December 4, 2013 - 11:30 pm
After yesterdays successful day the passengers had the opportunity to have an easy start to the day. The weather gods smiled on us. We had a light following wind, sunny skies and calm seas. The first speaker at 10am, Dr. Keith Prichard presenting “Greek and Italian Isles, Corfu and Trapani”. At 11.30am it was “Meet the Cast”, an opportunity to meet the personalities behind the performers and discover some tricks of the trade. The rest of the morning was filled with activities like line dancing, bridge instructions, a nail and home care seminar by the beauty therapist and much more. The afternoon saw a presentation “The Race to the Moon” by Michael Calderbank, ballroom dance classes, bridge, arts and crafts class, hosted by Gill and activities run and hosted by the cruise staff. At 6.15pm I hosted a Welcome on board party for those passengers who embarked in Venice. After dinner, show time featured multi award winning guitar Virtuoso Guitarist Dimitri Dekavallas, followed by music for dancing from the Pearl Quartet and Cabaret and Cocktails in the Shackleton’s with Anthony Williams at the piano. A good end to an enjoyable day at sea.
December 3, 2013 - 11:30 pm
Today’s call was a very different from the calls I did before during my career working on a cruise ship. At all times several construction projects are carried out to preserve this beautiful city for the future. One of the projects is building flood defences to protect the lagoon from destructively high waters and storms. This is a huge project that has been worked on for the last few years. It has now come to the point of working in the fairway that shipping use to sail into the Lagoon from the Lido end on their way to the city. A few months ago the authorities made the decision to close this fairway from 22nd November till the beginning of April to facilitate that work. This decision affected our call scheduled on the 3rd December. After a lot of discussions with the different ports, authorities and agencies the ship got permission to use the commercial port of Porto Marghera several miles from the famous city. As you can imagine lots of preparations had to be made to make this port and call work. The first thing was the weather. Well we had beautiful sunny skies, light winds and cool temperatures, so that was sorted. Now for the transfers. We had lined up water busses and taxies to take the passengers to St. Mark Square, which was a pleasant 30 minutes sail through the lagoon. From here the passengers had a choice of three excursions or explore Venice independently. The excursions were “Venice by Gondola” offering the sights of Venice by the most famous mode of transport.
The two other excursions were “The Lagoons of Venice” offering the much wider scope of the Venice Lagoon and “St. Mark’s Square & Rialto Bridge” a walking tour offering in depth information, known and unknown, about these famous landmarks. After their Venice adventure the passengers were taken back by shuttle boat to security in Venice port and from there by coaches to the ship. All ran smoothly as it was required by the local authorities and beautifully planned by our Shore Excursion Manager Cassie. This brought us to the evening which started with a masque ball themed Venetian cocktail party during which three gondoliers sang their song. After a beautiful formal dinner there was the Masquerade ball from 9 – 10pm followed by a performance of “The Three Tenors” (from Venice) with an Italian inspired selection of songs, after which there was more ballroom dancing in the Discovery Lounge or a chance to join a late night party and Disco Dancing the night away in the Shackleton’s bar with live cabaret from “The Explosive Singers”. While all this took place I took the ship from our berth at 11.30pm and with the pilot along the lit canals to sea. After disembarking the pilot we set sail for our next port of call Dubrovnik. An end to a very successful and enjoyable day.
December 2, 2013 - 10:30 pm
It’s still very windy on the approach to the pilot station, so had to order two tugs to assist with our berthing. This caused a short delay, but soon after the pilot boarded we were on our way into the port of Split and berthed at 8.30am.
Split, situated on a peninsula between the eastern part of the Gulf of Kastela and the Split Channel, is one of the sunniest places in Europe and the largest and most important city in Dalmatia.Soon after the ship was cleared by the authorities the passengers were allowed to go ashore.
Today there was a choice of two shore excursions. The first was ‘Medieval Trogir’ a historic town with beautiful Romanesque churches. The second was ‘Split Walking Tour’ a guided tour revealing the highlights of the vast residence built for the Emperor Dioclasian over 1700 years ago. For passengers wanting to explore independently it was just a short stroll into town. In the meantime the cruise staff ran and hosted a variety of activities for those passengers choosing to stay onboard. Departure was set for 1500 and soon after the ship was sailing out of port. Once outside the pilot disembarked and we were on our way to the jewel of the Adriatic, Venice. The rest of the afternoon offered a Viennese tea and in preparation for our Gala Evening tomorrow Olive invited the passengers to learn some special dances during the ‘Venetian Dance Class’. The after dinner show featured multi award-winning guitarist Dimitri Dekavalles, which as usual was followed by music from the Pearl Quartet, with cabaret and cocktails in the Shackleton’s with Anthony Williams at the piano.
December 1, 2013 - 11:00 pm
What should be a relaxing day was spoiled by strong winds and high seas. The average wind was between 45-50 knots with gusts of between 60-70 knots with the maximum observed gust of 88 knots (a good 90 miles per hour).
During the night and the morning the ship was moving quite a bit. For this reason passengers with walking difficulties that were unsure about moving about the ship were advised to stay in their cabins and could use room service for their refreshments and meals. At about 1pm we were able to bring the winds and the sea aft of our beam and the ship’s movements reduces dramatically. This brought most of the passengers out of their cabins to take up the activities of a traditional day at sea. On offer was a talk by destination expert Dr. Keith Pritchard on Venice, a presentation by astronomer Valerie Calderbank and at 5:30pm an Advent Carol service with readings followed by Holy Communion. Showtime this evening featured Grammy & Olivier Award Nominee, Star & Creator of the smash hit West End show “The Rat Pack”, Louis Hoover. This was followed by music for dancing from the Pearl Quartet and Spotlight Cabaret in Shackleton’s featuring Duncan McManus and Jessica Poole accompanied by Anthony Williams.
Well a good ending of day, that started very bumpy.