DOVER, ENGLAND: 10th July

As the ship landed in Dover and we weren’t heading into London as some were, we walked off the ship about 9:00 am and took the ship shuttle into Dover town centre and caught the local bus into Canterbury for the day.Really enjoyed the countryside as we weaved our way through narrow laneways and hedgerows. 

Canterbury is another of those beautiful preserved towns with a magnificent Cathedral, which was hosting university graduation week, meaning re couldn’t go into the main nave, but for a reduced price we did see lots as this is a HUGE Structure with crypts, a Quire, Cloisters and gardens which flow into Kings School next door.

We had a lovely walk long the river flowing through town where punting takes place, and enjoyed the gardens and open spaces during yet again another beautiful day weather wise.

Strolled through the town centre popping into all sorts of different shops and after a relaxing beer in a pub courtyard headed for the bus back to Dover and onto our floating home.

COBH, IRELAND: 7th July

There may be some incriminating video somewhere of our evening in COBH!!!!It sure was a great evening!!! but more of that later.
Our day started extremely early as we had to do immigration for the Irish government and they wanted us at 6:30 am. As we had a private tour booked for 8 am and not sure how long immigration would take we all made sure that we were ready to leave the ship before 6:30. As it turned out it was very quick and we had over one hour before our scheduled meeting time. I used that time to get my blog posted.

16 of us hopped on board our coach and we were lucky to get to Blarney castle for the opening time of 9 am. This was great as those who wanted to do the castle and kiss the Blarney Stone were able to be the first in line. 

We had been there before and I had decided at that time that I wasn’t going to line up to do the kiss so hadn’t gone up. This time I decided I would climb up as no line to grab some photos and as it then a matter of having to walk past the stone it see petulant not to do it. 

If you haven’t been to Blarney castle, can I highly recommend this gorgeous estate of beautiful gardens to be well worth a visit and leave yourself plenty of time, in fact you could spend a whole day there.
Our next stop was supposed to be to Jamieson’s whiskey distillery but time restraints meant we had to have a stop for lunch before our walking tour of Youghal a lovely seaside village within its walled confines. 

We had three different guides give us different spiels from the clock tower, the town and the church. 

Back in COBH we headed into town and after a walk and a stop on the waterfront for a shared portion of fish and chips decided to head up to the very impressive cathedral on the hill above town. 
Simply stunning! So busy were we that we didn’t notice that the doors had been locked and as we left to exit realised we were locked in!!!

Luckily the caretaker was inside and told us he’d locked the doors to prevent any more visitors and showed us out a side door 🚪 phew 😅.

Back in COBH we headed into town and after a walk and a stop on the waterfront for a shared portion of fish and chips decided to head up to the very impressive cathedral on the hill above town. 

Simply stunning! So busy were we that we didn’t notice that the doors had been locked and as we left to exit realised we were locked in!!!

Luckily the caretaker was inside and told us he’d locked the doors to prevent any more visitors and showed us out a side door 🚪 phew 😅

Back in the town we were called over by friends Matt and Julie having drinks outside a local bar and before we knew it, by the time Paul and Michelle joined us we were quite a party.

NOW what I have to mention is that every year when the world cruise comes in from Australia COBH puts on a big party festival that they call Australia Day. 
So there is lots of music, drinking and eventually dancing. 

Having had a few wee local wines we girls decided it was time to join in.

What a blast, and it seemed all too soon that they were playing the song to forewarn us that it was time to leave for the ship in time for sail away.

away.

 It was the best sail away we have had. The locals lined the port and local water front. Waving us off, shining their phone torches and calling out Aussie, Aussie, Aussie as we’d call back oi oi oi.! 

Thanks Ireland, we had a blast.

LIVING ON A SHIP. Part one

Wherever I lay my hat down, that’s where I call home. Great words from that famous song and so true.Our first impression of our cabin was that of another saying by the three stooges ” we lived in shoebox in middle of road” . Of course by the time we unpacked our four bags and stored them with any additional clothing and toiletries under our beds that three day rule came into play. 

You can get used to most things within three days and as usual that played out to be true and within a few days we were all feeling comfortable and at ” home”.

In fact whenever we come back on board we always have a banter with the staff ” honey we’re home” and they often say ” welcome home honey “.

Our cabin is long but narrow and we made the decision to change the bed from double to singles to give us more room and allow us to put one single bedside table between the beds. This gave us easier access to the bags stored under the beds as well.

We are now very comfortable and it very much feels like our little studio apartment.

Of course there are many many many advantages of living on a ship. No cooking, cleaning and not even having to shop for the groceries is a major bonus as is the one unpack.

Each day there is a patter with all the events on for the day as well as weather forecasts, dress code for the night and other information for the day.

To be honest we check the events for the day and work out our evening plans and don’t normally participate in many of the other events. The weather has till now been so great that we have spent lots of time poolside reading, sleeping, chatting with new friends, swimming and eating lunch there. 

It’s incredible how quick the day can go doing not much at all. 

A normal ship day would usually include breakfast either in the dining room or in the horizon court if we’re late waking. A quick gym session of weights, poolside time and one thing that James has taken up is the ukele in fact today July 6th is the day of the second choir and ukele performance for the cruise. James has also been lucky to meet a fellow guest John who has been kindly giving him some private lessons as well. This has gave James the opportunity to pick up a ukele in Santorini as a nice souvenir and means to practice his new musical skills.
Yesterday was a sea day and our evening consisted of a 6 pm show put on by the sea princess singers and dancers, we then went to the captain circle cocktail party to meet the new captain, ( we managed 3 drinks in the time there) and then it was onto dinner in the dining room and a final show by a comedian. By then it is 10:30 pm and we headed up for a cuppa in the Horizon dining area before bed. 
We are nearing half way through with the end of the second sector finishing next Monday the 10 th of July. We have met quite a lot of lovely people and sadly some of them leave us at Dover to return home and back to their lives. 

Which means that a whole new group of people will embark at Dover and new Friends to meet and make.

We are now firmly entrenched in life on the sea and it seems unfathomable at this point that we will one day pull up at port and it will be our time to get off.

Fortunately we still have plenty of time left onboard to enjoy the great ports coming up. 

One of the most important facets of happy living onboard is the staff that we have. There is no words to express how wonderful they are. We are so so lucky to be spoilt and treated like royalty by all these incredible people who have made their career a life at sea.

LISBON, PORTUGAL : 4th July

Another favourite city from 2015 Lisbon, we were really looking forward to the sail into our dock as the waterfront is fantastic, they have a bridge built by the same team whom built the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and also a replica on the hill beside it of Christ the redeemer in Brazil. Unfortunately just like many mornings in San Francisco the harbour was covered in fog and so was the bridge, and all the surrounding monuments. 

The Belem tower and monument to the explorers were also covered in white as were the surrounding city hills.

We had a full day private tour booked through Cruise critic and we now see the regular same folks on these day tours, and it was a happy 15 people whom were met by Susan and Nono our guide and driver for the day. 

To give you an idea how good the value is on these tours we all paid 59€ each plus another 17€ for entrance fees for a full 8 hour day trip in a Mercedes mini bus which also had quick free wifi and water bottles supplied when ever you needed them.
Our first stop was Sintra an incredible hillside town less than an hour from Lisbon. We had been before but only got to the official Palace in the historical part of the town so we’re thrilled that we were taken to Pena Palace right at the top of the mountain with its glorious colours of red and yellow. 

Red for the former monastery dating back to the 13-14th century and yellow for the addition to the monastery to complete the extremely quirky and unique fantasy building which makes up the Pena Palace.

The story of its building and life as a home is as good a soap opera as any on tv. 
It was a busy day there and the lines moved slowly through the Palace, which to be fair although warm in temperature gave you plenty of time to take it all in and in no way did we feel rushed in fact from being picked up at 9:30 and having 50 minute lunch break back down in the town of Sintra we didn’t leave there till 2 pm.

We then headed to the coastal towns of Caiscais and Estoril for a walking tour through Caiscais and back into Lisbon with a stop to the Monastery where we had also visited on our last trip to Lisbon, but again we had a happy surprise as Susan said we would only be visiting the church and not the cloisters where there was a massive queue. 
What was great was on our last visit we visited the cloisters and when we were due to go through the church they locked the doors as they held mass and we were unable to go in. 

It was then on to the centre of Lisbon city for another walking tour before heading back to the ship for 5:30 pm. 

An incredible day of sightseeing and again we were reminded of how much we want to come back and spend more time here in Portugal.

 We had a quick turn around and grabbed the ships shuttle service into the city with Paul and Michelle to meet Julie and Matt to have a drink in the city and our intention had been to have dinner in there as well. 

We ended up just having drinks and headed back to the ship for pizza onboard before sail away.
We were fortunate that the the mist lifted for our time back in the city and we experienced none at the town of Sintra. 

Tick off another great day. 

SEVILLE, SPAIN 3rd July

Did I mention we love Spain! Seville is another city we look forward to coming back to.We did the ships tour this time as it was the easiest way to get into the city from Cadiz. 

There are always good and bad when you take a large group tour and it’s frustrating when there is so much time wasted on toilet stops ( one was over 45 minutes as there were 7 buses there at same time) and long lunches when there are so many things to see and you know people are missing out on valuable visiting time. Still it was very warm and the sit down in the cool was welcome. 

We saw the same places we had been to in 2015 but we saw more of the gardens of the alcazar Palace this time which was great. 

great. 

great. 

We saw less this time of the Cathedral and didn’t get to climb the bell tower but still a nice visit and it’s always pleasant to stroll the alleyways of the Jewish quarter although it hasn’t really been a Jewish area since sometime in the 15 th century. 
After our lunch with a few glasses of wine, only doable as sitting in air conditioning it was off to our favourite place the plaza which was built for the 1929 exhibition, showcasing each of the regions of Spain. 

BARCELONA, SPAIN. 1st July

What can I say ” we love Barcelona” . This was our third trip here in 7 years and decided to use the hop on hop off buses again and we did both the green and red lines. This showed us a few places that we would like to visit next time we come and I’m sure we will definitely be back and hopefully for a month stay. These two routes took us all day as each was over two hours in length and we only hopped off to enjoy a nice pizza for lunch along with the requisite beer for James and a glass of red wine for me. 
Another stop for a coffee later to also hook onto some wifi meant it was close to 7 pm before we caught up with Paul and Michelle for a jug of Sangria and a few tapas plates before heading back to the ship.

We didn’t take a lot of photos to add to the hundreds we’ve already taken previously 

but really enjoyed seeing familiar places and even sat and had a drink at the same place we had sat with Melissa Porter in 2015 when she drove down to visit us before we took off on our tour of Spain, Portugal and Morocco.
Today marked the change over of Captaincy of our beautiful and friendly Sea Princess and we along with Paul and Michelle and many others will get a chance to meet him at several cocktail parties they invite the guests to.

The last captain was very good looking and we wonder how this new one will stack up in not only the looks department but personality.
Sail away was 11 pm and after four days in a row of shore stops it was no surprise that we along with only a small handful of people were on top deck to watch the ship slide out of her mooring at Barcelona and start the sail to our next stop Cadiz where we are expected to arrive on the 3rd of July. This is the port we will use to drive into Seville, another favourite of ours from our trip in 2015.

GENOA, ITALY 29th – 30th June

GENOA, ITALY 29th – 30th June: This was scheduled as a one day visit but due to bad seas expected on the way to our next scheduled stop of Monte Carlo the captain made the call to overnight in Genoa giving us from 7 am in the Thursday till 3:30 pm all on board the next day Friday the 30th.

They put on coach trips to Monte Carlo for the second day and a lot of the ship took advantage of this including Paul and Michelle. 

We have been before and used the second day to use the hop on hop off bus to go around twice through Genoa and only hopped off once for an hour and a half, giving us a nice quieter day with enjoyment of looking at all the beautiful buildings and squares the city has and wonderful churches , castles on the surrounding hillsides.
Having no rush to be back on that first day gave us the luxury of stress free time being a tourist. We travelled with 10 others on the train to Saint Margharite and bought ferry tickets for Portofino for 50 minutes later at 11:15 am. This gave us the opportunity sit on the waterfront with a coffee and relax. The ferry was a bonus as we had been told they weren’t expected to be running and all the ship tours were using buses, and they were cancelled for the return, we hadn’t bought a return ticket as our intention was to take the coastal walk back to St Margharite after spending time in Portofino.

What stunning little towns both these places are and certainly look forward to spending more time in this area in the future.
We ran into Michelle and Paul in Portofino and arranged to try and catch up in St Margharite if they could leave the tour there, which they were able to and we spent a few more hours there mooching around and soaking it all up before heading back to Genoa on the train.

We can see that Genoa area is a great jumping off port for lots of areas from there, including Monte Carlo, the coast, Turino, and Cinqe Terra.

Anyway back to Portofino and our coastal walk . It was a HIGHLIGHT of our trip, simply incredible to be walking the red carpet all the way from Portofino to St Margharite trees, birds, coastal views, palatial homes and hotels and several little beach areas on the way back made it a wonderful way to spend a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of some of the tourist areas.
We arrived back onboard just after 7 pm happy, and pleasantly tired and after eating in the dining room for the first time in nearly a week we were quite ready for bed by 9:30 pm.
Tick off another fantastic stay in port on our grand voyage around the world in 104 nights.