Before starting my travel blog, I used to send travelogues of my journeys by e-mail to my friends and family. I saved some of those e-mails as a travel journal to look back on, so I thought I would share some of those with you.
The following are excerpts from a north trans-Atlantic crossing from Europe:
What a cruise it has been! The ship (Crown Princess) is beautiful and quite similar to
the ships I was on last spring and fall; too big for my taste, but nice. The food, staff, cruise director, entertainment, and our PASSENGER cabin are all wonderful! Yes, they really did give us a passenger cabin this time and it has been so quiet and comfortable.
Our classes have been amazing. These passengers are RABID for arts & crafts! Perhaps it’s because it has been 45 degrees and windy outside on sea days, so everybody is indoors participating in all the activities. Our smallest class was the first day at 57 and our largest class was yesterday at 108! The Princess Patter says our classes are limited to 70 passengers, however, we have been turning away 30 to 40 people lately. The only way we were able to accomodate 108 yesterday was because of it being a 2 day project. So everybody from the first day showed back up to complete their projects and we had a bunch of new people wanting to start. We took over the Crown Grill and had people spread out everywhere! But, it has been fun and everybody has been so appreciate.
So, about the ports…
We have been fortunate that the tour office has given me tour escort for each port. It’s one per cabin, so Mom has been letting me do the “work” while she goes as a paying passenger.
In Dover, we took a tour to the quaint town of Canterbury and toured the amazing Canterbury Cathedral. Then, it was off to Dublin and Belfast, Ireland, where the luck of the Irish was with us! We had amazing weather; sunny and temps in the mid-60’s. Yes, we actually had SUN in Ireland!
While in Dublin, we walked all over the downtown area before joining our afternoon tour to Malahide Castle. It is a beautiful castle that started being built in 1475 by the Talbot family and grew over the years. The Talbots owned the land for 800 years before donating the land and castle to Dublin. The last remaining Talbot now lives in Tasmania and is in her 90’s.
Our day in Belfast turned out to be so wonderful. Some friends of Mom and Linda’s from a previous cruise live in Belfast, so Tom picked us up and gave us a tour of the city. We then met his wife, Lorraine, for lunch, before continuing with our tour. Tom and Lorraine are a lovely couple and we had such a great time!
The highlight of the sights was seeing Belfast Castle, a beautiful castle overlooking the harbor. It was also interesting seeing where the Titanic was built. And, of course, the countryside around Belfast is absolutely green and beautiful.
The most interesting thing about Belfast was the culture surrounding the Catholic- Protestant divide. The violence finally ended in 1999, but the neighborhoods are still strictly divided. The murals depicting the battles were quite interesting…
By the way, the flag of Ireland (Southern) is quite interesting when you hear the meaning. The green represents the Catholic community, the orange represents the Protestant community, and the white in the middle represents the peace between the two communities. Northern Ireland is still part of the UK and has the Union Jack on their flag.
We missed our stop in Iceland due to a storm front we needed to avoid. I was disappointed, of course, but have come to expect that on cruises. BUT, we DID make it to Greenland!!! Can you believe it? It’s a very tough port to make it to (just like Raratonga was in the S. Pacific), but we made it! The seas were glass, the sun was out, and an iceberg was right off our ship as we were anchored in the harbor. I sure shot a lot of photos!!!
Although Greenland is stark tundra, the homes are brightly painted and quite colorful (as they are here, in Newfoundland). Mom and I walked ALL OVER for six hours straight and had a great time! Mom was a trouper and kept up with me the entire time! It was only 35-39 degrees while we were there, but I absolutely LOVED being in the cold, despite my painful frozen fingers and toes! We were just so happy to be there- and have been so happy to be out of the San Antonio heat!