As the end of our journey draws near, you start to reminisce about what ingredients have made this World Cruise so successful; the places you’ve visited, the people you’ve met, and the experiences you’ll always remember. But one of the most important factors is the extraordinary crew on board the Voyager. They are the warmest, most kind hearted group of individuals who would do anything for you. Always smiling and with a courteous “Good morning Mr. Walker”, “What can I get for you Mrs. Walker”, they have truly enhanced our voyage. We see and appreciate daily our room stewards, our wait staff and the 5th floor personnel but I want to mention several people behind the scenes that work so hard. The quiet flower girl, Kadri, who is an artist in her own right, makes the most beautiful flower arrangements which brighten each day. The carpenters, who took our suitcase that had lost a handle in transit from L.A., configured a new handle made out of wood so we could continue to use this luggage. The laundry staff that returns our dirty clothes perfectly folded and ironed in tissue paper bundles tied with a bow, so we can look our best
every day. And the tender boat crew whose job it is to transport each and every one of us safely from the ship to shore and back when the Voyager is anchored. This can be a dangerous job especially when the seas are rough, and these crew members are so patient and caring even with the frailest of passengers.
This 6th and final segment started in Monaco. We docked early that morning with the chic town of Monte Carlo as a backdrop. By the time the sun came up, we were joined by Holland America’s Amsterdam carrying passengers on another World Cruise, but she was required to anchor in the harbor. Before the day was over another Holland America ship, the Veendam joined her in the harbor and when we left late that afternoon we cruised between the two ships, all 3 blowing their horns in greeting and farewell. During our stay there we decided to take our first private tour at the urging of our travel agent. We were really happy with our French driver Max and how he whisked us off to Nice and the two medieval walled hilltop villages of Eze and St. Paul de Vence.
He knew all the places for the best photo opportunities and had pre-purchased our favorite dessert wine Chateau de Monbazillac which we are unable to buy in the States. It was a great success and probably the first of more private tours in the future.
The next day we were in Barcelona, Spain and combined a wine tour to the cellars of Jean Leon and a city tour. Jean Leon, a Spanish emigrant made it big when he and James Dean opened the La Scala restaurant in Beverly Hills and catered to the Hollywood crowd. He started his winery outside of Barcelona to produce the quality of wines his restaurant patrons expected, culminating in his wine being served at Ronald Reagan’s inaugural dinner in 1980. We later visited the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona which was started by Antoni Gaudi in 1883 and is still a work in progress today.
Our next port Valencia, Spain is home to one of Europe’s most exciting development projects, an immense and futuristic Arts and Science Center that will play host to this years America’s Cup sailing race. Regent sponsored a special event at the Hemispheric Theater featuring a presentation by Andy
Green, an America’s Cup media personality and former helmsman. Afterwards at a cocktail reception we spoke to him about our America’s Cup adventure in New Zealand in 2000. All agreed this was a 1st class event.
The following day in Malaga, Spain we needed a breather, so we walked to the city center and old town, strolled along the pedestrian only shopping street and browsed in the souvenir shops. Chuck purchased a fun, Spanish “Toro” hat that got a lot of laughs.
We were excited about visiting our next port of Gibraltar because my Dad had landed on its airstrip after WW11. Today the airstrip remains and the highway that crosses it must be closed when planes take off or land. Regent had arranged another special event, a rare concert by the European Sinfonietta (a touring orchestra) in St. Michaels Caves. The acoustics were perfect and the underground chamber was filled with dramatically lit stalactites and stalagmites. Afterwards we visited the famous and mischievous Barbary Apes. They posed with us, jumped on top of cars and one even came in through the window and our driver asked him if he wanted to drive. We couldn’t stop taking pictures
of them and we’re glad they’re protected by the British government. Legend has it that as long as they thrive, Britain will retain control of Gibraltar.
Our last two ports were the diverse islands of Lanzarate and Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Lanzarate, the drier more volcanic island had unbelievable views, all white buildings with green blue or brown trim, an unusual underground grotto and tunnels, a cactus garden displaying 10,000 cactus and Fire Mountain National Park where we rode camels and were amazed by the lunar landscape. Tenerife was more lush and green and we spent an enjoyable morning on a walking tour of the picturesque town of La Orotava. The town is known for its architecture with exquisite old wooden balconies, its formal gardens, an18th century church where on this Sunday morning several babies were being christened and its location at the base of the 12,000 ft. Teide Volcano (which Chuck and Kevin Smyth climbed back in 1988). With all that the Canary Islands have to offer, no wonder they are such a tourist destination (especially for the Brits). We said good bye to the Tenerife pilot boat and “land” for the next seven days.
week at sea was anything but relaxing, after all we not only had to pack but we had a myriad of ship events to attend. You could tell everyone wanted to maximize the time remaining. On the first sea day the Captain summoned us to the bridge to watch the approach of our sister ship the Navigator. The two Captains, Dag and Jarle rendezvoused in small zodiacs, Jamie the Cruise Director water skied and we briefly exchanged our speaker Jean Michel Cousteau for their entertainer Kenny Smiles. Later that evening there was a special “Under the Sea” celebration to honor J.M. Cousteau and our Seven Seas Society members. Other activities during the course of the week were a Country Fair on Pool Deck with a variety of game booths organized by the various departments on the Voyager and a Jimbo’s Truck Stop Diner set up in the crew mess with many passengers dressing up for the occasion. The meatloaf was great! A special event was the exclusive World Cruise dinner dance in Compass Rose complete with caviar, Kobe beef, lobster and all the waiters parading through the dark dining room with sparklers and baked Alaska. It was followed by the
most wonderful show featuring our very talented crew and the standing ovation at the end was very much deserved! Last night was the final formal evening for the whole ship beginning at 5:30pm with a nostalgic farewell presentation by the entire crew, followed by dinner and interesting conversation with the Captain and seven others and ending when our table closed the dining room at 10:30pm. It was an appropriate, if not melancholy farewell.
Now it all comes down to the statistics. The cruise was 111 days divided into 58 days in port and 43 days at sea. We visited 44 ports, 22 which were new to us. We traveled 33,269 land miles, 28,930 nautical miles or 53503 kilometers. We took 44 shore excursions and had 14 special events compliments of Regent. The weather was almost perfect and the seas were basically calm. Chuck accrued 403 tokens and we won $2423 at Bingo minus $1500 for the cost of the cards. Some people ask us which cruise was better, last years or this years, and our answer is that they were so different, we loved them both. Tomorrow we arrive in Ft. Lauderdale and will be home in Irvine tomorrow
night April 30th with memories we’ll never forget. Thanks for joining us on our 07 World Cruise Adventure!
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