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.

Ten things we don’t like about cruising…Funny warthog behavior…

A warthog named Busybody noticed the pellets we’d set on the railing for the kudus.

Each morning when I am getting ready for the day, I take my phone into the bathroom and listen to podcasts. Lately, with our interest in cruising, I have been listening to two podcasts; one is La Lido Loca, and two is Cruise News. The podcasters of both of these shows are highly knowledgeable, albeit a little goofy, and stay up to date on what’s going on in the cruise industry, including realistic and straightforward observations on the good and the bad of cruising.

Busybody made himself comfortable in the awkward position and devoured the pellets.

This morning, on La Lido Loca, the podcaster discussed ten things he hates about cruising which prompted today’s topic from our perspective, which may be different from his in some ways. Right now, we must admit, we’re a little apprehensive about cruising with constant changes in policies, pricing, and itineraries.

Untypical for warthogs, Busybody got up on his hind legs to reach the pellets.

Also, recently contracting Covid-19 on a cruise may have impacted our view of cruising, at least for the time being. Our recent cancellation of the 42-night triple back-to-back cruise left a bad taste in our mouths when we’d have had to snail mail our passports to a US company to get visas for various countries’ ports of call. This impossible situation gave us no alternative but to cancel the entire booking, losing more money in the process. We’re tired of losing money on cruises with policy changes, leading us to point #1.

TEN THINGS WE DON’T LIKE ABOUT CRUISING

  1. Cruise lines making changes regarding an itinerary, which may be beyond their control, such as the war in Ukraine but failing to provide full refunds for deposits and final payments.
  2. Cruise lines do not provide clear and concise visa requirements at the time of the booking.
  3. Inconsistent Covid-19 requirements and protocol. Poor treatment of infected passengers during their quarantine period in the cabin.
  4. Failure to compensate passengers for travel expenses when a cruise is canceled last minute. Travel insurance prices have increased since the pandemic, preventing many travelers from making a purchase.
  5. Mandatory tips added each day of the cruise. Why can’t passengers tip for good service at their discretion? How do we know how the mandatory tips are distributed? We have no problem tipping but employees should be paid sufficiently. We never remove the mandatory tips (which can be done). Some cruise lines include tips in the fare pricing as a perk, which is preferred.
  6. Constant promotion to passengers during the cruise to pay for additional services that aren’t included in the basic cruise fare.
  7. Outrageous WiFi fees for their poor quality connection. We need WiFi during cruises. We understand service may be slow at certain points. But, failure to upgrade their often antiquated systems and expect passengers to pay is frustrating.
  8. Pre-cruise long hold times on the phone when calling with questions. Slow response time from cruise lines when making email inquiries.
  9. Long waiting periods for refunds, when they are allowed
  10. Errors on bills. If we don’t check our TV bill daily, we miss incorrect charges. Customer service is good about reversing such charges when they are found. Passengers must take the responsibility for frequently checking their account charges.

When listening to the podcast today, he’d comment about things other passengers do that annoy him such as “cutting in line” and taking more food than they can eat in the buffet. We don’t pay much attention to what other cruisers are doing, finding most passengers to be friendly and likable and the staff who strive to provide excellent service.

Big Daddy said, “Where are those pellets waiting for me on this railing?” We gave him more, carefully staying back to avoid those massive horns.

We are more interested in how the cruise experience impacts our expectations of quality, seamless situations, safety, and financial equity.

Be well.

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

Tom was not named after this grand uncle. This headstone is located at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Waukesha, Wisconsin. For more photos, please click here.

Harsh reality…Big disappointment…

A hornbill was sitting on the barbwire fence overlooking the Crocodile River.

I don’t know how to begin today’s post other than getting right to the point. We are sorely disappointed to have had no choice but to cancel our triple back-to-back cruises for 42 nights, beginning on November 8 and ending in Cape Town on December 20, 2022.

Azamara Cruise Line was vague about how we were supposed to get visas for the cruise. After numerous calls and email messages, we were directed to Visa Central, which handles acquiring visas for cruise passengers. But, for us, we ran into a huge obstacle.

Another hornbill.

Passengers can use Visa Central, living in the US and other countries. Still, to acquire the several visas needed for this long journey, they must send in their actual passports, which will be snail-mailed back to them when the visas are issued, with the passports stamped by the various embassies.

After considerable research, we found the facts and how they would apply to us. We cannot mail our passports to the US while living in a foreign country, leaving us without passports in our possession. This is foolhardy and impossible for us, especially during these trying times. One never knows what could happen, and we’d be left without our passports for over a month. No way.

A hornbill with a left wing askew.

On top of that, the snail mail process from South Africa is cumbersome and unpredictable. Sure, we could use FedEx or DHL, but that wouldn’t solve the problem of being without passports in our possession while here. The only alternative is to return to the US and stay there while the visas are processed and the passports are returned to us.

We aren’t interested in returning to the US right now, especially when the average cost for us to stay there is about US $10,000, ZAR 167992, per month with airfare, hotels, car rentals, and dining out. Plus, with our recent bad experiences, we just aren’t ready to return at this time for this purpose.

Two giraffes on the opposite side of the Crocodile River.

Thus, we had no choice but to cancel all three cruises. Last night we spent over three hours on the phone with Costco Travel, who called Azamara, and there was no solution for us other than to cancel. We’ll lose the US $300 for admin fees for the two cruises and nothing on the third, most recent upcoming cruise, which we already paid in full.

Getting the cash back for the cruise we paid in full is impossible. We have to apply it to a separate upcoming cruise in August 2023, which they’ll do without penalty. Even though Azamara’s website claims, “Cruise with Confidence,” it isn’t as confidence-inspiring as one might think when there are admin fees we have to pay.

This Cape buffalo was out like a light.

We had inquired about getting the visas a long time ago when we first booked the three back-to-back cruises. But, Covid-19 repercussions were still prevailing, and answers were vague and unsatisfactory. We figured we’d wait it out but never figured we’d ultimately have to cancel.

We are very disappointed. This was going to be one of the most exciting cruises out of the 27 cruises on which we’ve sailed over the years. Plus, we loved the idea of keeping this house for the six weeks we’d be gone and returning to Marloth Park on December 20, 2022, only three days before Tom’s 70th birthday.

Another Cape buffalo in deep repose.

Now, we’ll have to come up with a new plan to be able to get yet another visa stamp for that period. We’ve started researching other places in Africa we can visit when we need a new stamp in November. Also, we may decide to file for another extension using the law firm. We’ll see how things roll out. With so many flight cancellations right now, we have to give this some serious thought.

All of this can be directly attributed to Covid-19. Several countries we were scheduled to visit on the cruises previously had e-visa options for travelers. Now with all the issues due to the pandemic, many countries are reverting to more stringent requirements for tourists to acquire visas to visit their countries. Once again, we are caught up in the mess, costing us money and plans.

Two Cape buffalos were lounging on the bank of the river.

Looking on the bright side, we couldn’t be in a better place to figure this all out. We love our house, our friends and the amazing animals visiting us daily. We’ll continue to look to the future to see where and when we can travel. The challenges? Well, they just “go with the territory.”

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 7, 2021:

Tom’s new Samsonite leather computer backpack that he purchased a year ago while we were in the US. For more photos, please click here.

Coldest night so far…Another fun anniversary to celebrate!!!…New photos from nighttime trail cam and more…

Today, we celebrate 31 years since we met in 1991. This is our last selfie, taken at the silent disco on the cruise in April 2022, the night before we both developed symptoms of Omicron. We are grateful to have recovered and, of course, to be together through all the ups and downs of being home-free, storage-free world travelers for almost ten years. That special anniversary is upcoming on October 31!!!

The aircon units used in bedrooms here can cool in the hottest weather and warm when it’s cold. We’ve never used the heating feature since we feel we don’t need to waste the electricity required to power the heating aspect of these units. Instead, we bundle up in warm clothes and, at night, sleep with layers of blankets we can strip off if necessary.

It’s incredible how much our body heat warms the bedroom at night. We noticed it when we left the bedroom at night to get something from the kitchen. We have never turned on the heat while in South Africa.

Last night at dinner, while seated at the dining room table (it was too cold to eat outdoors), my fingers were as cold as they would have been outdoors in the middle of winter in Minnesota. Holding them under warm water for a few minutes solved the problem.

Later, fully dressed, we got under the two top layers on the bed to watch a movie, one Tom hadn’t seen years ago, and now I know why. It was Armageddon, a movie I’d seen once and recalled, like the adventure of a disaster movie. The past few years are reminiscent of movies I watched about pandemics. Isn’t it ironic that those movies have come to us in the form of real life? I sure hope no massive asteroid start hurdling toward earth!

According to many news reports we read from time to time, we face disasters, right and left. Sometimes, I find it best not to read those articles. One can become anxious and depressed over such news. We both choose to embrace the positive aspects of life. Negative thinking can quickly impact one’s quality of life and health.

That doesn’t mean we are oblivious to what’s happening globally and even locally. We stay aware enough to tweak our lives as needed to consider the challenges such as using less fuel, not being wasteful, recycling, and being mindful of using products and services we don’t need. This also means tightening our budget as needed in tough economic times.

Last night, after two hours on hold with Costco Travel about finally receiving our over the US $5000, ZAR 79,318 credit from Azamara from us canceling the Black Sea cruise when the itinerary was changed due to the war in Ukraine. We intended to offset the final payment due at midnight for the first leg of the upcoming cruise in November for the triple back-to-back from Athens to Cape Town.

Why should we pay in advance when they owe us so much money? Luckily, after being on hold for two hours, the Costco rep finally got through to Azamara and resolved the issue. They credited us over US $5000. We’ll pay for the second leg in a few weeks and the third, weeks later.

Big Daddy gracefully stepped over the fence with his long legs.

This particular triple back-to-back is very expensive, much more than we’re usually willing to spend. But. It’s an almost entirely new itinerary for us, seeing countries we may never be able to see again, and we decided to bite the bullet and book them. Of course, we are concerned about getting Covid-19 again, based on our recent bad experience. But, we’ve chosen not to live our lives in fear, preventing us from new experiences.

We hear so much about people getting Covid-19 on cruise ships. But, if we were to research other venues and circumstances, people are still getting sick from different scenarios. That doesn’t mean we are careless and unconcerned. It simply means we’ve decided to move on and resume our world travels more expansively.

This evening, the two of us will celebrate the anniversary of the day we met 31 years ago, on June 28, 1991. We are grateful to be together after all these years, still in love and blissfully interested in one another.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 28, 2021:

Thick Neck stopped by frequently at our last house, but we’ve yet to see him here. Maybe one day, soon. 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.

WiFi outage announcement…Covid on the ship…Greatly improved dinner!…

My NY strip steak was cooked perfectly rare and was flavorful.

Two important notices today:

  1. We could not upload a new post for the past few days due to a WiFi outage on the ship. This morning it was working again.
  2. The automatic email messages may not work, and due to the poor WiFi connection, there is no way I can focus on this while cruising. We may not be able to work on this until we return to South Africa after May 25th. In the interim, to see the new daily post, please set a bookmark for: www.worldwidewaftage.com and click on it daily. Once I complete and upload each new day’s post, it will be there.

    My generous portion of shrimp cocktail minus the sauce.

After Tom checked out the various posts on Cruisecritic.com, he noticed that a passenger on this cruise wrote there was one case of a passenger with Covid on the ship. Also, the pastry chef and his sous chefs all have COVID and are in isolation.

At this point, there’s been no mention if it’s Omicron or another variant. Nor have we heard anything about Covid during the Captain’s daily announcements. We can only wait and see what happens and continue to exercise caution to our ability.

Delicious salad with cheese.

I was enthused to post new food photos since the dining room manager, and the chef promised to improve the quality of my meals. They have done so with considerable aplomb. The past three nights since my conversations with them, they have taken it up themselves to ensure I have consistently good hot, fresh, well-seasoned, and well-prepared entrees suitable for my way of eating.

My steak was indeed prepared rare three nights ago, and the last two night’s grilled seafood platters atop a bed of lightly buttered cooked cabbage were delightful, so much so that I ordered the same meal for three consecutive nights.

Last night was a dress-up night, but I didn’t wear any of my new dresses. I’ve decided to “save them” for Queen Mary 2 when every night is dressed up to some degree. Tom did the same, avoiding wearing his new suit and shirts until the upcoming Queen Mary 2 cruise.

My delectable seafood dinner the past two nights.

Have we been having a good time? Absolutely! Not only are we enjoying every moment together, but we have also met so many people it’s hard to keep track of who’s who. I am slightly better at remembering names than Tom but still struggle to recall the names of everyone we meet.

It’s embarrassing to forget the names of the many lovely passengers we’ve met, and we feel bad when we see them later and are at a loss to recall their names. But, one group stands out in our minds: Ceara, Laura, and Jos, adult daughter and husband, and wife. They are lovely people whose company we’ve thoroughly on many occasions.

Tom’s Bananas Foster wasn’t prepared properly because the pastry staff is in quarantine due to Covid.

A few nights ago, we met two more great couples, all from Boston, near where I was born. The “boys” sat in a huddle and chatted while us three “girls” did the same. We didn’t head up to our cabin until 1:00 am.

The past few mornings, we slept in, missing breakfast entirely. Instead, we went to the buffet for lunch, but neither of us enjoyed the items we selected. With a one-hour-forward time change, by the time we got ready for bed the past few nights and finally dozed off, it was going on to 3:00 am, the new time.

We are scheduled to arrive in the Azores and Portugal over the next few days, hoping to get off the ship in each location, depending on weather conditions.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 13, 2021:

Another kudu with three oxpeckers on her back and neck. They often manage to photobomb our shots. See the warthog checking out the action for the photo. For more photos, please click here.