dance cruise

Going to a dance camp has been on my bucket list for a long time, but my life is so full that the right time has never come up. The idea of a dance camp was one of the reasons that I jumped at the chance to join this Pacific Adventures Dance Cruise. Five sea days as we crossed the Pacific with several classes each day.  A dance camp at sea - what could  be better?

Ten years ago when I first discovered dance cruising I went a bit crazy. Ballroom dancing is partner dancing, and as many dancers may agree, without a regular partner, opportunities for social dancing can be limited.

 I was casually surfing the web, looking for dance camps and other opportunities for dance, when  I came across Dancers at Sea, who were advertising a cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver. With some trepidation I joined the group for this West Coast Cruise -Dancing and Wine, enjoyed dancing every night, made some new friends ... and was hooked on dance cruising.

Embarcation in Honolulu as efficient and fast. Since most passengers were continuing on from the previous leg of the cruise,  only about a quarter of the total guest complement were embacing.

In under 30  minutes I was inspecting my cabin, my suitcase was already delivered and I had met the two stewards responsible for my cabin. Unlike on all my previous verandah cabins on other ships there is a full bath. As I discovered the next morning the shower was hot with great water power and the water didn’t spray all over the floor!

On this cruise, I chose to book several excursions as there is so much to see and I was hoping for excellent and knowledgeable guides.  However in Lesbos I planned to simply walk around the harbour area of Mytilene and find a taverna to have a lunch of calamari and Greek salad.

Although I have cruised several times on the Queen Mary 2 (and love cruising on this ocean liner) and once on the Queen Victoria, this was my first time on board Cunard's Queen Elizabeth. Once I had checked out my cabin and seen that my luggage was not yet there for me to unpack, I took my camera and went exploring. Very quickly I realized that I liked the smaller, more intimate feel of this ship which has the capacity for 2,092 passengers compared to the maximum passenger capacity of 3090 of her larger sister ship. 

For more pictures click the "read more" link. If there is not a picture of you in this collection that means  I did not get a good one to post.  If you have a great picture of yourself or anyone else to post here please email it to me and I will add it to the collage.

Last night we had a raucous and fun-filled New Year's Eve party. Despite  only a couple of hours sleep I was as energetic as usual when I woke up - though I was really craving coffee.  i think Mike got to bed about the time I usually wake up at home so I didn't think he would make it to the workshop at 10 am.  When our coffee and breakfast did not arrive at the expected time I called to find out where it was. Apparently some yoyos had taken the room service card off our door - it later turned up outside the door of an empty cabin further up the corridor.

By around 8 am we were docked at the pier in St. Thomas, one of the three main islands (with St. Croix and St. John) that comprise the US Virgin Islands. Once part of the Dutch West Indies the islands were taken over by America after the first world war and the islanders are now American citizens.  Charlotte Amalie is the capital and main port.

Today is the first of two days at sea and we have 2 hour dance workshops scheduled on both days; These will be on the 4 most common social dances  - rumba and foxtrot, and  waltz and chacha . On the return two days at sea, Wendy has scheduled bolero (one of my favorites), salsa (not my favorite), tango and swing. We were asked to be at Club Verde by 10  am.

Since my introduction earlier this year to the delights of cruise ship ballroom dancing with great dance hosts and delightful fellow dance enthusiasts (West Coast Ballroom Dancing and Wine Tasting Cruise) I have traveled to New York for theatre and fine dining (New York, New York), dance-cruised from New York to New Brunswick (Labour Weekend Getaway), from Honolulu to Tahiti (South Pacific Ballroom Dance Cruise) and most recently from Beijing to Bangkok (South-East Asia Ballroom Dance Cruise).
 

We are nearing the end of this 16 night cruise from Beijing to Bangkok. Singapore is the last stop before we disembark in Bangkok.  I spent a week in Singapore in September 2005 when the International Association for Pediatric Laboratory Medicine had its triennial meeting there. Although much of the time was spent at the conference - really,  we did get to tour a bit. I visited the Botanical gardens, and a group of us made the mandatory trek to Raffles Hotel to sit in the bar and drink a Singapore Sling. Actually I sipped someone else's Singaproe Sling just to taste it and then had white wine instead.

We were quite tired after the long bus rides yesterday and the humid weather did not help. We decided to go the breakfast in the room route before heading up to the Wheelhouse lounge for 9 am.

Unlike Hong Kong which I had visited on several occasions, where I found that most people could speak some English and many were fluent, Vietnam was an unknown for me. I had never visited the country before and did not feel comfortable trying to get around by myself. As well the ship was to dock quite a distance from the places we were to visit.

The Diamond Princess picked up the local pilot around 5:30 in the morning and was docked in the Contaiiner Terminal by about 7:30. Although it was warm and humid it was still grey outside.

The Diamond Princess traveled from Okinawa on a west-south Westerly course through the East China sea to the place where she would board the pilot who would take the ship into Keelung. The port of Keelung is about 18 miles from the 100 year old city of Taipei.

Five days into the cruise and I find myself less than enthusiastic at the thought of getting into yet another shuttle bus or excursion van with a crowd of people. Realistically, at home I normally have a lot of quiet time to chill out by myself, andnon-stop "togetherness" is something I am no longer used to. In fact I must confess that I have come to value times ofsolitude in my apartment - me, myself and I looking out over the waters of False Creek, reading, writing or just thinking about life.

It is three in the morning in Beijing, the morning after I arrived. And I am wide awake, writing! So my smugness at how I planned to avoid jet lag was unwarranted - my body defied my planning. Air Canada 29 leaves Vancouver at 12:40 pm and arrives the next day in Beijing around 4 pm. You fly almost 11 hours and move ahead 16 time zones. That meant that a couple of hours into the flight after we had been served a nice lunch and most people in the executive class cabin had reclined their seats and gone to sleep, it was really only about three or four in the afternoon Vancouver time. Although I tried to shut my eyes and doze for a bit in the latter half of the flight, I really did not sleep. By the time we arived in Beijing at 4 in the afternoon GMt + 8 hours for my chrono-biological clock it was only midnight. So I decided I would stay awake till around 9 Beijing time, sleep till 6 the next morning, and wake refreshed and in sync with the new time zone. Didn't work.

A dream vacation, ballroom dancing , sometimes rock-and-rolling, my way across the Pacific Ocean with my favorite group of dancers and dance hosts on the Pacific Princess.  

Our South Pacific Cruise is rapidly coming to an end  and this is the part that most of us had been waiting for; visiting the beautiful islands of French Polynesia that sit like exquisite jewels in the warm blue and green waters of the Pacific Ocean.

We departed from Hilo shortly after 4:30 pm on Thursday afternoon  and set course in a southerly direction across the Pacific Ocean towards Christmas Island. The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of all the oceans and covers two-thirds of the earth's surface. Compared to the distance between our various ports in Hawaii, an average of 100 nautical miles apart, the distance to Christmas Island from Hilo is 1088  nautical miles so it was no wonder that when we awoke early as usual and went up on deck, there was only the ocean to see all around us.