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Balmoral to Mexifornia

Balmoral to Mexifornia

Postby grannyM » 08 Mar 2019 19:30

Update from Hazel 3 hours ago, today, 8th March

After leaving the Panama Canal we should have had a sea day before Aruba. It was a “rough sea” day! It soon became clear that the slow progress would affect our timings. At 5pm the Captain announced that we could not make up the time and so our call at Aruba is cancelled. We will head direct to St Martin where we are expected on Sunday. He did say that Head Office were looking at options so maybe we can call into another island on Saturday? I’m thinking St Kitts or Antigua. Of course, it’s not so simple in a ship....We don’t just find an empty car park. The chosen port has to have an available berth (and this is peak season in the Caribbean). Lots of other factors too, like ocean currents, immigration requirements and whether the Port has enough staff to provide port services.
I have my Port Talks for those places with me so could soon put something together!
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Balmoral to Mexifornia

Postby judgegeoff » 08 Mar 2019 19:44

Unfortunately, when they cut the ship in two and inserted a new section stretching her, they didn't upgrade the engines. Therefore these ships seem to have trouble keeping to schedule, especially when facing heavy seas. We have experienced several late arrivals on Fred. Olsen ships, nearly all due to the ships being underpowered for their schedules.
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Postby grannyM » 11 Mar 2019 11:34

Update from Hazel, yesterday 10th March

Lovely St Maarten....great to see that they have recovered from Hurricane Irma.

StMaarten2a.jpg
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Postby grannyM » 17 Mar 2019 18:58

Update from Hazel, today 17th March

Long posting coming up...

After a lovely day in St Maarten, we leave the Caribbean.
Six days at sea to the Azores ahead.
Day one – my talk on Ponta Delgada.
Day two – final of the boat building competition. Our cabin has looked like a shipyard for the past 5 weeks as Phil prepared his entry. There were only 2 entries in the passenger competition. Phil’s boat was made entirely out of waste material procured on-board. His rival had produced an amazing model of the Balmoral....right down to the tiniest detail. It was clearly the winner in the looks section! But when put in the pool for sea-trials, the cardboard proved unseaworthy and she listed badly. Phil's boat appeared unsinkable, even when carrying a cargo of 10 cans of coke and passing the splash test too. Tense minutes passed as the 6 judges each scored the vessels in numerous aspects. Finally the result- Phil won! We will enjoy a meal in the Poolside Restaurant as his prize. He also won 20Prize Points which he gave to the other guy.
There were also 6 other ships in a Crew Competition. These were amazing.

Day 3 – a former MEP who is a passenger on board hosted a Q&A session this afternoon. Whilst he attempted to remain neutral in the debate, it was quite clear where his views lay. The lounge was packed so clearly this was of interest to many people.

Day 4 – gave my final port talk of the Cruise. Now start thinking about the next set needed...to Canada in May on Saga Sapphire.
Formal night tonight....This is the 7th of 8.

Day 5 – weather is starting to change. It’s cooler and the sea is greyer....UK here we come. Just been to listen to a brilliant talk by Steve King about the stories behind songs (e.g. American Pie and Without You). The latter is a very sad story.
There have been 2 Steve Kings on the this leg on the journey. The afore-mentioned Steve is a DJ and has done a great set of music talks- mainly 1960s.
The other is Steve V King who once belonged to the Drifters. I have seen him before (and watched the show twice in one night then, something I have only done on one other occasion). In Steve’s show a few days ago he wanted 4 men to play the rest of The Temptations during My Girl. Phil went up. Later Phil said to me, why were they being the Temptations when Steve rang with the Drifters?
I said “wouldn’t you rather be described as a temptation rather than a drifter?”
So two Steve Kings and both excellent!

Day 6 – a Country Fayre today to raise money for various charities. It was well supported so I’m sure a good sum was raised.
In the evening we enjoyed a meal at the Poolside Restaurant – delicious steak and an even more delicious desert of a chocolate cup filled with Tia Maria mousse.

End of sea days report! We are now in the Azores.

A quiet Sunday in the Azores
Azores.jpg
Azores 2.jpg
Azores 3.jpg


...And then the sun came out!
Azores 4.jpg
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Azores 6.jpg
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Postby Borneo » 17 Mar 2019 23:09

Also following on FB . Hazel seems to be having a wonderful time. No doubt she works hard at the same time.
We will have Hazel with us on the maiden cruise on Saga Discovery. Can’t wait, so need a holiday. :)
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Postby grannyM » 19 Mar 2019 18:37

More from Hazel today, 18th March

Monday and Tuesday at sea....there have been a lot of sea days on this cruise! Most were part of the itinerary but we have had a few extra for various reasons as explained in earlier posts.
After leaving Ponta Delgada yesterday, we switched into Irish mode for St Patrick's day. There were decorations and green balloons...Soda bread and smoked salmon canapes ...evening entertainment was Roy Walker and wow he went down well.
He has the headline act on my very first cruise over 18 years ago and I have a photo of us both on the bridge of the ship in my “Motion of the Ocean" talk.

Monday ... we are on UK time for 23 hours. After being behind you for the past 2 months, our final port of call is in Spain so tonight we advance our clocks for the 9th time to make us +1.

The drama group put on their second production of the Cruise. An entertaining hour with some very funny moments!

Tuesday and the sea is blue again as we approach the Bay of Biscay. We have been very fortunate with the weather on this trip.
Last night, the Balmoral Company put on a show that they had choreographed themselves during the Cruise. Set in a circus it was very good with some very athletic and daring dance moves. They had also decorated the room to look like a Big Top and we were all given a bag of popcorn as we entered so they had really given it a lot of thought.
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Postby grannyM » 20 Mar 2019 19:20

More Photos from Hazel today, 20th March

Blue sky bonus in A Coruna. Final port of call on this epic voyage!
A Coruna.jpg
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Postby sparkiethecruiser » 21 Mar 2019 14:39

I've been following via fb and it sounds a magical cruise
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Postby grannyM » 22 Mar 2019 09:41

Last message from Hazel, this morning 22nd March

Today's port is Southampton, ahh well it had to end sometime! What an adventure - thanks for travelling vicariously with me.

Thank you Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines for the privilege of being your port speaker. #Balmoral #ilovemylife #portspeaker
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Postby Borneo » 22 Mar 2019 16:50

I’m tempted to say “ you lucky thing Hazel “ but I know luck has nothing to do with it, just shear hard work and determination. Loved reading your blog. It’s like being there with you 8-)
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