Day 72. Sunday March 17th. Latitude: 21,18,13N; Longitude: 157,51,51W
We arrived in Hawaii. This was a special day as I celebrated my sixtieth birthday! I went on a special tour in the morning which took me to Waikiki beach, where I walked for a while until my tour boat was ready. This tour boat then took me out to a little submarine, where I and around thirty or so others went on board and we dived to around one hundred feet below the surface. The views were amazing, the water was extremely clear, it was so very special. I had planned this, as I had often been to see fish in aquariums and at such times they were seeing me in my own environment, so it felt only right and proper for me to now see them in theirs. After a while we surfaced and the tour boat returned us to shore and on the way some of us saw a whale as it surfaced – I managed to get a photo of it, although it was a distance away! On the way back to the ship I stopped off at the Ala Moana shopping centre and did some retail therapy, including a visit to the Apple store. I returned to the ship and in the evening, had a lovely meal in one of the specialist restaurants on board with a friend I had made whilst on board. It was a lovely surprise, she had arranged it as a special treat for me! It was a lovely birthday! After that it was a relatively quiet few days for me, though it had to be in many ways because sadly some bright spark had sneezed near me but not covered their nose or mouth, so I caught a cold. Thank you very much – not what I had needed just then! Though I did get to see a lovely sight, as early one morning a school of dolphins passed by us. The sun was shining and the temperature was around 16C, 61F. So it was decidedly cooler now as we headed towards San Francisco. Our clocks continued to go forward as we travelled east. The day before we arrived into San Francisco, during the regular mid-day briefing the third officer had advised us that the seas might be rougher that night and he was correct, in fact the sea was indeed a great deal rougher than I think I had ever experienced on the journey thus far. The winds had been up to force nine or ten at times. Given that I was trying to get rid of a cold, a good night’s sleep would have helped, but it was not to be. From the conversations of other passengers the following day, very few of us slept much that night!
Day 77. Friday March 22nd. Latitude: 37,48,30N; Longitude: 122,24,24W
We were now docked in San Francisco. I was booked on a short tour, but instead I rested as much as possible. I still wasn’t totally recovered, but I was better. I took some photos of the sun as it set behind the Golden Gate Bridge, as that really lived up to its name! The following day was a better one for me, especially as I had caught up on some much-needed sleep. When a good friend of mine had sadly passed away a few years ago, I found myself in contact with a mutual friend and I kept in touch with her. I discovered that she was living in San Francisco with her husband and their two children. Long before my holiday started I told her of my plans and was delighted when I was able to meet up with her, along with her husband and children. So we all met up, I had a really lovely time with them, seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, then having a meal with them at a nearby Italian restaurant. It was a pleasure to meet them all. I had to get back to the ship though, as I was feeling a bit weary. Also, all passengers were required to be back on board by 5.00pm, ready for the mandatory safety drill. This was especially needed as we had quite a few new passengers on board. The following day, after a much needed and restful sleep, I was feeling better. My cold had about gone and the cough was gradually clearing. The sun shone, the skies were clear and it was a beautiful day. Very different weather conditions to those back home at that moment. Arcadia was now heading towards our next port of call in Mexico. The weather was good, the seas calm and everybody, including me, was happy for that. It was getting warmer again too… This day was the eightieth day of my journey but I hadn’t managed to get all around the world quite yet. I had another twenty days to go, but I had been stopping at a few places…
Day 83. Thursday March 28th. Latitude: 15,45,12N; Longitude: 96,7,48W.
After a few quiet days at sea and on arrival in Santa Maria Huatulco, Mexico, it was a lovely hot day, clear skies, bright sunshine! But at that latitude and location, it was perfectly normal! The next event on my adventure would be traversing the Panama Canal, which would be on Sunday. I hoped to post more details of this, I had also let folks at home know about the Panama canal’s live web cams as with any luck they would be working! The following day we were off the coast of Guatemala, the weather was good although a little windy. At 8.00am the temperatures were 28C, 82F. It really didn’t feel like Good Friday, but it was! No sign of any hot cross buns though. It never ceases to amaze me how the sea conditions can change, sometimes in a short time. The captain had warned that Thursday night into Friday morning might be a little rough, also windy, but it wasn’t too bad at all – certainly nothing like the night before San Francisco! Now there was sunshine, light cloud and almost no swell at all, not completely flat calm but almost! The following morning Arcadia would begin its journey through the Panama Canal, I think at around 8.00am local time, around 2.00pm UK time, taking into account that their clocks would have gone forward to British Summer Time. I found the website, www.pancanal.com with free webcams which allowed folks to watch Arcadia as we went through!
Day 86. Sunday March 31st. Latitude: 8,59,36N; Longitude: 79,35,18W.
We were now traversing the Panama Canal. We started through at around 8.00am, guided through each lock by ‘mules’, the name given to the trains that help pull ships through each lock. Another cruise ship, the Island Princess, preceded Arcadia. The transit was completed by around 2.00pm. It was very hot though, at least 28C, 82F, with a high humidity. I discovered that it is high humidity which tires me out! The following day it seemed that most people, including me, were taking it easy, which was a good idea as we had rough seas, force eight winds but still with sunny skies!!! It amazes me how the weather and the sea can change so quickly at times. We would arrive at the island of Curaçao the next day. My thanks to the kind person who sent the following photo to me!
Day 88. Tuesday April 2nd. Latitude: 12,6,36N; Longitude: 68,56,0W.
By 8:00am we were docked in Willemstad, Curaçao and the pre-arranged tours were soon on their way. I had a relaxed breakfast, then walked ashore and into the town. It was hot, but a breeze kept things fairly cool. I found the McDonalds that was widely advertised, but it was extremely crowded and sadly the free Wifi advertised there was not working. I would wait until our next port of call, Barbados, and try to find a free Wifi there instead. By lunchtime temperatures were up to 30C, 86F so I had coffee and biscuits in a Subway shop and then headed back to the ship. Temperatures were still the same by mid-afternoon, and the strong wind was deceptive. I think some were caught out by the heat. The pedestrian swing bridge they have there was entertaining – if a ship wishes to pass through then they simply close the bridge. Then the whole bridge pivots from one end, still with people on it! The ship then passes through, the bridge pivoting back to its normal position and then pedestrian access is restored! If you are on the bridge when it pivoted, then you moved with it. When Arcadia left the port, the swing bridge had to be opened fully – but the tug being used to move us off the berth had a problem with its towing rope. This was soon sorted out, but in the meantime the pedestrian bridge was left open. Even after we had left the port the bridge had not been put back to normal for pedestrians to use, as the pilot boat had yet to return. We then crossed the Caribbean, the seas had calmed a little since the day before although we still had a ‘moderate’ sea state, force seven winds and an average to moderate swell. Occasional showers were forecast but that didn’t stop some passengers sunbathing on the open decks!
Day 90. Thursday April 4th. Latitude: 13,6,6N; Longitude: 59,37,42W.
It was a warm day in Bridgetown, Barbados. At 8.00am the temperature was 27C, 81F and forecast for higher levels. The sky was almost clear of cloud and a lovely blue, there was a slight wind but nothing at all like it had been. I had been busy charging up the various batteries on my phone and camera as I thought I might need them both today. I was correct, I was happy with the photos I managed to get. Then a quiet day was planned, especially after the lovely, busy days in Curaçao and Barbados. Already temperatures were dropping as we headed north-east, but I was hoping that the gradual change would allow an easier acclimatisation to the cooler conditions back home. Even so, where I was it was still 25C, 77F at 7.30am. At mid-day the ships clocks were put forward one hour, putting us to GMT-3. The following day I noted in my daily log that the last time I was in this area of latitude was January 10th, and I had travelled quite a few miles since then! The next day our clocks went forward again at mid-day, putting us just two hours behind GMT and three hours behind current UK time. We were catching up! This time-travel was tiring though. A few days passed and by now it was clear to me that we were moving in a north-easterly direction, as each day the early morning temperatures were definitely dropping. I was getting used to it though, ready for my return home. As we neared Ponta Delgada, at 8.00am the sky was overcast, the wind was south-westerly force 6, the temperature was 18C, 64F and there was a moderate sea state with an average to low swell. At noon, local time, Arcadia’s clocks were put forward one hour to GMT, putting us in line with Ponta Delgada and one hour behind London time.
Day 96. Wednesday April 10th. Latitude: 37,44,12N; Longitude: 25,39,42W.
By 7:30am we were docked in Ponta Delgada, near Portugal. It was raining, and seeing the green grass, wet roads and lower temperatures there was getting me prepared for when I returned to the UK! I didn’t go ashore, but I took a few photos to remind me. Then the following day I was successfully immigrated! To save time when Arcadia reached Southampton, we had a UK Immigration Officer come aboard at Ponta Delgada and they completed an organised, face-to-face inspection of all 2,000 or so passengers against their passports. It was a very good idea, as it would still take time to get off the ship and go through Customs – or UK Border Control as I think they call it these days. The sun was shining and the wave height was around four metres, according to the bridge, so in their words, the ship was ‘moving around a little…’. I would say that was an economic way of phrasing it!!! All passengers were therefore asked to take care when moving around the ship. It was like that the previous night too, but after a while I got to sleep. I was used to it by now. I wondered how I’d manage when I was back home, where the ground stayed still – or ought to! It would feel strange for a while.
Day 99. Saturday April 13th. Latitude: 48,17,24N; Longitude: 7,34,12W.
Our course was 55 degrees, speed 16 knots and by mid-day Arcadia was about forty miles south of the Lizard. Unfortunately, weather conditions meant that there was not much to see as it was raining, with a heavy mist. The third officer had advised that the harbour pilot would be on board tomorrow at around 3.00am – I doubted if I would be on deck to watch, as it would be a bit dark then! All being well Arcadia will be on its berth in Southampton for around 6.00am. I had hoped that, as we got closer to shore, I would pick up a land-based mobile signal, rather than using the ship’s network. However, by around 8.00pm Arcadia was definitely in the English Channel, and whilst my mobile could recognise local networks, I could not connect to the one I needed. Perhaps later. I experienced yet another aspect of sea travel a bit later too – fog! The ship’s siren was sounding regularly, I did wonder if any passengers would complain at the noise? Just joking!
Day 100. Sunday April 14th. Latitude: 50,54,18N; Longitude: 1,25,42W.
We had reached Southampton. Arcadia was securely docked by 7.00am and those passengers capable of carrying their own luggage were allowed to disembark. The rest of us had to wait until our pre-arranged time, mine was not until around 10.30am. However, all passengers were asked to vacate their cabins by 8.00am to allow cleaning and preparation for the new passengers joining on the next cruise. For the staff there was no time to rest, these new people would come on board from about mid-day! I was able to disembark more quickly and easily than I had expected, I was off the ship at 10.10am. I walked straight through Customs, found my cases fairly easily and then joined the queue for taxis. Again I was not waiting long, although some other passengers were complaining – it can be a bit stressful if you’re not sure exactly where you are going… Soon I was at a nearby hotel, where I left my cases etc and walked across the road to the shopping centre for a coffee. A while later I walked to the train station and purchased my ticket for tomorrow. After lunch I window-shopped and then returned to the hotel. I could not buy any more items, my cases had no spare space! As planned, I returned home to Leicester the following day.
This has been my round-the-world cruise, I thoroughly enjoyed it, I saw things and places I never ever dreamed that I would. It has been good for me to share this with you, I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. I plan to write more next week about more recent events…