World Cruise 2012 Epilogue

World Cruise 2012 Epilogue

Back home in Georgetown and back to the real world.  I would have to say that we may be addicted to cruising since, prior to arrival in Ft. Lauderdale, we checked to see if our cabin was available for the 2 weeks following (Ft. Lauderdale to Seattle).  Alas, the ship was booked full and they threw us off in Florida.

The Fed Ex shipment of luggage was a nice touch, I wasn’t looking forward to schlepping 8 suitcases to the bus and thence to the airport.

All is well at home and we are easing back into things – it still feels surreal to be on land, we really miss shipboard life.

Some final thoughts and observations on this cruise, and long cruises in general:

  • A cruise of this length is far different from a normal vacation in the sense that on a vacation we seldom get to know, or get really close to our fellow travelers.  On a four month cruise you actually get to know most of your fellow passengers fairly well, particularly those with whom you share interests and/or the luck of the draw throws you together at meals, on excursions and at other events.  This familiarity can be a plus or a minus, depending on the nature of the people and your own ability to socialize quickly.  Staying in your own cocoon, as you might on a shorter trip is not possible.  Hiding one’s true nature for four months is also not possible. In the future we will begin meeting folks immediately.
  • The diversity of this world is amazing in culture, politics, economies, laws, customs, money, geography, and climate, but the people are almost universally open and friendly if you are also.
  • While I will admit to occasional “verandah envy” on the trip, our inside cabin was perfect and represents a real savings.
  • I didn’t play in any of the daily Hold Em tournaments, and missed out on a fun activity and meeting some new friends – I will remedy this next time, even though I probably saved some money on this trip.
  • We now have enough “frequent cruiser” days to get free laundry on board.  As the person that did the laundry for the whole cruise (the result of an ill conceived promise) I say Whoopee!

A parting thought that sums up this trip and all our travels:

On life’s journeys it’s not where or how you go, but who’s by your side that makes the difference.


April 21-27, 2012 – Sea days across the Atlantic to Ft. Lauderdale

Day 106-112

If you have followed this journey, I am sure you understand that I absolutely love days at sea.  In fact..


..I have often said that if the cruise lines offered a trip that sailed out into the ocean for a week, turned around and sailed back, with no ports, I would consider it the perfect cruise.  While most people on board have bemoaned this final week crossing the Atlantic, I consider it one of the highlights of the trip.  The only negative interjected into this week is the pain of packing – how will we get all of the stuff we bought into the same suitcases we boarded with.

All along on this trip I have taken pictures of the “port flags” for each port.  All ships, at least the ones on which I have been, raise the national flag of the country in which the port lies.  I thought I would include those now, in the order of our itinerary.

Dominica – January 9, 2012

Barbados – January 10, 2012

Belem, Brazil & Recife, Brazil & Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – January 13,16,19,20, 2012

Buenos Aires, Argentina – January 23,24, 2012

Montevideo, Uruguay – January 25, 2012

Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, UK – January 28, 2012

Ushuaia, Argentina – February 3, 2012

Punta Arenas, Chile & Easter Island Chile – February 4,5,10, 2012

(Looks like the Texas flag, doesn’t it?)

Papeete, French Polynesia – February 15, 2012

Pago Pago, American Samoa – February 18, 2012

Sydney, Australia & Cairns, Australia – February 25,26,29, March 1, 2012

Komodo Island, Indonesia & Lombok, Indonesia – March 5,6, 2012

Hong Kong, China – March 11,12, 2012

Nha Trang, Viet Nam & Phu My, Viet Nam – March 14,15, 2012

Singapore – March 18,19, 2012

Phuket, Thailand – March 21, 2012

Colombo, Sri Lanka – March 24, 2012

Mangalore, India & Marmagoa, India & Mumbai, India – March 26,27,28,29, 2012

Safaga, Egypt & Sharm el Sheik, Egypt – April 5,6, 2012

Piraeus, Greece & Katakalon, Greece – April 9,10,11, 2012

Messina, Italy & Naples, Italy – April 12, 13, 2012

Ajaccio, Corsica, France – April 14, 2012

Barcelona, Spain & Cadiz, Spain – April 15,16,18, 2012

Funchal, Madeira, Portugal – April 20, 2012

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, United States – April 28, 2012


Each of these flags represents a new land, interesting things to see, wonderful people to meet and adventure.  Sitting in the library writing this blog, sailing  across the Atlantic, and remembering each port as I pasted in the flags has been almost like doing the whole trip over – what a joy!

When we left Georgetown we had 8 pieces of luggage, and we purchased quite a bit.  Fortunately, Fed Ex boarded in Portugal and we shipped 6 bags home!  I asked one of the Fed ex people if it was “good” duty to get to do this and she said it is “great” duty and nobody else at Fed Ex knows about it and she wants to keep it that way.  What a win-win-win-win-win  – for us, Fed Ex, Fed Ex lucky employees, the airlines, and last but not least my friend Charles Bailey’s vehicle.

An easy departure and a quick trip to Austin – Charles and Aileen met us and were kind enough to go to The Mexicano Grill in Jarrell for a much needed Tex-Mex fix!

A final epilogue is forthcoming in a few days after some time to reflect.

These tennies have walked around the world! 



April 19-20, 2012 – A day at sea and a day in Funchal Madiera

Day 104-105
We have visited Madeira several times in the past. It is a usual stop when making an Atlantic crossing. The Madeira Islands are volcanic, like Hawaii, and belong to Portugal. They were settled ……

..relatively early, compared with the Americas, due to their proximity to Europe. They actually lie west of Morocco about four or five hundred miles. Our port of call today is the capitol, Funchal. The island is very mountainous, and one of the things that one quickly notices is the extreme use of terracing both for homes and for agriculture.

Once again, the “Hop Ons” are here and naturally we climb aboard for a quick circuit of Funchal and surrounds. Along the way we spot the cable cars which take one to the town of Monte, high up on the hill, and the flower show, both of which we note for future attention.

The bus wound through town and out to some nearby villages. Along the way we saw some very good examples of the terraced agriculture. As in Hawaii, everything grows well on this volcanic island, including bananas, all manner of vegetables, and grapes to produce the famous Madeira wines.

                                                       The fishing village of Camara de Lobos                                                                    

            Church of Jardin de Sao Martinho

                                                                   Bananas growing on terraces                                               


Mountains in the interior

The local Madeira Winery tasting house

Leaving the bus after one circuit, we walked a block or two to the center of town to view the flower festival, an annual event we were lucky enough to find in progress. As we walked through the center of town, we saw and remembered the beautiful stone inlayed sidewalks. All of the sidewalks are inlayed with black and white stone chips, with this pattern being repeated every few yards. Most unusual.

    OK – What kind of flowers are these?

              And These?


  More flowers at the show

A mime at the festival

 Dancers at the flower festival

 A flower sculpture

After our postcard and coffee break at this nice little café, we walked to the cable car for a ride to the town of Monte – up the mountain.

 Coffee House for postcards


 Tram up the mountain

 At the top of the mountain, is the town of Monte, and this beautiful white church.

One of the main attractions in Monte is the wicker basket sled ride. For 15 Euros, you sit in these basket sleds, and the guys with white hats push and pull you down the hill, through the city streets, back to Funchal. We did this the first time we were here, so we passed this time.

 Sled guys waiting for some riders

 The computer instructor from the ship and his wife take a sled ride down the mountain


We rode the tram back down the mountain and were treated to some spectacular views of the town and our ship in the harbor. The terraced homes show the creative use of land on this hilly island.

To celebrate our last port, we had a Big Tasty, Fries and a Coke at McDonalds – delicious! (and it was packed with locals). Back on board, there was a spirited “sail away” party as we pulled out.



Homeward bound!




April 17-18, 2012 – Through the Strait of Gibraltar to Cadiz, Spain

Day 102-103

We went through the Strait of Gibraltar in the middle of the night, but Sally and I got up ……..



 watch. We took these pictures, obviously not the best quality, but the one on the left is the European side, with the rock barely discernable, and the one on the right is the African side.

Back to bed, to rest up for Cadiz in the morning.

Cadiz, on the West Coast of Spain was a major port during the period that the Spanish were exploiting the riches of the new world. It was the port of entry for most of the gold & silver brought from America.







We have visited here once before and I believe we took a ships tour of the area, from which the only thing I remember was visiting the “counting house” where King Phillip’s men accounted for the incoming gold. That wasn’t on our agenda this time, as we spotted the Hop On Bus, which has spread throughout Europe like a beneficial virus. If you plan to visit any of these places (I suppose they have them in U.S. ports also) they are a wonderful combination of tour and transportation at a fraction of the cost of the ships tours or taxis.

Cadiz City Hall
Church of Saint Carmen
Cadiz has an award winning beach – empty now, but I’ll bet it is full in summer
Hotel on the beach
Cadiz communications tower















































Worthy of a picture and some discussion. This is a restroom, or W.C. as it is called universally outside the U.S. They are scattered around town. Very handy, provided you have a 20c Euro coin.

This Hop On circuit is relatively short – we made the complete circuit in one hour and stayed on past the start to a stop at a department store. It was a modern, new store, which kind of reminded me of a Dillards in Texas – name brands and all types of goods – clothes, electronics, home appliances, etc. We stayed about an hour, and amazingly bought nothing. We “hopped on” again and rode to the central square, anchored by this large church.

Sally bought some postcards and stamps and we sat in the square, eating lunch, drinking Sangria, writing postcards, and listening to a Jazz guitarist playing on the street. It definitely does not get any better than this. When these days and times come along in your life – seize them!!!!















































After lunch we “Hopped On” and rode to a park area about as far away from the town center as we could get. It appears as if a former military installation has been renovated and become a park with a unique walkway on the ocean’s edge. A thoroughly pleasant walk along the sea and through the park.


Sally in the park
The renovated waterfront

























We chose to walk back to the town center, navigating through the narrow streets with the aid of the Hop On route map. It was an extremely interesting walk and we successfully found our way back and then through a market and to the ship.


Street in old town
These murals appear occasionally on homes in old town


Market in Cadiz








Unlike many of the markets we have seen on this trip – this was newly constructed and modern. We returned to the ship, but since we aren’t leaving until 11:00, we came back out for dinner. And now off to Madeira, our last stop before heading home. So sad – we aren’t ready to quit!

April 15-16, 2012 – Barcelona, Spain

Day 100-101

Barcelona is one of our favorite places to visit – we have been here three or four times on cruises….

… and we have always wished to stay longer. It is truly one of those places that it might take an entire summer to see completely. Hmmmmm???











The port is large, but at the center of activity in Barcelona, and it requires a short shuttle bus ride to get to the main drop off point, which is the statue of Christopher Columbus (or Colon as he is known here) at the base of Las Rambla (much more about Las Rambla to come).

Folks here are quick to point out that if Chris had gone the way he was pointing, he never would have found us.

If you ever have a chance to visit this wonderful city, don’t pass it up – it is spectacular!

The ever present Hop On Hop Off was at the Columbus statue, so we bought a two day ticket and launched into the tour. We have learned that the best way to do it, normally, is to ride the complete circuit once, and then start around a second time, getting off and exploring. That may be tough to do in Barcelona with so much to see.

Many of the things pointed out on the first part of the tour are from the Barcelona Olympics. Much of the activity took place in an area between the “old town” and the seafront, and in preparation for the games, there was an extremely large amount of urban renewal – old factories and slums were replaced with modern apartments (originally housing the athletes) hotels, parks, and the beach which had been ignored, was built up and parks were added. Many sculptures were created for the games.





As the bus moves through this part of town, the renewal due to the Olympics is apparent in the apartment and office buildings.

The waterfront area was also redone, creating many parks and beaches.











































It is impossible to view or discuss Barcelona without acknowledging the import of the architect, Antoni Gaudi, to the city. Gaudi, born in 1852 had a huge impact on the building landscape of Barcelona through his many projects in the city, including his masterpiece, and life’s work the Sagrada Familia. It was begun in 1899 and he worked on it until his death in 1926. Work continues on the yet to be finished church, through the use of donated funds. It is constantly “under construction” with scaffolding and workers surrounding it each time we have visited. Taking pictures of it is most difficult due to the number of visitors, the construction activity, and its size and location.

Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia

Gaudi’s works are scattered all over Barcelona and it took us both days to get a glimpse of most of them, but I am including all of the photos of the various buildings here.

One of Gaudi’s earliest commissions – these are the gates to a large estate on what was the outskirts of Barcelona at the time.

An apartment designed by Gaudi. His work was obviously controversial for its time, and indeed it takes a certain perspective to enjoy it, even today. As a side note, there is a Gaudi inspired home in Dallas, in Highland Park, at the corner of Armstrong Parkway & Preston Road, and the comparison between this apartment and that house is quite obvious.

Gaudi’s influence extends to much work in Barcelona, but there is more to the architecture here than just Mr. Gaudi. Barcelona has done a wonderful job of urban renewal as well as new construction, to create a very pleasant blend of the old and the new.























































































The former bull ring
Unknown – but I would call it the Cucumber
Street Scene
Even the street lamps are fancy
More Gaudi Influence
Home of Futbal Club Barcelona – “Barca” – arguably, best in the world























































Las Rambla is also a Barcelona “must”. This wide avenue runs from Christopher Columbus statue, up toward the center of town for a mile or two – or if you are smart in your walk, you get off the Hop On at the top of the hill, allowing for a downhill ramble. The street has a single lane of traffic on each side, with a wide median walkway, which contains sidewalk cafes, souvenir shops, gelato shops, flower shops, and tens of thousands of walkers – both tourists and locals. It is a target locale for strolling dates, dinner dates, and tourists. On each of our visits here we have enjoyed a walk on Las Rambla, and this time was no exception.

Most times we have encountered really spectacular mimes on Las Rambla, usually many of them, but this time there were only two, but they were great.

Even the side streets off of Las Rambla are crowded.
This side street shows the diversity of style

About halfway down Las Rambla, is the Mercado (Market) – a beehive of activity and smells.

At the base of Las Rambla, on the way back to the ship, is the statue of Christopher Columbus – the detail of which, shows Christopher relating the shape of the earth to the boy’s ball. Gotta love it!

I repeat – you must come here! If you missed Mumbai, or Thailand, or Egypt – OK. But don’t miss this place. And now on through the Straits of Gibraltar to Cadiz.

April 14, 2012 – Ajaccio, Corsica, France

Day 99

Another place we have never been before, about which we are quite curious. Corsica is a large island, which is French. It is just north of another large island, Sardinia, which is Italian. Corsica is most …….

… famous as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. Our port is in Ajaccio, the town in which he was born.

















The weather seems a little threatening, but definitely not as bad as Naples – so we charge ahead. About a block from the ship, is the weekly market in the main square of town. So before exploring we spent some time in the market and the post office.

Everywhere we have traveled, these markets seem to be the preferred means of buying fresh foods. I wonder why they disappeared in the US? They seem to be a good way of connecting local producers with local consumers.

Adjacent to the market there is a small train for sightseeing, so we decided to give it a try.

Imagine, a small train named “Le Petit Train”!












Naturally the first stop was Napoleon’s Monument.

I guess I wasn’t aware of how young he was when he died – just 52 or 53 years old. In such a short life, he left a huge impact on the world.



Our little train continued its journey, through town, past Napoleon’s family home, and the city hall.

Bonaparte family home on left

Ajaccio City Hall

















We caught sight of these guys returning from a parade we must have missed.

Corsican shore line

This island, a few miles off the coast was used as a quarantine location in times past.




















This modernistic statue seemed somewhat out of place among the architecture of Ajaccio.










I am always interested in the cars we encounter in different parts of the world, because many of them never make it to our markets. Cars like Citroen, Peugeot, Skoda, Alfa Romeo, etc. are seldom seen in the US, so I enjoy seeing their different models. I saw this car in Corsica – what is it? I can’t find out.


I also saw a car that I wasn’t quick enough to get a picture of called a “Pyong Sang” (or something like that) that I am trying to track down.

And now, off to one of our favorite places to visit – Barcelona.

April 13, 2012 – Naples, Italy

Day 98

Naples was our first encounter with really bad weather – it was raining and in the low fifties….

From our previous visits here, we know Naples to be more of a commercial port and less of a tourist stop, at least the center of Naples is so. Outlying points of interest, which we have visited before, include the Isle of Capri, Pompei (the Roman city buried by volcanic eruption) and Sorrento. Given the weather, we passed on those and decided to stay close to the ship and see the city center.

We charged out into the gloom in search of a “Hop on Hop off” which we found right outside the terminal. After boarding and paying, they took us to a central area, where all of the bus routes link up. It was a large castle, called Maschio Angioini.

As the bus proceeded we were able to get a few glimpses of the architecture of Naples, despite the limited visibility.

The bus wound its way through the city and to the top of a prominent hill, which had this church near the top – on the map it says Capodimonte – which I think just means top of the mountain.

Winding down the hill, we passed through the center of town and traveled a short distance to the north, to the neighborhood of Santa Lucia – the inspiration for the Italian song of the same name.

Our route was altered by a detour around a harbor, where apparently the America’s Cup yacht races were being held. I am not sure if these were just preparations or were the actual races, but I think some sort of preliminary trials are held at several spots around the world. A huge area was blocked off, and we could occasionally see the tops of the various racing boats’ sails.

We hoped for a chance to get a good picture, but this is the only chance at any shot we had.

An interesting contrast of architectural styles Typical Naples Street Scene

At the end of the bus tour – we headed back to the cruise terminal – and warmth! On to Corsica with a hope for better weather. Isn’t that the place between Houston & Dallas where they make the fruit cakes?

April 12, 2012 – Messina, Sicily, Italy

Day 97

Sicily is another first for us. All I know about Sicily is that it is the birthplace of the Mafia – home of…

..Don Corleone, and is the first place in Europe that George Patton was successful. If I remember correctly, it is this very town of Messina to which Georgie boy beat Montgomery, welcoming him to the city square with a band. Way to go George!
Prior to our arrival, we passed Mt Aetna, shown below, which I understand erupted the day after this picture was taken.

The first view of the city of Messina:

The entry to the Port of Messina is beautiful.

I think it means loosely, “may god bless your city” but I need Frances Gannon to tell me for sure.










Leaving the ship, we walked a couple of blocks to the city square, for coffee and canoles in this sidewalk restaurant.

The square was dominated by this Church, the Duomo, and its clock tower.







































At high noon, the rooster crowed and the figures all revolved while the bells chimed. After the clock performance, we jumped on the faithful “Hop On Hop Off” for a look at Messina. This bus turned out to be more of a hop on – stay on, so we did. Some of the sights, some identified and some not are shown below:

The Theater
Unidentified statue
How do you say “church on the hill” in Italian?


















The view from the top – notice our ship.

After the bus

City Hall
Soldiers Monument

tour ended, we took a walk and found a little restaurant for lunch.

Pizza and beer in Sicily – does it get any better than this. After lunch we rejoined the ship, preparing to sail for Naples. The weather is starting to turn cold & wet on us. We have been so lucky with the weather until now – I hope it holds.

This is the Costa Splendora, in port as we are leaving Messina.

April 11, 2012 – Katakalon, Greece

Day 96

A short overnight trip from Athens brings us to the charming little port of Katakolon, Greece. Where Athens is big and bustling, Katakolon is small and charming – a welcome break.






 Katakolon looks too small to support any cruise traffic, but they have two huge piers and there were three big ships in port – us, a Costa ship, and Cunard’s Queen Victoria. Luckily Queen Victoria had to tender, not us.

Queen Victoria

Sally took off shopping and for lunch with friends, while I stayed on board and caught up with some emails and bill paying.

Sally and her friends had lunch at one of the many open air restaurants along the waterfront.

Paperwork complete, I headed into town for a walkabout, also. This is a charming, relaxing village that it would be fun to return to and spend some time.



Katakolon Beach – must be off season


Katakolon Waterfront



I don’t know who sets the schedules for these things, but they could subtract an Egyptian day and add a Greek day in my book.

And now – off to Sicily, home of Don Corleone. Il Padrino.






April 9-10, 2012 – Piraeus (Athens) Greece

Day 94-95

Piraeus is the port for Athens Greece – another place we have never visited before, but since Chandler & Jeff were here in late August & September on their honeymoon, we called upon them for some expert…

.. travel advice. Their advice was “stick to the old stuff”, which we pretty much did the first day. Piraeus is about 8 or 10 miles from Athens, and has been the port for Athens continually for 3500 years.

Leaving the ship, we got on the Hop On Hop Off bus which had a stop right in front of the ship. These type buses, when available, are absolutely the best way to get an overview of a city, and if the routes are set up right, with stops near important locations, they are a great way to see things in depth, also. They are also much, much, cheaper than the ship’s tours, and have the additional benefit of us setting our own timing for visits.


This bus as two routes – one through Piraeus and one through Athens with an interchange at the Acropolis. One ticket is good for both routes, and for two days. The guides here are very friendly and informative – not always the case in every port.

Our plan was to stay on the bus for a complete circuit (both routes) and then “hop off” at certain spots on the second time around. We made almost a complete circuit and then decided to get off at the Plaka, for some shopping and lunch. We found a restaurant and enjoyed lunch – Greek Salad and Mythos Beer – what else would you have in Athens!

After lunch, part of the group headed back to the bus and Sally & I walked to the bottom of the Theater of Dionysus. We soon discovered that we were at the base of the Acropolis (where all the old stuff is) and hiked to the top, bought a ticket and spent the next couple of hours on the Acropolis looking at the the Theater, the Parthenon, Mars Hill, and the other sites. Unplanned, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Another view of the Theater of Dionysus
The Theater of Dionysus from the top of the Acropolis







A close up of a section of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis

The Parthenon – obviously under renovation
The Parthenon – obviously under renovation
A full view of the Erechtheion

Lycabettus Hill from the Acropolis
The watchdog of Athens

Adjacent to the Acropolis, a short walk away, is Arros Pagos (Mars Hill) where Paul debated the resurrection with Athenians.

Mars Hill from the Acropolis
Athens from the Acropolis

When we hiked down Acropolis Hill, we linked up with our Hop On Bus and enjoyed the brief ride back to the ship. Our second day in Athens we decided to abandon the old stuff, interesting as it was, and look at present day Athens. Once again we caught our bus just outside the port and began our tour.

Along the way, we passed these Roman Bath ruins which were uncovered while the city was preparing for the Olympics a few years ago.

Another item from the Olympics is this most unusual basketball arena.

In contrast to the modern Olympic facilities, this ancient stadium seated 60,000 for races.

Panathinaikon Stadium

As we passed the legislative house, we happened to catch a portion of the changing of the guards.

As we continued on toward city center, we got a glimpse of one of the protests that Greece has been experiencing due to recent austerity efforts by the government.

We decided to hop off and check out the main market area of Athens.

After walking a mile or two down the market street, we rejoined the bus, for the trip back to the ship, and off to our next port.

This is the view of Piraeus as we pull out. We have noticed that all of the ferries, so common in Greece, appear to be idle, and we learned that they are idle because of a seamen ‘s strike, which we observed as we passed out of the port.