The Hokey Cokey……….what’s that all about?
Growing old is certainly better than the alternative……dying young
Not sure who should take the credit for this quote……but it’s definitely not me……still a great quote
1st December 2014
Another Sea Day…or just a rumour?
Cruise ships are one of the greatest places in the whole of the civilised world for rumours, which range from the simply obvious to the incredibly and unbelievably ridiculous.
They’re going on all the time, but there’s always a crescendo of some of the more bizarre ideas as the trip draws near to its conclusion.
Early on there were the stories about certain individuals and their status or occupation, and apparently we had a world famous and well respected fashion designer on board as well as a very well known comedienne and even a Nolan sister. Turns out the designer was just an eccentric with strange hair and very little fashion sense, the comedienne was the least funniest person you could ever meet and the Nolan sister hasn’t been seen again as she’s gone into hiding (or maybe she never existed in the first place)
At one point the ship had a crack in the hull, the crew were working to rule and a whole gang of passengers had been arrested for nicking stuff from the shops (now that one I could believe) The weather was going to stop us getting into Cuba, someone was suing because of a splinter and rum had actually been discovered in the free punch served during the sail away party (that’s just silly)
With reference to an earlier post there is now even one tale being distributed about some members of the crew receiving in excess of $2k in gratuities each month. But I can categorically state that from all the whispering and scheming I’ve heard on this subject it’s more likely that they’ll get much less than that from this bunch to share between everyone.
Maybe I should start a rumour that folk who don’t pay their gratuities are going to be put on an international ‘tight wads’ register and are likely to be banned admission into any of the bars or restaurants on any cruise ship.
Anyway the latest rumours are that we won’t get into Ponta Delgado and we’re due to get hit by a force 10 storm as we make a run for home. And when we reach the UK we’ll be greeted with three foot of snow and Christmas (like all Christian festivals) will be cancelled in favour of a more politically correct celebration. But there’s nothing left in the shops anyway because of the black Friday lootings and all the turkeys have had to be destroyed because of deadly bacteria lurking in the skin.
Well I just don’t have enough space to list any more of them as there are so many.
Let’s just wait and see…..this could get even more stupid!!!!!
30th November 2014
Another Sea Day
The sea has started to cut up a bit rough over the past 24 hours and those who haven’t taken to their beds yet are looking for things to keep themselves occupied and entertained. There are still a few who are lamely wandering around with their latest batch of t-shirts, bags and coats announcing where they’ve been recently….trouble is everybody else went there as well, so the game is now to prove you paid less for your goodies than anyone else did.
I feel slightly cheated because I didn’t buy anything with the name of a location on it, so I’m not allowed to play because…..well because I’m just a cheapskate (and proud of it)
Others are now scheming on how to get out of paying their gratuities to the well deserving crew members who’ve looked after us all so well (and they call me a cheapskate?) It ranges from cancelling the automatic additions to their cabin account with the intention of feigning illness on the last day and therefore avoiding any contact with the staff, to outright deviousness by claiming they’re unhappy with the service they’ve received over the past 34 days. That has wider ranging consequences that they either haven’t considered or just don’t care about.
One couple stated that as they’d seen their waiter ashore at one of the ports and he was in possession of the latest iphone, was wearing designer clothes and shopping for jewellery then he was obviously paid far too much and didn’t need their hard earned cash.
I am truly amazed by some of the excuses…but somehow I’m not surprised…and you wonder why I hate people!!
Yes, for us Brits, tipping is always a bit of a hot topic because it’s not a culture we’ve been used to, but come on meanies you know the situation and you should factor the cost in with the holiday. I’m so disappointed to hear you criticise the efforts of the guys and gals who work 10 to 12 hours a day/7 days a week and yet you’re too tight to reward their genuine attention to your needs…yet you’ll spend $10 on a tatty t-shirt in every port…shame on you.
Next I’ll hear some poor soul claiming that they’ve had to cancel their gratuities owing to the heavy loses they’ve suffered at the gaming tables, or that they need to be careful with the pennies because they’ve just booked another two cruises.. ….oh too late…I heard those two tales last night.
Look folks if you can’t afford it then just say so, it’s not a crime you know. But please don’t rubbish the hard working staff just to save a few bob.
20th November 2014
A Sea Day
So far I haven’t included many posts during this trip about the numerous sea days we’ve had. Mainly this is because nothing much has been happening to inspire me or worth any particular mention.
After the successful and exceedingly exciting launch of ‘The Other Side of Me’, my first novel, I’ve spent most of the time on sea days trying to concentrate on my next project, or more importantly trying to decide what to do!!
I’m currently considering trying to turn this cruise/holiday blog into a book, something like a cruisers diary with a plot line running through it (a bit like Adrian Mole meets Bridget Jones with a touch of Deputy Dawg thrown in for good measure) Oh well, let’s see.
Tomorrow we reach Cuba and although I feel a certain amount of excitement about the visit, I also feel a little apprehensive.
In the meantime here’s a little ditty.
Yes I know that was awful but what did you expect? 🙂
17th November 2014
Antigua..please don’t cough my way
Home to the Copper and Lumber Inn at Nelsons Dockyard……where many a fantastic lobster lunch and rum punch has been enjoyed.
But first I’m going to start today’s post with a bit of a rant, sorry, but this just has to be said.
We’d originally booked to go on a six hour catamaran sail around the island, an exclusive trip for the sole use of the passengers of this large tin box we’ve been floating around in for the past two weeks. But as we gathered in the theatre it was starting to become obvious that not all of the attending were in the rudest of health…
There was a fair amount of coughing and sneezing going on and two or three of the crowd were exploding without the aid of a hankie or even a raised hand to catch the projectile germs. We even overheard one lady describing her extensive overnight relationship with the toilet in her cabin….BOTH ENDS….delightful.
Ah well, we thought, maybe we’ll be able to find a quiet corner on the Cat to escape these diseased few. But by the time we’d made it down to the jetty it was even more obvious that ‘the healthy’ among us were in the minority. Now to be honest the thought of being cooped up for six hours with these purveyors of infection was not very inspiring, so we abandoned ship (so to say) before even getting on.
Now here’s my point. We all know how germs are spread, and yet somehow there are many who don’t seem to care. So why is that?
I accept folk are on holiday and don’t want to miss out, but is this fair to others…..the answer my phlegm ridden friends is………NO…..and it’s just selfish to think otherwise. At least use a hankie and sneeze away from others.
Anyway, our decision turned out to be a good one because firstly we headed for Millar’s Beach where we had a great three hours indulging in paradise beaching. Then after a quick shower and change of clothes we treated ourselves to a glorious king fish meal and many a cocktail at Hemmingway’s just outside the port. Priceless…
A final amble (stagger) around the local market and we meet a nice young lady whose accent wasn’t locally cultivated.
“You’re not a local.”
“No,” she tells us, “I moved here from Hackney four years ago.”
“Don’t you miss the ease and convenience of life back home?” we ask.
“Don’t be daft,” she laughs, “Why would I want to go back to that dump?”
Looking around the market and the town she now chose to live and call home I wondered why she would consider Hackney a dump compared to this rather unkempt and somewhat grubby area of the town. But then seeing the smile on her face and thinking about the more relaxed way of life the islanders enjoy I somehow realised she wasn’t referring to the condition of her surroundings…..I think it was more a statement of the quality of her new life compared with the old, and for a moment or two I had to completely agree with her choice.
Oh and the Catamaran trip…..apparently the sea was very rough and a lot became quite unwell with the ‘motion of the ocean and the sun up above’….or was that the real cause??????
So all in all a fortuitous decision not to go….but don’t think I’m grateful all you coughers and sneezers, I’m not.
Antigua is a great place, and I really hope the germ infested masses who trampled its boardwalks today didn’t leave too many unwanted visitors behind.
16th November 2014
St Lucia…one Piton or two?
We have very fond memories of previous trips to this lush green island. It’s friendly people, beautiful vistas and pristine beaches could make the weariest of travellers find a new lease of life. We’ve already done the party catamaran to see the Pitons, taxi ride to Soufriere, the hot springs and an unforgettable trip to the Diamond Falls and botanical gardens.
This time we’ve opted for a trip out to Mamiku Gardens on the eastern coast overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. First up though is the taxi ride to get there and here is where the reference to the rollercoaster begins.
St Lucia’s roads are serious stuff and as the engine of the bus we’re in whines its protest up a virtually impossible slope there is a very strong smell of hot metal and we all start wonder if we’re going to make it to the top…….
Then we finally reach the brow of the hill and are greeted with the scariest view of the downward incline we’re about to negotiate and you can hear our fellow travellers praying the brakes work well…..or just work would be good.
Anyhow….after around forty five minutes of stomach churning up and down lurching we arrive at the entrance to the gardens which are perched on the side of a hill.
And what a treat awaited us…firstly we are introduced to our guide, a nice lady (and I mean a proper lady) who is not only the gardener responsible for the landscaping and layout of this place, but she’s also the owner.
Veronica Shingleton Smith is a gem and as she directs us around her creation she imparts her wealth of knowledge about the shrubs, trees and flowers she has grown gracefully old with. They are her babies and she will even tell you how many flowers each of them produced in past years…..incredible.
Add to that all the information she gives us about how the islanders use this vegetation to ward off or cure certain afflictions then suddenly we’re all very interested.
There are pungent leaves to infuse for headaches or gastric upsets. Tamarind which they juice to lower blood pressure, a leaf the men chew to ward off prostate problems and finally we arrive at the Noni tree.
Now there are many claims made about the health benefits of consuming the fruit of the Noni tree and the stories told by VSS would appear to endorse these theories. I will just say that I agree totally with this sweet lady’s statement that science will probably discover in the natural world the cure for just about everything.
We got to sample some of the tamarind juice along with a couple of very strong rum punches at the end of the tour, and I have to add that the couple of hours we were there flew by thanks to the very enjoyable company of Veronica.
Mamiku only ranks as #41 on Trip Advisor things to do in St Lucia…it should be higher….a really good half days tour.
Back in Castries and, yep you guessed it, it’s beer o’clock.
It’s a hot day, with a few tropical showers included for good measure, so some serious fluid replacement is required.
And that was it really…not much happened but we did have a really good visit. So once again we bid goodbye to another of our favourite islands and dream of many happy returns.
14th November 2014
Oh we’re going to Barbados…in the sunny Caribbean sea
We arrive with Bridgetown bathed in glorious sunshine, the sea a beautiful turquoise blue. This is a very busy port which usually plays host to a number of cruise ships….today is no exception with us being the fifth to arrive (and we’re the smallest)
There really is so much to do and see here that it’s difficult to know exactly where to begin. Taxis are plentiful and in general are small minibus type vehicles. Mostly the drivers prefer to sell you a half or full days tour of the island and as they may only get one chance of a fare each day then this is to be expected.
Time to negotiate a price but be specific….if you want to be by yourselves then you need to mention that, or if you only want to go to a particular place then you need to be insistent. And of course this will all be reflected in the price. If you’re not bothered what you do and are looking for the cheapest deal then be prepared to wait some time as the drivers will attempt to fill every seat in their vehicle before setting off. In our experience it’s much better to pay extra and have more control over the day’s itinerary, but more importantly it’s nicer to have the extra space inside the vehicle to enjoy the day. For around $100/120 you can get a three hour tour (short but very good)
This is an incredible underground labyrinth of wonder and well worth the visit…..and it’s lovely and cool down there. The majority of the journey is made on a train like vehicle, but plenty of stops are made for photos, and the guides will always recommend the best views. Great couple of hours worth….and did I mention it’s lovely and cool as well?
There are a few ‘gardens’ to visit which, at the right time of year, will thrill any amateur horticulturalist with some very beautiful landscaping and stunning displays of flowers….especially orchids.
Of course just a drive around the island is a magical mystery tour in itself with stunning views both out over the Atlantic Ocean to the east or the Caribbean Sea to the west. Not to mention the turbulent history of the Caribbean, and Barbados had its fair share of the conflicts and slavery etc….A good driver can bring the whole story alive if allowed to do so (maybe another good reason to go on your own as we’ve often experienced the ‘know it all tourist’ who spoils everything by never shutting up!!!!) More often than not we always seem to end up in some off the beaten track location with a rum punch in one hand and a coconut bun in the other talking to ‘momma’….priceless hospitality.
For the more adventurous there are plenty of water sports or catamaran trips to snorkel or swim with dolphins/turtles.
Then there’s the beach…..or should I say beaches. Now I’m no great lover of sand and I’ll guarantee a small grain of the stuff will never produce a pearl in me, but I do love the beaches here. This is the place the world exists in the Caribbean, it’s where the locals meet to have fun, swim, party or just try to make a living. The water is so clear and warm you have to go for a swim, or even just a paddle.
Most places you can rent a lounger and umbrella for a few (negotiated) dollars and there’s nearly always a cold beer or three close by.
Anyway, after a wonderful day enjoying the island it’s back to Bridgetown and despite it’s somewhat shabby appearance in places, it’s a friendly town with lots of the usual stuff to see. Stop and talk to the locals, buy some of the local hand-made crafts (rather than the increasing masses of imported rubbish)
Then it’s a short walk back to the port and a few ‘Banks’ beers in the bar along with a flying fish platter…..yum.
Barbados never disappoints and despite one or two showers today it keeps it’s excellent reputation well and truly intact.
7th November 2014
Fun Fun Funchal, Madeira
The first thing to note is that the harbour and seafront has undergone some major refurbishment in the past few months. In the harbour area itself there is quite a bit of mess, with a lot of construction still taking place, but it appears the rest of the main promenade is almost completed. At the time of this visit the new garden areas are beautifully planted out, and the final clean up seems to be in progress.
So what did we do?
Well first up it was a walk to the market. The flowers, the fruit, the fish and just about everything else is fascinating. This is a veritable smorgasbord for the senses, and not necessarily all good, but we spent a good hour sampling Madeira wine, fruit punch, pineapple bananas and candied hibiscus flowers, as well as taking lots of pictures. We bought a few bits and pieces and a couple of bottles of the local hooch, so a quick trip back to the ship to unload was needed.
Then onward and upward to the fort at the end of the waterfront before climbing the hill towards the street café we attended last trip. But unfortunately many others had discovered this little gem and the tables were full (with more folk waiting to be seated) So back down into the town for a wander around.
A few church visits and many a shop window stared through and lunch (or more importantly beer) was calling. We found a nice bar with a bit of shade that overlooked a small fisherman’s chapel with a hug hibiscus tree in full flower, very pretty.
The beer was cold and good, the salad plentiful and cheep……BONUS.
Ice cream soon followed and after a stroll back to the promenade it was time to find another park side bar to watch the world pass by.
I suppose this wasn’t the most productive and exciting of port days, but we really enjoyed it and I’m sure we’ll come here for a longer holiday at some point.
Just a quick word about other things in Funchal.
The ship offered a tour of Funchal by tukxi…basically it’s a tuk-tuk with a different name. We’ve never seen these around Madeira before and they do look to be great fun. But the price for a tour was far cheaper in the port than the one offered on by the ship’s tour department, and there seemed to be plenty of them around to hire….just a thought.
And of course it goes without saying that a trip up to Monte on the cable car is a must….again it’s much cheaper independently than on a tour….and the views are fantastic. This should be followed by a sled down the hill in a large armchair, steered by a mad man and his mate on the back, but only do this if in fact you’re completely insane and have a very good life insurance policy.
I’m sorry I appear to be getting a little behind with the posts but will soon catch up……It’s just we’re having so much fun 🙂