Monthly Archives: February 2012

Cruising The Strait Of Malacca

Sunday February 26th – Day 53

Cruising The Strait Of Malacca
The Strait Of Malacca is a narrow five hundred mile stretch of water between the Malay peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is named after the Malacca sultanate that ruled over the archipelago between 1414 and 1511.

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Weather is not brilliant this morning but as I have to start the packing…boo… I guess that’s a good thing. It rained all morning but we still had our noon beer ritual…it’s the last one!!

The sun came out for lunch so we dined at the Patio Grill to make the most of dining out of doors….we won’t be doing that when we get home.  The sun shone hot and bright all afternoon so a group of us made the most of our last afternoon on board and partied noisily in the pool and drank the odd cocktail or three…hic…

Remember I told you about the ‘Guess The Weight’ contest well one of our group, Mike, won first prize so he now has a $2500 rock containing an uncut emerald as a reminder of the cruise…Mike I think wife Jackie will be getting that set for a pair of earrings.
This evening twelve of us had a special Brits going home curry dinner in The Restaurant (well Melanie is from the US but we made her an honorary Brit as she is married to Peter, a Brit).

After a few more drinks in the club it was back to the room to put our luggage outside of our suite for the midnight luggage pickup. That really brought it home that we are leaving tomorrow.
It will be a sad day tomorrow saying goodbye to newly made friends…there will be lots of hugs and kisses and perhaps a few tears.

Techie bits: At 9:55am we were:
3° north and 100°east
Travelling on a compass course of 170°
Speed = 14 knots
Apparent wind speed = 10 knots off the starboard  bow
Air temperature = 27°c (81°f)
Total nautical miles sailed = 15039
Depth = 56 metres
Humidity 67%
Sunrise = 7:31am  Sunset = 7:32pm

Last Day At Sea And Penang

Friday And Saturday February 24th & 25th – Day 51 & 52

Friday – Our third day at sea and for some reason everybody is talking about going home except for Vance who keeps changing the subject…’ve guessed it…he wants to stay on for another month!!

Our clocks went forward thirty minutes this afternoon which means we are now eight hours ahead of UK time and it will stay this way all the way to Singapore.

At 6:30pm tonight it was the captain’s farewell cocktails and the final of the ‘Quest Factor’ where the final five of the crew talent competition performed in front of the guests who will decide who wins the grand prize of $1000. We didn’t quite make the live final but watched it in our suite on the tv as Vance wanted to watch the Cycling Championships on ESPN so we had to keep switching channels.

After the formal dinner in The Restaurant where we managed to get one of our favourite tables – thank you Andre – we went upstairs to the Grand Salon for the variety show.

Tonight there were three artists – Siobhan Phillips – singer and comedienne, cellist – Mariusz and comedian Jeff Stevenson. All three were fantastic and Siobhan dedicated ‘Hallelujah’ to Vance as she knows he’s a great fan of Leonard Cohen. At the end of the show the talent show winner was announced…it was…(drum roll)…Jerry the singer and our onboard tailor…well done Jerry.

Drinks and dancing again in The Club then to bed…zzzzzzzz

Saturday – Couldn’t get Vance out of bed this morning – it must have been a really late night last night…at breakfast he was half asleep and I thought he was going to ask for vodka with his orange juice as a pick me up…but he didn’t.

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It is so hot now and the humidity is eighty-five percent and it’s only 11:30am and I’m really melting.

We docked in Penang at 1pm and everyone is rushing to get ashore for private and Seabourn tours.

Penang comes from the Malay words for the betel nut – Palau Pinang and is an island state in Malaysia. A resident of Penang is colloquially known as a Penangite. Established in 1786 as a trading post by the British today Penang is favoured by travellers for both its scenic beauty and its places of ethnic and historic charm.

Our tour today was the north island tour, We left the waterfront and journeyed to a beautiful Thai Buddhist temple which houses the fourth largest reclining Buddha in the world – one hundred and eight foot long. The smiling Buddha is made of gilded cement and has eyes and toenails made of pearl. The outside of the temple is guarded by impressive dragons.

While wandering around the temple we found the statues that represented the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac. Vance and I are both dragons and 2012 is also the year of the dragon…..could be a lucky omen!!

Afterwards we crossed the road to another Buddhist temple where I was blessed by a monk and sprinkled with holy water and had a yellow cotton bracelet tied around my wrist for good luck.

A leisurely drive towards the northerly tip of the island took us past the beautiful coves, beaches and hotels on Ferringhi Beach. We then visited the craft batik workshop where we were shown the intricate art of printing cloth with wax and dyes.

From here we went to the Butterfly Farm with its walk-in aviary providing sanctuary for over one thousand live butterflies, as well as tropical insects lizards and frogs. Vance took a fabulous photo of the Iguana feeding.

It was an amazing place but as they spray steam into the aviary every few minutes for the insects and butterflies it was even more humid inside than it was outside.

It was such a hot day that we were all looking forward to getting back to the ship and jumping into the pool but unfortunately as we drove back to the harbour a tropical storm blew in and the rain hammered down.

However that evening we were determined to eat under the stars so we waited until the rain stopped at 8:30pm and the patio grill staff laid us up a table and our wish came true.

Another Day At Sea

Thursday February 23rd – Day 50

Didn’t wake up until 9am this morning – it’s these one hour time changes, two nights in a row – it’s a killer…nothing to do with the late night drinks though!!

Cloudy again today and quite windy but the temperature is still in the mid eighties.

We moved from the pool area (deck 8) up to deck 9 at 3:30pm so that the staff could start the setup for tonight’s ‘A Taste Of Madagascar’ party – it was funny to watch them struggling with the draperies in the high wind and also to watch John our cruise director trying to float two giraffes on the swimming pool – we have pictures!!

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At 6:30pm we enjoyed cocktails and canapés in the African setting by the pool. The entertainment team sang excerpts from The Lion King and other songs inspired by this beautiful country…like real troupers they continued with the show despite the rain starting to fall…doesn’t it always.
Between 7pm and 9pm there was a Madagascar themed dinner (with some really spicy soup…yummy!) in The Colonnade which had also been decorated in an African theme.

Then at 9:15pm the desserts and ‘Rock The Boat’ show had to be moved to The Club as it was still raining. We danced all night – and thanks Luis for putting up with my attempts at dancing although he kindly said he awarded me ten out of ten for effort.
I forgot to say…. at 7pm Vance had an acupuncture appointment for his sore shoulder (golf inflicted!!). He came back a changed man (well almost) and said “this acupuncture stuff really does work”…hope they do it on the national health at home or any more sessions will be eating into my cruising fund.

Techie bits: At 11am we were:
5° north and 88°east
Travelling on a compass course of 085°
Speed = 12knots
Apparent wind speed = 32 knots off the port  bow
Air temperature = 28°c (82°f)
Total nautical miles sailed = 14188
Depth = 3890 metres
Humidity 66%
Sunrise = 7:50am  Sunset = 7:50pm

At Sea – Day 1 Of 3

Wednesday February 22nd – Day 49

Feel quite tired this morning after losing another hour (clocks forward) last night and I’m reading the daily Seabourn Herald and find that as we are now going directly east they are going to ‘pinch’ another hour off me tonight!!

Cloudy start today but still hot and balmy so we should be able to spend a pleasant afternoon on deck.

As there’s not a lot going on today I’ll give you a quick photo tour of Seabourn Square and some of the artworks around the ship.

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Seabourn Square is the meeting place on the ship for teas, coffee, snacks, reading the papers, doing the jigsaw  and generally getting together. It also holds guest services in the centre of The Square who take care of any problems that may arise and generally give advice on matters around the ship and with destination services  and future cruise sales on one side of The Square…it can really be a busy hub especially when the weather is not too kind. If you like your tea & coffee in relative peace and quiet there is an outside area at the back of The Square with comfy chairs and settees with a view over the stern of the ship.

As we are coming to the end of our cruise – only five days to go… boo hoo – I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the blog followers both at home in the UK, onboard and around the world for all their lovely comments about the blog and a special mention to Brian and Margaret, previous world cruisers, who I’m sure won’t mind me sharing their blog comment to us with you…

Hi Helen and Vance.

It sounds like you are having an amazing time. Helen’s blog and all the photographs have brought back so many memories of life on Seabourn and we’ve spotted quite a few familiar faces on the pics.

I bet you can’t believe that you are on your last week. Life on the’ outside’ is hard to adjust back to. Actually I think that Helen has missed her calling. Her blog is such compulsive reading and so funny and informative that I think that Seabourn should pay you both to constantly cruise on their ships and write blogs of your travels. It would be the best marketing tool ever.  If it comes off don’t forget your friends will you!

We’ll keep in touch and we’ll keep reading your blog and hope that you have another wonderful week on the ship.

Bye for now.
Love and best wishes
Margaret and Brian”

Thanks Brian and Margaret – great idea re Seabourn marketing. I will suggest it to them!!

Another hour forward tonight making us now seven and a half hours ahead of UK time…I think.

Colombo – Sri Lanka

Tuesday February 21st – Day 48

Colombo is the largest city of Sri Lanka and is a busy and vibrant city with a mixture of modern and colonial buildings. Due to its large harbour and its strategic position along the east-west sea trade routes Colombo was known to  ancient traders over two thousand years ago.

Originally known as Ceylon it became famous for producing the world’s finest teas. It is also known for its fragrant spices and sparkling sapphires. The interior is a land of jungles inhabited by leopards and elephants and ruins of the great civilisations of the past.

After three days at sea we decided to go for a long walk along the coast before turning inland to the main city area. There were some fabulous old building but the thing that struck us most was the terrible pavements – all broken and missing. We learnt later that they are restoring the inner structure of the city but are starting from the outside areas first.

The other thing that struck us was the number of tuk-tuks and it was only later that we found out that the blue tuk-tuks were government controlled whilst the red and yellow ones were freelance. One crew member told us he got in a red tuk-tuk having been told the fare would be $2 to take him to the market only to be told as they drove off that the fare would now be $20…he quickly got out!!

At 6:30pm there was a show of traditional Srilankan dancing up on deck. The dancers wore richly decorated and colourful costumes and some had face masks. The energy of the male dancers was amazing with them spinning and performing acrobatics to enthral us guests.

Surf ‘n Turf in The Colonnade tonight and it was really busy. The chef was really accommodating as I ordered a shrimp and avocado cocktail – without the shrimp and heavy on the avocado please! – and then my Surf ‘n Turf main course was requested to be without the surf. Seabourn service at its best.

The show in the Grand Salon tonight was with Siobhan Phillips, a comedienne and unique vocal artist from Wakefield in Yorkshire, UK. It was also John, our cruise directors birthday and the audience gave him a rousing ‘Happy Birthday to you….’

After the show Siobhan joined us for drinks in the club and two of the ship’s other performers, Luis and Taylor, also joined us for a funny and entertaining hour before we were off to bed because the clocks go forward another hour tonight…zzzzzzz

At Sea On Our Way To Sri Lanka

Monday February 20th – Day 47
Happy fourth anniversary to us both!! and thank you to everyone on board and at home for your cards and kind wishes. We will be having a special anniversary meal tonight but more about that later.
There is a ‘Guess The Weight’ contest today – no not a person but some rocks in the onboard jewellers. We have to guess the combined weight of two rocks containing emeralds in their natural rough form. The draw will be made on Friday. I can’t decide whether to do some research on Google or just rely on luck. Apparently one rock is valued at $1000 and the second at $2500 and the two people who have guessed the closest weight will win a rock each…hope it’s me.
Happy anniversary beer at 12 noon (of course)….the bar staff suggested champagne but a ritual is a ritual.
Thought I might get the day off from Kinesis but Vance insisted I needed the exercise.
Graeme our exec chef cooked a special dinner just for us in the main restaurant tonight. We had lobster thermidor with pineapple rice baked inside the pineapple and our friends Cass and Julie from Sydney who we met on the first leg had kindly given us a bottle of premier Chablis which was perfect with the meal…thanks Cass and Julie.
Techie bits: At 10:05am we were:
5° north and 75°east
Travelling on a compass course of 066°
Speed = 13 knots
Apparent wind speed = 31 knots off the port  bow
Air temperature = 28°c (82°f)
Total nautical miles sailed = 13424
Depth = 2530 metres
Humidity 67%
Sunrise = 6:08am  Sunset = 6:06pm

Male – The Maldives

Sunday February 19th – Day 46

The Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of twenty six atolls oriented north – south. The atolls encompass a territory spread over about 90,000 square kilometres making it one of the world’s most geographically dispersed countries. Only 200 of the 1192 islands are inhabited. The Maldives is the smallest Asian country in both population and land area and with an average ground level of 1.5 metres above sea level it is the planets lowest country.

There were four tours offered today – a trip in a submarine…definitely not for me; a trip to a local fishing village…pass; a trip to Paradise Island Resort but as it was a fifty minute water taxi ride away and  we’d just had four days at sea we decided not to bother; the last tour was a guided walking tour around Male…..but we decided to do our own walking tour at our pace…and save a few dollars!!

We spent about one and a half hours on our walk passing the national museum where Vance found some World War 1 relics keeping him interested for a few minutes then into the shopping centre which was just a street with hundreds of shops that all seemed to be just selling shoes – and no I didn’t buy any.

We ended up back at the harbour and explored the waterfront and local fish market. It was fascinating the watch the speed of the locals filleting the fish especially the large tunas.

Although it was interesting to explore Male we never got to see a beach so maybe one day we’ll come back for a beach holiday.

Twelve noon ritual beer then lunch followed by sunning and swimming in the pool all afternoon….well someone has to do it!!

Tonight we dined in Restaurant 2 with Justine and Mark. It wasn’t crowded in fact we were the only four in the restaurant – it was such good service!! Mark joked he’d booked the whole place just for us…yeh right but no complaint as he did treat us to a bottle of St. Emilion (Les Aromes de Pavie by Chateau Pavie 2005)….thanks dude.

Back on deck for a ‘Rock The Boat Beatles Evening’ where we sang and danced to the music of the entertainments team. Definitely ready for my bed after all that exercise!!

At Sea Crossing The Equator – Again

Saturday February 18th – Day 45

We are now crossing the equator from south to north towards the Maldives. It will only be the new people, both guests and crew, who have not yet crossed the equator and are therefore pollywogs who will have to go through the traditional right of passage ceremony to appease King Neptune.

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Our ceremony took place at 2pm and there were only about ten pollywogs who volunteered to go through the ceremony…although I’m sure there were many more who were hiding amongst the onlookers…we know who you are!!….

The captain joined in the fun and gave a bottle of aquavit to King Neptune as the fee for The Quest crossing his domain.

The usual gloop was flying around and as there were so few pollywogs they were well and truly covered. The ceremony ended as usual with the master of ceremonies and his henchmen being thrown into the pool where the captain gleefully joined them.

Tonight we were invited to a Grand Voyager Barbeque Dinner in The Spa Villa. Initially we were not sure we’d go as it started at 7pm – much too early for us – but we’re glad we did attend (at about 8pm) as we dined with Vitor, the hotel manager and spent a few hours happily catching up on past times (last year’s Sojourn World Cruise)….the food was good as well!!

For once we went to the show which was a Variety Showtime and it was a fun filled night full of singing, comedy and magic. It was really good and we enjoyed it.

Caviar In The Surf

Friday February 17th – Day 44

Caviar In The Surf is a Seabourn tradition in certain ports around the world but today the event was recreated in the swimming pool with officers, staff and crew in full uniform serving caviar from a surf board floating in the swimming pool and waiters pouring glass upon glass of chilled champagne to waiting guests. We guests either joined the servers in the pool or sat around the pools edge to be served at our leisure. The weather was perfect, the sea calm and obliging so a good time was had by all.

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The miracle has happened again, as like last year my nails have grown enough for me to be treated to a manicure in the Spa. What is it about cruising that allows me to grow my nails…I must be so relaxed that I never think about biting them…perhaps I should cruise more often Vance!!

Half an hour time forward today at 2pm so we’re now five hours ahead of UK time.

Kinesis class at 4:30pm today and boy was it hard work as we’ve done no exercise for four days apart from walking around Mauritius. Perhaps we should have made a trip to the gym’s treadmill…too late now!!

Tonight we had a table for eight people dining alfresco at The Colonnade – it was a set Chinese meal but several of the gentlemen decided to try all of the starters instead of just picking one. The weather was balmy, the seas were calm, the company excellent and the waiting staff were in good form…a brilliant end to the day.

Day 2 Of 4 Days At Sea

Thursday February 16th – Day 43

Wow…it’s so calm today the sea is like a millpond. Today was one of those days where we just sat around and chatted with friends and talked about the cruise days gone by and those still to come – not many left now though for us at least!!
Half an hour clocks forward today from 2pm to 2:30pm not sure at the moment where we are time wise!! guess we’ll just use ship time and not worry about it.

Fabulous sunset tonight coupled with the stillness of the ocean made for some fabulous shots. Sorry I couldn’t resist showing off my artistic flair so there are loads of them.

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Techie bits: At 8:05am we were:
10° south and 64°east
Travelling on a compass course of 032°
Speed = 18 knots
Apparent wind speed = 2 knots off the starboard  bow
Air temperature = 29°c (84°f)
Total nautical miles sailed = 12142
Depth = 3780 metres
Humidity 68%
Sunrise = 5:44am  Sunset = 6:10pm