A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

SEA DAY April 9

sunny 68 °F

0744.jpg

What is there to do on a “sea day” on the Crystal Serenity, you may ask? First, we have to leave our beautiful stateroom :)

0745.jpg

Generally we get up early and have a continental breakfast on deck 12 in the Lido. That’s before the hot breakfast buffet comes out –going early being the only way to avoid the temptation to have a mega breakfast every day!.

0746.jpg

0747.jpg

Then early morning laps on deck 7, the Promenade Deck – the guard there is one of the security team that stays on deck 24/7 (arrrgh – there be pirates in these waters)

0748.jpg

Our destination speaker, Ken Rees, at 10am in the Galaxy Lounge, Deck 6
0749.jpg

0749a.jpg

Followed by Ambassador Mark Ginsberg

0750.jpg

Special buffet at noon today – Philippine Specialties

0751.jpg

1:30pm speaker, Shelby Coffey, former editor of the LA Times, with his “Hollywood Confidential” presentation

0752.jpg

0753.jpg

At 2:30pm three of the Sommeliers presented a South African wine tasting in the Crystal Dining Room on deck 5

0754.jpg

At 4pm a magician from The “Magic Castle” in Hollywood, California presented close up “magic” for 20 folks in the Pulse Disco on deck 6

0755.jpg

The onboard jewelry designer held a jewelry fashion show at 4:30pm with guests as models in the Crystal Plaza on deck 5

0756.jpg

0757.jpg

0757a.jpg

After pizza in our stateroom (if you can believe it) A Classical Concert 7pm in Stardust Lounge on deck 6. Notice the video screen that enables all to see the hands of performer - very thoughtful!

0758.jpg

At 8:15pm a fun end of the day in the Hollywood Theater on Deck 6 – complete with popcorn!
So, that was our day today – Ed did not have a service or class to lead and we also did not do fitness class, Yamaha keyboard classes, Berlitz language class, Bridge classes and competition, TalyorMade Golf clinic, Computer University at Sea, Odyssey Art at Sea programs (knitting and collage art), Hot tub or pool, Memoir Writing class, Pilates, Afternoon tea, dinner in the main dining room, USC Digital filmmaking class, etc.
A day in the life :)

Posted by Swenigale 06:21

DAKAR, SENEGAL

sunny 68 °F
View Serenity 5- WC 2014 on Swenigale's travel map.

0759.jpg

Here we are near the Western tip of Africa. Most of our pictures from Dakar are market scenes. French is widely spoken here, because of the 300 years of French control which ended in 1960.

0760.jpg

0761.jpg

0762.jpg

0763.jpg

0764.jpg

0765.jpg

0766.jpg

0767.jpg

5C6DF30F2219AC6817CEF19E15810474.jpg

0769.jpg

The vendors’ aggressive “marketing” style got to be a bit much so we didn’t stay long in our visit to the public market.

0770.jpg

We retreated to the “safety” of our shuttle bus where this one lady knew she had no products we would buy.

0771.jpg

Others, however, figured they could make some sales by banging on our windows! And, actually, they did!

Posted by Swenigale 06:06 Archived in Senegal

AGADIR, MOROCCO

sunny 70 °F
View Serenity 5- WC 2014 on Swenigale's travel map.

0772a.jpg

0773.jpg

Agadir is our final port city on the massive African continent. We are here on Palm/Passion Sunday – with a day to see a bit of Morocco before returning to the ship to lead the Protestant worship service. Beautiful bougainvillea lined the road as we drove out to see the walled city Taroudant.

0774a.jpg

0775.jpg

0776a.jpg

Morocco is known for the oil made from the nut of the argon tree. Amazing as it seems, there are goats that CLIMB these thorny trees to eat the foliage and fruit.

0777a.jpg

0778a.jpg

Our drive through the countryside took about 75 minutes – with plenty to see on the way, and an expert guide who spoke non-stop – informing us of the complicated and compelling history of his country. (And of all the marvelous things that can be done with argon oil!)

0779a.jpg

Taroudant is a well-preserved Berber market town. The 16th century walls are the best preserved in Morocco. The village is located in the fertile Souss Valley with the high Atlas Mountains in the distance.

0780.jpg

We stopped at a beautiful hotel where we were invited to use the facilities and to taste the national drink, sweetened green tea.

0781.jpg

0782.jpg

C7EC577D2219AC6817980E2345449488.jpg

Back on the bus for a brief time and an excellent view of passing vendors and shoppers

0784.jpg

Our bus was stuck in this traffic jam, so our guide led us from the bus on foot to the Souk (the market).

0785.jpg

But, first! A stop at his brother’s shop (I’m kidding I think) to hear a pitch for argon oil products!

0786.jpg

I “joined” a local musician as he pocketed my dollar tip. Everything is for sale!

0787.jpg

The vendors take pride in their artful arrangements of spices and fruits and vegetables.

0788.jpg

0789.jpg

0790.jpg

0791.jpg

Our guide said the best profession to have in Morocco is dentistry because of the amount of sugar each Moroccan consumes. Nice cookies, yes?

Posted by Swenigale 08:11 Archived in Morocco

LISBON, PORTUGAL

semi-overcast 63 °F
View Serenity 5- WC 2014 on Swenigale's travel map.

0792.jpg

As soon as we arrived in Lisbon we went with friends and a car and driver to the beautiful village of Sintra. On the way we paused to photograph the 1749 Pálacio de Queluz.

0793.jpg

Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its 19th century Romantic architecture.

0794.jpg

0795.jpg

0796.jpg

0797.jpg

0798.jpg

0799.jpg

Coffee and…Hästa

0800.jpg

The beautiful and fantastical Park and Palace of Pena – a virtual explosion of 19th century Portuguese Romanticism

0801.jpg

0802.jpg

0803.jpg

0804.jpg

0805.jpg

0806.jpg

0807.jpg

0808.jpg

0809.jpg

…and that’s just the exterior!

0810.jpg

The World Cruise ends in Southampton, England on April 18th and everyone is busily packing, hugging and saying good-bye. 5000 balloons have been prepared for a balloon drop. It has been a wonderful World Cruise. We are packing as well, but – just to change cabins. We will be staying onboard to lead Easter worship. Happy and Blessed Easter everyone!

Posted by Swenigale 11:36 Archived in Portugal

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND

sunny 55 °F
View Serenity 5- WC 2014 on Swenigale's travel map.

0811.jpg

Our final cruise: “Through the Pillars of Hercules”. Goodbye and Godspeed to our fellow world cruise travelers. It was an amazing journey! The “turn-around” port is Southampton, England. We packed and changed staterooms this morning because the ship is fully booked for the start of this next cruise.

0812.jpg

0813.jpg

0814.jpg

Southampton has been a commercial seaport for centuries and our ship was docked near the medieval walls of the city.

0815.jpg

Early bread delivery at the 15th century Tudor House and Gardens Museum
0816.jpg

Blue Anchor Lane – the route to the port for early merchants

0817.jpg

The Titanic sailed from Southampton – this pub has Titanic memorabilia on all the walls.

0818.jpg

St. Michael’s Church, built in 1070, it is the oldest building in the Old Town.

0819.jpg

The early mayor of Southampton (1295-1336)

0820.jpg

The Bargate, built by the Normans in 1180, was the main point of entry from the north.

0821.jpg

Back to modern times – a quick stop in the Pound Store for toothpaste and batteries

0822.jpg

A picture around every corner

0823.jpg

0824.jpg

The ruins of Holyrood Church, built in 1320 but extensively damaged by bombs in 1940, has been preserved as a memorial to those lost at sea.
0825.jpg

A fresh memorial wreath at the Memorial Fountain remembering the crew, stewards, and sailors lost on the Titanic

0826.jpg

St. Michael’s

0827.jpg

A replica of the cargo boats that tied up at Blue Anchor Lane with their cargoes of wool and wine

0828.jpg

A weathervane reminder of the classic sailing ships

0829.jpg

Daylight was still bright as we set sail from Southampton.

Posted by Swenigale 02:46 Archived in England

BORDEAUX & LE VERDON, FRANCE

semi-overcast 62 °F
View Serenity 5- WC 2014 on Swenigale's travel map.

0830.jpg

We celebrated Easter Interdenominational Sunrise Service and the Roman Catholic and Protestant Services that followed as our ship sailed slowly up the Garonne River toward Bordeaux in Southwest France.

0831.jpg

A tug boat helped us turn around before docking. Our port was Bassen – the Serenity is too big to dock right in Bordeaux.

0832.jpg

Although fishing huts like this line the river, the main product of the region is wine, and has been ever since the Romans planted the first grape vines in the 1st century!

0833.jpg

Because of the changing tide our ship docked in Bassen on Sunday but had to sail miles away to Le Verdon on Monday morning where it stayed until 6pm. To further add to logistical and thus blogging confusion, Ed & I each escorted different trips. Also, on Monday morning our excursions left the ship in Bordeaux and rejoined it in Le Verdon!

0834.jpg

0835.jpg

Ed’s trip on Sunday was to Saint-Émilion, one of the principle red wine areas of Bordeaux.

0836.jpg

0837.jpg

The town is a World Heritage site, with Romanesque churches and vineyards right in the town.

0838.jpg

On the same overcast day I escorted a trip into Bordeaux. Those Sunday pictures will not make the blog, however, because we also went into Bordeaux on Monday morning under brilliant blue skies. This bridge is the Pont de Pierre, ordered by Napoleon I in 1813. There are 17 arches, one for each letter of his name. Why not?

0839.jpg

Our apologies for not including more of the fascinating history or even naming the buildings (at this point we are in information overload-be prepared for diminished returns!)– the following pictures are all “spectacles of Bordeaux”.

0840.jpg

0841.jpg

0842.jpg

0843.jpg

0844.jpg

0845.jpg

0846.jpg

0847.jpg

0848.jpg

0849.jpg

Posted by Swenigale 11:06 Archived in France

LISBON, PORTUGAL again

semi-overcast 64 °F
View Serenity 5- WC 2014 on Swenigale's travel map.

0850.jpg

We were escorting different tours again today. Mine was a birding expedition into the Tagus River Estuary. Our first stop was at the mud flats to see wader birds before the tide rose.

0851.jpg

We were provided with great binoculars, scopes and an ornithologist!
0852.jpg

The skies were clearing as we looked back towards Lisbon.

0853.jpg

We made numerous stops in different habitats and saw over 70 varieties of birds – most of which I could not capture with the camera. You’ll just have to believe me. Here we were near the salt flats.

0854.jpg

This is my prize picture – but I can’t remember the name of the bird! He is perched on racks that had been used for drying cod in former days.
0855.jpg

Flowers and flamingoes

0856.jpg

We drove into a farm for further exploration of bird habitats.

0857.jpg

This is a cork tree! The cork is harvested only once every 15 years – the date (example: 8) of the last harvest is marked on each trunk, so the cork from these trees was harvested in 2008.

0858.jpg

Our last stop – our guide knew that Bee Eaters nest around this house and we watched them with our binoculars. They are colorful and fast.
0859.jpg

They look like this!

0860.jpg

Ed’s trip this morning was to Sintra (see our pictures from April 15th) by jeep (6 jeeps, 29 guests). Not fun in the rain, but the weather cleared dramatically. It included many off road experiences!

0861.jpg

The seaside resort town of Cascais, first stop. The statue is of King Carlos I.

0862.jpg

Back out through the beautiful countryside

0863.jpg

Remember Cabo da Roca? Amazing to be there just once – but twice in 10 days? Wow!

0864.jpg

Ed at the farthest western point in mainland Europe

0865.jpg

Only Crystal – picnic lunch in the Sintra National Forest – served by make-believe monks, topped off with Licor De Ginja (Cherry flavored)
0866.jpg

On to Sintra with its narrow lanes

0867.jpg

…and steep steps

C222EF9E2219AC681734967FC69CC6B5.jpg

Back into the city for a quick look at some of the sites of Lisbon – here the beautiful Tower of Belém (Bethlehem) erected between 1515 and 1520.

0869.jpg

Sailing away from Lisbon the evening sun made the city shine. This is the famous Monument to the Discoveries where Portuguese explorers embarked on their journeys to chart the areas unknown to the Western world.

Posted by Swenigale 04:06 Archived in Portugal

GIBRALTAR, UK

semi-overcast 64 °F
View Serenity 5- WC 2014 on Swenigale's travel map.

0870.jpg

Only half a day in Gibraltar. Hmmm – what to do? Didn’t have to figure it out – we both escorted “The Rock by Foot” tours. Fortunately, the “By Foot” part started after riding to the top in a cable car!

0871.jpg

Gibraltar is a British territory, sharing a border to the North with Spain. In this view from the top of the Rock looking over Catalan Bay you can see the airport runway which crosses the road to Spain.

F7961C272219AC6817DA1EB48BC6F78F.jpg

The strategic position of the Rock of Gibraltar (at the narrow entrance to the Mediterranean) has made it important in history for over 3000 years.

0873.jpg

It is one of the two “Pillars of Hercules”.

0873a.jpg

Nine miles away, the other “Pillar” rises from Morocco in Africa.

0874.jpg

The famous “Barbary Apes” (actually Macaque monkeys) rule the Rock.

0875.jpg

So much to see and do on Gibraltar

0876a.jpg

…but the monkeys get the most attention! They are the only wild primates in Europe. It is thought they were originally brought here by the Moors who were in control of the area for over 700 years.

0877.jpg

0878.jpg

0879.jpg

0880.jpg

0881.jpg

300 meters above sea level we entered St. Michael’s Cave to see its stunning limestone formations. Gibraltarians have created a sound and light show here and a theatre that seats 400.

0882.jpg

A view again looking down toward Spain- in spite of the Spaniards attempts over the years to regain control of Gibraltar, the people here remain fiercely opposed to Spanish sovereignty.

0883.jpg

We explored the “Great Siege Tunnels”, dug and blasted by British forces starting in 1782. This was to hold off the Spanish and French in a siege that lasted 3 years and 7 months.

0884.jpg

As they blasted, men were suffocating from the fumes. They broke through the rock to get air and discovered this was a great idea for cannon placement.

0885.jpg

Driving back through the narrow streets of the city we had already passed the entrance to the WW II command center with its 30 additional miles of tunnels.

0886.jpg

A quick look and turn around to see the border crossing before returning to our ship.
Tomorrow, our last full day at sea.

Posted by Swenigale 05:01 Archived in Gibraltar

MONTE CARLO, MONACO

sunny 62 °F
View Serenity 5- WC 2014 on Swenigale's travel map.

0887.jpg

We sailed into Monte Carlo at noon under a brilliant sun. Looking at the deep blue color of the sea, it’s easy to see why this coastline is named the Coté d ’Azure.

0888.jpg

Monaco is just 3 miles long on the Mediterranean coastline.

0889.jpg

Monaco’s famous casino

0890.jpg

The new cruise dock snuggles right up to the mountains, the Mediterranean end of the Alps.

0891.jpg

Our afternoon tours: Panoramic French Rivera and Monaco Rock. We drove out of Monaco right where the Grand Prix will start next month (78 laps of 2.08 miles each).

0892.jpg

We traveled the upper, middle and coastal roads in our four hour tours. This small village of Eze is perched on a cliff 1400 feet above sea level.

0893.jpg

Scenes from the City of Nice…

0894.jpg

0895.jpg

0896.jpg

0897.jpg

Villefranche and Cap d’Antibes

0898.jpg

Returning to Monte Carlo

0899.jpg

We walked for an hour visiting the Cathedral where Grace Kelly and Prince Rainer were married in 1956 and where they are both buried. Also in the same area is the Royal Palace.

0900.jpg

The Grimaldi family has reigned here since 1297. The current Prince, Albert, is the 32nd heir to the monarchy. This is the Palace of the Prince.

0901.jpg

More views of Mont Carlo

0902.jpg

5FAA81B02219AC6817FE7E9DAD052354.jpg

Posted by Swenigale 05:31 Archived in Monaco

PORTOVENERE, ITALY

rain 60 °F
View Serenity 5- WC 2014 on Swenigale's travel map.

0904.jpg

We anchored off of the Ligurian coast of Italy, in Portovenere. The “Case Torri” (tower houses, 6 to 8 stories high) formed part of the town’s defense. The Genoese built them so that each one has an exit from the back of the upper rooms for a hasty run to the safety of the town castle.

0905.jpg

We both escorted all-day tours, starting by bus in Portovenere – it was a raining day (one of the amazingly few in the past 4 months of our travel). The floats you see in the bay here are an indication of mussel farming.

0906.jpg

Buses took us to the train in La Spezia and from there to our destinations along this eleven mile stretch of the Italian Rivera. Our two groups would visit four of the Cinque Terre (“five villages”).

0907.jpg

The coastline is rugged (this picture is of a large town along the way) and until 50 years ago the colorful small fishing villages were only reached by tiny boats. The next photos are random views of three of the villages: Manarola, Corniglia and Vernazza on Ed’s tour.

0908.jpg

0909.jpg

0910.jpg

0911.jpg

0912.jpg

0913.jpg

0914.jpg

760CA9932219AC68174377FB198BDFB4.jpg

0916.jpg

0917.jpg

0918.jpg

My tour focused only on the town of Monterosso al Mare.

0919.jpg

0920.jpg

0921.jpg

0922.jpg

0923.jpg

Our final view upon our return to Portovenere, while waiting for the tender to bring us back to Crystal Serenity

Posted by Swenigale 13:11 Archived in Italy

LIVORNO (FLORENCE & PISA), ITALY

sunny 70 °F
View Serenity 5- WC 2014 on Swenigale's travel map.

3F4F15C02219AC6817977AA11C23E511.jpg

We both escorted 10 hour tours today – Ed to Florence and me to Pisa and Florence. This was our final day on the ship – suitcases needed to be packed and out in the hall by midnight. What were we thinking!

3F4F53172219AC6817A488661C8B44D3.jpg

My visit to Pisa was perfect for taking photos and strolling around the beautiful 11th and 12th century Piazza del Duomo.

3F4F86DB2219AC68178EE8D7D3C34E44.jpg

3F4FC7E92219AC6817848C9FEDF7654B.jpg

3F4FEDF42219AC68177A6B8146DBBF04.jpg

3F503CF22219AC6817A7005DC2B5DB35.jpg

After a few pleasant hours my tour group departed for the drive to Florence, passing through the fertile Italian countryside.

3F5068522219AC6817A81984E38F72F2.jpg

Here is the beautiful city of Florence, seen from Piazzaale Michelangelo. Our walking tours of the city included major architectural and historic highlights.

3F50B24A2219AC68175EFE6ECE47AB1A.jpg

3F50D56E2219AC681725565A0F2B9F68.jpg

3F50FC362219AC6817B7F397515D3D17.jpg

3F514A382219AC681790D5A4FFFE89EC.jpg

3F5170F42219AC681780BF927881A241.jpg

3F51C0B62219AC6817349FAC3BBA9430.jpg

3F51E9BB2219AC68176D52CBE4368C44.jpg

3F5236732219AC68177B972DD40141B4.jpg

3F525F962219AC6817A6D1EACD4EB76A.jpg

I should mention that Michelangelo’s actual statue of David is protected from the elements. This replica however, is exact in every detail.

3F52BD382219AC6817E5AA6674841D93.jpg

3F52FD8E2219AC6817E5E695A0E5C46F.jpg

Driving back to the port in Livorno

3F4EEBA52219AC681733FCF73139DA58.jpg

We sailed through the night and awoke in Civitavecchia, the port that serves Rome (ah –the magic of cruising). Our transfer to the Rome airport complete, we were ready to take to the skies. Time to go home. What an amazing 4 months! Thanks for coming along!

Posted by Swenigale 09:36 Archived in Italy

(Entries 61 - 71 of 71) « Page 1 2 3 4 [5]