2015 has been a difficult year and so as recompense for not having been able to travel for much of the year, we have decided to do something rather different, we are going on a Cruise over Christmas and the New Year. We definitely are not "large boat, 24 hour food, nightly shows, casinos, on-board shops" type of people and the thought of being two amongst thousands fills us with dread. So we have chosen the Swan Hellenic line MV Minerva
- it is small with about 350 passengers;
- it has a reputation for (as they put it) "teasing out the ‘what and why and when and how and where and who’, helping to make your cruise an enlightening, stimulating and memorable experience”;
- many of its guest lecturers are on the NADFAS register and we are great NADFAS fans; and
- to quote from the Swan Hellenic website “there are no recreational facilities for children aboard MINERVA and reservations for children are not advised.” Children are lovely but at Christmas they can become a bit of a handful !
The only other time we have been on a ship for any extended period of time was two weeks down to the Antarctic in 2009 and that boat had only about 100 passengers. Hopefully 3 times that will not be too much of a shock.
The published route is:
and the timetable is intended to be:
|21 Dec||BRIDGETOWN, Barbados||In port|
|22 Dec||BRIDGETOWN, Barbados||In port||2.00pm|
|23 Dec||DOMINICA, Dominica||8.00am||10.00pm|
|24 Dec||ST LUCIA, St.Lucia||8.30am||11.30pm|
|25 Dec||CRUISE ON MINERVA|
|26 Dec||TRINIDAD, Trinidad and Tobago||8.00am||4.30pm|
|27 Dec||MARGARITA ISLAND, Venezuela||8.00am||11.00pm|
|28 Dec||CRUISE ON MINERVA|
|29 Dec||BONAIRE, Netherlands Antilles||6.30am||1.00pm|
|CURACAO, Netherlands Antilles||7.00pm||In port|
|30 Dec||CURACAO, Netherlands Antilles||In port||9.30pm|
|01 Jan||CRUISE ON MINERVA|
|02 Jan||SANTA MARTA, Colombia||7.30am||8.00pm|
|03 Jan||CARTAGENA, Colombia||12.00am||In port|
|04 Jan||CARTAGENA, Colombia||In port|
So seven countries and ten places we have never been to before and know very little about awaits us together with a warmer Christmas and New Year than we would get at home - hopefully we will not put on too much weight although we are already preparing excuses for when we return.
And so a dark Sunday afternoon in late December finds us loading up the car before driving to Gatwick for a pre-flight overnight in an airport hotel before flying off to warmer climes. We are also hoping that the warner weather will help us shrug off the heavy colds which have made us feel quite ill for the past few days. And for once, we are taking one real suitcase on this holiday as well as a capacious soft case for those items for which the risk of creasing does not matter.
Although we have done a lot of research over the past few months, there are still a number of unanswered questions including:
- “Will Father Christmas be able to find us in the middle of the ocean on Christmas Day?” and ;
- “Is there a chimney where we can hang up our Christmas Stockings?”
I suspect the answer to at least one of these questions is “Yes”.