South America South American Circumnavigation by Sea - Part Two P&O Cruises

5th February - 9th March 2018

Itinerary: San Antonio - Coquimbo - Arica - Callao - Manta - Panama Canal - Cartagena - Aruba - Bonaire - Tobago - Barbados - St Lucia - Martinique - St Kitts - Antigua - Praia da Vitoria

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5 February. San Antonio, Chile. Our second day in port and all we really did was to walk along the sea front to see the fish market and sea lions and then hit the supermarket. We passed a historic steam crane on the way.

6 February. Coquimbo, Chile. Not a particularly interesting place. We grabbed a cab to the nearby town of La Serena, which is supposed to be much better. It was OK, we saw the Plaza de Armas, the cathedral, Santo Domingo church and some interesting old buildings. On our return Coquimbo seemed much livlier, but we just went back tio the ship. There was a Moorish looking tower on the hill, which turned out to be a mosque.

8 February. Arica, Chile. Our final port in Chile and an interesting if dusty day. We started by looking at El Morro, a huge rock outcrop that dominates the town. Then we walked to the Iglesia San Marcos, a church designed by Gustave Eiffel, built entirely of metal (except the door!) and shipped from France. A final walk to the old raileway station, which closed down about 10 years ago. It was one end of a line that only ran between Arica and La Paz, Bolivia. Then into a minibus for a drive into the Atacama Desert, the world's driest. We past a delta full of sea birds that had migrated from Canada. Also a lot of vultures. I've never seen a vulture in water before. We drove along the Lluta Valley. It's a green line surrounded by dull dusty hills. We stopped at Chile's oldest town, Poconchile. There we visited an old church that looked like it was part of a western film set. The church was built in the early 1500's. Behind it was the graveyard. Along the route we passed some pethroglyphs that are thousands of years old. Up into the hills next for a view of both Lluta and Azapa Valleys. Azapa Valley is used to grow tomatoes but is the oddest place to do such a thing. While on the hill we saw more llama petroglyphs and also one of three dancing men. The other two were hidden by another hill. After that we went into a museum to see some mummies. There were three types, red, black and bandaged. The red ones were covered in red ochre. I'm not sure what the black ones were covered in and obviously the bandaged ones were covered in badages! Just like the ones in Egypt. On the way back to the ship we passed another large but very faded petroglyph and called in to the local fruit, vegetable and flower market. It was very interesting and the corn there was the largest I've ever seen. Finally, we went to the top of El Morro. There were a lot of statues up there, including one of Christ. Some nice views of the town and the large bay that it sits on.

10 February. Callao, Per˙. We docked in Callao, the port area for Lima. The shuttle bus took us into the centre of the city and dropped us off at a mall. We were supoosed to meet our guide there. She was a friend of a Peruvian lady Javon and I had met on our cruise last year. Unfortunately, she was unable to come becuae of an emergency and sent a replacement instead. Our first stop was at the Museo Larco. This is located in some old houses and has beautiful gardens. The first couple of rooms are just full of cabinets, maybe 10 feet high and stuffed full of 44,000 pots of various ages. Amazing but dull. After that thimgs got way better. There were pottery, jewellery, textiles and various artefacts from the various groups that had lived in Per˙ (including the Inca) over the millennia. Although some were over three thousand years old they still looked new. Then it was long drive across the city to Plaza San Martin, named after the liberator not the saint. Our first call here was the Gran Hotel Bolivar. This is an impressive place, with a beautiful glass dome, an old Ford car and amazing lifts. There was also a bar called the Cathedral of Pisco Sour. Unfortunately, we didn't get to worship there! After a quick visit to the Plaza, we walked along a pedestrianised street called Gran Via. Mostly grubby but with the occasional beautiful building or church. There were so many living statues and most were a bit a bit weird. I think there's an odd kink in the Per˙vian psyche. The other end of the Gran Via is the Plaza de Armas. This is where the cathedral and president's palace are. There were a lot of riot police about, but it seems it's normal in the plaza. After a quick visit to a chocolate 'museum' and lunch, we drove through San Isidro to Miraflores, an upmarket costal suburb. There we saw a Gaudi wall just like the one in Barcelona. This was in the Parque del Amor, the Love Park. There was also a statue called El Beso, the Kiss. This is supposed to be the sculpturer Vincent Delfin kissing a woman, but looks like Shrek. After a pizza and a beer it was back to the ship.

13 February. Manta, Ecuador. My birthday. Today we had probably the worst excursion of the cruise, so far. There isn't an awful lot to see in Manta. We visited the local museum, which was chaos because so many coaches from the ship descended on it at once and it was also the final day of a four day weekend, so everywhere was busy. Then we drove to Montecristi, the home of the Toquifina or Panama hat. On the way we passed a large statue of a woman making one. Our first stop was at a park cum lookout with a mausoleum to General Jose Eloy Alfaro Delgado, a Liberal politican who introduced women's rights and other stuff to Ecuador. He was killed by a mob which broke into his jail. Then we went to a market to see how Toquifina hats are made and then lots of stalls selling them. Our last stop in Montecristi was at a factory processing Tagua nuts. Tagua nuts are very hard and used as buttons and other ornaments. Finally, in Manta, we saw three wooden boats being built by the beach. Very hot, very sticky and an altogether average excursion in a non too interesting place.

15 February. Panama Canal transit My third time through the canal and my second from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The new canal is finally open and we saw it in use, even though we used the old one. At the Atlantic end, we saw the new bridge, as yet unnamed. being built. It looked very odd.

16 February. Cartagena, Colombia. My first visit to Colombia and one of my ambitions broken..I have two travel ambitions, to visit 100 countries and to visit 50 Hard Rock Cafes. Today I visited my 100th country. We had booked on a P&O walking tour of old Cartagena. After a visit to the San Felipe Fortress built by slaves in the 16th century for the Spanish we visited Cartagena Old Town. This is a warren of old buildngs, narrow roads, painted a myriad of colours and many with flower covered, mahogany balconies. Finally, we went on to the old city walls, which are 12 kilometres long and surround the city. Then, instead of returning to the ship, Rob, Barbara and I went to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. My 35th HRC and so fifteen more to go! A pleasant if hot and sticky day.

18 February. Oranjestad, Aruba. I was last in Aruba in 2005. Oranjestad looks much the same, but there are a few more hotels on the beach. As it rained a few times, we gave up the idea of a morning on the beach and an afternoon in town. It was a Sunday, so the shops were shut! We ended up in the looking round the town before heading for the Hard Rock Cafe for a few refreshments and nachos. As we didn't leave until 22:00, we also ate off the ship in the evening.

19 February. Kralendijk,Bonaire. Another new port for me. Bonaire used to be the B in the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curašao), but now is the B in the BES islands (Bonaire, Eustachia, Saba). This happened on 10th October 2010 when Curašao became independent and the BES islands became a part of the Netherlands. We took a round island tour. We passed some huge salt pans with enormous piles of salt at one end. The pans were varying shades of pink, but my pictures don't do them justice. The salt is all exported to the US. Caribbean flamingoes breed around here. We saw a long line of them flying in the distance. Then we drove round the southern part of the island. It's very windy and apart from seeing where the reef changes the sea colour, we saw lots of freestyle windurfers. They can certainly shift. Up into the north of the island then. We drove past quite a few flamingoes, but they were too far to get any decent photos. There was a coral arch called the Love Arch where newly weds have their pictures taken. One of the trees had a termite nest where some local parakeets used to nest, but now it's used by the termites again. We saw a pair of Safroon Finches (correct spelling) playing around our wing mirror. Then we went through a place called Rincon to the Washington Slagbaai National Park where there was a Bryde's whale skeleton that had been reassembled by a local school. It had arrived stuck on the bow of a Princess cruise ship. It was already dead before the ship picked it up. There were quite a few feral goats about. Apparently, there are lot of donkeys too, but I never saw one.

21 February. Scarborough, Tobago. Another first for me. The excursion this time was an island tour and folklore. We started by visiting Fort King George near Scarborough. This is quite well preserved with an arsenal, some buildings and a bell tank, which is part of an underground water collection and filtration system. There are also some good views of the sea and Scarborough. Our next stop was Fort James, a less well preserved site with good views over a bay. There were a few small fishing boats in the bay and a lot of them seemed to be roosting places for pelicans. This is also the site of the tomb of Betty Stiven. There is a riddle on it. A couple of brief stops at a golf course and hotel before our final visit. This was to a hall where we saw some dancing and heard singing. It was an OK day. Walking past the ship, we saw some of the damage done to her when we passed through the Panama Canal.

22 February. Bridgetown, Barbados. Today 12 of us hired a catamaran for 5 hours. We snorkeled, where I saw a turtle snd some fish, then we hoisted our sails and sailed to the Sandy Lane Hotel. There we dropped anchor and had lunch on board. We sailed back to some wrecks for more snorkelling before arriving back into Bridgetown. Lots of booze was sunk and even more fun had. A great day.

23 February. Castries, St. Lucia. Rob, Linda, Barbara and I had a pool day at the Bay Gardens Hotel in Rodney Bay. It rained a few times, but we had fun.

24 February. Fort de France, Martinique. This was supposed to be a sea day but instead we were given two days in Martinique. In the morning the six of us took a three hour taxi ride around the island. We didn't see much. A church, some rivers and the Distillerie Depaz. There was sugar cane growing around it. Inside there was rum tasting and piles of 3 litre rum boxes. I've only ever seen wine boxes before. We then drove down the coast through some small towns. The driver tried to rip us off. The Marella Celebration was docked beside us. She's the first ship that made Aurora look big.

25 February. Fort de France, Martinique. Our official day in Fort de France and it was a Sunday. Everything was closed, everything. I took the ferry over to Les Trois-╬lets, which everyone thought was an island, but which is actually part of the mainland. Fort de France and Les Trois-╬lets are both parts of a large bay. Les Trois-╬lets is much more touristy, much prettier and open on Sundays! We wandered around, ate lunch and came back to the ship.

26 February. Basseterre, St. Kitts. Britannia and the Adventure of the Seas were also in port, so we had to dock in the cargo port. Our tour had an afternoon departure, so in the morning Barbara and I took the shuttle into Basseterre. I'd been there, only three months ago, so I knew there's not a lot about. We went through the arch in the National Museum and saw the clock in the circus. Then we walked up the road past St. George's Anglican Church before going back to Port Zante and the shuttle bus back. Our afternoon tour was to Fairview Great House, the only remaining intact Fench great house on the island. We toured the house looking at the sitting room, ladies room and bedroom. Outside was the kitchen, with an oven they still use. We then had a cooking demonstration. The first course, vegetable escovitch, included butternut squash. Yuk. The second course was jerk pork. Yuk. The third and fourth were a grouper dish and rice & kidney beans. OK. The final course was coconut bread and butter pudding with rum sauce. Yum. We were also given a very nice ginger drink.

27 February. St. John's, Antigua. My final port of call in the Caribbean and the penultimate one of the cruise. An excursion to Block Fort, Shirley Heights and Nelson's Dockyard for a lobster lunch with lots of rum punches. At Block Fort there were a few ruins and views over a couple of bays. On one of the headlands was Eric Clapton's house. From Shirley Heights there were spectacular views over English Harbour. Then we had a brief tour of Nelson's Dockyard before a lobster lunch and oodles of rum punches.

5 March. Praia da Vitoria, Azores. I've never been here before and it's a beautiful little town. The weather was only 12 degrees and damp, but it didn't spoill my enjoyment. We took the shuttle bus into town and then just strolled about. We saw the cathedral which has an amazing altar. Then a wander down to the tiny marina. A pretty, well kept little town A fitting end to the cruise.

08 March. At Sea. Shaun Wallace from The Chase has been on board since Barbados as a lecturer. He ran or took part in most of the quizzes on board. This evening was The Pursuit in Carmen's. My so-called friends nominated me and I was selected. We managed to score 20 and he only got 13. Of course it wasn't fixed!

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Fishing boats Fishing boats Sea lions Sea lions Bottles Crane


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Church Cathedral Statue Post Sculpture Courthouse


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Dustman Building Mosque Coquimbo Crystal Pool Cross


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El Morro Church Church Birds Birds Petroglyph


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Petroglyph Church Church Graveyard Valley Valley


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Mummies Petroglyph Petroglyph Flowers Statue Museum grounds


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Funerary gear Dome Car Lift Plaza Buildings


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Living statue Church Building Police Cathedral President's palace


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Archbishop's house Wall El Beso Aurora Us Statue


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Engine Wall Mausoleum Statue Making a hat Ceiling


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Altar Boat building Miraflores Locks Miraflores Lock Cabin view New canal


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Mules Canals Bridge Dam Gatun Lock New bridge


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Fortress Fortress Building Statue Old town Walls


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Linda & Rob Barbara Iguana Salt pans Slave huts Reef line


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Sculpture Flamingo Arch Termite nest Fence Cactii


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Whale skeleton Sign Kralendijk Birds nest Pavement Courthouse


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Kralendijk Britannia Bonaire Fort View Fort


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Bell dome Aurora Pelicans Caribbean Tombstone Damage


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Catamaran Bridgetown Lunch Caribbean Relaing Us


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Hotel St. Lucia St. Lucia Church Church River


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Water wheel Rum Boxes Sugar cane Boats Ships Fort de France


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Mural Marina Ships Museum Church Sign


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Egrets Sitting room Kitchen House Cactus English Harbour


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English Harbour Plaques Building Tiles Cathedral Altar


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Altar Square Band Sculpture Spires Ice sculpture


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The Pursuit Us


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