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About Fletcher

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
  • Interests
    travel to far-flung places
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    South Pacific

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  1. Yes, of course. My cruising began in 2003 and to begin with it was always on small ships. And by small ships I mean 100 passenger expedition vessels such as Noble Caledonia's Island Sky and what was originally an Australian-owned ship Orion. I did maybe a dozen cruises on ships like these, going to some of the remotest places on the planet, before I ventured on to bigger ships such as Seabourn and Silversea. Of course I'd like to cruise again but at least Mrs Fletcher and I can look back on our seafaring years and be happy that we went (almost) everywhere we wanted to.
  2. We last went to Venice in February 2019 and stayed a week - it was fabulous and almost empty of tourists. I'm afraid Harry's Bar is precisely the sort of tourist trap we avoid, though we did have an al fresco lunch at Quadri's on the square.
  3. India is currently the third worst affected country after the USA and Brazil.
  4. The UK Foreign & Commonwealth has now issued revised travel guidance, relaxing quarantine restrictions for certain countries and territories but now recommending no cruise travel at all. The official link is here - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/cruise-ship-travel
  5. Thanks Davey for posting that. The official link is here - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/cruise-ship-travel It's basically saying do not book a cruise and no insurance policy will cover you in any circumstances.
  6. As we all know, the Galapagos Islands have enormous significance - Darwin changed our perception of the natural world as well as human evolution and religious superstition. And for that reason I was pleased to go there (only last year, aboard the Silver Galapagos). However, I somehow believed it was to be a creature spectacular but the reality for us was very few species and very few of each species turning up for inspection. We saw maybe a dozen penguins, a few seals, lots of supine marine iguanas, boobies and we had one night of Galapagos sharks, lots of them, circling the ship. If you have been to Antarctica, South Georgia, national parks in Africa, the Pantanal and others, this was a disappointment. We also disliked the way we were herded by the guides - if you hang back for a photo or stray off the path you will be quickly corralled back to the group. And then you might stand in the fierce heat for ten minutes while your guide describes the life cycle of a bug or spider you can't actually see. The landscape we liked. Stark and beautiful in its way. We were on a long South American trip - coastal Peru where we saw more bird life in 10 minutes than we saw in a week in Galapagos. Also the Amazon rain forest and Mashpi cloud forest in Ecuador. Somewhere along the line I caught a virus which prevented me from snorkelling in the Galapagos and I know that many people regard that as the main draw, the big deal, out there. So maybe that colours my perception of the place. I'll never know and I'll never sail on that lovely-looking new ship.
  7. I think Silversea is being mightily optimistic in offering cruises aboard the Origin from next month. The ship does look nice though unlike some other places I'd never go back to the Galapagos.
  8. Brilliant! (I have done that job . . . )
  9. Last night for dinner I made one of our favourites - duck ragu. You make a tomato sauce with a mixture of onion, tinned toms, fresh toms, garlic, chilli flakes, a slug of white wine, some oregano. You cook it then blitz it in a blender. You then roast duck legs until the skin is crisp (or you could fry a tin of duck confit) and shred the meat off the bones. Reserve the cooking fat. You then take some baby toms, halve and season them, and roast in a hot oven until they blister. Then some black olives, chopped, and a small handful of green peppercorns. Combine everything into a ragu and serve with gnocchi or, as we did, with polenta. It's time consuming but quite yummy and comes from a great Italian cookbook called Polpo.
  10. Because it came in thoroughly professional packs of three small plastic bottles - this is saffron threads, not powder - and had exactly the right colour and appearance to be of the finest grade, as it proved to be when I started to use it at home (try adding a pinch to a proper homemade ratatouille). If memory serves our 9 bottles cost something like $50, a third of what it might have cost back home. It was far better than the 'top grade' stuff I bought last year in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Thank you for your interest.
  11. Ponant have just published an extensive description of their new Covid protocols for passengers who book one of their cruises. To summarise - all pax need a signed medical certificate before boarding; daily medical checks on board; pax must wear masks (provided) in corridors and urged to wear them elsewhere; no buffets; contactless dining, whatever that means; thorough medical checks on boarding after shore excursions; loads more stuff to make this a rather unpleasant experience. Seabourn may well be planning something similar. Full details, in English, are here - https://fr.calameo.com/read/00013242371fe0f908d85?authid=ekgNT5Wj7RSN
  12. What I said was this - "I have been toying with the idea of making a return trip from Santiago to Buenos Aires via South Georgia aboard the Quest but I agree the situation at the moment is far too uncertain. I will be closely monitoring the situation." I don't see much of a contradiction and since I wrote that Seabourn has put back its sailings by another month. As I said, I am monitoring the situation. It doesn't look good right now. Affectionately yours, Clueless.
  13. Given that Seabourn (other cruise lines are available) must plan several months ahead, and given the total uncertainty vis-a-vis flights, ports of call etc, especially in the Americas, I really cannot see any cruises being run until deep into 2021. I now believe the Quest's last trip to Antarctica was the Quest's last trip to Antarctica.
  14. I was being slightly tongue in cheek . . . Naff is defined by the OED as 'unfashionable, socially awkward, worthless, rubbishy.' You get the picture. I think the cost of these Venture trips is so high is partly down to the two submarines on board - - somehow they must recoup that extra investment, though in these Covid times it's hard to see them being deployed. I look forward to reading about the first sub to be attacked by a giant squid.
  15. I'm sure there will be some people willing to pay more because of that phoney fireplace. We in the UK tend to snigger at such things. They are rather naff. However, I do agree that the Venture looks rather special and may well be the market leader in the sector.
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