Fred Olsen logo
My world cruise
5 January - 21 April 2008
with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
on the Black Watch.

This is the first leg, from Dover to Lima.
5th to 27th January 2008

Chaplaincies on Fred. Olsen and P&O ships are organised through the Mission to Seafarers in Southampton.
Mission to Seafarers logo
title picture
After the predictably rough crossing of the Bay of Biscay, we landed in Lisbon. Some folk were anxious to get feet on to dry land, having been thrown about a bit for the previous few days. I'm getting used to rough seas, but my cabin was right above the screws so it got a bit noisy at times.

This is Lisbon city square.
picture of Lisbon city square
The quaint and hilly streets of Lisbon, a city built on five hills. Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal, although this has never been officially ratified. picture of Lisbon alleys
Monument to Henry the Navigator, 1394 to 1460. Henry was the third child of King John 1 of Portugal. He is remembered for beginning the era of European world discovery, although there is as much mythology about him as fact. He probably did less voyaging himself than organising others to do it. Nevertheless, his legacy is that he paved the way for the great explorers. monument to Henty the Navigator
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, with the classic Canaries view of white buildings and terracotta roofs. The Olsen family have a hotel complex here, and run an inter-island ferry, the Olsen Express. picture of Tenerife
The pretty town of San Cristóbal de La Laguna, half-an-hour out of Santa Cruz, and until 1723 the island's Capital. The San Fernando University and the Bishop's Palace are here, and it is the centre of the island's cultural heritage. picture of La Laguna
But like all tourist islands, Tenerife is developing rapidly and the new roundabout seems to symbolise growth even though at this moment not all roads lead anywhere! roundabout in Tenerife
St Lucia is a beautiful island, I'm told, but Castries may not be the best introduction. Castries port
Nevertheless, look away from the containers and it's very pretty.view of St Lucia
In the middle of Castries is a small park, with an attendant who was very pleased to welcome us all. "I am very proud of my town. I look after this park. It is very pretty here. Please do not urinate in my park."
And then he walked away.


Now, where's the loo?
park in Castries
The Atlantic coast of Barbados, very good for surfing we're told. picture of Barbados coastline
"You just have to try a green coconut!" Well, a coconut is much softer in its young green stage than it is when it matures into a hard brown one. Very sweet, and the white flesh is soft. It is said that you could survive on coconuts alone - they have everything you need.
Surprising that he's still got his fingers, the way he's wielding that machete!
cutting a coconut
Up to this point, I'd been to these places on other cruises. From here on, everything's new. Curaçao is a Dutch dependency, and the story goes that a former Governor complained of all the buildings being white. The glare apparently gave him headaches, so he ordered that buildings should be painted in pastel colours. Good decision! Houses in Curacao
The Queen Emma pontoon bridge opening. Normally it's a footbridge across the St Anna Bay harbour entrance, from Otrobanda to Punda, the two halves of the city. Traffic used to use it, but as it's a wooden structure and every section flexible, traffic now has to travel miles to the Queen Juliana Bridge inland.
The Hotel Willemstad at the harbour entrance is (I'm told) the only hotel in the world to be insured against collision with a ship!
swing bridge in Curacao
The Black Watch, the marketplace and the Queen Juliana Bridge. Such an attractive and clean island! Curacao harbour
The San Blas Islands, of which only 49 of the 378 islands are inhabited. The Kuna Indians are in most respects independent of the Panamanian government and the islands are run as an autonomous province. The island we called at was about 200 yards across, with a small church, lots of huts and the remains of some concrete structure. the San Blas islands
This was a disturbing visit for me, a feeling shared by some others, in that I felt very much the voyeur of a very different way of life. The Kuna gather from their islands at whichever island the cruise ships visit, to sell their molas (see the next slide) but also to be photographed. Most speak no English beyond "one dollar" or "two dollar". We could photograph one of them for $1, two for $2 and so on. Fascinating, but uncomfortable. Kuna indians
A Kuna Mola is made from layers of different coloured material, and the design from picking through the layers to the chosen colour. Most designs are of fish. Mine is about ten inches square and cost me $2US. a mola
The Panama Canal consists of a three-stage lock at each end of a 47-mile lake. The lake was created by damming the Chargres River to flood the land, which is rain forest, to provide sufficient water to enable the locks to be replenished each time they open. Four "mules" hold the ship in the centre of the canal while the ship moves forward under its own power.
A mechanical mule. Nowadays the whole process is computerised, so that the centring of the ship in the lock is precise. Some of the largest ships now being built will be too wide for this canal, so an additional set of locks is being planned. a mechanical mule
Alajuela Lake, 47 miles long covering 164 square miles. The passage across, at a speed of about 10 knots, took about nine hours. At least one crocodile was spotted, but I was (almost) never at the right place at the right time to see such things.

For a 90-second trip, go here.
This was the last port on the first leg of the cruise, Callão, about five miles from Lima city. About 200 passengers left here to go up to Machu Picchu and then home, and another 200 having already been there, joined the ship. port of Callao
A study of contrasts. Callão is an industrial area, and this picture was taken en route to the city of Lima. It was a rather scruffy area, especially around the port. Callão
The centre of Lima is like so many other city squares, full of imposing buildings and traffic. This is the Cathedral, and it's like many other cathedrals - rather dark and hushed. Lima city square
But this was a bit of a surprise - an armed guard outside a government building. The machine gun is real!

In December 1996 the Japanese Embassy in Lima was forcibly occupied by the Tupak Amaru Revolutionary Movement during a reception to mark the Emperor's birthday, and hostages were held for four months until the siege was ended in April 1997. So they're understandably a bit twitchy.
armed guard in Lima
And then there's Miraflores, a tourist mecca on the coast just a few miles up from Callão, with huge hotels and lots of dollars. Miraflores
So that's the end of the first leg of this amazing cruise. If you've not got eye-strain yet, try the next leg - Lima to Sydney. Here's the famous bridge (photo taken from the ship!), just to whet your appetite!Sydney Harbour Bridge

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