Crossing the Atlantic

Trip Start Oct 18, 2007
Trip End Nov 20, 2007

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Flag of Cape Verde  ,
Saturday, November 10, 2007

we didn't really go to the Cape Verde Islands but we did sail past them in the night!
Day 22.   8 November 2007 (At Sea)
It wasn't only moths that covered the ship last night.  There are literally thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of bugs of various kinds all over the back decks of the ship, especially the lower prom.  Most of them are little stink bug things but there are also crickets and grasshoppers and all sorts of other bugs.  How strange.  Brasil looks like it's getting some guests it wasn't expecting.
Thursday afternoon. I'm sat next to a couple (sadly American yet again) while I'm typing this who are discussing Dakar and saying that to attract tourists they need to make it more attractive so that tourists will come, that it needs to be greener ("their must be underground water") and that they need to tidy up the natives (!!!!) and that's why Vietnam is doing so much better now because they've tidied it up for the tourists.  Mmmmm........  Now they're talking about bugs and that the ship should do more to keep bugs out.  They actually saw a fly onboard last night.  Their glass bug-less house must be quite a sight!
It's now Friday morning. Did our forty minutes of walking yesterday morning after breakfast.  Back in the cabin and I'm tidying up when I notice one of Al's charge receipts with a rather large charge on it - $1008.  I have a look at what it was for then ask Al if he checks when he signs.  We both have a big laugh.  He apparently bought 222 beers one afternoon from one of the bars!  Must have been passing them out to the passing parade of walking frames and electric carts!!  Al went down to the Front Office to sort it out.  The front desk people have zero sense of humour and didn't think it was that funny at all although the lady being served beside him thought it was hilarious.
Then we just sat out on deck 3 in one of the beautiful teak deck chairs that line all of the deck areas that don't get direct sun.  Al was not feeling too good, his nose was running like a tap, so he decided to go and lay down and spent pretty much the rest of the day in bed.  At 3pm they had the one and only pool games they're having on this cruise.  Lots of fun, I won a Dam mug and some Dam dollars that I gave to Karen.  Went to the store to get some cold and flu tablets for Al but they'd run out so had to go to the Infirmary and Cindy was great.  HAL will be losing a great employee when she decides to hand in her Seaman's Book.
Al was just about well enough to go up to the Captain's cocktail party.  Met the Captain and the Hotel Manager. Captain Rik Krombeen looks about 30 and is apparently 40 or a little more. He's the one we've seen from our verandah up on the port wing of the bridge above us.  They ply us with nibblies and piles of grog.  Open bar for an hour!!  I had a few champagnes but Al stuck with the orange juice.  Al decided to come down to dinner, great meal as usual, and then I went up to the Crow's Nest and sat at the bar. 
Eventually I ended up at a table with Richard, Linda, Bonnie and Alan.  Somehow our conversation got to me mentioning the two people talking about tidying up Dakar and I was saddened that they too thought that the worst thing about Dakar was the rubbish piles.  They all agreed that Africa would never be a tourist destination until it was cleaned up.  I have to be honest, I didn't notice it.  There was way too much more to be looking at.  Why is appearance so important to people?  Why travel if you only want to see the sanitised fašade and never how the real people live? 
Stayed until they closed the bar at 1am, my latest night!
Day 23.   9 November 2007 (At Sea)
Went to a presentation on pirates.  This was interesting and quite humorous.  We went to the quiz, Al under sufferance, and we team up with Jean and Gene (very nice, but funny names).  We do ok.  We eat some more, then some more and probably some more.
We walked the lower prom for a while then decide to play a trick on Sue who is lounging on one of the teak deckchairs - only place they have them, all the rest are plastic or aluminium.  We tell her we're going to do our last lap (3.5 laps = 1 mile) and that we're going to step up the pace this time.  We sneak into the first door past her and run through the middle of the ship to the first door back from her and pretend to have raced around the ship - she doesn't fall for it!
Dinner: our Sambal (Indonesian chilli) turns up at our table - the waiters have been told they have to put it on our table every night now because we all like our food HOT!  Yet again we all have dessert even though we've all said we won't.

We don't get charged for the corkage tonight - not sure if this is a mistake or if they've read Pete's comments that we've supported the beverage dept. enough.  Maybe they looked before the $1008 charge for 222 beers was removed and thought yep - they've spent plenty.
This evening the ship starts rocking front to back quite a bit but the sideways movement seems to disappear - maybe they've engaged the stabilisers.  The change in movement is much easier - the passengers just walk lurching back and forward instead of walking like drunks (we do both).
Day 24.   10 November 2007 (At Sea - Crossing the Equator)
Today we crossed the equator at some time before 9am - not sure exactly when.  The festivities were scheduled for 10:30am.  We had a fun morning watching the staff dress up (King Neptune etc.) and the first-time over the equator some staff are chosen to get covered in slime and jelly.  After a bit of sun, we went to a lecture on coffee (history and growing).  Interesting, but a little biased.  The lecturer has a small coffee plantation in Panama.  We manage to almost skip lunch (but still sneak a cookie) so we can go to the Indonesian afternoon tea.  We were expecting a huge feast with sandwiches and more food than we could eat, but it was very civilised and we only got 2 tiny cakes.
The variety of bugs that attached themselves to the ship in the millions as we sailed from Dakar are mostly gone, but still easy to find here and there.  Lots of people have been bitten.
7pm we meet for the Pinnacle Grill Sommelier's dinner in the Explorer's Lounge.  We're given champagne and horses doovers.  We are personally escorted to the restaurant and taken to our table

The Pinnacle Grill is great - very rococo.  The meal has matching wines from Washington because the restaurant features north-west American cuisine.  They have to keep serving the Semillon because there are two dishes (Amuse Bouche?) served before the starter.  The first dish "Amuses" for sure: a slice of yellow tomato on top of a slice of red tomato with a ball of watermelon (I shouldn't forget the 2 dots of balsamic).  The starter arrives - this is DELICIOUS!  - Watercress Veloute with a wild mushroom royale and rosemary coulis.  I described this to someone as some green slop with some brown slop in the middle.  We're given a toffee and lemon thyme sorbet.  The rest of the meal is good but the extra desert (a wonderful creme brulee) we're given causes the last wines to be mismatched.  Oh, the drama of it all.  Was a really nice experience but not on the same level (actually not in the same building even) as the SS United States restaurant on Infinity.  I noticed that one of the waiters didn't have his shirt tucked in.  Petty I know, but when you are selling something as being so special, the wait staff set the tone for the restaurant. 

We go to the show at 10:30pm and no sooner do we sit down on one side of the Queen's Lounge that the girls from our dinner table are waving at us from the other side, so we join them.  The entertainer is a pom who lives in Australia.  The entire room laughs from start to finish - the best entertainment we've had.   We go to the Crow's Nest briefly and spot a ship, so retire to watch it from our cabin.  We pass and think it was a cargo ship of some type.  Al scans the sky for an hour and sees nothing - Pete looks up a couple of times and sees two shooting stars (to go with the two he saw several nights before).
We realise we've forgotten to go for a walk today - suppose we'll have to walk tomorrow for sure now.   

Day 25   11 November 2007 (At Sea)
We keep winding out watched back so the sun comes up about 5 - 5:30 instead of 7 like it did two days ago.  I (that's Al) take four thousand photos of the same thing (another sunrise).  Lots of gannets and two frigate birds following the ship and fishing.  Breakfast in the room.  Lecture about Recife (trying to get some tips about what to do in port tomorrow, but not that interesting).  Sat out on lower prom and watched the birds and the flying fish.
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Maria on

I laughed a lot about places that need "tidying up".
I'll be sailing to Hawaii and whereabouts in september and prefer untidy places :)
ps: will stay clear from beer boozers in parade :)

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