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Everything posted by GeorgeCharlie

  1. We visited St. Petersburg in June 2019 for two days while on a Baltic cruise on board the Zuiderdam – our last cruise before Covid!😡 We took a small group tour through ALLA Tours, which covered some of the regular highlights. The main attractions of St. Petersburg are its museums and churches. As I recall we visited Catherine Palace, Peterhof summer estate, Hermitage Museum, Church on the Blood (currently functions as a secular museum, and Saint Isaac Cathedral, which also primarily functions as a museum with occasional church services. Overall, we found St Petersburg to be a very beautiful place to visit. Unfortunately, neither of us are much for museums and, although the museums have many spectacular things to see, after spending many hours shuffling from room to room in heavy crowds, the experience soon became mind numbing. We much prefer a brief overview and then moving on to other sights. Putting booties on to protect the floors. The crowds inside were made that much worse due to each tour group having to wait their turn to get your tour guide presentation of the major attractions. A tour guide talking about the history of a particular picture. While other groups waited their turn. You must be reasonably fit as there are many stairs you have to use as these building a massive in size and each floor has very high ceilings. Our group had a couple of people who had to wait in the entrance way for an hour or two as the rest of us did the tour. Some general pictures of some of the items we saw and not in any particular order. The major museums (Hermitage and Catherine Palace) were places where taking a organized tour that provided direct entry was of great value. Really felt sorry for the people who had to wait for hours outside in the 35 C (95 F) hot and humid weather in hope of getting in. Our guide said most would never make it in! Our 2-day tour also included lunch both days. Also included was a bus tour of the downtown area, along with boat ride, which provided a very interesting city tour from the water angle. Of course, each day ended up with a visit to a souvenir store. On the evening of the first day, we took the optional Russian Folkloric Show. We also got to ride their famous Metro (subway). They have some of the longest escalators in the world, which can take up to 3-4 minutes to ride.
  2. We visited Santorini in 2012 onboard the Nieuw Amsterdam. Santorini's primary industry is tourism, particularly in the summer months. Agriculture also forms part of its economy, and the island sustains a wine industry. The dock used by the tenders. View from the ship showing the tender dock at the bottom right; the zigzag stairs; and the cable car building at the bottom centre; with Santorini’s principal city, Fira, at the top. You can also ride a donkey. View showing the cable car route up the hill. We used the cable car to get both up and down, but we did take a picture of the final few steps of the stairs. Our congratulations on the people who were able to either climb, or descend, the entire way on the stairs. There were flowerpots on some of the streets. There seemed to several places offering terrace views of the area. One of the bus stop shelters. There is regular bus service that links Fira to most parts of the island. Departing the island, we sailed past Skaros Rock, a prominent landmark located just north of Fira. Originally the location of medieval fortifications, it remained a prominent settlement until the Santorini volcano became active and began to erupt in 1650. This eruption caused several strong earthquakes which collapsed part of the town into the sea. The volcano continued to go through periods of activity, erupting from 1701 to 1711 and again from 1866 to 1870. The 18th century eruptions were notably impactful, as they caused most of Skaros' residents to move to Fira or the nearby village of Imerovigli. The old Venetian fortress subsequently fell into disuse, and by the early 19th century consisted of only a few weathered ruins. Skaros as seen in a sketch by Thomas Hope dating to the 1790s. Internet picture as to what Skaros Rock looks like today. A sad side note from a cruising point of view. The cruise ship MS Sea Diamond operated by Louis Hellenic Cruise Lines ran aground on a well-marked volcanic reef within the caldera and sank in April 2007. The 1,195 passengers, mostly Americans and 60 Canadians, were initially all reported to be safely evacuated. But later, it was reported that two French passengers, Jean Christophe Allain, aged 45, and his daughter Maud, 16, were missing and presumed dead. Allain's wife said her cabin filled with water when the ship struck rocks and that she narrowly escaped. She was not sure whether her husband and daughter made it out because the events happened so suddenly. Her son was on deck at the time and was evacuated safely. The family were accommodated in cabin 2014, an outside standard cabin on the starboard side of the vessel on deck 2, the lowest passenger deck. Internet picture of the accident. A video: Sinking of Sea Diamond - YouTube After the sinking there was much demand from the residents of Santorini for the wreck be raised and removed. Further questions were posed but never answered as to why the ship was moved to deeper water to be allowed to sink in the first place. In May 2011, the Greek government claimed that removing the Sea Diamond would be "too costly" and said that the 150-million-euro cost of raising the ship should be the responsibility of the insurers and company that owned the ship. The latter two have no plans to raise the ship, however. In October 2017 the Merchant Marine Ministry of Greece announced the wreck will be raised, out of environmental and navigational concerns. It is an artificial reef for now.
  3. Some of the containers still onboard the ship are now on fire.
  4. We Visited Adelaide while on a cruise in 2013. Seeing it getting late in the day, I’ll just quickly post a few pictures with short comments. The first are from Hahndorf, where they had a car rally which included several interesting cars. Noticed this restaurant, although I’m not sure about eating at a place which features a horsehead!! Another place we visited was a private ‘Joey’ rescue centre, which was very interesting. The lady running the place keeps the young joeys in her house where she lets them sleep in homemade sacks, which she has hanging throughout the house. Some of our group even got put to work when it was feeding time. Outside she has several pens where she keeps the older ones. Without a doubt this stop was the one everybody in our tour group raved as being the best.
  5. The Elliott Advocacy website is a good place to find various companies contact info. HAL's contact info page: https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/holland-america/
  6. I woke up grouchy this morning – but I told her to go back asleep.😈
  7. Thanks to all who are posting pictures and comments on todays port. Scheduled to visit it next fall on our 31-day South American cruise onboard the Oosterdam. 😎
  8. Here's an interesting link to some coverage of last nights spectacular aurora borealis from a local news station. Spectacular aurora borealis takes over the North American night sky | Globalnews.ca It was some of the best I've seen.
  9. We visited Kirkwall/Orkney Islands in 2019 on board the Zuiderdam (our last cruise before COVID).😣 Orkney is an interesting place to visit, especially if you enjoy visiting historical sites. The islands have been inhabited for at least 8,500 years and time has left its marks - with Bronze Age man, Iron Age man, Vikings and World Wars having all left their runes. From the oldest houses in Europe, the Knap of Howa, situated on Papa Westray, to the Neolithic village of Skara Brae. From standing stones and circles, an enigma left by the people of the bronze age throughout the islands. To iron age brochs; ancient fortresses designed to safely house their people from attack. We didn’t visit any of these sites, but here is some internet information on the Broch of Gurness. The remains of the Broch of Gurness are found on an north-eastern shore of the Orkney Mainland, at a place known as Aikerness, in the parish of Evie. Overlooking the body of water known as Eynhallow Sound, the site offers spectacular views across to the uninhabited island of Eynhallow and the larger, hilly, island of Rousay. Given the defensive nature of the broch, a visitor can immediately understand the strategic positioning of the structure. From Viking runes left in the tomb of Maeshowe and the Viking-built St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. To the Churchill Barriers; massive walls/bridges built between islands to prevent submarine attack in the Second World War. We didn't get any good pictures, so here's one from the internet. I copied this from my review of our 2019 Highlands cruise on the Zuiderdam. If you are interested, my review contains many more pictures and comments on what we saw during our excursion. The review is here. The part covering Orkney starts at post #162.
  10. We visited Nafplion during our 2012 cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. Nafplion is more commonly called by its Greek name, Nafplio. The name is the remnant of the old venetian name Napoli di Romania, from the Greek "nea poli"="new town" of Romania, the name of the area during the late byzantine times. It is a coastal city located in the Peloponnese in Greece that is the capital of the regional unit of Argolis and an important touristic destination. Founded in antiquity, the city became an important seaport in the Middle Ages during the Frankokratia as part of the lordship of Argos and Nauplia, held initially by the de la Roche following the Fourth Crusade before coming under the Republic of Venice and, lastly, the Ottoman Empire. In 1829, after the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire, Nafplio was chosen as the first capital of the new-founded state. In 1833 the capital moved to Athens, the town remaining capital of the prefecture. It is interesting to note that the first King of Greece was a Bavarian prince, who ascended the newly created throne of Greece at the age of 17. This was a tender port, with the tender passing by the Bourtzi Castle, built on a tiny islet. The Venetians built it in the 15th century, and it’s a textbook example of the fortified defence architecture of the time. It resembles something patted out of a child’s beach bucket. From the town promenade, several small boats travel to the island every hour. The Nieuw Amsterdam at anchor, with the Bourtzi Castle islet showing in the upper right corner. Looks like it is about half the size of our ship. At the dock area you could catch the tourist train for the tour of the town. You could also catch rides up the fortress, which is the main tourist attraction for the town. The fortress commands an impressive view over the Argolic Gulf, the city of Náfplio and the surrounding country. There are 913 steps in the winding stair from the town to the fortress. However, to reach the top of the fortress there are over one thousand. Locals in the town of Nafplion will say there are 999 steps to the top of the castle. One of the tour busses at the fortress parking lot. Tourism emerged as an important economic activity following the Greek Civil War, and Nafplio became one of the first areas to develop mass tourism in the mainland. Nowadays it is one of the most popular destinations in Greece and attracts a large variety of tourists, with the most coming from Athens and other cities in Greece, followed by many tourists from Germany, France, Scandinavia, Russia, the Balkans and the USA. Due to its architectural legacy, its proximity to the capital, Athens, and its mild and pleasant climate it attracts visitors all-year round, and it is the most popular destination for weekend or one-day excursions. When we were there the town was out in full bloom, including the trees, people, and the shops.
  11. Back in the early 1950's, my two sisters and I walked 3 1/2 miles to a one-room school. In 1955 the County opened a grade 1-9 school in a nearby town, but we still had to walk a mile to catch the bus. The bus ride to town took an hour - when the gravel roads were good. My DW had to walk 4 miles to catch a bus - again regardless the weather!! On the lighter side.🙂
  12. We visited Mykonos in 2012 onboard the Nieuw Amsterdam. Mykonos's nickname is "The Island of the Winds", due to the very strong winds that usually blow on the island. Tourism is a major industry and Mykonos is known for its vibrant nightlife and for being a gay-friendly destination with many establishments catering for the LGBT community. It is also a popular cruise ship port, and it looks like there was at least 3 ships visiting the day we were there. The main dock area where the tenders dock. Being primarily a tourist destination, there are many open air restaurants. And street musicians. There is an abundance of churches because, for many years, the islanders were required to build a church on their land before building a house. At the end of the day, there was the expected long lineup to catch a tender back to the ship.
  13. Alberta's autumn accents. The leaves have turned colour and the fields are still green. Taken last evening from our deck.
  14. At breakfast that morning, due to the heavy seas, the staff had to quickly clear the settings off the tables which were not occupied and place them on the floor for safety - there was a lot of broken dishes. Our cabin attendant said he had eight cabins where the people never came out of their cabins.🤢
  15. Yes we did.😀 By lunchtime we had made it to the southern tip of Greenland. Weather had improved, although still a little windy, the sea were much smoother. Once we got into the Sound it was smooth sailing, with only a few icebergs. The Crow's Nest is always one of the most common viewing spots, especially when it's cold out. People were seated several rows deep. Of course, some intrepid people were out on the decks braving the weather. This is a snapshot of what was showing on our tv. It shows how far we went before we turned around. Here's a picture showing the full length of the sound and you can see we only made it into the western bend of the sound. Even though we only got a truncated view of the sound, it was still a fantastic experience.
  16. The following is the captain’s comments on the possibilities of us sailing the Prince Christian Sound during our fall 2018 cruise on the Zuiderdam.
  17. We were in Sydney mid-week and Bondi beach was busy - at least from our perspective. A couple of pictures from one of the sites we visited. Our ship was at the Circular Quay dock and we had a nice view of the Opera House from our balcony cabin. Although the constant flow of ferries was a little noisy.
  18. Featherdale Wildlife Park is located 40 kilometres west of the Sydney central business district. The Park contains various species native to Australia and is also known to be one of the world’s largest collections of Australian fauna. The Park opened in 1972 as a nursery, lined with native trees and plants, in conjunction with a wildlife park. The Park has won numerous awards, including the best NSW Major Tourist Attraction award in 2005 and 2009. The Park markets itself as Sydney’s ultimate hands-on wildlife experience and when the park recently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and fires that occurred on the southeast coast of NSW, the Park stated that the closures had significant impacts on the animals that were conditioned to constant attention from visitors. Animals and birds of all sizes mix with visitors throughout various sections of the park. It can be a little scary to have a bird also as big as you are to wander along the pathways with you. Some of the smaller animals are just plain cute!! Not one of the koala poses I'm used too.
  19. We were fortunate to be able to spend a few days in Sydney during our 2013 circumnavigation cruise of Australia. It was a B2B2B cruise starting in Auckland, NZ; then over to Sydney where the ship stayed for two full days before sailing on. In addition, when we disembarked the cruise several weeks later, we stayed a few extra days in a BnB just a short distance from downtown Sydney. We found Australia and Sydney a fabulous place to visit. As with most major tourist cities, Sydney has too much to see in a few days, but we did try and get out and see sights away from the main downtown/harbor area. On the first day of our two day stopover on the ship we had a full day independent small bus tour which took us to the Featherdale Wildlife Park, then on to the Blue Mountain Area. At the end of the day, we were returned to Circular Quay by the River Ferry. On the second day we again had an independent arranged tour by a local couple which took us around the outer reaches of Sydney. This couple were fantastic guides and gave us interesting and fun insights into local culture. Over both days we took many pictures, and it will be difficult to cover anything in much detail through this forum. I’ll try and do a quick look at what we have and see if I can find a few which are different from the many excellent pictures people have already posted. Here's a short video I took of the lunch/snack from the second day tour.
  20. Here's an interesting article regarding harbor pilots. Meet the harbor pilots who make $434,000 a year, face high fatality rates, and are responsible for guiding hulking cargo ships into ports | Business Insider India
  21. It was a independent tour we arranged through Fremantle Trams. They called it their Triple Tour, which included the tram tour of Fremantle; wine cruise to Perth; HOHO in Perth; then we could make our own way back to Fremantle by taking either the bus, or train.
  22. The riverboat we took to Perth. Onboard they were giving out free samples from a local winery. Most of the riverbanks were heavily built up with homes. The riverboat dock in downtown Perth. Some pictures from Perth. We took a HOHO bus ride through part of Perth. We got off at the Botanic Garden/Park which overlooks the downtown area. The park included a fair number of unisex toilets. Which in itself is not that newsworthy, but I found it interesting that they had a trailer mounted toilet. I guess if you’re really in a rush they can bring it to you. Also, not to sure about calling them “Splashdown” toilets!! We then caught the train back to Fremantle. Picture of the Fremantle War Memorial taken from the train. The Fremantle Train Station where we got off. If I recall correctly, it was right across the street from where the ship was docked. Perth skyline as taken from the ship. Gives you relative idea of the distance between Fremantle and Perth.
  23. We visited Fremantle/Perth in 2013 on our circumnavigation tour of Australia. Fremantle is a port city in Western Australia that's part of the Perth metropolitan area. It's known for its maritime history, Victorian architecture and remnants from Australia's days as a British penal colony. There was tram shuttle service from the port to downtown Fremantle. We took an independent arranged tour which included a tram/bus tour of Fremantle, Swan River cruise to Perth, bus tour of Perth, and return to Fremantle by train. Places visited in Fremantle included: Fremantle Prison, which housed convicts from the 1850s to 1991, now features re-created cellblocks. Fremantle became Australia's primary destination for convicts. The convict-built Fremantle Prison operated long after transportation ended in 1868, and is now a World Heritage Site. Main prison entrance. The Fremantle War Memorial. The Memorial is located on Monument Hill and overlooks Fremantle Harbour. The memorial itself comprises a large obelisk, the Fallen Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial, surrounded by eight smaller memorials. The Round House. The 12-sided Round House was the first permanent building built in the Swan River Colony. Built in late 1830 and opened in 1831, it is the oldest building still standing in Western Australia, It also briefly functioned as a jail. A photograph from the late 1800’s. Then we were off on the river cruise to Perth. We do have various pictures from our tour of Perth which I can post if anyone is interested.
  24. We visited Cairns in 2013 while on a circumnavigation cruise of Australia. On the first of two sea days, while sailing from Darwin to Cairns - we ended up having to turn back and get closer to the shore, so that medical emergency patient could be evacuated by helicopter. Prior to the arrival of the helicopter, all access to the outer decks was restricted to staff only and they had to prepare the helipad for accepting the helicopter. Coverage of what was happening was available on the cabin tv’s. Some snaps from our tv. Loading the patient. The crew reinstalling the railing around the helipad and bringing a mast up from temporary storage under the pad. There was also a fixed wing plane providing escort to the helicopter. Picture was taken from our balcony while it was circulating the ship. Overall, this event caused a delay of some 12 hours and even sailing at an increased speed for the next day and a half, we didn’t arrive in the Cairns area until midday, rather then the scheduled 7am arrival time. The ship we were on was too large to dock in Cairns, so we were tendered into a small dock in Yorkey’s Knob, which is a coastal suburb of Cairns. It is approximately 13 km north of the centre of Cairns and adjacent to the Barron Falls/Kuranda area. With such a late arrival there was a mad rush to get some of the reef excursions underway. The reefs were several hours away and in talking with some of the people that did go, I guess they didn’t manage to get much swimming in, as they were there for less then an hour before having to return to the ship. On top of that, there was a major cyclone passing north of Australia, which resulted in constant squalls passing through and causing very heavy seas. We had to wait for more then an hour for the excursions to get underway before we could get tendered in. The Skyrail gondola only a short shuttle ride from the dock, so we decided to take a ride on it up to Kuranda. There are several stops along the way where you can get off and take in some of the sights and information displays. The Barron Gorge Hydro-Electrical Station. The Personnel Trolley. The Flying Fox. One of the walkways through the local forest. Crossing the Barron River power plant reservoir. After a short visit of Kuranda, we took the train into Cairns. As several people have already posted excellent pictures of the train ride and downtown Cairns, I’ll just add a couple more.
  25. Haven't been there (hopefully one day😀), but apparently these are seaweed farms. Seaweed and copra are about their only exports - albeit on a rather miniscule scale when compared to the amounts produced in other countries.
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