3rd November - 23rd November 2019
We spent the night in the oldest Hotel in Southampton and that was when it was last renovated, our room was mile walk up and down staircases until we arrived at a landing with 2 doors one to our room. The bed was comfortable. I was very annoyed when they charged us £5 to use the hotel carpark. The next day we tried to waste time walking around Southampton but gave up packed the car and went to the ship.
We found the youngest luggage mover and warned him of the weight of our suitcases, he managed with a few grimaces.
Leaving our luggage to board we returned the car to Hertz. The guy said we did not need any paperwork as all was in order. I was a little surprised when a week later I got an email saying I had not returned the car. Being on a cruiser it took another week to contact them by which time I was worried that the police were on the lookout for me for theft of a vehicle. Lucky, I found out it was a computer issue, and all was good, I was not a fugitive!!
A taxi drive from back at the ship, tip for the baggage handler he deserved it and we were escorted through all the priority lines. We passed over our paperwork, Ross stood for his photo and the computer said “No”, they tried again same result our postcode was to long!!! The IT expert was called in utterly useless!! Eventually a woman in Cunard uniform hit a few buttons and took away our passports!! We followed her and she semi-fixed it. Telling us we could board but would need to have our photos taken by security and would have to go to the purser the next day. It turned out that as our passports were Australian, the computer expected an Australian postcode, we had booked in England and had an English postcode 6 digits long. We did eventually get everything fixed and did not get clapped in the brig!! Computer Programmes are so stupid, we heard a sad story about a lass who missed her holiday in USA as she only had one arm and the fingerprint programme could not cope with only 5 fingers so would not let her in!!
We got into our cabin and its huge, twice the size of the cabins we had on the Queen Mary 2. Our Butler is Edgar and his assistant is Allen, (Edger Allen Poe easy to remember!) I do not what they do that is more than normal housekeeping they are just more readily available, sadly they do not do ironing !! They also keep the alcohol supply topped up and bring the canapes and chocolates every night. They can organise drinks parties and bring extra stationary supplies.
We left Southampton to fireworks as it is nearly Guy Fawkes day in England, the display was very impressive. I was half in tears and half very excited, tears as our great adventure is at an end and thrilled to be on this great cruise.
We are on a table for 8 in the restaurant all nice people, we have nice discussions and chats at the end of the day. All of the other 6 have cruised many times before (30 plus cruises!!) they have lots of freebies and get invited to drinks and cocktail parties. There are lots of interesting lectures on board I started out well going to astrophotography twice but then I sort of stayed in bed and got up to late. I managed to go to the gym twice. I also ran up all the stairs to breakfast, until Janet asked me not to do it again as she did not want to see a heart attack at breakfast!!I think she was joking.
The people on our table are lovely Lois and Bill; he has been sick, we thought we had lost him in Walvis bay but after transfusion of minerals he is a changed man, very cheeky again. He is a Captain and sailed Commercial shipping Lois quite often went with him and did anything on board that needed doing, disc jockey on one voyage, hairdresser on another. She is a journalist and her most famous interview was Sam Neil. They are from Dunedin and have sold their business (foot deodoriser). They are champion cruisers having done over 40 cruises. Ellaine and John are English and are flying back from Fremantle they have also done 30 – 40 cruises. John at 78 is still working, he works for insurance companies and does the reports on ships that have sunk or capsized etc, again lots of interesting stories. Janet and John our last couple are also 30 – 40 cruises under their belts and are from a farm near Albany WA. Great fun and full of stories of snakes and living in the country. We are all getting on really well. Lois does all the fashion shows and we go and cheer her on. Bill is in the choir we are never got to see a performance; we have been told they are good. John from WA is the onboard shuffleboard champion. Ross is still trying to win at trivia.
Ross and I are the only big drinkers at our table, Joseph our very nice sommelier invited us to the wine dinner, some fabulous wines so we decided to go. It only cost another $300 (US)! Must say it was fabulous and we tasted a Chateau neuf de Pape. The only complaint is there were 20 of us at dinner and they only opened 2 bottles of each wine, no way of getting drunk. We have purchased the drinks package which is supper expensive, but we are managing with Joseph’s help to get our money’s worth.
One lunch time we got fish finger sandwiches (they were not Birds Eye) everything was home-made delicious. I must say the food is exceptional and we are having fun with our waiters. Bryan in particular is asked to choose dessert for John almost every day, he was in shock the first day but has risen to the challenge. Mustafa gets to decide if our main courses are the correct choice and he sometimes changes them. Mustafa’s choice for me is caviar with everything. It was a little strange, but nice in the artichoke soup. Bryan has also got a little cheeky serving just the vegetables and wishing us bon appetite when the main course has to be dished out separately. We are also getting a reputation as a rowdy table.
We had such a great room we found that spending time on the balcony watching the world go by was calming after our last few years.
First port of call was Lisbon, having spent 4 months in Portugal we did not need to do the tourist things. Instead we walked into town and I purchased 6 months supply of my prescription drugs over the counter. Making sure I had enough to tide me over when I first got back to Australia. We then shopped for shoes and had a lovely Portuguese meal, a waste of money as the food is better on the ship. I like Lisbon and Hope we get back one day.
In Tenerife we organised to meet some friends who were holidaying there and have lunch. How cool is that! We had a look at the town before lunch but the weather was hot, humid and then proceeded to rain. Sitting in a bar was the most sensible thing to do
We did do a tour of Walvis Bay. We saw Dune no 7 the largest, tallest sand dune in the world, no I did not climb it. As you know I hate sand, never going to a beach because there is sand. We also saw, a flower that is the floral emblem it was pretty sad looking thing with only two leaves (big ones, but only 2). Then we went to the Luna landscape, A large crevasse second to the Grand Canyon and lots of rocks. Very impressive in an arid sand sort of way. Walvis Bay is not my idea of a pretty place as it is all sand and more sand. I am glad I saw it though, but do not need to return.
We have been to a few of the onboard lectures not as many as we should as it is getting harder to get up in the morning. A couple I particularly enjoyed were about saving animals in Africa. They talked about trying to organise a Trail for elephants that goes through many African countries that are now either closed or unsafe. The elephants do not travel like they used to as they learn where it is unsafe and then stop going there. Unfortunately they then do not have enough space and they do a lot of damage.
I also learnt that elephant lose there teeth and when they lose the last set the 11th set ( I think ) they die of starvation. I guess that's why they all can go to the elephants grave yard, they know their time is up. I want to make false teeth for elephants!!
A few on board shots too.
The next port of call was the exciting one; Cape Town, we did the hop on hop off bus seeing all the highlights including Table Mountain without cloud!! It is a beautiful town and I can see why everyone raves about it. I wish we had more time, but we are getting off the ship tomorrow for a few days and we have to pack a few things.
The next day we met the others in our group and went on safari. A short plane trip and a bus ride to Amakhala Game Park.
The first day we went out on a short drive around the area closest to the accommodation. We saw heaps of deer and learnt about the game park as it is private most of the animals have been purchased at great expense, especially when some become food lions!! Because they purchase animals not all of them are common in the area of South Africa in which the game park is set. This means we can see far more African animals than are seen in the government game parks which only hold animals from the area.
We have 3 rangers looking after us. Lizl who is the Cunard ranger is the most experienced and is the funniest, with lots of tales to tell true and big fat lies. We have fun guessing which of her answers to questions are big fat lies. The big round earth balls are termite nests - not Elephant eggs!! On the afternoon safari’s we stop at 4:00 for gin and tonic, very civilised, until I found all the bones and was told it’s an old haunt of the lion’s!! I hope they do not drop in for a G and T
The accommodation is lovely, we have a big room and a spa pool. We were told to keep the flaps closed so the monkeys do not get in!!! The food is very good served with a view of the waterhole. We saw a couple of deer drinking. Ross and I slept well, for most of the night then Ross got sick.
The next morning, Ross was in a bad way and I got some medication for him, but he was not well enough to leave the room. What a great shame. I went on safari alone with Ross’s camera.
What a marvelous day we had. We saw deer until we were fed up of them. Giraffe’s including a 2-week-old baby giraffe. Giraffe’s are really hard to see they disappear into the trees. We had to stop for a herd of elephants which were crossing our road. Later a herd of Rhino’s decided not only to cross the road but to stay there we had a great view for about 20 mins until they ambled away. While searching for lions we came across jackal cubs, they were so cute I wanted to take one home, they might not grow up cute. Then the lions were spotted. Absolutely amazing I was so excited I did not get any really good photo’s luckily others in the group did. The Lions were enjoying a dinner of warthog, our guides were also excited as the Lions normal eat deer. The slow deer Lizl told us a special species !! After watching the lions for a long time, we drove on. More elephant eggs and a tortoise it was quite big and raced away from the truck, if tortoises can race. Then in the distance we saw ostriches with babies. I think we are in Africa at the right time for seeing the young. On the way back to camp, we saw the remaining warthogs!!
That night Norman an old elephant without tusks came down to the waterhole after drinking, he proceeded to uproot a whole bunch of trees it looked like he was landscaping the edge of the hotel. It also looked like he was doing it for no other reason than he could !!