December 2014 - May 2015
  • Day136

    Home again!

    May 2, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    We have arrived home again after an amazing journey around the world.
    We stopped at the Shell House in Georgia for dinner on the way home since we also had dinner there on the first day of our trip in December. Note in the photo the convenient hole in the table to put all dinnerware, garbage, etc.
    Also, note the placemats are the menu.
    We followed the world turning for 4 1/2 months and now have landed back at home full of incredible memories.
    Signing off for the World Cruise 2015!!
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  • Day135

    Threading the Needle

    May 1, 2015, North Atlantic Ocean ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    As we have mentioned numerous times, we have had an extremely smooth passage around the world. I feel I can safely say that now that we are heading north through the Caribbean and toward home. We had 4 days of rough seas out of the 134 days we have been sailing and we have only had 2 1/2 days of rain while we were in port.
    There have been a number of cyclones or storms that have occurred just before or after our visits to certain ports. A cyclone developed within 12 hours after we left Tahiti and there was a tremendous storm the day before we sailed into Hong Kong. The seas were quite rough in and out of Sydney, but nothing compared to the 40’ seas that the Carnival cruise ship endured last week waiting outside Sydney for the harbor to reopen after huge seas and the 30” of rain in one day wrecked havoc for all harbor activities.
    A volcano erupted just after we left Guatemala and another just before we arrived in Tonga - the latter eruption created a whole new island!
    There was a hostage situation in Sydney shortly before we got there. The terrible kidnappings and shootings of the students in Kenya happened a couple of days after we left and the social unrest that has led to violence and killings in Durban, South Africa occurred only a few days after we left as well.
    This trip has impressed on us that the world is a continually evolving place in both natural and social arenas. Now that we have visited so many new countries and spoken to people that live there about their lives and daily challenges, it gives a new perspective on the world as a whole. It is interesting to speculate about what has been successful and unsuccessful, the ways that various countries have chosen to handle issues and what the outcome has been. We find the world news fascinating now that we have walked some of the streets where these current events are unfolding.
    In addition to traveling on the ship, we have been on motorboats, a zodiac, a flatboat and a kayak. We’ve taken trains, subways, an air train, a double-decker bus, countless big busses, small buses, mini busses and vans. We’ve been in hired cars that looked like they couldn’t limp around the block much less get us to our destination, taxis that required 10 minutes of price haggling before getting in, tuk-tuks and bicycles. We swam, snorkeled, floated, waded, run and my Vivofit tells me I have walked 675 miles since leaving home on December 19th.
    Will I remember how to cook? Will I remember how to drive - and on which side of the road? 85% of the places we visited drive on the left side of the road. And I shudder to think of how much wine and Proseco I have consumed. We’ve changed time zones 29 times so I’m not really sure what time it is.
    We’ve met many wonderful people on this trip and even though we’ve been on vacation, we feel a bit exhausted and have much more to process. Among mixed emotions of our trip ending, we’ll get off the ship with big smiles on our faces and maybe a tiny tear in our eyes.
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  • Day134

    At sea

    April 30, 2015, North Atlantic Ocean ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Apartheid was a system of segregation and discrimination used by South African Afrikaners of Dutch decent until the early 1990s when it was abolished. The South African government carefully divided the population into black, colored and white designations, even using guides for hair curliness or skin shading to make these assignments. The blacks had the lowest rank with no voting rights. Coloreds were those of Asian, Indian or mixed descent and were one step above blacks in socio-political ranking. Even though blacks were by far the majority of the population, they were restricted to living in less than 20% of the total land area of South Africa, an ironic situation for these original inhabitants.

    As the country developed, blacks in rural areas migrated to cities where there were jobs. Large portions of the cities, termed districts, gradually began to be integrated with their own music, artistic cultures and economies. Integration was antithesis to the concept of apartheid so bulldozers were brought in to level these districts during the 70s and 80s, forcing the residents into designated areas outside the cities called townships.

    The townships were hastily constructed dense collections of buildings with inadequate water or sewage infrastructure. The government built some block houses in the townships but shanties filled the spaces between the government houses to accommodate the many people forced to live there. The location of the townships outside the cities led to blacks spending high percentages of their income on transportation to city jobs and aggravated the poverty and income disparity.

    The apartheid policy had even more sinister societal goals. Certain areas of the townships had designated housing for single male workers from rural areas. Their wives were allowed to visit only one night per month and a significant charge was levied for this one night stay by the government. However, girlfriends were allowed unrestricted access to the male residences and there was no charge for their visits. The goal of this scheme was to actively break down the family and social structures of the rural blacks.

    The resulting escalating internal social unrest as well as economic pressure from the rest of the world lead SA President F.W. de Klerk to negotiate a peaceful transition to democracy with Nelson Mandela and others in the early 1990s. Mandela had been in harsh prison conditions for 27 years and we had the opportunity to visit Robben Island where he was held for 18 of those years. Our tour was led by a former inmate who described the cruelty they experienced. The political prisoners were treated particularly aggressively because, unlike common criminals, they were a real threat to the government so the leadership wanted to “break” them. It was therefore remarkable that Mandela promoted a future of national harmony, inclusion and forgiveness without revenge. For example, we were surprised to learn that some of the former prison guards also work for the Robben Island tourist site and they are now friends with the former inmates.

    The national Truth and Reconciliation Commissions brought previous apartheid practices into the open for the country to address. Many townships and racial disparities remain, as do several of the razed districts, but the population appears to be surprisingly integrated. Even with setbacks in the process, we were impressed with how the people we talked with faced down the horrible past and were actively working toward a more integrated and accepting future.
    The first photo is District 6 in Cape Town.
    The second photo is a Cape Town Township.
    The third photo is East London razor wire.
    The fourth photo is East London Township
    The fifth photo shows the inadequate garbage collection.
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  • Day132

    San Juan, Puerto Rico

    April 28, 2015, Caribbean Sea ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    We have a very nice, but hot, day wandering around Old San Juan. There has been some type of renovation of the old town and the buildings are quite fresh and clean while maintaining some of their 16th century, Spanish character. There are some lovely cobblestone streets made with blue glazing that were used as ballast in ships that came into the harbor 300 years ago.
    This is our last port of call on our trip before 2 days at sea returning to Ft. Lauderdale.
    I hope everything fits in our luggage!
    The first photo is the fort in San Juan.
    The second photo is a street scene.
    The third photo is our ship - our home for the past 4 1/2 months.
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  • Day131

    Gustavia, St. Bart's

    April 27, 2015 in Saint Barthélemy ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    We had a wonderful day in St. Bart’s swimming in the gorgeous Caribbean Sea and having 2 burgers, 3 beers and 1 dessert between four of us for $100! Welcome to St. Bart’s!
    The first photo is our swimming beach.
    The second photo is taking the tender to the island.
    The third photo is a traditional building.Read more

  • Day130

    Castries, St. Lucia

    April 26, 2015 in Saint Lucia ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Today was the final special tour we will take as world cruisers with Silversea. They arranged a nice tour of the island in small 12 person buses called “coasters”. We drove through the bustling capital city, saw magnificent, green mountains, acres of banana plantations and very dense rain forests. We were also treated to a fabulous view of the iconic symbol of St. Lucia, the Pitons which are twin peaks that rise nearly 1/2 mile from the ocean floor.
    We paid a visit to a volcano crater that has many large pools of bubbling water with lots of steam and sulphur-scented vapors rising from them. A botanical garden was a special treat since our guide seemed to have a particular interest in plants and was a wealth of information as she guided us through the lush vegetation.
    We also had a lunch that featured many local specialties. It was a quick and exciting taste of this lovely Caribbean island.
    The first photo is a bay in St. Lucia.
    The second photo is the iconic Pitons.
    The third photo is a tile representation of a flying fish - we have seen hundreds at sea on this trip!
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  • Day129

    St. George's, Grenada

    April 25, 2015, Caribbean Sea ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Grenada is a relatively small island that is known as “the spice island”. When you walk into the market you can smell cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
    We wandered through the busy streets and saw some of the damage from a hurricane that hit here unexpectedly in 2004. There are many roofs that are still off of public buildings and don’t look like they will be replaced anytime soon.
    We visited an interesting fort from colonial days and enjoyed the panoramic views of the beaches, bays and pastel-painted homes.
    The first photo is the view from the fort.
    The second photo is canon view.
    The third photo is the main town with the roof off the church from the hurricane in 2004.
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  • Day128

    Bridgetown, Barbados

    April 24, 2015, Caribbean Sea ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    The Barbados have always held a special interest for me as my Father visited here when I was a child and spoke very highly of it. He always enjoyed Mt. Gay rum and after touring the distillery and sampling some of the rums, I think this is where he began to like it!
    We had a great taxi tour of the island and were surprised at the development we saw. There were some large houses, resorts and golf courses, but the more traditional houses we saw were almost more interesting. There are many “shutter houses” which were houses that workers would build, but could pick up and move if they went to another job. Sugarcane is and has been a big industry here on the island for many years.
    The Mt. Gay distillery was an interesting stop. All the bottles of Mt. Gay rum come from this one small distillery and are hand-bottled.
    We enjoyed the day in a more familiar environment than we have been used to in the past months and are trying to make the most out of our last few ports on our journey.
    The first photo is the Caribbean side of the island.
    The second photo is the Atlantic side of the island.
    The third photo is rum-tasting at the Mt. Gay distillery.
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  • Day127

    Devil's Island, French Guiana

    April 23, 2015, North Atlantic Ocean ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    We anchored off of Devil’s Island and were happy to hear that we could tender in even though the seas were fairly rough.
    Devil’s Island is an infamous French penal colony that was well-known for the horrific conditions in which prisoners were kept, in many cases for quite minor infractions.
    The story (movie and book) Papillon tells a very graphic story of a prisoner who spent time on Devil’s Island and eventually escaped. 72,000 prisoners were imprisoned here over the years and almost all died here, their bodies being cast into the sea.
    We visited on an overcast and windy day - the island had a very ominous feel to it. It is very green and jungle-like with agutis (small animals that look like a cross between a large rat and a squirrel, but stand on long skinny legs) and monkeys everywhere. The prison was actually in operation until the 1950’s before word got out about how bad the conditions were and it was eventually abandoned.
    Devil’s Island is an archipelago of 3 small islands surrounded by very rough, shark-infested waters. This is what made escape from the island virtually impossible.
    The first photo is Jeff as "Papillon".
    The second photo is an agate.
    The third photo is a local monkey.
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  • Day120

    At sea

    April 16, 2015, North Atlantic Ocean ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    We are in the midst of a 6 day passage across the Atlantic passing over the equator and it seems strange to say that the nearest land is 3 miles away; straight down. One wonders what sea life is below us while we spend some time every day gazing at the mesmerizing splashes and water patterns created by the boat and looking for evidence of marine life.

    We have seen surfacing whales and whale spouts including the distinctive dorsal fins of killer whales, especially in the sea off Cape Town. Porpoise are also relatively common as they like to play in the wake of the boat, using the ship’s wake to help them leap into the air. Two days ago we saw a group of 50 porpoises swimming parallel with the ship for about 10 minutes. Who knows what they were doing.

    We also sometimes see seals. The smaller species slip and twist through the water while we are in port as though showing off for our entertainment. The larger species surprise us in the middle of crossings, looking like floating logs with distorted stumps of branches as they lay on their backs with their fins sticking up in the air.

    Our favorite sea animal is the flying fish since they are most often seen and their enthusiastic flights generate oohs, aahs and cheers much like that of fireworks. There are different species in various locations on our journey and the sizes range from 6” to almost a foot. The colors vary as well and the flying fish we are seeing now remind us of timber swallows with dark blue backs and white bellies.

    Their performance is the real attractant, however. Toward the bow of the ship they shoot out of the water, usually individually but sometimes in schools numbering over a hundred and glide about 1-4 feet above the water surface. The lower fin of their tail is much longer than the upper and this allows them to create fresh propulsion as they vigorously wiggle their tails when they encounter wave tops, all while remaining airborne. Some go 20 yards then disappear into the water but others will go well over 100 yards, assisted by two or three extra pushes while gliding along. Our cabin balcony is relatively close to the water surface (the cheap seats) so we see the tail wiggles of these sprites quite well.
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