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MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby judgegeoff » 02 Jun 2020 08:27

SOUTH PACIFIC CRUISE – April/May 2008

In April 2008, to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, together with our best friends, Arne and Sue, Chris and I embarked on our holiday of a lifetime. We flew to Singapore for a few days, then on to Sydney, Australia., where we spent a further 7 nights. We then embarked on the “Sapphire Princess” cruise ship which was doing a relocation cruise from Sydney to Los Angeles, USA. We visited Melbourne, then Tasmania, then several places in New Zealand and then across the South Pacific ocean, visiting many lovely islands. Disembarking in Los Angeles, we hired a car and drove to Las Vegas where we spent a further 3 nights before returning to Los Angeles and flying back to the UK.

Our final Itinerary

03/04/2008 Fly to Singapore
04 – 07/04/2008 Singapore
07/04/2008 Fly to Sydney
07 – 14/04/2008 Sydney
14/04/2008 Embark on “Sapphire Princess”
15/04/2008 At sea
16/04/2008 Melbourne, Australia
17/04/2008 At sea
18/04/2008 Hobart, Tasmania
19 - 20/04/2008 At sea
21/04/2008 Fjordland cruising, New Zealand
22 – 23/04/2008 At sea
24/04/2008 Auckland, New Zealand
25 – 26/04/2008 At sea
27/04/2008 Suva, Fiji
27/04/2008 At sea (2 Sunday the 27ths as we crossed the International Dateline)
28/04/2008 Pago Pago, American Samoa
29/04/2008 At sea
30/04/2008 Raratonga, Cook islands
01/05/2008 At sea
02/05/2008 Bora Bora, French Polynesia
03/05/2008 Papeete, Tahiti
04 – 07/05/2008 At sea
08/05/2008 Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands
09/05/2008 Hilo, Hawaiian Islands
10 – 13/05/2008 At sea
14/05/2008 Disembarked ship, drove to Las Vegas, USA
15 – 17/05/2008 Las Vegas, USA
17/05/2008 Drove to Los Angeles and flight to UK
18/05/2008 Arrived back in UK.


++++++++++++++++++++++++


Day 1 – Wednesday 2nd May 2008

After lunch at home we drove to Arne and Sue’s house in Ashford, Kent, parked our car in their drive and then transferred our suitcases to the car that Arne had hired. We drove to the ‘Cottage Guest House’ at Cranford, near Heathrow Airport, where we had booked 2 rooms. After dropping off our suitcases and freshening up, we drove to a nearby ‘Tesco’ store where we bought a couple of items and had a coffee in their cafe and then returned to the guest house. In the evening we walked across the road to the ‘Queen’s head’ pub where we had dinner (I had one of my favourites – steak and ale pie).

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Our hire car outside the ‘Cottage Guest house’ at Cranford.

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The ‘Cottage Guest House’

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The ‘Queen’s Head’ at Cranford.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Day 2 – Thursday 3rd May 2008

After a really good cooked breakfast at the guest house we checked out and drove the short distance to the ‘Avis’ car hire depot at Heathrow Airport and dropped off the hire car. We checked in at the Airport and then went into the Departure Lounge to await our flight. Our aircraft was a brand new double-decked Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 and we boarded her and departed on schedule.

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About to board the Airbus A380 at Heathrow Airport.

We had outside seats on the top deck, towards the rear, where the configuration was 2-4-2, so just the two of us sat together (Arne and Sue were sat behind us). We had much more legroom than normal, a 10.7” on-demand LCD television each and also had a large locker below the window (as well as the usual overhead locker) that was very useful for storing the blankets and pillows, books and clothes etc.

The flight was very quiet and smooth and the Singapore Airlines cabin staff were wonderful – the service was impeccable – we even got ‘Kit Kat’ bars and ice creams during the night flight. It was quite the best aircraft we had ever flown in and was much quieter than any other.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Day 3 – Friday 4th May 2008 – Singapore

We touched down in the lovely Singapore Changi Airport just ahead of schedule and, after clearing Immigration and Customs, we made our way to the Arrivals Hall to meet our driver – but nobody was there to meet us. The ‘Help Desk’ were very helpful and phoned the ‘Tour East’ company with whom we had arranged transport and, about 20 minutes later, our driver appeared, full of apologies.

We were driven to our hotel, the ‘Swissotel Merchant Court’, but our rooms were not ready, so they put us into their ‘Hospitality Suite’. This had a w.c. and shower, a washing machine (?) and a few chairs, but was not the nicest place to wait. So we decided to go and sit by the hotel’s pool and have a cool drink. The hotel was right on the banks of the Singapore River overlooked Clark Quay, a dining and entertainment area, on the opposite side of the river. When our rooms were ready we were taken up to them and they were very pleasant and comfortable. For a light lunch we ate in a nearby ‘Subway’ sandwich bar.

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Our hotel in Singapore, the ‘Swissotel Merchant Court’.

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Another view of the hotel from Clark Quay.

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Clark Quay as seen from the hotel room.

As we had travelled all ‘night’ (difficult to keep track with so many time zone changes) we decided to have a sleep in the afternoon and, although Chris slept, I could not, so went to have an explore of Clark Quay and look for somewhere suitable to eat for later. I returned to the hotel to collect Chris and then we ate at an outside table of a very nice restaurant on the bank of the river. After the meal we walked the full length of Clark Quay until we reached Boat Quay, where there seemed to be even more restaurants and bars. We returned to the hotel and slept very well that night.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Continued tomorrow ……………….
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise

Postby Gillzajoker » 02 Jun 2020 10:20

My Sapphire South Pacific cruise was the other way round - LA to Australia, visiting all
the ports you list, but also included Moorea, which was my favourite, ahead of Bora Bora
and Tahiti.
Emirates and Singapore airlines are my favourites, also, and have always enjoyed my
journeys with either. And Changi fully deserves it's title of the best airport in the world.

A few times I have had cruises that either started or ended in Singapore, with a 2 or 3
day hotel stay, and it's a wonderful place to explore, especially Clark Quay and the fantastic
Gardens. :D
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MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise

Postby judgegeoff » 02 Jun 2020 11:54

Gillzajoker wrote:My Sapphire South Pacific cruise was the other way round - LA to Australia, visiting all
the ports you list, but also included Moorea, which was my favourite, ahead of Bora Bora
and Tahiti.
Emirates and Singapore airlines are my favourites, also, and have always enjoyed my
journeys with either. And Changi fully deserves it's title of the best airport in the world.

A few times I have had cruises that either started or ended in Singapore, with a 2 or 3
day hotel stay, and it's a wonderful place to explore, especially Clark Quay and the fantastic
Gardens. :D

Thanks for joining us on the journey Gill. :thumbup:

You were more sensible than us Gill, and I guess that you were on the repositioning cruise also but in the opposite direction. Because we were travelling from Sydney to Los Angeles we had to put our watches and clocks an hour forward on numerous days, thereby losing an hour's sleep. You, being wiser, would have had an extra hour in bed those days. Going through the international dateline was an odd experience - we went to bed on Sunday night and, when we woke up the next day, it was the same Sunday morning again. On the other hand, you would have lost a day - i.e. gone to bed Sunday (say) night and woken up Tuesday morning. The cruise company had the cheek to charge us for both Sundays! :lol:
Geoff

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"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby judgegeoff » 03 Jun 2020 08:01

Day 4 – Saturday 5th April 2008 – Singapore

After an excellent buffet breakfast in our hotel, we were picked up by a pre-booked tour bus at 8:30 am and taken on the first of our two tours. After visiting several other hotels to pick up other tourists, they drove to the old Colonial area of the city and we stopped to see the ‘Merlion’, a half lion and half fish statue that sits on the side of the Singapore River, guarding the city.

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The ‘Merlion’, the symbol of Singapore.

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The ‘Merlion’, half lion and half fish.

Our next stop was the city’s Chinatown where we visited a Chinese Temple that was very interesting.

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Entering the Chinese Temple.

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Inside the Temple

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Ornate carvings on the roof.

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Breathtaking workmanship.

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Incense sticks burning.

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Back on the coach, we passed a very ornate Hindu Temple

We were then taken to the Botanical gardens where we were issued with tickets to enter the famous Orchid garden where there were many beautiful and rare plants. We only had 30 minutes there, which wasn’t really long enough, and we managed to lose one passenger there before we carried on with the tour.

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At the Botanical Gardens.

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Beautiful orchids

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These orchids looked like thin bananas!

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Delicate orchid.

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Fantastic colours.

We passed a lot of Embassies and then stopped at a Gemstone Factory where they made very colourful gemstone pictures, although they were rather garish and not really to our taste.

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Gemstones.

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Gemstone pictures for sale (but not to us!).

We were returned to our hotel at about 12:45 pm and then decided to walk to Orchard Road, the famous shopping area. It was quite a long walk and very hot and humid and, when we got there, we found it was very crowded. We ate a late lunch in a food court there and then split up from Arne and Sue and Chris and I walked back to the hotel.

In the evening, together with Arne and Sue, we walked to Chinatown and enjoyed walking through the narrow streets that were packed with shops and stalls of every description.

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Vibrant Chinatown.

Chris and I were feeling hungry, so we split up from our friends and went to a ‘Hawker Centre’ for dinner. Singapore has taken all their mobile street food stalls off the streets and concentrated them in ‘Hawker Centres’ (similar to our markets), to be able to regulate them. But we did not fancy any of the (very) local food, which mostly seemed to be based on the parts of the chicken that we don’t eat, I found it rather off-putting to see a chicken's foot sticking out of my bowl! So we went to a seafood restaurant down by the river where we had a fantastic (if Europeanised) meal. We then walked back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Continued tomorrow …………..
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby Gillzajoker » 03 Jun 2020 11:08

Oh, just loved those photos of places I visited a while ago, Geoff. Chinatown is an amazing
place, and I loved all the temples, although the incense did make me cough a bit. We also
did a river cruise there, passing the famous Merlion. I gave Orchard Road a miss, because I
don't like shopping, and especially not interested in all the 'high end' stores, where most of
the stuff is made in the same Asian sweat factories as cheap and cheerful gear. To be one
of the 'in' people, I did visit Raffles and threw the obligatory peanut shells on the floor, but
refused to be scammed for a Singpore Sling at €35. (I'm a Yorkshire lass!). :D
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MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby judgegeoff » 03 Jun 2020 11:34

Gillzajoker wrote:Oh, just loved those photos of places I visited a while ago, Geoff. Chinatown is an amazing
place, and I loved all the temples, although the incense did make me cough a bit. We also
did a river cruise there, passing the famous Merlion. I gave Orchard Road a miss, because I
don't like shopping, and especially not interested in all the 'high end' stores, where most of
the stuff is made in the same Asian sweat factories as cheap and cheerful gear. To be one
of the 'in' people, I did visit Raffles and threw the obligatory peanut shells on the floor, but
refused to be scammed for a Singpore Sling at €35. (I'm a Yorkshire lass!). :D

Thanks for your kind comments Gill.

We did return to 'Raffles' on our 2010 holiday but, like you, we were not prepared to pay so much money for a cocktail. That evening we returned to Chinatown and I had a chilli crab meal with dessert and a complimentary 'Singapore Sling' and the whole meal cost me the same as a 'Raffles' Singapore Sling.

I wore an old 'sacrificial' shirt for my chilli crab meal! :lol:
Geoff

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MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby judgegeoff » 04 Jun 2020 07:57

Day 5 – Sunday 6th April 2008 - Singapore

Chris had lived in Singapore as a child (1952 to 1958) and so was keen to visit some of the places that she remembered from those days.

Image
Chris in Singapore at the Coronation celebrations in 1953…………….

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……...and returning to Singapore in 2008.

This morning, after breakfast, Chris and I walked to the old Padang District where all the Civic Buildings and Courts of Justice were located. They are very imposing buildings grouped around a large sports field and St. Andrews’s Cathedral.

Image
Chris by the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles, administrator and founder of the port city of Singapore.

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The Padang District, Singapore.

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The Victoria Theatre at the Padang.

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The sports field at the Padang. Chris remembers rugby and cricket matches here.

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St. Andrew’s cathedral from the sports field.

From the Padang area we walked to the nearby iconic ‘Raffles Hotel’ which Chris remembered and where we planned to have a ‘Singapore Sling’ cocktail in the famous bar there.

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The lovely ‘Raffles Hotel’.

Unfortunately the bar was not open (it was too early), so we had coffee and tea in the hotel – nice, but not what we had gone there for.

After our refreshing drinks we walked back to the river and decided to take a ‘bumboat’ ride along the river. The ‘bumboats’ were traditionally used to transport people and goods to/from the larger ships, but are now used as pleasure boats and water taxis.

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‘Bumboats’ on the river.

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They will never replace cruise ships!

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On the Singapore River.

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Old trading houses along the river (‘Chop Houses’) are now mostly restaurants and bars.

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We got a different view of the ‘Merlion’.

We enjoyed our ‘Bumboat’ ride, it was a nice way to view the city. Afterwards we returned to our hotel, stopping en-route for a quick sandwich, had a shower and change of clothing, as we had pre-booked an afternoon tour with Arne and Sue.

At 1:30 pm we were picked up by a minibus and taken to a ‘hawker Centre’ where we transferred to a large coach for our ‘East Coast and Changi’ tour. The first place we stopped was a Malay Kampong (village) area, but we were very disappointed as we had expected a village on stilts and they had taken us to a brick-built modern shopping and residential area. We visited a Mosque which was quite interesting and then looked at the shops. Not a good start!

From the Kampong we were taken to Changi Jail Memorial and Museum, which was very interesting but a little sobering. The Museum detailed the daily routines of the Allied prisoners of the Japanese during World War 2 and is a terrible testament to the possible inhumanity of man to man.

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The entrance to the Changi Memorial.

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The outdoor memorial Chapel, dedicated to the Allied prisoners who died in the camp.

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The Chapel is a replica of one that was in the Changi Prisoner of War Camp.

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The simple altar. I remembered a late friend of mine who had been imprisoned at Changi.

On the way back to our hotel we passed the current Changi prison which looked a really grim place to be in residence.

In the evening we all took a walk along the river looking at all the restaurants and finally settled on one where we had an excellent meal. We then walked back to our hotel, had a drink in the lounge and then had an early night as we were due to fly to Australia the following morning.

We had enjoyed our few days in Singapore immensely and it had revived some treasured memories for Chris. The people were really nice and the city was spotlessly clean and very well run.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Continued tomorrow …………………..
Geoff

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"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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Re: MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby Camela » 04 Jun 2020 11:37

It is always nice to go to places with memories and remember how you saw them as a child.
"Won't you let me take you on a sea cruise"
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Re: MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby rdw123 » 05 Jun 2020 07:39

Enjoying travelling with you Geoff. Thanks for letting me tag along.
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MEMORIES (No. 2) - "Sapphire Princess" Pacific cruise 2008

Postby judgegeoff » 05 Jun 2020 08:19

Day 6 – Monday 7th April 2008 - Singapore to Sydney

We had breakfast at 6:30 am and then, just as we finished, our transport from the tour company called to drive us to Changi Airport. Our Singapore Airlines plane was a Boeing 747 which seemed quite ancient and very noisy compared with our previous Airbus A380 plane. We were a bit late taking off and, subsequently, we were a little late arriving in Sydney. It seemed no time at all after leaving Singapore to reach the Australian coast, but then we seemed to be flying over Australia for a very long time – the flight was actually 7½ hours duration. When we landed at Sydney the pilot advised us that one of the passengers was ill and requested that we stay seated until they were attended to by Australian medics – so we were even later getting off the plane.

We cleared Sydney Immigration and Customs fairly quickly and then took a 20 minute taxi ride to our hotel – the ‘Marriott Circular Quay’. We had a very nice room with a huge king-sized bed which had no less than 9 pillows! We had chosen this hotel because its location was brilliant, being within walking distance of nearly all of Sydney’s attractions.

Image
Our huge bed at the Marriott Circular Quay hotel. Quite a climb for Chris!

It was quite late by the time that we had settled into our rooms, we were hungry, so we asked the hotel’s Concierge who directed us to a restaurant en-route to the Opera House. In the restaurant, three of us had soup, Arne and I had a piece of lemon meringue pie each and we all had a drink – and the bill came to A$94 – around £40! We had paid a heavy premium because of the location of the restaurant and we decided to find more reasonable places to eat in future. We walked back to our hotel, no longer hungry, but a little poorer.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Day 7 – Tuesday 8th April 2008 – Sydney

Right next to our hotel was a small cafe and next to that a Post Office which was handy for postcards and stamps etc. This morning Chris and I went down to the little cafe for breakfast – I had a huge cooked full breakfast with coffee and Chris had a bacon and egg roll with a pot of tea – and the whole meal cost only A$15 (about £6) – a huge difference from our previous meal!

After breakfast we did a little shopping (to buy the essentials we could not take on the aircraft) and Chris bought some new wraparound sunglasses. The weather forecast for the next few days was not very promising with intermittent rain expected.

Together with Arne and Sue we walked down George Street until we reached the ‘Chinese Gardens’, which were really beautiful and colourful – a peaceful haven in the busy city. We had Chinese tea in the Tea House which overlooked a small lake, teeming with large koi carp and colourful ducks.

Image
The entrance to the Chinese Garden (small fee payable).

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A wedding cart made from jade in the entrance.

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The Gardens were a gift from the Republic of China to the people of Sydney.

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The lake………

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…...teeming with koi carp.

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A waterfall into the lake.

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A circular portal with a man in traditional Chinese robe.

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A pagoda in the gardens.

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A Chinese bridge over a stream.

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Inside the Tea house.

After viewing the gardens we returned to our hotel.

In the evening we walked down George Street, towards Darling harbour, and found a nice restaurant but it was very noisy inside (loud music), so ate at a table outside and had an excellent meal. After the meal we walked back to the hotel and retired to bed.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Continued tomorrow ……………..
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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