A Travellerspoint blog

Second Sea Day to Buenos Aires

Friday, 20 February 2015


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With a solid overcast this morning there was no visible sunrise. The ship in off the coast of Argentina heading for Buenos Aires. Temperatures are down and the waves are up but the size of the ship ensures that there's little or no discomfort. After breakfast there not a lot to do other than read until it is time to visit the Theatre for the Destination Lecture for Montevideo. We stayed on afterwards to find out what the next presenter had in store.

This lecture/demonstration was by Amy Rubin on the subject of Brazilian Styles of Choro, Samba and Bossa Nova. She spoke to this subject and played pieces of music whilst explaining the components and origins of the styles. She highlighted my total ignorance of anything musical. Many of her words were as if from a foreign language. It was humbling that whilst I was comfortable listening to lectures on Cosmology and while not understanding the details understood the fundamentals, I was totally lost on this subject. I found that I enjoyed her music but I could not comprehend the basics. A massive hole in my education. I'll be attending her lectures into the future in the hope of gaining a little knowledge.

After Amy's lecture we stayed for the movie. Today's offering was R rated and we sat at the end of the row in case we didn't like it. The movie was "Whiplash", featuring Miles Teller, JK Simmons and Paul Reiser. No idea who played which part and despite a lot of strong language it kept us in our seats. A quite dark plot dealing with powerful personalities.

Back in the cabin to find a message from Al - our dinner date - saying that he couldn't make a dinner reservation either, so we will meet at 1730 and wait for an available table. Not quite the outcome I'd hoped for. I also realised that I didn't have an image for today and decided to feature the midship section of Deck 5 in a collage. There was just about the right level of activity to show off the Piazza area without the overwhelming crowds that sometimes gather there.

Had a lovely dinner with Al and Deb after which we scooted off to the Theatre for another dose of Scott Harris the comedian. Very funny man but it helped if you were from the USA. Standing room only at 1940 for a 2000 start, I wonder how many people make it to the 2200 show. Certainly well past my bed time.

We'll be in Buenos Aires tomorrow.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 16:08 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

Sea Day To Buenos Aires

Thursday, 19 February 2015


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With the clocks set back by an hour, the sunrise this morning was scheduled for 0554. Minutes before the scheduled sunrise the light reflected from the clouds created an amazing golden scene. The ship is heading SouthWest in the South Atlantic Ocean off the East coast of Brazil.

There is considerable discussion about the unexpected Emergency Stations Drill yesterday. The main point of complaint was the contradiction of instructions regarding the need to attend. There have been a number of other grumbles regarding the program for today. It feels more like day 1 of a new cruise rather than a continuation of the last 19. Many of the 'activities' being devoted to marketing the spa, the art gallery and other additional services.

My only chosen activity was the Destination Lecture for Buenos Aires in the Theatre. The lack of other lectures provided an opportunity for a leisurely lunch. Walking back from lunch we couldn't help noticing the number of people broiling in the filtered sun. In Australia we are constantly warned about the danger of exposure to the UV even when overcast. It continues to surprise me that there have been no specific warnings of the risks.

Back in the cabin we arrange to meet with Al and Deb Gibson at 1415 on Deck 5. We have bumped into them on and off with stated intentions to have a proper get together. Deb is signing up for the Pop Choir again and should be free after that time. Unless one is travelling as a group it is difficult for individuals to meet up.

We've had a chat and made a date for dinner tomorrow. I tried to make a booking in the 'anytime' dining room and was told that I couldn't have both a fixed dining and an anytime reservation. No problem - Deb will ring and make the reservation in their name.

Jenny had a bright idea to upgrade our booking for the Africa cruise in January 2016. I sat in line to speak to Angela who advised me that there was a 'balcony' available but that it would cost us an extra $4000 each to upgrade. I reluctantly declined the offer.

Tonight is a formal night so we get the chance to tart up again. The 'tux' I bought in Singapore is getting more use than I expected. A pleasant surprise is that the outfit still fits after almost three weeks of cruise-line food.

Enjoyed a very pleasant dinner with just the two of us at the table, Mary has come down with a cold and has spent most of the day asleep. We took our Kindles to the Theatre to see a repeat performance by Greg Scott who wowed us with another fantastic series of performances on his violin.
Another sea day tomorrow as we continue to sail South towards Buenos Aires.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 16:37 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Second Day In Rio

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


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Woke up this morning to another spectacular sunrise. I've been using that word a fair bit lately but there just aren't better words to describe it. There were very few people out on deck this morning. We enjoyed a simple breakfast then while Jenny attended an Ash-Wednesday Service I watched many of the departing passengers making their way through the Atrium area.

With all of US$5 worth of local currency to spend we went ashore and blew it on a Rio mug. Last of the big spenders. Lunch and then the afternoon movie. "Begin Again" didn't give away much in the title but while the dialogue was a bit difficult to follow at times it did keep us awake.

In a strange turn of events we were required to join the newly embarked passengers for the Emergency Stations Drill. Some people obviously didn't get the message and they had to repeat it just before we sailed.

Dinner with Mary and Donald in the dining room followed by the 'Welcome' show in the Theatre. A number by the 'singers and dancers', introduction to the cruise staff and a very funny guy from Canada named Scott Harris.

Clocks go back an hour tonight as we sail South towards Buenos Aires.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 15:21 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

Arriving in Rio de Janeiro

Tuesday, 17 February 2015


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The arrival of our ship into this incredible harbour was accompanied by one of the most spectacular sunrises we've experienced. At the first hints of the dawn the statue of Christ the Redeemer showed up as a spot of light through the low cloud. My attempts to capture it failed to produce an acceptable image. No problems with the sunrise on the starboard side and views of the Sugar Loaf Mountain on the port side.

There were three ships already in port and the skipper was required to squeeze our ship between two of them. Having access to bow and stern thrusters to call on the manoeuvre was completed without any drama. He stopped the ship parallel to the wharf opposite the gap then slid this huge ship neatly into the gap. We've never experienced such a tight berth before.

We have no plans for anything until our Shore Excursion at 1500 this afternoon. After breakfast we spent some time in the atrium and watched the electricians replace light-bulbs in the three-story ceiling balancing precariously on a folding gantry which extended up from deck 5 to the ceiling of deck 7. I stepped off the ship briefly to try and photograph the four ships lined up bow to stern. The just wasn't enough space and far too many obstructions to get a clear view.

I had a chance encounter with the 'Customer Services Director' Johnathon and discussed some of the implications of half the passengers going on ship's tours and half of the remainder touring independently, he figures that the internet speed will be the best ever today.

Filled in some time reviewing this morning's images and had some lunch and made our way to the Wheelhouse Bar, our designated meeting place. Enough of us to fill three buses were ready to go half an hour early and the buses were ready we were on our way by 1445. Schedules were thrown out of the window with closed roads and venues closed due to Carnival. The tour company made the best of it and drove as close to the scheduled route as possible. The main attraction was the cable-car ride to the top of the Sugar Loaf Mountain and went unexpectedly smoothly. An impressive ride up these two climbs. One cable car climbs to Mora da Urca where there is a short walk to the second cable-car to take one up to Pao de Acucar. These cable cars have been operating for about 100 years and were the third such installation in the world.

Views from the top were amazing despite a significant haze and later some rain. We were given a free hand to make our way down and free to wander. We found an ice-cream vendor and happily spent US$7.50 on some relief from the 32 °C heat. The air-conditioned comfort of the bus made for a pleasant trip back to the ship. We were back aboard by 1830 and after another quick bite we joined a sell-out crowd in the Theatre for the Local Folkloric Show. Gorgeous young women in elaborate but brief costumes prancing about on the stage kept all of the men awake at least.

There will be about 1000 people leaving the ship tomorrow and another 1000 new faces coming to join us. Another day in Rio with nothing specific planned, we'll see what happens.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 16:22 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

The Port of Santos

Monday, 16 February 2015


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Sunrise this morning was predicted for 0655 but with a solid overcast and occasional showers it was never going to be spectacular. Fortunately the slow trip up the tidal channel and the massive port facilities provide plenty of other subjects at which to point the camera. The low ambient light made for some tricky focus challenges. Huge cranes and acres of stored containers spoke of feverish activity - but not today. No doubt due to the impact of the Carnival holidays the wharves were almost totally idle.

We had a leisurely breakfast and sat around in the International Cafe watching the long queues of people going ashore. Most of them would have been on ship's Shore Excursions. We elected to wait until about 1000 before leaving the ship. We had no intention of going into the city but had intended to browse the shops in the Terminal building.

It became obvious why there had been queues for people going ashore, we were all subject to a check of bags and purses by the Brazilian authorities. Can't recall that happening before. We walked the length of the extensive Terminal and were surprised at the almost total lack of shops and vendor facilities. The few shops that existed were close- "for Carnival ??". We bumped into Mary and Donald who were in a long queue. They had been told there was a free shuttle into the city but we hadn't seen a bus in the half hour we'd been there. Later in the day we saw them again. After waiting in vain for almost an hour they had given up. After lunch we spoke to some people who had paid for a taxi into the city and they'd encountered the same thing, closed shops and long queues to the few attractions that were open. The general consensus was that there had been little or no effort to welcome the passengers into the place.

After an early lunch we went to the Theatre to watch the movie. Today's offering was "The Grand Budapest Hotel", a strange film with many parts presented almost as animations with occasional human characters. The story line was most bizarre and on reflection I wonder why I stayed for the whole show.

Enjoyed a very pleasant dinner with Donald and Mary. Donald has caught a cold and is coughing quite a lot. They are a very cheery and resilient pair of old dears. Another sell-out crowd in the Theatre tonight for the vocalist Claude Eric who entertained us with a wide variety of songs.
We've been issued "Passenger Transit" cards which we're required to carry with us when we go ashore. For a good number of passengers Rio marks the end of their cruise.

Tomorrow we're in Rio de Janeiro for an overnight stay.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 15:31 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

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