Brisbane – Australia Zoo

Due to the unexpected delay to the embarkation onto Sea Princess due to Cyclone Oma, I decided to visited Australia Zoo. I had meant to go when I came to Australia in 2017, but it was too hot and my friend Nicki had told me it was quite big to walk around and there was very little cover. Being a bit apprehensive about the amount of walking and the temperature, I decided not to go. On this trip, my solo friend, Sue, had decided to fly out to join me for the NZ cruise and the rest of the trip in Australia. With this in mind, Sue and I decided that if we were going to go to Australia Zoo, we were going to do it in style so we hired a chauffeur driven caddie which came with our very own tour guide. We decided that this would give us a good chance of seeing a lot of the zoo and we wouldn’t have to walk a lot!!

a map of the zoo

We arrived at 10am in time for our Caddie tour and we had 5 hours to explore the zoo. As we drove around, our first stop was with some lovely ladies who were holding some of the animals for visitors to have a photo taken with (they had a professional photographer on hand as well). I took a few snaps.

After taking some lovely selfies with the animals, we continued our tour and went past the tortoises where there was a talk about them. We stopped briefly for photos. They were massive. They are native to the Galapagos Islands.

We were given some kangaroo food and then went to the kangaroo enclosure to feed them. They were all just lazing around and looking cute.

Walking through the kangaroo enclosure, we then came to the Koala area. I much preferred seeing the Koalas in their natural habitat which you will see in later blogs.

We then headed off to Africa. Africa was Steve Irwin’s dream and his family have bought it to life. It really is a big ‘enclosure’ and has the animals together as they would be in Africa.

We then continued on to see the crocodile show. I have put a video of this on my facebook page. We were given VIP seats and also got to meet some of the other animals.

After seeing the show and having some lunch we headed out to the Animal Hospital. Australia’s largest and busiest wildlife hospital. While in there, I saw a kangaroo in a man made pouch who had just arrived. It’s mother had been killed and they managed to save the joey.

We were also shown the operating area and there was lots of Koala’s in there in who were injured or they had gonorrhea (which is quite common among the Koalas).

We then took a look around the rest of the zoo, which included birds, meerkats, lizards and the tigers.

Our next stop was at ‘Bindi’s Island which is where the Lemurs were. The Lemurs were roaming around and you are requested to remain at least two feet away from them. If they come to you, that is different, but you shouldn’t approach them. They looked like they had a lot of character and the keepers certainly knew them. The island was also home to the tortoises.

Before leaving, we visited the Steve Irwin museum. I have lots of photos and it was nice to see him so well remembered.

My Facebook post of the Crocodile show caused a bit of a controversy, as my Facebook friends accused the keepers were of tormenting the crocodiles for the performance as shown in the video. Although I don’t tend to agree with zoos, I found Australia Zoo very nice and pleasant and the animals looked well cared for and had plenty of space.

There is currently a big problem for the crocs in Queensland. There is new legislation that allows for the harvesting of crocodile eggs for commercial and scientific use. Australia Zoo has put up a petition here to try and stop it. Also, here is a link to a Facebook video by the Irwin family explaining it in more detail.

As always, I have a lot more photos, so will upload them all to my Facebook page. Thank you for reading, and don’t forget, that, if you are looking for a holiday, I am now an Independent Travel Consultant and can take your bookings. My Facebook Page is linked here. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Life on Arcadia

I spent six and a half weeks on the Arcadia during my half world cruise – Southampton to Brisbane (disembarking in Sydney due to Cyclone Oma).

The days just go by. During the day, there is a schedule of activities going on around the ship in various bars, rooms and the theater. From Port lectures to guest speakers, there is so much to do!

I decided to go for a walk around the ship and photograph the spaces where the activities take place, along with what goes on where. I am still learning where everything is on the ship, so bear with me!

At the very top of the ship (Deck 11) towards the back (aft) there is a sports court where lots of activities take part like tennis, walking football and basketball. There is also a space to practice your swing for golf.

In the middle of the ship on deck 11 is the Sindhu and the East Bar. When I went there to take my photo there was a cribbage get together happening.
In the East Bar, there was people just relaxing having a drink.

I then proceeded to deck 10 which is the Sun Deck. Staying mid ship, there is the retreat is used for some classes.

In the retreat on the day of the photograph was dance lessons. It is quite a popular class.

If you then head towards the back of the ship, there is an area where deck quoits and shuffleboard are played.

If you head back towards the front of the ship, you pass the retractable roof for the Neptune Bar and pool area.

Heading back inside, you then come to the crows nest (which is right at the front (fwd) of the ship) and the viceroy room (a meeting room) which is usually used for get-togethers or classes. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the crows nest.

Heading down (at the front of the ship) to deck 9 is the Lido deck. The first place you come across is the Oasis spa and gym. In the spa, you can have lots of treatments (which you have to pay for). There is also the thermal and hydro pool which is an area that you pay extra for access to on a day or whole cruise basis. I’ve not been yet, so no photos of that, but I did manage to get some photos of the spa receptions, hair dressers and the gym (which is free).

There is a little know secret (probably more well known that I think!) that if you walk down the side of the gym, there is a door that leads to a small deck area that is right at the front of the ship and has no restriction on the views. Its a great place to go and take some photos of the sunset or when you are sailing in or out of a port. There is also a seat. I thought this would be a brilliant place to see the Panama Canal transit, but unfortunately P&O decided to make it an exclusive area and charge £75pp when transiting the canal.

After coming out of the spa, you head through a door that takes you to the Neptune pool and bar area. On hot sunny days the roof is open – it is a popular area and has always been busy when I have gone there. As well as the pool and bar, they also server lunch there (Neptune Grill).

After exiting the Neptune pool and bar (and heading towards the back of the ship, you come into the Belvedere restaurant. This is where you come for lunch when you embark and during the cruise you can have breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night snacks here. I’ve only eaten the odd lunch here (mainly salad) as there is very little to cater for my dietary needs.

Heading out of the back of The Belvedere, is the Aquarius pool and bar. This is where the sail away parties are held and late night stargazing. They also hold a party from 9.30pm til midnight where you can dance away under the stars. This area was also used for events such as ‘build a boat on a ship’ which is an activity where you use items only found on the ship to make you own boat which then has to be tested to see if it floats and can survive a big wave (the guy jumping into the pool!). They also held the crossing of the equator ceremony.

Decks 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4 are cabins and mid forward of deck 4,5 and 6 are laundrettes and there is also one on deck 4 forward (this is an additional one).

Staying at the front of the ship and heading down to deck 3, this is where you will find the top tier of the palladium theatre.

Then start heading towards the back, you come to the screening room which is where they show films. Space is limited so you have to get tickets from either the library or reception. They hold three or four screenings a day.

Continuing towards the back, there is some more meeting rooms where they hold classes. Bridge class was happening when I took my photos.

Next is the ‘essentials’ shop. Unless you class sweets and chocolates as essentials, there is not a very good stock of essentials.

There is then a little cafe where you can buy costa coffee and get free cake. I’m not sure if the free cake is restricted to certain times of the day or if it is just around 4pm for afternoon tea. On further investigation, it turned out that the drinks were complimentary to have with your costa coffee!! I still managed to get one though even though I didn’t buy a coffee or hot chocolate!!

The library is next door to the cafe. You can come here to access the internet (chargeable) on their computers, borrow a book, do a jigsaw or find a game, dvd or just sit quietly and read.

On leaving the library (continuing to the back of the ship), there is a shopping area with clothing, jewellery, bags, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen (to name a few). All the staff are lovely there. Always up for a chat!

After leaving the shops, you are then on the third floor of the atrium and head into the piano bar. Mostly a quiet place to come during the day where you can have a drink, read or play a board game.

On walking through the piano bar on the starboard side, you pass a small area where you can put in flower requests, then a gin tasting bar.

After the Gin tasting area, you enter the Photo Gallery. This is where all the photos taken by the ships photographers can be viewed and purchased.

The last place at the back on this ship is the top floor of the Meridian Restaurant. This is where the ‘freedom’ diners eat.

As this is the promenade deck, it would be wrong not to show you photos. I always found that there was a shady side to the ship (which was always the quieter side).

And, of course, a Sunny side (well, for the majority of our cruise!!).

Going down to Deck 2, (starting forward and heading towards the back). So, you have the second level of the theater. Coming out of the theater, leads you to the casino. They have tables where you can play roulette, blackjack and three card prime. They also sell the bingo tickets here.

Opposite the casino is the Rising Sun Pub. In here, they often held quizzes, football and rugby on the TV, karaoke, themed evening and lots more. It was a nice place to have a drink and watch the world go by!!

As you headed to the back of the ship after the casino and pub, you come to the Gallery. Here you can purchase prints and pictures that can be delivered to your home.

On leaving the Whitewall Gallery, you come into the Intermezzo Bar/Cafe which is also located in the middle floor of the Atrium. It is another area to just sit, play board games or read or meet up for a coffee. Opposite is the Ocean Grill restaurant which is a specialty restaurant. I had afternoon tea in there one afternoon with my friends Allan and John and they even managed to cater for my dietary needs.

Onwards then to The Spinnaker Bar. Another place to sit, relax or have a drink. Some of the quizzes are also held here. On this cruise in particular is the 9.45pm brain teaser quiz. There was also a pre dinner quiz at 5.45pm that was held here.

After the Spinnaker bar is the lower floor of the Meridian Restaurant. This is where the Club (or 6.30pm and 8.30pm) diners eat.

Deck 5 (mid ship) is where the main reception area is along with Future Cruise Sales and the excursions desk.

I really loved my time on Arcadia. The food was brilliant and I was well taken care of (Gluten/Lacose free vegetarian). I will post all of the photos I have from Arcadia on my Facebook page.

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Huatulco, Mexico

After we left the Panama, we headed north in the Pacific Ocean to our first stop in Mexico, Huatulco.

Huatulco is the result of the Mexican Government looking for a resort equivalent to Cancun but on the Pacific coast. There is 22 miles of beaches and around nine bays, most of which can only be reached by boat.

Huatulco doesn’t actually have much of a history as it was only developed in 1982. It has a population of around 38,000 people.

We docked in a small town called Santa Cruz. I opted for a P&O excursion called ‘Land and Sea’.

A view of the walkway to shore from the prom deck on Arcadia

I left the ship and proceeded to the wait point (note that there is a very small gazebo and no sitting area). We were allocated a tour guide and headed off to our coach (it was a bit of a walk and the temperature was around 30 degrees – I did notice that on returning, there were some locals with bikes (the ones with the seating area at the back) to give you a lift back to the ship and were asking for ‘tips only’)).

Once on the coach, we headed to a small market and a place where you were able to taste some typical Mexican drinks (shots) and some (chocolate) with tortilla chips. Passengers were also given the opportunity to try cooked grasshoppers, which is a delicacy in Huatulco.

We spent about 20 minutes at this location, giving us an opportunity to shop (I purchased a fridge magnet to add to my collection). We then headed to a local family run shop where they make and weave their own products.

I purchased a few items from here as presents for some friends at home and in Australia. They had some beautiful tablecloths, but as I am flying back, I was limited on space. We returned to the coach and then headed to the second part of this tour, which was sea based.

Now, as you are all aware, we (the passengers on Arcadia) have been on a cruise ship for around two weeks, we’ve crossed the Atlantic, Caribbean and part of the Pacific sea, and to go on this rather small cruise boat, we were required to wear a life jacket! We were also requested to remain seated (we didn’t as there were photo opportunities from different parts of the boat). I found this a bit strange as we were all seasoned cruisers! Anyway, we proceeded on the boat, out past Arcadia and on a 2 hour cruise to look at around 5 of the nine bays, most of which can only be reached by boat.

It was a stunning trip and I’ll put a selection of the photos up.

There seemed to be quite a few abandoned half built properties that could be seen. The guide said that a lot of people started building and then ran out of money so just left them.

After a couple of hours, we headed back to the Arcadia. I had a wander around Huatulco (it is really small so didn’t take long!).

The above photo of Arcadia was taken from the beach in Playa Santa Cruz where a lot of passengers spent the day swimming, eating and relaxing. I am told that the food and drink is very cheap here and is a nice way to spend the day. They even have a babysitting area for your husband/partner!!

Huatulco is a small town and can also be explored easily independently. There are plenty of tours offered in the area and, as you can see from above, there is a beach, literally, on your doorstep. It is a lovely little town, and we had beautiful weather while there.

It clouded over as we left, so no beautiful sunset.

We have two days at sea before reaching our next port of Cabo San Lucas.

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Transiting the Panama Canal

Firstly, you may be wondering what happened to the Aruba blog. Unfortunately, the day after Saint Lucia, I came down with Bronchitis and cellulitis of the eye. I went to the the doctor on the day we docked in Aruba, and was prescribed antibiotics. I am slowly getting better, but, apart from just walking off the ship, I didn’t do much in Aruba. I have a couple of photos taken from the ship as we were leaving as I felt so unwell. I was scheduled to do a water based activity but because of the eye problem, I had to cancel. Luckily the medical centre stamped the back and because of that I got a full refund.

We transited the Panama Canal on Sunday 20th January. We were given a schedule of the highlights in the horizon the night before, but as always it was subject to change. We were also given a small booklet with a brief history of the canal.

The length of the Panama is 80kms (50 miles) from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It takes on average 8-10 hours to complete the transit of the canal. Lake Gatun covers and area of 163.38 square miles and was formed by the construction of an earthern dam across the Chargres river which runs Northwoods towards the Caribbean sea.

The dam across the Chargres River

The Culebra cut is 13.7km long and extends from Gatun Lake to Predro Miguel locks.

The images above are the approach of the first and third of the Gatun locks. At the third lock we had the first of two medical emergency evacuations.

Each chamber is 110 feet wide by 1000ft long. Total volume of concrete to build the locks was 3,440.488 cubic meters.

We then spent a very lazy 4-5 hours cruising the Gatun Lake.

During the cruise of the Lake, there was several activities taking place onboard, one of which was an ice carving (a very strange thing to do in 30 degree heat!).

As we approached the Pedro Miquel locks, the captain announced another emergency evacuation off the ship. After that we proceeded through the lock then onto the final two locks that would bring us in to the Pacific ocean. There was a ship next to us which allowed me to photograph its progress through the lock.

The mules are very important and pull or guide the ships through a very narrow area. There is usually 4 to a ship – two at the front and two at the back. The first mule or locomotive cost $13,217 and were built by General Electric, an American company. Mitsubishi is the current manufacturer of Panama Canal locomotives which cost US$2.3m each!

As we were passing though the Miraflores lock, I could see in the distance a container ship using the newer canal.

After leaving the final lock, we then headed under the Bridge of Americas and past Panama City to continue up the coast to Huatulco.

The canal is an amazing piece of engineering. I think the photos will say more than I can. I have also posted a time lapse on my Facebook page which can be accessed here (there are two parts as we had an emergency evacuation right below my cabin and was requested not to photograph or video the medical disembarkation).

My next blog will be about Huatulco and Cabo San Lucas.

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Saint Lucia – 16th January 2019

St Lucia is a beautiful and lush island. Its another island with Volcanic soil so, like Madeira, it grows a plethora of produce. Some, such as bananas, coconuts, cocoa, avocados, mangoes and other citrus fruits are grown for exporting. They also grow food for local consumption, such as coffee, christophene, breadfruit, plantain, carrots, cabbage, pumpkin and a variety of root products such as dasheene, yams and sweet potatoes.

For my tour, I chose an independent company called Cosol. They are local, drive small mini busses and, when doing the tour, you really feel like you are a local. Our tour guide was known as ‘Yellow Bird’ and is the brother of the founder of the company (known as Colsol) who unfortunately died last year.

I disembarked the ship at about 8.15am and proceeded to the meet up point for the tour. I was greeted by a very happy guide who was introduced to us (by then, several others from the ship were there too) as Yellow Bird. We were allocated to a mini bus and off we went.

We drove through the town of Castries and up into the hill where we stopped for our first photo opportunity. It is important to know that when you stop at any of these places, there are vendors waiting to sell you stuff. Luckily, they do take ‘no’ and don’t pester you too much. Much of the stuff they were selling was jewellery and other hand made produce (I didn’t really look at much of it). We were informed that there would be vendors at other stops, too.

After stopping for the beautiful view of Arcadia docked in Castries, we then carried on to Morne Road to a banana plantation. Very fascinating to see how bananas grow.


Yellow Bird showing us the inside of the banana plant. The bananas start growing downwards.

As the banana mature, they cover them with a blue bag to protect them from the insects. Whilst in Madeira on the tour, I was told that they cover them like this to make them all grow the same size. Whilst we were at the banana plantation, there was an opportunity to taste a freshly picked banana, some banana chips (served with banana ketchup and barbecue sauce – I didn’t have the sauce).

Above you see a couple of stages of the banana tree.

We then drove through a fishing villages. This one was called Canaries and Yellow Bird described it as a poor village. It certainly looked a picturesque place to live. We were driven to a vantage point where we could take some photos.

Picturesque Fishing Village Canaries

Back into the Mini bus, then on to a stop for Breakfast. The breakfast consisted of a large selection of local dishes. I didn’t have much but everyone else raved about it. There was also plenty of liquid refreshments including Spiced Rum, Piton Beer and soft drinks. I was assured that the rum was very nice!

We then headed on towards Soufriere. It is a town on the West Coast of Saint Lucia, in the eastern Caribbean Sea. The town and the surrounding district has a population of 7,935. It was colonized by the French and was the original capital of the island. We stopped for a photo of the Pitons, volcano and of Soufriere. Again, there were vendors trying to sell stuff. I spoke to one young lad who was looking to study engineering to help his family. I think he was looking for a donation to his college fund and made me a grasshopper out of banana leaves. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any cash on me and did apologise, but he gave me the grasshopper anyway and thanked me for talking to him.

We went down the hill into Soufriere to catch the water taxi to Sugar Beach to snorkel. Yellow Bird was telling us that he used to be able to drive tourist there, but a resort purchased land on the only land route and then stopped tours going to the beach, but the resort didn’t own the beach as there are no private beaches in Saint Lucia. To get around this, Cosol tours (and others) started using the water taxi to get there. The resort are now OK with this and do supply some chairs on a small part of the beach for non resort customers. Sugar Beach is located right between the Pitons.

We were given an hour here to snorkel or to sit and drink! I had a good snorkel and saw a lot of fish – possibly more than I saw in the Great Barrier Reef, but it was very sunny here and the water was clear. Something that was lacking in the GBR. Forgive my photos as this was the first time I had used my gopro, but am in love with the quality of photos it takes!

After our hour of snorkelling (which went very quick), we had another trip in the water taxi back to the mini bus in Soufriere. We then headed to the drive in volcano. Surprisingly (not), when we opened the door, there was a strong smell of sulphur. Some of the group went for a dip into the mineral bath. My back was hurting a bit so I opted to watch from the top and take some photos.

Steps down to the bathing area

After descending the steps, you arrive at the bathing area.

After a soak in the mineral bath, it was time to get out and get ‘mudded up’.

Over the other side of the bride was another pool and I took this photo.

I thought the lady laying on the stone with handprints on her butt was rather amusing!

While the others showered, I headed back to the mini bus. As they all got in the bus, there was a rather strong sulphuric smell following them!! Luckily, the next stop was the waterfall where they could have a rinse off in fresh water. This would be our last water stop.

The waterfall was a short drive away.

I managed to get a photo with no one in it and it was a lovely place

We then headed back to the restaurant where we ate breakfast and had lunch of bread and cheese, and some more refreshments. There was a couple of dogs there which I fed my food to (they got me some food but it had fish. I guess they don’t understand vegan in Saint Lucia, but I appreciated them trying).

There appeared to be a lot of stray dogs in Saint Lucia which I always find sad in any country. This dog was at the place we ate but I am not sure if he was a stray or was owned by the people who owned the restaurant.

As we headed back to the ship, once again driving the same route, we stopped to view Marigot Bay which is where Dr Doolittle was filmed. It looked like a very rich part of Saint Lucia.

We then continued back to the ship. On the way we stopped for one last photo of a naturally formed arch in the sea.

Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

We arrived back at the ship at 4.30pm, so we’d had a whole day tour with Cosol’s Yellow Bird. I’m not sure if I mentioned above that there is unlimited alcohol/refreshments available throughout the tour – you just have to ask! The tour cost $75US per person and is a fabulous price for what you get. I would highly recommend Cosol tours and if you are visiting Saint Lucia whether on a cruise or a holiday, please consider Cosol tours. There is a link to their Facebook Page at the top of this blog.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog on Saint Lucia. My next stop is Aruba (18th January). All the images have been taken by me and have not been edited in any way so is a true representation. I also apologise for any spelling errors – I will check once I have a faster internet.

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Madeira 10th January 2019

We docked in Madeira at 10am on 10th January. Considering we had a 13 hour delay and a diversion to Vigo for the medical emergency evacuation, I am surprised it wasn’t later!

I had a trip booked for 12.30pm. I decided to go for a short walk and get some photos of Arcadia in Port. As well as Arcadia, Fred Olson’s Balmoral was also in port. The weather was looking good for the day.

The cruise excursion trip took us to a little fishing village Camara de Lobos. As we approached the village we saw many small colourful boats in the bay just waiting for fishermen to take them out to sea. The streets were narrow and the Christmas lights were still up (but not lit). we were told that the fishermen are sometimes out for days at a time. It was a beautiful little harbour.

Unfortunately we didn’t stop for a photo so this was taken through the coach window.

Viewpoint photos taken from a cliff and the cliff had a viewing platform made of glass. It was cracked on the edge, so I wasn’t going to risk standing on it.

We were then making our way to the second photo opportunity stop. The coach took us through twisting and winding roads to a look out but we were still in Camara de Lobos. The roads took us past a plethora of different fruits and vegetables that is grown in Madeira. The soil in madeira is volcanic rich. The different vegetables are grown at different altitudes throughout the island.

We saw so many things growing including bananas, mangos, papayas, avocados, sweet potato and grape vines. There was also a lot of sugar cane grown which is used mostly for molasses. The reason that Madeira is able to grow so much of a variation of fruit and vegetables is down to the volcanic soil and its richness of nutrients. These were what were growing at lower altitudes and as we went up further into the mountains, it all changed and we saw less of the lush green and it was mainly dominated by sweet chestnuts, walnuts and eucalyptus trees.

We then went on to Santo Antonio. It was a beautiful look out point where we could see Arcadia in port. in the distance of the second photo, you can see two more islands of the Madeira Archipelago.

We carried on our ascent up to ‘Nuns Valley’ which was 3,300ft above sea level.

Nuns Valley is a small parish nestling between almost perpendicular mountains in the heart of the island. Both Eira do Serrado and Paredão viewpoints are excellent locations to contemplate the magnificent views of this parish.

The huge cauldron in which Curral das Freiras is sitting was either formed by erosion, which is the more recent theory, or as many still believe, by volcanic activity.
In 1566 the nuns from the Santa Clara convent fled from pirates attacking Funchal and found seclusion here, where they also brought the convent treasure.

The parish is very isolated, and locals mainly live of what they grow. The local chestnuts are delicious and are used in everyday cooking.

Curral das Freiras was the property of a couple that sold this land to the captain of Funchal, João Gonçalves da Câmara. This captain gave the lands to his daughters when they entered the Santa Clara convent (also built by him). (info taken from here).

Again, apologies for some of the images – they were taken from the coach window. They shows the change in products that can be grown depending on altitude. There is a lot of Eucalyptus trees in Madeira, although a devastating fire wiped a lot of them out three years ago.

While we were up at the viewing point for Nuns Valley, we were ‘treated’ to some cake, tea, coffee or madeira wine. I had asked the tour guide for something suitable and he said there wasn’t, so I decided to just take a walk (after I got back to the coach some other passengers had said the guide was looking for me with a gluten free cake, but they said it didn’t look very nice. I did point out that Gluten free food is an acquired taste!), anyway – I had a good look around and it was a very pleasant view and I enjoyed it. After joining the coach, we made our way down the twisting and winding roads and back to our coach.

Sail away party started at 5.30 in the Aquarius pool and bar area. When I got there, it was well underway!

The sail away is great fun. The entertainment team try their hardest to get everyone up and dancing! Some do, but the majority don’t. They have ‘Great British’ songs playing like ‘I am sailing’, ‘reach for the sky’, ‘Agadoo’ and many more. Great fun watching everyone!

Just after 6pm, we enjoyed a lovely sunset. I thought it was beautiful how just as our ship started to turn, the sunset lit up the coast of madeira. Very beautiful and a lovely ending to a wonderful day in Madeira.

Thank you for reading. I have 5 days at sea now until St Lucia.

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Preparing for an 87 night holiday!

On January 6th 2019, I am embarking on an epic (for me anyway) trip and going away from my husband, kids (23 and 24 year old who have both left home) and dogs for 87 nights. I am doing half a world cruise on P&O’s arcadia, a two week cruise on Sea Princess around New Zealand, travelling onto Sydney to spend 4 nights, collecting a hire car and travelling to Melbourne over 10 days before arriving in Melbourne for 4 nights and heading back to the UK on 29th March. I will be visiting lots of places, but before I leave, I wanted to share some useful information of tips to make your stay on a cruise ship easier and to make the cabin homely which I collected from members of my world cruise Facebook group that I set up just after I booked the tripOn January 6th 2019, I am embarking on an epic (for me anyway) trip and going away from my husband, kids and dogs for 87 nights. I am doing half a world cruise on P&O’s arcadia, a two week cruise on Sea Princess around New Zealand, travelling onto Sydney to spend 4 nights, collecting a hire car and travelling to Melbourne over 10 days before arriving in Melbourne for 4 nights and heading back to the UK on 29th March. I will be visiting lots of places, but before I leave, I wanted to share some useful information of tips collected from members of my world cruise Facebook group that I set up just after I booked the trip.If you were going on such a long trip with your partner and leaving your home empty, you would have to consider such things as informing your insurance company or arranging a house sitter, keep the heating on low (if in the winter), have your mail held at the local office, emptying and turning off fridges and freezers etc. Fortunately for me, my husband is staying, so I didn’t have to do any of this.

If you were going on such a long trip with your partner and leaving your home empty, you would have to consider such things as informing your insurance company or arranging a house sitter, keep the heating on low (if in the winter), have your mail held at the local office, emptying and turning off fridges and freezers etc. Fortunately for me, my husband is staying, so I didn’t have to do any of this.

The following are my suggestions to make your holiday more enjoyable.

Magnets – these are handy on a cruise because the walls are steel, so you can use them to attach your daily paper (which has details of activities on the ship) and personal items (photos of loved ones) to make your cabin more homely. I’ve purchased four to start me off and they are of my home town, Bristol. I hope to buy a magnet in each port as a small memento of my trip so will have a few more before I get home.

Magnetic hooks – again, these can go on the wall and are useful for hanging your bag, coat, bathrobe and anything else that hangs and should save you space.

Seasickness tablets or bands – I haven’t ever suffered from sea sickness but I have a fear of suffering seasickness! I have purchased some Sturgeon which I use if the Captain says the sea state is going to be really rough. On a Cruise ship, you know when its going to be bad because seasickness bags get put out by all the lifts!

Travel socket – I’ve got a travel socket that has two plugs and four USB slots. Most cruise ships have only one plug in the cabin, so I always travel with my travel plug. It will also be useful for Australia as I have an Australian adaptor for it too.

Packing cubes – These are a godsend! Even though they look small, they can hold a lot of clothing. In case you’ve never heard of them, here is a link to them on amazon

Waterproof bag – If, like me, you enjoy a bit of snorkelling, swimming or going on a boat, a waterproof bag is a good investment. As well as keeping everything dry, if you take them in the water with you, they act as a floating aid. You can see them here.

Mosquito repellent – on this trip, I am travelling to ‘at risk’ places such as the Panama Canal and some of the South Pacific Islands. Advice from some surgeries (this has been discussed at length on our Facebook group) are to take malaria tablets, but others have been advised to just use a repellent with ‘Deet’ in and to cover up. Because we will be leaving at around 4/5pm, we ‘shouldn’t’ have any problems as mozzies tend to come out in the evening. Of course, it is up to you what you do – I am not advising you either way!

Sunscreen (natural if going in sea – some affect the oceans) – Sunscreen is essential if you are, like me, very white and burn easily! The problem with sunscreen is that it is reported that sunscreen is responsible for bleaching Coral because of Oxybenzone (a detailed article from the Guardian is here). If you are aware of this and you want to swim but not to cause any damage to the sea, there are ways to do this. When I swim in the sea, I tend to wear swim leggings and a rash top (I purchased mine from Coolibar in the USA) and also swim shoes. The only bit exposed is my face, so I always search for a sea friendly brand of sunscreen – there are plenty out there, just search the internet.

Travel blanket – I like to take a travel blanket – nice to have something familiar when travelling and, if on a cruise, it makes a good shawl to go onto the decks in the evening if you fancy popping out for a bit of fresh air.

Cable tidy bag – AI never know where to find my cables so invested in cable bag for all my cables and bits and pieces like batteries (for my cameras), selfie stick and mini tripod.

Torch – In my Facebook group, some people have advised to take a torch as, in the Cabins on Arcadia, the reading light is really low on the back of the bed so is not as effective as it has been designed to be. You also never know when you might need a light!

RFID purse for out and about – protect your credit cards and passport from being copied and fraudulently used. Some countries have prolific pickpockets and it has be know for people to carry a credit card machine around to capture wireless charging.

Travel WiFi dongle/hotspot hub – I managed to find a travel wifi hub which holds a sim card and is unlocked so can be used in any country. At the same time, I found a 24gb data sim from 3 (both on Amazon – the sim was cheaper on Amazon than buying direct from 3). I am hoping this will allow me internet access in port so that I can update my blog and Facebook page. I’m not sure how long it will last, but will report back.

Mini Air Humidifier – Again, another discussion in our World Cruise Facebook group was the dry air and trying to ensure our wellbeing (especially on a long cruise). This mini one had been used by someone in the group and was recommended. They suggested using it at night. You can purchase it with Amazon here.

Water bottle (metal) – With all the worry of pollution in our seas, I wanted to take a bottle with me so opted for a metal bottle rather than a plastic one. I purchased mine from Amazon. I purchased one similar to the one in this link.

I hope these ideas help you when packing for a long trip (particularly a cruise). The next blog will be when I start my holiday and leave Bristol to go to Southampton on 5th January.

If you have any suggestions for essential items for a cruise or holiday, please comment.

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