|12/09/2013||Venice||Glorious start to cruise!|
|14/09/2013||Dubrovnik||Sights of Ston||Walls, salt pans, wine and salad!|
|15/09/2013||Kotor||Perast & Gospa od Skrpjela||Mini cruise along 'fjord'|
|16/09/2013||Sarande||Ancient City of Butrint||Greek, Roman, Byzantine & Venetian!|
|Best of Kefalonia||Captain Corelli's Mandolin town!|
|18/09/2013||Igoumenitsa||Sunny ferry port|
|19/09/2013||Pylos||Neokastro & Methoni Castles||Turkish and Venetian castles|
|20/09/2013||Gytheion||Greek, Roman & Turkish town|
|Picture perfect port|
|22/09/2013||Chios Town||Walled town|
|Swam from Greek beach|
|24/09/2013||Kavala||Philippi Tour||Ancient Greek & Roman city|
|26/09/2013||Istanbul||Glorious end to the cruise!|
After just two days at home from my last cruise, I drove up to Brian's place in Ealing. I took him out for an Italian meal before having an early night. I awoke at 5 am and left the house at 5:50 am to catch the 6 o'clock E2 bus to Northfields, where I connected with the tube. At Heathrow I got through check-in and security easily and settled down to use 45 free minutes of their wi-fi. In the waiting area I met up with Alan Tilbee and Clive Carrington again. The BA airbus was 20 minutes late taking-off but arrived at Marco Polo airport in Venice on time. A minibus took five of us quickly to the ship, however the Italian security guards said my large case wouldn't fit through their x-ray machine! After ten minutes of prevarication it went through - just!
After lunching on scampi and chips with lecturers Kate and Professor & Mrs Drewry, I walked into a gloriously sunny Venice with the sun behind me taking pictures as I went. I followed the quayside all the way round to Peggy Guggenheim's museum, the Academy of Fine Art and the famous wooden bridge. I cut through the lanes to St. Mark's Square to photograph the cathedral, the Campanile, the Doge's Palace and the Bridge of Sighs before wandering back to the ship. After a delayed safety drill, we gathered in the briefing room for the cruise director's welcome party. I dined on tenderloin beef with Alison, Gillian, Margaret from Bute, Marion and Liz. The evening ended with the dramatic sailaway from Venice in the dark with an electric storm raging over the Alps behind, which reminded me of our departure from Cagliari on Sardinia just over two weeks previously. This time we had to make do with just the Quest Quartet out on deck.
I led my first line dance class at 9 am having upset the stage manager by having him paged at 8:55 am! I taught Californa frieze, Texas waltz and the Electric slide as usual. After a brief walk-on at the cruise director's introductory meeting, we listened to Cassie's first shore excursions lecture and Kate's first history lecture, both on Dubrovnik. There were no single men at all present at the Singles Mingle. After a quick lunch of chicken and chips with Cassie Edmundson's parents, I led my first ballroom dance class on the Social foxtrot. I then slept for one and a half hours recovering from the previous day's early start! At the Captain's welcome cocktail party I chatted with a dancing couple from Oxford. I dined on fillet steak filled with Stilton cheese along with Cecilia and Trevor from Staines and their friend Jackie on a small table for a change, in the main dining room. There was little dancing to be had both before and after the lovely Maria Lyn's show. There were however a troop of sequence dancers who did the Jacqueline cha cha amongst others.
In Dubrovnik I was off the ship soon after 8 am and walked the two miles into the old city. I spent three and a half hours there and took 149 photographs on a gloriously sunny day. The city was packed as two large cruise ships were berthed in front of us. I caught the shuttle bus back to the ship for an early lunch.
In the afternoon I escorted my first choice tour to Ston. We had a rather long winded bi-lingual lecture standing next to the salt pans and a relatively short period of free time to explore the walled town. After a wine and liquer tasting, we had a thankfully much shorter talk and demonstration on olive pressing, followed by a sumptuous meal at 5 pm of proscuitto ham, cheese, olives, salad, bread and yet more wine! We didn't get back to the ship until nearly 6:30 pm and I was dining again at 7 pm! I had duck for dinner with ladies from Coleraine, Kentucky, Bolton and Cambridge, together with a gent from Gloucester. I danced with Sue, Eileen, Marlene, June and the two young American jewelery ladies Carol & Beth before showtime. While the show was on I changed into my Greek guard's fancy dress uniform ready for the deck party. This proved to be a good talking point for the rest of the cruise! I bagged jives with Kirsten the Maitre D'Hotel and the two young American jewelery ladies Carol & Beth. Of course when the young dining room waiters arrived later in their tropical shirts the ladies didn't want to dance with us anymore!
In Kotor I escorted the boat ride to the little church on the island in the middle of the gulf, followed by a visit to the charming town of Perast. The guide gave me the wifi password for the Conte hotel so I was happy! After a roast beef lunch I slept for one hour before exploring the lovely old walled city of Kotor. I climbed up 60 metres to the fortifications, not the 260 metres to the castle that I had done on my previous visit over five years ago (see photo above). I dined on grilled salmon with Lois from Kentucky, Bernard from Gloucester, Alison, Sue & Cynthia from Salisbury. We danced with Sue and Carol but not Beth before the classical concert. After the concert the Quest Quartet adjourned to Shackleton's lounge for their jazz night, so I finished off my Dubrovnik powerpoint presentation.
In Saranda on my very first visit to Albania, I escorted the tour to the ancient city of Butrint. This was very interesting with Greek walls built of large interlocking stones, a Roman theatre and baths built of brick, a Byzantine basilica and a Venetian citadel! Access to the latter involved 60 steps going up and 100 coming down, so I had to help one lady with every single step. The day started overcast, we got caught in a sudden downpour, then it cleared for the rest of the day. This being the only rain of the entire fortnight! Back at the ship, I lunched with Jackie & Cecilia on escalope of pork before sleeping for an hour and a half. I walked back into Saranda taking more photographs on a glorious afternoon. I had managed to get a free wi-fi signal from the side of the ship in the morning but not in the afternoon. In the early evening I led a waltz class. I dined on lamb shank with Ann, Colin, Moira, John and Julie at my favourite corner table.
In Argostoli on Kefalonia I escorted the Best of the Island Tour wearing my red eastern hat. We visited the underground lake at Melissani and the seaside resort of Sami where they filmed Captain Corelli's Mandolin. We finished the morning with a wine tasting near St. Gerasimou's church inland. After lunch and a siesta I walked into Argostoli to take some pictures. I was able to use the excellent free wi-fi at the Tourist Information Office at the head of the berthing pier. At 6 pm I led my first ever line dance class out on deck! With six cruise staff present, I stuck to the two old war horses of the Electric Slide and the Slosh, separated with Just Because danced as both a rumba and a mambo. I dined on beef with Kate Garnons Williams the history lecturer, Bernard from Gloucester, Lois from Kentucky, Julia from Londonderry and Valerie. At the deck party I again wore my Greek guard's outfit, unfortunately my pom poms kept falling off (see photo above)! It was devoid of passengers but I did get to jive with Beth and Carol again!
No tour in Igoumenitsa so I sauntered into town taking 66 photographs. I walked the two mile length of the promenade and then came back via the commercial streets. I climbed up to the castle ruins in the pine woods. After lunching on scampi and chips, I slept for nearly two hours before venturing back to the Port Terminal to use their excellent free wi-fi again. At 6:30 pm I was supposed to lead a quickstep class in the Discovery lounge but no one turned up. They were all getting ready for dinner which starts at 6:45 pm. I had my best meal of the cruise so far starting with deep fried anchovies fresh from Kefalonia followed by Greek bean soup, Greek salad (with Stilton not feta cheese), breaded chicken stuffed with olive paste (tapenade) and baklava with maple walnut ice cream! I dined with Lois, Julia, Bernard, Jay and Valerie.
In Pylos on the Peleponnese peninsula I breakfasted with Julie. I escorted the two castles tour to the enormous Venetian castle at Methoni and the 'New Castle' in Pylos. We got back to the tender berth at noon so I spent an hour going around town photographing the sights. The tourist information stall was dishing out olives, greek bread dipped in olive oil and delicious baklava. I lunched on roast lamb and more baklava with Christina then slept for one hour. I caught the 3:30 pm tender back into town to find the silver domed church and use the free wi-fi outside the Karalis Hotel. I then caught the 5 pm tender back to the ship. In the evening we were on duty at the Britannia/Free Spirited Club cocktail party. I dined on beef again, with Irene from Edinburgh, her sister Margaret & her son Graham from Liverpool, Mary from Walberswick and Valerie.
In Gytheion I breakfasted with Valerie in the main dining room on a smoked salmon omelette. No tour, so I caught the first tender going ashore for independent travellers at 9:15 am. It was a lovely morning to explore this town of three parts: the ancient bit with Greek acropolis and well preserved Roman theatre; the old fishing village with alleyways and churches; and the new town with civic buildings. I lunched back on the ship with Sue on salmon (again) and chips before sleeping for another hour and a half. I caught the 2:45 pm tender back into the town which was now under cloud so I was glad I had done most of my photography in the morning. I again caught up with the free wi-fi on the main promenade. At 5:30 I led only my second line dance sailaway ever out on deck. Jenny from Auckland, New Zealand had written to John Parton the cruise director asking for more line dancing, so she got a specific mention in the daily programme! Thankfully there were more dancing passengers present than cruise staff who were on another three line whip to attend. I taught The Slosh, Texas Waltz and the Cowboy Charleston. I dined on sirloin steak with aunt Marlene from Stretton-upon-Dunsmore in Warwickshire and her neice Cheryl from Zurich in Switzerland.
In Ermoupolis on Syros, capital of the Cyclades chain of islands, I breakfasted with the couple from Bishops Stortford. No tour again, so I walked into the pretty town taking 144 photographs in total. My phone cleverly alerted me to free wi-fi as I walked past a pharmacy opposite the hospital, so I was able to get my 'fix'! Back at the ship, I lunched on parma ham, salad and chips with Julie before having my siesta. I walked back into town to photograph the couple of sights that I had missed in the morning. Again my phone alerted me to the free wi-fi at the posh Hermes Hotel which I had unsuccessfully tried to access in the morning. An email from the Sea Breeze Agency told me that Alan Tilbee from Southampton my current colleague would be replaced by Ernie Coulson from Southend on my next cruise. Back at the ship I changed into my swimwear and swam in the sea close by our berth. This was my first time swimming in the Med for ages. I dined on cod with Sheila from Bolton and her friend from Cambridge who used to work for the BBC. The pre-show dancing was held in Shackleton's Bar for the first time, since John Parton had had the piano brought down on to the dance floor in the Discovery Lounge. This meant that there was no post-show dancing and we could have an early night for a change.
On Chios I breakfasted with the lady from Geneva. No tour yet again so I walked into town taking 165 photographs! I bumped into my colleague Alan and we toured the old walled city together. Quite quaint, but not as attractive as Syros the previous day. The unfenced rampart walks were interesting and photogenic. After a roast beef lunch and a siesta, I went back into the town to complete my photography. I accessed the wi-fi outside the CrepaLand café in both the morning and afternoon. I dined on scampi and chips with Irene from Edinburgh, her sister Margaret & her son Graham from Liverpool and Michael & Val from Shropshire.
Anchored off Myrina on Lemnos, I breakfasted with Brian and his friend a former Lt. Col. in the RAEC at Eltham Palace. I caught the first independent passengers' tender to the shore at 9:00 am in order to do some photography. Myrina is a lovely little town which I had first visited nearly a year ago on the Seabourn Odyssey. I caught the 12:30 pm tender back to the ship to lunch on roast lamb with Marion. After my siesta, I caught the 3:00 pm tender back to the shore to swim from the northern ('Greek') beach with Jay the painter from Brighton. I sat in the reception of the Hotel Lemnos to utilise their free wi-fi both before and after my swim. I then caught the 5:30 pm penultimate tender back to the ship. That night I dined on beef tenderloin with Irene from Edinburgh, her sister Margaret & her son Graham from Liverpool and Mike & Mary from Crowthorne in Berkshire.
In Kavala, I breakfasted on Eggs Benedict before escorting the tour to the extensive ruins of Philippi. Two passengers, Jan and Loraine, had bought me a Michael Jackson style hat with purple sequins which I promised to wear on tour (see photo above)! Back at the ship, I lunched on anchovy and smoked trout salad with Cynthina, Carol and Beth. After my siesta I walked around the old and new towns of Kavala taking many photographs. I had to shell out 5 euros to pay for a waiter from the ship and myself to visit the impressive castle. I dined on beef wellington with Beverley Davison the violinist and three others.
On our final sea day, I breakfasted with Cassie's parents, Anne & Adam Edmundson. I ran my fourth and final line dance class teaching the California Frieze, Ziggy and the Lindi Shuffle . I lunched on steak and chips with Julie. In the afternoon I finished processing my photographs of Kavala into a PowerPoint presentation and started packing. I couldn't resist the chocolate fountain at the afternoon tea!
On the final day I watched the sun rise over Istanbul. Lecturer Kate got on the wrong bus so our taxi had to go to the Saga Extension hotel to rescue her and take us to the airport. We got on the Turkish Airlines airbus early but they were still working on one of her engines. After an hour or so they took us back to the terminal and gave us soft drinks with cold meat(?), cheese and tomato baguettes. Back on the plane again we finally took off over four hours late. I got back to Brian's in Ealing at 9 pm and home just before 11 pm.
10 PowerPoint Presentations authored 8 New Ports visited 6 Tours escorted 5 Dining Companions hosted each night 4 Line Dance Classes led 4 Deck Parties attended 3 Cocktail Parties attended 2 Ballroom Classes taught (Waltz and Social Foxtrot) 2 Swims in the Med. 1 Cruise enjoyed!
x94 slides on Dubrovnik x61 slides on Kotor x44 slides on Igoumenitsa (Ferry Port not Tourist Town!) x70 slides on Argostoli on Kefalonia x60 slides on Pylos x76 slides on Gytheion x79 slides on Ermoupolis on Syros x96 slides on Chios Town on Chios Island x88 slides on Myrina on Lemnos x93 slides on Kavala
36 count Texas Waltz 32 count Just Because (Rumba/Mambo) 24 count California Frieze 20 count Slosh 18 count Electric Slide 18 count Ziggy 16 count Cowboy Charleston 16 count Lindi Shuffle (Cha cha)