DAY 39

April 18th

At Sea

We needed a sea day after back to back ports. Although there was quite a heavy swell, it was not too windy on deck, and we spent the day at the Lido pool, swimming, reading, and snoozing in the sun. We decided not to go to any talks or activities, but to devote our time to relaxation. It was a wonderful way to spend the day.

At her noon announcement the Captain said that there were dolphins on the starboard side of the ship. Luckily that’s where we were, so we had a great view of them as we passed them. There had also been whale sightings today, but alas, we didn’t see them. It is always great to see whales and dolphins from the ship, even if they are in the distance.

We did stir ourselves from our sun loungers and meet up with Ricki and David for lunch. We were lucky enough to get a table right at the back of the dining room, so had a great view of the large waves and the wake. We were clearly pitching significantly, but it really didn’t feel bad at all.

Tonight the theme was the Roaring Twenties which is my favorite formal night. Having been spreading black feathers around the ship from my feather boas for the past several years, I decided to purchase a synthetic boa from Amazon for tonight. It worked perfectly – it doesn’t look that bad, and is totally feather free. Clearly there are other feather boas around, as the ship was littered with little black feathers everywhere. The housekeeping staff must not look forward to the Roaring Twenties night.

As I couldn’t get my previous headbands to work with my hair, I bought a new and what I thought was improved one for tonight. Yay! It actually worked, but when I asked Brian if he thought it was too over the top, he nodded, and said it was. So I removed it and headed out into the night without a headband.

Everyone at our table looked great – especially Norman in his top hat! We had a wonderful meal, and are very happy with the orchids we now have on our table. No one else around has orchids so we are feeling very special. We had been planning to steal the large flower arrangement from the hosted table next to us, and swap it for ours, but now with our lovely orchids I am quite happy not to do this. Maybe the staff got wind of our plan, and the orchids are there to avoid an incident in the dining room.

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Tonight’s show was the music and comedy of John Bressler. We were tempted to go, but it also seemed like a perfect night to relax and have a drink in the Commodore Club and listen to the piano. It turned out to be a great way to end the evening, and at midnight we headed down to our cabin, remarking on how we hadn’t actually achieved anything today, but that that was actually OK.

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DAY 38

April 17th

Reunion

VOLCANOES!!!!!!

This was they day I had been waiting for. Karen had organized for Stan, Brian and I to do a tour of the Piton de la Fournaise volcano on Reunion with Evarun Excursions. I am a HUGE volcano fan, so I had been getting more and more excited about our tour.

Finally the day arrived, and I was up early to see us dock. We met up with Karen and Stan and headed ashore at 7:30. Early for me, but I didn’t want to waste a minute. We had thought that we were sailing at 5:00, so the original plan was to return to the ship at 4:00, but the Daily Programme said we were leaving at 4:00, so clearly 4:00 would be a problem.

The port itself looked like any other cargo port, except there was a shuttle bus that took us to the small terminal where we met up with Stephan, our driver in his air conditioned Mercedes minivan. We were clearly going in style.

In contrast to the bad traffic in the Seychelles, and the even worse traffic in Mauritius, straight after leaving the port we were on a motorway, and speeding along to St Pierre. Although there was a bit of a traffic back up going in the other direction, our road was clear and we were soon out of the built up area and driving along the coast through fields of sugar cane, with the peak of Piton des Nieges on our right.

At the town of St Pierre we turned off the motorway, and headed to the village of Tampon. Again, the road was in excellent condition. We realized that as much as we had liked the Seychelles and Mauritius, Reunion seemed to have a far superior infrastructure, and although I would not have thought it possible, was an even more beautiful island.

In Tampon we stopped for a bathroom break and Stephan bought us coffee and hot chocolate from a vending machine, which just hit the spot.

Soon we were heading away from the coastal sugar cane fields and into an agricultural area with herds of cattle. As I sipped my hot chocolate I asked Stephan whether they were dairy or beef cows, and he said they were both. He then went on to say that he never drinks milk from cows on the island as they are all very diseased and full of antibiotics, and he drinks powdered milk from France. All of a sudden I was not enjoying my hot chocolate quite as much.

As we drove up the mountain we left the diseased cows and their green fields behind, and were soon in a thickly forested area.

The higher we went the vegetation changed to scrubby heather,

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and the blue skies above us disappeared and we were soon in thick mist.

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We emerged from the mist, and there was the blue sky again, and we saw that we were now above the clouds.

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Our first stop was at the magnificent valley of the Riviere Des Ramparts, the floor of which is covered with lava from prior eruptions.

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Our next stop was at Le Cratere Commerson which is part of 3 craters created from an eruption about 2000 years ago, and dominates the Riviere Des Ramparts.

We continued climbing higher and higher until we reached the Plaine Des Sables, where there was absolutely no vegetation at all.

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We drove down into the plain, and the road deteriorated from being a magnificent tar road, to being a rutted dirt track. This is because the conservationists have prevented the road being tarred, but Stephan said that he thinks the dust from the cars, and the erosion from rain actually does more damage to the environment than a tar road would. In any case the road becomes impassable during the rainy season, and it was tremendously difficult to navigate even when dry.

We slowly bumped along until the end of the plain, where we were back on tar road again, and able to drive up to the rim of the crater. The volcano is very active, and the last eruption was on April 4th. Unfortunately it was sleeping today, and there wasn’t even a whiff of steam, let alone a shower of lava. Still, it was a very beautiful large crater and we spent a long time at the rim taking photos and marveling at the sight below us.

Then it was time to head back towards the ship. We had decided to forgo a stop for lunch, and to take a leisurely drive up the west coast instead. This was a good choice as the coastline is spectacular. There are several sandy beaches interspersed among the rocky shoreline.

All along the way are little seaside villages with some great looking shops and restaurants. It looked like a really great place to go on holiday.

We were back at the ship by 3:30, and we spent some time in the terminal looking at the souvenir stalls. We ended up buying T-shirts, and then we wandered towards the shuttle bus. There were some musicians and dancers there, and they were having a break and handing out some little cakes. Not having had any lunch I devoured their offerings, and declared them to be quite tasty.

Back on board we headed to the Lido Pool to watch the sail away. Synergy was playing as usual. Normally I can’t get Brian to come to a sail away if the band is playing because a few years ago another band, Xstasy (?Xtacy) were playing Caribbean music on the QM2 when we were sailing away from Southampton. He felt that that was fine for a Caribbean cruise, but not for leaving Southampton in the rain while we were waving our little Union Jack flags. He wanted proper British music like you used to get on QE2.

Nowadays he often avoids the sail away parties as we have our play list of British sail away music which we play on our balcony instead. However, as I really wanted to be out on deck, I reassured him that British music would not be the politically correct thing to play as we left Reunion, and that they were very unlikely to just play Caribbean music.

It started off well with Synergy playing some rock music, but then things deteriorated, and despite my reassurance, they started playing “Hot Hot Hot”, and things went downhill from then on. Luckily it was a perfect sail away otherwise, so I was able to keep him on deck until the island disappeared into the distance.

Our idea of sail away music:
QE2 horn (?whistle)
Rule Britannia
See the Conquering Hero Come
Pomp and Circumstance
Nimrod
Jerusalem (my all time favorite)
Zadok the Priest
Calm Seas and Prosperous Voyage
Fantasia on British Sea Songs
The British Grenadiers
Crown Imperial, A Coronation March
Heart of Oak
Trumpet Voluntary
I vow to thee
HMS Pinafore Overture
Horn Pipe
God Save the Queen

And when we sail from Liverpool we add:
You’ll Never Walk Alone
Ferry Cross the Mersey

The entertainment tonight was Philip Hitchcock, a magician we have seen before, but he never fails to amaze us with his tricks. One of my favorite tricks is when he climbs into a large balloon and bounces around the stage. It really is very, very, silly – but I can’t stop laughing.

DAY 37

April 16th

Port Louis, Mauritius

When I went to get my usual breakfast of toast and Marmite, horrors, there was no Marmite! The waiter told me that he thought they had run out of Marmite, but there was plenty of Vegemite instead. I gave him a look, which I think he understood as fighting words, and off he disappeared, returning some time later with a new jar of Marmite. Crisis averted.

We were docked in the cargo port, so no cruise terminal in sight. No free wifi, ATM, or currency exchange. Also no welcome singers and dancers, or souvenir stalls there.

I booked a day tour with Mauritius Attractions so we could explore the southwest corner of the island, and had asked Dan and Irene to join us. We walked to the port entrance gate to wait for our driver. He ended up being a little late as he had gone to the wrong port, and was surprised not to find our ship there. So next time we are in Mauritius and we book a tour, I do need to check where the ship will be!

Traffic was horrendous in Port Louis, and it took us about an hour to get out into the countryside. Once out of the city we had a pleasant drive through sugar cane fields and small villages. Our first stop was at the Slave Route Monument, which is in a lovely shady field, across the road from the ocean. It is a somber place, but there are several very beautiful modern statues there depicting the runaway slaves. It was very peaceful.

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We then drove along the coastline to a viewpoint where we had a chance to see the beautiful coastline, and we then headed into the interior of the island.

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Our first stop was at the 100 m high Chamarel Waterfall in the beautiful Ebony Forest. The waterfall is formed by the confluence of 2 rivers, the St Denis and Viande Salee plunging down into the gorge to form the river Baie du Cap.

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A short drive away is the 7-Colored Earth. It is a small area of totally bare landscape located within the dense forest. It was apparently formed by volcanic rocks that cooled at different temperatures and then were pulverized into sands with various shades of red, brown, grey and purple. Over the years rain has carved the area into beautiful patterns of many colors. Unfortunately it was a very cloudy day so we didn’t see it at it’s best, but apparently in sunny weather it is spectacular.

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They also have giant tortoises there, which was a nice surprise.

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We left the forest and drove to the Maconde View Point which gives you a wonderful view of Baie du Cap and the south coastline of the island.

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Then it was time for lunch at the Varangue Sur Morne restaurant which is nestled high up in the Black River Mountains. Unfortunately our visit coincided with the invasion of several Cunard tour buses, and we had to wait until the hordes were fed before we could get our meal. We were able to sit and look at the view while we waited, but the delay meant we could not get to all of the sights we had planned to see.

The meal was actually very good, and we were serenaded by 2 charming guitarists. It would have been a wonderful experience had we not been in a rush to see everything we could before heading back to the boat.

After lunch we drove to the Black River Gorges, and stopped at a viewpoint to see the gorges and the Alexandra waterfall.

We could not possible have a temple free day, so our next stop was at the Lord Shiva statue and Hindu Temple. The statue is 33 m high, and we were told is one of the 50 highest statues in the world.

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The temple complex is situated around a crater lake, the Grand Basin, and it is said that the water communicates with the waters of the Ganges in India. Anyway, it is a very holy place, and along with the huge statue there are many smaller statues of various deities, and temple buildings around the lake. It was an interesting mix of brightly colored statues and buildings, and we would have liked to be able to spend more time there, but time was fleeting and we needed to move on to our next stop.

Our final stop of the day was at the Trou aux Cerfs crater which is 85 m deep and 200 m wide. It was formed millions of years ago, and is “the most famous crater in Mauritius”. Apparently on a clear day you can see Reunion Island from here, it was raining, we couldn’t.

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Then it was time to face the traffic and head back to the ship.

Our driver dropped us off at the port gate, and it was a short walk to the ship. Mauritius certainly is a very verdant, beautiful island, with fabulous looking beaches. We had had a great day.

Back on the ship I headed straight to the pool and avoiding the huge puddles on deck (it had been pouring with rain during the afternoon), settled in to read my book and cool off in the pool. Brian, the good lad that he is, headed off to the gym.

Synergy played again for our sail away, and in no time we were out to sea again, and it was time to get ready for dinner and another fun night on board. I am so getting used to the good life!

DAY 36

April 15th

At Sea

It was a dark and stormy day.

When I awoke this morning we were finally experiencing some pitching and rolling. Nothing too major, but at least we know we are on the ocean and not on a river cruise. It really had been feeling like the latter so far. I am happy with the extra motion, but I do feel sorry for those passengers for whom pitching and rolling are a problem.

The weather was not conducive to sitting by the pool, so we went to the Commodore Club to catch up on emails and read. The place was packed. They now serve coffee and donuts there, which seem to be a great success. I was happy to have my Coke and sit watching the passing storms go by. There really is quite a swell, but as always our magnificent ship is handling it very well.

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I finished my book, Americanah by my favorite Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and started Cry of the Fish Eagle by Peter Rimmer, an English author who now lives in South Africa. I am enjoying reading African themed books as we sail across the Indian Ocean to South Africa, visiting African islands on the way.

Down in the Royal Court Theatre Nicki Chapman gave a talk on “My life in the Music Industry”, and this was followed by Gavin Robinson speaking on “Game Capture Techniques in Southern Africa”. I know that game capture is a very important part of wild life conservation, but it still seemed to be very hard on the animals. It also looks like it is very hard on the humans too – he kept on showing us photos of helicopter and plane crashes. One thing that looked like a good idea was the capture and release of rhinos to remove their horns carefully and thus avoid poachers taking them, but apparently it doesn’t really work. When the poachers realize they have found a hornless rhino they feel very annoyed, and kill the animal anyway. There just doesn’t seem to be a good economical solution to keeping rhinos safe.

At her noon announcement the Captain talked about the ship’s fuel consumption. Queen Elizabeth does 58 feet per gallon. And I thought my car consumption wasn’t good.

In the afternoon there was an “African Interest Corner” for people who had “lived and worked in Central Africa, especially Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe”. Well I didn’t know that my country of birth, Kenya, was in Central Africa, but we went along anyway. There was actually quite a crowd from several African countries, including Madagascar and Nigeria. I though this was going to be a discussion of how much better things used to be in Africa, but interestingly enough the conversation focused on whether British colonialism had helped or harmed the developing countries. It was quite a lively discussion, with several different opinions expressed in a very respectful manner.

Gavin Robinson, one of today’s speakers, and his wife Jacky were at the meeting, and turned out to be fellow Zimbabweans. We met up with them later for pre dinner drinks in the Commodore Club. It was fascinating learning all about their life dealing with wild life conservation, and coping with the current situation in Zimbabwe. It made us seriously consider Zimbabwe for our next safari.

We have now been on the ship for several weeks and I have failed to drag Brian on to the dance floor. However, after dinner I was able to talk Brian into going to the Party Night with Synergy in the Queens Room. We actually had a good time dancing, and I thought it was great fun. We also enjoyed people watching. There was one couple whose dancing was very acrobatic, and quite unusual. We tried to stay out of their way, as there was a good risk of being injured if one came to close. There was also a gentleman wearing a red bowler hat. I’m not sure how he kept it on his head with his unique dance moves. One must not forget the young couple who were dancing in a very suggestive manner. Quite naughty really. Usually people watching in the Queens Room does not get this interesting.

With a lot of effort I managed to keep Brian on the dance floor until 11:30 when there was the balloon drop. It really is rather silly to watch all of those middle aged people batting balloons around the room, but I think it is tremendous fun. I took one balloon back to our cabin. It popped in the middle of the night, very scary.

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DAY 35

April 14th

At Sea

I do need sea days to recuperate from shore days.

This one turned out to be fairly typical with us spending the morning in the Commodore Club watching us sail through the passing rainsqualls and attending lectures.

I had been looking forward to the talk on artwork and design aboard the great ocean liners, and although it was a good talk, she really didn’t present any novel information. What I did learn was that the new Royal Caribbean ships carry over 8,000 passengers. I don’t know how accurate this really is, but here I am thinking that our 2,000 passengers are a lot of people. I became very side tracked from her talk while I pondered how they got all of the passengers off the ship in tender ports, so she may have said something amazing, but my mind was elsewhere.

Later, when I walked by the line dancing class I was reminded of our driver yesterday who played Country and Western music in his taxi. I wondered if this was because he thought we were Americans, and this would be our obvious preference. Achy Breaky Heart would not, however, have been my first choice as we drove along the picture perfect tropical coastline. His assumption that we were from the US also reminded me of when we were in Dominica many years ago, and we were in a store that displayed a picture of the Queen on the wall. When the shop owner found out that despite our English accents we lived in America, she promptly turned the photo over to reveal a picture of Ronald Reagan. Trying to please everyone.

In the afternoon I tried to download the movie from my video camera to my external hard drive so I could start to work on editing it. I had succeeded with doing this with the video from our September safari, but could not get it to work today. I could download it to the external drive bypassing iMovie, but then I couldn’t work out how to edit it in iMovie. There isn’t enough space on my hard drive for me to download the whole movie to my computer. All in all it was very disappointing, especially as I had previously been able to do this, I am sure. All of a sudden the afternoon was gone, and I was no further along. At least I was able to make a back up of the movie, but if I can’t edit it, it’s kind of pointless. It was soooooo easy on my old computer. I hate the way that new and improved computers only make things more difficult.

All of a sudden I realized that the afternoon had gone, and the sun was setting. No time to walk around the Promenade Deck today alas.

Tonight was another formal night, and I decided to wear my black dress with the blingy bolero. It continues to shed sparkles wherever I go. I had really hoped that by now it would have stopped shedding. Still, if I get lost on the ship I will be able to follow the trail of sparkles back to our cabin.

Most of the Japanese guests have disembarked, so there wasn’t a kimono in sight. I do miss seeing them, and the miso soup and fixings that they had in the Lido. They do still have sushi, but no other sign of Japanese food alas. There must still be some Japanese guests on board though – I was offered a Japanese menu the other night by mistake. I wonder what culinary delights it offered. Or maybe it was just braised beef with Brussels sprouts in Japanese.

I don’t think anyone told the kitchen that it was a formal night as our menu, although very good, was not as special as it usually is on formal nights. Not a snail or lobster tail in sight. No soufflés alas, but there was a good steamed pudding and custard, the type we used to get at school. I still love all of those stodgy puddings.

There is a hosted table next to ours. They have a superior flower arrangement. I had planned to swap our rather pathetic one for theirs, but alas someone was already at the table when I got to the dining room, so I didn’t feel comfortable making the switch. Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow night if we get there early enough.

The hosted table is only occupied on formal nights, and I don’t know if it is because of the free flowing wine, or that the occupants are chosen for their talents of lively conversation, but it is always very noisy. We can hardly have a decent conversation at our table due to the noise, but it is fun eavesdropping on their lively discussions. It is looking very much like we will not be blessed with an invitation to dine with the staff on this voyage, there are only 2 more formal nights left ☹.

After dinner we went for drinks in the Commodore Club with an Australian couple, Iain and Jane, who Brian had met at the single malt tasting. They turned out to be great fun, and it was amazing how many experiences we shared in common. All of a sudden it was 1:30 AM, and they turned up the lights as a not so subtle hint that we should go back to our cabins. It’s been a while since we have been thrown out of the Commodore Club. It felt good.

DAY 34

April 13th

Mahe, Seychelles

When I woke up this morning we were sailing past the smaller islands in the Seychelles. It looked like a beautiful sunny day, and I was soon up and ready to go.

Soon after the ship docked we met up with Dan and Irene and headed ashore. We were docked in the cargo port, so there was no cruise terminal. However, it was only a short walk to the port gate, where there were scores of taxis waiting to entice passengers to take a tour of the island.

The taxi drivers were not as intrusive as those in Malaysia, so you didn’t feel you had to fight them off. We soon found a very nice gentleman named Michel who agreed to take us to the Kempinski Hotel where we had booked lunch and a day on the beach, and then bring us back to the port when we had had enough sun.

The hotel is on the other side of the island, and we had a lovely 45-minute drive along the east side coastline, and through the verdant interior, to the hotel.

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When we arrived at the hotel there were no chairs available by the pool, so we ended up in the shade next to the beach. This actually turned out to be a better position as there were very few people on the beach, and we had a very secluded spot. The pool was somewhat crowded and very noisy, but we had our own little piece of tropical paradise.

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The only issue was that it was a long walk to the bar, but Brian was up to the task of keeping me supplied with drinks that came in coconuts with a straw. We spent the morning reading, and swimming in the warm Indian Ocean. Total bliss. The only problem was passing rain showers. It’s actually OK getting wet when you are in the water or sunbathing, but annoying when your books and clothes end up damp.

There was a set menu for lunch, but each of the choices looked great. Brian had octopus curry, which was a lot more adventurous than I was. I opted for the fish of the day, which was grilled job fish in lime and cilantro with grilled asparagus spears. It was totally delicious, and reminded me of the yellow fin tuna we eat in Mexico. I chose gazpacho for starters, and there was sorbet in champagne for dessert. We sat under a thatched umbrella looking out over the bay. We were indeed in a tropical paradise. I finished my book, and then swam and napped all afternoon.

I do love sight seeing and seeing new places and experiencing new cultures, but there is a lot to be said for a relaxing beach day.

Michel drove us back to the ship via the west side of the island, and over the steep mountain roads in the interior. On our way along the coast we stopped to look at fishermen selling the fish I had eaten for lunch. I had not realized that it was such a big fish.

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We loved our drive from the hotel. Mahe really is a very beautiful island, and unlike many African countries, the Seychelles have a thriving economy, and politicians that really seem to care about doing the right thing for the population. It just has a very nice feel to it.

Once we were back in the capital of Victoria (I like that they kept her name even after independence), Michel took us on a tour of the major buildings, and even took us to a beautiful Hindu temple. So I was not quite done with temples yet.

He then showed us the new government housing estates and newly constructed schools. He is obviously very proud of the progress his country is making. As he should be.

Finally we returned to the port and we bade him farewell. Before we returned to the ship we checked out the stalls selling souvenirs, which had some really lovely jewellery and dresses for sale. It looked like there may have been wifi, but we didn’t check it out. There was a great rock band playing , however we didn’t stay long to listen to the music as it was after 6:00, and I had laundry to do before dinner and sail away. We took some photos of the ship, and walked back on board.

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I managed to get a washing machine right away, but there was a queue for use of the dryers. The dryers on the other decks were also full, so I waited on our deck for a dryer to become available, and fretted about missing the sail away. I did however have a good time chatting to the other inhabitants of the launderette on the issues of launderette etiquette, or lack thereof. Who knew it was such a complicated process, so many ways that you could fail to meet their exacting standards.

As it turned out I needn’t have worried about the sail away. We didn’t sail until we were seated for dinner. Luckily the curtains were open, so I could watch our progress from our table in the dining room.

I had been hoping to go to the show tonight, but after all that sun and relaxation, I was exhausted. It was also nice to be out of the pirate zone and to be able to open the curtains without tripping over in the dark. There was a little bit of pitching and rolling, so I was fast asleep in a matter of minutes. It is so good to be on a ship.

DAY 33

April 12th

At Sea

Yay! The internet is working again today.

Although we had the crossing of the line ceremony yesterday, we actually crossed the equator today. Welcome to the southern hemisphere.

We went to see Jenny Bond’s talk in the morning – excellent as usual and it is definitely worth hearing her if she comes to a cruise near you, and you enjoy hearing about the Royal Family and Jenny’s escapades. Interestingly enough she asked the audience whether we would be OK with a Queen Camilla, and it sounded like we were about half in favor and half against. I suppose time will tell what will eventually happen. I don’t like thinking about things like this. I want the Queen to live forever, and thus avoid the issue.

We had lunch with friends in the Britannia Restaurant. We were given a table right at the back, so it felt like we were almost sitting over the wake. I had always been concerned about vibrations on deck 2 right at the stern, but there really wasn’t a problem, and it was absolutely lovely to sit there and watch our wake go by eating the most delicious chocolate ice cream.

We stayed chatting for so long that lunch almost morphed into this segment’s wine tasting. Today’s selection was of Spanish wines, 2 reds and 2 whites as usual. This time we weren’t given a handout, so I have already forgotten what they were, which is OK. None of them was spectacular.

What was interesting is that we were at the back of the Britannia Restaurant on deck 3, and had a good view of the Promenade Deck. There was an officer on the Promenade Deck surveying our surroundings. I saw a small ship near to the horizon, and at the same time I saw it, I noticed that he was watching it very carefully through his binoculars. Keeping us safe from pirates. Good.

Earlier on in the cruise we had bought a limited edition QE2 plate from 2008 for $15, which was a great bargain. They were also selling QE2 crystal bowls for $80. A good bargain, but still quite expensive. While the plate is not really our taste, we bought it just because it would be a souvenir from our beloved QE2. The bowl is really beautiful, and I could wait no longer. Suddenly I found myself in the shop handing over my card, and the bowl is mine. When I gave it a closer look back in the cabin, I realized how lovely it really is, and I am so happy with the purchase. We just have to get it home in one piece.

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We had drinks with friends in the Commodore Club before dinner. It was one of those picture perfect evenings, gliding through the Indian Ocean heading towards the sunset. It felt like the whole world was perfect, and in the beautiful setting of sipping bubbly there, I felt so peaceful and happy.

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After dinner instead of a show (the show had been at 7:00, and we had missed it), they showed a movie in the Royal Court Theatre. It was called the “Viceroy’s House”, and the write up said it was about Mountbatten at the time of Indian independence. Now I love movies about India, and was hoping to see a sort of new “Jewel in the Crown” type production. Well the movie focused on the inappropriate way that the partition was handled, and the tragic loss of life that occurred during that time period. A woman whose family had suffered greatly due to the partition directed it. It certainly told a very different story to the one I learned in “O” level history. It was a very sobering movie, and you could sense that we had all sat down in the theater after dinner feeling happy and upbeat, and we were emerging with heavy hearts. It was palpable. I no longer felt peaceful and happy. I don’t think anyone else in the audience did either.

Tonight is our last night in potentially pirate-infested waters. Most of the passengers have followed the instructions we were given, and have been very careful with closing their curtains and not leaving their balcony lights on. I can’t say the same for the ship itself. The exterior lights are on everywhere. We had hoped that the ship would be in darkness so we could get a good look at the stars, but it was not to be. Bright lights and cloud cover precluded this.

I love to sleep with the curtains open, so after turning off all of the lights in our cabin, and risking life and limb negotiating a path to the balcony door in pitch darkness, Brian carefully opened the curtains. Low and behold, it was as light outside as on a usual night. I am quite sure the pirates would have been able to see us from miles away. Still, as we plough through the ocean we are not exactly silent, so the sound of the ship would have been a dead giveaway in any case.