Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Mangalore To Mumbai

Sunday March 20th

Arrived in Mangalore and have decided that this port would probably win the ‘Ugliest Port In The World’ award. Didn’t go ashore – we stayed on board and slobbed around on deck.

Monday March 21st

Cruising the Malabar Coast today so a day at sea chilling!! and enjoying the noon ritual of the cold beers.

Tuesday March 22nd

Click Here For More Photos

Arrived in Mumbai previously and still locally known as Bombay. It lies on the west coast of India and has a population of over 14 million and is also the richest city in India.

Our tour today was to Elephanta Island. We boarded our coach at the pier side and braved the thousands of cars, buses, taxies and people to drive to our little boat which was waiting at the iconic Gateway Of India. This is a basalt arch in mixed Muslim–Hindu style which stands over eighty five feet high and was built as a tribute to King George V and Queen Mary’s visit to the then Bombay in 1911. Originally it was an entry point for passengers arriving on P&O steamers from England. On February 8th 1948 the last British soldier passed through it marking the end of Britain’s dominance in the sub-continent.

The trip to the Island took about an hour and then we boarded the local ‘toy’ train to the bottom of the 125 step accent to the caves of the Island. Anyone not fit enough could have been carried to the top in a sedan chair hoisted by 4 scrawny Indian porters….no I didn’t do it!! …not brave enough.

The caves and the carving they contained were fascinating as they depicted sculptures of Shiva and Vishnu amongst others and had been painstakingly hewn from the rock between 450 AD and 750 AD.

The journey back took almost twice that of going out as it was into a fierce headwind, the tide AND with an old slow engine….meaning we missed our 12 o’clock beer!!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Cochin – India

Saturday March 19th

Paul, Sarah and the two of us hired a local taxi for a private three hour tour of Cochin.

We visited The Dutch Palace, The Catholic Basilica (which was hosting a wedding at the time), the famous fishing nets where the massive nets are lowered into the river on a cantilever system and numerous local attractions and side street stalls for even more shopping.

That afternoon most of the guests on the Sojourn travelled across to Gundu Island where we had a Kerala Feast and enjoyed the coconut-influenced cuisine including crispy lentil and rice crepes that were loaded with prawns and chicken and looked like small pizza’s. They were delicious. The entertainment included a Kathakali performance where through facial expressions and hand gestures the artist enacts various emotions. These artists are always male…must be something to do with the weight of the costume. We also could have a henna tattoo – I had a small one on my hand – and had our fortune told. Apparently I am going to have a long and healthy life living to be 90…..I like the healthy bit …but 90 !!??!!

We were pleasantly surprised with how nice Cochin was – hope the rest of our trips in India turn out as well as today.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Three Days At Sea

Wednesday March 16th

Thought I’d give you a photo tour of the ship today around The Seabourn Square and other guest facilities on deck seven. Clocks go back one hour tonight…goodie…extra hour in bed!!

Thursday March 17th

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!! The cocktail waiters created two special drinks - The Irish MacMarga and The Irish Frog – needless to say they were green...and we didn’t try them.

Huge storm this morning torrential rain, thunder and lightning…I love it…no sunbathing today and it also means I have time to catch up on admin and this blog – but needless to say we didn’t forego our noon beer ritual on deck.

Friday March 18th

Still at sea heading for Cochin in India and cruising the Bay Of Bengal - supposedly the largest bay in the world occupying an area of 2,172,000 sq kms. Have decided to eat in Restraunt 2 this evening as we like the menu.

The clocks go back thirty minutes tonight – now so confused I don’t know what the time difference is between us and the UK!!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Phuket Thailand

Tuesday March 15th

A quiet day for us – we decided not to go on the tour to Phang Nga Bay – too similar to Halong Bay in Vietnam so missed landing on Ping Gun Island where some of the James Bond film ‘Man With The Golden Gun’ was shot so we went for a short walk outside of the dock area and saw the local elephant – you must see the photos.

However the locals vendors set up a market right on the dock outside the ship so more shopping and this gave us time to be back for our noon day ritual – hic!!

Captain Karlo always walks the pool deck at 12:03 every day on his way to lunch and says he sets his watch to our beers!! Cheers Mon Capitan!!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Onward To Penang

Sunday March 13th

Today we are cruising the Straits of Malacca on our way to Penang in Malaysia. Another beautiful day so we have decided to top up the tan – again – lazing by the pool.
Just a note to say that our break-away bridge group has fallen apart and our group is no more…come back Pat and George we miss you.

Monday March 14th

Arrived in Georgetown, Penang at 8am. No tours for us today so we visited the UNESCO World Heritage site of Little India where we strolled along the Esplanade passing Fort Cornwallis and the lighthouse then walked through the park which is bordered by the Town Hall and other beautiful old buildings. Afterwards we walked to the old pier at the marina where we took some great photographs of the ship.

Click Here For More Photos

This evening we went to Showtime in the Grand Salon where we saw a Welsh comedian called Kenny Smiles – he was brilliant. His advertising strap line said..’ Warning – hysterical laughter can damage the hearing of the person next to you’…it was spot on … I laughed so much it hurt.

Saturday, 19 March 2011


Saturday March 12th

Yet another change over of guests and staff as we’ve arrived in Singapore – goodbye Valentina - breakfast at The Colonnade without you won’t be the same.

I’ve not said much lately about the weather as it’s been so fabulous I didn’t want to rub your noses in it!!

This morning we caught the cable car to Sentosa Island which we’d previously visited over twenty years ago and what a difference. In our humble opinion they have really ruined what was a fabulous natural Island - it is now just full of Disney type attractions and hot-dog stands – and they are still building!!.

What we missed on Sentosa all those years ago was Fort Siloso – Asia’s largest collection of World War II memorabilia.. It displays (through photos, videos, personal effects and big guns) the British surrender of Singapore in 1942 and the hardships the locals went through plus the eventual Japanese surrender in 1947. We spent two hours walking around the Fort and even went down into some of the tunnels.

This evening we had another World Cruise Event (no segers or newbies!!) on the Singapore Flyer. This is the world’s largest observation wheel similar in concept to The London Eye. This fantastic ride took us to a height of 540 feet and we had a 360 degree panoramic view of Singapore’s iconic landmarks including the Formula One motor racing circuit.

Our capsule had been preloaded with hors d’oeuvres, wine, beer etc which we of course enjoyed to the full as the sun set over Singapore.

Cruising The South China Sea To Singapore

Thursday March 10th

Day at sea today. We have been following the social revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and have not been sure if the ship will be able to sail through the Suez Canal.

We heard today that if everything remains as it is we will sail through but may not stop at any of the Egyptian ports – a real shame as lots of the guests had tours booked to Cairo, Luxor and Sharm El Sheikh..

Friday March 11th

Still at sea but grumpy weather today – grey and drizzley – where’s the sun gone!! The newbies found it quite rough last night as the ship has increased speed to cover the distance of 788 nautical miles from Laem Chabang to Singapore – they should have been here when we crossed the Tasman Sea from New Zealand to Tasmania – that’s what you call rough!!

An 8.9 earthquake hit Japan today at 2:15pm our time here and the Tsunami that followed has caused huge destruction as all of you will have seen on the news channels – poor buggers. There was a small concern on the ship that the wave would cause us problems but it rode under the ship at about 3am without a problem here.

Galley Market Buffet today - there’s always one of these the day before the end of each segment so that the whole ship can have a farewell lunch together.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Cruising The Gulf Of Thailand To Laem Chabang

Tuesday March 8th

Day at sea again – love it – it’s so relaxing – so topping up the tan with another ‘Caviar In The Surf’ event – except it’s held in the swimming pool – especially for the Newbies!!

Wednesday March 9th

Arrived in Laem Chabang which is as far up the Chao Phraya River as the ship can go for the city of Bangkok. Most people have gone into Bangkok today – some on an organized tour (11 hrs!! no thanks) and other on a DIY basis. It’s about a three hour drive into Bangkok but that’s not for us – anyway been there, done that and even have the tee-shirt.

Instead we popped (25 minutes) into Pattaya – we were first here about twenty years ago and it’s really changed. It’s still seedy but bigger and brasher now with more hotels, shops, Malls, people, working girls!! Etc.

We walked along the beach promenade and then did yet more shopping – I finally got the watch I wanted at a real bargain price – what a clever girl!! and we still managed to get back for our noon ritual of cold beer etc.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Sihanoukville – Cambodia

Monday March 7th

This morning we took a tour of Sihanoukville a port city in Southern Cambodia. The name ‘Sihanouk’ is formed from two Sanskrit words : Siha and Hanu. Siha means Lion and Hanu means Jaw so therefore it means Jaws of the Lion and we saw many statues of lions around the city.

We visited a local school that is provided free by the city for the kids and also a village house to see how the locals live. We also visited the Wat Krom Temple which depicts the life of Buddha. Afterwards we went to the Sokha Beach Resort where we had a barbeque lunch after which we swam in the clear warm waters. Vance then had a beach massage – typical!!

We should have set sail at 5:30pm but one person had left their passport at Angor Wat and the ship had to send a courier all the way back to collect it which delayed the sailing till 10:30pm – the Captain was none too pleased!!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

World Cruiser’s Ice Cream Party

Sunday March 6th -

Day at sea cruising the South China Sea on our way to Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

We world cruisers have been invited to an ice cream party hosted by the ships officers held at the outer desk of the ships spa at 3:30pm. We arrived to find the officers dressed in large white aprons which they had decorated with pictures and words of their own choice.

We were then given our own blank white aprons and felt tips pens to decorate and annotate our own apron in any way we choose. We were also given lampshade hats that they wear in Vietnam to keep off the afternoon sun – and keep the ice cream from melting too quickly!!

Huge choice of ice creams with decorations like nuts, chocolate sauces, fruits…etc…you name it they had it.,,,delicious.

I decorated my apron by getting the officers including the Captain to sign their names or write a message – keep it clean gentlemen please!!

Vance get Melissa, the assistant cruise director to decorate his with the wording ‘ Wish I Had A Big Scoop’ – some of the officer’s aprons were more original but just as saucy!!

Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam

Friday March 4th

Arrive Ho Chi Minh City also known as Saigon and is the largest city in Vietnam.

Went shopping in the hot and really humid market and managed to buy some good bargains – real authentic copies – a Jimmy Choo bag and a pair of flattie shoes for me and golf shirts for Vance. Didn’t get the watch I haggled for – more haggling lessons for me: Note to self – ‘Must Do Better’

This evening we went to the Rex Hotel made famous by the American high command who used it as a base in the Vietnam War. The hotel was built in 1927 during the French colonial rule and is very ornate and opulent.

We had cocktails and local delicacies on the roof top terrace – with sweeping views of the city at night – followed by a performance of Vietnamese music and dance.

Saturday March 5th

Still in Saigon and back to the market again to practice my newly honed haggling skills and they worked!! More shirts and a pair of ‘Converse’ shoes for Vance and for me a lovely white cotton top with Vietnamese lettering down the front – hope it doesn’t say anything rude!

Back to our home from home for our 12 o’clock beer and lunch ready for our 3pm sail away on route to Cambodia.

Cruising To Vietnam

Monday February 28th

First day with our new bridge teachers as Pat and George Bettes left us in Hong Kong. Only four of us continuing so we have started a break away group as the ‘newbie’ beginners are starting from scratch.

We are starting the home journey today as we are now heading westward at 55 days into our ‘Sojourn’

Clocks back one hour tonight so we are now 7 hours ahead.

Tuesday March 1st

Arrived in Cai Lan in the north region of Vietnam and took a tour to Halong Bay which literally means “Decending Dragon Bay” and is a UNESCO world heritage site. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts in all shapes and sizes. We sailed around  the bay in a traditional junk which was interesting but not very comfy on the bum!!

Wednesday March 2nd

Day at sea today on our way to Ho Chi Minh city – the old Saigon. Tonight we danced under the stars – only the second time since LA as all the others were moved to The Club due to being “rained off”. We danced all evening on deck – the old legs will pay the price tomorrow morning.

Thursday March 3rd

Still at sea so we will be having a lazy day on deck and catching up with the gossip.

It’s fascinating to watch the dynamic of the ship. There are some people who are like magnets (Vance!!) and other people naturally gravitate towards them, wanting to speak to them and be part of a group….then others just sit alone or in their pairs and hardly seem to mix at all. Guess it’s a good thing we are all different or life could get very boring!!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Hong Kong

Saturday Febrauary 26th

Today is another change over day so it’s time to say goodbye to more friends that we’ve made on the cruise. Sad to say goodbye but that’s what holidays are about but amongst the 250 new guests (newbies) boarding today hopefully we’ll make a few new ones.

Walked the Nathan Road this morning looking but not buying…yet…then back for the ritual 12 o’clock beer which was waiting for us on the strike of 12!!

After lunch we intended to go to the Ladies Market but didn’t quite make it but instead spent the afternoon on deck ‘chilling’ – bliss!!

Sunday February 27th

We went out shopping for ‘real’ copies. Vance bought an iPhone 4 for 400 hong kong dollars – about £35 – hope it works when we get back home. He’s hoping to write an ‘App’ for our website when he gets home and told me needs the phone to practice on – yeh right!!

Caviar sail-away party this afternoon at 5pm with all the new excited guests and we say goodbye to the beautiful Victoria Harbour and HK Island.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Cruising The Sula Sea And South China Sea To Hong Kong

Wednesday February 23rd & 24th

Click Here For More Photos

We have two days at sea and guess what??? – yes it’s sunny hip hip hooray!! – good to just relax on deck after all the touring and walking we’ve done over the past few days…It’s time to top-up the tan.

Friday February 25th

7am Pyjama Sail-in Party on the front lower deck for World Cruise guests only - not the Seggers (that’s what we call the guests who are only doing segments of the cruise. Great fun in the early morning sunshine. Bucks fizz, tea, coffee and English muffins but we will of course go for our usual breakfast later at 8am.

Dentist for Vance again (boo hoo) but this time the dental practice is in the arrival terminal’s shopping mall on the 11th floor – a private practice (no NHS here!!) and really posh which was reflected in the cost!!

This afternoon we did the city highlights tour to Hong Kong Island – Victoria Peak, Aberdeen Bay and Stanley Market. We started with a coach ride to the funicular lower station and rode the train up to the Victoria Peak (1805 feet high) where we had stunning views of the Island and mainland Kowloon.

From there we went to Aberdeen Harbour and boarded a junk for a trip past the old houseboats and one of the floating restaurants that looked like an Imperial Palace. After that we travelled on to Deepwater Bay & Repulse Bay where the beaches are protected by shark proof nets!! We finished with a shopping trip to Stanley Market – mostly tat but Vance did manage to get a Greg Norman golf shirt for a few dollars….original of course!!.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Re-Crossing The Equator & Cruising The Sulu Sea To Sandakan Borneo

Sunday February 20th

Happy anniversary to us. Today we celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary but as you all know we have been together for 28 years!!

Executive chef Graeme (from Scotland) told us he’d like to prepare a ‘special’ meal for us so what would we like…Lobster Thermidor, Filet Mignon etc etc…but guess what????...we chose the following:

No Starter

Main Course: English style roast chicken (skin on) with roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, peas, carrots & gravy.

Dessert: Apple pie & custard. ……Bliss….

We also re-crossed the equator going north today but as I am now a ‘shellback’ not a pollywog (see previous blog) I could enjoy the other pollywogs going through their rite of passage ceremony.

Monday February 21st

Vance broke the side off another tooth today….poor old bugger…so we’ll need to get a quick visit to the dentist when we get to Hong Kong.

Tuesday February 22nd

Sandakan – which means Orang Utans sanctuary visit day at last. Have been waiting for this since we joined the ship in LA and although it was wonderful to see the animals in an almost natural habitat it was also a bit disappointing as we only saw a couple of mothers with little babies and we were not allowed to touch them.

Took some great photos but also cheated and supplemented them with a few poster shots. Following the wildlife sanctuary we visited a Buddhist temple at the top of a 180 steps (phew!!) apparently these temples are built at the highest point possible so they are closer to HIM!!