Part 2….Two new exciting bookings…Update on the ailing little bushbuck…

This weekend is Women’s Day in South Africa, which is actually on Tuesday, August 9. For information on the holiday, please click here for last year’s post where we described details regarding this holiday.

Busy morning with ten zebras stopping by for drinks from the pool and pellets.

As for our injured/sick little bushbuck baby that we discovered in the garden yesterday, we received an audio message on WhatsApp regarding her condition. I tried to move the audio to today’s post so you could hear it, but it wasn’t possible to do with my version of WordPress.

As a result, the audio message explained that the issue with the young bushbuck was a hydration issue, resulting in her inability to get up. With the bush sparse in vegetation and the mother unable to eat sufficiently to produce milk, the baby was near starvation. They are bottle feeding her at Dr. Piet’s office, and it’s “touch and go” for now.

If she makes it through the next few days, they will move her to the boma, where she will be nursed to health by Deidre at Wild and Free Rehabilitation Centre until the little one can return to the wild in Marloth Park. Will she find her mother at that point? Maybe, maybe not. It’s hard to say. But, by the time she’s released, she’ll be old enough to eat on her own.

“Why not eat some pellets and get off my feet?”

As for our next booking, we booked another cruise on the Celebrity Summit, which will sail one day after our Azamara cruise from Scotland to Amsterdam ends, which sails on Norway’s north and west coasts. The itinerary for the new cruise is as follows:

Friday, August 18 Reykjavik, Iceland 4:00pm
Saturday, August 19 Isafjordur, Iceland 8:00am 5:00pm
Sunday, August 20 Akureyri, Iceland 7:00am 4:00pm
Monday, August 21 At Sea
Tuesday, August 22 Prince Christian Sound, Greenland (Cruising)
Wednesday, August 23 Qaqortoq, Greenland 7:00am 5:00pm
Thursday, August 24 At Sea
Friday, August 25 At Sea
Saturday, August 26 St. John’s, NL, Canada 7:00am 6:00pm
Sunday, August 27 At Sea
Monday, August 28 Halifax, NS, Canada 7:00am 6:00pm
Tuesday, August 29 At Sea
Wednesday, August 30 Boston, MA 7:00am

The cost for this cruise is US $7280, ZAR 122162, for a two-person balcony cabin, including taxes, port fees, gratuities, drink packages, and WiFi for two. To receive these perks, we had to pay the additional US $1200, ZAR 20135, but overall we saved money doing it this way. We could use only a part of a credit we received from Celebrity when we contracted Covid-19 on the last two days of the most recent cruise from Florida to England.

The reason why we could use only half of the credits we received is due to the fact the credits would expire before the upcoming Celebrity cruise mentioned today. However, they had made a typo on my certificate and listed the expiration date as 2024. But Tom’s certificate stated it expired in 2023 before the sail date. There was nothing we could do. We were grateful we got half due to their typo, but we had to make a fuss about it.

When the cruise ends in Boston, we’ll visit my cousin Phyllis for a few days and then head to Minnesota and Nevada to see more family over a month. During that time, we’ll renew our driver’s licenses in Nevada, our state of residency. Sometime between now and then, we have to renew our passports. It may be required for us to travel to Cape Town or Johannesburg to visit the US Consulate to do so.

One thing at a time: we have plenty to figure out right now regarding getting new 90-day visa stamps to continue using South Africa as a base for this next year when we leave for other adventures.

There’s always so much for us to figure out. I looked at Tom and said, “Do you want to stop traveling?” Immediately, he answered an emphatic “no,” asking me how I felt. I don’t want to stop either. So the challenges of figuring out our travels continue.

Even when the others began to wander away, a few remained at rest.

When we had canceled the three back-to-back cruises due to our inability and unwillingness to mail our passports to a visa service or consulate and be without a key in a foreign country (very risky), to obtain a visa for various countries along the way, we had already paid in full for the first of the three cruises.

Last night, after a fantastic dinner and evening at Jabula with Rita, Gerhard and Lee, we received an email from Azamara. They will NOT give us a refund for the canceled cruise. Instead, they are giving us a future cruise credit that expires in June 2023.

We won’t be able to apply it for the cruise we have booked with Azamara for next August to Norway. We will lose almost US $5000, ZAR 83896, unless we book another cruise on Azamara by June 30, 2023. This infuriated us! We can’t call until Monday evening since their offices are closed over the weekend. We’re trying to figure out what we’ll do. Once we know, we’ll report it here.

We’ve decided not to make ourselves crazy worrying about this until Monday. We’ll still enjoy the blissful weather and visitors who may stop by on this busy holiday weekend. We are grateful we are safe, healthy, and doing well.

Enjoy our photos from the past few days, and have a lovely weekend as well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 6, 2021:

Helmeted guinea fowls were kicking up the soot in the firepit while taking a “soot bath.” For more photos, please click here.

Part 1….Two new exciting bookings…

We’re so excited to have booked another “visa run,” but this time, on November 26, 2022, we’re flying to Seychelles.

Image result for the seychelles
“Seychelles
Country in East Africa
Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. It’s home to numerous beaches, coral reefs, nature reserves, and rare animals such as giant Aldabra tortoises. Mahé, a hub for visiting the other islands, is home to Victoria’s capital. It also has the mountain rainforests of Morne Seychellois National Park and beaches, including Beau Vallon and Anse Takamaka.”
The ship, the Pegasos, can accommodate 44 passengers. Basically, it’s a luxury yacht suited to this number of passengers. In light of Covid-19, they likely won’t be booked to capacity, as has been the case for many cruise ships, big and small, worldwide since the onset of the pandemic.
Passengers are tested twice daily during the seven-night cruise, which gives us peace of mind considering our last cruise experience of contracting Omicron and becoming very sick, especially Tom, who ended up with Covid-19 pneumonia. This smaller ship particularly appeals to us. Below is a photo of the ship:
Note: It appears they spelled both “Pegasus” and “Pegasos” based on English and Greek.
“M/Y Pegasos offers five- and eight-day cruises around beautiful Seychelles, with each option departing from Mahe. Both cruises visit the former leper of the colony of Curieuse, now uninhabited by humans and home to many giant tortoises, Cousin Island, known for its bird life, Aride, and St. Pierre Island. Swimming, snorkeling, guided walks, and an al fresco BBQ are all activities you can look forward to. The shorter cruise ends in Praslin, while the more extended voyage returns to Mahe via Felicite, the charming La Digue, and Moyenne Island.

Renovated in 2016, the M.Y. Pegasos has 21 cabins that can sleep a maximum of 44 people. The twin-hulled vessel has plenty of open space to enjoy the views, sea breezes, and sunshine, and the onboard leisure facilities make it easy to relax and unwind or mingle with other travelers. Sip a drink in the stylish lounge bar, select a book from the library, relax on the sundeck, and rejuvenate in the mini spa. The swimming platform makes it easy to enter the water for a swim. Paid internet access is available. When it comes to enjoying the chef’s tasty culinary creations, you can choose between indoor and outdoor dining areas. Special events, such as a Creole night and live music, add to the fun. Each spacious en suite cabin has a window, air-conditioning, satellite TV, centralized music, and a mini safe.”

A typical cabin aboard the Pegasus.

We won’t need special visas to enter the country but will require a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours before arrival on the ship. This won’t be a problem since testing is still offered in Komatipoort at the lab across the street from Dr. Theo’s office.

This cruise wasn’t as expensive as we thought it could have been, considering the small size of the ship, but it was pricey nonetheless. But each time we leave for a new visa stamp in our passports to be able to return to South Africa, we realize there is a certain expense associated with it.
We selected the second category, not the highest since we spend little time in our cabin and prefer to spend our time mingling throughout the cruise with other passengers while enjoying the surroundings and amenities that appeal to us. The cost for the cruise, not including WiFi, is US $7280, ZAR 120861, about US $2000, ZAR 33260 less than many sites listed. We booked it directly through Intrepid Travel at this link. Airfare and tours are extra. We can decide while on the cruise which tours appeal to us.
The dates for this cruise are from November 26, 2022, to December 3, 2022. We paid a deposit of US $1200, ZAR 20099, and will pay the balance on October 1, 2022. Upon return, we’ll have another 90 days until we have to leave the country again, and most likely, we will do an extension at that time. After that, we’ll figure something out.
We are excited about visiting Seychelles which we’ve discussed over the years.  Also, we love being on the water.
Tomorrow, we’ll be back with information on another booking we wrapped up last night. Tonight, Jabula with Rita, Gerhard and Lee!
Have a fantastic day and evening.
Photo from one year ago today, August 5, 2021:
The Imposter, a smaller version of Tiny, who’s yet to appear, is ingratiating himself with us, showing up several times a day. For more photos, please click here.

How do we feel about cruising after getting Covid on a ship?…New video!…

At this point, we have four cruises booked. The first three are back to back, back to back, and back to back for 42 nights on the same ship. We’ve been looking forward to this lengthy and exciting itinerary for a long time. It will bring us back to South Africa via Cape Town a few days before Tom’s birthday and Christmas.

We’ll have kept this house in our absence, preventing us from the necessity of moving into another house when we return, which we may not like as much as this one. As we settle in more and more each day, we’re finding that this is the perfect environment for us. It fulfills all of our needs and desires.

We gave the mongooses Tom’s rib bones from dinner at Jabula and a good-sized portion of Paloney, cut into bite-sized pieces.

It’s not uncommon in Africa for a shortage of electric outlets in houses and for switches for the existing lights to be in odd locations, far from where one might expect them to be. Yes, there were a few workarounds we had to make to make it suitable for us. But, with Louise and Danie’s help, we have it all figured out.

But, in the almost two weeks since we arrived, everything has worked out, and we are as content as we could be in a holiday rental. Subsequently, we have no desire to move to a different house during the year we’ll be living here, except for the trips we must make for visa stamps and, as mentioned, upcoming cruises.

This female kudu jumped over the little fence to get closer to us.

So now, after contracting Covid-19 which we believe was Omicron, and having such awful cases, especially with Tom ending up with pneumonia, we can’t help but wonder what will happen going forward when we begin to cruise again in five months.

When listening to cruising podcasts the past week, there’s a lot of talk about requiring masks to be worn while on board a ship except when eating and drinking, which wasn’t the case on this last cruise when we became infected. But couldn’t one become infected while in the dining rooms with hundreds of guests at any given seating?

Tom walked to the edge of the veranda to offer pellets to the kudus and a few warthogs.

There’s no easy answer, and I must admit, I am concerned about getting Covid again while on a ship. What if we became ill on the first week or two of the 42-nighter? That would be a nightmare. At this point, with cruising rules changing, we can’t be assured we’d get our money back. We’re still waiting on a refund from Azamara for over US $8000, ZAR 122950. This was for the cruise formerly planned to go to Ukraine. We all know what happened there.

We’re hoping that Covid will die down a little more between now and then. But, it doesn’t necessarily look like that could happen. Ah, these times we live in! How peculiar it is!

What a joy when Big Daddies stop by!

Today, Monday is a quiet day. We have no plans other than to cook a roast on the braai, with rice for Tom, avocados stuffed with seafood salad for me, and coleslaw salad. This morning, I made low-carb homemade ketchup, which we’ll use for the roast beef, burgers, and other meats. I prepped everything else for dinner, making it easy later on in the day.

Tom enjoyed his homemade blueberry muffins each morning with his coffee while I’ve been savoring my homemade low-carb blueberry scones, a rare treat to my morning coffee. We don’t eat anything the remainder of the day unless we get starving. We’ll have some meat and quality cheeses to hold us until dinner, but that rarely is necessary.

Rueben and Lonely Girl.

Since Tom lost so much weight and is feeling good, he’s been able to eat the high-carb muffins I made for him using regular flour and sugar. He’s been able to keep the weight off since we arrived. We’ll see how that goes. We both continually strive to keep weight off since we don’t want to have to replace our clothes for bigger sizes, nor do we want the potential health risks of carrying excess weight. It’s a constant struggle when we both love good food so much.

Be healthy and enjoy life!

Photo from one year ago today, June 6, 2021:

Wildebeests in the driveway near the rental car. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…You can run, but you can’t hide…We couldn’t escape it!…

The chef was generous with my lobster portions, considering that’s all I ate, no starters, no salad, no starchy sides, and no dessert. It was delicious.

No, we didn’t wear a mask while aboard the ship. But, we never went into an elevator with more than a few people. We never attended the nightly entertainment shows or daily seminars. We sat at the dining tables for two. However, we did converse with other passengers nearby.

We made many friends and sat next to them at night in the bars, often deep in conversation. We danced, laughed, and engaged in fascinating and often lengthy discussions. We had a fantastic time. We were about to classify this cruise on Celebrity Silhouette from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton as one of our most socially fun and memorable cruises in the past 9½ years since we began our world travels.

It was cruise #25, indeed a worthy milestone, but now, with great disappointment, we’ll remember it as our first cruise as the pandemic was losing ground. Would you believe that we tested positive for Covid on the final day at sea yesterday?

We had a few warning signs but dismissed them, thinking, “Oh no, we don’t have Covid.” First, Tom was eating a lot of bread and often gets acid reflux when eating any foods with gluten. At night, his coughing would stop when he took an antacid, so we never associated it with Covid. He quit eating bread and seemed to improve significantly. We never gave it another thought.

We both often get allergy symptoms with repeated sneezing and occasional runny noses. Again, we thought nothing of it. We felt fine otherwise, especially when it would stop after a few minutes, as it often did.

After dancing at the silent disco on Monday night, we headed to our cabin around 1:00 am. I felt shaky, as if I had high blood pressure. Most people don’t get symptoms when their blood pressure is high, but I do. Plus, recently, Dr. Theo in Komatipoort, South Africa, put me on a newer medication that didn’t keep it as low as my prior medication, which I’d taken for 20 years.

I shouldn’t have switched to the new drug until after we returned. I started it about a month before we left, and all seemed fine, but I was experiencing occasional spikes and planned to discuss this with him upon our return. When I checked my blood pressure on Monday night, it was through the roof, and my pulse was very high.

I tried to relax to get the numbers down, but they were too high for comfort, even after a few hours. Luckily, I’d packed my old medication and took my old dose. Everything was normal again a few hours later, but I didn’t feel like myself. I barely slept a wink that night.

Of course, I was anxious about this weird event and attributed it to an excess of dancing and the two glasses of red wine I’d had that night. In South Africa, I only drink very-low alcohol wine produced in South Africa, none of which they had on the ship. But I’d spaced myself and hoped it would be ok. Apparently not, I surmised. Later, I read that Covid can cause a spike in blood pressure and pulse rate in those with cardiovascular diseases, such as me.

Tom’s Baked Alaska made my mouth water, but I didn’t taste it. He enjoyed every morsel. I am always content to “look at it,” so Tom calls me a “food voyeur.”

I awoke early after the awful night, feeling exhausted from not sleeping, attributing my lackluster demeanor to sleep deprivation. On Tuesday evening, I only drank Sprite Zero, and we headed straight to our cabin after enjoying dinner with a lovely couple at the following table, three feet (one meter) from us.

My Fitbit indicated I slept for eight hours on Tuesday night which generally would be sufficient to make me feel great. Wednesday morning, I awoke with a horrific sore throat. It was then that I told Tom I needed to get tested for Covid since the sore throat was a red flag. I headed to the doctor’s clinic on deck 2 wearing my mask.  When the nurse spotted me and asked what my issue was, I explained I needed a Covid test. She sent me back to our cabin and told me to wait until the doctor contacted me by phone.

A short time later, Tom arrived, and I explained we both needed to be tested. Shortly after, the doctor called, asking how we were feeling and our vaccination and booster status. Since July, we’d had both when we returned to the US for a month to see family and be vaccinated.

A few months ago, we were able to get boosted in Komatipoort at the booster station outside the Spar Market. We both felt at ease that we were well protected. But were we?

The doctor arrived at our cabin, fully decked out in PPE, and took the painful swabs of our nasal passages. Tom had the antigen test, and I had the PCR test. At this point, Tom had no symptoms, but I was feeling quite unwell. The doctor called to tell us we were both positive and stay in the cabin an hour later. Guest relations would contact us next with instructions.

They called, telling us to pack everything in our cabin within the hour. We were moved to quarantine level six with all the other Covid patients. I was feeling awful. Packing wasn’t easy, but I muddled my way through it, and an hour later, three fully protected attendants arrived and moved us to another balcony cabin. We walked through the “bowels” of the ship to avoid being near any passengers. It felt weird.

Once situated in the new cabin, which was sparse with the usual toiletries and items we enjoyed using in our prior cabin, the challenge of food and beverages began. It was a total fiasco. They said they didn’t have any Sprite Zero left on the ship. We even had trouble getting sufficient water bottles and ice to get us through the night.

This morning, the coffee and food orders were wrong. Room service couldn’t get our food orders right, and we were sorely disappointed. I wasn’t hungry but knew I needed to eat. Tom was feeling fine. His food order was also a mess. We were ready to get off the ship and to our hotel in Southampton.

Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll share what we plan to do if we still test positive on Saturday, the day we’re required to take a Covid test before boarding the Queen Mary 2. If that’s the case, it will be quite the challenge to see if and how we can change everything. Oh, dear. This situation is indeed a challenge.

We plan to spend the next few days in our hotel room in Southampton (hmmm…sound familiar?) while working on our recovery, eating good food, drinking lots of water, resting, and staying in touch with all of you. We are sitting in the hotel lobby waiting for a possible four hours to get checked into our room. Almost two hours have passed so far. But, as always, we are hopeful.

I am looking forward to lying down. But I put the time to good use, writing today’s post.

We avoided Covid for over two years. Considering the amount of travel we’ve done, we’re lucky it didn’t get us when it was the Delta variant. Now, with Omicron, whichever variant we may have, we hope to recover soon.

Be safe. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 21, 2021:

Many zebra butts were facing us this morning as they clamored over the pellets Tom tossed into the garden. For more photos, please click here.

Two days and counting…Cruise coming to an end…

Note: Due to the ship’s poor WiFi signal, we cannot add captions to today’s photos of Lisbon.

It was another fun night aboard the ship as our days on the cruise ended. We disembark in only two days. This morning we arranged for our last load of laundry to be done, the second free bag of laundry based on our Elite priority club status.

We’ll be extra careful to avoid dirtying any clothes during the three nights at the hotel in Southampton to ensure we’ll have plenty to wear on the Queen Mary 2 cruise beginning on April 24th, sailing back to New York. Once we’re situated at the hotel in Minnesota, we’ll be able to use the hotel’s laundry facilities.

Tonight is a dressy night on this ship, but I have avoided wearing any clothes I designated as suitable for the Queen Mary 2. Tomorrow night, we have to pack as soon as the bag of clean laundry is delivered to our cabin around dinner time. It will all work out well.

The time has gone by so quickly, and of course, we’ve had a fabulous time. It couldn’t have been more rewarding and enjoyable. We’ve met more people than anticipated during the restrictions imposed due to Covid with no “table sharing” in the dining room. But the proximity of the many “tables for two” made conversations flow with ease.

Last night was the final “silent disco” event, and of course, we had another fun and festive evening with new friends we’ve made. We do not doubt that we’ll stay in touch with many of the beautiful people we’ve interacted with during this 13-night cruise. Soon, it’s time to move along.

With the awful WiFi signal, we need to get this post uploaded until the signal is gone entirely, which keeps happening off and on.

We’ll continue to post, but with improved accuracy and consistency, once we arrive at our hotel in Southampton on April 21. Please check back with us each day for updates.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 19, 2021:

Frank and The Misses stop by several times a day, messing with the seed container. They don’t like sunflower seeds, so they pick through the container to toss them aside. The next time we purchased seeds, they were without sunflower seeds. They were much happier. For more photos, please click here.

Three days and counting…The cruise ends soon…Change to today’s port of call…

Inside a shop window in the Azores.

The time aboard the ship has passed so quickly. It’s hard to believe that in a mere three days, on Thursday, April 21, we’ll arrive in Southampton and disembark.

One of our long-time readers and her husband are meeting us for dinner at our hotel on Saturday. They had seen us do the seminar on Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas in 2016. Here is the link to the story about the seminar. We appreciate that they have followed us, and it will be delightful to see them and hear their stories of cruising since they are also cruising enthusiasts.

These unusual-looking trees lined the streets.

I’m a little bit sluggish today. Last night, we had an early night, heading back to our cabin after dinner. I had a hard time falling asleep. I didn’t finally dose off until around 2:00 am and awoke less than five hours later. Perhaps a short nap might be on the agenda this afternoon, perking me up.

Cruising can be exhausting, mainly when we’ve stayed up so late having fun with other passengers in the Martini Ice Bar or the Ensemble Lounge. Frequently, lively music plays in the background, energizing the mood with songs from our long-ago past.

Gonçalo Velho Cabral was a Portuguese monk and Commander in the Order of Christ, explorer, and hereditary landowner responsible for administering Crown lands on the same islands during the Portuguese Age of Discovery. For more details, please click here.

Having friends throughout the world has been a highlight of our world travels. The conversations, the dancing in our seats and on the dance floor, and the engaging interactions with beautiful people we’ve come to know in these few short days leave lasting memories we’ll treasure in years to come. When we look back at all the friends we’ve made while cruising, we realize how vital cruising has been in enriching our lives.

Based on yesterday’s change, we’ll be arriving in Lisbon later than expected due to the necessity of a helicopter picking up an ill passenger who’d had a heart attack. We watched the helicopter approach the ship. Tom was able to take the photo below, but we didn’t see much else.

A decorative miniature train in the town.

The passenger was taken off the ship safely. We’ve witnessed such a scenario on several other cruises in our years of cruising, and it’s always heartbreaking to think of how hard this must be for the patient. I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to be lifted into the helicopter by a metal basket.

The scheduled arrival time in Lisbon was 3:30 pm, but by 4:30, the ship was finally cleared. We will get off the ship to take some photos. We’ve been to Lisbon in the past and will be there again in seven months when we do the triple back-to-back cruises as we make our way back to Cape Town, arriving on December 20, when we’ll fly back to Marloth Park after the 42-nights of cruising. It will be the longest time we’ll have cruised since our first cruise on January 3, 2013.

A pretty boulevard in the town of Ponta Delgada.

We still have some cabin credit left which we need to “use or lose.” Today, I meander down the row of shops to see what appeals to me. I am not much of an enthusiastic shopper these days, knowing I haven’t got room in my bags for anything of any size. Most likely, I’ll purchase a few items for the grandkids.

Today’s photos are the balance of those we’d taken in the Azores a few days ago. We’ll be taking more photos over the next few days.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 18, 2021:

Such cute little creatures who manage to kill venomous snakes. For more photos, please click here.

Too little time to post…More photos from the Azores…

We don’t go on horses and buggies since often the horses are treaty poorly.

Today’s post may result in a shorter cruise time than most. When Tom decided to take a nap, I headed off to Cafe al Bacio for a sugar-free, decaf macchiato, topped with frothed whole cream. As soon as I sat at a shared table, I became engrossed in a beautiful conversation with a lovely woman whose husband was also napping, sharing our world travel stories. What a delightful conversation we had.

Again, last night we stayed out late, not climbing into bed until after 1:00 am (2:00 am with the new time change), and didn’t wake until almost 10:00 am. We missed breakfast entirely and went to lunch in the main dining room.

Decorative arches in the center of town.

The options on the lunch menu were limited for my way of eating, but the chef accommodated me by making two delicious, juicy bunless burgers with a side salad. It was so good, that most likely, I’ll want to have the same thing again before the cruise ends in four days. We can’t believe it’s almost over. The time has gone by so quickly.

We’ve had a fantastic time, meeting more people than ever on any past cruises and making some new friends that we know we’ll hear from in the future. We have been so fortunate to meet an endless array of exciting and fun people during the past nine days of this 13-day cruise.

Me sitting on the edge of a flower garden wearing my new weird sunglasses.

I’ve been able to get in a ton of steps on my Fitbit from just walking around this huge vessel. On a typical day, I’ve walked no less than 5000 steps a day without even trying. If I’d put in a little more effort, I could have easily matched my 8000 steps a day, which I was doing in South Africa only about three weeks ago.

Once we return to Marloth Park, I’ll pick up the pace and get back into my routine. As much as I monitor what I eat at only two meals a day with no snacks, I’ve still managed to gain about five pounds since leaving SA, which I’m sure I will lose in weeks or months to come once we return to our usual way of eating, cooking our meals.

Our ship, Celebrity Silhouette, docked in The Azores.

We’ve probably had a few more drinks than usual as well. I suppose with all of our beverages included at no extra charge. Once we get to Southampton, we’ll reduce our food and beverage consumption comparatively before getting on yet another cruise, the illustrious Queen Mary 2, known for its great food.

Today, as it’s turned out, the ship is making an off-itinerary change due to a sick passenger on board who had a heart attack. Instead of heading directly to Lisbon, Portugal, as our next port of call, we are sailing to the island of Madeira, the distance of which is described as follows:

“The distance from Lisbon to Madeira is 968 kilometers. This air travel distance is equal to 601 miles.”

This change in itinerary results in an enormous difference in the itinerary, as shown in the map below:

Map of Explore Portugal: Porto, Lisbon, & Madeira Island - 14 Days
Madeira is closer to Africa than it is to Portugal. This course change may impact the planned visit to Lisbon. But, of course, the well-being of a passenger is more critical than a port of call.

We have visited Lisbon in the past and have an upcoming cruise that stops in Lisbon. For us, this change is acceptable with us. We hope the sick passenger will receive the necessary medical care in time. We’ll know by tonight how this will work out.

Today a notice was posted in the daily newsletter stating that antigen Covid test kits were available for purchase at US $24.50 each at the customer service desk. In researching the availability of Covid tests, which we need for the upcoming cruise, we discovered that all Covid testing locations in Southampton have closed. There is no place to go to get a test.

The village of São Miguel Island, the Azores.

Instead, our only option to comply with the requirements of a negative Covid test before boarding the Queen Mary 2 on April 24 was to purchase the antigen test, which is allowed for boarding, right here on the ship. Once we enter the port in Southampton, our two test kits will be waiting for us at a designated location. Good thing we checked this out today, giving us peace of mind.

Today, we’ve included a few more photos from yesterday’s visit to The Azores. We’ll be back with more news and photos tomorrow.

Be well/

Photo from one year ago today, April 17, 2021:

These male kudus, when fully grown, may weigh 190 kg to 270 kg, 419 pounds to 595 pounds. For more photos, please click here.

Off the ship today….The Azores…Photos of a quaint town…

A coorful display at Ponta Delgada, the Azores.

More than halfway across the Atlantic Ocean today, we had a port-of-call experience when the ship docked at Ponta Delgada. For details about this island of nine in the archipelago, see below from this site:

“Ponta Delgada (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈpõtɐ ðɛlˈɣaðɐ] (audio speaker iconlisten)lit. '”Thin Cape”‘) is the largest municipality (concelho) and economic capital of the Autonomous Region of the Azores in Portugal. It is located on São Miguel Island, the largest and most populous in the archipelago. As of 2021, it has 67,287 inhabitants in 

232.99 square kilometers (89.96 square miles). There are 17,629 residents in the three central civil parishes that comprise the historical city: São PedroSão Sebastião, and São José. Ponta Delgada became the region’s administrative capital under the revised constitution of 1976; the judiciary and Catholic See remained in the historical capital of Angra do Heroísmo, while the Legislative Assembly of the Azores was established Horta.

The origin of the placename Ponta Delgada (Portuguese for delicate or thin point) was elaborated by the famous Portuguese chronicler, Father Gaspar Frutuoso, who wrote: This city of Ponta Delgada is named for its situation located along with volcanic lands, thin and not too considerable like on other islands, that lead to the sea, and where later, was constructed the chapel of Santa Clara (Saint Clare of Assisi), which was named the Santa Clara point …

Cloudy mountain view.

In 1450, Pêro de Teive established a small fishing village that eventually grew into an urban agglomeration in Santa Clara.

Populated in 1444, the island of São Miguel was a vast territory, with small settlements scattered about, except for Vila Franca do Campo on the central-southern coast and the smaller community of Ponta Delgada. Villa Franca had for many years been the center of the island economically and socially and the seat of the local government, but many nobles and landed gentry despised its subordinate status to the government in that town (originating many conflicts between these inhabitants and administrators in the southern coast). The nobles in Ponta Delgada sent a secret contingent, headed by Fernão Jorge Velho, to meet with King Manuel in Lisbon to petition that the community be emancipated. In Abrantes, King Manuel conferred a foral on 29 May 1507, elevating the settlement to the status of a village (Portuguese: vila).

Celebrity Silhouette docked in Ponta Delgada, Azores.

Then, in 1522 an earthquake and landslide devastated the provincial capital, destroying many of the buildings and killing several people. Ponta Delgada became the only center with an infrastructure to support the Azorean bureaucracy and supplant its important economic links. Quickly, its role changed, and eventually, it was elevated to the status of a city during the reign of King D. João III by decree dated 2 April 1546.

The naval Battle of Ponta Delgada (also known as the Battle of São Miguel) took place on 26 July 1582, off the coast, as part of the 1580 Portuguese succession crisis. An Anglo-French corsair expedition sailed against Spain to preserve Portuguese control of the Azores, which had aligned itself with the pretender António, Prior of Crato, thereby preventing Spanish control (it was the largest French force sent overseas before the age of Louis XIV).

During the 19th century, the municipality experienced its greatest boost of economic activity, with the funneling of citrus exports to the United Kingdom and the growth of foreign-owned businesses in the historic center, many of them Jewish merchants after 1818.[6] As with other centers across the archipelago, the town of Ponta Delgada experienced many of the trends common for the period, including the “greening” of the communities (with the construction of the gardens of António Borges, José do Canto, Jácome Correia, and the Viscount of Porto Formoso, which would become part of the University of the Azores), the construction of many of the ornate homes/estates, the clearing of animals from urban spaces, the opening of newer, larger roadways, the moving of cemeteries to the periphery, and relocation of markets for fish, meat and fruits. Due to these changes, and the growth of the mercantile class, Ponta Delgada became the third largest town in Portugal in economic riches and the number of residents. The poet Bulhão Pato, writing of Ponta Delgada, was surprised by the extraordinary riches of the plantation owners, the “gentlemen farmers” that lived within the urbanized core: exporters of oranges and corn, bankers, investors, industrialists, and shippers, all contributing to a privileged class of economic and social thinkers and philanthropists.

Kayakers in the bay.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Ponta Delgada’s position was relatively high (eighth largest), although the changing importance of rural economies steadily chipped away at its growth. But it remained the central place in the economy and hierarchy of the Azorean archipelago. Consequently, it was at the forefront of political change following the Carnation Revolution. In one such event, property owners and right-leaning farmers challenged the Civil Governor António Borges Coutinho, who was responsible, under the direction of the MFA government, to implement land reforms. The Micalense Farmers’ Protest forced his resignation and inspired a series of terrorist acts that plunged the Azores into political turmoil.[7][8] After a clandestine round-up of arrests and detentions by the Military Governor, the Autonomous District of Ponta Delgada was extinguished, along with the other districts (Horta and Angra do Heroísmo) on 22 August 1975, with the establishment of the Junta Regional dos Açores (Regional Junta of the Azores), the provisional government that assumed the competencies of the administration during the region’s transition to constitutional autonomy.”

We’d considered taking a taxi for the city tour, but we decided to walk when we discovered the village was easily accessible. The air was crisp with a cool breeze, but I was comfortable in a tee-shirt, jeans, and a hooded sweatshirt. Tom brought along a lightweight jacket but never had to put it on.

A play area for kids.

Although not outstanding, the scenery was pleasant, as shown in today’s photos, and we enjoyed the pleasant walk through the quaint village. Although it was a pretty town, it wasn’t an island we’d care to visit in the future. When we compare Madiera, another Autonomous Region of Portugal, we assumed that Madiera, where we stayed for 2½ months in 2014, was much more appealing to our tastes, and we had a fantastic time.

After over a week of sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, it was fun to get off the ship. But, as often is the case, it’s worthwhile to check out various ports of call while we’re cruising to “expand our horizons,” as they say. We’ll reach Southampton on Thursday, five days from today. As mentioned, we’ll spend three nights in a lovely hotel, and then on April 24, we’ll board the Queen Mary 2 to return to the USA.

So far, this has been a fantastic cruise. Before it started, we wondered if being unable to sit at “shared dining tables” would hinder our ability to meet new people. This rule went into place when cruising started up again after the pandemic. But, with the placement of tables for two, we’ve met many wonderful people and made many new friends with whom we hope to stay in touch.

As it turned out, several other passengers on this cruise will also be sailing on the Queen Mary 2 back to the US, some of whom we’ve met. That ship will also have a reduced number of passengers, as has been the case here with only 1288 out of a possible 2888. The Queen Mary 2 has a capacity of 2691, so we shall see how many they actually allow during times of Covid.

Tonight, like last night, will surely be another pleasant evening, during dinner and afterward socializing with a wide array of passengers we’ve met in the past eight days. We certainly enjoy cruising. More new photos will follow tomorrow.

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, April 16, 2021:

Narrow and The Imposter lying close together, appearing to be a two-headed warthog, one head at each end. For more photos, please click here.

Cruise Log…Plus interesting comparison…A fun night dancing…

Lovely Laura, a recent Covid and cancer survivor with an injured knee was such a great sport, dancing with her cane and her doctor daughter, lovely Ciara, at the silent disco. We had such fun with their family!

A few days ago, we mentioned that on our way to Fort Lauderdale from Apollo Beach, we began compiling a list of all of our past cruise sailings, including this Celebrity Silhouette cruise and the upcoming cruise on the Queen Mary 2 upcoming a few days after the end of this cruise.

Me and Tom wearing silent disco headsets listening to two different songs, smiling and laughing all the while. Such fun!

Once we started, we felt compelled to keep going. It proved to be a daunting task with the slow WiFi on the ship. The outrageously slow WiFi and my problems with the letter “L” on the keyboard made the process difficult and time-consuming. Tom knew the bulk of the information off the top of his head, but we couldn’t recall the number of nights of each sailing and searched online for answers.

Marilyn’s beaming face bespoke the fun we were all having!

(I won’t be able to wait to get a new computer until we get the shop card from Costco for this sailing. We’ll be back in South Africa, and it’s too costly and risky to have it shipped from the US to SA). It takes six weeks until we receive the shop card after this sailing.

In any case, somehow, we managed to look up all the information. Here is the list below:

 Cruises since the onset of our world travels, October 31, 2012, to May 1, 2022:

  1. January 2013 – Celebrity Century, San Diego to Florida – 15 nights
  2. January 2013 – Celebrity Equinox, Florida to Belize – off, mid-cruise – 8 nights
  3. April 2013 – Carnival Liberty, Belize to Florida – 5 nights
  4. April 2013 – Carnival Liberty, Florida to Florida – 7 nights
  5. April 2013 – Norwegian Epic, Florida to Barcelona – 11 nights
  6. May 2013 – Norwegian Epic, Barcelona to Barcelona – 4 nights
  7. May 2013 – RC Mariner of the Seas, Barcelona to Dubai – 15 nights
  8. June 2013 – Norwegian Spirit, Barcelona to Venice – 12 nights
  9. August 2014 – RC Brilliance of the Seas, Harwich to Boston – 14 nights
  10. September 2014 – Celebrity Solstice, Vancouver to Honolulu – 13 nights
  11. May 2015 – RC Legend of the Seas, Honolulu to Sydney – 18 nights
  12. January 2016 – Celebrity Solstice, Sydney to Auckland – 14 nights
  13. April 2016 – RC Voyager of the Seas, Sydney to Singapore – 14 nights
  14. July 2016 – Viking Magnificent Mekong, Hanoi to Saigon – 11 nights 
  15. October 2016 – RC Radiance of the Seas, Sydney to Perth – 16 nights
  16. November 2016 – RC Radiance of the Seas, Perth to Sydney – 17 nights
  17. March 2017 – Celebrity Solstice, Sydney to Sydney – 12 nights
  18. April 2017 – RC Explorer of the Seas, Sydney to Seattle – 22 nights
  19. May 2017 – Celebrity Solstice, Vancouver to Seattle – 9 nights
  20. November 2017 – Celebrity Infinity, Florida to Chile – 14 nights
  21. December 2017 – Celebrity Infinity, Chile to Buenos Aires – 14 nights
  22. January 2018 – Ponant Le Boreal, Ushuaia to Ushuaia Antarctica – 16 nights
  23. August 2019 – RC Brilliance of the Seas, Amsterdam to Amsterdam – 12 nights
  24. October 2019 – Celebrity Silhouette, Southampton to Fort Lauderdale –  13 nights
  25. April 2022 – Celebrity Silhouette, Fort Lauderdale to Southampton – 13 nights
  26. April 2022 – Cunard Queen Mary 2, Southampton to New York – 7 nights
  • Total number of nights since the onset of our word travels: 3469
  • Total nights spent aboard ships – 326
  • Percentage of time spent on cruise ships: 9.4%
  • Comparison: Total nights in lockdown in India: 290
  • Percentage of total travel: 8.3%

It’s interesting to us to see our statistics. We were surprised by some of the above information. As we move forward to more booked cruises in the future, we will continue to update the cruise list factoring in new numbers of days and pertinent facts as indicated here.

Tom pretended to be playing a keyboard while rocking to the music.

On another note, last night, we had a blast! It was “silent disco” night where we wore headsets with three channels, each playing changing songs with lights indicating which channel we had set: red, blue, and green. Passengers wore headsets,  dancing to the songs they were playing at the time, and yet the room was silent. It’s hysterical and such fun. We met many people and had so much fun! Today’s photos indicate some treasured moments of the night.

Passengers of all ages participated in the event.

We didn’t fall into bed until almost 1:00 am. We’re docked in Bermuda, but the weather is horrible, and we don’t have proper clothing to stay warm enough out there. The wind is comparable to a monsoon. We’ve been to Bermuda in the past and are content to stay aboard, with many of the passengers doing the same. Today, we’re chipper as we can be and are looking forward to another fantastic day on the ship.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 11, 2021:

We were happy to see bushbuck Torn Ear return to the garden. For more photos, please click here.

Covid protocols while out to sea…

Port Everglades as the ship began to journey out to sea.

It’s going well. We are enjoying the cruise, meeting people, and dining last night with readers Nancy and Bill in the Cuvee Main Dining Room. It was delightful to chat with this lovely couple, frequent travelers and cruisers who served as an inspiration for us.

Nancy and Bill are more than 12 plus years older than us and are mobile, active, and fit seniors who continue to thrive as travelers and property owners in the Villages senior community in central Florida. It was interesting to hear about their lives in the massive community geared to active, social seniors with ease of living with everything right at their fingertips.

Although we listened attentively to the nuances of that lifestyle, we realized it is not for us when the time comes that we may need to settle down. But, we were thrilled to know how much they are enjoying their lives, taking advantage of many experiences generally associated with the younger generation.

This young woman has a beautiful voice and offered pleasing entertainment in Cafe al Bacio while we worked on yesterday’s post.

By 10:00 pm, we were back in our cabin. I’d slept poorly the previous night, our first night at sea, and desperately needed a good night. There was nothing about the ship or sailing that kept me awake. Most likely, my excitement to be traveling again kept my mind spinning at a feverish pace. Covid has undoubtedly impacted our travels over the past few years.

Now, back out to sea with minimal Covid protocols, we are experiencing an entirely familiar perspective from a few years ago, long before the pandemic. Less than one out of 50 passengers  (from what we can determine) are wearing masks. All staff, including entertainers, are masked at all times.

Last night, Tom’s apple crumble dessert in the Cuvee dining room on deck three.

We can only pray that no one gets sick on this ship, but like many other cruise ships at sea at this time, there is often a breakout at some point. We are as careful as possible, avoid group events, do not shake hands or hug, and frequently wash and sanitize our hands.

There are sanitizing stations at the entrance and exit of all restaurants and entertainment venues and two little bottles of hand sanitizer in each cabin, one of which we carry with us at all times. Elevators are limited to four occupants, but that’s easy to accomplish with the small number of passengers.

This little bottle of hand sanitizer left in our cabin is small enough to fit into a pocket. We carry it with us everywhere we go; we wash our hands frequently. My cup of herbal raspberry tea and my eyedropper bottle of liquid sweetener is to the right.

We have peace of mind with only 1288 passengers aboard this ship, which usually accommodates 2886 passengers, with a crew of 1250. It’s no wonder we are getting such exemplary service when there are almost as many crew members as passengers.

There’s been no mention of onboard Covid tests, which may occur further into the journey. We’ve only been sailing for less than two days, with 11 more to go. But, as is the case for most cruises, the time flies so quickly that suddenly it’s over.

A typical morning at Cafe al Bacio on deck five, where we always sit to do the post and research each day while sailing on this class of ship, referred to as Celebrity Solstice class. Although this is the Silhouette, its design is identical to several other Celebrity ships, making the layout very familiar to us.

We wouldn’t be interested in sailing permanently, which we’re often asked. We wouldn’t want the novelty to wear off. The occasional cruise keeps the experience fresh and anticipated on every occasion.

Today is another sea day as we make our way to Bermuda, arriving tomorrow morning. The seas are a little rough, but no one seems worse for the wear and is walking and active about the ship. As always, both Tom and I revel in each other’s companionship and cheerful dispositions, making cruising all the more pleasurable.

Please check back tomorrow when we’ll be posting the detailed list of every cruise we’ve been on since the onset of our world travels in 2012.

Thank you again for all of your kind wishes and supportive comments. It wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without all of YOU!!!.

Photo from one year ago today, April 10, 2021:

We shot this photo from the veranda of the Mugg & Bean Restaurant in Lower Sabie in Kruger National Park. Mom and baby elephant are munching on the vegetation. For more photos, please click here.