Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Barbados

Well, what a day yesterday turned out to be! Beautiful beach, food and drink, all included in the £38pp price. A pity Margaret eventually lost the use of her legs and had to miss dinner, but, hey, she is on her holidays! She is absolutely fine this morning, and ready for our day out in Bridgetown, Barbados. Today was a leisurely walk around town, with sunny skies and a little cloud. Today it is back aboard by 5.30pm to another aft deck sailaway and a 5 day Atlantic crossing to our next call, Madeira.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Isla Margarita, Venezuela.

Rhumba on the chiva! What a fabulous day! This is a P&O cruises excursion, as we knew from our 2010 visit here that there wasn't much to see around the port area. It is a bus without glass in the windows to a beach, with loud music and as much rum and coke as you can drink. Enough said, where's my drink!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles

Our first visit of the three Caribbean islands on our itinerary is Curaçao. Our day here is 8am to 5pm. We are berthed within very easy walking distance of the town of Willemstad, a picturesque place with its pastel painted buildings in the Dutch style. Home of the vivid blue liqueur, there is much to interest the visitor, with its floating market and a pontoon bridge that separates the two halves of the town. With an average temparature of 27 degrees, the weather is almost always pleasant, and today is no exception, warm but with some cloud. Our visit to the Carabbean is one of island hopping, with a visit to Isla Margarita, and a P&O Cruises "Rhumba on the Chiva" excursion planned for tomorrow, followed by a day in Barbados on Saturday. Curaçao is a very civilized town location, and another great day out.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Panama Canal

We have now arrived at the Pacific entrance to the canal. Last night was black tie, and after the theatre, it was up to the Crow's nest to watch Serendipity, www.serendipity.eu.com an outsanding duo who joined us in Singapore, and have become good friends. The sea life during this passage has been amazing, with many sightings of turtles, dolphins and whales. Today, in the approach to the canal, we are watching crocodiles. The canal itself crosses the isthmus between Central and South America, a distance of 50 miles, which saves 20 days sailing. The first attempt at building a canal proper was in the late 19th. Century by Ferdinand de Lesseps for the French. This ended in failure due to bad engineering concepts and disease. The successful attempt was by the Americans, and was completed in 1914. Rather than a sea level canal, it utilizes 3 locks at each end, just big enough for this ship, and the cost of today's passage will be in the region of $300,000. Our first call once in the Caribbean will be Curacao.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Huatulco, Mexico

After an overnight cruise, we arrived at Huatulco at 10.00am this morning, and were safely tied alongside and ready to go ashore by 10.30am. Huatulco has been created as a tourist resort by the Mexican government, and that is exactly what it is, a bay inlet with an alongside berth big enough to accommodate the ship, and four individual bays which have then been created as beach resorts. It has been another fabulous place to spend the day, but this time, spent relaxing in the many beach front bars and restaurants. The weather today has been clear skies and hot sun, with a midday temperature of 35 degrees.
Again last evening, whilst leaving our anchorage, we had a sailaway party on the aft deck terraces, which is the place to hold such an event, as not only can the actual sailaway be witnessed, but as many people who want to join in, can do so by standing on the deck terraces to watch the fun, and listen to the music around the pool area of deck 8. We planned our after dinner entertainment to be the 8.30pm show in the theatre, followed by a cabaret comedian in the Pacific lounge at 9.45pm. Both Bobby Crush and Tom O'Connor are the planned acts for later in this final sector. Afterwards we spent time with friends in the warm evening air on deck 9 aft terrace, drinking wine and chatting until the early hours.
At 5.30pm this evening we will leave our berth and head for Panama and the Canal to the Caribbean, which we do for the full day passage on the 27th. March.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

We have now arrived at our first call in Mexico, Zihuatanejo, a tender port. Tomorrow it will be Huatulco, before heading off to Panama and our second canal passage, this time from the Pacific to the Caribbean. The weather has now warmed up and calmed down, with a temperature of 28 degrees and bright sunshine. This call substituted Acapulco, which, unfortunately is still experiencing problems with violence. Zihuatanejo is an old fishing village which is now a coastal resort. It is right at the heart of the very recent earthquake, but this hasn't affected our visit here, and there are no visible signs of it. It has been a fabulous day. P & O continue tn look after us very well, and yesterday was the occasion of our second luncheon exclusively for world cruisers. The event was hosted by the Captain, David Pembridge and his officers, and our our own table was hosted by Amy, an assistant manager in the administration department A great time was had by all, with great food and plentiful supplies of wine! Happy days continue.

Monday, 19 March 2012

San Francisco, USA.

The last four days weather has sorted out the seafarers from the landlubbers! It has gradually deteriorated into a storm force 10 on the final approach to SF. The Captain made a detour two days ago to come around the back of the storm, which had been progressing south down the western seaboard of the USA, and this was the calmer option. This sector ends in SF, and here are some facts and points of interest from it. The passage from Auckland has been split into 3 blocks of four days at sea, separated by ports of call. The sea depth in places has been up to 5km! We enjoyed the Platters for a 1 night show on Thursday, where they performed all their old hits such as Smoke gets in your eyes and The great pretender. Captain Robert Camby, who leaves us in SF, made himself available for photos with passengers during Friday evening, then later took part in the evening's entertainment as team leader in an edition of give us a clue. In his thirties, he is a young Captain on his first command, but the best cruise ship Captain you could wish for. Michael Howard, former leader of the Conservative Party, joined us in Honolulu, with his wife Sandra, and sat with us for breakfast on Friday. Finally, the movie last night was The Artist, the very recent silent film that swept the board at The Oscars. It is well worth seeing. Our entry into SF Bay was difficult with strong currents, high winds, and a huge swell, which caused much damage to plates and mugs in the conservatory restaurant just as breakfast was starting. Everything ended up on the floor. A combination of the Captain and pilot's skill and 3 tugs resulted in us safely alongside pier 35 by 8.30am on Sunday. The weather is again fine and sunny, although windy, with a temperature of only 12 degrees. We have spent today in Sausalito and on Pier 39 tourist area. Tomorrow we will take a streetcar in to town, and see some of the sights made famous by movies and TV. We leave for Mexico at 8.00pm Monday evening.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Honolulu, Hawaii.

After another four days at sea crossing the Pacific from Tahiti, we arrived in Honolulu at 8am this morning. This is our first entry into the USA, and consequently brought the usual immigration checks, which were not done at sea as they were the last time we were here, but today before we could get off. This delayed our disdmbarkation until 10am. When we got ashore we caught the number 55 bus around the island, a circular tour of 4 hours, cost $2.50 each! I am writing this post on the bus. Next it is the E bus to Waikiki Beach, and perhaps a Mai Tei cocktail in the the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The weather is fine, sunny and 25 degrees. We leave at 10.30pm for San Francisco and a two day stay, using the ship as our hotel.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Seeing double sailaway

My sincere apologies to those who thought they had double vision after reading the post on Tahiti, and the comments on Bora Bora! The thing is, from 3.30pm this afternoon we had the most spectacular sailaway party on aft deck 9, and I put my Tahiti post together after I left that, and I can assure you, the reader, that it wasn't you who was seeing two identical images, it was the effects of too many blue lagoon cocktails on me!
Since the November 2011 refit, in which Oriana's stern was modified to accommodate some extra cabins in place of childrens facilities that are now no longer needed, it appeared that the aft deck 8, and the terraces would no longer be used for parties, as it was intended that this area would be kept as a tranquil space. The outdoor parties had been moved to the Riviera deck at the top centre of the ship. So far this has proved unpopular with passengers, and today, for the first time, with the permission of our fine Captain, Robert Camby, the sailaway was again held on the aft terraces. What a humdinger it was! If P&O read this, then please take note. The atmosphere for an event like this in this area can't be beaten.
Anyway, here are some more images of Tahiti, one of which is the one that should have been published earlier. Also shown is an image of Captain Camby grimacing at my magnificent drum beating that I showed earlier! Note the similarity to John Travolta? After leaving Tahiti, we picked up speed to maximum cruising speed, 22 knots, once we were back in open water, en route for Honolulu.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Tahiti, French Polynesia.

When we woke up this morning we were already docked at the cruise terminal at the town of Papeete on the island of Tahiti. As we had our breakfast on the aft deck 12 outdoor terrace, it was again a beautiful day and the temperature was already 30 degrees. After breakfast overlooking the now extinct volcanic landscape above the town, we decided to go ashore earlier rather than later, and get back to the coolness of the ship around lunchtime. The people of Tahiti made us very welcome, with displays of local culture all along the quayside, and as can be seen in one of the images, they also offered us the chance to join in!
Tahiti is the largest of the 130 islands of French Polynesia, which, as a whole, occupy an area the size of Kent, but are set in a sea which is 1000 times larger. We are currently 4,100 miles from Los Angeles, 3,800 miles from Sydney, and 5,900 miles from Tokyo. Tahiti comprises two, almost circular islands, Tahiti Nui, on which Papeete is situated, and the smaller, Tahiti Iti, joined by a narrow isthmus. Fringed by coral reefs and lagoons, the island reaches a maximum height of 7,352 feet, and has been home to many famous people, such as Captains Cook and Bligh, Gaugin, Somerset Maughan and Rupert Brooke.
We sail for Honolulu this afternoon at 4.00pm, all aboard by 3.30pm. Last night there was an outdoor tropical "pirates" party on Riviera deck, which went on into the night, but again, we chose to spend our evening on aft deck 9, after the show, which was a very respectable Freddy Mercury tribute act by the name of Steve Larkin. A group of friends joined us, and our own bottles of duty free Gordons gin and Schweppes tonic. Magic!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Bora Bora, French Polynesia.

After four quite choppy days at sea, crossing the South Pacific Ocean from New Zealand, we are now at the island of Bora Bora, the inspiration for the author of "Tales from the South Pacific" for Bali Hai. The island is surrounded by a coral atoll, with just one narrow entrance, which we entered at 7.30am this morning, and we are now anchored for the day in the lagoon. After a leisurely breakfast we took the second tender ashore for independent visitors, (as opposed to those doing tours), at 8.45am. The location is stunning, and we spent the morning just walking around browsing the small local shops, and gazing into the crystal clear turqoise water of the lagoon, where you could see straight to the sea bed, and the hundreds of tropical fish. The weather today is sunny and clear, with a high temperature of 30 degrees. Tomorrow we will be at Papeete on the island of Tahiti, then it is another four days at sea to Honolulu, where amongst our list of places to see is Waikiki Beach.
Now the temperature has warmed up after leaving New Zealand, we are spending most of our evenings, after our chosen entertainment has finished, enjoying a bottle of duty free wine on the aft terrace of deck 9, until after midnight, chatting to friends. A very pleasant lifestyle!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Days at sea

Today is groundhog day, it will happen all over again tomorrow! We now have 4 days at sea to Bora Bora, not 6 as I stated yesterday. I was fed incorrect information by Margaret. We now appear to have left the mixed weather behind and have woken to a beautiful day once more as the images from 8am show.

Auckland, New Zealand.

We are now at Auckland, our last port of call in New Zealand before we head off across the South Pacific Ocean towards our next destinations, the islands of Bora Bora and Tahiti. There is a storm forecast for the daytime here today, so to avoid potential docking problems, the Captain decided to make a dash for port yesterday evening, and we were safely alongside by 9.30pm, giving those who wanted it an unexpected night out in town. We are berthed at Princes Wharf Cruise Terminal, adjacent to the Hilton Hotel with very easy access to the city. As yet. 10am, there is no sign of the storm, just the odd shower interrupting the sunshine occasionally. Known as the city of sails due to its strong boating connections, you will also find many a bargain used vessel, as the journey here is often so challenging for the amateur, they often prefer to sell up here rather than attempt the sail home again! We sail for Bora Bora at 8pm, with 6 days at sea, doing the same day twice tomorrow as we cross the dateline. Groundhog day or what!