|15/02/2013||Cape Town, South Africa||-||Glorious turnaround day!|
|16/02/2013||Cape Town, South Africa||Table Mountain Cable Car||Stunning views -
the high point of the cruise!
|18/02/2013||East London, South Africa||Mpongo Game Reserve||Rhinos, Giraffes, Zebras etc.|
|20/02/2013||Maputo, Mozambique||Sights of the Capital||Hot and humid!|
|22/02/2013||Beira, Mozambique||(City tour)||Port closed :-(|
|24/02/2013||Richard Bay, South Africa||Shakaland||Zulu culture|
|25/02/2013||Durban, South Africa||Pietermaritzburg||Victorian City|
|27/02/2013||Port Elizabeth, South Africa||Walking Tour||Another Victorian City|
|28/02/2013||Mossel Bay, South Africa||Scenic Mountain Passes||Drizzle and mist|
|01/03/2013||Cape Town, South Africa||-||Another glorious day!|
This cruise was back to back with my previous one, so I was free on turnaround day in Cape Town to explore on my own. In the morning I walked into the city centre to photograph most of the sights. It was almost as photogenic as Sydney in Australia! In the afternoon I visited the Victoria and Alfred (NOT Albert) docks which have been extensively renovated. The first night was very quiet as usual and I dined with Jean, Betty, George, Val and Freda from Dublin.
On the next morning I again went into the city centre but also re-did the V&A docks to finish off practically all the sights. In the afternoon I escorted my first choice Table Mountain Cable Car tour. After 40 minutes queuing we were whisked to the top in a rotating car. We saw two Dassies (Rock Hyrax) and extensive views in three different directions. To the north west we saw Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. To the north east we could see the entire city centre. To the south we could see all the way to the Cape of Good Hope. This was undoubtedly the highpoint of the cruise in both senses! We returned to the ship via the exclusive west coast seaside resorts. The views of the twelve apostle mountains and the beaches were spectacular!
On leaving Cape Town we encountered strong winds and waves and some passengers, including my newly-embarked colleague, suffered from sea-sickness. I dined with Christina, Julia (the watercolourist), Gwendolyn (the ambassador's wife), David (the ambassador) and George. The evening was again quiet and I only danced with Merle and Heather.
On the first sea day I led my first line dance class. The dance floor was full! In the evening I dined with Molly, Jill, Janice and Anne from Liskeard.
In East London, I escorted my first choice Mpongo Game Reserve tour. The official guide directed the non-local driver to the wrong reserve, so we wasted one extra hour of driving. The scenery and weather were however glorious. We saw rhinos, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, warthogs, impalas, wildebeest and antelopes in the wild, however the lions, hippos and wild dogs were all in captivity. Unfortunately no elephants although piles of fresh dung were to be seen! In the evening I dined with Molly, Anne, Jill, Merle and Richard. At the deck party we danced the Macarena, YMCA and the Electric Slide as usual! I also danced with Shirley and Marie from Hertfordshire.
On the next sea day I again led a line dance class in the morning and then a ballroom dance class in the afternoon. In the evening I dined with Molly, Anne, Jill, Julia & George again.
In Maputo, formerly Lourenço Marques, the capital of Mozambique I escorted the "Sights of the Capital" tour in the morning. At the cathedral photostop one couple insisted on going inside meaning that they missed us walking around the block. A few phone calls later and I had to run back to rescue them! The Captain wrote in his online web log: "The pre-dinner lecture, titled ‘Rhodes Across Africa: Cecil’s Story’, was presented by Dance Host and Open University lecturer Martin P. Lee." I then dined with Molly, Anne, Jill, Irene and Ron.
The next sea day saw another line dance class. I dined with Peggy, Jean, Val, Caroline and Christina from Poole. Caroline remembered me from Cunard's Queen Victoria world voyage several years ago from Singapore to Southampton via Dubai!
Unfortunately having cruised all the way up the East African coast the port of Beira in Mozambique was closed and our planned visit had to be abandoned. I was down to escort my first choice Beira City tour too. So I led another line dance class in the morning and a ballroom waltz class in the afternoon. I dined with Val, Peggy, Jean, George from England and Paula from Norfolk who had worked in Australia and had travelled even more extensively than me!
The next morning I breakfasted with Barbara and Christina from Poole and ran another line dance class. In the evening I was on duty in the Britannia (ex Free-Spirited) Club cocktail party. I then dined with Merle, Molly, Anne, Jill and George from Ulster.
In Richards Bay I escorted the tour to Shakaland. We viewed a typical Zulu village and had a loud and lively display of drumming and dancing. In the evening I dined with Jean, Peggy, Christina, Val and Paula. Showtime featured an unaccompanied local choir singing a capella. At the end of the evening we watched the local pilot being lifted off the Verandah deck by a helicopter.
The next day I had my potted biography printed in the Today programme (thanks Neil)! In the port of Durban I escorted my first choice panoramic tour of Pietermaritzburg, the provincial capital of Natal. This was a charming city surrounded by hills. Our first stop was at the Oval cricket ground and our last was at a viewpoint high above the city. In the city centre we visited the Tatham art gallery and saw the famous red brick town hall and Voortrekker museum. In the afternoon I took the shuttle bus into Durban and visited the Victoria market. Durban is a curious place: all the signs are in English but none of the locals are speaking it! The blacks speak Zulu, the Indians speak Hindi and the whites speak Afrikaanse!
The Captain wrote in his blog: "One of our dance hosts, who is also a university lecturer, Martin P. Lee presented a talk on ‘Shackleton: The Importance of Being Sir Ernest’ before dinner. This seemed appropriate with us having a bar named in his honour!" The cruise director, Neil Horrocks, wrote "Martin's lectures are well researched and expertly delivered. A welcome addition on any cruise." I then dined with Christina, Val, Peggy, Betty and Jean. The evening finished with another deck party as we sailed away from Durban.
On the last sea day I led a revision/request line dance class. In the evening we had our final formal night. I dined with Betty, Pam, Jean, Christina and Peggy.
During the morning in Port Elizabeth I escorted the walking tour around this charming Victorian town. In the afternoon I walked a couple of miles along the beachfront to the Boardwalk shopping centre and then caught the shuttle bus back. In the evening I dined with Marie, Shirley, Jo(sephine), Peggy and English George.
On the penultimate day I escorted the Scenic Mountain Passes tour from Mossel Bay via the towns of George and Oudtshoorn over the Outeniqua and Robinson passes. This was our only poor weather day of the entire cruise. We had drizzle and hill mist on the famous Garden Route coast which eased as we crossed into Karoo country inland. I had just enought time to photograph the main sights of Mossel Bay before catching the penultimate tender back to the ship moored in the bay for a late lunch. I dined with Paula, Gwendolyn (the ambassador's wife), David (the ambassador) and Pam.
On the final day of the cruise we were late berthing as the poor weather of the previous day had closed the port. We were moored on the eastern side of the docks which I explored on foot before an early lunch. In the afternoon I took the shuttle bus into the V&A waterfront again. After getting my free wi-fi FaceBook fix in one of the shopping centres, I photographed the 2012 Football World Cup stadium and the now closed Fort Wynyard museum.
We disembarked around 6 pm and were bussed to the airport. The Virgin flight home was much better than my previous experiences of them. As usual I tried for a complimentary upgrade and managed to get an aisle seat at the bulkhead with extra legroom. I slept for about 5 hours and then watched the excellent "Hitchcock" film starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Helen Mirren. I took the underground/overground via Hammersmith, Westminster and Canada Water to Forest Hill to collect my car from Mark's place in Dulwich. The drive to the M25 via Croydon took 90 gruelling minutes and I didn't get home until after 3 pm. I slept that night for 11 hours!
One lady later wrote "Martin you were the best dancing teacher!"
7 Tours escorted 7 New ports visited 6 Line dance classes led 5 Passengers hosted at dinner every evening 4 ? 3 ? 2 Ballroom dance classes taught 2 New countries visited 2 Lectures delivered 1 Cruise enjoyed!