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Published: April 30th 2015
Tenders took a beating on the St Helena pier.
This one broke a deck cleat.
Upon leaving Africa we began our 26 day island hopping odyssey from south to north and from east to west all the way to Florida. It is a great way for the world cruise to wind down. After all the heavy duty touring and safaris in Africa, it's time to relax and reflect and, of course, start packing.
On the other hand there is still lots of exploring to be done in these interesting islands we are calling on. The first, St Helena, is perhaps the most historic of these specks in the ocean. It is three days by sea to reach the place where Napoleon was banished and where he eventually died. It was also used by the British as a prisoner of war camp during the Boer War.
It is always a gamble as to whether the ship will be able to land the tenders in St Helena since they do not have a protected harbor. This day we lucked out and got ashore. On previous visits we have seen most of the island's important sites, so we decided to face the task of climbing the 699 steps up Jacob's Ladder. Fortunately, there was some cloud
For darn sure they'll come by sea.
cover and a nice breeze so it wasn't killer-hot as we made our way up the giant steps. We took our time and rested along the way and finally made it to the top. I could have used a Sherpa to carry some water for us. The views were lovely and worth the trek. We bargained with a taxi driver to take us back down to town and save our knees for another challenge.
We didn't want to miss the last tender back to the ship as there are few options for getting off the island. There is no airport, though one is being built amid great controversy. The only way off is via RMS St Helena, the Royal Mail supply ship which calls twice a month. St Helena is very unique in its isolation which the locals seem to cherish.
After a sea day we approached Ascension Island. This volcanic island has several nicknames, none of which are too complimentary. One of Captain Cook’s officers called it a “ruinous heap of rock,” while others just refer to it as “Cinder Island.” It is used by the U.S. and U.K. for various top secret missions, missile tracking and
"No way I'm climbing that!"
is the headquarters of BBC World Service which broadcasts to 85 million listeners in Africa. The RMS St Helena calls on Ascension every fortnight and there are a few flights every week.
We weren't so lucky with the seas here as it was determined to be too rough to tender passengers ashore. Actually one passenger was taken ashore for blood tests because she had picked up a bug in Africa. Fortunately she was able to return to the ship before we departed. We spoke to several locals who came aboard and they told us about life on this desert island. Said to have the most isolated golf course in the world, some passengers were disappointed that they couldn't earn bragging rights by playing a round on Ascension Island.
Next up on our island hopping was Devil's Island off the South American coast of French Guiana. We first came here in 2012 and really enjoyed our visit to this fascinating place with its haunting history, wild life and natural beauty. Alfred Dreyfus was one of the most famous inmates and the movie "Papillon" told the story of this most brutal of French penal colonies.
We hiked around the
island and visited some of the jail cells and colonial housing. There are several species of friendly monkeys on the islands, along with strutting peacocks and weirdly constructed rodents called agouti. It is a lovely walk in the woods.
On this ocean passage from Africa to the Caribbean we ended up having five hours on land over the course of 14 days. We are fortunate that we really like sea days as some people can develop a bit of cabin fever. There was plenty to do on board as the Silversea provided excellent guest lecturers and many activities for guest’s enjoyment. Our favorite speaker was Jon Bailey who gave five excellent presentations on Broadway musicals. We had a Cruise Specialists dinner one night on deck. There was a country fair and also many special events for the world cruisers. The weather was perfect as we crossed the Prime Meridian into the Western Hemisphere and also crossed the Equator into the Northern Hemisphere. We set a new record of crossing the equator four times on one cruise.
We have one more week of island hopping in the Caribbean before making our final landfall in Florida.
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