Cruise V8225
on the Crystal Symphony
across the Caribbean &
up the River Amazon
November 2018

(Please scroll down to see my report)

Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
8th
November
2018
Port Everglades
Florida
USA
- Aboard
at 5 o'clock
9th
November
2018
Alice Town
North Bimini
Bahamas
- Glorious
day!
12th
November
2018
Gustavia
St. Barts
French W. I.
- Glorious
day!
13th
November
2018
Bourg-des-Saintes
Terre-Haut
French W. I.
- Glorious
day!
14th
November
2018
Kingstown
St. Vincent & the
Grenadines
Magnificent
Montreal
Gardens
Glorious
day!
16th
November
2018
Royal Island off
Devil's Island
French Guiana
(No tours) Glorious
day!
19th
November
2018
Santarém
Para
Brazil
Tapajós
National
Forest trek
Glorious
day!
20th
November
2018
Parintins
Amazonas
Brazil
Boi
Bumbá
Just as
marvellous
for the 3rd time!
22nd
November
2018
Manaus
Amazonas
Brazil
Introduction
to
Manaus
Sunshine &
Thunderstorm!
23rd
November
2018
Boca de Valéria
Amazonas
Brazil
(No tours) Hot &
Humid!
27th
November
2018
Scarborough
Trinidad &
Tobago
Tobago
Sights & Fort
King George
Hot &
Humid!
29th
November
2018
San Juan
Puerto Rico
USA
Casa Bacardi
& Old
San Juan
Glorious
day!
2nd
December
2018
Port Everglades
Florida
USA
- Glorious
day!


First Travelling Day - Wednesday the 7th of November 2018

   I left home in the midst of a short, sharp, shower at 10:15 to catch the 11 o'clock National Express coach to LGW. I was able to sit in the front seat just behind the driver. He rang his controller to get permission to miss out the cruise terminal in Portsmouth! At the airport, I had trouble finding the local bus stops on the A23, before catching the bus into Horley with my bus pass. Unfortunately I got off one stop too early and another shower caught me out.

   I was in my £37 Gainsborough Lodge Guest House by 3:30. I then walked to the Horley shops. In one of the charity shops I bought two French maps and five Botanical Garden guide books for just £1.99, but of course I have to cart them to the Amazon and back first! I enjoyed the £2.49 meat feast submarine roll of the day in the Subway snack bar, before heading back to my digs. I watched television until 10 o'clock, when I went to sleep.


Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Thursday the 8th of November 2018

   I awoke at 5:45, fifteen minutes before my alarms. I caught the 6:20 service bus to the airport, but my bus pass was twirly (too early)! I couldn't find the American Airlines check-in desk, because they don't have one at LGW. Instead I was on a code share BA flight ($297 one way), which didn't do complimentary upgrades! I purchased the half price meal deal at WHSmith's for £2 (saving £5.63!) which included a chicken wrap, a bag of crisps and a fruit smoothie, courtesy of the WunTu app from the Three mobile network.

   I went through security nearly an hour before my flight, but was surprised to find that it was boarding already. So I flew through the winding duty-free complex and along the long walkway to get to the gate. Here only priority pax were boarding, so I had to wait after all. I had an aisle seat with two empty seats between me and the window, but I was directly over the wing. We pulled back nearly on time and took off soon after, I do prefer LGW to LHR! An early Chicken Tikka Masala lunch was served at 11 o'clock, with afternoon tea an hour before we landed in Fort Lauderdale (FLL).

   I watched "Genius: Picasso" starring an ageing Antonio Banderas and "A Very English Scandal" starring an aged Hugh Grant. I caught the middle episode of the latter when it had first been broadcast, but it was good to see all three parts back-to-back. I was one of the first to join the queue for US immigration, but the check-in machine put a big black cross on my landing card, as it did for the majority of Brits. Other pax were waved through ahead of us, so we had to stand in line for two and a half hours! I chatted with Matt & Claire from Crawley, the latter ironically being a Border Force worker at LGW!

   There were two Crystal staff to greet me and place me in an enormous SUV driven by Felix, to whisk me the ten minutes to Port Everglades, which is so close to FLL. I was fast-tracked on board at five o'clock, just in time for the 5:15 safety drill. I unpacked, showered and dressed for dinner at 6:15. I was sat with Connie from Arizona, Thelma from Cairns in Queensland, together with Noonie and her friend Sara-Jo from North Carolina, Nancy from Wisconsin and two ladies from Florida. I had the crab soup to start, followed by the large sirloin steak and ended with the triple caramel ice cream. I had two glasses of the complimentary Californian red wine, but some of the ladies refused the Pino Grigot white wine in favour of other types of grape. I left the table at 8:10, ready for the first dance set at 8:15.

   I danced with Thelma, Judy, Janet from North California, Annie from Florida, Sue from San Francisco, and Keiko & Saka the two oriental ladies, whilst sitting and dancing with Carolyn from Palm Desert. I only had time to speak to one of the four ambassador dance hosts, himself called Martin! It was going to be a busy cruise! I managed to touch base with Australian CD Shane when he walked past on his tour of inspection. I went to my stateroom when the set ended at 9 o'clock and went to sleep at 9:45, which was 2:45 according to my body clock!


Bimini, Bahamas - Friday the 9th of November 2018

   I awoke at 5:45, which was 10:45 GMT. After showering and doing my laundry, I started work on this blog. At 7 o'clock I breakfasted on the full English sat with Thelma in the deck 11 Marketplace buffet. At 7:30 I touched base with the Tours Desk and collected a ticket for the first tender away at 8:15. By 8:30 I was growing impatient as only one tour had got away, so I snuck on to the second tender away. It was a surprisingly long 40 minute run into Bimini Bay on North Bimini island, sat with Thelma again.

   I explored the Hilton Hotel and Bimini Bay Resort we had tendered into. Unfortunately I had forgotten to bring my hat with me and the sun was very hot, so I had to shell out $13 (£10) for a new Bahamas baseball cap, the little resort shop not having any local Bimini ones. I then walked along the King's Highway (Lower Road) through Porgy Bay and Bailey Town to Alice Town, taking photographs. I found free wi-fi in the air conditioned splendour of BCT, the local mobile phone company. It reminded me of the former LIME, and before that Cable & Wireless, office in Bridgetown, Barbados, particularly as I was wearing my Bajan tee-shirt!

   I came back along the Queen's Highway (Upper Road), overlooking the magnificent Bimini beach. I caught the 11:15 tender back to the ship, sat with Noonie from North Carolina, who gave me her business card on only our second brief meeting!

   Back at the ship before noon, this gave me just enough time to iron two shirts, before lunching on the veal in the Marketplace buffet on deck 11. I then had a deep sleep for an hour and half, finally catching up on the jet lag. At 3 o'clock I did six lengths of the pool, before wallowing in the huge jacuzzi, where I chatted with Fiona an English lady who now lives in Naples on the Gulf Coast of Florida. At 4 o'clock we had CD Shane's introduction, where I offered to help out with the dance hosting. This was fortuitous as one of the ambassador dance hosts had just been thrown off the ship for showing guests images of pornographic vegetables on his mobile phone! At 5:15 I went to the first dance set in the Palm Court, where we were kept busy.

   At 6:20 Judy invited ambassador dance hosts Martin & Michael, together with guest John from New Orleans and myself to dine with her. I had the rib eye steak, whilst the other Martin went through the entire left hand side of the menu! At 8:15 we danced again in the Palm Court, with Cruise Director Shane joining us towards the end of the set. At 9:15 I went to the Crystal in Motion production show. I particularly enjoyed the Irish tap dancing as usual. At 10:15 I sat at the back of the Starlite club for the Ventriloquist's amusing cabaret, but I didn't get most of the jokes at the expense of American politicians! I went to sleep soon after 11 o'clock, in spite of my stateroom being directly over the noisy Starlight Club.


First Sea Day - Saturday the 10th of November 2018

   I awoke at 6:30, but breakfast didn't begin until 7:30. I had a freshly made cheese omelette with full English on the side, out on the aft deck. I enjoyed the freshly squeezed orange juice and the decaff coffee, overlooking a calm sea in the Bahamas Channel. I did some ironing, signed a Peel contract on one of the Apple iMac computers and updated both my Caribbean lecture and this blog. At 10 o'clock I found Stephen Cole's talk on ISIS very worrying.

   At 11 o'clock Bob Arno gave an interesting talk on pickpockets. At 1:30 I gave my first 45 minute enrichment lecture: "Welcome to the Caribbean Islands" in the Starlight Club. I then late lunched on a cheeseburger and small fries without bread in the Trident Grill, before sleeping for an hour. I only managed four lengths of the pool as the water was sloshing about a lot, so I wallowed in the jacuzzi instead. I changed into my formal outfit ready for the 5:15 dance set, which was in the Starlight club, not the Palm Court this time.

   At 6:15 I was placed at the head of the singles table by the main restaurant's Maître d'Hôtel, with Carolyn on my left and Dr Barbara from Melbourne on my right. The latter had a doctorate in microbiology from University College Hospital in London. She was opposite her friend Myrna, who was sat between pax Ian and Ed. Also on the table were ambassador dance hosts Ted & Michael, but not the other Martin. The table had one spare seat next to the lady with the jewellery concession on board. I had the lovely sirloin steak again.

   At 7:45 we had the Captain's welcome party in the Starlight club, where I danced with all the usual suspects. At 8:45 I sat at the back of the Galaxy lounge with Fiona and her friend to hear Janet Dacal's Broadway songs. At 9:30 I went to my stateroom to watch my lecture on the TV, going to sleep at 10:10.


Second Sea Day - Sunday the 11th of November 2018

   I awoke at 6 o'clock, but it was now 7 o'clock on Eastern Caribbean Time (ECT). I had another cheese omelette with full English on the side, sat with Connie in the Marketplace buffet. I then did my laundry and ironing. I did 1 kilometre (2 & 1/3 circuits) around the promenade deck, whilst Mayori was making up my stateroom. I then sorted my papers out and updated this blog.

   At 10 o'clock I listened to Ken's talk on the next three ports. At 11 o'clock we had the one minute of silence for Remembrance day, followed immediately by Astronaut John's interesting talk. At noon I lunched on the roast beef al fresco, before sleeping for nearly two hours.

   At 2:30 I went to Curtis & Beverly's American Style Foxtrot class, where I danced with Keiko and two other ladies. They taught the basics with the gent only going forwards, as the lady goes back. They began with a taxi/bus-stop setup, before giving everyone three partners to alternate between. They also taught the promenade and the box turn, but not the side taps. This was followed by the chocolate afternoon tea with Sue & Dr Barbara from Australia in the Palm Court. Halfway through, I invited Thelma, also from Austrailia, to join us. At 4:30 I did six lengths of the pool followed by 15 minutes in the jacuzzi.

   At 5:15 we had the first dance set again in the Palm Court, where Curtis thanked me for going to the dance class that afternoon. At 6 o'clock I dined on the salmon, placed by the Waterside restaurant's Maître d'Hôtel again, with Judy, Thal, Thelma, Will the lecturer, Ed, Ian and Nancy from Wisconsin. At 8:15 we had the second dance set in the Palm Court.

   Just before the show started at 9:15 I spoke to CD Shane, who had sent out a letter that afternoon saying to only wear name badges when actually speaking. I told him that the Maître d'Hôtel of the main restaurant had now twice asked me to host a singles table and should I be wearing my badge when doing so? He said not to and that I would be given another badge altogether when I escort the tours. I kept falling asleep in Judy Carmichael's jazz piano performance, so I went to bed at ten o'clock and was asleep by 10:10.


St. Bart's, French Antilles - Monday the 12th of November 2018

   I awoke at 6:45 when the smell of coffee comes wafting through the air con. I had another cheese omelette with full English on the side al fresco. Just after 8 o'clock I was on the first tender away. I headed for the tourist information office to pick up their leaflets. I photographed all the sights including the two churches (Catholic & Anglican) and two of the three forts (Karl & Gustaf).

   Back at the ship at noon, I lunched on the mixed grill al fresco. I then slept for an hour and a half. Back on St. Barts again, I visited both beaches (Public & Shell). The former involved dicing with death along the narrow coast road, passing the diesel power station, whilst the latter was easier to get to and quite, quite charming. I wished I had bought my cossie!

   Back at the ship again, I went to see the Maître d'Hôtel of the speciality restaurants to see if there was any space on the singles table that evening. Unfortunately he told me that it was already fully booked for the entire cruise, but I could always check for any cancellations. We had the usual pre-dinner dance set in the Palm Court, before I was placed on table 51 as usual, sat with Nancy from Wisconsin, Thelma from Australia, Ed, Ian, and two of the dance hosts - Ted from Michigan and Martin from Vancouver. The latter again went through the whole left hand side of the menu, 3 starters, 2 main courses and 3 desserts! I had the cream soup, the salad and the rib-eye steak again. I finished with the chocolate tranche dessert.

   At 8:15 we danced again in the Palm Court to the Crystal quartet and singer. Andy the newly embarked ambassador dance host arrived, having just flown in. At 9:15 I went to the very funny ventriloquist, whose main show was better than his cabaret, I thought. At 10:15 I went to the Starlight Club for Melissa Maugran's set of lovely French songs. She began with the rousing Marseillaise and included a couple of Edith Piaf standards. The only things missing were Je ne regrette rien and anything from Bizet's Carmen! I went to bed at 11 o'clock and fell asleep despite the music continuing beneath my stateroom for a bit.


Bourg-des-Saintes, Terre-de-Haut, Iles-des-Saintes, Guadeloupe, French Antilles - Tuesday the 13th of November 2018

   I awoke at 6:45, this time to the smell of onions, not coffee! I had the cheese omelette al fresco as we sailed past by the south western coast of Guadeloupe. I again did 1 kilometre (2 & 1/3 circuits) around the promenade deck, whilst Mayori was making up my stateroom. I then did my laundry and updated this blog as we dropped anchor. We were located just off the famous Sugar Loaf (Pain du Sucre) of columnar basalt, like the Giant's Causeway in Ulster or the Devil's Tower in Wyoming!

   At eight o'clock CD Shane left a message on my bedside telephone to tell me to be on standby to give one of my optional lectures if tendering didn't go ahead. ACD Roman phoned back at 9 o'clock to stand me down again.

   At 9:35 I caught the first pax tender ashore, past Holland America's Prinsendam. Firstly I went in the Tourist Information Office, before exploring the one main street and going in the Catholic church. I walked south west to the little commercial port, before doubling back. I then headed north and climbed up to Fort Napoléon for stupendous view of the Saints's town itself (Bourg-des-Saintes), the High Land island (Terre-de-Haut), the Saints's Isles (Iles-des-Saintes) and Guadeloupe itself.

   I chatted to Noonie in the tender going back and then lunched with her in the Marketplace buffet. I had the chicken & anchovy salad with no chips! I then slept for an hour and three quarters, before doing six lengths of the pool and fifteen minutes in the jacuzzi. At 4 o'clock I went to Dr Doug's interesting talk on Directed Energy weapons.

   At 5:15 we had the first dance set with the usual suspects. At 6 o'clock, just outside the main Waterside dining room, Sue invited me to join her table. This consisted of Sue, Dr Barbara from Australia, Dean from Australia, Kate, Dr June & Linda and Mark the retired doctor from Colorado. We all began with a special pre-ordered Caesar salad and finished with a special pre-ordered Austrian Nockerl dessert which looks like eight alpine peaks on a platter! I had the Filet Mignon for my main course.

   I had to slip away at 8:10 ready for the 8:15 dance set. At 9:15 I went to the 5,6,7,8 production show, before dancing with the show band in the Starlight club from just after 10 o'clock. For the penultimate dance of the night, I had my first jive with dance instructress Beverly! I went to bed just after 11:00, but couldn't get to sleep until about 11:30.


Kingstown, St. Vincent - Wednesday the 14th of November 2018

   I awoke at 6:15, fifteen minutes ahead of my alarm. I breakfasted at 7:15 on the cheese omelette with full English on the side, sat with Noonie. I did 1 kilometre around the decks, whilst Mayori was doing my stateroom, but it was 80 degrees and 80 percent humidity already!

   At 8:45 I was on escort duty in the Starlight Club, but we didn't actually get away until 9:30. I was escorting my second choice tour to the Magnificent Montreal Gardens ($59). I had 21 guests in tow, so I had to sit in a tip-up jockey seat in the aisle of the minibus. The gardens were luxuriant with a fast flowing stream running along the bottom. In tow, I had one obese man and a Down's Syndrome man who slipped on a step at one point. When I checked, it turned out that I had been to Kingstown and the Montreal Gardens once before in 2011, but I didn't remember much. This is the price I pay for doing so many cruises! On that occasion I had also gone to the Botanical Gardens on the edge of town as well.

   Back at the ship, I lunched on the roast ham, before sleeping for two hours. I did six lengths of the pool, but only five minutes in the jacuzzi, before dressing for dinner. At 5:15 we danced in the Starlight Club, before I met Carolyn for dinner in Prego, the speciality Italian restaurant. I began with the mushroom soup inside a whole loaf, continued with the Insalata Caprese, followed by the fillet steak and ending with the chocolate cake with pistacio ice cream. We had a Californian Chardonnay for the first two courses and then I moved on to the Tuscan house red wine.

   I then sat with Carolyn to watch the enjoyable English pianist Chris Hamilton, who was much better than the earlier jazz pianist. At 8:30 I watched Curtis & Beverly's first dance show, which was very acrobatic. I then danced with the usual suspects in the Starlight Club, retiring to my stateroom at 9:50. Back in the Starlight Club at 10:15, I watched the dance show for a second time and then stayed on to dance to the quartet until after 11 o'clock. After checking through my day's maps and leaflets, I went to sleep at 11:30.


Third Sea Day - Thursday the 15th of November 2018

   I awoke at 6:45, but it was now 7:45 on French Guiana time. I had a cheese omelette with crispy bacon, tomato, proper hash browns (grated potato) and one sausage as usual in the Marketplace breakfast buffet. I then did my laundry, before attending Ken's talk on Devil's Island at 10 o'clock. We are actually due to visit Royal Island next door, but a tropical storm may prevent us tendering.

   ACD Roman left a message on my answering machine to be on standby tomorrow, so I had to pop to his office to give him my new title. Just after 11 o'clock, I slipped into Stephen's worrying talk on migration.

   At noon I lunched on the roast lamb with Mediterranean kebabs (beef, pork & lamb) on the side. I was sat with Connie from near Pasadena and we both had the baklava and Turkish delight for dessert! I then slept for an hour, before attending Curtis & Beverly's American Rumba dance class at 2:30. They taught the box, the chassé, underarm turns and cross-body turns, all on beat one! I danced with Janet and two other ladies in rotation.

   I then revised my "Plastic in the Oceans" PowerPoint ready for tomorrow. I changed for the pool, but it was netted off, so I had to make do with twenty minutes in the swaying jacuzzi, as the warm rain came down!

   We danced as usual at 5:15 and 8:15 in the Starlight Club. In between, I dined on the prime rib of beef with Nancy, Thelma, Ian, Ed and the two non-American ambassador dance hosts Michael & Martin. For the first time this cruise I felt bloated! At 9:15 I sat with Carolyn in the excellent Ulster Flautist's show. After the show there weren't enough dancing ladies in the Starlight Club, but Beverly did ask me for a Tango! I went to bed at 10:30 and was asleep soon afterwards.


Devil's Island, French Guiana - Friday the 16th of November 2018

   I awoke at 7 o'clock to the smell of coffee brewing, ready for my cheese omelette al fresco in the sunshine, as the previous day's storm had blown through. I did one mile (3.7 laps) of the promenade deck as Mayori made up my stateroom. I did some laundry and worked on my laptop.

   I just missed getting on to the first pax tender away, so had to wait a few minutes for the second. It was an easy run in to Royal Island (Île Royale), NOT Devil's Island (Île du Diable) past Holland America's Prinsendam for a second time. The island has impressive, if somewhat ruinous, buildings. I spent an hour and a half exploring the remains of the notorious prison.

   Back at the ship soon after noon, I lunched on the beef roulade, before sleeping for nearly two hours. I did half a dozen lengths of the pool, before wallowing in the jacuzzi for fifteen minutes. There was a nearly full turn out of dancing ladies at the pre-dinner dance set, but Carolyn, Janet & Thal all declined to dance. Keiko was back in action after her sea-sickness the previous day. I sat and danced with Thelma and also danced with Tracey (twice), Connie, Lucy, Keiko & friend Saka, Annie, Sue and a new lady. The only missing ladies were Sharon & Judy.

   I dined alone in the Silk speciality Chinese restaurant. I began with the corn & crab soup, continued with the crispy duck salad, had both the stir-fried beef and two lamb chops with the white cabbbage and shrimp rice, and then finished with the tapioca soup with ice cream! For the second night running I was bloated!

   We danced in the Palm Court as usual at 8:15, followed at 9:15 by Shimi's excellent musical theatre and operatic show, where I sat in the second row with Sue & Fiona. The post-show dancing consisted of just Keiko and her Japanese friend Saka, so I didn't get a look in. However they did come up to me at the end to ask me to dance with them even when the ambassador dance hosts are available! I went to bed soon after 11 o'clock.


Fourth Sea Day - Saturday the 17th of November 2018

   I awoke just before 7 o'clock ready to have the cheese omelette breakfast out on the aft deck. I began with the strawberry smoothie, only my third of the cruise, and finished with a freshly squeezed orange juice. I did some laundry, for the last time during our days going up the Amazon, and updated this blog. I then continued working on my St. Barts presentation. I did one mile (3.7 laps) of the promenade deck, as Mayori made up my stateroom. At 10 o'clock I listened to Dr. Roger's talk on Afro-American religions including Voodoo.

   At 11 o'clock I went to Capt. John's lecture on space spin-offs. At noon we had the grand gala buffet in the plaza. I had a few canapés, including a difficult to eat cold egg Benedict, followed by some nice dark chocolates. I then slept for one hour, before attending Curtis & Beverly's advanced American waltz class, where I danced with Sue, Keiko and her Japanese friend Saka. They taught the whisk into the leader's underarm reverse turn and the zig-zag twinkle into the follower's one and a half reverse turn. Difficult stuff for Sue and me, but rather easier for the excellent Japanese ladies!

   I did six lengths of the pool, before having fifteen minutes in the hot jacuzzi, before getting into my formal suit. We danced both before and after dinner in the Palm Court. I dined in Churrascaria the Brazilian speciality restaurant sat with oriental William from Calgary and Ginger & Russell Clayton from Florida. I began with the salad from the buffet, before collecting my vegetables. The waiters then started bringing the enormous BBQ skewers around. I had two giant prawns, two lamb chops and one large cube of beef, but had to forego the large pork medallions! I had one large Brazilian Caipriñha cocktail, like a Cuban Mojito, and a glass of red wine. (I awoke in the night with a slight hangover from the rum, but drank some water and was alright in the morning!)

   At 9:15 I went to the 1920s Speakeasy production show wearing my white gloves, but no white carnation or white spats! Unfortunately I didn't know any of the Rag-time/Charleston songs that they sang. We danced again after the show, where CD Shane put in an appearance. I went to bed at 11 and was asleep by 11:30 after reading my paperwork.


Fifth Sea Day, Mouth of the Amazon - Sunday the 18th of November 2018

   I awoke at 7:20 to the smell of burning wood, before having my cheese omelette breakfast, sat firstly with ambassador dance host Ted and then with Nannette the dancing travel agent from Connecticut. Back in my stateroom, I updated this blog, but couldn't do any laundry as the free launderettes had closed as we entered Brazilian waters, so I had to put my formal shirt from the previous night into the paid-for laundry. I was able to utilise the 3-2-1 PAYG tariff from the Three mobile network with data costing only one penny per megabyte! On the ship's maritime mobile network, it was £6 per megabyte, 600 times more expensive! The ship's in-cabin wi-fi however was entirely free!

   At 10 o'clock I went to Stephen Cole's 50 minute talk on News Journalism. I didn't know that he had been the first presenter of Click, the IT show on BBC News 24 as it was then. At 11 o'clock I listened to Ken's 50 minute talk on Santarém, Parintins, Manaus AND Boca da Valéria. (I do a whole 40 minutes on Manaus alone and 45 minutes on Santarém & Parintins combined, let alone Boca!) This had been billed as "The Amazing Amazon - River of Life", but instead was four port talks combined together.

   At noon I lunched on a cheeseburger with small fries sat with Thelma in the Trident Grill. I slept for two hours, with my first vivid dream, having taken my first malarone anti-malarial tablet. However I had missed Beverly's line dance class, where I understand she taught the Electric Slide & Cowboy Charleston. I then worked on my Amazon port presentations, before bathing. As usual I did six lengths of the pool followed by fifteen minutes in the large jacuzzi.

   We danced all three dance sets before and after both dinner and the show. I dined on the Wiener Schnitzel sat at a window table for two with Carolyn. We were able to watch the HAL Prinsendam overtake us in the wide river.

   After dinner, at 8 o'clock, the show band was playing Dixieland Jazz in the Cove, so I danced with Keiko and her Japanese friend Saka and had my first quickstep with Beverly, before adjourning to the Starlight Club at 8:15. At 9:15 I sat with Judy to watch the iLuminate Imagine light show. This was similar to the one I had seen two years ago on Crystal Symphony. When the quartet stopped playing in the Starlight Club at 10:35, I worked on this blog, before going to sleep just after eleven.


Santarém, Brazil - Monday the 19th of November 2018

   I awoke at 6:50 ready for my cheese omelette breakfast sat with Noonie & Sara-Jo from North Carolina at the corner table. I led my group down to the tender ready to escort my first choice Tapajós National Forest trek ($99). We had a one hour bus ride with no air con to the park, followed by a half hour drive along a dirt track into the forest itself. We did a two hour saunter through the tropical rain forest seeing lots of different trees, but no animals.

   Back at the port at 3 o'clock, It was too late to go into town, so I took the tender back to the ship. The berth here, where I have been twice before, was now free, but we were still anchored out in the river. I had two scoops of cherry garcia ice cream in lieu of lunch, before napping for half an hour.

   We danced before dinner in the Starlight Club, before I dined on the singles table in the Silk speciality Chinese restaurant. I was sat with Kathleen from Milwaukee, Linda (but not her friend Dr June who was in quarantine), Doc. Mark from Colorado, Dr Barbara and Dean from Australia and William from Calgary. We shared all the starters and main courses, interspersed with our choice of soup. I managed to have a passion fruit delice, before rushing off for Beverly & Curtis's second ballroom cabaret. I particularly enjoyed the Viennese waltz to the Blue Danube tune. At 9:15 I went to the MoTown singer's showtime, but kept falling asleep, so I went to bed at 10:10 and was asleep by 11 o'clock. I had a lot of paperwork to read, including details of the lurgy outbreak on the ship that we had heard so many rumours about. Mayori, my stewardess, was off sick for two days with it.


Parintins, Brazil - Tuesday the 20th of November 2018

   I awoke at 8:30, but it was now only 7:30 on Central Brazilian Time. I breakfasted on the cheese omelette sat with Dr Barbara, Linda and her friend Dr June, who had just been released from quaratine. I caught the 8:45 tender ashore to do some photography, but was back on the ship two hours later owing to the humidity and heat (84 degrees). I then updated my Parintins presentation with the photos I had just taken.

   At 12:45 I escorted my first choice trip to see the Boi Bumbá folkloric presentation for a third time ($159). There were four large floats: caiman, bull's skull, jaguar and boat, the latter revealing the infamous black bull. The finale involved the caiman, the jaguar and the giant butterfly. The show lasted one hour during which time I had two cups of Caipriñha cocktail and was offered a third!

   Back at the ship, I did six lengths of the pool and then spent fifteen minutes in the large jacuzzi. The first dance set before dinner was in the Starlight club. I dined back on table 51 with the usual Nancy, Ed and Ian, together with ambassador dance hosts Ted & Andy and two newcomers: Annie the French lady from Vancouver and Ingrid from Toronto. I had the nouvelle cuisine veal.

   The pre-show dance set was back up in the Palm Court, but after fifteen minutes two of the hosts had to return to the Starlight Club for the Rock & Pop disco. Needless to say, I carried on ballroom dancing in the Palm Court! At 9:15 I watched the combined show of pianist Chris & singer Shimi, sat with Carolyn & Tracey. At 10:15 I watched the production team do their Rock & Pop-A-Mania show back in the Starlight Club. When that turned into a public disco, I went to bed.


Manuas, Brazil - Wednesday the 21st of November 2018

   I awoke at 8:10 ready to have my cheese omelette breakfast al fresco overlooking Manaus and the Rio Negro. After the tours got away, I was one of the first independents off the ship at 9:30. I photographed the cathedral, the opera house square, the Eduardo Ribeiro museum, the public library and the newly restored city museum of slavery liberation (Museu Paco da Libedade).

   Back at the ship, I lunched at noon on the freshly made spaghetti bolognese, followed by one scoop of my favourite Cherry Garcia ice cream. I then slept for two hours. I went back into the city to photograph the famous clock tower and the Palacete Provincial museum complex, but the latter was closed. I climbed the hill to the Remedy church (Igreja dos Remedios), before descending back to the black river (Rio Negro). I went in the newer fish and vegetable markets and the older Lisbon market (Mercado Lisboa).

   Back at the ship again, I did half a dozen lengths of the cool pool, but had time for only ten minutes in the hot jacuzzi. We danced both before and after dinner. I went to the Brazilian Churrascaria restaurant and sat with oriental William from Calgary and two Asian-American couples. We all began with the salad bar, but it was waiter served, not self-service this time. Then the BBQ meats started to arrive: spicy sausage, mild peri-peri chicken, lamb chop, pork medallion and beef chunk. I was full by the time the steaks started to arrive! We finished with the BBQ cinnamon pineapple.

   I had to slip out at 7:40 ready for the 7:45 dance set, but only Connie turned up, so after one waltz with her I moved on to the 8 o'clock Dixieland set in the atrium. Here most of the usual suspects were present including Sharon, but only two ambassador dance hosts, so I was kept busy and didn't get a chance to dance with professional Beverly. CD Shane also came to dance with us.

   We were supposed to have a local folklore show come on board, but the lurgy prevented it happening. At 9:15 I went to Carl the cocktail pianist's classical concert, I enjoyed the Chopin, Beethoven and Debussey, but not the Argentinian Dances or the Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue. When he finished at 10 o'clock, I went to my stateroom to update this blog and went to sleep at eleven.


Manuas, Brazil - Thursday the 22nd of November 2018 - US Thanksgiving Day

   I awoke at 6:50 ten minutes before my alarm, ready for my cheese omelette with tomato, hash browns and crispy bacon sat with Noonie from North Carolina. I then watched as HAL's Prinsendam berthed behind us. At 9 o'clock I escorted my fourth choice Introduction to Manaus tour ($119). I sat at the back of the air conditioned bus with Captain Larsen, who was travelling in cognito. We began at the Opera House, where the symphony orchestra was rehearsing. We then moved on to the zoo. The anaconda snakes were huge! There was one magnificent black puma and several spotted jaguars. Towards the end of our visit, thunder and lightning started up and we just got into our coach before the heavens opened. We only had two yards to walk in the rain to get into the Indian Museum.

   When the guide gave us five minutes of free time, Sara-Jo from Raleigh, North Carolina wheeled her walker into the gift shop, but one wheel fell off the ramp and she tumbled on to the marble floor. I ran back to the coach to get Dr Mark Piehler (pronounced Peeler) from Colorado and the Captain to come and help. As with most old ladies who fall, she didn't have the reaction time to break her fall, so her cheek and knee hit the ground first. She was helped into a chair and her grazed knee was cleaned. A wheelchair appeared and she was able to re-board the bus. I then had some form filling to do. The tour had been advertised as unsuitable for those with walking difficulties!

   Back at the ship, I lunched on a cheeseburger and small fries, without bread, drinking a Sprite zero, sat with Thelma. I then slept for two hours, before doing half a dozen lengths of the cool pool and spending ten minutes in the hot jacuzzi. As we left Manaus, we went through the Meeting of the Waters where the brown Solimoes joins the black Rio Negro to form the Amazon proper.

   I put on my Stars & Stripes tie for the first time to celebrate US Thanksgiving day. We danced both before and after dinner, during which Thal managed to graze my nose, but the blood soon stopped! I dined on the inevitable turkey, sat at table 51 as usual with Nancy, Ed, Ian, Andy, Ted and two new people: Dolores and Connie from Arizona.

   At 9:15 I went to James Fox's excellent Billy Joel tribute, where I knew ALL the great songs from the 70s and 80s. I was sat just behind Carolyn & Tracey, in a packed Galaxy Lounge. At 10:15 Beverly taught the Electric Slide, Macarena, Night Fever Hustle, Cha Cha Slide, Cowboy Charleston and a latin line dance. At 11:15 the pizza man arrived and nearly everyone left the floor. After one small slice, I retired to my stateroom, but Beverly was threatening to plough on with Achy Breaky Heart & Cotton Eye Joe! I was asleep soon after 11:30 in spite of the line dance disco going on beneath my stateroom.


Boca da Valéria, Brazil - Friday the 23rd of November 2018

   I awoke at 6:30 ready for my cheese omelette in the Marketplace buffet as we went past Parintins again. I did some laundry and then did some OU work in the computer room. I touched base with ACD Roman in his office as he wanted an additional lecture from me. He asked if I had a port talk on San Juan, Puerto Rico, but unfortunately it will be my maiden visit!

   I was on one of the first tenders away for the short crossing to the riverside village. The villagers were out in force in various Amazonian outfits with sloths, toucans, parrots and monkeys on display. I walked along the line of wooden shacks on stilts, way above the current low water level, for about a mile, before doubling back. I photographed the little boats chugging along the creek, $5 or $10 for a one hour ride! It was very hot and humid, so after an hour or so, I was back at the ship.

   At 11:30 I lunched on a cheeseburger and small fries, but with no bread, together with a Sprite Zero to drink. I then slept solidly for two hours, before swimming and jacuzzing. At 5 o'clock I went to see the Maitre d' to try and get on to the singles table that evening in the Japanese speciality restaurant. We danced at 5:15 with the usual suspects, before I updated this blog. At 6:30 I went to listen to the violinist in the Cove atrium for the first time this cruise, but many people talked. At 7:30 I listened to Philip's piano showtime of jazz and classical standards. For his finale he too chose to play Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, so I slipped out early.

   At 8:30 I dined on the singles table in the Umi Uma Japanese speciality restaurant sat with French Annie from Vancouver, oriental William from Calgary and Dean the Quantas executive from Sydney. Dr Mark Piehler from Colorado had ducked out when he went for an early dinner in the main dining room instead. I began with the mushroom soup served in a teapot, continued with the salad, enjoyed the wagyu fillet steak from Australia, regretted the whisky cappucino dessert and finished with FOUR florentines that the others didn't want! I then danced from 10:10 until 11:10 back in the Starlight Club with only a ten minute intermission. Back in my stateroom, I went to bed at 11:15.


Sixth Sea Day, River Amazon - Saturday the 24th of November 2018

   I got up at 6:45 and updated this blog, before having a scrambled egg breakfast, sat with Dr June & Linda. The self-service buffets had now been re-instated. When Kathleen arrived, I slipped away to do my ironing. At 10 o'clock I went to Stephen Cole's talk on Iran, but I fell asleep in the middle. At 11 o'clock I listened to Jean-Michel (son of Jacques) Cousteau who talked in between short DVD clips. When he started taking questions, I slipped out for a cheeseburger and small fries without bread. I then slept for two hours.

   At 2:30 Curtis & Beverly taught the Night Club Two-step as quick, quick, slow (1&2 3&4, not 1 2&3). They did the whisk basic, the underarm turn, the cross body turn and the right hand / left hand turn. All very complicated for me and my three partners: Caroline from Cork in Ireland, Pam the stomper and Sharon from Iowa. I did six lengths of the pool as usual, followed by fifteen minutes in the jacuzzi. We danced before dinner in the Starlight Club, with a magnificent sunset over the mouth of the Amazon as we turned north for home.

   I dined on the filet mignon at table 51 with the usual crowd plus Thelma from Cairns, Connie from Arizona and Carolyn from Palm Desert. We danced again after dinner, but I slipped out at 8:25 five minutes before the end to go to the Hollywood Theatre cinema to watch the brilliant "Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again" sequel (or was it a prequel?). When the film finished at 10:10, I returned to the dancing for one more set until 11:20. I finally got to sleep at 11:45, perhaps my latest bedtime so far!


Seventh Sea Day, North Atlantic off of the Guianas - Sunday the 25th of November 2018

   I awoke at 7:15 and joined Linda & Dr June for my usual breakfast. On the way in Kris Majdzinski, formerly of Saga Shipping Company, greeted me. I reminded him that we had sailed together on the Saga Sapphire (SA283) around Jutland in August 2015, when he had been acting captain, after Captain Wesley Dunlop had suddenly left Saga for P&O. I sat out on the aft deck in the eighty degree heat, as Mayori changed my sheets. Back in my stateroom, I updated this blog and checked out my Volcano presentation. At 10 o'clock I went to the talk on Brazilian festivals, including the Boi Bumbá.

   At 11 o'clock we finally had the crossing of the equator ceremony, although we had actually crossed it yesterday morning. Even the Captain had to kiss the fish and be thrown in the pool! At 1:30 I gave my second enrichment talk on Volcanoes for 45 minutes. I then had two scoops of cherry garcia ice cream instead of a late lunch, before sleeping for an hour and a half. Unfortunately this meant that I missed Curtis & Beverly's samba class. I could only manage four lengths of the pool as it was sloshing about badly, before having ten minutes in the jacuzzi.

   I changed into my formal outfit ready to dance at 5:15. At 6:15 I dined on the veal sat with Janet, Thelma, Carolyn, Ian, Ed, Andy & Ted at table 51. At 7:45 we had the Crystal Society loyalty programme party with the Captain, so I missed out on my dessert. I got to do my first Cha cha with the lovely Beverly.

   I was able to grab a couple of fruit kebabs to dip in the chocolate founatain in the Bistro, in lieu of my missed dessert! At 8:45 I went to the first showtime of Broadway musicals. Unfortunately I knew none of the songs from "Something Rotten" and "Rent", but I did enjoy the four standards from "West Side Story". I slipped out just before the end to catch the 9:30 start of the Big Band Jazz session in the atrium. It is difficult to dance to jazz, particularly on a hard, stone floor, but I did dance with Janet, Annie & Sharon. I started a Charleston with Beverly, but this turned into a conga! When this finished and there were only the two Japanese dancers in the Starlight Club, I went to bed. I then watched my Volcano talk on the TV until 11:15.


Eighth Sea Day, North Atlantic off of the Guianas - Monday the 26th of November 2018

   I awoke at 5:30 and couldn't get back to sleep, eventually getting up at 7 o'clock, ready for the scrambled egg breakfast sat with Linda & Dr June. I then worked on my laptop, updating this blog and working on my presentations. At 10 o'clock I went to the lecture on Amazon wildlife. At 11 o'clock I listened to Jean-Michel Cousteau's second talk, which demonstrated a waterproof book made from recycled plastic.

   I lunched on a cheeseburger with small fries, but not bread, at noon in the Trident grill, before sleeping for an hour and a half. At 2:30 I went to Curtis & Beverly's American Tango class where I danced with Sue, Tracey and Grace. They taught the Tango basic, the rocks, the cut (Corté) and the promenade with reverse lady's turn! I only managed four lengths of the pool as it was sloshing about a bit and then had ten minutes in the hot jacuzzi. At 5:15 we had the first dance set back up in the Palm Court.

   At 6:15 Janet invited me to join her table for dinner with her friends Cathy from LA and Shar, orginally from Lancaster, but now living in California. We also had ambassador dance hosts Michael and Martin, the latter of whom asked if Judy & John could also join us, so we ended up with a table for eight. I had the surf & turf Mermaid's steak, the latter being excellent, but I didn't care much for the giant prawn. For dessert we had the house speciality, the delicious Salzburg Nockerl alpine meringue peaks again.

   At 8:15 there were only three ladies up in the Palm Court, so I didn't get a look in, so at 8:30 I went down to watch the Jump & Swing showtime in the Starlite Club. At the end of the show we were invited on to the floor, where I danced with Sue (twice), Tracey, Annie, Thal & Connie. I then retired to update this blog. At 9:45 I went back up to the Palm Court for another dance set. When this ended at 10:30, I went to bed.


Scarborough, Tobago - Tuesday the 27th of November 2018

   I woke up early and then dozed until my alarm went off at 6:30. At 7 o'clock I had my cheese omelette with crispy bacon, tomato and hash browns al fresco sat with Pam. I did some laundry, before escorting my fifth choice Tobago Sights & Fort King George tour again ($89). After visiting the fort overlooking Scarborough, we went to Fort James on the other side of the island. We had over half an hour at the Store Bay beach resort, where I wished I had brought my cossie! In Canaan village, we had an African style folklore show with loud drumming, wild dancing and bright costumes. Martin Chow, one of the ambassador dance hosts, joined in the dangerous bamboo dancing! I had two cups of the lovely rum punch, my first of the cruise.

   Back at the ship, I downloaded some of my photographs on to Martin Chow's computer in his stateroom on deck five. I lunched on the mixed grill, before sleeping for an hour and a half. I then walked back into Scarborough to explore the central botanic garden and the new library building. Unfortunately the large market was being rebuilt.

   Back at the ship again, I managed six lengths of the pool, followed by ten minutes in the hot jacuzzi. At 5 o'clock I went to see the Maitre d' to secure my dinner slot. At 5:15 we danced in the Palm Court with the usual suspects. At 6 o'clock I went to the Umi Uma speciality Japanese restaurant for a second time. Just after being seated at a table for one, Thelma came in and I invited her to join me. I had the miso soup to begin, the mixed green salad to continue, followed by the Australian wagyu filet steak and the tapioca & coconut dessert with green tea ice cream, all washed down with Japanese Sapporo beer!

   We danced again at 8:15 and I went to see the excellent in-house variety show, where Briona stole the show with her operatic singing and James from Burnley hardly got a look in. Curtis & Beverly also danced beautifully. Back up in the Palm court there were only four dancing ladies, so I didn't get much of a look in, apart from a proper Cha cha with Saka the tall Japanese lady, so I went to bed at 11 o'clock.


Ninth Sea Day, Caribbean Sea - Wednesday the 28th of November 2018

   I didn't wake up until after 8 o'clock, ready for my cheese omelette with side orders sat with Dr June, Kathleen, Dr Barbara and then Linda. I then worked on this blog, before listening to Astronaut Captain John and TV presenter Stephen. At 1:30 I gave my 45 minute talk on the North Atlantic Ocean. I then had a cheeseburger and small fries with no bread, before sleeping for an hour and a half.

   After six lengths of the pool, I only had time for five minutes in the warm jacuzzi. I danced with eight different ladies (twice each with Tracey & Connie) at the 5:15 dance set. At 6:30 I dined alone in the Churrascaria Brazilian speciality restaurant. I began with the creamy onion soup with warm cheese dough balls, continued with the Parma ham salad and then enjoyed the BBQ sausage, chicken and pork with a baked potato. I couldn't manage the beef! I finished with the BBQ pineapple in cinnamon washed down with a Caipriñha cocktail. I was bloated for the third time this cruise!

   With a gap in the programme, whilst the first show was on, I did some OU work in the computer room. At 8:30 and then again at 10:15, I watched Curtis & Beverly's new dance show combined with Melissa's singing. The latter did Edith Piaf's "La Musica" and also some dancing with Curtis! At 9:15 I went to the combined clarinettist's & pianist's show time, the latter finishing with Billy Joel's "Moving On". The post-dance show dancing went on until 11:20, when I retired for the night.


San Juan, Puerto Rico - Thursday the 29th of November 2018

   I awoke at 6:15, fifteen minutes ahead of my alarm. I had had stomach ache during the night as the rich food had got the better of me, so I had a light al fresco breakfast of strawberry smoothie, Greek yoghurt and orange juice only, sat with Pam the stomper.

   At 7:45 I was on duty in the Starlight Club ready to escort my first choice Casa Bacardi & Old San Juan tour ($139). We drove out to the distillery on the far side of the bay, but had to wait for our little land train to depart. In the interim I had a strong Mojito in the outside bar area, getting to keep four of the acrylic beakers. After a disappointedly short drive around the grounds, we entered the museum complex and watched a short video.

   We continued our guided tour, but didn't see inside the factory. Unfortunately two foreign couples bought engraved bottles of rum in the Bacardi shop, which took half an hour to produce. We then ate our packed lunch as we drove back into the city. We had an extensive tour of Castillo San Cristobal close to our pier number four, NOT the more imposing Castillo San Felipe del Morro out on the point.

   Back at the ship just after two o'clock, I did some laundry and updated this blog. At 4 o'clock I gave my 40 minute talk on Christopher Columbus to a diminshed audience as it was a port day with brilliant sunshine outside! Just before he introduced me, CD Shane asked if I could stay on until New Orleans, but unfortunately I have too many commitments back home in the run up to Christmas!

   People wrote on FaceBook:

    "So good to be in demand"
    "Always nice to be wanted."
    "What a dilemma you have!"
    "That means you'll be coming back. Great job!"
    "That's a shame, I guess you would have liked to stay"

   After the lecture various people came up to me, including Adam from Toronto, who told me about the history of Newfoundland. At 5:15 we danced with the usual suspects in the Starlight club, with Janet giving me a photograph of us two at the last formal dinner. At 6:30 I dined with Keiko and her tall Japanese friend Saka, plus Sharon and Ted in the Churrascaria Brazilian restaurant. We all began with the salad bar, before the BBQ meat started to arrive. I had small pieces of the chicken, beef, pork and lamb, followed by the BBQ pineapple with cinnamon. As usual I had a Caipriñha cocktail, not so different from this morning's Mojito!

   We all danced together again at 7:45 in the Starlight Club. At 9:15 I went to the amusing American comedian who told some naughty jokes and poked fun at some members of the audience. At 10:15 we had the White Ball in the atrium. I had one dance with each of the single ladies present, before slipping out at 11 o'clock when it became a glorified disco.


Tenth Sea Day, passing the Bahamas - Friday the 30th of November 2018

   I awoke at 6:50 but it took me an hour to get out for my usual breakfast, sat with Linda and Dr June. When Dr Barbara arrived I made my excuses and left. At 10 o'clock I went to Captain John's final space lecture. At 11 o'clock we had Jean-Michel Cousteau's final talk with DVD clips which was over an hour long!

   Just after noon I had bits and pieces from the Jazz Brunch Buffet in the atrium. I took my food to sit with Thelma in the main Waterside dining room. I had three pieces of fruit, dipped in the chocolate fountain together with a small strawberry mousse for dessert. I then slept for an hour and forty minutes.

   At 2:30 Curtis & Beverley taught the Bachata basic, underarm turns, cross hand turns, hip turns and cuddles/cradles. I danced with Lucy, Keiko and her taller Japanese friend Saka. I then worked on my final presentation and updated this blog. Unfortunately the swimming pool had been drained for maintenance, so I had to make do with fifteen minutes in the large jacuzzi. At 5:15 we had the first dance set in the Starlight Club. I dined on the proper beef Wellington, sat with Carolyn, Janet, Michael and the other Martin. At 7:45 we had the Captain's farewell cocktail party.

   At 8:45 I went to the Elton John tribute show, sat with Carolyn & Janet again. At 9:45 we had the next dance set back up in the Palm Court. When the quartet took their break at 10:30, I went to bed and was alseep by 11 o'clock in spite of the disco going on beneath my stateroom.


Final Sea Day, passing the Bahamas - Saturday the 1st of December 2018

   I awoke at 7:50, but it was now 6:50 on Florida time. I had my usual breakfast sat with Linda and Dr June. When Dr Barbara arrived, I went back to my stateroom to update this blog and prepare for my final lecture. At 10 o'clock I gave my 40 minute lecture "Talking Rubbish: Plastic in the Oceans".

   At 11 o'clock I listened to the hour long debate on environmental issues chaired by Shane and featuring Jean Michel Cousteau, Stephen Cole & Captain John. We all had polling devices to record our views both before and after the speakers had spoken! At noon I dined on the ham and chips sat with three of the four ambassador dance hosts, except Ted.

   I then slept fitfully for an hour and a bit, before attending Curtis & Beverly's East Coast Swing dance class. We would call this the Ballroom Jive. They taught the basic (1&2 chassé, 3&4 chassé, 5 back, 6 rock), the outside and inside turns, the stop and start, the cuddle/cradle and finally the bum (not hip) bumps! I danced with Sharon, Lucy & Saka. At the end Curtis thanked the four ambassador hosts and me as an honourary dance host!

   I then did half a dozen lengths of the pool and spent fifteen minutes in the jacuzzi, before changing and packing. We danced with the usual suspects at 5:15, before I dined alone in the Prego speciality restaurant. I began with the minestrona vegetable soup, continued with the insalata caprese, had the filet steak and finished with the chocolate cake with pistacio ice cream, all washed down with two glasses of Moretti beer!

   At 7:30 I went to the show which began with Curtis & Beverly's dancing and continued with the funny American comedian. He picked on a lady in the front row who turned out to be Curtis's mother! At 8:15 I went back to the Starlight Club for the next dance set. I then went back to my stateroom to update this blog. We danced again at 9:45 and 10:45, both Tracey and Thal asked me for dances and when the latter left at 11:00, I did too, getting to sleep at 11:30.


Port Everglades, Florida - Sunday the 2nd of December 2018

   The bow thrusters awoke me at 6:10 and I had an early breakfast sat with Linda, Dr June, Janet and Dr Barbara. I then finished packing and worked on this blog, whilst listening to my Volcano lecture on the TV. At 8:45 I adjourned to the Starlight Club and sat with Janet.

   At 9:15 my group was called to disembark. I sat on the coach with Thal for the short ride to the Hilton's Embassy Suites building. Here we had a brunch buffet and I sat with Janet again, until her coach left for the airport. It was too hot outside to go for a walk, except for one circuit of the enticing swimming pool. I enjoyed one small roast beef sandwich, one small turkey wrap, two packets of crisps, half a peanut cookie, one large Danish pastry and two glasses of real lemonade.

   At 2 o'clock I sat with Thal again in the coach for a short ride to the airport. There was no queue for the Norwegian Airline's check in desk, but no complimentary upgrades either! I went for a short walkabout, but it was still too hot outside, so I quickly went through security. The entire body scanner picked up my small plastic pill box in my pocket! I then found a power socket for my laptop and thereby my mobile phone as well.

   At the gate it transpired that we would not be on a Norwegian plane, but on a Wamos A330 (formely Pullmantur, $235 one way)! The plane was less than half full, so I had two empty seats beside me. We pulled back early and took off only five minutes late. My ticket said "Food & Beverages for Purchase", so when the host said "Mr Lee what would you like for dinner?" I said "Nothing, thank you." Later it transpired that a select few people were being given complimentary meals! Nearing LGW I was one of the few to be offered a continental breakfast, but the ciabatta was stale! I slept intermittenely for about six hours of the eight hour flight.


Second Travelling Day - Gatwick & BoMoH - Monday the 3rd of December 2018

   We landed on time, the first flight into LGW that morning. I sailed through LGW, grabbed the £2 meal deal from WHSmith (saving £4.73 courtesy of the WunTu app from the Three mobile network!) and jumped on to my National Express coach. I got home just before noon. I had a siesta for an hour and a half, stayed up until 11 o'clock, then slept for nine hours and the jet-lag was over!


   One lady wrote: "Thank you Martin Peter Lee for your company, dances, lectures and great smiles."

   Another lady later wrote: "Loved the blog....you take detailed notes...great way to remember the trip!"

   Yet another lady wrote: "It was very nice meeting you, and I wish I had been feeling better so that I could have danced with you more often. You are a delightful and very accomplished dancer. Very interesting lecturer as well."

   Martin Chow wrote: 'Thanks for mentioning me in your blogs. I did a quick speed read. All I can say is wow! The amount of details and descriptions to remember are astounding! Just can’t believe you included the dance counts!! Brilliant. Maybe when I “wake up” I will study it like a researcher and gather some tidbits for my “sail-licious” tell-all best seller “My 1st Cruise as a Dancing Gigolo.” Wonderful to have met you.'

Crystal web site


Score card:

14 Dining tables hosted
11 Ports of call
6 Tours escorted
6 New ports
5 Old ports
5 Enrichment lectures
4 Ambassador dance hosts (2x USA, 1x Oz & 1x Can.)
4 Speciality restaurants
4 Dinners in Churrascaria the Brazilian restaurant
2 Dinners in the Umi Uma speciality Japanese restaurant
2 Dinners in the Prego speciality Italian restaurant
2 Dinners in the Silk speciality Chinese restaurant
2 Dance instructors
2 Wash basins
1 Outdoor swimming pool
1 Large jacuzzi
1 Shower
1 Bath

Good points were:

  1. Dining with guests in the main dining room.
  2. Outside double stateroom on deck 7.
  3. Hosting tables in the main dining room.
  4. Dancing with the dance instructress.
  5. Efficient stewardess (Mayori)
  6. Escorting six tours.
  7. Giving five enrichment talks.
  8. Galaxy show lounge orchestra.
  9. Palm Court / Starlight Club quartet.
  10. Two dance instructors.
  11. All inclusive.
  12. Pretzels!
  13. Mini-bar.
  14. Enormous jacuzzi.
  15. Lots of dancing ladies.
  16. Picture Window.
  17. Bath.
  18. Triple aspect Palm court observation lounge.
  19. One large sea water pool.
  20. All round promenade deck.
  21. Luxury dressing gown.
  22. Free lauderette.
  23. Full sized bath.
  24. Two wash basins.
  25. Free ice cream.
  26. Great shows.
  27. Six great tours.
  28. Six new ports.
  29. Free internet.
  30. Free wi-fi.

For the record ...