a buffet at a beachside restaurant named Pirogue and it was quite substantial. We had various salad choices plus fish and a chicken curry. I had curry and it hit the spot, but I didn’t have a lot, there was snorkelling to do.
Finally, we arrived at Anse Lazio, voted one of the best beaches in the world. Having already been spoilt by many others, I was excited to see what made this one so special. It’s absolutely gorgeous, but I did think some beaches I’d seen the day before were better, I suppose it’s all personal preference at the end of the day. The water was very rough, but once you got over the waves breaking it was relatively calm and warm. I did go snorkelling, but visibility wasn’t great because of the swell kicking all the sand up. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed it, being in the water with some friendly fish and cooling off from the mid-day heat. It’s not a huge beach and it was quite busy but not crowded in the slightest.
My time in the Seychelles has been everything and more than I expected it to be. It’s a stunning part of the world and the people are very friendly. I’d love to come back again one day and see more of the islands.
AT SEA (November 16-18)
Three days at sea, absolute bliss. We’ve had scorching heat and pouring rain. We also had a lovely rainbow this morning after our torrential downpour. We’re definitely in the tropics.
We crossed the equator again on the 17th, going back into the Northern Hemisphere. The Crossing of the Line celebration was good fun. It was shorter than the last one, but in the hot morning sun, it was very much appreciated. I followed it with fish and chips from the Poolside Grill.
I ventured to the spa yesterday and had my eyelashes tinted and my hair braided. I’ve only had French plaits once in my life and I was desperate to do something with my hair to keep it out of my face and off the back of my neck, so Lorraine transformed my locks. I have a facial booked soon, my first ever.
I have a new cabin stewardess now and she turns the toilet paper into a little boat every morning and evening. I like her creativity. There was a big crew change in the Seychelles and onboard, many of the crew that were already here have been moved to different areas of the ship. It’s taking some time to get used to it, we were all settled into our routines and then new faces appeared. Nirin passes each afternoon to say he misses us. 😦
We’re in the Maldives tomorrow and I’m off to Kuda Bandos for a resort island experience day.
NOVEMBER 19 – MALÉ, MALDIVES
Today has been absolutely AMAZING! We’ve been at anchor off Malé in the Maldives, but I’ve spent the day on the resort island of Kuda Bandos and it was so beautiful.
I spent almost 4 hours snorkelling and there were hundreds of different fish. Several bad-tempered Picasso triggerfish chased me off whenever I got too close, although in some cases I was nowhere near, but they still decided they didn’t want me there. A small black and white fish did the same thing and he really made me laugh. I was huge in comparison, but he let me know I had to keep going.
When we first got off the boat, we could clearly see a small black tip reef shark in the water, and I spent hours looking for more. Finally, I spotted one, so I ran off into the sea after it. The first time I’ve ever jumped into the sea to try and film a shark! Sadly, he was too quick for me and I only managed to get a grainy shot of him swimming away – you can just see him in the below.
I really have had the most incredible day. I could have stayed longer and snorkelled until I turned into a prune, I could also type you an entire book, but I wanted the images to tell the story. I love being in the water and seeing all the marine life.
I’ve burned the back of each leg, it’s very uncomfortable at the minute, so I’m going to go now and apply copious amounts of after sun in the hope that it cools. I can’t face wearing trousers, so back to shorts I’ll go. I also managed to slip on marble tiles and fall flat on my backside and left arm. Thankfully, there was no one there to see my ungraceful landing, but boy did it hurt! Maybe I should just go to the bar and get a glass of medicine and sit down for the rest of today? 😉
AT SEA (November 20th)
I’m using today as a day of rest. I think I over-estimated my fitness level yesterday and my entire body aches. Between the snorkelling/swimming for several hours, chasing a shark around the island for 45 minutes, burning my legs and falling over, I’ve just stopped for today. Even moving my arms hurts, more so my left as that’s the one that took the brunt of the impact when I fell.
I’ve sat chatting all morning on deck, had lunch, ironed some clothes and for the rest of today my plan is to just enjoy the sea view. I want to be able to move again tomorrow without feeling like my muscles are restricting me, as we’ll dock in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
NOVEMBER 21 – COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
Boudicca is docked in Colombo today, in Sri Lanka. We’re back here for 2 days in February and I have tours booked for both days, so I used today as a chance to explore the city at my own pace and see what it’s all about. I love the hustle and bustle, and the hundreds of tuk-tuk’s whizzing around. I was only out for a few hours as it’s incredibly hot and I was roasting. I stopped mid-way back to the ship for a fizzy drink and to cool down for 10 minutes. I didn’t see much during my walk, I had no plan and no idea where I was going, but that was fine, I wanted to see where I ended up and I did pass the Presidential Palace, I think! I enjoyed it. I needed a day of aimless easy wandering and I succeeded.
Although I wasn’t out too long, I managed to spend most of the dollars I had with me. I bought some trousers, a necklace and my gorgeous wooden elephant. She’s quite heavy, I had to have a crew member help me carry her up the gangway. I knew I’d get my baby elephant onboard eventually.
AT SEA (November 22-23)
It absolutely poured with rain yesterday, there wasn’t a single minute of sunbathing to do. It was OK, though, I sat on deck with friends and they patiently tried teaching me a card game they enjoy playing called ‘Phase 10’. I think I’ve got the hang of it, but all will be revealed when I sit down to play without help.
I ventured back into the spa for a facial, my first-ever and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Elisa is amazing! I have rosacea, so it was tailored for my skin and it feels great. While the mask soaked into my face, I was given a hand massage which just added something extra to the overall experience. I had the Thalgo Discovery Facial which is one of the express moisture options and it’s infused with marine ingredients. It lasted for 30 minutes and for me, that was just the right length of time. I could relax without the worry of falling asleep.
Last night, we had a private party with some friends in the Owners Suite. What a night! All I can say is that it’s a good job the only neighbours they have are in the suite downstairs and they too were at the party. We laughed, we ate, and just had the best time. It was a formal evening elsewhere on the ship, but we went casual and enjoyed our own little shindig with pizza and fried chicken. I think it could end up being a regular event.
Lunch for me yesterday was in The Secret Garden. The selection is always varied, there’s always at least 2 vegetarian options, and I love the pasta sauces. They’re simple but full of flavour. I went in just before they opened so I could take a few pictures before everyone dived in to eat.
We’re in Port Blair for 2 days from tomorrow and I think we have a themed party night at some point, so I’ll check in with you again very soon.
NOVEMBER 24-25 – PORT BLAIR, ANDAMAN ISLANDS PLUS SEA DAY X1 (November 26th)
Our first day in Port Blair meant a tuk-tuk adventure through the city and our first stop was at the Celluar Jail. This was a colonial prison used by the British to exile political prisoners. Several notable independence activists were imprisoned here during the struggle for India’s independence, including Veer Savarkar and Yogendra Shukla. We didn’t spend long at the jail and there was a lot of construction going on, but it gave us a brief glimpse into some of the island’s history.
From there, we went to the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose flag hoisting point. The man himself hoisted the first time Tricolour flag of Indian Independence on 30 December 1943. At this time Netaji Subhash Chand Bose was commander in Chief of INA and Hon. President of Indian Government which was recognised by 18 countries.
I really enjoyed the tour and at 2 hours in duration, it was just enough in the heat. It was my first time in a tuk-tuk and it won’t be my last. I was going to get the shuttle bus into town in the afternoon, but it was too hot. I decided to save my energy for our Indian themed night onboard. It’s my favourite of all the Fred. Olsen theme nights because the ship always looks so beautiful, plus I really enjoy the music. I didn’t stay until it finished, I was tired and had to be up early again the following for my tour to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Dweep, formerly known as Ross Island.
Dr James Pettison Walker arrived in Port Blair in March 1858 and Ross Island subsequently remained under British occupation until 1942. The island was then occupied by the Japanese until 1945 before the Allies reoccupied it and later abandoned it. I picked this tour because of the history and the fact I thought it would be different and interesting to see, and it was.
The boat ride took 15 minutes and we were soon walking through this now dilapidated town. During the British occupation, it had all the facilities for a civilised colony, but the now ruined buildings include the Chief Commissioner’s House, a church, hospital, swimming pool, bakery and troop barracks.
It’s a lovely island and the buildings being reclaimed by nature are hugely impressive. We spent almost 2 hours exploring, I was shattered by the time we left. It’s a vast area to walk around and several sections were uphill and very uneven, so keep this in mind if you’re thinking of visiting. We also had to wait a while for the boat from Port Blair across to the island.
During our walk, we passed the bakery, hospital, officers’ quarters, market and more. It was visually impressive in many respects, definitely the right tour choice. It’s simply the land taking everything back. A bit like Kolmanskop but rather than the desert pouring back in, the trees are taking it back.
There were also lots of birds and deer to spot. At the end of the tour we were given coconuts to drink from, so drink it I did, and then I fed the meat to the deer. You can actually be fined for feeding the animals on the island, but he was clearly hungry, so I gave it to him. Our guide said that it was OK, they’re not too strict about it with the deer because it’s so dry and not a lot of grass was growing, so they were being fed and hydrated from the coconut.
We’re at sea now, heading for Thailand and then Indonesia – we have 4 port days back-to-back. I’m going to leave the sea day update empty for today, so I can get everything ready for my upcoming adventures. I also have some work I need to get finished as my second piece for World of Cruising is due very soon.
NOVEMBER 27-29 – PHUKET, THAILAND
My goodness, I’m tired. Between non-stop outings and the heat, I could crawl into my bed and sleep for a week. Anyway, enough of that, let me tell you about fabulous Thailand.
We’ve been docked in Phuket for 3 days and they have been fantastic. On the first day, I went on the ‘Phuket Highlights & Lunch’ tour. Our first stop was Wat Chalong, one of most stunning temple complexes I think I’ve ever seen. There are several temples and we didn’t have time to visit them all, but I was more than impressed by what I did manage to see. There were many monks wandering around and they were happy to stop and say hello.
Next on our itinerary for the day was a viewpoint stop which was also right next to an elephant temple/shrine. Honestly, I have no idea what the area was called but I love elephants, so I was in my element at the shrine. There were no live elephants, just in case you were wondering. Only statues.
Our final stop of the day was at the Rawai sea gypsy village. It’s more a street than a village and there was only half a dozen or so houses, from what we could see. Nevertheless, it was alive with energy. There were dozens of fresh seafood stalls and directly opposite, many restaurants. You could pick menu items or buy a fish or whatever took your fancy across the street and the restaurant chef would cook it for you to your exact liking, for an additional charge. We wandered around the village, looked at all the seafood and even managed a bit of shopping. We also had lunch here before we left and although it was absolute chaos (I think the restaurant was slightly overwhelmed with several tours all arriving at the same time) and some of us waited a long time for our food, it was well worth it. I ordered shrimp in a yellow curry paste sauce with rice and vegetables and it was one of the nicest shrimp curries I’ve ever eaten, plus they were absolutely ginormous! We left the village soon after, but not before the heavens absolutely opened. We’ve had some quite intense rain and storms during our time here.
On day two, six of us shared a cab to Patong Beach. It took about 55 minutes to get there from the deep-sea cruise port, but the fare was only $70, that was for a round-trip. We had 4 hours in Patong, so we enjoyed the beach, did some shopping and then stopped at a local restaurant/hotel for some lunch. It was a nice change of pace and scenery. Nothing too strenuous and we all had a good laugh on the way back.
Today, on our third and final day in Thailand (this sector) was another one filled with adventures. We had a scenic view of Phang Nga Bay from our speedboat before zooming right through the middle of it and on to James Bond Island (Khao Phing Kan). This is where they filmed scenes for The Man with The Golden Gun. It was stunning, as was the entire boat journey through Phang Nga. I’d HIGHLY recommend you do this tour with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines on your visit. It’s an all-day option.
Leaving James Bond Island, we sped through the mangroves and caves, and came to Ko Panyi, a 200-year old sea gypsy village. The community here is predominantly Muslim and with the exception of the mosque, the village is built entirely on stilts. The football pitch is a floating pontoon, so if the ball is kicked out of bounds it likely means a swim to retrieve it. There are approx. 1600 people living in Ko Panyi and to explore it all would have taken over one hour. We looked at the school, mosque, cemetery and walked through some of the streets. It was nice to see this thriving community that live way out within the archipelago. Life for them appeared peaceful and very happy.
Our final stop was Rang Yai island where we had lunch and just a short slice of free time to enjoy the beach. Lunch was buffet style and included rice, chicken and coconut soup, beef stir fry and more. Just to note, the landing at Rang Ya is a wet one and the water comes to at least the knee when going back to the boat.
Thailand really is a spectacular place and I’m utterly charmed by it and its people. The trip today was different to everything else I’ve experienced since being here. I feel like I’ve had a bit of everything to uncover and enjoy, and enjoy it I have, immensely. I’m already looking forward to coming back next year when Boudicca revisits. In fact, it’s the kind of place I’d like to live. Although, I’d need some serious air conditioning units.
We’re in Indonesia tomorrow and my snorkelling tour has been cancelled because of large numbers of jelly fish in the water. So, let’s see what the day brings!
NOVEMBER 30 – SABANG, WEH ISLAND, INDONESIA
My tour in Sabang was cancelled. They’ve had a lot of rain here in recent days and it has increased jellyfish numbers in the water, so the local tour provider advised the snorkelling trip should be scrapped.
I didn’t book anything else, I decided to just have a leisurely walk ashore. The locals really went above and beyond for our day here. We had a big welcome performance for which our Captain was the guest of honour, and other live music throughout the day.
I left the ship and walked along the seafront. There were lots of colourful buildings and the locals were all waving and saying good morning. They were clearly happy for us to be here and I felt very comfortable exploring on my own and very welcome. The odd motorbike rider or tuk-tuk driver would stop and ask if you wanted to do a tour, but they accepted your reply when you said no thank you. I can’t stand it when in some ports they just don’t give up and then follow you around. The people here were very respectful of you and your answer.
I didn’t get right into town, after walking for a good 35 minutes in the heat I was boiling. I stopped for a rest on a bench and then made my way back. It was pleasant. I enjoyed the stroll, having no plan and just watching people go about their daily business. I also made it back to the ship in time to hear the call to prayer echoing around the port. There are 2 mosques quite close to the ship and the sound from both was hypnotic.
AT SEA (December 1st)
My day started incredibly early. I woke up at 4:20am and put the TV straight onto the Bridge Cam. The sky was electric, flash after flash of lightning. I got up, washed and dressed, and made my way up to Deck 7. I was hoping to do a time-lapse video of the storm but sadly, by the time I got upstairs it had all stopped. Typical! I did get to enjoy a very quiet ship, though. I took advantage of a photo opportunity with a passenger-less pool deck and the swimming pool lights reflecting off the aft decks. Isn’t she pretty!
I decided to spend my morning wisely and before 8:30am, I’d tidied my cabin, put up my Christmas decorations, did a load of washing and some ironing, read part of my book, wandered around the ship and had breakfast. I was ready for bed again by 9am, but I resisted. I put up all the Christmas decorations that I have, but it’s not enough, so I’m now on the lookout for more and a nice tree. Wish me luck! I put my tinsel around the picture, Santa Claus on one porthole and a small tree in front, my little tree ornaments around the edge of the room and, of course, my advent calendar is on the wall beside my bed.
I’ve spent the afternoon getting everything ready for tomorrow (we’ll be in Singapore) and chatting with my fellow all-rounders. I also had a browse in the shop and a peek at the photographs in the photo gallery. It’s been overcast all day and we’ve had some quite heavy showers. It’s not been a day to enjoy the great outdoors unless you had some cover. I did have some excitement. There was a bird on Deck 9 forward and he was having a difficult time getting his bearings. I don’t know what type of bird it was, but it was very pretty and just couldn’t see the glass. It was the glass that was keeping it trapped, to an extent, in the same place. I decided to get a towel and my idea was to grab him and move him further along the deck, so he could either rest or take flight. By the time I returned with the towel, he’d gone and I was a soggy mess. I imagine it’s probably still onboard, somewhere.
DECEMBER 2-3 – SINGAPORE
My first visit to Singapore was last year on Black Watch and I crammed as much into one day as I physically could, so I decided to take this visit at a more leisurely pace and do something different.
Yesterday, I went across to Sentosa Island on the Singapore Cable Car, which is celebrating its 45th year. It seemed like a great idea until I boarded it. I’m terrified of heights, but I keep putting myself through these things! It was worth it, though. I had a great view of Boudicca and a fabulous view across the island. The cable car network extends across Sentosa Island and then into the city. If you have time, get an unlimited pass. This way, you can experience them all and also use it to get between attractions on the island, in the harbour and in the city. It’s worth it.
The weather forecast for the day wasn’t good, but when I arrived on Sentosa it was hot and sunny, so I made my way directly to Universal Studios, which was my main reason for going over to the island. I hadn’t been to a theme park in years and I felt like a child when I swiped my ticket and entered. It was Christmas for as far as the eye could see, I was in my absolute element. The ride wait times were quite long, so I had an easy walk around the park first and thought I’d do the rides on my way back, that way I’d covered all of the other fun things to see and do. It was like being in a magical kingdom, I loved every second of it, and the Christmas music that was being played all over the park. My favourite themed section was Jurassic Park. I am a big fan of those movies and I loved the way it had been designed, and all of the dinosaurs, of course. Second to that was Ancient Egypt, that was hugely impressive!
Sadly, my itinerary wasn’t meant to be. The heavens opened and it absolutely poured with rain. Not long after came the incredible thunder and lightning and it went on for several hours. Sentosa was completely washed out. I’ve never seen a place go from Times Square busy to desert empty so quickly. It was actually quite fun, though. Dodging the torrential rain, hiding from the fork lightning and trying to get to the monorail to get back to the city – there was no way I was getting in a cable car in that storm. The monorail is free from the island back the Harbour, so it was a no brainer, and very quick.
If you want to do something different on your visit to Singapore, I definitely suggest Sentosa. You need a full day (maybe more) and aside from Universal, there are also several beaches and other attractions, including Adventure Cove Waterpark, Butterfly Park & Kingdom, S.E.A. Aquarium, iFLY Singapore, Palawan Beach, Mega Adventure Park and Wings of Time. Some attractions are free, others require payment.
My plan today had been to do the hop-on hop-off bus, but I wasn’t feeling too good this morning and the sun was very intense, I couldn’t stand it. So, I decided to spend some time in the mall, and I’ll do the hop-on hop-off bus when we visit again in January. Nothing has been lost.
Vivo City mall is right next to the cruise ship terminal – you don’t even need to go outside to get from one to the other – and it is huge. I went in last year and completely lost all sense of direction. I thought I must try harder this time and I was better, but I still ended up off course. I’d passed a food court on my way in that had an Indian food counter. I decided that’s where I’d go for lunch, so I did some shopping and then made my way back to where I thought it was. Could I find it? Could I heck. I went around in a circle 5 times and eventually gave up and went to KFC. I passed KFC 5 times on my Deja-vu journey of Vivo City, so I took it as a sign. I had completely lost my bearings. I have no idea where that food court is. I was quite disappointed, I really wanted some Indian food but by the time I did lap 5, I was hungry, tired and losing patience with myself. I WILL find it next time.
We have 2 days at sea now before we arrive in Semarang.
AT SEA (December 4th & 5th)
I’ve been super busy over the last 2 sea days, they’ve sailed over – pardon the pun!
We had a get-together in The Observatory for those of us doing the entire Grand Voyage and it was the perfect opportunity to meet other people that I’ve not seen or spoken with since our first party at the end of October. There were free drinks and lots of nibbles, including prawns with a sweet and sour sauce, satay chicken with peanut sauce, smoked salmon sandwiches, scones and mince pies. I could have happily stayed there all morning and ate my way through everything. We’ve now also been given our own dedicated section in the Morning Lights Pub each morning for tea and pastries, and in the Four Seasons at lunchtime. I thought that was a very nice touch. It means we have specific times and places to catch up with one another.
I had my first pedicure experience in the Atlantis Spa, so my feet are ready for more pavement-pounding excursions. I’m really not a spa person, but I’m enjoying my little pampering sessions with Elisa, she makes me feel very relaxed and comfortable. I booked the Luxury Pedicure which is a 60-minute treatment. It begins with an aromatic foot soak, followed by a heel scrub, cuticle care, nail filing and shaping. Once this was complete, Elisa rubbed a magic potion all over my feet and lower legs, placed my feet in bags and then into heated booties. I had these on for around 5 minutes before she removed them, cleaned the lotion off and then moisturised my skin and painted my nails. I’m very pleased with the results and although I can’t stand feet or people touching my own, I enjoyed it because of Elisa. She’s just amazing.
The Poolside lunch special today was Indonesian Stir Fry. I’m not a great fan of stir fry, but I could smell it being cooked and when I ventured down to Deck 6 and saw the chef making it, I was sold. It was really good! Not too spicy, so I could enjoy it without feeling like I was being cooked from the inside out. I can’t do spicy food.
Oh, before I forget. I now have a real Christmas tree! Well, not real as such, it’s not an ACTUAL tree, but it was a gift from a fellow passenger, and I love it. My cabin feels (almost) complete now for Christmas.
I have a 10 hour tour tomorrow to Borobudur Temple, so my next blog will come on our sea day. I’ll likely get back home tomorrow and fall asleep!
DECEMBER 6 – SEMARANG, JAVA, INDONESIA (+ December 7th Sea Day)
I’m a day late with updates. I was exhausted after my tour yesterday and by the time I arrived home it was time to shower, change and meet friends, although it was only for an hour. I’d been awake since 2am. We had a huge electrical storm and the crashing of thunder woke me with a start. I couldn’t get back to sleep after that. We’re at sea today and Lombok tomorrow, but let me fill you in on Semarang.
I went on the 10-hour Borobudur Temple tour. We left the ship at 06:45 and hit the road at full speed. It takes approx. 2.5 to 3 hours to get to Borobudur from the port and we had a Police escort there and back, to get us through the traffic quicker.
Borobudur is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Central Java, built during the reign of the Syailendra Dynasty, that is a shrine to the Lord Buddha. There are nine stacked platforms, six square and three circulars topped by a huge central dome. There are around 500 buddha statues decorating the temple. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, following a huge restoration project between UNESCO and the Indonesian Government.
Temperatures reached 33° Degrees Celsius and humidity was at 99%, but we were all raring to go and explore. I decided to break away from my group and go at my own pace. We entered from the east side and slowly started the ascent. The temple is beautiful, covered in intricate carvings, and buddhas are scattered everywhere, some with their heads and some without. I went level by level, eventually conquering all 150 steps and reaching Nirvana, the highest point of the temple. It was very busy and incredibly difficult to get photographs without dozens of people also being in them, but I persevered.
After the temple visit, we were due to meet back at the restaurant on the east side for our buffet lunch. I retraced my steps back to where we had entered the complex and was told by a guard that I had to exit on the west. I tried to explain I was part of a group, but we were both lost in translation. I could see the restaurant and coaches from this point, but eventually, I gave up and made my way west to the official exit. Nothing looked familiar and there was no one around to ask for directions, so I followed the signs marked ‘to the temple’. It had to be taking me east, I told myself. I walked and I walked, and then I came across 5 Sumatra elephants. By this point I was tired, hot and the sweat was running down my face, but this was the reason I’d been sent this way, someone didn’t want me to miss the elephants. They were beautiful, happily walking around and munching their food. I sat watching them for 10 minutes before continuing on my journey. I’d completely forgotten in those few moments that I had no idea where I was or how to get back. I was just lost in the sight of these majestic beasts.
I carried on walking for another 20 minutes and finally, I spotted the coaches. I’d arrived. I sat down and gulped every last drop of Sprite from the bottle I’d ordered. I was so thirsty. Once I’d cooled down, I went and helped myself to some food. It all looked very nice, but the only thing I found that I liked were the fried noodles, so I had an extra spoonful, as I’d skipped breakfast. As we ate, we were treated to traditional music and dance from several locals and it ended our tour perfectly.
It was a fabulous day. Tiring, but certainly worth it. Another option that I’m adding to the ‘recommended by CruiseMiss’ tours list.
I’ll check in with you again in a day or so. We have 5 port days back-to-back from tomorrow and I’m booked on tours for each, so please bear with me. I’m using today to catch up and get everything ready for my tours.
DECEMBER 8 – LEMBARK, LOMBOK, INDONESIA
Every single day of this cruise is nothing short of incredible. Yet another fantastic tour today, this time via a local boat from Lembar and across to the islands of Gili Nanggu and Gili Sudak.
We stopped at Gili Nanggu first and had our first snorkelling experience of the day. The coral was fantastic, and the fish were beautiful. I could have stayed there all day. The only downside was the jellyfish. They were only small but there were hundreds of them close to the shore and I must have been stung at least 40 times. They felt like tiny pin pricks. By the time I left the water, my entire upper body was tingling. I’ve showered since and my arms are still stinging. They weren’t even big monsters, either. They were about the size of a crisp, but they were also clear, so I couldn’t see them, only the shadow they cast on the water at the last minute. They were in my face, my hair, everywhere!
At Gili Sudak we could snorkel again, but, unfortunately, my own snorkel was letting in water and the spare masks the guides had were also letting in water. I relaxed on the beach instead and that was fine by me. The scenery was gorgeous, and I found a hermit crab and several starfish during my trek. I tried my best to photograph the starfish (excuse my shadow) but he had covered himself in sand and was difficult to see because of the sun. I did try with the GoPro, but he was too near the surface, so he just blurred.
We had lunch on the island and just like all the other buffets we’ve had since being in this part of the world, it was very good. I had fried squid, rice, sautéed vegetables and barbecued fish. We had an incredible view. It was a lovely place to be and a nice way to end our tour.
DECEMBER 9 – KOMODO ISLAND, INDONESIA