Yesterday I boarded the Fred. Olsen cruise ship Black Watch for my first cruise of the year – just three days into the New Year – such dedication on your behalf! Regular readers might remember that last January I set sail on my longest cruise to date, 46 nights sailing down to Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. That was but a short trial though, for this year I am sailing all the way to Málaga the long way around – sailing west. Maybe this route map will help explain what I mean:
Yes, I am going to discover if the world is flat (if and when we fall off the edge) or whether it really is round, and whether by sailing across the three great oceans of the world it is possible to get back to the Mediterranean and the familiar port of Málaga.
Everything about this voyage is epic – the duration (107 nights), the distance to travel, the number of ports visited, the cost of the ticket, travel insurance and shore tours – it really is that never to be repeated ‘voyage of a lifetime’. Having said that, I am a bit concerned that my friend Robert is on this voyage too, having done a similar around the world cruise on the same ship, Black Watch, last year. I simply can’t afford for this mega-cruise to be addictive!
As soon as I saw the itinerary for this cruise I was hooked, it was a fantastic opportunity to see so many places I’ve always dreamed of seeing – the Panama Canal, the Andes, Easter Island, New Zealand, Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, Maldives etc – without all the stress and pain of multiple long-distance international flights.
Doing such a long cruise has meant a lot more organisation and planning ahead of sailing though, for example arranging with various friends to be around my house and keep it secure while I am away, and also opening important looking mail and emailing me if required with it’s contents. I’ve also brought much more on board than usual as rather than being onboard for a short holiday, I am now living onboard for nearly four months.
There was also the non-trivial task of selecting shore tours. Usually I get a brochure detailing the shore tours available, but for this cruise it was a weighty book! With the expectation that this will be my one and only visit to the majority of ports on this cruise, I wanted to make sure I got the most out of my visit there. I also wanted to ensure I got to do a whole variety of things over the course of the cruise. After a lot of consideration I’ve booked tours in most of the ports we are visiting, including a 5 day overland tour in South America that goes high into the Andes, meaning I will leave the ship in Ecuador and rejoin it in Peru. As yet I’ve not booked any tours in Oman or Egypt, I will wait to see how things are nearer the time to judge whether I would feel secure leaving the ship in these countries.
Another difference on such a long cruise is that I will need to be extra disciplined when it comes to all the lovely food available almost around the clock on board, if I am still to fit into my clothes by the end of the cruise.
So there should be some amazing and epic sights, scenes and adventures for me to post over the coming weeks and months. Things get off to a gentle start though – this is the first of three days at sea sailing down to the very familiar but lovely Madeira, then a further six days at sea crossing the remainder of the Atlantic Ocean before we reach my first new port of call, Barbados. Those six days will be the longest number of sea days in a row on the voyage.
Since I was last onboard Black Watch last summer, she has spent much of December in dry dock having a major refit. As well has having engines and other engine room equipment replaced following the fire last year, a lot of work has been done both in public areas and in the cabins. Some of the more dramatic changes such as adding a restaurant and moving the pub have caused me to feel slightly disconcerted at first, but I am very much liking the new brighter fresher look to the ship. As well as the new soft furnishings in my cabin, there are other welcome changes such as British style electric sockets, a USB charging socket, fridge and new bigger television. It was very nice of Fred. Olsen to update my second home just before I am onboard for so long!
I booked this epic cruise many, many months ago, but now the secret is out – you know About my Around the World voyage!