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Juneau

June 2, 2022 – Juneau, Alaska, USA

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

The ship arrives in Juneau at 8AM and my floatplane excursion doesn’t leave until Noon, so I have plenty of time to have breakfast and look around the city. Juneau is the state capital of Alaska, so in addition to tourism, the city has the government and some industry to base their economy on. There are nice plazas, a developed waterfront, the shops are plentiful and appear to be prospering. Before returning to the ship, I check out where Wings Airways dispatches their seaplanes from, which is only a 5-minute walk from where the ship is docked.

Five Glacier Seaplane Exploration

The pilot selects me to sit in the co-pilot’s seat, so that’s a real bonus, allowing me to see out the front of the aircraft as well as having a side window. We soar over the lush wilderness of the Tongass National Forest, catching our first glimpse of five distinctly different and majestic glaciers making up a section of the 1,500-square-mile Juneau Ice Field. We fly over the deep crevasses and azure blue meltwater pools of the Norris, Hole-In-The-Wall, East and West Twin Glaciers and lake, plus the impressive five-mile-wide Taku Glacier. Of the 36 named glaciers comprising the Juneau Ice Field, the Taku Glacier is the largest. The Annex Creek power station is visible as we fly along the Taku Inlet. There is a verdant valley between the foot of Norris and Taku glaciers and Taku Inlet.

We end the flight by overflying the harbour and city before landing on a southerly heading, returning to the dock. I buy a souvenir t-shirt and ball cap combo from the seaplane office before returning to the ship. I have lots of photos and video taken with my iPhone 13 Pro on this spectacular flight in clear and sunny weather – well worth the expense for this excursion.

I have a pizza and a beer from NY Pizza aboard the ship, sitting in the shade beside the Sea View pool on the stern, overlooking the city and harbour. It’s a lovely warm and sunny day. In fact, Juneau breaks a record today set back in 1946 for the hottest day:  28ºC (82ºF). Our Belgian cruise director complains about getting a bit of a sunburn today!

Since I have the drinks package, I’m making a point of ordering cappuccino and alcoholic drinks anytime I want one. Today I had two cappuccinos with breakfast, the beer with lunch. I also have another cappuccino in the late afternoon at the Explorations Cafe, where Maria, the young barista thanks me for leaving a complimentary comment using the Navigator app a couple of days ago. 

I skip dinner or even a snack this evening, since the personal-sized pizza I had this afternoon was 6 slices, which filled me up. I attend the 7pm Step One Dance Company Presents: Humanity and send a comment through Navigator app: “This is my first MainStage show viewed on this voyage, which I thoroughly enjoyed! Please pass on my congratulations to the performers. I know it must be tough to play to a mostly empty house, but their enthusiasm and professionalism shone through.”

I spot my first small Humpback whale at 9:30PM this evening from my verandah as we pass through Frederick Sound. The ship is making 20 knots to Ketchikan, so there is only time to grab binoculars, not my camera.

Juneau
35 photos, 1 video
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Skagway

June 1, 2022 – the White Pass & Yukon Railway – Skagway, Alaska, USA

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

I have a leisurely breakfast in the main dining room this morning: vegetable scramble (eggs) with a cappuccino. There is no rush, since my excursion doesn’t leave until 12:10PM. I have lots of time to wander around Skagway, which looks a lot like Dawson City, since the storefronts are all historic looking, but mostly modern buildings inside. The first few blocks of State Street (the main street) has all the tourist shops and services, but walk further up the street a few blocks, or divert a block or two either side, and the real town reveals itself. Dominating the town are the deep sea docks for cruise ships, which once were also used for ore loading, and the multiple railway tracks of the White Pass and Yukon railway, which run from the docks along the eastern side of town.

I tick off a long-standing bucket list item today: riding on the White Pass and Yukon railway from Skagway to the White Pass Summit. The breathtaking scenery is a counterpoint to realizing the Klondike gold miners had to struggle up this steep mountain pass mainly on foot. When they got to the top, they had to go back down and up multiple times to haul their one ton stake to the summit before the North West Mounted Police would let them into Canada to seek their fortune in Dawson City, some 500 miles further! I think the excursion description is a great summary of my experience:

“Experience an unforgettable journey along the eastern side of White Pass aboard the world-famous narrow-gauge White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, built more than 100 years ago. You’ll pass through some of the North’s most rugged terrain on board a comfortable rail car as you retrace the original route through breathtaking scenery to the summit of White Pass at 2,865 feet. Relax on the 40-mile roundtrip journey along steep grades and cliff-hanging turns as your train agent shares stories from the past.

Back in Skagway, board a motor coach and travel the historic streets of downtown Skagway, part of the Klondike National Historical Park. Visit The Lookout, a photographer’s delight offering a panoramic view of the Skagway Valley, glacier-clad mountains, Lynn Canal and your cruise ship.

Stop at historic Liarsville, a gold rush trail camp nestled beside a waterfall at the foot of White Pass. Liarsville is named for the journalists sent here to report on the Klondike Gold Rush, whose articles included tall tales of the prospectors’ exploits. Browse the authentic camp exhibits, including antiques and garments left behind by the prospectors and those who profited from them. A cast of ‘sourdoughs’ and dance hall girls will entertain you with a hilarious melodrama and a poem by Robert Service, the Bard of the North. 

You’ll also have a chance to try your hand at the art of gold panning in the Liarsville gold fields, where you are guaranteed to find some gold to keep. Enjoy a snack, shop for souvenirs or have your photo taken with a dance hall girl.”

White Pass & Yukon Railway – Skagway to White Pass Summit route map

Would-be gold miners had a choice of two routes: the shorter but steeper Chilkoot Trail, or the White Pass trail, which promised a less steep but longer route. Both were punishing routes which lead to the interior lake region where the stampeders could begin their 550 mile journey to the promised gold to be found in the creeks and rivers of Dawson City. The White Pass and Yukon railway was built a few years later by an Irish-Canadian named “Big” Mike Henry, who built the 110 mile route over just 26 months for $15 million. He is quoted “give me enough dynamite, and snoose, and I’ll build you a railroad to hell.” 

In 1982 world metal prices plummeted, so the ore from the mines the railway transported to ships dried up. The railway suspended operations until 1988, when they reinvented themselves as a narrow guage tourist excursion train between Skagway and the White Pass Summit. The active line was later extended to Bennett Lake (1990s) and Carcross, Yukon (2007). Due to pandemic border restrictions, currently only trips to White Pass Summit are offered.

After returning to the ship, I have dinner in the main dining room with a couple from south Texas. I start with crabmeat corn fritters, panko-crusted hake for the main course, and strawberry pavlova for dessert. The hake is really nice – a new fish for me. I see the Belt of Venus and the Earth’s shadow in front of us after sunset, as the ship makes its way slowly south down the Lynn Canal to tomorrow’s port of call, Juneau.

Skagway
47 photos, 2 videos
Sunset panorama looking west to north from my verandah
Sunset panorama looking west to north from my verandah
After sunset looking north up the Lynn Canal from my verandah
After sunset looking north up the Lynn Canal from my verandah
"We Love Alaska" sign on the bow of the Nieuw Amsterdam
“We Love Alaska” sign on the bow of the Nieuw Amsterdam
White Pass & Yukon Route train station and other shops in downtown Skagway
White Pass & Yukon Route train station and other shops in downtown Skagway
Shops in downtown Skagway
Shops in downtown Skagway
Shops in downtown Skagway
Shops in downtown Skagway
Parks Canada and US National Parks Klondike information center
Parks Canada and US National Parks Klondike information center
Historic Skagway Inn's Back garden
Historic Skagway Inn’s Back garden
Historic Y.M.C.A. Gymnasium
Historic Y.M.C.A. Gymnasium
Cute house with white picket fence, flag and snow-capped mountains behind
Cute house with white picket fence, flag and snow-capped mountains behind
5 electric vehicle charging points
5 electric vehicle charging points
Snowmobiles stored on top of a container box
Snowmobiles stored on top of a container box
Looking down Broadway to the valley from the stern of the ship
Looking down Broadway to the valley from the stern of the ship
Vintage steam engine and rotary snowplow
Vintage steam engine and rotary snowplow
A new engine pullling a White Pass & Yukon train from the Ore Dock
A new engine pullling a White Pass & Yukon train from the Ore Dock
Boarding the train
Boarding the train
Railway equpment on a siding
Railway equpment on a siding
Our train waits on a bridge over a moutain stream for hikers to board
Our train waits on a bridge over a moutain stream for hikers to board
Stove to heat the car in the winter
Stove to heat the car in the winter
Railway maintenace yard
Railway maintenace yard
Looking down the valley towards Skagway from Rocky Point
Looking down the valley towards Skagway from Rocky Point
The highway across the valley
The highway across the valley
Inside our train car
Inside our train car
The front of the train and a siding
The front of the train and a siding
The railway grade above us
The railway grade above us
The railway grade above us with wooden trestle and tunnel
The railway grade above us with wooden trestle and tunnel
Picking up hikers
Picking up hikers
Snow-covered mountain peaks
Snow-covered mountain peaks
View down the valley to Skagway and the Lynn Canal
View down the valley to Skagway and the Lynn Canal
Train passes over a bridge, through a tunnel and another train passes at the summit
Train passes over a bridge, through a tunnel and another train passes at the summit
Our train entering the tunnel to the summit
Our train entering the tunnel to the summit
The trail of '98 where miners struggled up this gulley to the White Pass summit
The trail of ’98 where miners struggled up this gulley to the White Pass summit
The simple sign marking the trail of '98 where miners struggled up this gulley to the White Pass summit
The simple sign marking the trail of ’98 where miners struggled up this gulley to the White Pass summit
Canada-USA border marker
Canada-USA border marker
North West Mounted Police NWMP replica cabin at the summit
North West Mounted Police NWMP replica cabin at the summit
A stream running through the snowy White Pass summit
A stream running through the snowy White Pass summit
The snowy White Pass summit
The snowy White Pass summit
Our train looping back at the White Pass summit
Our train looping back at the White Pass summit
Liarsville welcome sign with camp behind
Liarsville welcome sign with camp behind
Saloon tent
Saloon tent
Shopping list for 1 Ton of goods at Madam Jan's Fancy Goods
Shopping list for 1 Ton of goods at Madam Jan’s Fancy Goods
Laundry tent
Laundry tent
Robert Service skit
Robert Service skit
Robert Service skit
Robert Service skit
Blacksmith and hardware tent
Blacksmith and hardware tent
Panning for gold
Panning for gold
Press tent
Press tent
Overlooking Skagway and the cruise ships
Overlooking Skagway and the cruise ships
Venus' Belt as we head south after departing Skagway with a cruise ship ahead of us
Venus’ Belt as we head south after departing Skagway with a cruise ship ahead of us
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Hubbard Glacier

May 30, 2022 – Turner and Hubbard Glaciers, Alaska, USA

2022 Yukon & Double Denali Alaska land/cruise

Early this morning, I am a bit worried about not seeing the Hubbard Glacier later today, since when I’m out on the stern deck, there is a lot of fog. The ship sails past the very impressive St. Elias mountain range eastward through the Gulf of Alaska to Hubbard Glacier this morning, while another cruise ship is sailing westward. I attend the Mariner Society Welcome Reception at 11AM, where I meet some of the officers and chat with my fellow passengers with 3, 4, and 5 star Mariner status as we sip wine and snack on peanuts.

This afternoon, it clears up nicely as the ship turns into Yakutat Bay, with beautiful Mt. Cook visible. As we turn into Disenchantment Bay, I spot both Turner and Hubbard Glaciers, taking photos as we proceed. The ship eventually gets very close to the ice pack in front of the glacier face, slowly turning to allow all passengers to get views of this magnificent area.

Daniel E. Lawson – map of the Hubbard Glacier area

There is commentary from the Explorations Lounge on Deck 11, which can also be heard on outside decks. I go down to the Promenade Deck to have a look, but quickly realize I will see everything from my verandah, with the added benefit of being able to duck inside my stateroom to warm up. This is the coldest day of the trip so far, with a cold wind coming at us from the glaciers, so I wear my toque, scarf and winter coat.

Filet mignon main course in Pinnacle Grill

As the ship starts pulling out of Disenchantment Bay, I get dressed in a suit and tie for my dinner reservation in the Pinnacle Grill. I have a lovely Tanqueray 10 Gin martini to start, then crab cakes, filet mignon with sautéed mushrooms and loaded baked potato, finishing off with creme brûlée. I have a sparkling French rose with my main course. Despite the daily program saying attire is “dressy” this evening, it’s obvious that HAL no longer enforces a dress code, since I see people seated in the Pinnacle Grill who are wearing winter coats and jeans, and all manner of dress that is certainly not even close to being dressy.

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Panama Canal Transit

March 29, 2020 – Transiting the Panama Canal in the dead of night

2020 South America cruise

The Rotterdam and Zaandam are at anchor in the bay just off Balboa today. At dinner this evening, the captain informs us we have approvals for a canal transit, so both ships raise anchor and proceed to the Canal entrance after dark.

I have transited the Panama Canal on three previous occasions, but I find this is without a doubt the strangest. First of all, apparently the reason we were approved to transit is that Panama considers this a medical humanitarian mission. Both ships are proceeding after dark with minimal external lighting – no veranda deck lights, cabin blackout curtains are pulled, and we are transiting using the more remote, but new Cocoli Locks. I’m speculating, however I think it’s likely these measures are in place so the Panamanian public and canal workers don’t see our ships. There is great fear of mass protests by governments during these strange times we now live in…

The banner image above shows a webcam view of the Zaandam passing through Cocoli Locks. Note there are no canal workers in sight, since these new locks are designed to allow ship’s thrusters to be used instead of the labour-intensive towing that is required in the old locks.

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Chile to Panama

March 22, 2020 – Day 1 at sea – off the coast of Chile

2020 South America cruise

Ship's position off the Chilean coast
Ship’s position off the Chilean coast

It is a lazy morning, but I’m finally motivated to get up and go to the Explorations Cafe for a cappuccino. I sit quietly in a recliner looking out at the flat seas we are currently sailing through off the northern coast of Chile. I try to calm myself and relax, as my mind races through all the scenarios the end of this ill-fated voyage might take.

At 2pm the captain comes on the PA system with an important announcement: “A higher number of passengers with influenza-like symptoms reported to the medical centre this morning. Until further notice all guests need to stay in their rooms, since it is well-proven that this strategy will slow the spread of the virus. All food service in public areas will cease and meals will be delivered directly to passenger staterooms.” This is dreadful news – we are in quarantine!

March 23, 2020 – Day 2 at sea – off the coast of Peru

We wait until 10:30am for our breakfast to appear, and considering the ship’s clock lost an hour early this morning, it was actually 11:30am! Instead of a pot of coffee, we just get two cups, along with eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, Cheerios and milk. There were also a couple of pancakes, which didn’t look at all appetizing. No doubt, food services staff are scrambling to deliver meals to all 1,300 guests three times a day!

Ship's position off the Peruvian coast
Ship’s position off the Peruvian coast

After lunch, the captain announces that Holland America has dispatched the Rotterdam to assist us with any additional staff or supplies we might need until we reach Fort Lauderdale. Rotterdam loaded extra supplies (including COVID-19 test kits) from the now-idle Eurodam and Oosterdam, and is now underway towards us, meeting us on Mar 26th off the coast of Panama. All three ships were located near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Our lunch arrives around 3pm, and consists of chicken breast, rice, vegetables, spring rolls, and salad. A half dozen beer and bottles of red and white wine are also delivered outside our door. So we now have four bottles of wine in our stateroom. Too bad we’re in no mood to party!

A first-stage alarm goes off this afternoon, which turns out to be a small fire in the laundry. It doesn’t go any further, and the captain announces a stand-down for the crew shortly after, and reassures the passengers that the incident is successfully resolved.

The couple from across the hall are thrilled to see out our window while we chat with them (at a distance) with our cabin doors open. They occupy a windowless stateroom, but they seem to be coping pretty well.

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean offshore from Arequipa, , Peru
Sunset over the Pacific Ocean offshore from Arequipa, , Peru

March 24, 2020 – Day 3 at sea – off the coast of Peru

Ship's position offshore from Trujillo, Peru
Ship’s position offshore from Trujillo, Peru

Thirteen guests and 29 crew members have fallen ill on board as of yesterday, displaying flu-like symptoms. The captain relates that new cases has fallen dramatically today, since passengers and non-working crew remain in their cabins for the second day. The captain continues to indicate they still want to give at least passengers in inside cabins with no window some brief outside deck access. We would also very much appreciate having access to some fresh air and be able to walk on deck, since our window doesn’t open!

March 25, 2020 – Day 4 at sea – off the coast of Ecuador

The meals being brought to us are very good, but neither of us have an appetite, so we just snack a bit. I can feel myself shutting down – both mentally and physically. I just sit doing nothing…it’s like I can’t achieve focus, despite having lots of tasks I could be doing on my computer, or listening to music or e-books, or watching TV, etc.

In-cabin food: beef stew, quinoa vegetarian, chicken strips, lemon cake, green salad with mushrooms
In-cabin food: beef stew, quinoa vegetarian, chicken strips, lemon cake, green salad with mushrooms

Today we get to leave our cabins for the promised fresh air break for those of us who don’t have verandahs. Each group gets 30 minutes outside on deck, which is very much appreciated, even though we have to wear masks and follow other quarantine protocols!

March 26, 2020 – Day 5 at sea – no report

March 27, 2020 – Balboa, Panama

Both the Rotterdam and Zaandam are now anchored in a bay adjacent to Balboa (the Pacific entry point for the Panama Canal), where we continue to await clearance to transit the Canal. Rotterdam will refuel while at anchor.

The captain announces this morning that four passengers have died over the last couple of days. COVID-19 testing has revealed two passengers testing positive. A small number of healthy guests will be moved from Zaandam to the Rotterdam today, with priority being given to inside cabin occupants and those who are over 70. We qualify to be moved to the Rotterdam, so after passing yet another medical test, we’re all packed and waiting for our transfer to happen. We know everyone will continue to be confined to staterooms while on the Rotterdam, but it is still a more promising situation for us.

Later, the captain reports that transfers are delayed since the Rotterdam is still bunkering fuel, although he expects at least some guests will transfer this evening, with the rest of the transfers now delayed until tomorrow. He also reports that new cases reported to the medical centre have levelled off, but he urges all passengers to wear the personal medical masks provided. They are also suspending the fresh air program on the advice of the US CDC.

March 28, 2020 – Balboa, Panama

Our transfer from Zaandam to Rotterdam.
Our transfer from Zaandam to Rotterdam.

Wendy and I are transferred to the Rotterdam this morning, since we are both relatively healthy. They continue to transfer healthy passengers from Zaandam to Rotterdam all day using strict medical and cleaning protocols.

Our cabin on the Rotterdam ends up being nearly identical to the one we had on the Zaandam, right down to having the exact same number!

Now we wait for news of our ships being permitted to transit the Panama Canal.


Although Capt. Albert J. Schoonderbeek was not the duty captain on the Rotterdam at the time of our voyage, he was aboard the ship as an “ambassador”. He personally and cheerfully greeted my fellow passengers and I as we climbed the gangway into the ship when we were transferred from the Zaandam. If you are interested in the behind-the-scenes activities the crew carried out on behalf of the passengers, please read his blog.

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St. Vincent & Bequia

Dec 14, 2018 – Kingstown, St. Vincent & Admiralty Bay, Bequia, the Grenadines

2018 Caribbean Sail Cruise

The 5,000-passenger MSC Preziosa docks before we anchor, so their passengers are crowding the dock area and the downtown. Some of us walk the few blocks to the town, where there are festivals and busy open air markets. I soon return to the ship to escape the heat and chaos.

An excursion is late returning passengers to the ship, so we depart Kingstown at 2:00PM instead of 12:30PM. I’m concerned, since I have an excursion scheduled for a 2:15PM departure from Bequia, the next island. The Cruise Director assures us the excursion will run, since it is a short trip to Bequia.

I try some roast suckling pig for lunch. The crackly skin is pretty tough and the meat is dry, so I use some gravy to make it edible. There is a 30 knot wind in the harbour by lunch time, and the crossing to Bequia is exceedingly rough, with the ship rolling wildly – passengers are struggling to not crash into things and each other. Welcome to the Windward Islands!

Our Magical Coast of Bequia excursion this afternoon is delayed but still leaves from Port Elizabeth as promised. It isn’t pleasant because of the high winds and being on a speed boat means we are pitching and banging wildly. The crew are constantly asking us to move to a drier part of the boat as they struggle to put up tarps to keep us from getting completely soaked. Nobody can hear the narration describing the sights we are passing because of the roar of the engines and the strong wind.

Moon Hole is one location where the waves and wind subside, so we can actually take some photos and hear the fascinating story behind the place. Nearby is an old whaling station at Sempler’s Cay. Apparently residents of Bequia still have the right to take a whale or two each year, but it hasn’t happened for awhile.

We also go around West Cay to see the airport (unimpressive) before retracing our route. The last stop before we return to the ship is to swim and snorkel at Princess Margaret Beach. Due to the late start, it is almost sunset by the time we arrive, so it is pointless for me (and others) to go in the water, since we won’t see anything and we only have 20 minutes. Some go in for a swim anyway, while the rest of us stay aboard and enjoy the rum punch.

Map showing the points-of-interest for our speedboat tour of Bequia
Map showing the points-of-interest for our speedboat tour of Bequia

The ship’s servers and kitchen staff all parade through the dining room at dinner this evening, and sing “We Are The World” waving flags as the rest of us wave our napkins. Tomorrow the cruise is over when we dock in Bridgetown, Barbados. After returning to my cabin, I pack everything in my big travel bag, and put it out for the porters to take ashore tomorrow morning. I’m feeling a bit nauseous due to the extreme pitching of the ship as she takes the strong winds on the nose. Once I finish packing and go to bed I am fine, and sleep well.

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Antigua

December 10, 2018 – Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

2018 Caribbean Sail Cruise

I am up early this morning to take the tender at 9:15AM for my Segway tour. We are met at the dock by a driver who takes us across the island to the largest city of St. Johns, where we hook up with the Segway tour company. They spend quite a bit of time instructing our small group on how to operate the machines safely, since we are all newbies.

Then we are off, following our tour guide as she talks to us with radio earphones, keeping us on track, safe, and describing the sights. Our first stop is at the Minister of Tourism’s estate on top of a ridge, where we can take photos while overlooking the beautiful harbours, coastline, and an abandoned sugar mill.

We next stop at beautiful Runaway Beach (see banner image above) for a refreshment break. Before the new airport was built, small passenger aircraft would land on the hard sand on this beach. Fort James is our next stop – an abandoned fort with lots of cannons still on the rock walls overlooking the harbour. We scoot along Fort James Beach, and then back to the starting point.

Map of Segway exploration route near St. James
Segway exploration route near St. Johns

Our driver takes us back across the island to Falmouth Harbour, where our ship’s staff are staging a barbeque lunch on the local beach. I stop to have some lunch, but take the next tender back to the ship and then relax with a beer while on deck overlooking the beautiful harbour. A steel band comes aboard in the early evening to play Caribbean beats before the ship sails out of the harbour.

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St. Barts

Dec 9, 2018 – Gustavia, Saint-Barthélemy

2018 Caribbean Sail Cruise

I get up late and spend my morning spotting Caribbean islands and sea birds (Frigates and Boobys) as the Royal Clipper slowly approaches St. Barts. First is Sint Maartin/St. Martin, then striking Mount Scenery on the island of Saba, and finally the northern islands of St. Barts itself. We anchor near Grande Vigie in Gustavia harbour by 11AM. The 3-masted clipper Stad Amsterdam is anchored in the outer harbour near us. There are the usual complement of super-yachts docked at the marinas in the harbour (see banner image above).

My afternoon excursion today is aboard a charter sailboat, and includes sailing to the leeward side of the island, with a stop at a beach and cove for swimming not too far from Gustavia. I go for a swim in the lovely warm water, and walk the beautiful uncrowded beach. There are snacks and beer served after our swim, as we sail around the windy point back into Gustavia harbour. All-in-all, a sublime and relaxing day!

Sailing excursion route to swimming beach

Saint-Barthélemy is a department of France, and like all of the other French Caribbean islands, it is an expensive place to visit or to live on. That said, all these French islands are also noticeably better off than the other Caribbean islands colonized by other European nations.

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Day at sea – to St. Barts

Dec 8, 2018 – Day at sea – Dominican Republic to Saint-Barthélemy

2018 Caribbean Sail Cruise

A day at sea between ports, passing by Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands

I sleep in yet again this morning to 8:45AM, but it doesn’t matter since today is a sea day. After getting cleaned up a bit, I wander down to the dining room for breakfast: ordering a cappuccino to start, have some fruit, yogurt, pastries and a pancake.

The captain gives an interesting presentation this morning titled “Everything”, which covers the questions posed to him from passengers over the last few days: sailing ship configurations, navigation and GPS, and the physics of how to sail ships with sails. Amazingly, he has written a PhD on using Super-cavitation for fast underwater propulsion – a subject I knew nothing about!

Our course is 090 due east with a stiff wind on our nose, so no sails are set today. We pass by Puerto Rico this afternoon, so I turn off my cellular data roaming, since I don’t have a roaming plan for the US, only for the other Caribbean islands.

Lunch is served on deck from the Tropical Bar. It was quite a spread…it took the staff an hour to haul everything up from the kitchen to serve to us. They work hard, and for long hours! My cabin steward tells me he gets some time off in the afternoon.

I attend a presentation given by a passenger this afternoon which profiles his working life aboard the Union Castle Line on the Royal Mail route between London and South Africa. It was somewhat interesting to see glimpses of life at sea in the 1950s and 60s for the passengers.

The wind is strong and it’s also hot outside this afternoon, so I stay in the Piano Bar working on my journal and photos while sipping a cappuccino. Later in the afternoon the clouds come in, making it more pleasant outside as the sun sets.

I join a table for eight for dinner this evening: five from the UK and two from Canada (Sidney, BC, but former Brits). I have a bunch of Internet time to use, so this evening I work on my photos and manage to post a new album to Facebook.

Royal Clipper
39 photos
The Royal Clipper at the Montego Bay dock
The Royal Clipper at the Montego Bay dock
The stern wheel, booms and masts
The stern wheel, booms and masts
Unfurling one of the four staysails
Unfurling one of the four staysails
Celebrating the departure with champagne
Celebrating the departure with champagne
Atrium Piano bar
Atrium Piano bar
The piano at the top of the multi-level atrium and the restaurant at the bottom
The piano at the top of the multi-level atrium and the restaurant at the bottom
Crew working the lines and staysail
Crew working the lines and staysail
Officer and crew on the stern as the ship leaves port
Officer and crew on the stern as the ship leaves port
Crew working the main console to rig the ship for full sail
Crew working the main console to rig the ship for full sail
Crew rigging the ship for full sail
Crew rigging the ship for full sail
The ship rigged for full sail
The ship rigged for full sail
Passengers climbing the rigging
Passengers climbing the rigging
Looking astern from the crows nest
Looking astern from the crows nest
Looking forward from the crows nest
Looking forward from the crows nest
Joe in the crows nest
Joe in the crows nest
People on the bow net
People on the bow net
Sun glinting off the bow wave
Sun glinting off the bow wave
Sunset over the Caribbean framed by the stern wheel
Sunset over the Caribbean framed by the stern wheel
Lines & jib on the bow
Lines & jib on the bow
Captain Sergey Tunikov and pilot manouver the Royal Clipper into the dock
Captain Sergey Tunikov and pilot manouver the Royal Clipper into the dock
Sunset lighting the Royal Clipper's sails as she leaves the harbour
Sunset lighting the Royal Clipper’s sails as she leaves the harbour
Sunset lighting the Royal Clipper's sails as she leaves the harb
Sunset lighting the Royal Clipper’s sails as she leaves the harb
Sunset lighting the Royal Clipper's sails as she leaves the harb
Sunset lighting the Royal Clipper’s sails as she leaves the harb
Sunset from the stern as the Royal Clipper leave the harbour
Sunset from the stern as the Royal Clipper leave the harbour
Captain Sergey Tunikov talking about how to sail a ship
Captain Sergey Tunikov talking about how to sail a ship
My cabin #207- panoramic
My cabin #207- panoramic
My cabin #207- panoramic
My cabin #207- panoramic
The foredeck of the Royal Clipper and Gustavia harbour
The foredeck of the Royal Clipper and Gustavia harbour
Marina deployed from the Royal Clipper
Marina deployed from the Royal Clipper
Passengers hoisting the sails with the Cruise Director urging them on
Passengers hoisting the sails with the Cruise Director urging them on
The helmsman on the wheel as Captain Sergey Tunikov directs from the bridge
The helmsman on the wheel as Captain Sergey Tunikov directs from the bridge
Royal Clipper leaving the harbour at sunset
Royal Clipper leaving the harbour at sunset
Crewman mending the sails with a sewing machine
Crewman mending the sails with a sewing machine
Crewman mending the sails with a sewing machine
Crewman mending the sails with a sewing machine
The Royal Clipper weighing anchor & under sail as she departs Soufriere at sunset
The Royal Clipper weighing anchor & under sail as she departs Soufriere at sunset
Crew standing on the bow sprit of the Royal Clipper under sail as she departs Soufriere at sunset
Crew standing on the bow sprit of the Royal Clipper under sail as she departs Soufriere at sunset
The crew on the bow sprit as the Royal Clipper departing at sunset under full sale with Gros Piton behind
The crew on the bow sprit as the Royal Clipper departing at sunset under full sale with Gros Piton behind
Chef Glenn carving the roast suckling pig for lunch
Chef Glenn carving the roast suckling pig for lunch
The Royal Clipper masts lit at sunset while at anchor in the harbour
The Royal Clipper masts lit at sunset while at anchor in the harbour
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Dominican Republic

Dec 7, 2018 – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

2018 Caribbean Sail Cruise

I sleep in again this morning, but leave my cabin by 8:45AM to have a cappuccino and some breakfast. The ship is sailing along the coastline of the Dominican Republic for quite a while until she pulls into the port of Santo Domingo at noon. I’m on deck while the ship is being cleared by customs and immigration, and ask Camilla, the Tour Director if there are any spaces left on today’s city/walking tour. She indicates there are two spots left, so I take one, even though I’ve arranged to walk the town with my friends as well.

My friends and I are some of the first to disembark the ship, finding our way across the busy street in front of the cruise terminal, and climbing the stairs up into the historic colonial zone. The local kids have been let out of school to have their lunch outside, so I get some cute photos of them. We walk around the nearby old cathedral (Catedral Primada de America), but I soon peel off from my friends and return to the ship. Walking around in the heat of the day is not my idea of fun!

I have some lunch in the dining room and then grab my camera bag before debarking again to board the small tour bus for this afternoon’s walking excursion. Our first stop is across the river from where the ship is docked to see and photograph the Christopher Columbus monument and lighthouse. His remains are in this massive concrete monument, but we don’t go in. He landed at this location in the New World, representing the King of Spain. By most accounts, he was the first European to reach the Caribbean.

We then drive back into the colonial zone and are dropped off at the cathedral. Our guide gives us a narrated tour of the many interesting and historic buildings in the colonial zone: Catedral Primada de America, the Alcazar de Colon, the National Pantheon, and the National Monument commemorating national heroes.

We continue walking down the Calle las Damas a favourite haunt of the Vicerene Maria de Toledo, niece of the King of Spain and wife to Diego, son of Christopher Columbus. Apparently she used to walk there on her way to Mass with the other ladies of the court, hence the name Calle las Damas (Ladies Street).

As we cross the Plaza España, there is a giant Coca Cola Christmas tree display setup on the plaza in front of the impressively reconstructed house of Diego Colon (Columbus), who was a viceroy for the Spanish colony. It is fascinating to learn how the viceroy and his family lived, and to see the beautiful artifacts placed in the various rooms where they were originally.

It starts to pour rain just as we re-board the tour bus, and are taken along the first part of the city’s Malacon near the port, to the Presidential Palace (a photo stop I didn’t take advantage of), and drive through Chinatown on our return to the cruise terminal. We arrive about 15 minutes before the gangway is pulled up, so I’m glad I took the organized tour since the ship is guaranteed to wait for you! Thanks to our very good tour guide, I certainly have lots of interesting information about the city’s history, and better understand the country’s context in the Caribbean.

Sunset lighting the Royal Clipper’s sails as she leaves the harbour

I watch a beautiful sunset as our ship leaves port, bound for St. Barts. We have a sea day tomorrow, which I am glad of. I have dinner with three men in their 70s who are best friends, and who travel together once or twice each year without their wives. They are wine connoisseurs who are working their way through the ship’s wine list, to the great pleasure of the wine steward!