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22nd April, 2013

Valletta, Malta

We celebrated the birthday of Her Majesty the Queen last night. I proposed the toast, which was then followed by a most splendid rendition of two verses of the National Anthem. Officers and staff were behind me on the stage and our passengers in front. There was no doubt as to where
loyalties lie.

I also took the opportunity to encourage the folk to get up that little bit earlier and come out on deck to witness our entrance into Grand Harbour and, despite the hour, out they came.

Much work has been carried out in the last fifteen years or so to improve the waterfront. It has been done sympathetically and in-keeping with all the architectural history that exists.

Passengers boarded their tour buses right at the bottom of the gangway. One bus even went over to the other little island of Gozo on a day trip.

Other folk either took the bus into town, walked up the winding road or took the new lift that has finally replaced the one that existed many years ago. It costs one euro a time, which doesn’t impress the taxi drivers apparently.

On board, we had a crew emergency drill, and also took heavy oil fuel bunkers on the starboard side from a bunker tanker and diesel oil on the port side from road tankers.

At the same time we were being given the once over by Malta Flag state inspectors. A full day, one could say.

A chilly wind picked up during the day, but it did not stop cruise director John from starting off the St. Georges Day ‘Eve’ festivities with a concert on deck as we sailed.

There was a certain degree of surprise, and wonder I believe, when cannon fire erupted from the battlements. Smoke, flame and all emanated just as they started singing ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’.

How very appropriate.

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