When I left Black Watch in April 2018, I told myself that was the first and probably the last time I’d ever visit exotic destinations such as India, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. I don’t like to fly and let’s face it, a world cruise for most people that have the luxury of being able to afford it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But I’d been there, and I’d lived every last magnificent moment of it. I fell in love with Asia, held a koala in Australia, admired the Treasury in Petra, and as a whole, had so many first-time experiences that I’d never forget. Put simply, I felt like the luckiest human being on the planet. I didn’t know it then, but something even more incredible was going to happen in the months that followed…
I’m now counting down to what I am sure will be yet another extraordinary cruise experience. In exactly 21-days, I’m joining Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ ‘Boudicca’ on her 168-night ‘Grand Voyage’. I know, I still can’t believe it. Not only will this be the longest sailing I’ve ever been on, it’s also the longest itinerary to date that any Fred. Olsen ship has sailed – we’re making history together.
OK, I know, you just want me to get to the itinerary. It would take 2 full pages to list it all – I have a Google document that is no less than 20 pages long – so I’m going to share some of things I’m most looking forward to seeing and doing during the cruise.
South Africa has long been a dream destination of mine and I’ll be visiting Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Richards Bay. Being an animal lover, you can probably guess what I’m planning on doing while I’m in that part of the world – I’m going in search of the ‘Big Five’ on an authentic safari. I must remember that under no circumstances can I take a baby elephant back to the ship! I’m also planning on seeing the penguins at Boulders Beach and taking in the views from the very top of Table Mountain.
Mayotte, Madagascar, Seychelles and the Maldives are all screaming at me to pack a snorkel, so that’s what I’m going to do. I want to see what paradise is really like. Some of the best beaches in the world are in the Indian Ocean and one of our calls in the Seychelles (Praslin Island) is the gateway to the small island of La Digue, home to Anse Source D’Argent, one of the most photographed beaches in the world.
Last year, Asia charmed me from the second I put my feet on land. Each place was bursting with history, tradition and in some places, what felt like magic. Although each port was different, there were many similarities and I was completely enthralled by how different life in this part of the world was. On the Grand Voyage, I’ll be visiting several places in Asia, including Singapore, Thailand and Myanmar, but of them all, I’m most looking forward to our time in Bali, Indonesia. Because Boudicca heads east to then come back west, I’ll actually get to visit Bali twice: 3 days in December and 3 days in January. I’ve heard so many good things and have been told numerous times that I must explore every inch of Ubud, including the Sacred Monkey Forest, Ubud Palace and the Tegallalang Rice Terraces.
Australia is also on the list and guess where I’ll be for New Year’s Eve? That’s right, Sydney! I’ve never been a fan of New Year and I’m not a big lover of fireworks. Actually, I can’t stand either of them, but I am genuinely looking forward to welcoming 2020 in the land down under and watching the fireworks that I’ve seen on TV for as long as I can remember. It’s quite surreal, actually. I’ll also be heading to Rottnest Island from Freemantle to see the legendary Quokka, supposedly the happiest animal on earth.
Other destinations that I’m excited to visit for the first time are Jamestown, St Helena; Kangaroo Island, Australia; Cairns, Australia; Melbourne, Australia; Hobart, Tazmania; Wewak, Papua New Guinea; Goa, India; Dubai, UAE; Muscat, Oman; Salalah, Oman; and Ashdod, Israel.
Boudicca sails from Dover on October 3, 2019 and I’ll be sharing my updates across social media – so make sure you’re following me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’ll also be posting a daily (as daily as I can) diary right here on my blog, so please do come back and let’s travel the world together!