It seems these two chapters were corrupted, and not complete. So, here they are again.
Thanks for the information Lucinda.
Fire and Ice Part 26
Saturday 2nd February – Georgetown Grand Cayman
The clocks went back to GMT -5 during the night. We believe that will be the maximum difference from home.
Early awakening today as Aurora dropped anchors and tender boats as she arrived at Georgetown which is the capital of Grand Cayman. The sun is already shining at 7:00 and the temperature up to 25°C on the balcony.
News from last night:
We did go to watch the Queen Tribute show and it was really good to see it again after many years. Carmen’s was already busy about 45 minutes before the show started, and it was packed when the performance began. One amusing highlight was when one of the male singers stuck his foot through the top of a chair during one of the routines. He fell and rolled on the ground with a huge grin of shock on his face. Luckily no damage was done, and the show continued without a break with him still singing as he regained his feet, and his composure.
After the show we met up with our friends for the syndicate quiz. We were appalling and not far from last. There was a tie break for the two top scorers, and when it was announced that ‘The Glums’ team had lost, there was a loud round of applause and cheers for the victorious team. Sadly, the jubilation was short lived as ‘The Glums’ requested a recount of the answer sheets.
The request was made rather rudely, and upset the question-master, but it seemed they had actually won by a clear point.
Why on earth can’t they check their scores before it got to this situation?
Back to today, and with no tour booked, and no urgent need to get ashore, we had breakfast in the restaurant again. It is a peaceful and simple way to eat, but too tempting to ask for the full English. Today I had juice, Muesli and a couple of croissants.
We were away on the tender by 9:00 and by 11:30 we were back on the ship. The area around the cruise terminal is a huge tourist shop. There are shops selling diamonds, watches, sunglasses and numerous tourist clothing and souvenirs sellers. We looked around several places and put some US Dollars into their economy. It was very hot and humid (again) and we treated ourselves to a delicious ice-cream. This is not something we haven’t done very much on this cruise, which is unusual for us.
Our return ride was on a local sightseeing boat and such a delight to feel the breeze on our faces as we sat outside on the upper deck.
Back on Aurora we dumped souvenirs and new clothes, and cameras were put away for the time being.
It is coming up to lunchtime now, and the thought of more food is beginning to make my taste buds tingle.
Lunch today was a salad for me, and a bowl of soup for Deb. Not a chip to be seen.
The island of Grand Cayman is rather small. It has a main lump of land with a long spur of land at the north western end. This spur forms most of the edge of a bay where Aurora is at anchor. We are sharing the anchorage area with a small cruise ship called the ‘Berlin’. She has less than 400 passengers, and as the name suggests, is a German ship currently sailing out of Cuba.
The island is very flat. There are no hills at all, with trees in the background beyond the city in front of us. The tallest apartments are less than 10 stories high, and the tallest landmarks are the spot lights around the sport’s stadium, and the various radio masts.
It is clean and the buildings are generally quite new (in the city anyway). The people are friendly, and the ones we had any sort of conversations with sounded very Americanised. It attracts a lot of American ships, and we saw one souvenir outlet where an American was creating small metal coin shaped objects with the different state icons. When we asked about British alternative designs, he replied that there needs to be more British ships first. This is Aurora’s maiden visit, and the German ship is only on her second visit.
Well, that is the news up to date for now. We have a violinist in the theatre for the entertainment tonight, but I suspect we might miss that. We are eating in the Beach House this evening as a change from the dining room where today’s menu is less than exciting.
Tonight, Aurora sets off again for tomorrow’s stop at Ocho Rios on the island of Jamaica. We have a catamaran ride there taking us to the beach at the Dunn’s River Falls. There is a chance to swim, and also there is Rum Punch to drink.
Speak to you soon.
Sunday 3rd February – Ocho Rios Jamaica
It was a relaxed Sunday morning with arrival in the North Jamaican port of Ocho Rios at 8:30. We were up just after 7:00 for a cup of tea followed by breakfast in the Medina. We have a tour booked for later this morning that will mean a late lunch, so I was legitimately allowed to have a cooked breakfast.
… before you say “any old excuse” there wasn’t very much on my plate
The first impressions of Ocho Rios is a pretty cove with a tourist terminal on a small patch of land with palm trees. There is a small beach resort with apartments and what looked like a swimming pool. In reality it was a dolphin pool where the confined animals perform at times during the day. Some of our passengers saw the creatures jumping around, but a common view was that this was rather cruel.
Our ship is moored with our side facing the water, although it is spoiled by a cargo ship being loaded (noisily) with sand. There is a 400m long ‘board walk’ from the mooring pontoon, that meanders its way to the terminal.
In the background above the terminal area is a lush green hill with very little space between the roadside and where the hill begins. In the trees are a series of expensive looking houses, that I first thought looked like Swiss Chalets. Sadly, my eyesight is not that good, so don’t take my word for what they really look like.
Our tour doesn’t leave until 10:00 so we have plenty of time before we have to get together our bits. The tour is a ride on a large yacht – probably a catamaran – that is possibly called ‘Cool Runnings’. We will sail a couple of miles to a beach area that is at the bottom of the popular ‘Dunns River Falls’. The tour does not include a walk (or climb) up the falls and Deb and I plan to have a swim in the free time we have there.
Here is a recap of last evening.
We had a lovely meal in the Beach House which was very busy with couples and groups of friends enjoying an evening on the stern deck with delicious food and wonderful service.
After the meal we met up with the others and simply sat in Champion’s. We took part in a quiz of course, and it was about science. We got two questions wrong, and made one silly mistake, so lost again. The eventual winners – yes you guessed – The Glums.
We chatted on for a few minutes, but then called it a day. The early nights are becoming more popular now that we have ports almost every day.
Ah yes, my congratulations to the English rugby team for convincingly beating the Irish.
And to the English cricket team, I just wonder what has happened to this team since last summer.
Back to today. It is 9:00 and the deputy captain has just announced the “We are here, so get off” message.
The weather is predictably glorious with a hazy but virtually cloudless blue sky. He temperature on the balcony is showing 25°C, and there is hardly a breath of wind. The sea is absolutely calm with just wallowing ripples.
Sometimes it is difficult to remember that this is February, and friends and family back home are suffering some awful winter conditions.
We have been at sea now for a month, and our first real exploration of the Caribbean has been sensational. Today is the end of the Caribbean island section of the adventure, and tonight Aurora will be heading South to the Central American Country of Colombia.
But for now, it is nearly time to put on our swimming gear, grab the towels, goggles and water shoes and set off for a morning on, and in, the water.
Once outside the ship the scorching heat was made worse by the humidity that created an instant sweat. A lot of passengers were on tours today, and the gathering point was a mass of people trying to stay in the limited shade. Of course there was also a free WiFi point where others struggled to get any sort of fast service from the overloaded signal.
Earlier than expected our group of about 30 people were gathered and led to a beautiful catamaran called the ‘Cool Cool Runnings’. Soon our trip began and we purred out of the dock area passing Aurora gleaming in the morning sun. The voyage was only about 15 minutes long to the small beach where the Dunn’s River Falls can be found. On our boat we had a safety demonstration of some pretty lightweight life jackets, and then were supplied with soft drinks to avoid dehydration. Music played quite gently in the background as the crew members tried to sell us photographs, T Shirts, and water shoes.
… I don’t think they did a roaring trade.
On the way we passed a very exclusive building with vast grounds of lush green lawns, and even its own waterfall. It was initially owned by the American tennis player Arthur Ash, who sold it to Mick Jagger. He moved on to a house overlooking Ocho Rios, and this property is now owned by the Sandels holiday chain. It is a long way out of our league.
At the beach the group split up into those who wanted to climb the falls, those who wanted to walk up the steps to watch people slipping and sliding on the falls, and those, like us, who just wanted the beach, and a swim.
Initially the sea felt rather cold, but that was where the gushing river water poured into it. Once in the Caribbean Sea properly, it was warm, and the golden sand powdery below our feet. The water was shallow for quite a distance but then became perfect to swim. There were fish everywhere. Shoals of small stripy ones swam between our legs, and it was worrying that we might stand on them. Then there were large ones of perhaps 30cm in length. We even spotted a small transparent one with a long beaked like mouth in the warm shallows.
It was at this point that I realised I had not brought my towel.
The swim had been wonderful, and now I just paddled, or walked on the sand, allowing my trunks to dry naturally.
While waiting for Deb to enjoy an extended swim, I made friends with the beach souvenir shopkeeper. I was his first customer and over two visits during the next 30 minutes (Honest) Dave dropped the price of a selected few things by 50%. He did eventually make a sale, and I now have a vest in Jamaican colours without random pictures of Bob Marley, or logos expressing my love of ‘Jammin’.
Back on the Cool Cool Runnings, we began our return journey, and now the rum punch replaced the soft drinks, and the music was turned up and changed to up tempo tunes to get us dancing. The sail was brought into use. It was delightful with the wind blowing through our hair, the hot sun drying our wet clothes, and colouring our skin.
Yes, I was soon dancing.
The couple of rum punch drinks relaxed my inhibitions (I was pissed) gently swayed and jigged to the music (got carried away and hurt my knee again), and I sang quietly to the music (shouted some very loudly) as the crew encouraged everybody to get into the mood.
It was about 12:30 when we were back at Ocho Rios and walking up the boardwalk to Aurora. We dropped off our wet and sandy clothes in the cabin and grabbed a bite to eat. People we saw said they heard us coming into the harbour, and having heard another boat arriving later, I realised just what a racket the tiddly holidaymakers were making.
The afternoon was spent dozing and reading on our shaded balcony. We watched the catamarans, speedboats, glass-bottomed boats, and even ones towing inflatable rafts with screaming girls. This is a tourist dream area for water sports, or just sailing in the calm waters.
Late in the afternoon with clearer heads, we managed an individual quiz as Aurora packed itself up, and set off again.
This was the last of the Caribbean islands (for now) and Aurora now set off to round the northern end of Jamaica, before setting a southerly course towards Colombia back on the South American continent. This will mean a sea day tomorrow and time to relax again.
In the evening we watched a comedian/impressionist called Jon Clegg. He is another of the batch of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ losers that entertain cruise ship passengers. Our friends said he was on the 2017 World Cruise with us, But Deb and I didn’t recognise him. He was funny, his impressions were good, but almost everything we heard, was similar to acts by numerous other impressionists. We are not sure if we will watch his second show.
There was also a deck party outside by the pool. We did pass through it, but the wind had got up a little, and we were both tired.
It had been one of the very special days of this cruise. It wasn’t just down to the rum punch either, the people of Jamaica are friendly and the experience of the catamaran and the quiet beach had been superb.
After a day at sea we will be arriving in the port of Cartagena in Colombia. We had a bad tour experience here in 2017, and hence have not booked anything this time. This will herald the next phase of the cruise as we visit a number of Central American countries, and we have a number of potentially exciting experiences booked.