1994 World Cruise


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Sagafjord World Cruise 1994

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Greetings from the Sagafjord!

The time has come again to spin a tale of two cities (or more) as we wend our way around the world on the 1994 Sagafjord World Cruise. Here I am back in the tour office where I started my great adventures at sea exactly five years ago this month. At that time I certainly had no idea of the great adventures in store for me discovering the world from both land and sea. Now, here we are on board the lovely Sagafjord heading south down the east coast of South America for Cape Horn and Antarctica. Then it's off across the Atlantic for South Africa, Kenya, India, and the Far East. That will all be detailed in coming chapters, of course, but for now suffice it to say it looks like an exciting few months ahead.

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


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Chapter 1, Fort Lauderdale to Rio de Janeiro
January 4 to January 18, 1994


First, a bit about our fair vessel. The Sagafjord is 28 years old, but elegant and charming. She's about two football fields long and can take about 550 passengers. The ship just came out of a two-week dry dock in December during which the dining room and ballroom were totally renovated. Gorgeous! I dare say our dining room is now as pretty as any afloat. Also, new carpet throughout the ship and other little touches have really helped to spruce things up.

There are four of us in the Tour Office. Jim McFarland is the Office Manager and Tom Cecil handles the books. I was with them on my very first cruise in 1989 and it's a pleasure to rejoin them. The other team member is Desiree Graucob, a sweet Swede whom I've known now for a couple years. Desiree and I handle the front counter dealing with the passengers. We have a great time together and we both enjoy people. What a team! Many of the other staff and officers on the ship are also good friends, so there was very little adjustment coming into this job. Jim and Tom have been on ships for years so they have pretty much left the overland tours for Desiree and me to escort. My first big one is coming up in Rio de Janeiro, January 18, where we begin a four-day tour encompassing Rio, Iguassu Falls, and Buenos Aires. Iguassu Falls has long been a dream of mine so needless to say, I'm excited. Just to give you a glimpse of what's ahead, other overland tours in my 'duties list' are an African Safari out of Mombasa, a five-day Grand India tour, a China overland, and another brand new opportunity - a four-day trip including Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Cambodia. In Cambodia we'll spend two nights in Phnom Penh and spend a day at Angkor Wat, one of the most famous of all the Asian temple ruins.

We set sail from Ft. Lauderdale on Tuesday, January 4. Right off the bat things were a bit hectic for us as we have a new computer system which was not quite designed for all the variables present on the world cruise. It took several days to get the main glitches out, and though it still isn't ideal, we've learned to live with it quite efficiently. We were glad there weren't a lot of ports right off the bat. I dine at a table for six which has seen a few changes already. After one meal we lost two passengers from our table who didn't like being in the smoking section. That left four of us: Margo Kipp, Lady Peggy DuCros, Ann Menges and me. Margo was sick and didn't show her face the first three days. When she finally did, Peggy was horrified when she recognized Margo and said she couldn't bear to sit with her and would have to ask for another table. That left Margo, Ann and me! Margo is at least 130 years old (actually 86) and contributes a continuous monotone/monologue (that nobody can hear anyway) to our lively dinner conversation. She's not a bad egg, but usually it's easier to let her ramble while Ann and I talk about more intelligent subjects. Margo has been ill more days than not, so for the most part Ann and I have been enjoying a delightful table for six all by ourselves. That's not quite true. We already have a steady stream of pals who finish eating well ahead of us and come join us at our table to laugh and gossip. One night Margo was there and was complaining the rolls weren't crisp enough. The other three at the table were unanimous that the breads had been delicious. Before we knew it, Margo had made little balls of the inside of her roll and threw them across the table at us! No, we didn't throw them back. Later at the same meal she was singing for us. So you see, it's not exactly dull having Margo around. Peggy is an actual 'lady' from the Isle of Mann in Great Britain. She's 77, hard of hearing, very forgetful and a real hoot. She hated to leave Ann and me because we made her laugh. She ended up at a table with fellow Brits and finds it dreadfully boring. She prefers Americans. So she comes back for coffee once in awhile when Margo isn't there to get a dose of humor, or should I say 'humour' from us two nuts. Ann and I, of course, go way back, having met on the 1989 World Cruise at the jigsaw puzzle the first week of the cruise. We spent a lot of time together back then shopping in exotic ports and buying all our souvenirs for '$2'! She's been on several cruises since and we've become quite well acquainted. She even came to Bozeman for Christmas just before this cruise and is still excited about having been to Montana. We don't have a lot of trouble entertaining ourselves and whoever else happens to be around. Scrabble occupies much of our free time.

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands was our first port. A beautiful sunny morning and Ann and I were on tour to St. John Island. Pretty drive, nice ferry ride, and another photo-rich drive across St. John to Trunk Bay for 1 1/2 hours at the beach. Most of St. John is a National Park which was donated by the Rockefellers 40 years ago. The Rocks still have enough land there to have an exclusive resort, of course. Enjoyed the beach, in spite of a few brief rain showers. Actually, we've probably had more rainy weather in the first two weeks of this cruise than the total number of rainy days in any of my three other world cruises. That day was also Ann's 62nd birthday so she's excited about getting social security soon!

Sunday, January 9 we were in Barbados and I thoroughly enjoyed a tour to Harrison Cave and the Flower Forest. Harrison Cave is unique in the Caribbean and one of the nicest in the world. We rode through the cave in style on a battery-operated tram, seeing formations of all kinds and even cascades and a waterfall. The nearby Flower Forest is 50 acres of plants, flowers and trees from all over the world. Well laid out with pleasant walkways at Gun Hill, a former lookout and gun station during British times. We waited in the bus ten minutes while it poured down in buckets, but soon the rain quit and we enjoyed the panorama of Barbados and the pretty gardens on Gun Hill.

Tuesday we were at Devil's Island for a half day, but I didn't go ashore. It's a pretty place with a fascinating history, but I was just there in November and I had other things to do, not the least of which was to sleep in! Funny quote that afternoon: A man in front of the photo board was looking at all the photos taken during lifeboat drill and said, "Oh look! They only took pictures of people wearing red shirts!"

We had three days at sea to enjoy life onboard (i.e. Work). Wednesday night one of our most regular passengers, Bernice Norman, threw a cocktail party for all 370 passengers. She does that a couple times on a world cruise. Cloudy, rainy weather for those few days.

Saturday morning we were in Recife, Brazil. I didn't go on tour. We had enough escorts and I'd just done it in November. Several of us took the shuttle into the shopping complex at the old jail, then Roger, the classical pianist onboard, and I went for a walk into the main business district for some real shopping. Walked to the Theater and found an open gate and back door and asked the armed guards if we could go in and look. One of them took us around and it was indeed beautiful. Balconies five stories high. Good acoustics and a 10' grand piano which Roger was allowed to play. A piece from Rachmaninoff was lovely and delighted our guard. We browsed through a whole row of book vendors, but books are really expensive in Brazil. Back at the dock I couldn't resist buying a reversible doll of Red Riding Hood which becomes Grandmother as well as the Wolf. Only $4. Such a deal!

Well, the port of Salvador belongs in this chapter as well, but I'm out of space and that is a long story by itself so I'm going to limit this to two pages and make the next chapter retroactive and comprehensive. For now, it's off to Iguassu Falls!!



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Chapter 2, Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires
January 18 to January 22, 1994

Sagafjord Salutations!


Backtracking to Sunday, January 16. We were scheduled to be in port in Salvador de Bahia from 1 - 5 pm. We were ready to enter the bay ahead of schedule when we were met by a naval destroyer and informed we could not proceed. There was a swimming contest in the port and it would last till at least 1:00! By the time they allowed us to continue and pull along side it was quite late. We disembarked at 2:20 and had to be back onboard at 4:30. That did not leave a lot of time for the tour and it also threw everything into pandemonium. We drove up to the old section of Salvador, called Pelourinho, which has been beautifully restored to its original splendor. It really is one of the most exquisite settings of any city in Brazil. Colorful buildings in a whole range of pastels. Lots of churches, cathedrals, little shops and sidewalk cafes. Paintings and handicraft items for sale. Baroque architecture one might expect to find in Vienna. We raced through on our quick tour, but it would have been lovely to wander around for a day, exploring the little shops and soaking up the ambience with a drink at one of the little cafes. The cathedral is quite large and impressive. We made it back to the ship by 4:30 and spent the evening in the tour office doing a 50% refund for all the passengers on the tour. In spite of the stress, most people enjoyed our brief visit to Salvador and I surely hope to make it back there again.

When you're in Brazil, as in many countries around the world, you just roll with the punches and stay flexible. I've been learning Portuguese and asked one of our guides if they had a similar expression to the Spanish 'manana'. "No, they have nothing anywhere near that urgent in Brazil!"

Desiree went on an overland tour from Salvador to Brasilia to Rio so I handled the counter myself on Monday. Between customers there was plenty to keep me busy preparing for the Iguassu Falls overland. I took Desiree's place at dinner with Jim and Tom. It's nice to be able to switch off occasionally. At 10 pm we had crew aerobics. Joe Marso from the Golden Door Spa really gave us a workout! Have to keep up with the calorie intake.

What a glorious panorama as we sailed into Rio de Janeiro Tuesday morning. Sugar Loaf Mountain stands majestic guard over the city and Corcovado with the immense Christ the Redeemer statue towers over the whole region. We watched the sun peek over the mountains around the bay, then silently glided into the fog which rolled over the city. It was a cool morning, but the fog burned off quickly as the thermometer inched up toward 95 degrees by midday. My group assembled in the Garden Lounge for a 2:00 pm departure. Our guide, Klaus, showed us the highlights of Rio. There is a most interesting cathedral shaped like a very tall squarish cone. Stained glass windows all the way up the four sides. Lots of historic buildings of all shapes and sizes. The high point (literally) of the afternoon was a visit to Sugar Loaf Mountain. We took two cable cars to the top of that sheer granite monolith, 1200' above sea level. From there we had a spectacular view of the entire city, bay and surrounding mountains. It was even cool with a nice breeze up there. I couldn't help but thinking what a pity that a city of such extreme natural beauty had to be tainted with such crime and poverty. Rio makes New York feel like a safe haven. Two of our stewardesses were in a taxi and were forced off the road and robbed at gunpoint. The police didn't want to hear about it and it seemed suspicious that the taxi driver was even involved. Visiting Rio demands extreme caution. On the way to the Rio Palace Hotel for the night we drove along the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. Gorgeous beaches that stretch on for miles. From our hotel on Copacabana we watched the Sagafjord sail out of the bay on her way to Buenos Aires. We went out to dinner at Sol E Mar and had the best table on the patio over the water for our group of 12. We watched the light and color change on Sugar Loaf as the sun disappeared in the west and the mountain was illuminated with flood lights. The cable cars continued their journey up and down until late into the night. The Christ statue on Corcovado was also lit up and seemed idyllic for us in our nice little corner, but ironic considering the turmoil of the city around us. As the stars came out the patio cover was rolled back and we saw the constellations of the Southern Cross and the Three Sisters. It was a warm evening with a pleasant breeze off the bay. Nice! We had seafood for dinner with ice cream served in half a papaya for dessert. The coffee was served in tiny little cups and was strong enough to choke a horse. I don't put sugar in coffee, but three spoonfuls helped it go down that time.

After dinner we were transferred to the Plataforma for a famous Brazilian Samba show. It was similar to a big Las Vegas show, but less variety. Huge costumes of elaborate design. The music was very Brazilian and pretty much the same genre throughout, but fortunately we were up in the middle balcony so we didn't have quite the volume closer tables did. One act was a demonstration of a Brazilian martial arts form with heavy emphasis on kicks and flips. Quite impressive. There was an intermission while they prepared for the Grand Finale and the MC did a lively rundown of all the nationalities present. As he highlighted different nations the band played a favorite song from that country and people of that nationality were invited to run up on stage and dance to it or sing along. The Japanese, Koreans and Uruguayans did the best job. The Grand Finale featured even bigger and better costumes with all the participants coming out together. We exited shortly after midnight.

Rio is a huge city with about 12 million inhabitants in the metro area. Brazilians say that God made the world in six days; the seventh he devoted to Rio! Unfortunately, God's work is now under threat from too many high-rise buildings and failure to maintain or clean the city adequately. Education is also a problem. Though it is free, there is no law against public servants striking in Brazil and teachers are often on strike during the whole school year. Teachers are paid next to nothing so they moonlight at other jobs while on strike from school and the children are the ones that suffer.

The Rio Palace Hotel is nice. CNN, ESPN, and NBC were all available on TV. I watched the Boston Celtics beat the Houston Rockets before going to sleep. There was also extensive coverage of the Los Angeles earthquake. What a mess that is. Actually, we get CNN on our cabin TV on the ship once in awhile, but it comes and goes. We do get a News in Brief from the New York Times faxed to us every morning and we have satellite news in print on TV that is updated every day. So we aren't totally isolated, but it's nice to get newspapers ashore or stay in a hotel with 'real' TV.

Wednesday morning we had a lovely buffet with lots of tropical fruit. The coffee they serve for breakfast is great if you have them mix it right. Milk coffee. Brazilians take about 3/4 coffee and 1/4 milk. I reverse the ratio and it's beautiful. Ummm! For our flight to Iguassu we couldn't reserve seats in advance and by the time we got to the airport there were few seats left together and only one in non-smoking. Oh well, you roll with the punches and make do when you travel around the world. We were treated to exquisite views of Rio de Janeiro, Sugar Loaf, Corcovado, the Bay and surrounding mountains as we made our ascent, finally disappearing into the clouds. We had a stopover in Sao Paulo on our way to Iguassu. WOW! According to some guesstimates Sao Paulo is the largest city in the world and it does indeed have high-rise buildings that stretch endlessly toward the horizon. It was a bonus to see that. On the continuation we had one of the best airplane meals I've had. That was a surprise coming from Varig Airlines.

As we approached Iguassu we could see alternating jungle and farm land below. Soon we saw the Iguassu River snaking its way through the gently rolling terrain. The pilot flew low and did three great circles over the falls, giving us a spectacular look at Iguassu Falls from the air. Of the world's three biggest waterfalls, this one takes the cake. Victoria is the largest, Iguassu is second and Niagara third by volume of water. Actually, Victoria is indeed the largest, Iguassu is the widest and Angel Falls in Venezuela is the highest. Iguassu is about two miles WIDE! It has more than 275 individual cataracts and the highest ones are more than 60' higher than Niagara (though not quite as high as the Lower Falls in Yellowstone!) The river is an earthy brown color, as are most rivers in Brazil, owing to the reddish soil they sweep along with them. The river and the falls is the border between Brazil and Argentina, and 10 miles downstream the Iguassu flows into the Parana River which forms the border with Paraguay. Most of the actual cataracts are on the Argentine side, so it's said that Argentina provides the falls and Brazil enjoys the view. In reality there are stunning views on both sides, as we so well experienced.

We were met at the airport by our guide, Patrizia, and headed for the bridge leading to the Argentine side of Iguassu. A line of trucks was waiting for the nightfall to cross over into Brazil with their wares, or contraband, as the case may be. Sometimes customs officials are paid to "close their eyes," but here they're paid to hold their noses. The hot item to bring from Argentina is onions, which are very cheap in Argentina and very expensive in Brazil. We proceeded to Iguazu (Spanish spelling) National Park and approached the falls from above. Little boats carried us out to catwalks leading to a viewpoint right at the top of the falls, overlooking the Devil's Throat. Originally the catwalks stretched from the shore to the viewpoint, but high water in the rainy season every year always took them out. Finally, the humans in all their wisdom realized they were no match for the power of the river and settled on using the boats. Out on the platform we were drenched by the mist which formed a perpetual cloud 100' high above the falls. Considering the temp was in the mid-90's, the shower was refreshing. The afternoon sun shone from behind us on to the falls, presenting us with vivid rainbows down in the Devil's Throat. Such power and majesty. Ann fell and bloodied her knee while climbing off the boat onto the catwalk steps, so that reduced her level of participation the next few days.

We made another stop downriver to view the lower cataracts. It would have been fun to have a few hours and a more mobile group of people to go down on the lower trails which lead right under the waterfalls. Regardless, it was a real experience and the falls were surrounded by such lush vegetation that the setting seemed just perfect. Across the river, not more than a half mile from us was the Das Cataratas Hotel, where we had reservations for the night. By road, however, we were still a good 45 minutes away.

Our tour operator had been apologetic that the hotel was only a 4-star hotel, but was sure the location would make up for the extra star. He needn't have worried. Das Cataratas is a magnificent older hotel, sprawling over beautifully landscaped grounds and nestled in a most delightful setting. Out the front door it's only 50 yards to the viewpoint of the falls. Tennis courts, swimming pool, poolside restaurant, shops - what else do you need? We had lovely big rooms with polished hardwood floors and Persian rugs. Dinner was a big BBQ and buffet out by the pool. It was quite a warm evening, but there was just enough of a breeze to make it comfortable. After dinner Georges Seguin, from Edmonton, Alberta, and I walked across the road to view the falls by night. Even with a half moon and stars it was really dark, that is until I took off my sunglasses! The roar of the falls permeated the air and the whiteness of the mist stood out in the blackness. Again we could see the Three Sisters and the Southern Cross. The air was still and heavy and filled with the sweetness of some unknown paradisiacal, tropical flower. In French one says, "On fait une belle vie," meaning, "One makes a lovely life!" It's tough, but someone's got to do it. After a short swim in the Olympic-sized pool, Ann and I played a game of Scrabble before retiring.

Thursday, January 20 was a day to remember. The morning dawned bright and clear with pleasant temps. For the first hour we had one of the most delightful walks I've done. When we went across to the viewpoint we were met with the cutest little animals! At first I thought they were monkeys as they had long tails and fuzzy fur and walked somewhat like monkeys. They were actually coatis. Ten or twelve of them looking for handouts.

At that viewpoint we looked across the river to the lower cataracts on the Argentine side. Our trail led us downhill, but upriver, towards the massive upper falls area. All along the way we were treated to ever-changing perspectives of Iguassu - probably almost all of the 275 cataracts. The water itself was hypnotic enough, but all around us was a most delightful tropical jungle with a myriad of trees, flowers, birds and butterflies. Yes, butterflies! Probably a greater variety and number here than any place in the world. Huge, blue butterflies as big as man's hand. All colors and sizes. How pretty! The path could have been a trail in any botanical garden as well. Bird of paradise flowers as well as hundreds of others. Nearer the end of the trail it was hard to speak over the roar of the water and the refreshing mist doused us more frequently. Finally, we arrived at the catwalk which leads virtually into the Devil's Throat. At that point the falls drop about halfway, flow over a ledge about 100 yards, then drop the remaining half. It was out onto that ledge that the catwalks took us. More rainbows, more spray (more like a downpour), and just an overwhelming sensation of the power of the mighty Iguassu. Wonderful. There was a tree growing right out of the brink of the falls near the catwalk and a flock of at least 50 big, green parrots lighted in the tree while we were watching. They were real screamers. How convenient to be able to take the elevator from the catwalk level up to the parking lot where our bus was waiting. The elevator made it possible for some non-walkers in the group to reach the catwalks. For the rest of the morning most of the group went on an optional tour which turned out to be great fun. First we boarded safari jeeps for a ride through the jungle. It was so still and quiet there compared to the river. Butterflies abounded and our guide gave us interesting commentary on the vegetation and life in the damp darkness. Our jeeps dropped us at the river where we boarded motorized rubber rafts for a thrilling ride up the river. Along the water's edge were hundreds of white herons and cormorants as well as a large group of vultures on a big rock. The falls do offer a different perspective from below. We fairly flew over the rapids and when our boatman saw that we enjoyed the spray from the falls he took us directly under one of the cataracts and soaked us thoroughly. Ahhh. We dried quickly in the warm, tropical sun. Back at the pier there was only one jeep to take us back to the bus so 10 (yes, 10!) of us piled into one jeep for the bouncy ride. I rode on the hood and felt like a rodeo cowboy.

From there our bus proceeded to the town of Foz do Iguassu, Brazil, the main city in the area with a population of 250,000. We skirted the town to reach the Friendship Bridge over the Parana River leading to Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. Patrizia told us lots of stories about the smuggling that occurs there en masse. Paraguayan cars were without doubt the most rusted and ancient rigs I've seen in any country. Trucks and cars lined up for miles to clear customs and continue on with their wares. What a contrast to see the other side. In Ciudad del Este there are vendors and little stalls everywhere. Cigarettes, alcohol, electronic goods, watches, leather, handicraft items, etc. Just one enormous bazaar! We had 20 minutes to look around quick, but it would have been fun to have a few more hours. There are obviously quite a few things cheaper in Paraguay than in Brazil.

Back at the hotel we checked out, had lunch and headed for the airport. We fared better with the seats this time, managing to get non-smoking seats for everyone except Ann and me who had three seats for the two of us in the back row. All in all Iguassu was truly MARVELOUS!

We arrived in Buenos Aires at 5:20 pm and were met by our lovely guide, Grace. It had just rained and the temperature was in the mid-80's. Rather pleasant after Rio and Iguassu. Grace said it had been in the upper 90's before the rain. As it turned out, we were not to see really hot weather again for a couple weeks. It stayed deliciously cool in Buenos Aires during our whole stay, and this is the height of summer. Buenos Aires makes a very good impression. A city of 4 million with a metro area of 8 million, it is amazingly well organized. The inhabitants are of European descent with little of the Indian and Black influence one sees in Rio. The city is quite clean with untold numbers of monuments, parks and statues. We proceeded to the Plaza Hotel for the night. Nice location on a park and at the head of the main pedestrian/shopping street. We walked a couple blocks to Las Nazarenas restaurant for dinner. Argentina is noted for its beef and we enjoyed the best of it. We had two beef appetizers and beef for the main course. Every bit as good as its reputation. We also had a thoroughly enjoyable time laughing and sharing stories at our table, which included the Kleinaus from Germany, the Seguins from Quebec, Ann Menges, Grace, and me.

After putting the rest of the group to bed a bit after 10:00 pm I went out to explore the city. What a contrast to Rio. In Rio I walked out the front door of the hotel and went right back in. By contrast, Buenos Aires is quite safe, bright, friendly and comfortable. Nightlife begins very late here. Most people eat dinner about 9:30 or 10:00! On weekends discos don't even open until after midnight! I walked down the pedestrian street and there were as many people about as on a normal afternoon in most cities. News stands on every corner offered even USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. Mind you, the price was high - $4 for a USA Today, but they were there. Argentina is in general a very expensive country. Ouch!

Friday morning we woke to gorgeous blue skies and 58 degrees! Grace gave us a tour of B.A. for about 3 1/2 hours in the morning. In many ways it could have been a European city, but I can't think of one that has more monuments and sculptures than B.A. Impressive architecture, graceful old buildings and modern new ones. The cathedral rivals any in Europe. The government buildings had exquisite detail. The weather added to our enjoyment. We had a cup of coffee at a sidewalk cafe ($5 for a cup of coffee!) then did a walking tour of the Recoleta Cemetery with its huge mausoleums. Even bigger than the ones in New Orleans. Also saw the mausoleum of Eva Peron. To this day she is either loved or hated by people here. No neutral emotions. If the city were not so expensive I'd love to come back and spend a few weeks in Argentina. That concluded a fantastic overland tour. Nice!



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Chapter 3, Buenos Aires to Capetown, South Africa
January 22 to February 11, 1994


Hello from the High Seas!


I was sorry to leave Buenos Aires as we sailed away on January 22. It is such a wonderful place to visit and I felt as though I had merely scratched the surface. On the other hand, we were headed south and there was excitement in the air as Sagafjord steamed toward a maiden visit to Antarctica. This segment is for the adventuresome, but certainly not for landlubbers who don't appreciate a lot of time at sea. In three weeks, the only ports of call are Ushuaia, Argentina and Stanley, Falkland Islands, both of which are ports where passengers go ashore on ship's tender boats. No docking port for three weeks means the ship can't take on fresh water or provisions for a long stretch. Of course, the ship 'manufactures' about 50,000 gallons of fresh water per day, but that's not quite enough to meet the daily demand.

To help make our Antarctic visit more meaningful, Cunard brought on an excellent team of lecturers and experts to share their knowledge and experience with us. The Passage Production team that gave us underwater audio/video presentations in Alaska all summer came on to try a similar feat in Antarctica. In Alaska they actually went underwater and had live transmissions to the ship's TV and theater screens. In Antarctica they came along to do live feeds from ashore, as passengers were not allowed to go ashore themselves. David Owen Brown is the Passage Productions founder and former Jacques Cousteau team member. He was accompanied by Joe Valencic, a scientist and explorer who has been on three Antarctic expeditions, and by Tamra Dempsey, the photographer. All three were in Alaska last summer and we were happy to welcome them back onboard.

Another important addition was Michael Parfitt, writer for the Smithsonian and National Geographic magazines who has traveled to Antarctica six times. He has a real love for 'the last continent', and was able to convey those feelings to us very well. Guess where he's from - St. Ignatius, Montana! He's onboard with his two kids, David and Erika and they know cousin Maxine Brander as well as the Scammons. Nice to have fellow Montanans along.

Stephen Pendleton is a specialist on collectibles like stamps, etc. He also had made up a commemorative rubber stamp for the voyage, which he allowed people to use freely. That proved to be very popular, along with his penguin stamp, which he'd found in his school supplies at home in California. Rounding out the team were a marine biologist, birdwatcher and wildlife experts, and a former Governor of the Falkland Islands. Another nice little touch was a commemorative chart signed by the captain which showed the route of the Sagafjord through the Strait of Magellan, down to Antarctica and back up to the Falklands.

We started off with a few nice, sunny days with pleasant temperatures. Quite slow in the tour office, as Ushuaia is the only tour port between Buenos Aires and Capetown. That gave us time to do advance prep for overland tours later in the cruise. It also gave me a chance to play bridge, my favorite pastime.

Tuesday evening, January 25, we entered the Strait of Magellan. That alone gives one a sense of being somewhere important. However, it's not terribly impressive as far as scenery. In most places it's fairly flat and wide, with a few distant cliffs. Lots of oil wells in the water for the first few miles. Scattered clouds and the setting sun provided some fascinating light patterns on the water and the low hills. It was really windy, but not cold, and we were on our way through the Strait of Magellan as night fell. A simple transit through the Strait would not be particularly scenic, but by sunup we had veered southward into the Magdalena Channel and from there on the landscape was dramatically different. High mountains, fjords, waterfalls, glaciers and forests captivated us the whole day. In the night we had passed Punta Arenas, Chile back in the Strait, which is the normal port for our cruise ships going around South America. However on a normal transit you miss all of this stunning beauty of the lower channels. It was much like cruising Alaska. The weather was partly cloudy, cool, and windy with an occasional shower and very much like Alaska as we made our way through the Magdalena Channel, the Cockburn Channel and the Beagle Channel. One huge glacier stretched nearly down to the water and extended clear to the top of the mountain and into the clouds. At the bottom it emitted a great waterfall which cascaded over the solid granite slope into the sea. The tour office was open normal hours, but occasionally I would have to grab my camera and run up on deck to snap a quick photo. This part of the journey certainly exceeded all expectations!

Towards evening we arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southern most city in the world. It could have been any of a number of towns we visit in Alaska. Charming. The population of 40,000 has been increasing in recent years as Argentina has taken steps to increase the visibility of Ushuaia as an Argentine city. Chile has aims on all of Patagonia, including the Argentine part, and Argentina is beefing up to ward off a confrontation. The city really isn't nearly as far south as the common perception. It's about the same latitude south as Ketchikan, Alaska or Copenhagen, Denmark are north. However, it gets a mean Antarctic current that keeps it windy and chilly. The city lies on a large bay with lots of islands and is surrounded by spectacular, jagged mountains. Winters must be dreary, but temps below 0 degrees F. are not common. San Martin, the main street, is lined with duty free shops, kiosks and little bars and restaurants. The four of us from the tour office went out for dinner at a charming, private restaurant up on the hill. We had a beautiful panorama of the city, the ship in the bay, and the surrounding mountains. Not cheap, but good food and it was nice to get away. Postcards are $1 each. Perhaps some duty-free items are good. Even though it's Argentina, people flying from here to Buenos Aires have to go through customs, due to its duty-free status.

Thursday was partly cloudy and breezy - mid 50's. Our tour was essentially a scenic drive on a gravel road through the mountains and up to Garibaldi Pass. From the pass we had a view of Lakes Escondido and Fagnano. Surprisingly lush vegetation. We had the opportunity to walk a mile down to the shore of the lake to a little resort where the buses picked us up. Lots of tall larkspur.

As we headed out to sea we were stopped by Chilean authorities. There were a few political / bureaucratic problems. The ensuing discussions back in New York between Cunard and Chilean authorities couldn't solve things, so we were not granted permission to cruise up to Cape Horn. We set course directly for Antarctica. The weather turned bad shortly thereafter so it didn't make much difference anyway. The sea didn't get too rough, contrary to normal conditions in this part of the world. The show that evening starred Bob Arno, a pickpocket! It was fascinating to watch him escape with things from people even when they were wary. At the end he had four men on stage and managed to take suspenders, a belt, a shirt and even a pair of shorts! Hilarious.

Friday we crossed the Antarctic Line of Convergence and I became an official penguin. The outdoor pool was filled with cold ocean water and at noon 34 of us jumped in the very cold water. Brrrr! Even Ann Menges went in, doing a perfect dive. She wore long underwear, swim suit, socks and stocking cap!

DECEPTION ISLAND, ANTARCTICA. Saturday dawned clear and cold with thick ice on deck. Again, the latitude is equivalent to Anchorage, but much colder. This is high summer. There is a very narrow, dangerous passage called Neptune's Bellows leading into an enclosed bay, actually a caldera. Passengers were unaware just how dangerous, as there is a large rock just nine feet under the water in the middle of the Bellows. We made it in and out safely, but the captain has recommended a ship of our size never attempt it again. Seals and penguins abound inside. There are even hot springs on the far side of the caldera, but we had not chance to go 'hot-potting' this time! The Passage Production Team lowered their zodiacs to go ashore and film the sights, sending a live feed back to the ship. As is typical of Antarctica, the weather is unpredictable on Deception Island and suddenly we were faced with a gale of 70 knots (over 75 mph)! It was difficult to get the zodiac back to the ship and loading it back up onto the deck was a nightmare for the Passage Team. We made it out without further incident and headed for King George Island. In the theater they showed a short film on Antarctica. Intriguing. Antarctica is far larger than the United States and only 2% of it is ice free! It has an average elevation three times higher than any other continent. Not many animals - mainly penguins, seals and sea lions. Lots of birds. We pulled into Maxwell Bay on King George Island. Huge ice masses! There are several research bases here - Argentine, Chilean, Polish and English. This time conditions were favorable for Passage Productions to proceed ashore and beam back a live audio-video feed, which we enjoyed on the big screen in the ballroom. What a convenient way to see the hilarious faces of the sea lions and the perky waddle of the penguins up close, without having to brave the elements around us. Just being here and getting a sense of the Antarctic spirit was an experience to remember. It must be terrible to behold in winter. Consider that it can be minus 40 at the South Pole even in summer! Truly one of the world's last and best remaining mysteries.

I skipped dinner that night, as we had crew aerobics at 10:00. Good workout with Lynn Schaefer of the Golden Door Spa. Enjoyed pizza at the late night buffet, then went up to the Polaris Nightclub for some late night visiting. It was snowing! It could have been a typical winter night at home in Montana.

Our last day in Antarctica we were in Admiral Bay on King George Island. It was a cloudy, rainy morning. The Passage Team went ashore and met some of the scientists on the island and did another live feed. There are a number of old buildings left behind by the researchers of days gone by. Oddly enough, in this hostile environment wood lasts better than metal, which rusts away rather quickly. Numerous nationalities carry out their research side by side here. Cooperation in this land is essential. An illustration of this was conveyed to us in an interview with one of the base doctors.

On December 26 two of the Argentine researchers decided to spend a free afternoon out skiing. (It's a good idea to like skiing down here!) When they didn't return on schedule everyone in the area quickly learned of it. Soon the combined energy of all the personnel of different nationalities was focused in a major manhunt. After two days of intense search efforts, the chance of finding the two alive was next to nothing. But lo and behold, the two were found in a great ice chasm, practically covered over with snow. A Chilean helicopter rushed them to the base where the Polish medical team cared for them for three weeks. Severe frostbit was a small price to pay and now they are back at their research, thanks to the combined efforts of many. If only the world would take this as an example!

As we left Antarctica, the ice and snow, the swells in the sea got larger and larger. Nothing fierce, just enough to topple a few things off tables. During dinner we saw a monstrous iceberg larger than the ship! It was within half a mile and looked ghostly in the descending mist. My amaryllis was just getting ready to open and I definitely did not want it to tip over, so I put it in the bathtub and wrapped it with towels. Survived.

We had a rocky rolly night and most of the next day. Desiree and I are taking advantage of all this time to get all our work done for the rest of the cruise. A rare luxury. Our office hours are 9 - 11:30 am and 3 - 5 pm. Duplicate bridge is played every day from 2 - 4 pm, so across this long stretch Jim lets me have that first hour off so I can play. Our four-day overland tour to Kruger National Park in South Africa had been cancelled, as we had only six people signed up. Now we've reinstated it because our agent came back with new figures which make it possible to run even this small. So it looks like another nice trip for me. I'm glad to get to see Kruger now. Who knows how long it'll be possible?

Tuesday, February 1 was quite a day. It was sunny and calm in the morning when we anchored off of Port Stanley, Falkland Islands. I got a fax from (business partner) Niki Reavely with some much-welcome information. Fax still amazes me. She also informed me that Montana State won both their basketball games over the weekend. Yay. Go Cats!

At 10:15 Jim, Tom and I took a tender ashore and the wind was beginning to pick up. What a barren, desolate landscape! And the Argentines went to war to try to claim this from England?! Population 2,000 (mostly British). No native trees. Just birds and penguins. Lots of penguins, though. Stanley is a cute little town, very English in its architecture and flower gardens and picket fences. Lots of larkspur here, too. Charming, really. I found the post office and mailed a bunch of Antarctica post cards and a couple letters home. They promised the mail would go out by Royal Air Force jet the following day and be on their way from London. Hope it's efficient! The Falklands are known for their fabulous array of postage stamps and the little post office they set up on the Sagafjord for the day sold thousands of dollars worth. I got a few, but was actually more interested in the coins. Managed to get even a few from Ascension Island while picking up the local ones. I decided to head back to the ship, but the wind and waves had become so strong the tender service had been shut down. One of the boats at the dock had the pilot wheel break right off. I took a picture of the Quartermaster holding the wheel on the pier. The day before someone had asked the Captain if he were going to play golf, to which he replied that he didn't want to stand on the pier and watch the Sagafjord sail without him! Conditions are that unpredictable in Stanley and we were seeing a good example. I went with Bob and Mary Jane Bailey from our table to a little pub to find shelter as the wind whipped up and the rain poured down. I met one of our passengers who said her husband was around the corner getting his hair cut for $5 so I braved the elements again in search of the barber. The barber was a young fellow who had been born in Stanley, left for the real world, and had returned to the Falklands two years ago. He loves it there. Also did a nice job on my hair. I went to the bank and post office to get more coins, then returned to the pier as the tenders started running again, albeit in rough seas. It was slow going back to the ship but I believe everyone made it back. Ann Menges had taken a little tour out to a penguin colony and was so excited when she came back she could hardly stand it. We could see the penguins on the beach from the deck of the ship. This is where the Magellanic penguins are. Most curious creatures, but can they swim like torpedoes under water!

Happy Groundhog's Day! My amaryllis was open enough that I brought it along to the office to share. As we have a dearth of fresh flowers through this stretch, it was nice to have a live flower in the Tour Office for all to enjoy. It's a dark red color. Unusual. In crew aerobics that night Joe did a killer circuit training. Haven't sweat like that since bailing hay on a hot summer day. If I keep this up I'll be in great shape.

It's a long way across the South Atlantic to Capetown, with only Tristan da Cunha to break it up, and that's not even a proper port. Days were filled with office work, bridge, Scrabble with Ann, and the pre-dinner cocktail parties. Bill and Ruth Todd had a party and used the amaryllis for a center piece. Next to a big blue ice carving, surrounded by penguins, it made a perfect spot for a photo with Meredith, the Cruise Sales Manager.

One of the activities on the long stretch is a Travel Mastermind Quiz in five sessions. The grand prize is a cruise for two on the Sagafjord or Vistafjord, 11 - 14 days. Questions were really tough. The top six point-getters competed in the Grand Finale in the Ballroom.

Tristan da Cunha. Cloudy, calm, 75 degrees. The island is one big volcano with a small flat area for inhabitation. Desiree and I went ashore to, "check out the potential for future tours," according to the Staff Captain. She and I were the only crew allowed ashore and not many passengers went either. Those who did had to sign liability waivers agreeing that if they could not get back to the ship they would hold neither Cunard nor the Island responsible. (P.S. The next boat wasn't due for three weeks!) They then had to climb down a rope ladder and jump into one of the local long boats and ride the high swell into the little jetty. If you didn't step off the ladder just right you could find the boat had dropped 20' below you! Most were content to stay on the ship and enjoy all the crafts and products brought on by the locals, as well as several films about the island and another live feed from Passage Productions. Lots of first-day issues and other pretty stamps. Mail doesn't go often; only whenever there is a ship to Capetown! We loved it. TdC is only six square miles with 320 inhabitants. They are all descendants of settlers who came from Scotland in 1821 and speak an antiquated English. Few have been off the island except during the evacuation in 1961 when the volcano erupted. They were taken to England (what a culture shock!) but returned to their isolated little paradise within two years. Basically self-sufficient, they have farm animals, vegetables, fruit and a lovely year-round temperate climate. Until last year they had to use Morse Code to speak to the outside world! Now the island has a satellite fax! TdC is disease-free except after an occasional visit by outsiders. Who needs the rest of the world?! There are only seven family names and the people are friendly and happy to answer questions and pose for photos. A big sign welcomed us with, "Welcome to the Loneliest Island in the World!" We visited the store, post office, treasury (for coins), handicraft shop, and walked to the edge of the lava flow. The mountain rises dramatically behind town with a canyon just begging to be explored. Next time! There are sharks in the water, wild cattle on the other side of the island (dangerous) and lots of penguins. Lush vegetation. No insects. No snakes. It seems surprising that it hasn't been discovered by others. It was such a delightful, isolated place. A cruise highlight!



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Chapter 4, Capetown to Mombasa, Kenya
February 11 to February 20, 1994



That's 'Hello' in Swahili, but that's from Kenya, and we have some ground to cover in this chapter before we get there. We left Tristan da Cunha Monday evening, February 7, and had three more days at sea before hitting our whirlwind schedule for this cruise. I was able to play bridge a couple more times and came in first with Hal Wagner, the Golden Bear escort on board. That evening there was a Swiss teams bridge tournament from 9 to midnight. That was fun and my team placed second. We lost another hour that night and I had trouble getting to sleep, which is something almost unknown to me. But sailing east catches up to you once in awhile and the body rebels. Anyway, those last three days were like the calm before a storm and it was nice. Also got in several Scrabble games with Ann.

Our table seems to have reached an equilibrium of sorts. Since Rio we've had the same people the whole time. Margo, Ann and I are still there, and we've been joined by a German lady, Ursula Goeldner, and the arts and crafts couple, Bob and Mary Jane Bailey. Ann and I handpicked Bob and Mary Jane to join us. We figured we could handle anyone else as long as we had them to converse with. Ursula fits in fine. She was a bit taken aback at first, but now she seems to enjoy a little unconventionalism along with the rest of us. Margo Kipp continues her incessant chatter, which is more like a muffled mumble, but the rest of us carry on and just nod her way occasionally or say, "Uh huh." She doesn't come to dinner very often, though. Often she just seems to forget.

Wednesday it was getting busier for us and Desiree sliced her finger on the paper cutter while doing some prep work. Four stitches. The pain killer did a number on her so I helped her finish things up for her Blue Train tour. She doesn't exactly have the most delightful combination of passengers in that group. I don't envy her at all!

Land Ho!! After three weeks without a dock it was indeed nice to see the Sagafjord pull up next to one... even if we couldn't see it until we were 50 yards away. Yep, the fog was so thick you couldn't see the front of the ship from the back, not to mention the normally spectacular view of Capetown and Table Mountain. Having the tablecloth on Table Mountain is one thing, but this was going to extremes! Thus, we were a little late docking. I took my little group of six passengers to the airport and promptly flew up into the sunshine on our way north to Johannesburg. A compatible group. Long-time favorites Jay and Carol Mann, new friends Reuben and Sybil Kunin, an adventurous English-Swiss lady, Ann Menges and I. Good thing they were all ready for an adventure. We had originally cancelled the Kruger Park tour for lack of participation, but at the insistence of the Kunins, we requested individual travel rates and decided we could go ahead and run it as a tour with me along. However, in the meantime, our lodging had been fully booked and two days before the tour we still didn't know where we'd be staying or if we'd have a place at all! We were booked into Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, a very nice private reserve lodge nestled in the corner of Kruger Park and stayed there all three nights. We didn't do the planned touring of the Eastern Transvaal region for a day and instead of driving four hours from Johannesburg, we had a charter plane to whisk us over. The plane was an eight-seater Cessna 421 with a Swiss pilot and a co-pilot from Montana (me). We flew 1 hour and 15 minutes and landed at a private landing strip 45 minutes from the lodge. We were met by our guide, Rob, and our tracker, Dumi, who stayed with us the whole time. It was fun bumping over the rutted roads, burning under the tropical sun and getting our hair tussled in the wind. Even on the way to the lodge we saw a number of animals - impalas, wildebeest, kudu, monkeys, and white rhino. We arrived at the lodge at 3:45 and just had time to check in and wash up before tea time at 4:30. Such a civilized country to offer afternoon tea! The lodge is nice; swimming pool, bar, gift shop, large rooms with A/C, but NO TV or telephone. At 5:00 pm the real adventure began. We took off in our open safari rover with Robert and Dumi and bounced our way into the bush. It's a very different experience from a Kenya safari where the land is quite open and there are animals everywhere you look. This was more of a hunt with our tracker searching the bush to find various species. After a hot afternoon it had cooled down significantly by 5:00 and it was pleasant in the open air. We saw quite a few tropical beasts - impala, kudu, zebra and birds galore. But then we pulled up to a tree and saw a dead impala hanging over a branch up in the tree 20'. Rob said it had been killed by a leopard and dragged up there to keep it from the hyenas. Here was another difference from other safaris. We had time to just sit and wait for something to happen. Shortly we saw a couple hyenas, lurking in the bushes. Then we spotted a leopard cub, hiding 50' away. Then came mama! The big feline just appeared from the bush, glided over to the tree, and was up on the branch in one swift movement. Our patience was more than rewarded, as we were able to watch her dine on the impala. The hyenas slowly became bolder and circled under the tree hoping for tidbits to drop. A few did, causing excitement each time. We were parked not more than 10' from the tree and we could almost reach out and touch the hyenas. As long as we were in the rover sitting down the animals seemed to be oblivious to our presence. Such a drama. The leopard did well keeping the impala balanced over the branch. The cub didn't show much interest in supper, just yawned and stretched a few times. The hyenas actually have cute faces with big round ears. Mother finished supper and draped herself over a big branch for a nap. It was dark when we headed back and we saw a few animals by spotlight. Dinner was in the Boma, an open-air dining area around a big bonfire. Choice of t-bone or impala for main course! Also vol au vent, salads, soup and ginger pudding for dessert. Excellent food. We were all tired by 10 pm and went straight to bed.

Saturday. 5:00 am wakeup. 5:30 tea. 6:00 and we're off again, enjoying a delicious, cool breeze and the earthy smells of the bush country. Perfect partly cloudy morning. Then the Lions. Wow! A pride of 13 - four mothers and nine cubs. They were lying in the bush devouring a wildebeest (gnu). Again we had time to just sit and watch. Eventually they emerged into the open and lay down in the sun right near us. Great photos. Soon they got up one by one and headed for the water hole, all in single file. We followed along beside them the half mile, again, virtually unnoticed. Beautiful.

Back at the lodge we had a sumptuous breakfast, then went on a walk in the area to learn more about the flora. The walk did us good too. Bought some post cards, took a dip in the pool then slept for an hour and a half. Zonked out! In the afternoon we relaxed in the shade and played bridge. Tough life, this! Toward the end of our evening game drive we saw two white rhinos next to the road just after dark. The stars were magnificent. We clearly saw the Southern Cross and Orion, not to mention a brilliant Milky Way.

Sunday was another good one. We saw hippos in the river and giraffe in a clearing. Giraffe are so big, but graceful. Also saw a crocodile in the river. As we were returning to the lodge I spotted a big mass hiding behind the bushes. We backed up and found a white rhino. We drove closer and discovered a two-month old baby rhino. So cute! He looked like a tiny army tank and didn't quite know what to do with his body. He had a tiny knob where the horn was beginning to grow. Before long the baby came up to inspect us and mother didn't care for that. Rob revved the motor and we got out of there before she decided to intervene. Got some great photos first, though. That evening we found two male lions. We drove up to them and they just ignored us. They're king of the jungle and know it! Occasionally, as if on cue, one would raise his head and give a regal roar. We drove back out to the road to watch the sun set and enjoy our 'sundowners' (drinks), then returned to the lions just in time to follow them as they marched off into the jungle. They didn't seem to even mind the spotlight too much - just a roar of annoyance here and there. They didn't have much in mind and just lay down for the night. Our dinner that night was a brush braii, a South African BBQ, out in the bush. Elegant setting with china and silver, rocks and bush around us and a starry canopy overhead. Three kinds of meat, salads, fruits, dessert, and drinks - just for our little group. Hyenas waited outside the light of our crackling fire, waiting for leftovers. Perfect farewell dinner. This safari reminded me often of our summers in eastern Montana. I haven't seen stars like this since those days out in the country. Clean, dry air with no light source to interfere. Driving in the Landrover was like riding out to our 'country house' in the back of the pickup, with the wind blowing through our hair; the air warm on the hilltops and cool and fragrant in the coulees. Kerosene lamps on the tables. But most importantly, the sky, stars, sunsets, clouds, etc. It is really a special place, this Sabi Sabi!

Happy Valentine's Day! We had our last early morning game drive. Saw lots of zebras, but still didn't find elephants or water buffalo that everybody was looking for. We really enjoyed being out in the fresh air one more time. Then it was back to the lodge for breakfast, postcards, a nap, bridge and lunch. Our charter plane was supposed to take us back to Johannesburg for a scheduled flight to Durban, but it wasn't much further to Durban than to Johannesburg, so I'd arranged with the charter company to just fly us to Durban directly. We had a bigger plane, a Beechcraft with couches in the back! Within an hour and a half we were flying over the Sagafjord as she was making her way into port. We were met at the airport and headed into town promptly. As we neared the city we hit a major traffic jam! The Zulu King was in town for a big rally and there were 50,000+ people in the city center to see him. We crawled along, but it was a nice day and the Victoria Embarkment (waterfront) was pretty with lots of flowers and yachts. We arrived at the port just as the Sagafjord put down the gangway and we went right on board. What a brilliant tour. We were all happy!

I was happy to see my three packages of mail, forwarded by Mom, had arrived in Capetown. My Montana State University Bobcats seem to be having a great basketball season. And I have to be away, sailing around the world! It took a long time to wade through all the mail, but hey!

We were all relieved when Desiree made it back with her Blue Train Tour. Shades of my experience three years ago on QE2. Her group of 11 passengers didn't like each other and there were a few other problems. She thought the Blue Train itself was nice. Small consolation.

On the ship, the cruise director announced that there had been demonstrations in the city with unrest and some shooting. Passengers were advised not to go into the city center that evening, but the beach areas were fine. Actually, there was very minor unrest, and the one death occurred when someone shot into the air and it landed and killed a man. But you can imagine how it got blown out of proportion. Harald, an Austrian waiter, and I went for a stroll through town. We found it calm and peaceful; just delightful. We walked along the beach promenade and found it as beautifully laid out and landscaped as any beachfront in any city in the world. Inlaid brick walks, gardens, flowers, and fountains stretching for miles. I really haven't seen a comparable civic feat anywhere. And we felt perfectly safe. I was much more impressed with Durban this time, having walked around. I think I'd like to live in Capetown and vacation in Durban.

The next morning I helped dispatch the city tour, then took the shuttle bus into town. I found my favorite liqueur, Amarula - a South African exclusive, and bought a case! It is flavored with the fruit of the Marula tree, which is common in the Sabi Sabi area.

We sailed at noon, but there's one more funny little story from Durban. One of our cute 'little old lady' passengers disembarked that morning. As she went down the gangway a gust of wind caught her hat and whisked it away, followed by her wig! Right into the water! She, of course, had nothing with her in her hand luggage, but she didn't get bent out of shape. She looked at her hair and hat in the water and continued on her way through customs.

An inherent aspect of life on board is the numerous cocktail parties in the evening. Different passengers will invite all those they know (or just plain everybody!). Usually a couple will throw a party, but sometimes several singles will get together and do one. The night after Durban there was a party given by three singles, one of whom was Miriam Stevens. I get a kick out of Miriam and our acquaintance goes back to my first world cruise in 1989. That year she kept bugging me to dance. I always said no, I don't dance, I can't dance, I don't want to dance, etc. Towards the end of that cruise, one evening at the end of a party I said I'd dance once with her if she'd leave me alone after that. In the middle of the song she stopped and said, "You're right. You can't dance," and walked off the floor, leaving me there! She's typical of the 'abrasive New Yorker' image. Anyway, when Miriam goes to a cocktail party she drinks the most expensive drinks and consumes more than three times the value of the average passenger. At her party she ordered the bartenders to serve no double drinks, serve only house champagne (watered down at that!), and to close the bar at 7:30 (8:00 is the norm). One lady ordered a drink just after 7:30 and the Cruise Director signed for it to avoid an embarrassing situation. But that's just the kind of behavior we'd expect from Miriam!

The few days between Durban and Mombasa, Kenya were full of lots of little projects and interruptions. There was quite a bit of prep work for my Kenya safari, which had 50 people! There is less time these days for Scrabble and other diversions, making up for that nice long crossing across the South Atlantic.

Saturday, February 19, we docked in Mombasa, Kenya. A beautiful, sunny morning. I had Joe Marso from the Golden Door Spa as my assistant escort on safari and we rounded up our herd in the Garden Lounge. The safari vehicles were on the dock waiting and we put a maximum of six in each. Mombasa is a typical African town. Everything looks a little haphazard. At first the terrain was hilly and covered with palm trees. Then there was a stretch that was quite barren with little villages with thatched-roof huts. Little herds of sheep, goats and cows were common. We climbed slowly to just over 2,000' in elevation and in Tsavo National Park it was quite pleasant. We stopped for a rest stop after two hours. I was missing two vans so the others went ahead while my driver and I waited. Shortly they came along. One of the vans had had two flat tires. They sent three women with a van from another company who was also supposed to be going to Taita Hills Lodge where we were meeting for lunch. The last hour was mostly on a bad gravel road and when we arrived at TH Lodge the women weren't there. After some concern on our part they showed up after 45 minutes. Their group had made stops. Taita Hills is actually a private game sanctuary nestled in the corner of Tsavo NP. After a nice lunch we headed out on our first game drive. At this elevation it is greener, with nicer vegetation. I proceeded with David, our local guide, to Salt Lick Lodge to check in. What a wonderful place! It is a fantasy creation of Hilton. The two wings of rooms extend out from the lobby area, elevated above the ground on big stilts. Each little pod of rooms is designed to look like African huts and they do indeed, though they are quite modern. The restaurant is on second floor and on the third floor there is a bar/lounge with a terrace for viewing the animals that come to the Salt Lick and pool. On the game drive the passengers saw giraffe, lions, zebras, impala, gazelles, etc. We had just gotten the group into their rooms, and most had found the bar, when a pride of lions paraded across the Salt Lick 'stage' in front of us. What a perfect setting to relax; up high, watching the activity below. The sun set on the surrounding, rugged mountains and the sounds of the night grew raucous in the stillness. Through the night we heard the occasional roar of a lion. A most romantic, fairy tale setting, but I wouldn't sleep on the ground in this part of the world!

Sunday morning we went on a 6:30 game drive. David and I did this one too, and spotted a cheetah in the distance. Saw quite a few other animals as well, but the best part for me was being able to see Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance in all its snowy splendor. It's the highest peak in Africa - over 19,000'. After breakfast the group went looking for more animals and were rewarded with elephants and a family of cheetahs! They came to lunch happy, ready for the three-hour drive back. Van #3, which had two flats going out, also had two flats on the way back to the ship! That must be a record. None of the other vans had problems.

Meanwhile, back at the ship, one of our disembarking passengers had some tale of her own to tell. The first day in Mombasa she took the one-day safari out to Tsavo East NP. Karlene is a 'goodly-sized' woman (well over 300 pounds!), and was sitting in the van by herself at the last rest stop on the tour. One of the local men came up to her and started talking. He asked if she were married (no), then out of the blue said he'd give her father two cows for her! She thought he was joking so replied, "Oh, I think I'm worth at least three!" He was serious and started trying to pull her from the van forcibly. She gave him her Sagafjord pen, which made him happy, and fortunately the driver came back and the man ran away. All Karlene suffered was a few bruises and a bit of a fright. She probably wasn't too happy with the idea that the man appeared to think the pen was a good trade for her! Karlene's problems didn't stop there. Back at the ship she found out that somehow the wife of a disembarking entertainer had gotten hold of her passport and proceeded to Nairobi with it! The agent told Karlene if she would fly to Nairobi they'd give her passport to her there. However, in the meantime she had missed her flight and they were all full for the next couple days. In light of her safari experience she was not about to stay in Kenya alone without her passport and plane ticket in her hot little hand, so she sailed out of Mombasa with us. She would have had to go at least to Singapore, so she decided she might as well stay on till Hong Kong and see the highlights of Asia as well! Her intended three-week cruise is turning into seven!

Before leaving Mombasa, Joe and I went out on the dock to shop among the myriad of treasures which abound in Kenya. Joe bought a 20-pound elephant for $35 and I bought smaller lion, giraffe and elephant. This is one of the funnest places to bargain and the very best prices are 'sail' prices just before the ship sails!

Speaking of departure, we're off again - Seychelles, India and the best of Asia!



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Chapter 5, Mombasa to Bangkok, Thailand
February 20 to March 9, 1994



I'm really too tired at the moment to try to put thoughts on paper, but I'm afraid if I wait for a break in the action I won't write before I disembark in Tokyo. The pace has really picked up for the home stretch and I still have a couple big overland tours ahead.

Before we pick up where we left off, let me digress. Ingvar, our Hotel Manager, reads each chapter, and each time comes and says I didn't write anything about him. So this time I'll introduce some of the people I work with, in addition to my tour office colleagues introduced in Chapter One. Ingvar is Swedish and is in charge of the hotel side of running the ship. He was here on my first world cruise in 1989, and I must admit I was a bit intimidated by him back in those early days. Since then I've come to appreciate his sense of humor, stability and his excellent manner of dealing with people.

Captain Magnar Berntzen is due to retire after this world cruise. He is picture perfect as a Captain; reserved, dignified and capable! The Staff Captain is an Englishman, Paul Wright. I think it's a first to have a non-Scandanavian officer on our Norwegian vessel. He has quickly become very popular with crew and passenger alike. He treats people well, is sociable and enjoys a good laugh. Meredith, the Cruise Sales Manager, has probably had the biggest influence on me and my career. Meredith is the one that got me into filling in for her as CSM in the first place, and she's taught me volumes. She developed the original concept of onboard cruise sales and is surely the best in the industry. Dino is our nutty Italian Head Housekeeper. Always running, always under great stress and always crazy. I have to say, he's just strange enough to be one of my favorites on the ship. Eli, the Norwegian Chief Purser, has to handle all the passenger problems behind the scenes. She's in charge of tickets, embarkation and disembarkation, and all kinds of other bureaucratic things. Her office tends to be a congregating place anytime someone wants to chat, have a drink, or just take a break from the every day hectic routine.

There are, of course, many others I could tell about, but I may never get back to where I left off, namely Mombasa. Well, it did feel good to wash off the Safari, and in spite of being tired I worked late in the office and finished my tour report that evening. No rest for the weary! We were kept busy the next few days as we made our way east across the Indian Ocean. Between office hours Desiree and I took a computer course to learn a new word processor program (which I'm using to type this chapter) and lotus. Things always seem complex until you understand them, but I think in the long run the switch from WordStar to Word for Dos will be beneficial.

Wednesday, February 23 we docked at one of the most beautiful islands anywhere, Mahe, The Seychelles. We had a partly cloudy day with a few showers, but that just kept it from being hot. Besides, there's a reason for all the lush vegetation! Mahe is quite mountainous with spectacular vistas of steep precipices, coral seas and the surrounding islands. We visited the botanical gardens, then drove up over the mountains to the other side for refreshments at the Mahe Beach Hotel. We had a non-air conditioned coach, which is perfectly pleasant, thanks to both mountain and sea breezes. Normally I would have gone back into town after lunch to look for coins and wander a bit, but I'd had a fever all night and wasn't feeling well. Went to bed at noon and slept until 3:30. That helped. A lot of crew and passengers had gotten sick ever since South Africa, but I got hit fairly mildly. Nobody ever did really know what we all got.

It was a blessing to have four days at sea before we hit India. On Saturday we had another beautiful international buffet in the ballroom. They always do them up so well, ice sculptures, flags and flowers. It always reminds me of the woman who asked, "What do they do with the ice sculptures after the melt?!" Crew aerobics that night made for a good balance to such a feast. The next day we turned our clocks forward one half hour to bring us to Indian time. They've always been a half hour off the rest of the world. That's nothing... Nepal is 15 minutes off world time!

Monday, the last day of February we arrived in Madras, India. We were originally scheduled to arrive at 10:00 am. Later that was updated to an 8:00 am arrival, then two days before Madras we were told that due to strong currents we were going to be about two hours late after all, with a 10:00 ETA. That morning Jim called me at 7:30 and said, "We're in port!" Nobody seemed to know what was going on, but we were indeed in port and our tour buses were even all lined up out on the dock - Is this India? We never know how much time, how many cigarettes and how much alcohol it takes for the authorities to clear the ship in India, but it really didn't take too long and we ended up running our local tours by 9:45 am. In spite of all the confusion, it seemed to work OK. My Grand India tour didn't depart until 2:00 pm so I had time to go out on the dock and check out the endless stalls filled with carpets, jewelry, leather, knickknacks, silk, silver, and lacquer work. I bought a nice, gray, short sleeved shirt for $3. It's always lots of fun just looking when India displays her wares!

My group of 15 departed at 2:00 pm and made our way through the Madras traffic to the airport. I had warned the group that flights in India are notoriously late, and sure enough, when we arrived there was a sign saying the flight had been rescheduled from 4:30 to 5:00 pm. While we were waiting for the flight they announced another 15 minute delay due to technical difficulties. "Any inconvenience caused to the passengers is regretted!" The coffee machine in the waiting area asked for 4 rupee coins with the sign, "Push tea button for coffee and coffee button for tea!" The coffee actually wasn't too bad, but I was the only one who dared try it.

In Delhi we were met promptly by our local rep, and we were all draped with the typical fragrant garlands of flowers as a welcome. How nice! The rep informed me that our tour had been 'upgraded' from the Holiday Inn Crown Plaza to the New Delhi Oberoi. He was surprised that I wasn't thrilled, but 'upgrade' in India doesn't always mean just that. However, this time it did and the Oberoi was indeed the top hotel in the city. Gorgeous. All the rooms were very good and half the group had suites. Dinner was served in the French restaurant, La Rochelle, and we almost felt a little ridiculous minding all the warnings not to drink the water or eat fresh salads or vegetables. Nevertheless, it is still India. The meal was perfect and I didn't avoid anything at all. We were all in good humor and the tour was starting great. We even had CNN on TV and Herald Tribune newspapers. The Tribune even had Montana State basketball scores!

Tuesday morning dawned clear and beautiful and a delicious 68 degrees. Delhi has many impressive monuments and buildings. New Delhi is a creation of British rule from 1921. Wide boulevards radiating out from the magnificent government buildings. The India Gate is a huge arch over one of the streets with a view to the parliament. There is a feeling of spaciousness, uncommon India, and a distinct Indian influence in the English grandeur. A visit to the Red Fort took us back centuries to the age of the moghuls. We saw a most interesting lawn mower - pulled by an ox. We also visited the Indira Ghandi memorial. Hindus cremate bodies and scatter the ashes in the river, so they build memorials instead of tombs.

We went back to the hotel for a superior Chinese lunch in the rooftop restaurant. After lunch we made our 'obligatory' stop at a carpet showroom to see how Kashmir carpets are made and sold. Nobody bought one, but it was fun looking. The highlight of the day was the Qutab Minar, the monument celebrating the victory of the Muslims over the Hindus. We didn't attempt the 379 steps to the top. There's an iron pole, centuries old, that has never rusted. A scientific mystery. It's good luck for anyone who can clasp their hands behind their back around the pole. I was the only one in the group who could do it.

Dinner was in the Oberoi's Indian restaurant. The group wasn't quite as excited about Indian cuisine as the other meals, but it was good. One hotel shop was still open after dinner and I went with another couple to see their carpets. Who ends up buying a carpet?! Me! I never expected that, but compared to the other carpets I had seen it was such good quality and such a good price I had to get it. My first overland tour in India was to Kashmir and I have such a soft spot in my heart for that region. My tour was the last tour to go to Kashmir as it has been riddled with violence ever since. Many have fled the area but they all long for the day when they can go back. The Kashmir carpet industry is the one thing that keeps food on the table for the ones who haven't fled. The Kashmiris are beautiful people and expressive in their work.

Wednesday we had a 6:00 am wakeup call, another cool morning, and a transfer to the airport after early breakfast. Check in and seat assignment was easy. After warning the group about the frequent hassles at Indian airport security it was almost comic relief that one of our men had his flashlight batteries confiscated from his hand luggage - a potential security threat. They were returned to him at our destination, however. We had a short 30-minute flight to Agra and it was on time to the minute - wow! We went directly to the Mughal Sheraton to make sure we got our rooms, then proceeded to the Taj Mahal. It was a picture perfect morning to view the Taj in all its splendor. It really is one of the most moving sights in the world. A veritable love story as the Mughal King built it in memory of his wife. It took 20,000 men 22 years to build over 300 years ago. Exquisite in design, graceful in its majesty. Every aspect is perfectly symmetrical. We spent an hour and a half admiring it from the inside and out.

Back to the hotel for a buffet lunch. It was good, but the Oberoi did indeed spoil us for anything else! After lunch we went to Agra's Red Fort - much more impressive than Delhi's Red Fort. The Mughals lived there until moving the capital to Delhi. The Mughal who had the Taj built lived in the Red Fort until one of his sons overthrew him and had him imprisoned. The Mughal spent the last seven years of his life imprisoned in the Red Fort, looking across the river at the monument to his beloved wife. When he died his body was also placed in the Taj next to his wife - the only thing not symmetrical in the monument.

Agra is famous for its marble inlay work, stemming from the Taj Mahal, so we stopped at a marble factory for a demonstration. We were back to the hotel by 4:30 and Mac McCurdy and I walked to a nearby bridge for one of my favorite views of the Taj. The street below was teeming with typical Indian life and was a stark contrast to the shimmering edifice in the distance. We actually went down and walked a ways on the street where certainly tourist faces are never seen! That was as special as any of our major tourist sights. Cows had the right of way, scooters whizzed by and people went about their daily lives, glancing only with mild curiosity at the two out-of-place faces among them. We took a tuk tuk (a motorized 3-wheeled taxi) a bit further into town to shop for wire puzzle globes, which we found at a good price.

Back at the hotel, Ann Menges and I went out again right away and hired two tri-shaws to take us over to the national crafts fair which was on for just two weeks in Agra. Our pedalers took us at a leisurely pace through the crazy traffic and waited for us half an hour while we shopped. We could have spent hours there but didn't have the time. We bought Taj t-shirts for $2 and other fun India souvenirs. Loved it! The ride back was in the dark and our tri-shaws didn't have lights. Our pedalers assured us their eyes were like lights. We made it back safely and gave them each about $2 for the ride.

On Thursday we were up even earlier, at 5:30, and left at 6:00 to see the Taj Mahal at dawn. Clear skies. A slight mist. The white marble dome glows in apprehension of the sunrise. It is a magical moment. It is by no means silent at that time of the morning. Birds are singing, Muslims are wailing out morning prayers from a nearby mosque and the town is coming to life. But inside the little enclave around the Taj serenity reigns. Even the viewers hush their voices in awe.

After a quick breakfast we took off in our motor coach for the long interesting journey to Jaipur. Enroute we visited Fatehpur Sikri, the stunning palace city built by a Raj in order to be close to a Holy Man who had predicted the birth of his first son, when the Raj had had nothing but daughters. Intricate carvings and frescoes in the red sandstone walls, ceilings and arches. The palace had to be abandoned before it was used much. They had no reliable water source. Our shopping from hawkers there was the best of the whole trip. They have marble eggs full of wholes like Swiss cheese on the outside and hollow on the inside, except for miniature carvings like owls, elephants, etc. All of it is carved from a single piece of marble. Fascinating. Coins, beads, jewelry, postcards and t-shirts were some of the other treasures there.

The drive through the Indian countryside is incredible. Piles of cow pies out to dry, later to be used for fuel. Dancing bears brought from the Himalayas. Camels and more camels pulling carts and other large loads. Traffic going every direction. There must be some underlying principle guiding the traffic but it's anybody's guess what! Buses, trucks, scooters, cars, bikes, oxen, peacocks, vultures, people in every imaginable costume and some unimaginable. Roads were bumpy and the going was slow, but boring it was not! As we approached Jaipur the region became decidedly more arid. Jaipur lies on the edge of the Great Indian Desert. With a population of 2 1/2 million, it is known as the pink city. All the buildings in old Jaipur are made of pink sandstone or painted pink or both. We arrived at the hotel at 2:15 for a late lunch and then headed out for afternoon sightseeing.

The observatory is an ancient creation that would be any modern astronomer's dream. All kinds of sculptures and figures allow them to accurately calculate the movement of the sun, moon and stars anywhere in the world. It's beyond me. We spent an hour exploring the city palace and some of the exhibitions therein. Jewels, weapons, art, clothes, etc. They were making a movie while we were there and hundreds of people were trying to get autographs of the film stars.

We headed back to the hotel at 5:00, but Doris Nussbaum and I decided to get out downtown and explore on foot awhile. We walked the little alleys and passageways that were anything but tourist areas. One thing I dislike about India is the constant begging and asking for tips. But where we went it was totally different. This was the real India away from the influence of tourists and their money. People were friendly and smiling and we weren't looked on as a source of handouts. We must have seen every kind of store and industry in Jaipur. At a big ceramic display Doris decided to buy a little piggy bank. The price was only 5 rupees (17 cents). At one little place a man was stirring a hot liquid in a big pan and allowing it to drip onto a tray. We enquired what he was doing and he was making candy. He gave us each a piece and it was delicious. I asked to take a picture of him working with Doris looking on and he put on a big smile. Even there he didn't ask for anything for having his photo taken - Is this India?! Doris and I rode in a tuk tuk back to the hotel. Crazy. In that insane traffic after dark there were a few times we knew we were going to have a collision. That evening was the highlight of my India trip.

I had to laugh at Doris a little. She commented to Ann Menges what a nice Jewish boy I was (Doris is herself Jewish) and Ann told her, "Huh-uh, two f's and Mennonite!" She isn't the first one on the ship to take Kauffman for a Jewish name.

Friday morning was another super experience. We drove out of town to the Amber Fort, perched high in the mountains. Shades of China - there are walls all over the mountainsides in the area. But we didn't just hike up to the fort, we rode elephants! We sat on a perch on the elephant's back that could hold four people. Doris, Ann, Deborah and I were together and we got a baby elephant! He was so slow he spent more time waddling from side to side than going forward. Deborah was scared and wanted to get down, but even baby elephants are too big to jump off their back. We finally made it to the top and had a most enjoyable tour of the fort. The hall of mirrors was exquisite, views of the valleys and mountains stunning. Another fort was high above on another peak and evidently the two were connected with underground tunnels, used as escape routes when one fort was on the verge of being conquered. Back down in the parking lot there were again lots of vendors and we bought lacquer elephants and lots of fun stuff. We had lunch at our Jaipur Mahal Palace Hotel and began the long drive to Delhi. The distance was greater than our trip the day before, but the road better, so it only took five hours. Again a fascinating drama all around us, but we were tired and glad enough to get off the bus at the Centaur Airport Hotel in Delhi. We had dinner there and then continued to the airport for a 11:15 pm overnight flight to Singapore.

We arrived the next morning at 7 and exited into a most modern and spotlessly clean airport. It's always a culture shock coming to Singapore from India or other Asian countries. It is so clean and safe, it puts to shame western cities. Of course, there are fines for all kinds of unacceptable behavior. $500 fine for littering, for spitting, for smoking in the wrong place, or for failing to flush a public toilet! People say it's a 'fine' life in Singapore. It was a warm rainy morning that greeted us and we arrived at the pier just as the ship was cleared by the authorities.

Thus ended our Grand Tour of India. I would never have expected a tour in India to run so well. Nobody even really got sick and that's a small wonder in itself. I felt much better about India in general this time than I have in the past and really enjoyed the whole experience.

I didn't even leave the ship again in Singapore. My Cambodia overland tour was coming up fast and I had only one day to prepare for the group briefing. I did get a package of mail that day and a couple faxes. One of the faxes informed us that our former tour office colleague, Peter Jacobs, had died of heart failure. Peter and I worked together on my second and third world cruises.

Sunday was a crazy day! Desiree was gone on her overland tour on the Eastern & Orient Express so Tom helped out at the counter. We'd had a large embarkation in Singapore and they all wanted to buy tours. For this final segment through the orient to Tokyo we have 160 German speaking passengers onboard - far more than we've ever had before! That means finding German guides in each port. The Sagafjord really isn't set up to handle that many, but we'll all do what we can.

Tuesday, March 8, we docked in Laem Chabang, Thailand, the new deep water port for Bangkok. It was a hot, clear morning. There's lots of space on the new dock and our buses were all lined up in a row. I was in charge of dispatch and we had two buses for the half-day Pattaya tour, two buses for the Bangkok overnight tour, two buses for the Bangkok full day tour, one transfer to Bangkok and three shuttle buses into Pattaya. We used to anchor off Pattaya and go in by tender boat. That put us right in the middle of Pattaya, but this dock was more convenient for loading and unloading. Mind you, it's still more than two hours into Bangkok due to the awful traffic problems.

In the evening I went into Pattaya for a few hours. What a crazy place! Very much alive at night for shopping, eating, drinking, Thai boxing, and various nocturnal activities. Everything is open late and the evening air is hot and sticky. People everywhere - Thais and tourists alike. Massage parlors and go-go joints. Cheap shopping for big-name clothes, Rolex watches (all fake), t-shirts, shoes, and souvenirs. Such an atmosphere. Walked around with Dirk, the crew cook, and we ate satay and other Thai dishes from the little sidewalk kitchens. We had a big bowl of noodle soup full of meat and vegetables for about 80 cents each. Tasty, and much more of an adventure than eating in tourist establishments.

We were in Laem Chebang two days but I'm out of space, so the rest will have to spill over in chapter six.



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Chapter 6, Bangkok to Honolulu, Hawaii
March 9 to April 1, 1994

Final Salutations!


How plans do change! As I begin this chapter we are sailing across a wildly turbulent Pacific Ocean on our way to Hawaii, and obviously I didn't fly home from Tokyo. The last four weeks have just been crazy and I have spent more days off the ship on overland tours than on board. To top it all off the Sagaford was overbooked from Hong Kong to Tokyo. All the staff who had been in passenger cabins had to move to staff or crew cabins. I had one day in Hong Kong between two big overland tours and was told to have my things somewhat together, as they would probably be moved while I was gone to Xian, China. They were actually moved to a storage area and when I came back to Shanghai I was given a cabin to sleep in for two days. Then in Pusan, Korea, two days before I was to disembark in Tokyo, I had to leave that cabin too. My things were still locked up and I had no cabin the last two days. Dino, the housekeeper, put a mattress on the floor in his cabin and gave me his bed for two days. But as it was impossible to pack or get ready to go home, I just stayed on board, bound for Hawaii.

But, back to my chronology. Wednesday, March 9 was our second morning in Laem Chebang, Thailand. Desiree and I both went on the Pattaya delights morning tour just for fun. It was primarily a visit to Nong Nooch Orchid Village. First we watched a monkey pick coconuts and throw them down to his trainer. Then we watched a culture show which combined all the best of Thailand: dancing, Thai boxing, cock fight, a Thai wedding, folk dances, and a battle at the end using monstrous swords and live elephants. Super.

They topped that show, though, with the elephant show! About 15 elephants and their trainers entered the outdoor arena. Staff had placed bananas behind the front row benches and the elephants headed straight for them. Imagine the panic of the people sitting virtually on top of the bananas and unaware of it. The elephants are harmless, but it sure gave some people a good fright. Elephants are rather large creatures after all. Three elephants had a race. There were three rows of coke bottles and the animals ran along the row picking up the bottles with their trunks and handing (trunking) them up to their trainer. In another act a 15' board was placed on two upright barrels. A smaller barrel was used as a step and an elephant mounted the board and 'tight-rope walked' across to the other side. Then what? We couldn't see how he could get down the other side because there was no barrel there. He paused a few seconds, then slowly lifted his front hoof and very carefully revolved on the narrow board, made a complete rotation and returned the way he had come. Fantastic. Another elephant drove a car/bicycle around, pedaling with his front legs and steering with his trunk. Four of them played soccer with big soccer balls. I'd hate to be the goalie against them. Wow! Could they kick! Then volunteers from the audience lay down in the arena and elephants cautiously walked over them. After the show Desiree and I both had an elephant pick us up with his trunk. Desiree screamed as he lifted her high over his head. It was really one of the most delightful animal shows I've seen.

After the tour I stayed in Pattaya for a couple hours to buy more film and a couple silk shirts. In the photo store I bought hollusion posters for only $2 each! In the US they are $25. Took the shuttle back to the ship and spent the rest of the day working in the office. Got the info for my Xian tour put together.

We had only one day at sea between Thailand and Vietnam and it was certainly no break. Actually, that was the only day Desiree and I were together in the office between India and China. The call at Ho Chi Minh City cost us enormous work. Every passenger had been required to get a Vietnamese visa for about $75 each. Then two weeks before arrival we were informed that they also needed entry forms with photos for everyone. We had to have Polaroids taken of every passenger and fill out new forms. Would it be worth all the red tape and hassle?

Friday morning we took on the local pilot to proceed up the Saigon River. Tropical jungle and thatched roof huts on both sides. I spent most of the morning helping my tour group fill out customs forms. Shades of the former east bloc countries! We docked almost on time at noon and all our tour buses were lined up neatly on the dock, numbered and in order. Surprise. My group of 21 left at 1:00 for afternoon sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). Midday traffic was fairly quiet but it soon picked up. Ho Chi Minh is a beautiful city with wide boulevards, parks, and French architecture. Lovely. We went first to the history museum and the displays go back millennia. Then to the Unification Palace where we had a short concert of local instruments. One was like a xylophone made of bamboo. It was played by clapping the hands and forcing air into the tubes. Interesting. Of course there had to be a shopping stop, so we went to the lacquer factory. They make exquisite tables, chairs, vases, screens, boxes, etc. And the prices were ridiculously cheap! We loved that.

We drove through a very crowded Chinatown with bicycles and mopeds by the thousands. Few cars and buses here. The old traffic rule seems to apply, don't hit anyone else. It's a nightmare for a western idea of order. There were lots of street vendors and hawkers and plenty of fun things to buy.

At 5 pm we checked in at the Saigon Floating Hotel. Nice! It was built in Japan and used at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia before being towed here. First class. Three of us took a taxi to the ship to leave some of our souvenirs on board and stopped on the way and bought more! Big painted ceramic elephants, two feet high, were only $4.50. A two-foot ceramic vase with raised design was only $3. Smaller vases and lacquer boxes were $2. Cheap.

At 7:00 we all went to dinner using cyclos, the little pedal three-wheelers with the seat up front. We each had our own and it was delightful weaving through the evening traffic enjoying the atmosphere. Dinner was at the Vietnam House restaurant and the food was good. Afterwards I ran around the corner to a little vendor and bought 11 lacquer vases of assorted sizes for $10! Back at the hotel, Carol Mann, Gertrude Simon and I went shopping again. We found a nice little store and pretty much bought out the place - especially Carol. Then we filled the trunk of a taxi with our treasures and took it to the Sagafjord. I had to bribe the port gate keeper with $3 to let the taxi into the gangway, but we got it all on the ship.

The next morning we had wakeup call at 4:00 am! Breakfast at 4:30 and departure for the airport at 5:00. Ow. It was only a 45 minute flight to Phnom Penh and we arrived before 8:00. Coming in we could see endless, flat jungle and the wide Mekong River. Cambodia has had no tourism for 25 years and still has virtually no economy.

What a tragic recent history! The communist Khmer Rouge marched in to Phnom Penh in 1975 and evacuated the entire city of 2 million in 48 hours. The people expected to return in three or four days so took little with them. They didn't come back. The Khmer murdered hundreds of thousands of their own people; an estimated 3 million in five years. Why? They were a paranoid regime that tried to eliminate anyone who was perceived as a possible threat. Anyone who was educated, skilled, or independent minded was immediately suspect. Victims were interrogated and tortured until they confessed to crimes they never committed, then were murdered with their whole families, including children. Our guide had a cousin who was a med student in 1975. They accused him of being a government soldier and tortured him until he confessed. Then they killed him and threw his body in the river.

Phnom Penh remained a ghost town for four years. The only occupants were the Khmer Rouge leaders and staff at a few embassies of communist countries. A third of Cambodia's people were killed, including all of the intelligentsia, the leaders and thinkers. What was left was a subdued society of followers with little spirit left in them.

Where was the rest of the world while this was going on? Simple. The Vietnam War had just ended and the world chose to turn a deaf ear to the cries from the region rather than get tangled up in another mess. Ironically, it was the communist Vietnamese themselves who marched on Phnom Penh in 1979 and rescued the people from the Khmer Rouge. Nothing benevolent on their part. Vietnam and Cambodia have never been friends and the Khmer had already begun making forays into Vietnam territory. They just nipped it in the bud and then set up a puppet regime for the next ten years. There was no real life, no economy, and no progress during that decade, but at least the Khmer Rouge was held at bay on the outskirts of the country.

The Vietnamese left in 1989 and the UN entered to attempt a peace plan. A treaty was reached in 1992, but the Khmer Rouge soon backed out. In May 1993 democratic elections were held and King Sihanouk was brought back. The two leading parties tied in the election, and in typical Asian fashion, the task fell to both to work together to govern the country. What a daunting task ahead of them! Some of the intelligentsia who had escaped to other countries have returned to help rebuild, but there is little to work with. That's where Cambodia's history ends and her uncertain future begins. Will the peace hold?

Anyway, we were met at the airport by our tour operator and went directly to the Cambodiana Hotel, one of the few bright spots in the city. A lovely hotel with fantastic food. We had a second breakfast after check in, then had the morning free. A couple of us went to the local market where we bought a few AngKor Wat t-shirts, but prices are outrageously high. After lunch we went on tour with two vehicles. The two guides were understandably not the best and their English hard to understand. We were glad to get as good as we did. The history museum had displays dating back to the 7th century. They had quite the civilization leading up to the AngKor Wat era. The museum was shabby, smelled bad and was just beginning to be restored. In their ransacking, the Khmer Rouge had thrown out many things to rot in the elements. The Royal Palace had fared better. It was in pretty good shape, with evidence of restoration, and resembled the fabulous Royal Palace in Bangkok. The Silver Pagoda inside had a pure silver floor and contained an emerald buddha, silver relics and oriental carpets. We drove to a couple more pagodas and made a five minute shopping stop, where we found nothing of interest.

What a huge contrast to Vietnam. This place is barely past ground zero. Vietnam, on the other hand, has flourished in spite of the embargo. Saigon is clean, industrious, pretty and has fantastic shopping. Phnom Penh is the opposite - poverty, destruction and beggars. The few things there are to buy are expensive. A pack of postcards is priced at $6 in the hotel shop and $3 elsewhere. After our tour we took a sunset cruise on the Mekong River. That was nice with a cool breeze. Fishermen. Fishing villages. Bananas. Good views of the hotel and the Royal Palace. Pretty sunset.

Sunday was our big day. We left at 6:30 for the airport and had a new French plane with a French pilot for our short flight to Siem Reap. It was a HOT day. The ride into town was interesting. It was the end of the dry season so rice fields were brown. Houses are built on stilts for ventilation. Not quite so tragic looking as the city. We had a rest stop at the Grand Hotel, as there are no facilities out at the ruins. I changed $20 into Cambodian Riels just for fun and got a stack of bills three inches high! $1 = 2,500 Riels and the biggest bill I got was 500 (20 cents). Stacks of 10,000 were banded together to keep track of them. The people don't even want the junk. All prices are given in US$, even in hotels and restaurants.

Then came the reason for our trip - the ruins. These were temples and cities built in the 10th - 12th centuries. Strong hindu influence. Cambodia has always been invaded and run over throughout history. AngKor Wat means 'city temple'. We went first to AngKor Thom, which means 'city large'. There was a wall and moat two by two and a half miles around what used to be a grand city until it was abandoned in favor of Phnom Penh. AngKor was just too close to the Thais, with whom they never got along. Centuries of weather and jungle growth have left the ruins in a state of disrepair, but they are still magnificent structures rising up above the trees. Detailed bas relief of all kinds covered the walls with scenes of life, death, battle, animals, hunters, etc. Huge murals. The temples had huge spires with faces on all four sides. My oldest passenger, Rachel Mollet, 90, climbed all the way to the top in 100 degree heat! It was fun exploring and climbing.

We went back to the Grand Hotel for lunch, then returned to AngKor Wat itself. The lotus filled moat is large, and the only entrance is via a causeway leading to the west gate. From the gate there's another long walk to the temple. The stones radiated the scorching heat of the afternoon sun, but it was cooler inside. AngKor Wat has been partially restored with the help of the Indian government because it is a hindu ruin. Very steep steps inhibited most of the group from going to the top, but that was the best part of the tour. We looked in all the corners and small rooms and enjoyed views stretching to the distant horizons. Again, many frescoes, sculptures and carvings. All in the middle of the jungle. We left at 3:15 and flew back to Phnom Penh. Had a good dinner and went to bed. I was either too tired or too overwhelmed to write in my journal. It was a full, good day.

What a morning we had on Monday. We got a van and guide to take eleven of us out to the infamous Killings Fields. The countryside on the way was wonderful. More stilt houses and rice fields. I mentioned the rice fields and Joyce Cowin asked, "How do you know they're rice fields?" What make a wheat field look like a wheat field?! Reuben Kunin wondered aloud if she's really that dumb or if she's acting. I don't think it's an act! Some of the fields had rows of straw piled up. Those were mushroom 'greenhouses'.

The Genocide Center was a grim reminder of the Khmer Rouge atrocities against their own. Sobering, to say the least. In the center is a huge monument with glass walls and shelves and shelves of human skulls recovered from the mass graves. Over 4,000 found to date! There were bones in many of the graves. They didn't shoot people - just lined them up in front of the holes and smashed the back of their necks with hoes, spades or anything else they had. Signs detailed the atrocities - the evacuation, extinctions, interrogations. Really awful, but I'm glad I saw it. They destroyed the fiber of society and left only the followers, the sheep. Coming back into town we saw signs of rebirth and construction everywhere. Will Cambodia have a better future? Can it be any worse than the past?

At 11:30 am we left for the airport. What chaos! Nobody seemed to really know how check in and customs was supposed to work. We finally made it through and Thai Air whisked us away, back into our life of modern comforts. We changed planes in Bangkok and arrived in Hong Kong by 6:30. We lost Evelyn Thon in customs. It's a huge area and she somehow went the wrong way. I searched high and low for her. Her suitcase came out and finally I took it and went outside to look for her. I was getting ready to send the bus and stay behind when she came along with a Thai Air agent. A tour wouldn't be right if you didn't have a little glitch now and then.

The ship was in Hong Kong three days, but I had only the middle one sandwiched between overlands. It was barely enough time to catch my breath and get ready to go again. I did take time in the evening for my four Hong Kong friends I met in Yellowstone in 1988. We went for a walk in the evening and I invited them to the midnight buffet on board.

4:45 am came awfully early after a late night! I really didn't feel like going to China at that point, but I rounded up my charges and their bags and we headed for the Hong Kong airport, bound for Xian. I slept most of the 2 1/2 hour flight and we arrived at 11:30, just in time for lunch at the airport. It's a new facility an hour from town and there are restaurants and lots of shops. Tourism has impacted Xian! The freeway to town was modern. Neatly plotted fields of wheat along the way. Nice day, hazy, 40's.

Xian is the cradle of Chinese history, home to many dynasties and the beginning of the ancient silk road. The massive city was built in the 14th century. We stopped at the north gate and climbed to the top. Inside, artisans displayed and sold their wares. I was impressed all over again with the artistry of the Chinese. The yen had recently been devalued and things were CHEAP! My kind of shopping! Kunins bought a beautiful crystal ball, hand painted from the inside.

The wall goes around the entire city. Xian has wide boulevards and streets in a typical American grid fashion, but here the layout dates back to the Tang Dynasty 1,000 years ago! Traffic moves. Hoards of bicycles. Quieter with fewer horns than previous Asian cities. We visited the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, but none of us ventured to climb 200' to the top. Our token shopping stop was the Cloisonne factory. Detailed work, but more expensive than outside.

At 4 pm we checked in at the Hyatt Regency. Beautiful new hotel with big atrium and fountains. After dinner five of us went for a walk to the night market. Lovely atmosphere walking the streets. At the night market we watched a fellow make noodles. He kneaded the dough, slapped it on the table and stretched it into many fine strings of batter, which he plopped into the kettle to cook. We bought a big bowl of noodle soup and it was spicy! Delicious and good for what ails you!

Thursday was a nice, hazy day with the temp reaching 55! We headed out to Ling Tan to see the terracotta warriors. Again, the drive through the country was as interesting as anything. Occasionally we encountered 'honey wagons', the tanks carrying human fertilizer to the fields. Lots of winter wheat and vineyards.

The terracotta warriors date back to the Qin (Chin) Dynasty in 200 B.C. The emperor built a tomb for himself under a big hill. That has not been excavated, though it is no doubt filled with great treasures. To the east of the tomb about a mile, the emperor had a massive terracotta army constructed to protect his soul from the enemies from the east. In the excavations to date they've found 8,000 life-sized figures. No two are identical. In fact, they actually used a live model for each to prevent repetition. Not just the faces, but also hands, stature and clothes. Amazing to see so many individual soldiers dutifully standing guard. A huge hall has been put up over them for climate control and preservation. We could walk among them and see the continuing work. A farmer discovered them only in 1974 when he was digging a well. The impact on the area due to the subsequent tourism has been great. Good for the local economy!

We also visited the hot springs where Shang Kai Shek was arrested in 1936 when he refused to cooperate with the communists against the invading Japanese. It's always interesting to hear history told from different perspectives.

We went back into town for lunch, then went to Ban-Po Village. A 6,000 year old village that had a matriarchal society. Even back then it evidently had real houses with clay walls and roofs. Every tourist site is now surrounded by hawkers selling their wares and we enjoyed buying things everywhere we went.

Back in town I walked around on my own before having Chinese dinner in the hotel. Good food. We all went to the Tang Dynasty Culture Show, which was a brilliant display of Chinese history from the Tang era. It almost made us feel as though different cultures in the west have each just borrowed their own culture from a little piece of Chinese history.

Friday morning we went to a commune. We all loved the kindergarten and we watched the kids do their morning exercises to music. Aerobics anyone? They are so cute with their rosy red cheeks. We saw a farmer's home, which was quite comfortable, and went to a factory which employed handicapped workers. Ceramics, carpets, jade, silk, and t-shirts.

After lunch we walked through a local market to see the meats, vegetables, nuts, raisins, herbs, spices, snakes, turtles, eels, etc. Our 4 pm flight to Shanghai was on time and we were met by our guide, Shu, and our driver Yu. The Portman's Shangri-La Hotel was one of the most gorgeous I've seen anywhere. We have all liked to spend a few days there. Our dinner that night was also the finest meal of the tour.

Shanghai is one of the world's largest cities with at least 14 million people, but who really knows? Traffic is much more congested here than in Xian and it's slow going. We visited the Jade Buddha Temple. As we pulled up it was obvious they were waiting for someone important. Monks were lined up on both sides of the entry with flowers and incense. We never did hear who this dignitary was, but she looked like a New Yorker. Either she was important or she gave them a big donation. The jade buddha was carved from a single piece of jade imported from Thailand.

Our next stop was the Yu Gardens in Shanghai's old town. Typical oriental style, ponds, pagodas, bonsai trees, and camellias in bloom. One of my favorite things there is a doorway in the shape of a vase. A nice photo shot using the door to frame the trees beyond. We crawled through the traffic snarls to the riverfront, called the Bund, and found our lovely Sagafjord waiting for us at the pier. I was tired, but walked several miles in town after lunch. On the way back I strolled along the Bund. It's fun just watching the people and the river traffic. A young fellow had a video and computer set up to transfer your photo to a calendar. It was less than a dollar so I let him do it. Turned out great. Also attracted quite a crowd of curious onlookers.

That evening all my Xian tour members wanted to go the Chinese Acrobats so I arranged transportation and off we went. Tickets were $2 and it was a fabulous performance. It almost hurts to watch sometimes as they contort their bodies into impossible shapes. Animal tricks, juggling, balancing acts, gymnastics all done to a level beyond absurd reality. We loved it.

Sunday, March 20 was another early morning, 4:45 am wakeup. We had a full day tour to Suzhou, China by train with 140 people. Two German buses and two English buses. It was quite a feat keeping the group together in the crowded train station. There was dense fog all morning so we just enjoyed our hour train ride for the ride itself, not for the scenery. In Suzhou we sent the groups off in their buses to tour and the Chinese escort and I went to the restaurant to make sure all was in order for lunch. Having settled that we joined the tour at the silk factory.

We watched them take the boiled silkworm cocoons and extract very fine threads. It's quite a process creating silk. People actually eat the remains of the cocoon after processing. Yuk. Most of the time at that stop was spent shopping. I've seldom seen people on tour go so crazy about shopping. Even the Germans. I bought an exquisite, crimson, silk bath robe for $15. Lightweight and easy to pack.

Shopping was the highlight of the tour for most people, but there were also sights to see. Suzhou is known as the Venice of China with many canals and bridges. Two famous Chinese gardens were also on the itinerary. We had a good Chinese lunch at the Bamboo Grove Hotel, then visited a silk embroidery factory. That kind of work takes skill. Unfortunately the power was out just then so it was difficult to do too much shopping. Ann and I went out on the street and found a little shop with household goods. Ann fell in love with an enamel basin, but neither of us had any yen left. The price was less than $2, but they didn't recognize the dollars. I conveyed to them they were US dollars and the gal finally ran out of the shop down the street. She came back and put the dollars in the till and carefully counted out 1.90 yen in change! Ann was quite an attraction herself on the street, between her size and red hair. The best shopping was outside the last stop, the Lingering Garden. I got a silver, silk tablecloth with the '100 Children' design for $4. The same cloth was $25 on the train. Silk scarves were $1 each and hankies were five for $1.

On the way to the train station we were caught in a traffic jam - they were filming a movie on the canal. We made it on time and waited in the 'soft seat lounge' until time to board. Made it back to Shanghai with all our treasures after a long, fun day. Rather than dress up for dinner I ate in the officer's mess. I ordered wiener schnitzel and when it came Joe Marso, from the Golden Door Spa, exclaimed, "Oh, I expected something round!"

It felt good to sleep until a reasonable hour again, and to have a normal, albeit busy, day at sea. Ingvar said I'd probably have to leave my new cabin the next day in Pusan, so there was no point in bringing my things out of storage. That's when I started thinking I might have to stay until Honolulu. We had the big Bavarian buffet at lunch with all the trimmings. Since I couldn't pack that evening I decided to play a game of Scrabble with Ann and Melissa Clark.

We were in Pusan, South Korea in 1989 and were not looking forward to our return visit. Back then it took over two hours for officials to clear the ship and tours were not great either. This time we had a chilly gray morning, but amazingly, the ship was cleared by shortly after 8 am. Buses were lined up on the pier all in order. Dispatch was no problem. Is this Korea? I didn't go on tour so a group of us took a taxi van to the international market. In the past this was one of the great shopping stops with Nike shoes for $10, etc. No bargains here now. The people were not friendly either, almost surly. What a contrast to previous Asian ports where smiles abound. Ann, Melissa, and I did each buy a collapsible zipper bag with brand name Montana. Mine has four folds and stretches tall enough to hold my wooden giraffe from Kenya.

Back at the ship I checked in our tour buses and comments weren't too terrible. A few complaints, but nothing like 1989. After lunch I had to go to my cabin of two days and throw everything together to move out again. Dino came down to put the last of my things in the storage closet and I was homeless. Ingvar had arranged for the crew purser to move in with the documentation purser so I could have a bed, but as I've already mentioned, Dino put a mattress in his cabin. I felt quite lost at that point, with no cabin to go to and no place to pack my things. I was too exhausted to deal with anything so Ingvar sent a telex to New York saying Ship's Management had decided I would leave in Honolulu. So much the better.

The sea was rough the day before Tokyo and it would have been no fun packing anyway. Thursday morning brought much better weather and I was headed for Mt Fuji instead of Narita Airport. Our guide was in his 50's and told us his English was 'made in Japan' as he taught himself 20 years earlier. We first went to Kamakura to see a huge outdoor, bronze buddha, 45' high. Kamakura was the Shogun capital from 1192-1333 A.D. It was nice and warm in the sunshine. We headed south along the Pacific Ocean and nice beaches. Then I caught a glimpse of Mt Fuji in the distance. The air was crystal clear and the peak was free of clouds - magnifique! The peak can only be seen clearly about 30 days a year. We gradually turned into the mountains and started climbing. Lovely drive. Picturesque Lake Hakone appeared below us, nestled in the mountains at the base of Mt Fuji. We saw Fuji a few more times, but never as clear as that morning.

We enjoyed a 25-minute boat ride across the lake to the Hakone Prince Hotel where we had lunch. Frau Vielmetter stayed on the bus to the hotel while we went on the lake because, "she gets seasick so easily!" This from a woman who's been on the Sagafjord for two months! After lunch we rode the aerial tram up Mt Komagatake for a 360 degree view. Snowfields and 100 mph winds on top. Brrr, but wonderful. Fuji was mostly hiding by that time. Fuji is an active volcano and Japan contains 10% of the world's volcanoes. From the top of Mt Komagatake we did have good views of Lake Hakone, Yokohama, the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding mountains. It was a clear afternoon except for the clouds shrouding snow-covered Mt Fuji.

Our route back took us closer to Fuji and I watched it gradually fade into the distance. It did clear up one more time before Fuji disappeared behind the foothills and I got to see the sunset illuminate the mountain. Pretty area. It was a good tour, although on a rainy day it would be a catastrophe.

In the evening I walked around Yokohama. It's a nice city and very convenient to the port. I went into a little cafe on a side street and had a big bowl of Japanese noodles and hot tea. That was only $5, but there were many price horror stories, like $80 for a watermelon and $120 for a cantaloupe! At least looking is cheap. We sailed at 11 pm and I was glad to be sailing and not flying.

Friday, March 25th was our first of eight days at sea and did we know we were on the water! Whew. It was a bit rough in the morning, but just about 9:00 the big one hit. The ship rolled heavily to one side and things and people went flying all over the place. Books, machines, plants, and files came crashing down around us. In the Lido Cafe people, chairs, dishes and food ended up in a big pile. The dining room was a mess too, but the Lido was the hardest hit. The cashier's office looked like a disaster area, as did Desiree's cabin. Desiree's fridge was upside down in the middle of the floor. One bookcase was lying cockeyed in its own place, but a box had somehow managed to get under it! My cabin fared well because I had only moved my things in the night before and they were still all on the floor in the middle of the cabin. A few people had cuts and bruises, but fortunately there were no major injuries. Throughout the day an occasional big one would hit, but fortunately they didn't catch us off guard like the first one.

The weather was so-so for most of the crossing to Hawaii. It didn't bother me. I didn't have time to go out in the sun anyway. I didn't think I was really a shopping nut, but I bought more this world cruise than ever before. Packing it was a nightmare, but I found a place for everything somehow. Now I'll just have to hope for leniency at customs and Delta check in!

Jim let me join duplicate bridge again for most of the crossing. Hal Wagner was my partner all five days and we really had a good game together. Of course there were the Scrabble games with Ann as well, but it's still hard to tell where all the time went. Most people go a bit stir crazy on long stretches between ports, but as far as I'm concerned we could stay at sea another ten days!

What's next? I will be on Vistafjord in June/July for six weeks as Cruise Sales Manager, doing cruises around England/Ireland, the Baltic and North Cape. Later in the summer I will be busy with my land tours and then rejoin Sagafjord as CSM in October when we head for South America again. Next year's world cruise is really long and goes into May. I'm not going to make any decisions on that for awhile - I'll see how the year goes first. Meanwhile, this concludes my 1994 Cruise Chronicles. I hope you all enjoyed traveling the world with me by proxy! Happy Sailing, Over and Out!

Kent Kauffman

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