Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Africa and South America Cruise - Fall 2006

10/14/2006 - Saturday - Home to UK

Left home at noon for Miami airport for a 5:05 PM flight for London. Arrive at MIA at 1:00 PM so we can sit for a couple of hours wondering whether or not we will get seats in First Class, Business, or Coach . . . if at all. The perils of travelling as "non-revenue" passengers. However, at the appointed time we received two boarding passes for Business Class. Food (dinner - chicken; breakfast - omelet) on flight was
terrible.

Arrived at Heathrow at 7:00 AM on Sunday (10/15). Scouted down the bus station and took the bus to Gatwick (L18 for two - age 60 is 1/2 price).



Bus (L2.50 per) from Gatwick Airport to Copthorne Hotel - very nice place. Eat in the pub watching cricket - England vs India (India won). Slept on and off all night.

10/16/2006 - Monday - UK to Lisbon

Up at 7:00 AM - breakfast and the newspaper and biding time for bus to airport for flight to Lisbon.

Check in with Monarch Air and find that can only carry one bag (of any kind) on board so we rearrange a lot of Nancy's stuff into other checked luggage. Of course we are overweight with luggage so paid for extra 17 kilograms (cost - L85). Wait in line for security check for another 45 minutes. Then wait. Now on board on the way to Lisbon. Selling scratch-off lottery tickets on board for a pound. Nancy lost.

5:00 PM - Arrived in Lisbon. Taxi to hotel and wait until 7PM for the restaurant to open for dinner. Buffet with fish and lamb! Horseshit! I ate a little of both anyhow. And so a little TV (CNN) and then to bed. I'm tired.


Tagas River leading to the Atlantic Ocean.

10/17/2006 - Tuesday - Start of Cruise in Lisbon

Up at 7:00 AM and breakfast - coffee and a ham sandwich. Then pack and hang around until checking out at 12 noon. At noon took a taxi to the ship - the MS Prinsendam - and checked in - propably an hour deal. Found our cabin on the Upper Promenade deck and out luggage came shortly. Life boat drill at 4:45PM. (Forgot, lunch on the Lido.) Now waiting to sail at 5:00PM - then I'm going to take a shower becaue I've worn essentialy the same thing since Saturday morning and this is Tuesday evening!

On deck for a "sail away" get together - chatted with a couple from Montreal - after this cruise they will go back to Montreal for Christmas holidays and then they are off to Australia for a couple of months - nice life!

Martinis at 7PM and then dinner at 8:15. Dinner mates are a couple - Reese and Diane - from Los Angeles, and Margarite from San Diego.

Cruise staff "show" in the theater with only about 45 to 50 people, To bed at 11PM - after setting the clock ahead an hour.

10/18/2006 - Wednesday - Cadiz, Spain

Up at 6AM with coffee and juice in our cabin. During the night the seas were a bit rough. Nancy said that she heard the balcont furniture moving about. The sun doesn't ris until about 8 and we don't arrive in Cadiz until 9 AM.

Arrived in Cadiz about 9:45 AM. It is overcast and finally it starts to rain.

Lunch about 1:30 PM in the Lido and then a walk around the central part of Cadiz. Took photos of Palacio de Congresso (or of the city hall - not sure), the Plaza de la Cathedral and the New Cathedral. And then back to the ship - have to get ready for the main reason for the cruise - BINGO! And the winner for game number 2 of the Bingo series and taking away $38 is P. J. Eagan.

Dinner this evening was Prime Ribs - not bad. Finished dinner about 10:15 PM so back to the cabin, read and off to bed.

10/19/2006 - Thursday - Casablanca, Morocco

In Casablanca, Morocco and to breakfast at 7:00 AM. Temperature outside is about 71 F. Waiting for a tour of the city of Casablanca.

Downtown Casablanca was very busy and very few traffic signals. Saw the Mohammed V Park and Law Courts, Royal Palace and the Church of Notre Dame of Lourdes. In the old Medina area we visited the Grand Mosque. The place is huge and in both inside and outside they accomodate between 80,000 and 100,000 people praying. Went shopping for a Fez for Nancy's father.



The Grand Mosque in Casablanca

Bingo the afternoon and as luck would have it Pat was the winner of the second game again. Fewer people playing today so he only won $36.

At 7:15 PM down to the Explorer Lounge for a couple of Martinis. Chatted with a couple in the lounge and then to dinner. To bed about 10:15 PM.


10/20/2006 - Friday - Agadir, Morocco

Awoke at 6:30 AM - temperature outside 72 F so out for a four mile walk on the deck. Just took a shower and waiting for Nancy from Mass so we can go to breakfast. We have still not reached Agadir. Should get there around 12:30 PM>

No winners at Bingo this morning among the Eagans.

At 2 PM went by bus to the Fantasia Horse Show. The Horse Show part was entertaining - men in flowing robes with exremely loud rifles charging the length of a field then discharging the rifles. Noisy as hell. In addition to these there were dancers, acrobats and a man with about six snakes.

The high point was riding a camel. I took a ride while Nancy took pictures and then I took her picture standing next to a camel. Finally she said, "What the heck. I'm going to ride the camel." And she did.



On the ride back to the ship we stopped at the "mandatory" shopping stop and then up a very narrow ride to the kasbah - a part of old Agadir - most of which was destroyed in an earthquake in 1960.

After dinner took in the show which was an Irish comedian - fairly good. And to bed at 11:30 PM.


10/21/2006 - Saturday - At Sea

Up at 7:00 AM. This will be the first full day at sea. The sea is very calm and not much breeze. The outside temperature is 69.5 F. Nice morning for a 4 mile walk around the deck.

Had breakfast and read some. Waiting for the Mariner Club (American Express) Party at 11:30 AM in the Crow's Nest. Received Mariner Club hat and pin.

After lunch, relax and read. Then Bingo - won again (second game) but split the winnings so received a grand total of $16. Such a deal!

Watched "The DaVinci Code" in the cabin and then dressed for dinner. Had martinis in the Crow's Nest and had a guest at our table for dinner - the ship's Environmental Officer. Nancy was in her glory talking about recycling and the like and then went up to the Crow's nest for after-dinner drink.

10/22/2006 - Sunday - At Sea

Up at 7:15 AM and out on the deck fir the four mile walk. Breakfast, reading and lunch before a lecture concerning Philip the Navigator and the Portuguese exploring of west Africa.

Read, dinner and show.

10/23/2006 - Monday - Dakar, Senegal

Arrive at Dakar, Senegal about 6:30 AM. Breakfast and meet American Express group for tour of Dakar. Tour through the town - very squalid, people sleeping on the ground, shanty towns, market places. In some markets it is difficult to determine if a stall is really a shop or just a pile of trash. Everyplace is littered with trash and garbage. People in the street and on the ground praying.



Stopped at the Presidential Palace and the Catholic Church (possibly a cathedral), market place and then a sand painting place - purchased a sand painting of a house for $15. Stop at seaside mosque and then lunch. After lunch an art place - dancers, acrobats, drummers and aguy on stilts. Very entertaining.

Back to the ship and a nap. Feel a cold coming on. We'll see. Nap then martinis, dinner and to bed.


10/24/2006 - Tuesday - Banjul, Gambia

Today is the day for tour by camel! After breakfast we boarded a small bu with probably 15 people. Drove for about 45 minutes (passing the site of the recent African Union Summit) to Tanji, the home of the Camel Safari. Nancy and I were introduced to our camel, Pepe, the oldest of the camels at 20 years of age.

The youngest camel was just over a year - born October 15, 2005. The camels are not native to Gambia but were purchased in Senegal.


We boarded our camels and headed for the beach. As a "caravan" we headed down the beach until it was blocked off by a hill protruding into the sea. Then headed back - probably and hour and a half to two hours in the saddle (actually a seat).

Then visited the fish market - dirty and filthy. Saw the fish being smoked. Then drove to a craft market where Nancy looked around and I watched kids play soccer across the street. One of the little kids wanted me to take his picture. I did and then all his friends wanted to see what he looked like in the camera.



Back on the bus back to the ship for lunch, relax and bingo (no Eagan winners). Before dinner Nancy played the slots and won about $84 - not bad. The "star lady" (one of the lecturers on the cruise - talked about astronomy) at our table for dinner.

10/25/2006 - Wednesday - At Sea

(to be continued)