Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Bermuda - December 16, 2014

Our last port of the cruise. While we always enjoy sea days, I think that everyone on board was ready to actually see land again. For the 1 ½ days we’ve traveled a pretty significant weather system with some rain, but mostly with very strong winds that caused the swells to reach 15 – 20 feet. As a result, the ship has been extremely rocky – they actually closed all of the decks and the elevators yesterday because of the harsh weather conditions. The waves were crashing as high as our cabin on Deck 8.

This morning, however we arrived in the city of Hamilton, Bermuda – where, because of our small size we were able to dock in the middle of downtown Hamilton. Unfortunately, our shore excursion was cancelled due to lack of interest, so we simply got off the boat and wandered downtown Hamilton. What a beautiful city – all of the buildings are painted in wonderful colours from pale yellow to teal blue, but they all have white roofs. The people are very friendly – calling out greetings to us as we passed. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they know you or not.

This is a city that we would love to return to, to discover in more depth sometime in the future. In the meantime – 2 more days at sea and then our cruise is finished.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Sea Days – December 11, 2014

Day 2 at sea and this morning it was finally warm enough to have breakfast on our balcony. After we finished breakfast, we took some shots of the ship’s wake meeting the ocean swells which are about 10 – 15 feet. The blue of the water in the wake is almost turquoise.

This time out, we have learned to play 3 card poker and since we left Rome, we have done extremely well. Some days we are down a bit, but most days we come away with at least what we started with. Today, I won $400.00!!!! It won’t pay for the cruise, but it sure helps.

Madeira – December 9, 2014

After our second sea day, we arrived in Funchal, the capital of the Madeira Islands. These islands belong to Portugal and are also called the “Purple Islands” – probably a reference to the shadows cast by the towering volcanic peaks.

Today’s tour started with a scary drive up the second highest mountain on the island, called Pico de Ariero. This mountain stands 5900 feet above sea level. Two days before we arrived on the island, they had snow up here. When it snows they don’t allow the buses and taxis to drive up the mountain and it’s a darn good thing. Much of the drive up is along the outer edge of the mountain with a view straight down. Most of the trip up, there wasn’t even a guardrail. It was very cold up there – not a place to linger.

On our way back down the mountain, we stopped in the village of Santo do Serra where one of the island’s 2 golf courses is located. Here we were served tea and coffee and traditional Madeira cake.

From there we headed to the Blandy Wine Lodge. Established in 1811, Blandy’s is one of the oldest and most respected producers of Madeira wine. After some wine tasting, it was back to the ship and we headed out into the Atlantic for 6 sea days.