Three hundred and fifty kilometres within the Arctic Circle, lies the city of Tromso, our furthest north destination of this Norwegian Fjords cruise to the Arctic Circle..
At about 7 AM yesterday morning the Queen Mary 2 crossed into the Arctic Circle. I was watching the seas from my verandah. The sky was clouded and gray-blue waters stretched out to the horizon.
There was not a ship in sight, and sadly, King Neptune did not appear from the depths in person to issue his call (as written in the Daily Programme) for “all icebergs, sea lions, narwhals, polar bears, whales, mermaids and other creatures of the frigid north to show due deference and respect to all those bluenoses crossing over into the northern reaches” of his realm. So just like crossing the equator, I had to take the crossing of “the line” on faith. Hard for an empiricist to do.
Madeira is a lush green island, the largest in the Madeiran Archipelago west of Morocco and about 280 nautical miles north of Gran Canaria. Ilha da Madeira translates from Portuguese as Island of timber.
Madeira holds a special sentimental value for me as I noted in a previous post (Cape town to Southampton: cruise days 12 to 16).
We docked in Funchal, the capital city, on the southern coast of the island. The name derives from funcho, Portuguese for fennel, a plant that grew abundantly in the area.
While the last post was weighted in favour of dining - no pun intended- in this one I will post more formal pictures.
Monday 21st, 2013 Las Palmas at Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is an island approximately 150 kilometers west of the north-western coast of Africa, at the border between Morocco and Western Sahara.It is the second most populated island of the Spanish archipelago, the Canary Islands. Tenerife has the highest population. Gran Canaria has so many different micro-climates that it is sometimes called a Miniature continent." The QM2 docked in Las Palmas, the capital and port city of the island. The weather was great, 28 C and sunny and I think most people chose to visit the beaches.
While many people prefer port-intensive cruise itineraries, I absolutely love the days at sea. This itinerary from Cape Town to Southampton has many days at sea. In fact 10 of the 16 days are sea days. There is so much to do on board that it is impossible to get to do everything I would like. Another difference for me from the majority of my previous dance cruises, is the fact that I can take advantage of different dining experiences on board, without feeling anti-social because I am not dining with the group.
On this ship, in the evening the Chef's Galley is offering three different international menus. One is Coriander, Indian cuisine; the second is La Piazza, Italian food and the third is Lotus, Asian food. To enjoy one of these dinners, you need to reserve, and there is a supplement of $10 per person. We visited all three during these sea days. The other dining option is the Todd English restaurant, open for lunch or for dinner. Here the menu is al la carte and a bit more pricey, but the food is excellent.
My travels start with a flight to Los Angeles where I spend the day with my family visiting the Science Centre and the shuttle Endeavour exhibit. Then I join up with my fellow-voyager at LAX to board a flight to Athens. After a brief two day visit to Athens we cruise from the Port of Piraeus through the Aegean, Adriatic and Eastern Mediterranean seas, visiting ports in the Greek Islands, Turkey and Croatia before returning to Athens and flying back to Vancouver.
October 21st Sat: Embark New York on the QM2.
Meet the staff and guests at the 5: 30 PM cocktail party. This group was one of the largest I have encountered on Dancers at Sea – 47 in total with 9 male pros and hosts and two female dance hosts. The male instructors were Robert Cooper, Andre Gosselin and Matthew Gann, and hosts Chris Bookwalter, Jorge Doctolero, Dale Moreth, Richard Conti and two new hosts (new to DAS), Peter and Lior. Amber was the female pro and Carrie the other female host. I knew a few of the guests from previous cruises but not too many.
October 22nd Sunday Newport, Rhode Island (Formal Black and White Ball)
October 23rd Monday, Boston, Massachusetts. In the afternoon I went to see Salmon Fishing in Yemen in the Illuminations Planetarium theatre behind the Royal Court Theatre on deck 2. It's movie that I had wanted to see for ages, and I enjoyed it a lot. I had actually not previously found time to go movie watching on board the QM2. Better than some of the cinemas back home.
On my second day in Athens I woke to another warm and sunny day. Highs were predicted to be around 24ºC. The first task on my mind was to find the local Post Office and buy stamps for the postcards that I planned to mail to my grand-children. I gave them a map of the places that the cruise will take us to and hopefully getting the picture postcards will mean something to my grand-daughter, who has studied the continents and the various countries and their capitals.Today is the day of the big transit strike so I was curious to see what difference this made in the traffic through these narrow streets.
As I exited the hotel ready to walk in the direction of the square where the Post Office was located, the first thing i noticed was about thirty policemen on the opposite side of the road. They were just milling around and it did not look as if anything serious was happening but I wondered.
Cochin or Kochi, is a port city in the Arabian Sea, on the west coast of India in the state of Kerala. The name Kochi translates to "small lagoon" in Mayalam. Mayalam is the local language in Kerala, derived from Sanskrit and Tamil and is one of 22 official languages of India. It is one of the 85 related Dravidian languages, spoken by 215 million people. Amazing what one learns when going on a ballroom dance cruise!
Anyway I signed up for an excursion that featured two highlights - the Chinese Fishing Nets of Cochin, and an introductory demonstration of Kathakali (the classical dance drama of Kerala) and Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala. Check out the links below to my four YouTube videos of these highlights.
Between Hong Kong and Dubai, the QM2 docked at five ports. The first, Phu My in Vietnam, was the port for Ho Chi Minh city. Next was Laem Chabang, the port for Bangkok, and that was followed by a stop in Singapore where there was a major turnover of guests departing or boarding the ship. Between Singapore and Dubai there were only two stops on the 9 night segment; Phuket in Thailand and Cochin, India. On my previous South East Asia cruise, two of the ports of call were in Vietnam. While I really enjoyed the visit to Na Trang, a sleepy looking fishing village on the south centre region of Vietnam I was less enchanted with the visit to Ho Chi Min city (Saigon), the port of call on this current voyage, so on this cruise I decided to stay on board when in Phu My.
With 10 days out of 16 at sea, we will have plenty of dance workshops. The first dance workshop was scheduled for 9:30 in the G32 Disco just behind the Queens Room Ballroom.
All 8 of us were there for the workshop, and Robert had also invited Horst, (one of the QM2 dance hosts, who is also a frequent DAS host) to join us. So for the first time in any of these workshops I have ever been at, there was a dance partner for each of the women. No complicated rotations were needed. It was great.