Cruise D1803a
"Remote Islands & Desert Dunes"
from Cape Town, South Africa
to Santa Cruz de Tenerife
on the Boudicca

(Please scroll down to see my photographs and read my report)


Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
08/02/2018 Cape Town
South Africa
- V & A Waterfront in
glorious sunshine!
11/02/2018 Luderitz
Namibia
Wild Horses
of the Namib
3 Horses &
2 Oryx!
12/02/2018 Walvis Bay
Namibia
Coast Sealife
Cruise
Thousands of
Sea Lions!
16/02/2018 Jamestown
St. Helena
Plantation
House
Magical
Island!
19/02/2018 Georgetown
Ascension
- Spooky
Island!
23/02/2018 Dakar
Senegal
Gorée
Island
Picturesque
Island!
25/02/2018 Praia
Santiago
Cape Verde
Historical Praia
& Cidade Velha
New and Old
Capitals
26/02/2018 Mindelo
Sao Vicente
Cape Verde
Taste of the
Island
Glorious Day!
01/03/2018 Santa Cruz
de Tenerife
- Norwegian
Flight to LGW


First Travelling Day - Wednesday the 7th of February 2018

I left home at 9:30 in a Streamline taxi, but missed the 9:50 fast train as the ticket machine was playing up. It had run out of paper to print the receipt. I hope I haven't been charged twice! So I caught the 10:05 stopping train to SoToN Airport Parkway. Here I couldn't check in until 12:30. I had trouble with both the boarding card printing machine and the check-in scales. The latter was caused by the presence of another Martin Lee on the flight which confused the computer!

I then went for a walk around the airport, which I was using for the very first time. The Bombardier turboprop left ten minutes late at 3:25 with me sat in a window seat so I had a wondeful view. We passed over my former homes in both Didcot & Leicester, before crossing the snow covered Peak District.

We landed on time at Manchester Ringway Airport. I was near the front of the Thomas Cook check-in queue, which opened at 6:15. I managed to bag a seat with extra legroom at the front of the economy cabin. I then went walkabout visiting all three terminals, the station and the Texaco garage, where I bought some milk to drink.

Back in the very quiet departure lounge, I bumped into Keith Porter, who I had shared with on the round Britain cruise M1722 on the Braemar. I sat near to Keith on the Airbus A330, which left and arrived on time. I had the chicken rissotto for supper and the mini full English for breakfast. The films, TV and music hadn't changed from four weeks previously, so I just slept for nearly six hours.


Cape Town, South Africa - Thursday the 8th of February 2018

We had to queue for three quarters of an hour to get through immigration, but the air con and the wi-fi were good. The coach whisked us quickly to the ship, where I had a shower and changed into fresh socks and underwear. I lunched in the embarkation buffet, sat with two couples who quizzed me on the upcoming cruise. After an abortive search of the ship for Don McGregor, I slept for an hour and three quarters. I then walked into the V&A Waterfront to use their wi-fi.

Back at the ship, I dined on the pork and chicken with Colin and the new dance host team. At 8 o'clock Jess and the band played the first of two, three quarter hour, sets. I danced once with Barbara and several times with the lovely Lynn. Doing a first Cha cha with her abruptly ended when one of her heels snapped off! During the intermission I began this blog and, when the second set ended at 10 o'clock, I returned to writing this blog. I went to bed at 11 o'clock, but Trevor next door still had his TV on.


Cape Town, South Africa - Friday the 9th of February 2018

I awoke just before Allan Tait's announcement at 8 o'clock. I breakfasted on the full English with a couple from Hay-on-Wye and a lady from Chelmsford. I was off the ship before 9 o'clock and made my way up the hill to the famous noon day gun, which had tremendous panoramic views of the city & harbour all the way out to Robben Island. I walked back down the Military Way to the South African (Natural History) Museum. This had enormous displays of both whale and dinosaur skeletons. The display on Charles Darwin was very interesting. I headed back via the Dutch East India Company Garden to the Dutch De Koopmans de Wet town house museum.

Back at the ship for 12:30, I lunched on the cold roast beef salad with Colin, Lynn, Allan and Keith, but not Les, who was out on tour. I then slept for one hour, before touching base with Miles. I headed back to the V&A Waterfront, to go in the Maritime Museum. This had large models of the famous Union-Castle mail ships.

Back at the terminal, I had to queue for ten minutes for emigration, not immigration, processing. I then checked tomorrow's programme with Jaycee in the office, before updating this blog. At 5:15 we had the pax safety drill, followed by the Cruise Director's welcome cocktail party. I said hello to Geoff, Andy and to Robert & Linda the Classical Duo. I then checked that my new Toshiba mini laptop worked with the technical boys (all four of them)! I dined at 6:30 with Colin and the team, before dancing in a packed Neptune Lounge. I watched the excellent "Swing's the Thing" production show, but only American Rina & I clapped in support of the acrobatics! The after show dancing was limited, so I had another earlyish night.


First Sea Day - Saturday the 10th of February 2018

I awoke just before my alarm went off at 8 o'clock. I had the full English breakfast, before getting ready for my first port talk. At 9:45 I spoke for 40 minutes on Luderitz. At 10 o'clock I listened to the first five minutes of Trevor's talk on Avoiding Tourist Scams. At 12:30 I lunched on the fish & chips with Colin and two couples, the former giving me back my evening suit which he had kindly looked after for me. I then slept for an hour and a half, before giving my 40 minute talk on Walvis Bay at 3 o'clock.

Boudicca

Boudicca

At 4 o'clock I danced with Doreen, Hazel Griffith's mother, at the Social Foxtrot class taught by Allan McWilliam. By 5:15 I had changed into my formal outfit ready for the Captain's first welcome cocktail party. I had only a couple of dances before the Captain introduced his senior officers. At 6:30 I dined on the roast beef with Colin and the team. The second cocktail party had even less dancing and I slipped out when the Captain began speaking, in order to update this blog. At 9 o'clock I listened to Helen's excellent show, which I have enjoyed previously. After the show, I danced exclusively with Lynn, as there were only just enough ladies for the hosts to dance with. I went to my cabin at 10:30 to listen to my Luderitz talk, before going to sleep at 11 o'clock.


Luderitz, Namibia - Sunday the 11th of February 2018

I awoke at 6:30 and breakfasted on the Egg Florentine with full English on the side in the main restaurant at 7 o'clock. Allan Tait came on the blower at 7:30 to say that a cargo ship was in our berth and couldn't depart until high tide at 9 o'clock. So I watched my Luderitz talk again and updated this blog. My first choice tour having been cancelled, I escorted my second choice "Wild Horses of the Namib" at 11:10. We drove 100 kilometres east through the spectacular Namib desert to near Aus, where we saw three feral, not wild, horses and two oryx.

Back at the ship, I took afternoon tea with the lovely Lynn & Allan, before dancing at the sailaway at 4 o'clock. Here I danced with several of the ladies and did Jives with both Lynn and her Scottish friend Margaret. I joined in the YMCA and led off both the Electric Slide & Party Samba with Lynn. I then wallowed in the jacuzzi for half an hour in the hot sunshine, as the pool was quite rough, as we headed back out into the South Atlantic.

Back in the cabin, I updated this blog. At 6:30 I dined on the beef with Colin & the team. We danced both before and after the magician's show, which I ducked out of. The first two sets before the show were packed, but the set after the show was very thin, so I got to dance with the lovely Lynn. When Jess finished his second set at 10:10 I went to my cabin to watch my Walvis Bay talk, before going to sleep at 11 o'clock.


Walvis Bay, Namibia - Monday the 12th of February 2018

I awoke at 6:45 and enjoyed one Egg Benedict with the full English on the side in the main restaurant. Back in the cabin, I updated my blog, before taking my wet washing to the tumble drier. At 9:15 I went ashore ready to escort my second choice Coast Sealife Cruise. I took one of the first two minibuses to go to the waterfront, before returning to pick up the second group. One gent from the first group had struggled across the short quayside and so missed the first departure. When the second group got to the waterfront he immediately struggled to walk at all. Fortunately a passing passenger on a mobility scooter offered to help, so he was able to whizz along and we caught up with the second group on the pier. We had a splendid catamaran and, although I was the last to get on, I had pole position in the front centre. We soon had both pelicans and cape fur seals (actually sea lions) on the deck within touching distance being fed pilchards! The drinks soon came out, beginning with fisherman's coffee, followed by beer, soda, juice and cream sherry! We headed out to the Pelican Point sand spit where literally thousands of female seals and their cubs were noisily engaged! They were also rather smelly! After an extensive array of canapés, fresh oysters and champagne, we headed back via the Bird Island guano jetty. Although we didn't see any dolphins, whales or flamingos, it was a great tour!

Having deposited my charges back at the ship, Mario the driver offered to drive me through the port to the other gate, to get to the Mission to Seafarers. Here they had free wi-fi and an inviting swimming pool. I walked back down the main street the two miles to the other port gate.

Back on the ship, I touched base with Allan Tait, but not Miles. I then caught the complimentary shuttle bus back into the town centre. I went in the public library to use their free wi-fi, before popping into the Pick 'n' Pay shopping mall. After twenty five minutes wait, the shuttle bus arrived, but there were now more people than seats, so a gent and myself had to sit on the floor!

Back at the ship again, I touched base with Miles, before spending 20 minutes in the jacuzzi in the hot sun, overlooking the new Chinese container terminal. At 6:30 I risked the prawn bisque followed by the pork and lamb with Colin and the team. With emigration going on in the Neptune Lounge, we didn't start dancing until 8 o'clock. As usual the set before showtime was busy, but the one between shows was nearly empty, so I got to dance with the lovely Lynn a lot! I enjoyed the Eterni Amici duo so much that I stayed for both houses. They sang a little opera and a lot of lovely musical numbers, with some piano and saxophone playing to boot. At 11:15 I pigged out in the late night buffet with Colin on the chilli con carne tortillas, wraps and chips! I didn't get to sleep until midnight, but we did gain a hour that night going North West across the South Atlantic.


Second Sea Day - Shrove Tuesday the 13th of February 2018

I awoke at 8:10, but it was now 7:10. I breakfasted on the full English with Liz & John the ROL reps and a couple with homes in both Essex and Cowes, Isle of Wight. I took my wet clothes to the tumble drier, updated this blog and worked on my next port talk. At 9:45 I gave my 45 minute talk on St. Helena to a packed Neptune Lounge. One lady took me to task for not mentioning the lace making, which has nearly died out. I then stayed on to hear Bill's interesting 50 minute talk on Elvis. At 12:30 I lunched, before sleeping for an hour and a half.

At 3 o'clock I listened to Rina's amusing 50 minute talk "Over Paid, Over Sexed & Over Here" on American GIs during the World War II. I then had my first proper swim in the cool pool, before spending twenty minutes in the warm jacuzzi. At 5:15 I went to the Readers Offers Limited (ROL) cocktail party hosted by John & Liz from Colchester. They had over 200 customers on this cruise! When Laura the cruise sales lady came on, I slipped out and went up to the Observatory for the first time this cruise. I had a lime soda with twiglets, whilst watching a large school of dolphins swim past.

I dined on the shell-on prawns followed by the steak pie with Colin & the team. We danced to a full house right from 7:30. I enjoyed the Elvis tribute production show. We danced again until 10:30 when I retired. I then watched my St. Helena talk, before going to sleep at 11:20.


Third Sea Day - Valentine's Day, Ash Wednesday the 14th of February 2018

I awoke at 7:30 and breakfasted on the full English with Keith and ladies from Leicester and Grange-over-Sands. At 9:15 I went to Malcolm the Vet's amusing talk on his pet parrot. During the lecture, I got a phone call from Ritchiel asking me to attend a management meeting on Ascension Island. At 11:15 I attended the Oceans cocktail party, where I danced with Sandra & Pat. At noon Ritchiel took me to the main office on deck 5, which I had never been to before. Peter Reeves the Hotel Manager chaired the meeting with Allan Tait, Miles, Hannah, Lee and some others. We discussed the memo on Ascension Island sent from the FOCL HQ in Ipswich. I agreed to incorporate the relevant bits into my port talk.

I lunched at 12:30, before sleeping for an hour and a half, missing Allan McWilliam's dance class, where he taught a progressive partner dance and the Caribbean Calypso. At 3 o'clock I had a tub of strawberry ice cream out on the aft deck, served by Allan Tait & Ritchiel. At 4 o'clock I enjoyed listening to Bill's talk on Roy Orbison. I then swam a few lengths and spent 20 minutes in the jacuzzis. At 6 o'clock I had my second lime soda with twiglets up in the Observatory. At 6:30 I dined on the duck with Colin & the team. We had two busy dance sets before the show, followed by one quiet one after it. I enjoyed Geoff's crooning, with songs by Matt Monro, Perry Como and Frank Sinatra amongst others. I went to my cabin at 10:30 and fell asleep soon afterwards.


Fourth Sea Day - Thursday the 15th of February 2018

I awoke at 7:30, but it was now 6:30 back on GMT. At 7:30 I had the full English breakfast, sat with John & Liz the travel reps. At 9:30 I led my first line dance class for 34 pax teaching the Electric Slide, Texas Waltz & California Frieze. At 10:15 I listened to Rina's interesting talk on duelling, followed by Trevor's talk on 30s & 40s dance crazes. I particularly enjoyed the video clip of Gene Kelly tap dancing in roller skates! Despite having technical difficulties at the outset, he finished early and invited dancers on to the floor to dance along to a Glenn Miller medley, so I invited Barbara, who had been sat next me, on to the floor to do a Quickstep! The Piano a Deux duo and another couple then joined us, both doing a Jive. I lunched at 12:30 with Colin and the team, before sleeping for 70 minutes, thus missing Allan's Cha cha class.

I gave Malcolm the Vet's talk on dogs a miss, before listening to Bill's 57 minute packed talk on Napoleon, Josephine & St. Helena. He ended with a short video showing the first jet plane to land on the island going around twice, before successfully landing. I then went swimming and spent half an hour in just one of the jacuzzis, as the other was out of commission. I dined on the roast turkey with the team minus Lynn who had a migraine. Then Rina joined us and finally Sue arrived. I danced both before and after Andy's comedy show, which I ducked out of, in order to update this blog. At 10:30 I went up to the Lido Lounge for the "Stars & Stripes" mini production show. They finished at 10:55, so I went to the late night buffet and pigged out on the snacks with the lovely Lynn, before going to bed at 11:30.


Jamestown, St. Helena - Friday the 16th of February 2018

I awoke at 5 o'clock, but it was still dark on the forward facing TV camera. I awoke again at 6 o'clock and this time the sun had come up and I could see the island of St. Helena. So I had a quick sh*t, shower and shave, before rushing up to the top deck to watch the magnificent sail-in to the anchorage. At 7 o'clock I breakfasted on one Egg Benedict with a mini English on the side in an already crowded main restaurant. Before 8 o'clock the first of the independent travellers had already departed on the first tender away. At 8:30 the tours started leaving and the escorts were sent on the second of these away. I had to wait on the quayside for some time, so I was able to explore a little and take some initial photographs in the hot sun.

I was escorting my fourth choice tour to the Governor's Plantation House. I had only 9 passengers in a minibus driven by Gerard. At the period mansion, we were given an excellent tour by Debbie. At the end we had the fine, earthy local coffee with 15 minutes to view the giant Seychelles tortoises in the paddock. One couple proudly announced that they had no watches and proceeded to be late back to the minibus! Back in Jamestown, most of the passengers got out at the Victorian market building, with only two coming back with me to the wharf. Here Miles told me that I had been bumped off my first choice afternoon tour to see the Fortifications of St. Helena! So I spent the afternoon exploring the pretty Georgian town instead.

I walked back into town along the wharf, before visiting the Castle, now the home of the local government. I went in the small, but interesting, museum, which had free admission. I then went in St. James's church where I was offered complimentary tea and snacks. I had a cheese single on a cracker and a plain cup cake with my cup of tea, before donating a pound coin to their collecting plate. After popping into the small public library, which didn't have the internet, I explored the Castle Gardens. In the St. Helena National Trust building, I was chatting with the students studying insects, when the Director gave me a complimentary DVD! In the Georgian Hotel I chatted with the chap from Cranfield University, before Barbara appeared and asked to join me.

We proceeded up the main street going in various shops and offices, before finding the Victorian market building. I then bought a bar of unperfumed, uncoloured soap for 71p in a grocery store, as I don't like the harsh liquid soap that Fred. Olsen provides in our cabins! We doubled back down the Run stream to the Georgian Hotel where I bought two cafetieres of the local coffee and half an hour of the wi-fi. We enjoyed the former in the sub-tropical garden at the back of the hotel. Barbara walked back to the ship, as I struggled to get the wi-fi to work.

The Sure telecoms office told me that one of their employees was actually on customer duty back in the hotel! In fact TWO of their technicians were in the hotel's bar dealing with wi-fi problems. Another lady and myself had Honor phones which they couldn't get to work, so we both had refunds. They said that Ann's Place café in the Castle Gardens did have an internet terminal, so the other lady bought another £3.30 voucher with thirty minutes worth of wi-fi, but only used ten minutes. So I was able to update my FaceBook status, but Gmail kept freezing the computer and I was unable to pick up most of my emails nor logout! However, since I hadn't paid anything, I didn't complain! I then walked up one fifth of the 699 steps of Jacob's Ladder to photograph Lower Jamestown, as the Captain climbed all the way up and down! I splashed out £1.10 on a three scoop ice cream cornet to eat in the hot sun, before making my way back to the penultimate tender departure.

Back at the ship, I went swimming and then spent nearly an hour in the two jacuzzis, as we sailed away from the magical island. I dined on the Chinese buffet with Colin and the team, before dancing to Jess and the band, followed by the participation dancing led by Ivana. During the Crew Cabaret I updated this blog. I danced again until 10:30, when I went to bed.


Fifth Sea Day - Saturday the 17th of February 2018

I awoke at 5 o'clock as the magician next door was making some noise. I dozed until 7 o'clock when I finally got up. At 7:30 I had the full English breakfast, sat with Barbara in the Secret Garden cafeteria. At 9 o'clock I taught the Slosh, Texas Waltz & Ziggy to 24 people. After a quick change, I gave my 45 minute talk on Georgetown, Ascension Island. One chap, who was an artillery expert, said that one of my fort photographs was wrongly labelled! Before lunch, I gave Malcolm's talk on creepy crawlies a miss. I lunched on cold lobster followed by hot pork chop and chips, sat with a couple and a single lady. I then had a deep sleep for two hours.

I watched my Ascension Island talk as I updated this blog. I gave Trevor's talk on the Mysteries of the Seas a miss, but did get to Rina's interesting lecture on Wagon Trains at 4 o'clock. I then swam and jacuzzied, before having a lime soda and twiglets in the Observatory. As I arrived, a small school of dolphins was passing. On the way to dinner, I passed an open cabin door with a gentleman in distress on the floor, so I sped up to Reception (now called Guest Services) to summon help. I then dined as usual with Colin & the team. We danced both before and after the excellent Musical Jukebox production show, which included the Billy Joel and Queen tributes I had enjoyed on the previous cruise. I went to bed at 10:30.


Sixth Sea Day - Sunday the 18th of February 2018

I was awoken by the Magician next door coming back from the disco at 3:40 in the morning, but I was soon back to sleep. I awoke at 7 o'clock ready to breakfast on the full English, sat with Barbara again, in the Secret Garden café. At 9 o'clock I taught the Slosh, Just Because & California Frieze to 24 people. At 10 o'clock I enjoyed the Songs of Praise in the Neptune Lounge led by the Bishop. I then watched my Ascension Island talk on the telly again. I lunched with Colin & the team at 12:30, before sleeping for 100 minutes.

At 3 o'clock I went to Bill's interesting talk entitled "The Day the Music Died". This told the story of the air crash which killed Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper & Richie Valens in 1959. I must write a lecture on the Story of Rock & Roll! At 4 o'clock I listened to Piano a Deux's classical concert, before swimming and jacuzzi-ing for half an hour. At 6 o'clock I had another lime soda and twiglets in the nearly empty Observatory. I dined on the chicken with Colin and the team at 6:30 as usual. We danced both before and after Helen Wilding's excellent second show. I particularly enjoyed the humourous "Joyce the Librarian, strict vegetarian" song! Coming from Bolton in Lancashire, I was convinced she was going to sing Victoria Wood's "Let's Do It!", but she didn't! Allan finished DJing at 10:20 and I was in bed by 10:30.


Georgetown, Ascension Island - Monday the 19th of February 2018

I awoke at 6:15 and was out on deck half an hour later to see our sail-in. At 7 o'clock I had the Egg Florentine with full English on the side in the main restaurant. At 7:15 I queued for a tender ticket and lecture ticket at the photo booth. I then updated my Dakar presentation with Miles's suggestions. The Captain took the first tender ashore and then came back with pictures of the wharf steps awash, so he called off the visit and a new programme was devised.

Locals came on board via their own launch to sell souvenirs. I shelled out for 8 postcards for £2 from one stall and 5 postcards for 75p at another. The ship then circumnavigated the island, with me sitting on the promenade deck under the shade of a lifeboat. The east coast was very scenic, the south coast less so.

I lunched on the chicken with Colin and the team minus Les, who had been given tender ticket number 4 when the Captain anounced that the local launch was going to offer an afternoon tender service after all. I lay down for an hour or so, as the revised programme had me giving my Tommy Cooper lecture at 3 o'clock. This was poorly attended as more and more of the pax were ferried ashore.

I finally got away at 4:10 and spent two hours on the island. I headed first for the Saints Social Club to purchase an hour's worth of wi-fi for £5, so I was able to post selfies from here and from our previous port of call at St. Helena. I also picked up my emails, thankfully none of which were urgent.

I then spent an hour photographing the sights, such as they are. I caught the last launch back at 6:20 getting back to the ship at 6:40. I had a quick shower, as it had been hot and dusty on the island, and changed for dinner. Sue had nabbed my place with Colin & the team, so I sat with Brenda from Worthing instead. We danced both before and after the Magician's second show, which I ducked out of in order to update this blog. At 10:30 I went to Kristian's cabaret in the Lido, but nearly fell asleep. When he finished at 10:55, I went to bed.


Seventh Sea Day - Tuesday the 20th of February 2018

I awoke at 6:50 and breakfasted on the full English with Barbara in the Secret Garden café at 7:30. At 9 o'clock I taught the Electric Slide, Party Samba & Just Because to 28 passengers. At 9:45 I gave my 40 minute talk on Dakar, the Capital of Senegal. At 11 o'clock I watched the crossing of the equator ceremony out on the aft deck. At 12:30 I dined on thin gammon, canelloni and prawns with Colin & the team minus Les. I then slept for an hour and a quarter, before listening to Rina's moving talk on the US 'underground railway' which secretly transported American slaves north into Canada.

I then touched base with Miles, before working on my presentations. At 5 o'clock I went for a dip in the warm pool and a half hour wallow in the hot jacuzzi. At 6 o'clock I joined Keith in the Observatory for a lime soda with twiglets. I dined on the fish & chips for a second time with Colin & the team, although Lynn had to sit separately with Sue. We danced both before and after the excellent "Britain Rocks" production show. Allan finished DJing at 10:20, so I went up to the top deck to see the stars. I went to bed at 10:30.


Eighth Sea Day - Wednesday the 21st of February 2018

I awoke at 6:20 and went up on to the top deck to watch the sun rise. I had the full English breakfast, sat with Barbara. At 9 o'clock I taught Ziggy, Party Samba & Cowboy Charleston to 29 passengers. At 9:45 I gave my 40 minute talk on Praia & Mindelo in the Cape Verde Islands. One gent objected to my suspect Portuguese pronounciations! At 11 o'clock I enjoyed Andy's Comedy Corner of classic clips. I lunched at the usual table with the usual crowd, before sleeping for two hours.

At 4 o'clock I listened to Bill's interesting talk on the Everly Brothers. I then swam and spent time in the pool chatting to Martin from Newcastle, waiting for space to become available in the only jacuzzi open. I wallowed here in the bright sunshine for half hour with the black lady and a talkative chap. I dined on the gammon and turkey with the team plus Sue, but minus Les, who was sat with Rina. We danced both before and after Eterni Amici's second show which had more popular songs, but which I found less satisfying than their first show, so I didn't stay up to listen for a second time as I had done before! I went to bed at 10:30 and was soon asleep.


Ninth Sea Day - Thursday the 22nd of February 2018

I awoke at 6 o'clock and worked on this blog. At 7:30 I had the full English breakfast, sat with Keith & Barbara. At 9 o'clock I taught the Party Samba, Lindi Shuffle & Cowboy Charleston to 30 passengers. Allan Tait asked me if I was willing to do some more guest lectures, so my talks must have gone down well! At 9:45 I stayed on for Trevor's sceptical talk on Psychics. One lady stormed out in disgust, just after he started talking! I then gave the Vet's talk a miss, as his stories are all very samey. I lunched on the fish, chips & mushy peas for the third time, sat with the usual crowd.

I then slept for an hour and a quarter, before attending Bill's interesting talk on the Beatles. I stayed on for the classical concert, where I enjoyed Schubert's Marche Militaire. I then went swimming and wallowed in the jacuzzi for three quarters of an hour in the cooler sunshine. Here I chatted with the German lady from Brighton. At 6:30 I dined on the lamb and chicken with the team. We danced both before and after the Big Band Show, which I opted out of after 15 minutes, owing to the poor brass playing. Allan finished DJing at 10:20 and I was in bed by 10:30.


Dakar, Senegal - Friday the 23rd of February 2018

Me & an Elephant!

Me & an Elephant!

My alarm awoke me at 6 o'clock ready for one Egg Benedict with full English on the side in the main restaurant at 6:30. I then sat up in the Observatory to watch the magnificient sun rise and the sail-in to Dakar. We sailed past Gorée Island into the harbour. At 9:15 I escorted my second choice tour to the island. We led our groups along the quayside to board the fast ferry, which quickly whisked us across the bay. Our tour included the House of Slaves, the Church and the Historical Museum in the Portuguese Fort. At the latter we all had a complimentary drink, I chose the local Flag lager. However my group missed out on the French castle, complete with its large gun, but the other Martin and I did find free wi-fi in a small square, so I was able to pick up my emails and upload a selfie to FaceBook!

The Pink Lake, Dakar, Senegal

The Pink Lake, Dakar, Senegal

Back at the ship, I had a late lunch, before sleeping for an hour and a quarter. I then walked to the Ferry Terminal, the Railway Station (undergoing restoration) and Independence Place. Here I boarded the complimentary shuttle bus back to the ship. I swam and wallowed for only 15 minutes as the sun was rather hot. After showering and changing, I had a lime soda and twiglets in the Observatory. I dined on the excellent lamb chops with the team, before rushing outside to photograph the passage past Gorée Island. We danced both before and after the "Feel Good" production show. The last set was very thinly attended. When Allan finished DJing at 10:20, I had a chat with Barbara, before going to bed.


Tenth Sea Day - Saturday the 24th of February 2018

I awoke at 7:15, but it was now 6:15 Cape Verde time. At 7:30 I had the full English breakfast, sat with Barbara and another couple. At 9 o'clock I taught the Slosh, Lindi Shuffle & Lemon Tree to 24 passengers. One lady caught me at the end, so I had to go up to the internet room to print off two maps for her. I then came back down for Rina's interesting talk on the California gold rush. At the end, I showed her my slide for Sarah Bernhardt's pioneering short film "Le Duel d'Hamlet", for possible incorporation in her duelling lecture. I then stayed on for Laura's talk on the new Brabant river cruiser.

I lunched on the gammon, egg & chips with Colin, who was on antibiotics for his chest infection, and the team. I then slept for an hour and three quarters, before catching the end of Allan's Salsa class. He had taught the basic salsa, cucarachas, fall aways and he goes / she goes turns. We then had the tea dance, where I did a different dance with all the single ladies present, together with two with the lovely Lynn and the Party Samba with Pat & Sandra. I grabbed a smoked salmon sandwich and two florentines during one Quickstep! I then went swimming and jacuzzi-ing for half an hour in the hot sun. I enjoyed another lime soda and twiglets, sat with Keith in the Observatory. I dined on the K.F.Chicken & chips with the gang plus Sue, as Les sat with Rina behind us. We danced both before and after Geoff's excellent second show. Allan finished DJing at 10:20 and I updated this blog before going to bed.


Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde - Sunday the 25th of February 2018

My alarm woke me at 6:30, ready to have one Egg Benedict, with the full English breakfast on the side, in the main restaurant at 7 o'clock. At 8:15 I escorted my first choice Historical Praia & Cidade Velha tour. We began at the archeological museum, but it was still closed so early on a Sunday morning. We then headed back into the town for a 40 minute walkabout, but the main church was also closed. Back at the archeological museum, it had now opened, so we had a ten minute browse of the shipwreck artefacts.

Next we headed for King Phillip the Second's magnificent fort, built in response to a Sir Francis Drake raid! Below the fort was the old capital (Cidade Velha) alongside the dry Great River (Ribeira Grande). We reached the Church of the Rosary, but it was packed with worshippers. Then we had our refreshments at a seaside bar. I opted for a glass of the local Strela lager, which I gulped down in order to whizz around the remaining sights. These included the colourful fishing boats on the beach and the ruined cathedral on the hill.

Back at the ship, I lunched with the usual crowd, minus Lynn, who despite having been on the same tour as me, was late back. I then slept for an hour and a quarter, before catching the complimentary shuttle bus into the town centre on the plateau. The wi-fi in the main square was very slow, but in front of the Sofia café it was tolerable, so I was able to upload a selfie and check my emails.

Back at the ship again, I had a dip in the cool pool and a longer wallow in the hot jacuzzi chatting to Bill. I dressed and then touched base with Hannah & Miles concerning Tenerife. Up in the observatory I had a lime soda and twiglets as the ship departed. At 6:30 I dined on the veal with the team plus Sue, as Les was sitting with Rina. We danced both before and after Andy's second comedy show, which I ducked out of to update this blog and work on my Tenerife presentation. Allan finished DJing at 10:20 and I was in bed by 10:30.


Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde - Monday the 26th of February 2018

I awoke at 6:25 just before my alarm, ready for the Egg Florentin with full English on the side in the main restaurant at 7 o'clock. I then watched the berthing at Mindelo, where I had been one year ago on the PandOriana! I worked on my Tenerife presentation, before escorting my third choice Taste of the Island tour at 8:30. We began with a walk around the town, before ascending the Green Mountain (Monte Verde). At Catfish Bay we had tapas with local wine, Super Bock beer or soda, accompanied by the famous Capoeira acrobatic dancers. Our last stop was at the large sand dunes on the North East coast.

Me on Praia Grande, São Vicente, Cabo Verde

Me on Praia Grande, São Vicente, Cabo Verde

Back at the ship, despite having pigged out on the tour canapés, I had lunch, before sleeping for an hour. I then caught the 3 o'clock shuttle bus to the Marina. I traipsed around town looking unsuccesfully for free wi-fi, but did get some good photographs in the hot sun. I walked back to the port via the Ferry Terminal. At 5 o'clock I touched base with Hannah & Miles, who gave me the tours booklet for the next cruise, so I was able to update my Tenerife talk with the upcoming tours. This did however mean that I missed my jacuzzi and the sail-away from Mindelo.

At 6:30 I dined on the chicken with the usual team plue Sue, as Les was sat with Rina. At 7:30 I had one dance with Sue, Brenda and the lovely Lynn, but then gave up dancing as the sea was getting rough. I watched the Cinematastic production show from the back, enjoying the Les Miserables finale again. At 9:30 I went to my cabin and was asleep by 9:40.


Eleventh Sea Day - Tuesday the 27th of February 2018

I awoke at 5:30, but it was now 6:30 Tenerife time. I worked on this blog and checked over my Tenerife presentation. I also started writing the large number of pelican postcards given to me by the rep in Walvis Bay, and destined for my cruise colleagues and passengers. At 7:30 I had the full English breakfast, sat with Barbara in the Secret Garden Café. At 9 o'clock I taught the Slosh, Party Samba & Just Because to 13 passengers, numbers reduced by the continuing swell. Unfortunately two new ladies turned up for this my eighth class, where had they been all cruise? At 9:45 I gave my 40 minute talk on Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Back in my cabin, I watched my talk on the TV and updated my blog. At 12:30 I lunched on the fish & chips for a fourth time with Colin & team, this time dishing out the pelican postcards! I then slept for a hour and a half, before mooching around the ship. At 4:15 Allan taught the promenade walks and underarm turn to 16 passengers in his Social Foxtrot class. I partnered Anne, the Helen Lederer lookalike. At 5:30 we had the first of the Captain's farewell cocktail parties, but with no dancers present at the front. I dined on two fillet steak tornedos with the team, before attending the second cocktail party. With Pat, Sandra & Brenda sat in the front row, we did dance this time. I then watched the Crew Show, before having a few more dances. Allan finished DJing at 10:20 and I was in bed by 10:30.


Twelveth Sea Day - Wednesday the 28th of February 2018

I awoke at 4:30 and then dozed until my alarm woke me at 7 o'clock. At 7:30 I had the full English breakfast, sat with Barbara in the Secret Garden café. At 9 o'clock I taught the Electric Slide, Texas Waltz & Cowboy Charleston to a dozen line dancers who braved the swell. I stayed on for Rina's amusing 55 minute talk on Anglo-American differences, followed by Trevor's 55 minute talk on 1960s Dance Crazes. Sue let me use her iPad, but Gmail wouldn't work.

I lunched on the roast beef with the team plus Trevor, before sleeping for an hour and a half. I then worked on my PowerPoint presentations, before doing four circuits of the promenade deck in the bright sunshine. Unfortunately both pools and both jacuzzis had been emptied, so I couldn't have a final dip! At 5:30 I had my last lime soda and twiglets with Keith up in the Observatory. I dined on the chick pea soup, some dodgy shrimp cocktail and the chicken. Later I had my first bout of indigestion for over a year, fortunately I had some soda water and a tablet to hand.

The second sitting show took place at 7:30, so we didn't dance until 8:20. I watched the first sitting variety show at 9 o'clock. In his spiel Allan thanked me for my lectures and for my line dance classes. Les missed the first walk-on, but arrived for the second. I managed to dance with all the dancing ladies present for the final set: Lynn, Barbara, Sue, Doreen, Anne, Tracy, Pat & Sandra! When Allan finished DJing at 10:30 we said our goodbyes and I went to sleep at 11 o'clock after finishing my packing.


Santa Cruz de Tenerife - Thursday the 1st of March 2018

Tenerife Auditorium

Tenerife Auditorium

I awoke at 6:30 in response to my alarm, ready to have the full English breakfast with two ladies from Christchurch. At 8 o'clock I vacated my cabin and went up to the Observatory. At 9:35 I left the ship to be greeted by my Spanish chauffeur at the gangway. The bridge couple having been asked to stay on, I had the limousine all to myself for the half hour run to the airport. Given a seat in row 4, I thought I had been granted the complimentary upgrade I had requested, but it proved to be a single class, narrow-bodied Boring 737. At 12:15 we started boarding, but were then turned back to the departure lounge! We took off 45 minutes late, but arrived at Gatwick on time.

I had to shell out £47.40 for a single train ticket to BoMoH via Clapham Junction, as I didn't want to risk getting stuck in the coach on the motorway! I was quickly in Clapham Junction, but here the SoToN and BoMoH trains were repeatedly set back by an hour. So eventually I jumped on a stopping train to Basingstoke. Two fast trains overtook us, but it proved fortuitous that I wasn't on the one that eventually broke down at Hinton Admiral. I then caught a stopping train to SoToN. Eventually the BoMoH train left the station, but soon reversed back into the station where it remained all night! The fast train ahead of us had lost all power and the occupants had to spend the night with no heat or light! I managed to sleep for a couple of hours on the floor of the train parked in SoToN station. We were given complimentary water in the evening and a complimentary hot drink for breakfast. The A31 highway had indeed been closed by the snow blizzard and some two hundred vehicles had to be rescued, so I was glad I hadn't opted for the coach!


SoToN - Friday the 2nd of March 2018

In the morning we had to leave our train, as it was being sent back to London. At 11 o'clock I gave up waiting for a BoMoH train and so trudged through the snow to the National Express coach station. After an hour here, unfortunately things didn't improve, so I trudged back to the railway station. Here I phoned around three car rental firms, with Enterprise quoting me £66 for a weekend hire. At the taxi rank, Marian a coloured lady in front me asked where was I going. When I said Bitterne, she said I could share with her Uber driver. Dropped off at her flat, I walked back to the Enterprise office. In view of the ice and snow fall, I upgraded to CDW insurance at £127 in total. I finally got home just before three o'clock!


Allan later wrote: "Martin is great to work with, not only is he a fine speaker, he also taught line dancing each sea day. A top man!"

One lady later wrote: "How lucky we were to enjoy three weeks warmth and sunshine!"

Another lady wrote: "It was good to meet you and I enjoyed your port lectures and the dances I had with you."

A third lady wrote: "It was such fun dancing with you, you are such a great lead and dance with such enthusiasm."

Rina later wrote: "Loved the line dancing so much. You are a brilliant teacher! And adore the music. And your port lectures are sooo thorough and helpful. Go, Martin, go!"


Scorecard:

10 Line Dances taught
 9 Line Dance Classes led
 8 Ports visited
 7 Port Talks given (Praia & Mindelo combined)
 6 Shore Excursions escorted
 5 ?
 4 Cocktail Parties attended (1st, last, Oceans & ROL)
 3 New Islands visited (St. Helena, Ascension & Gorée Island)
 2 New Ports surveyed (Jamestown & Georgetown)
 1 Guest Lecture given (Tommy Cooper)

Good points were:

  1. Free laundry for the second time on FOCL!
  2. Dancing with the Dance Instructress
  3. Teaching the line dancing
  4. Giving a Guest lecture
  5. In cabin tea & coffee
  6. Free shuttle buses
  7. Free wi-fi printer
  8. Good tours
  9. Own cabin

For the record ...


Good free wi-fi:

Cape Town International Airport (CTIA)
Clocktower shopping centre, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Victoria Wharf shopping centre, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Cruise Terminal, Cape Town
Seamen's Mission, Walvis Bay
Public Library, Walvis Bay
Gorée Island, Dakar
Main Squares in Praia