1991 World Cruise


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Queen Elizabeth 2 World Cruise 1991

Cruise Updates 1 2 3 4 5         

Greetings from the QE2!

As I take up my proverbial pen for another World Cruise Volume there appears to be plenty on the horizon to fill the pages of these chronicles. The key phrase at the beginning of this cruise seems to be, "wars and rumors of wars." With all the commotion in the Persian Gulf there is a great deal of uncertainty about our itinerary, which is supposed to take us up through the Suez Canal. Rumors abound. Will we detour around South Africa, or even have our cruise interrupted before we get that far? There's enough to worry about without speculating.

Click on the link below to see a map of the Pacific Ocean.


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Chapter 1, New York to Los Angeles
January 5 to January 19, 1991


It's quite different being on the QE2. The ship is, of course, enormous, over 66,000 tons and over three football fields long! My cabin is five decks below our office, and by never using the elevators, my legs should be in good shape! The ship takes up to 1900 passengers compared to 600 on the Sagafjord. On this first segment through the Panama Canal there are about 1400 on board, over 1100 of which will disembark in Los Angeles. So far I've been quite impressed with the ship, the staff and general cleanliness, contrary to many reports I had heard. Also, the food in the Columbia Restaurant where we've been eating has been superb and very hot. There are five restaurants, assigned according to cabin. Sport facilities are good: two indoor swimming pools, two outdoor, sauna, jacuzzis, weight rooms, shuffleboard, ping pong, golf driving range, and an outdoor court for volleyball, basketball, and paddle tennis. The latter is definitely one I want to learn. The rules are like tennis, but the court is more the size of a racquetball court surrounded by nets. People who play seem to get lots of exercise! We usually eat dinner in the restaurant and lunch; either at the buffet in the Lido Cafe or at the hamburger stand out by the swimming pool. One other way the QE2 differs from the Sagafjord is the crew. The Sagafjord is largely German, Austrian and Scandinavian, while the QE2 is very British.

I flew to New York to join the ship and it was a bit warmer there than in Bozeman to say the least, although it was 12 degrees the morning Mom took me to the airport. Friday evening our tour office staff plus a few others had dinner at Ron Anderson's. He's a good cook. Even Jim and Tom, with whom I worked two years ago on Sagafjord, were there. They are on the Sagafjord again this year and weren't very happy that I jumped ship to the QE2! This year in our tour office there are six Amex staff plus two Cunard staff who handle airline reservations, airport transfers, etc., and help us when they aren't busy with that. Parnell Thomas, Peter Jacobs and John Hallead, who were on the Saga last year, are here. John Durrant is an Aussie, bald and jolly, and has a lot of cruising under his belt. The last and youngest (a year younger than me!) is a Canadian, Marc Paquette. He's the only one of the bunch that works year round on ships. He's been recently on the Seabourn Spirit, a small ship, very exclusive, which only carries about 200 passengers. Marc is a computer whiz, quiet and always cheerful.

Saturday morning we were on the ship by 10:00 am, moving in. I have a passenger cabin, an inside single on 4 Deck. The cabin is small but nice. My steward is very good, an English chap named Paul Gibson. There are 12 decks. From the top down they are Signal, Sports, Boat, Upper, Quarter, then one through seven. The Tour Office is on Upper Deck. Most of the public rooms are on Upper and Quarter Decks, while the two indoor spas are on 6 and 7 Decks. It is obviously a big ship to get to know but it's not that bad if you remember what deck you're on and which stairway you are closest to. We sailed from New York in sleet and freezing rain. Bye-bye cold!

Sunday was our first day at sea and it really wasn't too hectic because most of the passengers weren't boarding until Fort Lauderdale. It gave us a chance to get the office organized. It's nice to see some familiar faces from the Sagafjord on board. After dinner Peter, John, Mitch and I played Trivial Pursuit. Mitch (Graham Mitchell) and David Mayman are the two Cunard staff in our office. Looks as though there will be lots of backgammon, T.P., cribbage, etc.

Monday in Fort Lauderdale Ann Menges came to spend the day with me on the ship. After showing her around we naturally played Scrabble before having lunch in the Columbia. Ann, of course, was my "Ship Mom" from the Sagafjord World Cruise in 1989 and we always have lots of fun together. She's planning on coming on the Sagafjord's Bermuda/Colonial South cruise in May when I expect to be on as Cruise Sales Manager. It was fun watching from the helicopter deck as the QE2 sailed out of Fort Lauderdale. This ship probably gets more attention than any other in the world and lots of people on shore waved, blinked lights and blasted air horns. It was a beautiful evening and John H. and I stayed out on deck and played backgammon.

Assuming we continue on our planned itinerary, I have some great overland tours to prepare for. Tour 38 will take us to Rotorua, the "Yellowstone" of New Zealand for a day and a half. I've been looking forward to seeing Ayers Rock in the middle of Australia and it looks like I'll have about five or six people on Tour 63, although the itinerary has been changed because of flight problems. We'll now leave from Hobart, Tasmania and fly to Melbourne with the Tour 56 group. We'll see the fairy penguins there, then fly to Ayers Rock and Alice Springs before returning to Sydney for a night and then catching the QE2 in Brisbane. Now it'll be five days instead of three. Another great tour I'm scheduled for is 105, two days from Hong Kong up the Li River by boat to Guilin where those famous, strange-shaped Chinese mountains are. Beyond that we'll just have to wait and see where the ship goes, but I'll likely do a safari in Kenya and possibly an overland in Egypt.

After a beautiful day at sea after Fort Lauderdale we anchored off Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Five of the world's largest cruise ships were there that day. The QE2 is too big to even enter the harbor so we had to go in by launch boats. The second largest, the Norway, also had to anchor. The third largest, the Sovereign of the Seas, as well as the Westerdam and the Crown Princess were all docked. By passenger capacity the top three are reversed. The Sovereign of the Seas takes up to 2,600, the Norway 2,000, and the QE2 1,900. The Crown Princess takes about 1,600 and the Westerdam 1,400. Between passengers and crew from five ships St Thomas was nearly inundated! The US Virgin Islands are the eastern-most territory of the US. It's nice to be able to call home from there as if calling from any state. The US bought 35 islands from Denmark in 1917 for $25 million. At that time Denmark and her possessions had driving on the left side of the road and that was never changed when the US acquired USVI. So they still drive on the left, but with vehicles made for driving on the right. Funny. Land prices aren't too bad. In fact, there is an island near St Thomas for sale for about $3 million. Even you could own your own Caribbean island!! I was in charge of the tour to St John. It took a long time to get everyone to shore by boat so our last bus left over one hour late, but we made it to the ferry for a pleasant ride over to St John. Much of St John is national park and many of the beautiful beaches look like they come right out of the picture books. We had a short drive with photo stops on the way to a BBQ picnic. Yum! Afterwards we had a couple delightful hours on the beach at Trunk Bay for swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing. The Park Service has an underwater trail marked out through the coral reef for snorkeling. There are tables with explanations that you read as you're swimming the course. Colorful fish and interesting forms of coral and rock. Tough 'work' of course, but somebody has to do it! Back in town at 4:00 I wandered around for a bit of shopping. St Thomas is one of the most incredible places for shopping. Hundreds of elegant stores and boutiques line the streets and alleyways downtown. There's not generally a lot there for me but it's fun to wander and look.

Friday we were in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. It was a warm windy day with a few raindrops here and there. I was in charge of the afternoon tour, but went out in the morning to see how things were going. Good organization on the part of the local operator. I spent most of the morning on deck relaxing before my tour. Curacao is semi-arid but prosperous and very Dutch. It is one of the five islands of the Netherlands Antilles. It is way south - only 38 miles off the coast of Venezuela and 1,100 miles southeast of Miami. No hurricanes here, it's sunny with almost constant trade winds. Curacao is one of the busiest ports in the Caribbean, a tourist center with tax-free shopping and the second largest oil refinery in the world. Our first stop on the tour was the distillery where they make Curacao liqueur. The recipe has been a closely guarded secret for generations of one family and it's made from the sour green oranges that don't grow on any other island. A strange combination of salt and sand prevents their oranges from producing normal fruit, and though they can't be eaten, they're just the ticket for the liqueur. There are windmills all over the island, but not the same as in Holland. They're actually more like the ones we have at home. The water is used strictly for irrigation, as it's not fit to drink. ALL drinking water in Curacao comes from desalinated seawater! California, get with it! Amstel Beer, from Holland, also has a plant in Curacao and it's the only beer made from desalinated seawater. They aren't allowed to export it except to a few neighbor islands, to prevent competition to the Dutch beer. The official languages of Curacao are Dutch and Papiamento. The latter is a strange combination of Spanish, English, Dutch, German and a few others. The capital, Willemstad, is a quaint replica of Holland. A spectacular high bridge connects the two halves of town. Two ships were docked in town under the bridge, but the QE2 is too big. We have to dock out by the oil refineries. The highlight of our tour was a visit to the Seaquarium, a new facility, superbly displayed. They fed the sharks and turtles while we were there and the sharks were aggressive to say the least.

Most of the passengers are only on for the trans-canal cruise so business really slowed down after Curacao. Four of us began alternating shifts to allow us time off before LA. That means getting to play bridge a couple times in the afternoon. Also, John H brought an Uno game, so we played that one night, then I taught them how to play fast Uno. We plan on getting another deck in LA so we can have a really wild game. The evening after Curacao the entertainer was Victor Borge. He's a classical pianist, but more comedian than anything. It seems he'll never get around to playing, then he almost never finishes a piece. I thought he was hilarious, but he's obviously also a very talented musician.

Sunday, January 13, we transited the Panama Canal. It seems strange, considering current world events, that just a year ago we were nervous about Panama. How times change. It was a pleasant day, partly cloudy, and not nearly as hot as it often is. It was interesting to go through the canal on the QE2 because the ship was built to the dimensions of the canal. It is the largest ship that can fit through the Panama Canal. We really filled the locks! By the way, the QE2 pays over $100,000 to transit.

Wednesday, January 16. W A R ! We heard the news about 6 pm local time, as we sailed from Acapulco. The radio room was fairly successful at picking up CNN for our cabin televisions and we watched intently as reports filtered in about massive air strikes against Baghdad and other parts of Iraq. It seems so far away, even as our ship heads slowly that direction.

Meanwhile we had a full day in Acapulco. Over 600 on tour, the largest number ever for us in that port. The tour went first to La Quebrada where we watched young fellows dive off a 130' cliff into the bay. It takes them a long time to work up to that height, but they do it in a spectacular manner. From there we proceeded to a government handicraft store where people could buy things at prices lower than the first-asked price in the markets, but higher than bargained down prices. I'd never buy in that kind of place, but some of the passengers buy as though it were there last chance. We proceeded to the Princess Hotel, built in the form of an ancient Mayan temple. There is a huge courtyard with myriads of swimming pools with waterfalls, bridges and flamingos. The beach is one of those impeccable white sand varieties that slope so gradually into the water that you can go way out into the ocean. Room rates start at over $250 a night. Our guide says going there is a religious experience. As people walk into the huge open-air lobby and look up they say, "Oh, My God!" In the swimming pools they exclaim, "Heavenly!" But when they get their bill it's, "Holy Cow!" The Princess was the first hotel in the world to have the great array of outdoor swimming pools. Gorgeous. The name Acapulco is an Aztec word meaning, "The place where the bamboo were destroyed." It is still a great tourist destination, although numbers are running low this year. Fifteen years ago the peso was tied to the dollar at a rate of 12 to 1. Now there are nearly 3,000 pesos to the dollar! There are some great buys to be had for the one who knows how to bargain, but I didn't have a chance to go shopping. The Sagafjord and the QE2 were both in Acapulco for the day, so of course several of us from the QE2 had lunch with Jim and Tom from the Saga tour office, along with Cruise Sales Manager Meredith and Hotel Manager Ingvar. Lunch was at Las Brisas Hotel - exclusive! It was a wonderful open air restaurant on the bay. Food was good and it was lots of fun to catch up on all the news and rumors. We didn't get back to the ship until 4:30 so I just had a few minutes to run on the Sagafjord and say hi to anyone I knew. The Sagafjord pulled out of the harbor a few minutes before the QE2 so we watched as she sailed past our bow and off into the sunset. What a beauty.

One of the other big stories in Acapulco was John H and his "day at the beach". He hadn't been there very long when a wave washed him off the rock he was lying on. Into the water he went and landed smack on a sea urchin. Ouch! If you don't know what sea urchins are, they are kind of like the porcupine of the sea with lots of poisonous quills which bury themselves into your flesh. Excruciating. Several little Mexican boys helped John to shore and one of them found a doctor right away. The doctor had one of the boys fetch John a couple glasses of straight tequila, which he drank to help dull the pain. The doctor treated him right there on the beach, digging into his foot to remove as many needles as possible. Doc kept apologizing that he had to hurt him, but it was urgent that he get out as many as he could right away. The final step in the operation was horrible. The doctor had John roll up a towel and bite on it while he took a board and whacked the bottom of John's foot five times! Poor John almost fainted. It was necessary to do that in order to break up the pockets of poison and to help force the quills out. By doing so John was able to walk already the next day, but without the whacks it would supposedly take weeks! I took a picture of the bottom of his foot, all black and purple polka dotted. Horrible.

The bad news for me in Acapulco was that we must cancel our Ayers Rock tour in Australia. Due to a flight change, we were unable to make it back to the QE2 in time and it wouldn't be feasible to/from any other ports. That was a real disappointment for me. Ironically, that was the 'carrot' Peter used to get me on the QE2 from the Sagafjord this year. Oh well, I'll hopefully have another chance some day. Besides, in light of the world situation right now that probably isn't the most critical newsmaker of the year.

There have been a few minor changes in the ship's itinerary already. In order to not pass on higher fuel costs to passengers, Cunard eliminated Pago Pago in American Samoa and Cherbourg in France. They also changed Bombay to Madras, India. As I've never been to Madras I don't mind seeing a new city there. Pago Pago will have to come another time, but those who know say there ain't much there no how! The Pago Pago elimination does give us two full days in Auckland, New Zealand, which is nice. After my big tour in New Zealand last year, I'm fond of Kiwis. The atmosphere on this trans-canal segment is quite different from what one generally expects on a world cruise. Many of these passengers are first time cruisers and have no real idea of what behavior is expected of them on a ship like this. There were a lot of low discount fares offered to fill the ship, which brought cruising within the reach of many who couldn't otherwise afford it. Also, when Cunard chartered their Princess to the Pentagon for six months they had a lot of reservations to compensate for. People with reservations on the Christmas cruise or through mid-January were given a full refund and offered a free cruise on the QE2 or Sagafjord. The Princess is a much less formal ship and of course much less expensive. On the QE2 and Saga gentlemen are expected to wear jacket and tie for dinner on informal nights, and tuxedo etc. on formal nights. This current batch interprets informal to mean casual, and formal to mean maybe jacket and a shirt with buttons! People have come into the dining room for dinner wearing t-shirt and tennis shoes. Really shocking!

Speaking of the dining room, we don't have to host passenger tables here. We have one big table for six in the Columbia Restaurant just for our Amex staff. There are pluses and minuses to that, but it sure beats getting stuck with unpleasant passengers for the whole cruise.

That's about enough for one chapter. It'll be interesting to see what news Los Angeles brings us. One day in LA is enough, considering the cold temps there. Go south young man!


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Chapter 2, Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia
January 19 to February 9, 1991


G'Day!! Greetings from Down Under. Someone mentioned the other day what a great way to ride out a war and a recession, sailing around the world on QE2. True it is, but as Paul Harvey says, "You can run but you can't hide." Cunard has announced an itinerary change due to the war and tensions in the Middle East. We all pretty much knew it was coming, but now that it's official we can get down to business arranging tours for the new segment. As South Africa is one of my favorite countries, I'm not too disappointed at the change.

The new itinerary will take us to Durban and Cape Town, South Africa; Walvis Bay, Namibia (actually a South African enclave within Namibia); Freetown, Sierra Leone; Dakar, Senegal; Tenerife, Canary Islands; and Gibraltar. We'll pick up our original itinerary April 1 in Lisbon, Portugal. The whole thing is subject to change but that should be it more or less.

We left Los Angeles with a very light load of just over 600 passengers. At least they were a breed of passengers more suited to a luxury ship. I haven't seen tennis shoes and t-shirts in the Dining Room since then! There have been a few more familiar faces from the Sagafjord, including one of my favorite couples, Bob and Eva Cole from Ontario. They did several big overland tours with me on the Sagafjord.

In Los Angeles I was in charge of dispatching the tour to Disneyland, then had the rest of the day off. I called my friend Sandy Lubarsky and showed him around 'my' new ship. After lunch in the Columbia Restaurant we drove to his home hoping to see his parents, but they didn't get home until after we had to head back to the ship. It was dark by the time we sailed out of San Pedro and the lights of Los Angeles spread endlessly on the horizon. It was a bit chilly, so as soon as the QE2's deep, bass horn resounded across the water and over the hills I headed inside where it was warm.

On a typical day at sea our office is open 9-12 and 2:30-5. How late we stay beyond those hours depends on how busy we are. Over the noon hour I usually listen to Parnell read a few pages from a French book, Madame Bovary, and correct his pronunciation, etc. It's good for both of us. Then John Hallead and I usually get in a few games of backgammon before lunch. Most of the time we eat in the Lido Cafe', which is buffet style, but there's also a great little hamburger/hotdog stand by the swimming pool on 1 Deck. After work in the evening I often work Parnell's feet for 15 minutes. He's so much healthier this year than last and his feet are hardly sensitive at all anymore. Between 6 and 7 pm I often swim laps in the indoor pool down on Deck 7. It's a little longer than the one on Sagafjord and I can get some good exercise that way. Then after a few minutes in the sauna it's time to get ready for dinner. Most nights at sea are formal. I don't mind really. About the only decision I have to make is whether to wear my black or red bow tie! The food is excellent and served HOT. After dinner some evenings our office gang plays Uno or Trivial Pursuit. I've also been getting in a lot of bridge in the evenings. JH brought an Uno game and after playing a couple rounds of the normal version I taught them how to play Fast Uno and now we really have fun with that.

On the QE2 there are only 3 sea days between Los Angeles and Honolulu. I took Tour 20, the full day by plane and motor coach to Kauai, the Garden Isle. The ship docked by 7:30 am, but at 8:30 we still weren't cleared by local authorities and we had a 9:15 plane to catch! My group of 20 was given special permission to leave early and we tore off for the airport. No problem - we had five minutes to spare! It was only a 20 minute flight to Kauai and there we had a big Grayline bus with a native Hawaiian driver/guide named Kalani. Kauai really is a beautiful, lush island. Mt Waialealea, the highest point on the island, is supposedly the wettest place on earth with 400-600" annual rainfall! Kauai is the fourth largest of Hawaii's islands, with a population of only 55,000. Sugar cane is a big crop as well as truck farm vegetables, bananas, coffee, papaya and those delicious macadamia nuts. Striking differences between Kauai and Oahu. Here, a building code prohibits buildings over four stories high. They don't want another Waikiki Beach development. The people on Kauai are a tight community with a strong feeling for preservation and environment. There is a $25,000 fine for polluting the ocean. Tight restrictions have been challenged at times but a high voter turnout of 81-83% keeps the people well in control of their own island. Our tour started with a stop at the lovely Apaeka Falls. Colorful flowers in the foreground and jagged, steep mountains providing a backdrop. We then took a boat ride up the Wailua River to Fern Grotto, a sacred place of the early Hawaiians. Our local entertainers sang the Hawaiian wedding song for us. After a late, leisurely lunch at the new Hyatt we headed back to Honolulu.

After Hawaii is where we got the announcement about the itinerary change, so we were busy getting things in order for new tours and refunds for tours on the Mediterranean segment. Fortunately, we had an idea this would happen, so much of the planning was done before we ever left New York. There is an American Express Bank on the QE2 and I made a great discovery there. They have coins from all over the world that people donate for some children's project and I can sort through them and have any of them at face value. What a treat for me, as there are coins from countries I've never even been to. A few of them are even older coins. During the four days at sea between Hawaii and Fiji I finally started playing paddle tennis. It's a great game, but takes a lot of control not to smash the ball as I would in racquetball.

Monday, January 28 nobody worked, no meals were served in the restaurants, there wasn't any entertainment, and nobody complained! That was of course the day we crossed the International Dateline - the day that never was. We went to bed Sunday night and woke up Tuesday morning in Suva, Fiji.

Of 300 Fijian Islands, 100 are inhabited and the islands straddle the Dateline. The land area of all the islands together is about the size of Massachusetts. Hot, humid and poor, but colorful. Fiji gained independence from Britain in 1970. There are still many evidences of the Fijian past. Policemen still wear the traditional Sulu skirts as uniform. Cannibalism was practiced in Fiji in the not too distant past. The arrival of the missionaries helped finish that delightful tradition. When the first ones came the Fijians sent word to England for them to send more because the first ones were delicious. Over the last few years there has been a major influx of Indians, mostly Hindu. The native Fijians are mostly Methodists. In general they get along fairly well, but the Indians now outnumber the Fijians 48% to 46% and in 1987, after the Indians had won a majority in the government, there was a coup that overthrew that government and restored the Fijians to power. Fiji is one of those places we offer tours because the ship goes there and not because we want to. Buses are so-so, guides are poor and the local organization leaves much to be desired. Scenery does make up for some of that, however. We went out to the Pacific Harbor Cultural Center, which is a reconstructed Fijian village with exhibits, shops, and a restaurant. We took a boat ride around an island and saw demonstrations of many traditional crafts like pottery, weaving and weapons. We also saw a man actually start a fire by rubbing two sticks together. At another place they showed all the things they use a coconut for, both as food and for utensils and weapons. We did have a nice Fijian lunch, then the highlight was the show with traditional dancing, singing and fire walking. A bonfire had been burning all day over a pile of stones. We watched as they removed the fire and evened out the stones. Then they proceeded to walk over the stones barefooted. The stones definitely were hot. I was sitting around to the side and I could see them curl their toes to keep from burning them. It was a colorful performance and people who have patience with disorganization enjoyed the day.

Parnell flew from Fiji ahead to Auckland to get a brochure and new tickets printed for our tours around Africa. We will be busy refunding all the tours through the Mediterranean and selling the new ones. The organization for all this is going well, but even now we work with the realization things may change again. This could be called "The QE2 Mystery World Cruise". - Come join us. We're sailing around the world - we just don't know how or where! - When I hear complaints about changing schedules I have to think how our problems are insignificant compared to so many others around the world. Most of the passengers and staff realize that as well, and are just taking everything as it comes. I think it's likely that we'll see a few more major changes as we continue.

There are about 20 Spanish speaking passengers on board and I'm the only one in our office who speaks it. Needless to say, my Spanish is making great strides. They can be very difficult to deal with. Some of them speak no English at all and they were told in Spain that it wouldn't be a problem for them on the ship because there are many others who speak Spanish and there would be Spanish tours for them all around the world - both not true. We do not allow two languages on a tour bus and it's rare that we have enough Spanish on the same tour that we can get a guide for them. I feel for them and try to help where I can but it's not easy. They try to make us feel it's our problem, which it is not. Oh well, we try.

I've found several young passengers who are on until Sydney that like to play Paddle Tennis a lot. One of the young fellows, Mohammed, is from Bahrain and is on with his wife on their honeymoon. They left Bahrain just as the war broke out and now can't get back home. They disembark in Sydney and have no idea what they'll do after that! That would be tough.

Friday morning we pulled into the beautiful Auckland harbor. I'm impressed all over again with New Zealand - clean, neat, organized and spectacularly beautiful. I did the morning tour of Auckland before taking the 1 1/2 day trip to Rotor. Auckland has about 850,000 people, which is nearly a third of all New Zealanders. It's a lovely city on a narrow isthmus between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea. It is know as the City of Sails because of the thousands of yachts and sailboats that grace the harbor. One in six Aucklanders owns a boat. We drove over the big Harbor Bridge to the north shore. The bridge was built by a US company, but it was very quickly inadequate for the traffic. A Japanese company constructed two more lanes for each side and brought them to NZ by ship. They just attached them to the existing bridge. The locals affectionately call them the "Nippon Clip-Ons". We had a partly cloudy morning for our tour as we drove to the top of Mt. Eden for a 360 degree panorama of the city and both the Pacific and Tasman Sea. We visited the Auckland Museum with good exhibits of Maori history and culture. The Maoris are the original inhabitants of the country. They originally came from Polynesia and today make up about 9% of the population. However, no pure Maoris remain due to intermarriage. Different races seem to get along quite well in New Zealand, though they aren't free of social problems here either. One of the highlights of the tour was a visit to an underwater aquarium. Visitors walk through a big Plexiglas tube with all kinds of fish and sea creatures above and around them. We saw octopus, sharks, sting rays, eels, piranha, etc.

After a quick lunch I met my 31 Rotor guests at 1:45. We had a good driver/guide named Mark Nicholas. He was full of information about everything. In the group were six Spanish and two German passengers so during breaks I gave them a nutshell version of the commentary. It's about a 3 1/2 hour drive to Rotor and we had one rest stop on the way. Pleasant countryside with gently rolling hills. It's been a bit dry recently by local standards but it made up for it during our tour. Most of the North Island was covered by rain forest before heavy cutting by both the Maoris and Europeans eliminated it. Today there are only a few thousand acres of rain forest in the whole country. We arrived at the Hyatt Kingsgate in Rotor at 6 pm. For dinner we had a Maori Hangi (feast) followed by a Maori concert. Both very enjoyable.

The next morning we awoke to heavy rain. Then we could see how there could have been rain forests here at one time! We rescheduled the morning, hoping the rain would let up. First we went to Rainbow Springs, a trout hatchery set in lush, native vegetation. They have a fern tree here that is just beautiful. There's also a Kiwi house where night and day are reversed artificially to allow people to see the nocturnal Kiwi bird active in the day. We had only a short visit there as we had to be at the Agrodome for a 9:15 show. New Zealand Agriculture. Many of us didn't expect to be impressed by sheep and cows, but the show turned out to be a big hit with all of us. Amazing what they can do with the sheep dogs. They run right over the backs of the sheep when the flock is huddled tight. The sheep don't even mind it. There are over 70 million sheep in NZ compared with 3 million people. From the Agrodome we went to Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, like a mini Yellowstone. The rain had let up by that time and we had a nice walk through the geyser basin. A few geysers erupted and there were some pretty springs and mud pots. Striking similarities and striking differences to Yellowstone. Heavy precipitation provides lush vegetation. Houses are built all through the thermal area and they use the energy for heating and cooking. All they have to do is drill a hole in the ground and they have free heat for their homes. However, over the years they have destroyed many geysers and hot springs by tapping the energy, so now it is prohibited to tap within a mile of the area. The Maori homes in the area are excepted from that. Once you kill a geyser it can't be fixed and I'm afraid they've changed the area beyond repair. It makes a good case for preservation such as we have in national parks around the world and is a great reason for leaving Yellowstone completely natural. Rotor is still very interesting and colorful. We left the Rotor area about 12:30 and drove an hour to Longlands Dairy Farm where we had a BBQ lunch. Great stop. The farm has about 160 acres with 40 plots of four acres each. They milk every 12 hours and turn the cows out to a new plot after each milking. With a rotation of 20 days they never have to put up hay. There is enough rain to keep pastures green all year. Nice system. Our host family grilled lamb chops and put on a superb lunch, including homemade ice cream. Ahhh! We got back to the QE2 by 5:00 and we went up on deck to watch us sail at 6:00. Lots of people lined the banks and hills to see the QE2 sail. Sailboats and yachts accompanied us for nearly an hour out into the sea. That's always fun.

Monday, February 4 we pulled into Lyttleton Harbor, the port for Christchurch, the biggest city on New Zealand's South Island. A beautiful, clear, cool morning. We were disappointed to find out when we got off the ship that due to gale force winds in the Mount Cook area our tour by plane there had to be cancelled. There were 12 disappointed passengers. Hurt our budget, too! I had managed to get 12 Spanish speaking passengers all booked on the morning tour of Christchurch and we had a bus and guide just for us. Our guide, Pablo, was from Panama and had been living in New Zealand 17 years. He was good and the people were pleased to have a tour they could understand for once. It was a great tour. Christchurch must be a nearly perfect place to live. 300,000 people. 25" of rain spread evenly through the year. Low humidity. 45 minutes from skiing. Summer temps in the 70's, winter temps occasionally as low at 25 degrees Fahrenheit! Magnificent flower gardens all through the city. Beautiful beaches. Almost no bugs or flies. And on top of all that they have some of the warmest, friendliest people you'll find anywhere. From the port we took the Dyer's Pass Road up the mountain for a view over the harbor and over the city on the other side. Far in the distance we could see the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps. (February here is like August at home.) Christchurch is called the most English city outside of England. We stopped at a little inn, the Sign of the Takahe, which is 'terribly' English. Stone building with stained glass windows and big fireplaces. We continued on into town and viewed some of the flower gardens and enjoyed Mona Vale Park, a former estate with lots of trees and flowers spread along the banks of the Avon River. The Museum is quite good and Benji would enjoy the dinosaur collection. They also have an actual skeleton of a blue whale. Immense. Cathedral Square is the town center where there is lots of activity. There's a speaker's corner where people get up to speak their mind. There are ice cream and sandwich stands and people just strolling about. Several pedestrian zones radiate out from the square. Such a nice atmosphere. Back at the ship I grabbed a quick hamburger and caught the shuttle bus back into town. Strolled around, picked up some old coins at the Reserve Bank, did some shopping and got a haircut. We sailed at 6:00 and it was a lovely warm evening. Many of the people of Christchurch flocked to Lyttleton Harbor to see the QE2 sail away.

That's enough for this chapter. I'll send this home with some passengers disembarking in Sydney and pick up with Milford Sound in Chapter 3 in a couple weeks.


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Chapter 3, Sydney, Australia to Hong Kong
February 9 to February 23, 1991


Greetings! Our Mystery Cruise continues and we've now made it about half way. It seems every few days we are getting schedule changes and updated itineraries. We don't count on much of anything as being definite and we just try to juggle our tours accordingly.

Going back to Tuesday, February 5 before Sydney, we woke to cloudy skies for our day of cruising Milford Sound. By the time the QE2 nosed into the majestic fjord the clouds had lifted high enough to allow us to see far up the sides of the steep mountains. Waterfalls, sheer cliffs, snowy peaks, and seals made it an interesting several hours. Then we headed out into the notoriously rough Tasman Sea. We fared quite well, but it was rough enough to close the pools on the ship. No laps for me that evening.

Thursday we docked in Hobart, capital of the Australian island-state of Tasmania. It was only about 58 degrees in the morning, but like Montana, it warmed up rapidly during the day. I took the morning tour of the Devil Jets. We had a 45 minute drive through lovely countryside along the scenic Derwent River to New Norfolk. Our jet boat ride lasted about 30 minutes and was really wild. We flew across the water at speeds over 50 mph. As in New Zealand last year, our driver headed straight for the edge of the river, missing it by inches The river had several small side channels barely bigger than the boat itself and we fairly flew right through them. At times we half expected to lose our heads. Toward the upper reaches of the river were whitewater rapids with shallow water and large boulders. We skimmed right over the rapids in places rubber rafts would have gotten hung up. He also would suddenly do 360 degree spins while flying down the river at 50 mph. Lots of thrills and we all loved it. After the ride we went to the Old Colony Inn for Devonshire Tea (tea with scones, jam and clotted cream!) Yum! We got back to the ship at 12:30 so I grabbed a quick hamburger on deck and headed into town. Hobart is an attractive city with a pedestrian zone downtown for shopping. Stores were having end of summer sales and I bought a shirt, sandals, swimsuit, book on trains and some old coins.

The next day we were at sea before sailing into Sydney and it was an awful day in the office. We had sold 50 tickets to the Sydney Opera and that last day there were all kinds of problems with people who thought they had reserved tickets but had not paid for them. We were sold out and there was no way to get more tickets. Tough situation. Even worse was the Spanish problem which chose that day to come to a head. I sympathize with their difficulty communicating on the ship and have tried to help them as much as I could. I spent an hour with a dozen of them listening to their grievances and left feeling helpless. What it did achieve, though I didn't realize it until later, was that they started feeling sorry that they'd taken it out on me. That was also the beginning of a change of heart on their part. However, that day I felt stressed out more than any day of the cruise. There was a lighter spot after lunch. One of the couples came by to cheer me up and told me a story on Mr. & Mrs. Adserias, two of my biggest headaches who spoke no English. They had never traveled before and Spain was the only world they knew. That was more than evident. Several tours in the Shore Excursion Brochure had a note saying VISA required. Mr. Adserias went to the bank and had eight different VISA cards issued, one for each of the tours! Let me tell you, I needed that laugh!

By late afternoon we could see the Sydney skyline emerging from the distant horizon. Shortly after we closed the office, as the QE2 made a grand entrance into the magnificent Sydney Harbor! Sydney lays claim to the world's largest natural harbor and possibly the most beautiful. A fireboat preceded us, spraying fountains of water ahead of us. Then the tug positioned itself in front of the Opera House, affording us great photo opportunities. As we were passing by, a bright rainbow formed directly over the Opera House. Spectacular. The Opera House is world famous for its design and acoustic. The style gives it the appearance of sails, which is fitting to say the least. The architect was Bjorn Woodson from Denmark, and I might add, a graduate of Montana State University! One of the greater products of MSU's College of Architecture.

It was a lovely, warm evening and we were soon docked nearby. From the deck I scanned the crowds gathered to see us and there was Hanni Zimmermann waving to me. Hanni was on the tour of the national parks I did a couple years ago for 20 Swiss. She's in Australia for six months and I had hoped to see her. After dispatching the Opera ticket holders I had the rest of the evening free and Hanni and I enjoyed a stroll along the harbor and through the city. She had made reservations at the Sydney Tower Revolving Restaurant and we dined in elegance as we enjoyed the lights and sights of Sydney slowly passing below us. We caught up on the last couple years and had a fine time speaking Swiss German.

Saturday was a warm, sunny day. (Translation: hot and humid!) On tour we drove through a bit of old Sydney and the downtown. We saw the Achille Lauro pull into the harbor as we drove away - does that name ring a bell? Only two small rivers drain into the harbor so it never has to be dredged. Sydney has over 4 million people and is enormously spread out, 3,200 square miles, almost as large as Yellowstone National Park! We headed into the northern suburbs and visited a Koala Park. Aussie animals are so wonderful. We got to go right in among the kangaroos and emus (birds) and had a chance to pet koalas and wombats. Koalas are just precious. They are a nocturnal animal and always look sleepy or dopey. They live solely on the leaves of the eucalyptus tree. That is also their only source of water. We headed out into the hills west of Sydney to the Hawkesbury River, a good-size river which is tidal for over 40 miles inland. We took a 45 minute boat ride up the river into a roadless wilderness. We went to a private home where they prepared a delicious barbecue lunch of steak, seafood, salads, vegetables and pecan pie. Yum. We were entertained by Australian Bush music by two young fellers who had a striking similarity to Crocodile Dundee. Delightful music.

Back at the ship I took Hanni aboard to show her around and she ended up staying. Really! We ran into the Hotel Manager, John Duffy, and I asked half jokingly if we could arrange to have her sail the two days to Brisbane (this on the evening we sailed!) He said sure, Hanni decided to go for it, paid her fare and raced home to pack a bag! Loved it. John let her pay the minimum fare and gave her a really nice cabin and invited her to dine at his table. She and I went up on deck to watch our midnight sailing. Super experience. Thousands turned out to watch us sail. Passengers, crew, and spectators were singing, shouting, waving, whistling, and crying as the ship pulled away from the dock. The QE2's big bass horn sounded and echoed majestically across the whole harbor and reverberated off the city skyscrapers. Wow!

Hanni loved the ship. We had one day at sea between Sydney and Brisbane and she kept busy taking photos and exploring. It also happened to be one of the busiest days of the cruise in the office. I did manage to have lunch with Hanni and David Gool, Cunard's Sydney rep. We ended up working in the office until 9:00 pm, but Hanni found plenty to do herself. We did have breakfast together the next morning as we sailed into Brisbane. Hanni was thrilled with the whole experience and she fully intends to cruise again some day.

Took the tour to Mt Tambourine. Our driver/guide, Bill, had a droning style that put people to sleep. Laidback is one thing, but Bill makes a koala look energetic! Our first stop was 'The Train Place', one of the largest model railroads in the world with over 10,000 hours of work put into it. Huge. All different gauges and sizes of trains and all operated from one big control panel. Wish Joel could have spent a day there. At that stop one of my passengers realized she had wanted the other tour to the Gold Coast so we made arrangements for a taxi to take her over the mountains to join John Hallead's group over at the beach. She ended up with the best of both tours because the taxi took her through the lush rain forests on the way and made a few stops for photos. The rest of us continued with a stop at Cedar Creek Falls. Pretty waterfall about 60' high. I'd have loved to jump in one of the pools at the base of the falls.

At our main stop we took a walk through tropical rain forests to Curtis Creek Falls. A lovely setting abounding with lush vegetation. Various kinds of palms, vines, eucalyptus trees, and many trees and flowers I've never seen. At our lunch stop we were able to walk through the yard and see colorful parrots. It's a bit funny to see exotic birds and flowers appear common in their natural habitat. We drove past fields of Easter Lilies growing wild and of course they're just normal here. People even walk on them, if you can believe that! That only makes them all the more special to us as visitors. From a vantage point high on the mountain we had a panorama of the Gold Coast way out at the Pacific. From what we could see it looks much like Miami Beach. Later we visited Thunderbird Park where we had the chance to look for thunder eggs, volcanic rocks which are often hollow or have crystal inside. We were allowed to go in the mine and go 'fossicking'. The owner sliced some of them in half for us and a few people found nice specimens. There were a few kangaroos around the mine, just minding their own business, normal as could be. On the way back to the ship we took a little detour to see some of downtown Brisbane, capital of Queensland. Brisbane began as a convict settlement for the 'worst class of offenders'. Now it's a sunny, international city with over a million people. Queensland is Australia's 'Sunshine State' and is twice the size of Texas. Just south of the city is the Gold Coast with surfing and still-water beaches. To the north is the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, stretching all the way up the east coast. Just to the west lie impenetrable rain forests and Australia's Great Divide. It's a great place, but I'm afraid the heat and humidity would keep me from living here!

Well, we were finally ready to have people bring in their Mediterranean tour tickets for a refund and begin selling tours for the new African segment. After sailing from Brisbane we delivered notices asking passengers to come into the office.

It worked! An incredibly busy day as people came in droves. In addition to that, we'd sent a flyer warning that buses in Lae wouldn't be air conditioned and guides may be marginal. Simultaneously, the ship released an advisory from American and British Consulates in Lae that due to unrest and crime, visitors were not recommended to go off on their own, but should do sightseeing only on an organized tour. Between those two announcements we had a bunch of people buying or canceling, though more bought than cancelled. By day's end we had done over $80,000 each of sales and refunds with a net gain of $4,500! Probably the single biggest volume ever done in a day in a ship's tour office. We stayed in the office until 10:00 that night trying to catch up with balancing. No time for dinner so our restaurant manager had a huge tray of sandwiches and fruit made up for us. When we saw it we thought it was far too much, but we gulped it down and ordered a second one!

LAE, Papua New Guinea. Valentine's Day and John Hallead's birthday. Only about 80 degrees when we docked but high humidity. Papua New Guinea is called the World's Last Unknown and is still emerging from the Stone Age. Palm-lined coasts are only the civilized fringe, while the rest of the island ranges from swamp and jungle to rushing rivers and deep gorges, with a spine of towering mountains to top it all off. Scattered tribes still speak over 700 dialects. Many mountain peaks are over 10,000'. The topography, malaria and fierce cannibal tribes deterred westerners for centuries. It's a jungle out there! We drove 45 minutes to the airport for our 35 minute flight in 18-seater Twin Otters to the Eastern Highlands and the town of Goroka. We had five groups of 18 on the Mudmen tour. When we landed in Goroka it was much more pleasant with temps in the 70's and low humidity. We loaded into minibuses for a drive around town. People all over, walking along the roads or just standing around watching the world go by. Very friendly and they'd wave and smile as we drove past. Houses on stilts. Very simple. Naked children. Pigs and goats roaming free. This is one of the last places on earth where women can occasionally be seen topless and not look the least bit conspicuous. Out in the wilder areas there are women who have one breast that hangs nearly to the ground from nursing goats on a continual basis! That's not a joke. They really do! We made a stop at the local museum, but with our time frame had only 15 minutes. There was a lot to see there and we could have stayed an hour. Great exhibit of finger necklaces? You guessed it!

The museum had nice artifacts for sale but they didn't accept dollars. We convinced them to take the dollars and just add a bit to our rough estimate of the exchange rate. They did and the people were more than happy to pay a little on top of the bargain prices in order to get things you'd never see anywhere else. Too bad our time was so short. We proceeded to the local market which was a beehive of activity. Mostly vegetables and foods, but there were also some fabrics and brilliantly colored yarns and threads. There again I would have liked to buy but we hadn't had a chance to change money and the people there had no clue what an almighty dollar was. We were supposed to go out into the country to the village of the Mudmen, but torrential rains the previous weeks had made roads impassable. Instead, the Mudmen came to us and joined the 'Sing-Sing' performance in a thatch-roofed theater in town. The Sing-Sing was colorful and the dancers put on a good show, but having the Mudmen on a stage instead of in their natural surroundings was disappointing. According to legends the Mudmen were warriors of the Asaro tribe. They coated themselves with gray mud and made huge masks of mud and went out on a payback raid. Seeing these ghostly apparitions emerging from the trees, their unfortunate opponents thought the dead had risen and they scattered. It was certainly fascinating to see them regardless of the surroundings. Before the tour we had asked Peter what the Mudmen do and he said they creep. He was exactly right. They just kind of appear from the edges of the theater and creep around the stage in their eerie costumes without making a sound. One of them started a fire using wood and bark. Afterwards we had a chance to take pictures of them in and out of costume. We had lunch at the Bird of Paradise Hotel then headed for the airport. On the return flight I sat in the cockpit and the pilot let me actually fly the plane. That was kind of fun. Again, the scenery below us was spectacular - rugged and green. Quite a few passengers were irate about seeing the Mudmen on a stage and we heard complaints for several days. It was interesting, but they had paid $600 each to go into the wilds of New Guinea and we never made it out of Goroka.

Our manager, Parnell Thomas, almost never eats dinner, but since it was John's birthday he had to join us. We had a special order dinner for the occasion with caviar, t-bone steak, peas, carrots, and chocolate cake, none of which are my favorites, but then, it wasn't my birthday either. I was just glad to have John on the ship with us to celebrate his birthday. We really do have a lot of good times together.

Sunday we actually had the morning off, first time this cruise. Took time for breakfast of buckwheat pancakes. That evening I was invited to the Captain's dinner. Sat near several Spanish passengers and Michael, one of the cruise staff. We generally dread such occasions, but it was actually very pleasant. Good food and good company - the whole 2 1/2 hours.

Tuesday, February 19, Osaka, Japan. Brrrr! Temps in the 30's with snow flurries much of the day. Don't know how people live in these cold climates! I was on tour to Kyoto and as soon as we got off the ship our local agent told us there had been a bad accident on the freeway and it could take up to two hours longer to get to Kyoto. Our schedule was already tight because the ship didn't dock until 8:00 am instead of the night before as originally planned. Traffic was horrible and it took more than 2 1/2 hours to go 30 miles. A lot of the people weren't too happy about that either as you may imagine. The accident and traffic were of course poor planning on our part. We took the complaints about the cold as well. Anyway, in Kyoto we visited the Nijo Palace, home of the Shogun. Lots of rooms with decorative walls, but little furniture and no heat. They must have been a tough lot to make it through winter. They had floors that squeaked loudly to warn of any intruders. Lunch was at the International Hotel, western style with a Japanese flair. Next was the Sanjuusangendo Temple with 1001 gilded images of Buddha, most of them similar with one great big one in the middle. That's a lot of buddhas. On to Heian Shrine (Shintu) with its gates, pagodas and gardens. Time was too short to go to the gardens. We gave the people only 25 minutes at the handicraft center, which was cruel. Five floors of all kinds of crafts, clothes and art, and barely enough time to buy. They had some lovely things. Last stop was across town, the Kinkokuji Temple with its Gold Pavilion. The sun came out just as we got there and the gold roof shone. Really worth the visit. They just redid the exterior three years ago and used 40 pounds of gold! We got caught in rush-hour traffic and it took us 1 1/2 hours just to cross Kyoto to the freeway. It was 5:45 and we were at the freeway entrance with no sign of traffic moving. It had taken us two hours to go from Osaka to that point in the morning and the ship was to sail at 7:00 pm! It didn't look good but traffic lightened and we made it back at 6:55! Just in time.


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Chapter 4, Hong Kong to Mombasa, Kenya
February 23 to March 13, 1991

Jambo! Well, we survived our hectic day in Kyoto and even managed to warm up eventually. I skipped dinner that night and spent some time in the office getting ready for my tour into China. I've kind of taken a liking to missing dinner as it frees up my evening and gives me a chance to play late bridge. I've really been enjoying that aspect of the cruise.

Thursday we were in Taipei and it was a better day than Osaka and Kyoto. Taiwan has a different atmosphere and I find it warmer and friendlier than Japan. It was partly cloudy and 60. It felt warm after Japan. Our tour took us to the National Museum, which is one of the largest museums in the world. When Chiang Kai-shek and his followers fled China after the revolution they brought vast treasures of ancient China with them. The museum has hundreds of thousands of items that they rotate on a three month schedule that takes years for one completion. Jade, gold, ivory, jewels - a priceless collection of Chinese treasures. After stopping at the Martyrs Shrine with its impressive gate and colorful guards, we proceeded to the Lai Sheraton for lunch. Our guide, Peter, spoke good English and had a good sense of humor. A real contrast to our Kyoto guide. The big stop after lunch was the Chiang Kai-shek memorial. It's a huge complex with a mausoleum, a 1,200 seat opera house, a 1,800 seat concert house and beautiful gardens. He was obviously a great hero to the Taiwanese. Taiwan used to be a state of China until after the revolution. We took the elevator to the top of the monument and entered a big room with a large statue of Chiang Kai-shek. Just in time for the changing of the guard. Such precision. Afterwards we walked down the outside steps, enjoying the view and the sunshine.

I have a new cabin. 2006 is up two decks from where I was, but way at the front of the ship. With our office at the back, I get a good feel for the length of the QE2 walking it every day. It actually has lower and upper berths, and it just happens that the upper one is good and firm, so that's where I sleep. Other than that it's very similar to my other one.

The day after Taiwan we arrived in Hong Kong about noon. Two of the six students I took to Yellowstone Park two years ago, Nelson and Lewis, were there to meet me. They're not students anymore; they are all successfully employed in the insurance industry. After helping dispatch the afternoon tours I had a few hours free to spend with them before taking off on my tour to China. Sunday night when I returned from the tour Nelson, Alex and Davie met me for a couple hours. We walked along the new harbor walk and enjoyed the spectacular Hong Kong night sky.

When I did my first tour to China two years ago, Jim McFarland, my boss, told me, "You'll never forget your first trip to China. Not only that, you'll always remember it!" Profound words. Let me tell you, the second time wasn't bad either! I met my 20 passengers at 4:45 pm and we proceeded to the Hong Kong airport for our non-stop charter flight to Guilin. We were really lucky, as usually groups have to fly via Canton (Guangzhou). The flight was a bit late and we arrived in Guilin about 9:30. Smooth sailing through customs and we were met by Phoenix, our guide. She turned out to be a terrific guide with lots of personality and a good sense of humor. We also had a national guide from CITS (China International Travel Service) who went with us the whole trip from the QE2 and back. Paul was a small, quiet fellow, but he did get things done. It was really wonderful to be back in China and even though there was a definite recognition of the events of the past two years (Tiananmen Square, etc.!), there was nonetheless an openness and warmth that made us feel very welcome. Tourism, of course, had plummeted and people seemed genuinely happy to see us. The oppression hasn't dampened the spirit of the Chinese people.

Our hotel was the Guilin Sheraton and it was a beauty. We had a late Chinese dinner and all the passengers seemed to do quite well with chopsticks. It's a good thing because all meals on the tour were Chinese and I never saw a fork anywhere! They serve family style with about 8 to 10 people sitting around a table with a large lazy susan in the middle. Then they bring on the food in ample portions. Really good. After dinner most of the people went straight to bed, but I couldn't resist taking a walk and seeing all the street vendors that were still open late. I bought a few souvenirs that I didn't really need, but I had a good time at it.

Saturday was a super day. After a delicious breakfast at the Sheraton we drove an hour through rural landscapes to the Li River. Guilin itself is an interesting city of 300,000. It's quite far south and the province is one of five autonomous regions in China due to the sizable numbers of minorities. The province borders on Vietnam and Burma. Even though it's subtropical it is cool this time of year. We were blessed with a cloudless day and temps in the 60's. These are the most amazing mountains. They are like tall, thin fingers pushing up through the earth by the thousands. My first view of them was from my hotel room as the sun peaked around the side of one and woke me up. For centuries it has been said in China that Guilin's landscape is the best under heaven. It's just like the ancient Chinese paintings that look fake. Guilin is sister city to Orlando, Florida. They are the same latitude, but Guilin winters are definitely cooler. As we drove along there were many people working the fields. Astonishing to think that one in five humans is a Chinese peasant!

We boarded our boat at 10:00 and sailed into a magical world of spectacular landscapes and pastoral scenes Chinese villages. Fishermen on the river use Cormorants to fish for them. A ring around the bird's neck keeps them from swallowing the fish they catch and their master rewards them with a fish after they've worked hard enough. Each bend of the river revealed a sight more glorious than the last. The hills are called 'karsts' and are a result of limestone upheavals from the bottom of an ancient sea. Lunch was served on the boat as well, Mongolian hotpot style. We were given plates of raw vegetables and raw meats to put into the hot broth to our liking. At our table we came up with a delicious concoction. The boat ride was four hours of delight and the hour and half back by bus was equally interesting. Back in Guilin we visited a lovely limestone cavern. There are many caves in the area, which goes along with the geology of karsts and limestone layers. We went in the Reed Flute Cave and saw dramatic formations. They used colored lighting to enhance the features. Then on to the inevitable jewelry factory and the local Friendship Store. Not much there so Peter Young and I walked down the street to a household goods store. I bought a set of four soup bowls, rice bowls and spoons for less than $2. Now that's my kind of shopping! We had dinner in Guilin before taking a 9:30 flight to Guangzhou (Canton). It was even almost on time. Mrs. Chen, our local guide there, was a real letdown after Phoenix. We checked into the White Swan Hotel, another 5-star beauty. It's just too bad we didn't have more time than just overnight. Fantastic facilities.

We were able to get a bit of news at the hotel. The deadline had passed for the beginning of the ground war in Kuwait and tensions were high. More relevant to us, however, was the brief mention on the BBC news that there had been a coup in Thailand, the prime minister arrested, and Bangkok placed under martial law. Bangkok was our next destination with several big tours! Anyway, back to the present, we had another good breakfast and took off for our sightseeing of the city. Mrs. Chen talked in a non-stop, difficult-to-understand, shrill voice. I had to diplomatically get her to talk less on the bus without making her think we didn't want to hear her information. I told her the microphone made her sound bad and that she was much better off the bus. Our first stop was the Chen Family Temple. Elegant buildings with displays of wood and ivory carvings, bonsai trees, jade, and embroidery paintings. The sun was warm and lazy and we enjoyed the exhibits in the open air buildings. On to the Six Banyan Trees Pagoda. Nine stories high, but Peter Young and I raced all the way to the top for the view and the exercise. Peter is from New Zealand and is younger and more energetic than most on board. We made one more stop at the bird market where countless parrots and other colorful birds were for sale. One of the ladies had searched high and low during the cruise for a bird cage and was thrilled to get an ornately carved wooden one. We had our best lunch of the tour in the Lotus Blossom Restaurant. Nicely served and so tasty. After lunch we visited the Sun Yat Sen Memorial. He was the founder of modern China and is a hero both here and in Taiwan. A most impressive building with a 4,500 seat assembly hall inside. The grounds were beautiful, too.

We returned to Hong Kong by express train and it was wonderful to relax and watch the Chinese countryside roll by. Immigrations were at the beginning and end of the ride so we didn't even have to stop at the border. Lots of neatly kept garden plots. Women working in the fields with traditional coolie hats. Water buffalo. Nice end to a great tour.

February 27 & 28 the QE2 was docked in Pattaya, Thailand and I took 33 people on an overnight tour to Bangkok. I always enjoy the city in spite of its traffic, dust, and air pollution. We went first to the Gold Buddha, a 5 1/2 ton pure gold image. It's hollow or it would weigh much more, being pure gold. We checked into the Indra Regent and had lunch. It's not a Dusit Thani or Shangri La, but in any other city it'd be five star. Thailand is 95% Buddhist but there was a Gideon Bible in my room. In the afternoon we toured the Royal Palace grounds. It's still just as beautiful as ever, even in the Bangkok heat. I've never seen a building with more glitz and glitter. Later we made our stop at a shop where people could buy gems, silk and other Thai products. I took advantage of a good price and bought 25 yards of silk for cousin Lina for her wedding. Thai silk has a feeling of wealth to it. After dinner I explored the shops near the hotel, my favorite aspect of Bangkok. Found a pair of good leather shoes on sale for $12. The next morning we went to the river for our boat ride on the Klongs of the city. We stopped at the Temple of the Dawn and again I had to run to the top. The steps get taller and steeper as you go up and it's actually harder to come down. Mercedes, the young gal from Venezuela, let vendors put huge snakes around her neck for a photo. They are so big and so awful but it makes a great photo. Speaking of pictures, at the Royal Palace Claire, one of the ship's photographers got three Buddhist monks to pose for a photo. After the click she ran up to them and put her arms around them to pose with them. I've never seen three more shocked monks. They are not allowed to touch women and they scattered in a hurry!

Singapore was HOT. I was on the afternoon tour to Jurong Park, so after helping dispatch the morning tours I went in to town to look at cameras. Didn't really find what I wanted so I'll probably get one at home instead. Jurong Park is quite a nice complex. Unfortunately, the walk in aviary, billed as the highlight of the tour, was closed due to construction of a monorail. There was a good show with birds of prey and we enjoyed exhibits of penguins, birds of the darkness, hornbills, parrots, and a myriad of others. When we got ready to leave we were missing one man. We looked all over with no success. Finally I sent the bus and looked more on my own. He had indeed gone ahead on the first bus and that escort and guide just took his word for it that we knew about it. I ended up taking a bus to the metro, then taxi to the dock and walked the last half mile to the ship. I was not a happy camper and I must have had a little too much sun because I had to go right to bed.

The very next afternoon we were in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I don't know why I expected a poor city on the order of Fiji or Bali, but it turned out to be one of the most beautiful cities of the cruise. We took a modern superhighway into the city. There was neat landscaping all along the way with shrubs and flowers decorating all the interchanges. A modern, highly developed country. The one thing that wasn't brilliant was the way the gangway at the QE2 was handled. They put a long gangway into the door on 4 Deck and as the tide sank the opening became smaller and smaller and people had to fairly crawl out. They finally decided to move it to 2 Deck and in the process of trying to remove the gangway from 4 Deck they mangled it up pretty good. The whole process took over half an hour, delaying our tour departure. The quality of our local guides and the organization didn't match up to the luster of the city. Our guide wasn't particularly intelligent and he certainly had no sense of organization or timing. It's an hour drive into the city so it didn't leave us much time to see the sights, which were very worthwhile seeing. The railway station looks like a Moorish palace or mosque. The King's palace is another of these lavish spectacles like Brunei or Oman. There's such a diversity of architecture in the city and overall it's neat and tidy like Singapore. That means, of course, that many of the tough restrictions and standards of Singapore are enforced here as well. We had high tea at the Regent Hotel and they did a bang-up job of it. Surprising how good hot tea can taste on a hot day. The pastries weren't bad either!

We found out through the grapevine that Cunard is hoping to run their own tours on the world cruise next year. The threat seems to be there every year and they did their own in 1987. We had hoped that 1987 taught them a lesson, but here they are at it again. Word spread quickly through the ship and we found out how many friends we had on board among the staff and the passengers. There has been a tremendous outpouring of support and people have written to New York and London protesting. It'll be interesting to see the final decision.

Wednesday, March 6 we docked in Madras, India for two days. Parnell and I stayed in Madras to tend the shop while the rest of our staff went to the Taj Mahal. Madras itself isn't the most interesting city in the world and Cunard substituted it for Bombay to save fuel. We had three big buses and eight vans for the morning tour and it was quite a chore dispatching them. I had no one to keep people from getting in vans before we were ready to load and it was frustrating. We drove along the marine drive past the enormous Madras beach and turned into the city. Madras has 5 million people and I think we saw every one of them! The city is teeming with life of all kinds, including swarms of beggars. Our first stop was at Mylapore Temple (Hindu). It's quite a colorful place, but for me the street vendors and scenes just outside were much more fascinating. The rest of the tour was mediocre at best. We went to the government museum and saw a room full of bronzes of various Hindu gods. Yuk. The National Gallery next door wasn't much better. It consisted of a room with lackluster paintings of Hindu gods and British Military - about equally thrilling. We made our half hour stop at the inevitable handicraft center and visited St Mary's Church in Fort St George to wrap up the tour. Again, nothing special, but as we often point out, you can't make a Paris out of a Madras. My favorite line on this cruise, going back to Lae, New Guinea is, "One Lae does not a Hawaii make!"

Back at the ship cousin Kenny Bill Chaney was waiting for me. He had come about 350 miles. He looks more Indian than some of the Indians. I had arranged a pass for him so we had lunch in the Lido Cafe. Yup - he definitely took advantage of the opportunity! We spent the afternoon together and he showed me his manuscripts of New International English. He's done impressive work, but I still maintain that a revision of our language with so many diacritical markings and complex letters will go nowhere. Returning to the ship in the evening we met two fellows from a scientific ship and they invited us aboard to see it. A small vessel, but interesting to see the differences. It actually has sophisticated labs to help with their ocean research.

The second day in Madras we had a nice full day tour planned. Unfortunately, our local agent decided that it wasn't enough and they added a side trip out into the country that added five hours to the tour. Lunch was set for 1:00 and the first bus didn't arrive until 1:30 and they had not yet seen a single attraction offered in our tour description. Not only that, they had been without a restroom break for five hours. The tour we planned was to go to Mahabalipuram with its cave temples, shore temples, and spectacular cliff carvings, have a late lunch with Indian dancers and get back to the ship about 4:30. As it was, when the people arrived for lunch some of them were furious. Parnell and I were both there and we immediately promised a full refund of the tour. A lot of passengers felt that it was a great day and they saw a lot in the Indian countryside. However, it was the principle of the thing. It wasn't the tour we promised, and the promise of refund obviously did a lot to appease the masses. Eighteen decided not to even go on to Mahabalipuram after lunch so we sent them back to the QE2 directly. Those that did thought Mahabalipuram was wonderful. Of course, they only ended up having 30 to 45 minutes there. What a waste of a perfectly good tour. You can imagine how happy we were with our local operators.

Saturday, March 9 we were in the Doldrums. No, we weren't all depressed that day. The Doldrums are the meteorological equator and aren't affected by weather and wind patterns of either the northern or southern hemisphere. It's almost always calm here, to the extent that sailing ships used to get stranded here for days on end waiting for a breeze. In that era they acquired the name Horse Latitudes. Ships transporting horses would get stuck with no wind and because of the high heat and humidity many of the horses died. The carcasses were thrown overboard and other ships sailing into the area would see all those dead horses floating around. Hence the name Horse Latitudes.

We haven't picked up CNN for a long time and for some reason we started getting it again in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It's great to get regular news, sports and weather. I see the University of Montana won the Big Sky Tourney and now has to face UNLV in the first round of the NCAA. It looks like a repeat of when they were last there and played UCLA! Good luck!


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Chapter 5, Mombasa, Kenya to New York
March 13 to April 9, 1991

Hello Everyone! We're already rockin' and rollin' our way home across the Atlantic as I sit down to pen this final chapter. It's been a bit rough since leaving Southampton. In fact, the roughest seas I have experienced to date. My cabin is in the front of the ship and often during the night I had to hang on to keep from flying out of my bunk. There was nothing left on top of my desk. In the office our computer equipment had all been thrown to the floor, though I don't think there's too much damage. About 9:00 the ship did a grinding contortion as it hit a big swell and one of the windows in our office shattered into a million pieces and blew in. Imagine the natural air conditioning that resulted with 50 mph winds outside! In spite of nasty weather, John Hallead and I braved the elements and played backgammon on deck in a sheltered corner. We didn't exactly darken our lovely tans, but we did get some fresh air.

Monday, March 11 we had a beautiful warm day in the Seychelles, just south of the equator. It's a lush, mountainous island with a nice breeze at the higher elevations. Tours generally run well there, but there's not a lot to write home about.

The day before the Seychelles we heard from our Kenya agent that they couldn't deliver on the promised rooms on the safaris. Some passengers had to double up, switch to another lodge or cancel. We were furious and you can just imagine some of the passenger reaction! Just one of the things that makes this job tougher than some would think. In Mombasa I stayed behind to run the local tours, and the rest of the office staff took off on safaris. Actually they did end up being spectacular safaris so we'll probably use the agent again next year after all. There's not a lot in Mombasa, but it's a mite better than Madras. We explored Fort St Jesus, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century, and then strolled the alleyways of the old Arab Quarter. Lots of little shops with wonderful African treasures. I went to a beach hotel for the afternoon, but recent storms had filled the water with tons of seaweed. The swimming pool was much nicer. The next morning I took a short jaunt back into town with one of the ship's musicians. We used local transportation (fully packed van!) and went to the real local market. We had a great time wandering the vegetable and meat market, then the little stores in the area. Back at the dock I traded an old pair of shoes for a big giraffe and a shirt for an elephant.

St Patrick's Day we arrived in Durban, South Africa. Parnell and I took 70 passengers on the Blue Train tour. It should have been a nice, relaxing tour for everyone, but it was the trip from Hell! I've never been on a tour where so many things went wrong! The local organization was to blame for much of the problem, but a lot was just coincidence. The weather was cloudy and rainy. We flew to Johannesburg and were met by two buses but only one guide. We had ordered a private van for four of the passengers for the afternoon, but it didn't show up. We didn't get to lunch until 1:40, but at least it was good. Pretoria is actually a beautiful city, full of gardens, parks, flowers and monuments. We went to the Union Buildings and Gardens and had a nice walk from the top to the bottom (those of us who braved the rain). Our last stop was the Voortrekker Monument and as we arrived it began pouring rain. Only a few ventured off the coaches to go in, but it was worth it. It tells the story of the early settlers and it's impressive. My bus got to the Johannesburg Sun Hotel first. They weren't quite ready for us and the rooming lists were not up to date. All rooms in the hotel had either a king bed or two twins pushed together in a king configuration. We had rooms with two men sharing, who didn't even know each other, so we had to do some shuffling. The hotel was full, of course. What a mess. One couple checked in and turned back the bedspread to find it shockingly soiled. Three suitcases were soaked clear through so we had to have clothes laundered. One suitcase was ripped. Dinner was in a coffee shop, and the people had been told to dress up for a nice dinner. Meanwhile, the other bus had not even arrived yet. My driver took off to find them. They had broken down in the middle of the freeway (literally in the middle lane of three) and their driver had taken off with the keys to find help. It was rainy and misty and they were in a dangerous predicament for over an hour. Cars continually veered around them at the last second and it's a miracle nobody hit them. You can imagine how traumatic that was for them. They finally got to the hotel at 7:00. Much of the luggage for passengers on my bus was on bus number two as well, so they were all in limbo until it arrived. By 9:30 I was worn out so headed to bed. To resolve the dilemma of one of the rooms with two men, I had given my bed to Peter Young and had a rollaway put in our parlor area. I stopped to talk to the Towers Manager on the way to bed and he asked me if I wanted the Penthouse Suite for the night. I didn't feel I could take it knowing every room was full, but he insisted so I had a great, luxurious suite with a magnificent view over the city for the night. Too bad I was really too tired to enjoy it, but the bed felt great!

Problems continued in the morning. Maggie, from the local Amex office, was to meet Parnell at 7:00 to take him to the Blue Train station to make final arrangements. She didn't show so Parnell took a taxi. At 9:00 I finally caught someone in the office - they had gotten stuck in traffic. There were lots of other little problems, but we finally got to the station. There was a mix up on the train, too. I didn't have a cabin available until Kimberly at 7:00 pm. Two women who had paid for single cabins were put together so I offered one of them my cabin after Kimberly and Peter Young and I shared. Good ole Peter! What would I have done without his frequent cooperation!? The Blue Train was nice, but unfortunately some of the passengers were in no mindset to enjoy it due to the weather, breakdown, etc. I must admit I didn't feel much like seeing passengers, either, but I forced myself to mingle among them. Parnell went to bed at 2:30 pm! We had a half hour stop in Kimberly, South Africa's great diamond center. The scenery the first afternoon was gentle and rolling and the sky finally cleared just before dark. Early the next morning it got light in time for us to see the last of the Great Karoo, the great desert, before heading through a long tunnel into a region of beautiful mountains and vineyards. It really was beautiful that morning coming into Capetown. It was good to see the QE2 again and I was glad that tour was over. I'd love to ride on the Blue Train sometime under more favorable circumstances, but never again like that!!

Anyway, I was back in lovely Capetown, one of my favorite cities in the whole world. Bright sunshine made the world look better. I escorted the afternoon tour of Capetown and area and it was simply wonderful. Everyone enjoyed it and we had high tea at the botanical gardens on the other side of Table Mountain from Capetown. That evening Peter Young and I took the cable car up Table Mountain to watch the sunset. It was glorious up there and as it got darker we wandered the top of the mountain enjoying stupendous views of the bay and the city as all the millions of lights began twinkling far below us. A magnificent evening.

Wednesday was another fabulous day. The tour was called Four Mountain Passes and Stellenbosch. We headed out of Capetown and over Sir Lowry's Pass. Terrific views with scenery somewhat of a combination of California and Washington. We had a tea stop at Hoewhoek Inn, built in 1834. Out front was South Africa's oldest eucalyptus tree, planted that same year. They serve the most delicious scones with jam and real cream. Yum! After making a short stop at a farm stall where we could see the local produce and crafts, we headed over two more mountain passes into wine country. We had lunch near the picturesque little town of Franschoek at the Boschendal Estates. Charming place. Good restaurant. Well restored old manor house. Nice sunshine. We really didn't want to leave but we had to head over the fourth pass to Stellenbosch, where the Afrikaans language university is. Quaint little town with lots of typical Cape Dutch architecture. We had 45 minutes free to wander the square and enjoy the atmosphere. It was a wonderful day and everyone came back happy. Passengers who were in South Africa for the first time were so surprised at the cavernous difference between the South Africa the media paints and the South Africa they were seeing in person. The country has made giant strides. In fact, the land settlement act has just been repealed and there is now no law dictating where a person may or may not live because of his color. Many countries are rethinking their sanctions. It seems that if the country can survive the terror and havoc caused by Mandela and his African National Congress, South Africa's future could be pretty bright.

I was going to walk from the ship back into town for the evening, but our local agents gave me their car. So I drove to New Harbor, Sea Point, along the beach, and to the top of Signal Hill for one more spectacular view of Capetown by night. I love it here!

Friday, March 22, we arrived in Walvis Bay on a foggy, cool morning. Walvis Bay is a South African enclave surrounded by the newly independent country of Namibia. The country is mostly desert, but Walvis Bay has a San Francisco climate with lots of fog. Immediately outside the city the giant sand dunes begin. We drove along the coast to the little German town of Swakopmund. We visited a carpet factory then the local museum. History, mining, crystals, and refreshments. We gave people 45 minutes downtown for shopping then headed back for WB. We drove along the lagoon looking for flamingos but they had all disappeared.

After Walvis Bay we had three days at sea and things were beginning to wind down a bit. We were able to work half days, so I got to play duplicate bridge a few times. Great to have some time to relax. The ship had a country fair to benefit a Romanian Children's Home and we had a geography trivia raffle with prizes of free tours and a stuffed gorilla.

Freetown, Sierra Leone is unbelievable, and not in a good way. Nothing in all my travels around the world had prepared me for the shock of that country. I was on a 20-passenger bus and sat with Jim & Mary Masterson from Casper, Wyoming. Almost neighbors! The world changed as soon as the bus went through the port gate. There are beggars in many countries, but these were so aggressive. They mobbed the bus looking for handouts. We warned people to be extremely careful with their cameras and to not take pictures out the window. A young fellow reached inside the bus and snatched a man's cane. The man just managed to grab it before it was gone and the rest of the passengers were suddenly very cautious. On into town and there were people everywhere, colorful costumes, bare feet, people carrying baskets and everything else on their heads. Terribly poor. No contrast between rich and poor here - it was all bad! It was like none of the other third world countries I've seen. Sierra Leone was founded by many freed slaves from England and the U.S. so there's a real mixture. Not much to see there, but we made a stop at the parliament building for photos of a statue and a panorama over the city. Lots of vendors were hawking their wares of wooden animals, ivory, malachite, dolls, masks, etc. Wonderful, but the throngs of people were a bit intimidating. We proceeded to a beach hotel, which was not too bad. Had refreshments and fairly clean toilets. Drove out of town through mountains to Regent Village. The locals were all set up with their goods and even had drums beating to welcome their 'customers' from QE2. Unfortunately, it was late and with the high risk there was really no way we were going to let people off the bus there. I felt really badly for the locals who were cheated out of important sales, but you can't imagine the danger and aggressiveness of the crowds. I coined a term for the scene in Freetown - Aggressive Poverty. What a hopeless place. Most of the passengers were happy to get back to the QE2 and stay put until sailing. I decided to take the shuttle bus back into town with some of the crew. Photo opportunities like that were too good to pass up! In one of the markets a young man walked along with a big board balanced on his head. On top was a live sow! What a picture. We had lunch at the Paramount Hotel. Third rate, but we had fun. Back at the ship we heard tales of lost watches and wallets. What a place. It was fascinating to see, but once was ENOUGH!

We pulled into Dakar, Senegal the next afternoon at 2:00. It was surprisingly cool, almost chilly, for a place so near the equator. Our guide, Adam, was one of the best guides we've had. Very articulate. Stopped for a photo at the president's palace and had a short visit to the museum. Drove through the city center and past Sandaga Market. Dakar is one of Africa's most colorful cities, especially after Freetown! It's known as the Gateway to West Africa and has a real mixture of cultures and styles. Unlike Freetown, it has a lot of contrasts between modern and third world. Spent half an hour at Simbouine Village where people could shop for all the native handicrafts. The tour continued through a nice residential area, to a mosque, the university and the beautiful railway station. Ended up with a photo stop by a huge baobab tree. After the tour John Hallead, Marc and I took the shuttle into Independence Square and walked to Sandaga Market. Vendors are persistent and won't take no for an answer. There's lots of atmosphere in the market. Hard core bargaining. They come up to us with two 'silver' bracelets and ask $50. In the end I give them $2 to get rid of them! I bought a big piece of batik cloth for a moumou for $10 then bought a finished moumou that was even prettier for $10. As we finished bargaining, someone handed the saleslady a baby and she started nursing the baby right there as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Oh, for a photo! As we started walking back it was getting dark and the hawkers wouldn't leave us along. A kid came up to John and pulled on his pant leg by his ankle. While he was distracted there another man tried to take money out of John's pocket. He realized it just in time but it happened to Marc two times after that. They were thwarted all three times, but somewhere along the way Marc lost his watch right off his wrist. You wouldn't expect three big fellows to be targets for pickpockets and you can imagine some of the tales we heard about passengers later. A dangerous but colorful town! Several passengers were mugged. One lost $4,000 (stupid!) and two crew returned to the ship in an ambulance with even their shoes and shirts taken.

Good Friday we sailed into the beautiful Canary Islands and docked at Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The reputation for beauty is well deserved. We had three buses on the full day tour and only one of them got away before the local taxi drivers had a dispute with the ship about offering a free shuttle bus into town and blocked our tour buses as bargaining chips. The taxis wanted people for their customers and weren't about to let all that money get away on a free bus. It delayed us nearly half an hour until the police came and made them let us go. The weather was cloudy and threatening as we headed up the mountain side. It's subtropical down below and never freezes, but the mountain is over 12,000' high and is subject to all kinds of weather. Halfway up the mountain we were turned back because of a snowstorm! The guides said there was nothing we could do but I insisted they call someone and find out if the road was open from the other side. It was and we went around by freeway and proceeded up the other side of the mountain. It was so spectacular. Up into the clouds, fog, and snow. Up to 8,000'. Suddenly near the top it began to clear and at our destination we had brilliant blue sky. Mt Teide, an old volcano, towered above us. Strange lava and rock formations were all around us. Really wonderful. The detour had put us way behind schedule so we only had a 10 minute stop before reboarding and heading back down to the Orotavo Valley and Puerto de la Cruz. We had lunch in a waterfront restaurant. It was a long, Spanish style lunch with several courses and lots of wine. There are no natural beaches there so they made a fantastic complex of swimming pools near the ocean. Pretty.

Saturday night we had a party in our office for all the staff who have been so cooperative with us. I was talking with one of the gals from the casino and learned she's from Warsaw. So guess what we spoke together after that. Friday night we lost an hour because we headed east from Tenerife to Gibraltar and Saturday night we lost another as Europe went on Daylight Savings Time. It's been so nice this cruise going west and gaining hours, the thought of doing another world cruise going east is horrifying. People who sit in offices in New York and make decisions insist that people get used to losing hours, but don't believe it for a minute. It's awful.

Easter Sunday we called in Gibraltar. The Lord is Risen! A beautiful morning, though a bit chilly, and we didn't have to run any tours. John Hallead and I took off into town and walked the length of Main Street. I was surprised how charming it was. We walked clear to the cable car, but it wasn't running so we hitched a ride up to the top of 'the Rock'. We went in St Michael's Cave. Beautiful inside with enormous stalactites, stalagmites and columns. Also a large room inside where they have concerts. We walked on up to the top for the impressive view down the other side. Much steeper on the Mediterranean side. Flowers everywhere. We walked down steps on a large wall that ran from top to bottom of the mountain and saw one of Gibraltar's famous Barbary Apes. So cute. We caught a ride back to the ship and played backgammon in the sun.

The very next day we were in Lisbon on April 1. It was a fabulous day and tour and that's no fooling! We were a bit late docking and they brought our coaches right up next to the ship instead of boarding beyond the terminal building as they usually do there. I had two buses on the day tour and Sheila Bennell, wife of the former QE2 Captain, escorted the other bus. We saw a bit of Lisbon on the way out of town. Nice. Peaceful atmosphere. Spring in the air. Near Lisbon we visited Queluz Palace, like a small Versailles. Every bit as nice as Versailles, but somehow more livable. Magnificent interior and well-cared-for gardens.

We continued our relaxing drive through the gently rolling countryside to Sintra and visited another palace which was more like a castle. One of my favorites anywhere. Elegant rooms, thick walls, turrets and a charming setting. Afterwards we had a few minutes free time to shop or take pictures in the village. Our lunch was in another palace just outside of Sintra, Five-star Tivoli Hotel. Exquisite. They served a beautiful lunch in a setting that made people want to just sit and enjoy the atmosphere. Bright sunshine and temps in the 60's made us all feel relaxed and unhurried. We had time to wander the gardens and enjoy our last day of spring before heading north to chilly England. We returned via the coastal route and saw the westernmost point in Europe. On to the little fishing village of Cascais and I recognized a certain little beach where Gaylene, Lina and I spent a night in December, 1981. Once was enough for that too. The village is a picturesque little place with yachts and fishing boats in the harbor. Right next to it is the resort town of Estoril. Quite a contrast between the two but both nice. Back in town we had quick stops at the Navigators' Monument (Vasco de Gama, etc.) and a fortress tower. A beautiful suspension bridge spans the river and on the other side is a large Christ the King statue. In all ways a magnificent day and a great port of call.

Wednesday we pulled into our final port, Southampton, England. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we were told the weather had been diabolical for several weeks. I again did the full day tour to Salisbury, Stonehenge and Bath. Our guide, Elizabeth, was a professional. First stop was Salisbury Cathedral. Elizabeth informed us it weights exactly as much as QE2. 13th century. Very gothic. Tall spire over 400' high. On to Stonehenge. Not as big as many imagine, but it's very interesting. It was cold and windy there so we didn't spend too much time walking around. The story of Stonehenge is not known for sure, but they do know it predates the Druids. Everybody seems to have their own speculations. There are, however, very accurate scientific traits that involve the equinox and solstice. Bath is a beautiful, ancient city. Houses are built row upon row to give a palace facade. We drove around first for a bit of orientation then went to the Hilton for lunch. From the hotel we walked to the old Roman baths and did a self-paced tour through them. There's a large natural hot water spring that provided plenty to fill the old baths of all shapes and sizes. It's mineral water, but not sulfur like Yellowstone. We left Bath at 3:30 and had a most delightful 2 1/2 hours meandering through the countryside on back roads through little villages and farms. Terribly English! The last stretch was through the 'New Forest', which is less forest than meadow. It's semi-preserved and there are lots of deer and wild ponies all over the place. A lovely spot.

Peter and Marc both left the ship in Southampton and Parnell and John Durant both went to London for overnight, so John Hallead and I went into town and had fish and chips at a traditional old place. There's actually a fair bit to see in Southampton itself. The next morning was nasty, windy and rainy. We were so glad the tour was the previous day! I went into town one more time and had breakfast at the Dolphin Hotel with Peter Young. The hotel was founded before Columbus discovered America! The ugly weather continued and there were warnings about rough seas. As I mentioned earlier, it was pretty bad and it lasted several days. Saturday morning at 4:00 the wind speed was over 85 knots and when added to the ship's speed made gale force 11. Ouch. The swell was over 30' high and one wave was over 50'! Several times big waves came crashing over the bow of the ship. The motion was hard on lots of people and it didn't make for a wonderful crossing. I enjoyed it anyway. Between packing up the office and balancing the books I got to play a lot of bridge. One session I bid and made a grand slam in 7 No Trump, which is extremely rare. Of nine teams that played the same hand, I was the only one that bid it. The last day of the cruise was calmer and a little sunny. The weather cost us time though. It delayed our arrival into New York until about 2:30 PM. Lots of missed flights and a nightmare for the travel staff.

In closing, two limericks written by Parnell about two of our not too favorite passengers.

"There was a sick lady named Segal, Who bayed at the moon like a beagle. When asked to explain how she liked the Blue Train, Her language was almost illegal!"

"All hail to the following good news, The Barnetts are leaving this cruise! Their complaints without end sent us all 'round the bend, So, let's celebrate with dancing and booze!"


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