23 Day Asia to Europe Cruise
Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas 
The Final 2 Voyages from Singapore to Dubai, UAE to Barcelona, Spain
March 03 2017 - March 27 2017

Legend of the Seas

This cruise was unique in the fact that the Legend OTS had been sold to Thompson Cruise (TUI) and the ship had been based in Brisbane Australia for the last little while. When I saw that the ship had been sold I knew there would be a fire (I know not a good word to use on a ship) sale on the last few voyages. I kept a steady watch on the Royal Caribbean (RCI) website and sure enough the changes were made where cruises were cancelled and the changes now appeared in June 2016.
The cruise was also unique because there was only one port I had been to before and that was Barcelona. It allowed me to visit the last few oceans and ports of the world I had not sailed on as well. It would now allow me to transit the "other" Canal which I have wanted to do for some time.
The price was very low for an inside cabin at about $1400 CAD for both legs. I knew this would not last long at this price and put together an email list to friends who I thought might be interested.
I then called my Travel Agent (TA) and had him book the cruise. He was so amazed at the price he put together a group package for the last two legs which many friends booked under. Many others just booked with their own TA.

The cruise was as follows:

03-Mar Singapore 5:00 PM
04-Mar Penang, Malaysia 3:00 PM 11:00 PM
05-Mar Cruising Cruising
06-Mar Cruising Cruising
07-Mar Cruising Cruising
08-Mar Cochin, India 8:00 AM 8:00 PM
09-Mar Cruising Cruising
10-Mar Bombay (Mumbai), India 7:00 AM 6:00 PM
11-Mar Cruising Cruising
12-Mar Cruising Cruising
13-Mar Dubai, United Arab Emirates 6:00 AM 8:00 PM
14-Mar Cruising Cruising
15-Mar Cruising Cruising
16-Mar Cruising Cruising
17-Mar Cruising Cruising
18-Mar Cruising Cruising
19-Mar Suez Canal (Passage) 11:00 PM Cruising
20-Mar Suez Canal (Passage) 3:00 PM Cruising
21-Mar Cruising Cruising
22-Mar Piraeus (Athens), Greece 6:00 AM 6:00 PM
23-Mar Cruising Cruising
24-Mar Valletta, Malta 7:00 AM 6:00 PM
25-Mar Cruising Cruising
26-Mar Barcelona, Spain 6:00 AM

There are many who cruise that do a Maiden Voyage of a new ship and the closest I have come to that is the 2nd voyage of a new ship back in 1983.
I had done some reading because RCI sold the Splendour OTS to TUI last year and I wanted to know what if any problems there might be. All reports indicated that RCI went above and beyond for those cruises so there was no reason to believe it would not happen again.

I have to say that RCI has never been known to provide great information to customers on their website or over the phone. The onboard product has always been a step above and this makes up for those problems.
The first major problem was lack of information about getting an Indian Visa. You see getting an Indian Visa is very time consuming. The process is different in each country as well as the cost. In Canada there is one company (BLS International) that is contracted to accept applications for the Indian Government. There is also no point in using a VISA company because ALL Applications in Canada have to go through BLS. They just become the middle man.
The very first step is one needs to find out the Port Agent in the ports you are going to visit in India. A call to RCI proved fruitless in this department as they had no idea who it was. A friend made a call on a different day and same thing.

I happen to stumble upon the Port Agent a day or two later and let others know as well as my TA.

Going to the Indian Government Visa site appears easy at first until you start and fill out the Application. Allow 1 - 2 hours for this. There are so many questions being asked one says to themself I don't want to move there I just want to visit.

Once done and you have uploaded your photos you print out the application and find your local BLS Office and head there. It can be best described as stepping back in time and hurry up and wait. I would say we sat there for some 3 hours waiting not knowing how long we had. After a period of time one gets thirsty and they do provide water cooler, which is great and we saw many people taking advantage of this. I was not prepared for what would happen when I needed a drink and arriving at the cooler and noticing that only one cup was provided that everyone was sharing. I thought that I didn't want to start the HEP A thing while getting a VISA so I passed on the water.
When our number was called we went in and it took less than 10 minutes to have 2 applications looked at and processed.
Visa's arrived 4 days later.

Prior to any cruise I start looking as what I might do in any port and this starts with visiting what the cruise line offers in their excursions.
In Singapore we would spend 3 nights there prior to boarding the ship.

In this case RCI had nothing for the first leg except a whole bunch of "night" excursions for Singapore. The  problem with that is the ship sails at 5:00 PM. We were on our own.
Through some research I found a company in India that is well written about for tours. I passed this information on to others and Chris wrote the company and they provided a tour in Cochin described as Houseboat cruise in the backwaters of Allepey. The cost would be $80 USD each. We were being quoted in USD because of the Rupee money problem at the time.
In the days and weeks that followed many signed up and we filled out first houseboat. Then there was more interest so Chris contacted the company and he said he could do more but we better hurry as he had just contracted with RCI for 17 houseboats.
This gave us a sense of relief because when one books off the cruise line you run the risk if missing the ship. In this case we were 99.9% sure this would not be the case with this tour.

In Mumbai we were looking at a tour billed as Mumbai as a local. This would stop at Gandhi's House then onto the train station to watch how the lunch boxes are distributed and then ride the train to the Dhobi Ghat (open air laundry) then the Gateway of India followed by the Chinese fishing nets and some shopping.

In Dubai we had about 11 hours to see what we could. We decided on the Hop on Hop Off Bus by Big Bus Tours because they started almost 1.5 earlier than the other HOHO company. There was the ride to the top of the Burj Khalifa. I also found at the Dubai Mall an Airbus A 380 simulator and this all combined would make up our day.

There had been a change shortly after we booked in the itinerary from Crete to Athens in Greece. We were a bit bummed out as we all had been to Athens before.

Malta just offered too many options and we would decide later.

Barcelona would require an overnight stay and we would visit Sagrada Família.

Now the flights to and from the ship. I normally compare RCI Choice Air against other options. For the most part it offers some of the lowest fares on the market but this is not always the case.
For our flight to Singapore Choice Air came in almost $200 more than what I could get on my own. The real interesting part was they had the flight I did book but way more money.
As for Barcelona back home they were the cheapest by almost $1000. So it does pay to look around.
In the end I booked EVA Air from Vancouver to Singapore via Taipei and then cruise air (Air France and Westjet) from Barcelona to Paris to Montreal to Vancouver, not the way I wanted to home but it worked.

The day had come for us to fly to Singapore and we arrived at 10:00 PM for a 12:50 AM flight. All went well and we were seated upstairs in an old (soon to be retired) 747-400. The plane showed it's age with seats that who knows how old they were, yet EVA had recently won best airline across the Pacific. I have to say the food was great and we had the use of real knives and forks complete with wine etc.
The second leg proved to me why EVA is a winner with their new 777-300ER. A very nice ride arriving at 1230 PM on Tuesday February 28th.

Now arriving in Singapore is interesting as you have a lengthy walk to Customs. While no Visa is needed for us it did take some time.
Once finished we headed out to catch a ride to the hotel. We elected to take the shuttle bus for $8 SGD per person. A Taxi would run us about $40.00.

Singapore - Pre-Cruise

We arrived at the Ibis Hotel in Singapore and our room was ready and were offered an upgrade to the 16th floor.
Arriving in the room confirmed to us that the rooms are indeed small something we had be warned of before we left. Think cruise ship small. The thought is where do you put your suit case, well Ibis has their beds high enough off the floor you slide them under the bed.
We also had a Mobile Phone to use while we were in Singapore that came with our room. It provides free data and calls to 40 counties including Canada. They say Singapore is the most connected city in the world, it is also one of the most expensive cities as well.
Think of it this way, wanting a nice cold beer at dinner will set you back about $16.00 and at the Raffles Hotel where the Singapore Sling was developed will cost you $32.00.

The rest of the day we arrived we headed out to see what was in the area and try and find where we have to go the following day for our HOHO Bus. It turned out that it was like a 15 minute walk and not this long distance it looked like on a map. 

On Wednesday we headed out to Bugis Junction where we would board the HOHO bus. After exchanging tickets we decided on the Red Line and then ran into friends who were staying in another hotel.
We managed to do the Red Line and stay on until we got back to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. This hotel is an engineering marvel. 

Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay Sands Hotel


Arriving inside this hotel is a marvel on it's own. You can look up as the two side come together with art work hanging from above. There was no shortage of people lined up checking in at a cost of $450 a night.

interior of the Sands
Interior of the Sands and the pointy Art hanging from the ceiling


We walked through the lobby area and headed towards the other end where we decided to take the ride to the look-out area. We had thought about taking the Singapore Flyer at a similar cost but this was higher than the Flyer.

Singapore Flyer
You can see the Singapore Flyer from the observation deck of the Sands


There is one floor higher than what we went to but this is the "Pool" Deck for Hotel Guests only.
Still the view was amazing of Singapore and the harbour. The question was how long would we be up here as we could see rain moving our way. I may be from Vancouver where we have rain a lot of the time in the winter but it is monsoon season right now in this part of the world, so rain takes on a whole new meaning.

Observation Deck


The interesting fact is Singapore is one the world's major shipping ports yet when you look at the port itself there are few ships docked and not many containers.

Cargo Ships
Cargo Ships beyond Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Once we departed for the lobby area we decided to have a sandwich at a sandwich shop. While this may not be interesting in itself it was what happened towards the end of the meal. The server came over to the table to say he was sorry because he just realized that he charged us a $1.00 too much and here is the change. We all sat there and said not sure if that would ever happen back home.

After we finished eating it was off for a quick look at the Gardens by the Bay before we boarded the HOHO bus again.
It was a short walk outside on the main street to take the elevator up to the garden level.
The garden is very unique in itself because they have all these metal looking trees that fan out that have plants growing up them.
There is a walkway you can take through the Garden at a cost of $18 but we passed on it.

view of Garden by the Bay

Garden
you can see the walkway from here.

Marina Bay Sands
Looking back at the Sands. The observation deck is top right.


After this we boarded the HOHO bus and headed on another line to view China Town and Little India.
Once done this we headed back to the Ibis so we could change and head out to the Fountain of Wealth and dinner.

All I can once we came back for the Fountain of Wealth show and it was truly a bust. There was about 1 dozen people watching.

We decided to go into Suntec City and find something to eat and that would be Japanese tonight.

Japanses Tonight


Once dinner was done we walked back to the Ibis. I have to say that at no time do you not feel safe. Singapore is so clean it almost appears sterile at times as smoking is only allowed in certain areas and there is NO Gum chewing allowed.
When we arrived back at the hotel other friends that had flown in earlier in the day were in the lobby so we now had to come to a battle plan for tomorrow.

Thursday morning was a early meeting with our friends then a walk over to the HOHO Bus

Upon arriving at the HOHO bus we had to buy another ticket as this was not in the plans for today. We bought a single ticket to take us on an express bus to Sentosa Island which is a resort Island that is home to Universal Studios.
We had decided to walk around Sentosa and Geocache along the way without visiting Universal Studios.
Sentosa includes beach's, water park, Madame Tussauds and many resorts to name a few.

While walking around the main area most of the walk ways are under cover.

We managed to spend most of the day here and getting a few caches.

Here are some photos from the Day.

Universal Studios


Merlion

Garden area
Interesting water area

bridge
walkway over to the Southernmost Point of Continental Asia

sentosa

Virtual Cache
hey it is a virtual Geocache


inner walkways

need a sucker?
need a sucker?

After finishing on Sentosa we took the bus back to the terminal and then walked back to the hotel.

Another friend had arrived in town today and we met with him at his hotel for Happy Hour 2 for1 Beer. When Beer is $16 a pint the pain isn't as bad as it could be.
After an hour or so the plan was to head back to the Marina Bay sands via Taxi to watch the 8:00 PM light show. Our friends that we were with today had seen it last night and said it is a must do.

On the way to the viewing area we stopped and grabbed a Geocache that we had to pass up yesterday because of construction.

Lying on the ground appears the way to view the light show which is timed to music. I have to say I was amazed at how well this all went and went away liking what I saw.

night time

Garden Walkway
note the walkway.

I would like to say that while staying in Singapore it can be expensive . There are many Hawker Food stalls in malls where you can get a good meal at a fare price. Anything such as Beer, Wine etc. will cost you.
The Ibis provided Breakfast every morning as part of our rate. The breakfast offered a wide variety of choices that changed daily.
The room itself, while small was only used to sleep in so it worked. The Ibis was more than acceptable.
 I am glad to say I have visited Singapore but I am not in a hurry to get back to here.

March 03 2017 - Board the Legend of the Seas - Depart Singapore

Today we met in the Lobby and headed to the Singapore Cruise Centre  for a 11:00 meeting with our friends.
Upon arriving we dropped our luggage off and the next stop was a few Geocaches and a stop in VivoCity a mall next to the pier. The plan was to go to the Grocery Store located inside and buy a case of 24 water. The cost for the case was about $7.00 SDG. I carried it back to the luggage area tagged it with our room number and away we went to walk around further. I should say the cruise line charges $3.00 a bottle for water so I can pay $74 USD or $7.00 SGD for that 24 bottles.
We decided to go and check-in as it was early and then we would miss this step later when it is busy.
From here we went and walked around the area to find a few more Geocaches.

Upon our arrival back it was time to board and this is a very time consuming time. One has to line-up to clear Singapore Customs and get your passport stamped saying you have left the country.
There was the photo copying of our passports because we were going to India.

Once on-board it was to our cabin to drop things off and see what was what. What was odd is the water arrived a few minutes later but it would be another hour before the cases would arrive.

The next item was to go find some food in the Windjammer Cafe. The Windjammer offers many different options everyday from Indian, Asian, American fare etc.

After this it would be lifeboat drill which is a MUST attend.

From here it was up to the top deck to watch sail away from Singapore. It was a fantastic evening for the sail out. You can watch a video done by the Singapore Cruise Society of our sail away here.

All cruise lines have different themed pay Restaurants that you can have lunch or dinner at. On the Legend OTS there are two such restaurants one called Chops Grill and Izumi a Japanese themed restaurant.
For tonight we had pre-booked dinner in Chops because the first night is 2 for 1. There was 7 of us for dinner tonight. Dinner lasted well past 11 before we called it a night.
It was great way for friends to get together after a few years of not seeing each other.

March 04 2017 - Penang Malaysia

We docked at 3:00 PM and were due to sail at 11:00 PM.

The plan was for 5 of us  to go ashore and do the 3 Geocaches near the port then grab a Taxi over to the other side of the island to visit the Hard Rock Cafe.
Heading out of the port is your typical gauntlet of locals trying to offer you a tour or sell you something you don't need. Once through this it was off to do the caches and then try and get a taxi to the Hard rock.  After the last cache we walked for over 1 km trying to find a taxi (Van) to take the 5 of us. When in Asia this can be a bit of a problem as cars are not what we find back home. Finally we saw a Taxi Van headed the other way and we got him to stop and we managed to all get into it and head off.
This was Saturday night and many locals were out and about for the weekend and traffic was slow.

Arriving at the Hard Rock one of the group made a deal with the Taxi driver to come and pick us up in about 75 minutes to take us back to the ship. We didn't want to chance of not getting a taxi back. 

One of the group collects Hard Rock Bears and has them from likely 50 locations around the world so this was the first stop, the Hard Rock Store.
After the Bear we headed up stairs to have a Beer. We decided that since there were 5 of us we would order this thing called a tower that was on special for $132 RM ( $30.00 USD) which appeared way cheaper than by the pint.
After sitting there for a good 10 minutes we could not figure out what was taking them so long with our beer as were the only ones upstairs. Soon we noticed 2 servers carrying this tower to out table. 

Beer Tower

I think you get the picture of why it took 2 servers to carry it.
The weird part was no one ever remembers filling their glass after the first one. It would appear that while talking the server would refill our glass when it got down, it was like we had a full glass all the time.
We were told that it would serve about 18 glasses of beer. This turned out to be a really good deal when we split it 5 ways.

At the appointed time we headed downstairs and outside to see if our Taxi would be there. I have made deals like this in the past and it is hit or miss.
There he was sitting right there waiting for us.
We all piled in and headed back across the island. Now we were dealing with the locals setting up night markets in the different places we went through.
Arriving back at the port we got out of the taxi and the locals descended upon us like locusts to a field.

We had agreed upon $40 RM (9.00 USD) for the trip to the Hard Rock and the same back. We had paid him at the Hard Rock in case something happened. He was then paid the $40 RM for the return trip and we had $40 RM left over and we looked at each other as to what to do. We agreed to give him the last of our Ringgit money as a tip for waiting.
What happened next really took the group by surprise. The taxi driver once handed the money looked like he had just won the lottery. He came around to each of us and Thanked us and hugged us.
We could not believe that this amount of money would or could do this to a person. Remember this is only $9 USD.
The driver then went around and chased off all the locusts that had descended upon us.
For roughly $250 RM ($57 USD) we managed to have 2 taxi trips of about 2 hours and one very large beer for 5 people. Man was that a cheap trip across the island and back.
The Malaysian people we talked to were very friendly and I understand why many from this part of the world visit there.
Yes I would go back!

March 05 - 07 2017 - AT Sea crossing the Indian Ocean

The weather is really good right now and looks to continue through tomorrow with temperatures close to 30°C with calm seas.

During this 3 days we would start with our first Formal Night and Captains Welcome aboard Party. They all are the same after awhile. One gets free Champagne and the Captain introduces his Offices and Staff and then makes a few remarks, we have a toast and that's it.

Tonight's entertainment was a guy named Jonathan Clark who I had seen last year on the Transpacific cruise. He wasn't that bad last year so it is my first show.
Now tomorrow night is his Wife Colleen Austen  who was also on that same cruise. She was nothing special then so she would be a miss.
As it turned out the following day we got word that Colleen was "sick" and would not perform and instead we would have the Aussie Boys which was billed as a can't miss show.
Well for some reason we did miss the Aussie Boys and our friends said it was a good thing you did. It was an hour out of their life they were not getting back.

As our 3rd sea day starts we get word that Colleen was still sick and we would have a Royal Caribbean Production show in her place. I have to say I am not a great lover of Production shows as I think at best they are High School performances as the male and female leads try to sing over each other.
The real news was the fact that Colleen may not be ill at all as over 400 people walked out of her shows on the last cruise. All I can say she was not that good last year so maybe the Production show was a step up, but I can not report on that because I did not go.

We are now into our 3rd sea day and the seas are still calm and the temperatures are still close to 30°C. Since the ship arrives in Cochin India tomorrow we all MUST attend a Face to Face immigration interview today. They do this Deck by Deck and you have to have your passport and an immigration card they give you stamped. You hand your passport back in and keep the card with you to show when you are in Cochin.

The real interesting part in all this there were passengers who did not have Visa's and they were offered a deal for $40.00 where they could get a temporary Visa for the two ports. Wow they didn't have to go through what did or pay the costs what we paid.

Many have asked me what one does with the sea days.
For the most part the Cruise Director and his Staff are pretty good at making sure there is a lot to do onboard with things such as Live Music by the pool, Mini Golf, Table Tennis Tournaments etc.
I have to admit that is where this Cruise Director Chris Brown fell down. There was no live music by the pool and that is a staple on any ship any line, but this ship.
So time was used to take in some Vitamin D around the pool and Judge the Speedo bathing suit contest around the pool or just read a book. I will admit the Female Russian Judge wanted to issue a few disqualifications for some of those in the contest.

March 08 2017 - Cochin, India

I woke early this morning and walked out onto the Balcony to take in the sunrise and see where we were.

view at sea
Looking forward as we are about to turn into the port of Cochin

It was not very long before this boat came along beside the ship and we knew at that point this was India.

Boat in Idia

We were suppose to have Breakfast on the Balcony as we sailed in this morning but it didn't show up. We were to meet at about 8:30 on the pier for our Back Water House Boat tour.

So after a quick run up to the Windjammer for breakfast it was down to the cabin and out the door for shore side meeting point.
The Bus we boarded was a smaller bus seating about 23 people. It was air conditioned and the seats were not bad.

leaving port
Leaving the port of Cochin.

Leaving the Port we had to produce those Immigration cards I mentioned about yesterday and the baggage compartment searched.

As Is aid earlier we had arranged this tour as a group of about 30 prior to departing for this cruise. Our cost was $80.00 USD vs the cruise line at $200.00 per person.

All I can say about the bus ride was wow. I managed to leave a kidney somewhere on the road between the start and finish.
The road is single lane for the most part with a white line down the middle that designates where the middle of the road is. In no way does it mean it is single lane in each direction. At times there were 5 lanes. The constant honking of horns is a must it would appear and there appears to be no rules to the road. Traffic circles don`t work the same way as anywhere else I have seen as it appears who is ever brave enough to enter does so at their own risk.

traffic
How many lanes?

intersting shops
Some shops

a little traffic

Arriving at the House Boat was interesting as we had to walk through one boat to get onto our boat.
Our boat had 2 bedrooms and an upstairs and downstairs sitting area that sat the 20 of us very comfortable.
It was not long before we were on our way. This was a very different contrast to India than we had just experienced on the bus.

boarding houseboat
walking through one houseboat to our one in back

house boats
no shortage of boats here

down the canal

view

It was very peaceful as we headed down the different canals.
As you travel down the canals you may have rice fields on one side of the canal. They can only get 2 cops in a year as the canals are used for water for the fields and sea water comes into the canal at the other time of the year.
We passed many areas where women were washing clothes and slapping the washed clothes on rocks. Each set of stairs has its own rock to do this.


Rice Fields


Fishing


Local House

We passed several schools along the way where the children are in uniform and at school. We were told that school is taught in English and the local language is their second language.

About 2 hours into the boat cruise we were served a traditional Indian lunch.

This was very interesting and it represented the spices and flavors of this region.
After lunch we were served Monkey Bananas and Pineapple.

Indian Lunch
Okay so when ashore rule #1 don't eat the food some people tell you. It was pretty good I must say.

After lunch we managed to talk the House Boat Operator in stopping for a Geocache on an Island. We did this very quickly and soon off from this little stop. We now have a Geocache in India, and another country off the list.

geocache
The Geocache

bananna tree
Banana anyone?

canal
The many Houseboats

Once we docked we boarded the bus to head back towards Cochin where we would visit a local market and the Chinese fishing nets. If I have one thing to say it is about the amount of garbage everywhere. There appears to be no garbage service at all.

Chinese Fishing Nets
Chinese Fishing nets

garbage
Garbage anyone?

The walk through the market proved interesting with the many different smells some from food and who knows where else.
We arrived back at the ship around 5:30 after departing at 8:45. This was a long hot muggy day.
Oh yes we did take our own bottled water for the day.

In all the people of India appear to be happy at their life and appear to know no different to what we have.

Once back onboard we showered and changed and had dinner and called it an early night.

March 09 2017 - At Sea

Today it was more Vitamin D.

We have started seeing wine specials now with bottles of wine now 20% off list. There is Beer at the Pool Bar for $5 a pint.

There was suppose to be another Face to Face Immigration check but someone finally figured out that just hand out the cards and get us to sign them as nothing has changed.

sun set
Tonight's Sunset - no Green Flash  :-(

Tonight it would be the show at 7:00 PM which was Blaze of Glory - A Bon Jovi Experience. I have to say it was a good show even though I have not been a Bon Jovi fan in the past.
From here it was to My time Dining with friends and once again it went late even though we have Bombay tomorrow.

dinner
Now they are putting a 10 oz. Filet and whole Lobster on the Menu for $20 trying to get rid of food. Normally $40.

March 10 2017 - Mumbai (Bombay) India.  

I have to say the arrival into Mumbai (Bombay as the locals still call it) was interesting.

tugs
This Tug was there to assist us, but it is all the tugs in the background anchored that got my attention.

I cannot believe what is required to leave the ship. We have to have our new landing card and keep a photo copy of our passport with us at all times.

If one loses their landing card you spend hours at the local police station reporting it.

One interesting fact I may have mentioned before is 80% of India speaks English. I never had a problem talking to anyone I came across.
It amazes me that back in Vancouver and the Indian community appear to have a problem speaking English. In my prior job 95% of the Indian population said to me no English.

What does this mean? Are the 20% of those from India that can’t speak English the ones coming to Canada the ones that know no English? I don’t think so. Just my thoughts. I also found it interesting when talking to our Guide today that when I told her I was from Vancouver she said that the Indian population there is giving the Indian population in India a bad name. She said the English problem was something that bothered many in India. 

We had booked a ships shore excursion called Mumbai on the move. This would include a stop at Gandhi’s original house and now a Museum then onto the train station where we would watch the delivery of the hot lunches sent from home and delivered to one at work. Then it was onto a local train for 5 stops (complete with hanging out of the train) and a stop at the large Dhobi Ghat (Laundry) and then onto the Gateway to India and the Taj Mahal Hotel (the place of the 2009 attack) .

Arrival at Gandhi's house was a surreal experience. I am not sure we in the Western World really understand what this man was trying to do for India and the world for that matter.
Reading his letter he penned to Hitler in July 1939 shows what he was trying to do for the world, not just the Indian people.
The peaceful protests of the Indian Salt Tax were another example of what he stood for.
We also saw his bedroom which was a simple makeup of his mattress, spinning wheel and a few other personal items.
From here we boarded the bus and headed off to the train station to see the lunch system.

bedroom
His bedroom

outside of huse

We arrived at the train station where the lunch's at distributed. The lunch is made at home and picked up between 10 and 1030 and placed on a train to its destination based on the code on the bag/can. Once there the lunches are removed from the train and moved to the sidewalk outside the station for distribution to the delivery guys who use carts/bikes to make the delivery for 1230. Between 2 and 230 they are picked up and returned home. The cost is 200 rupees a month.
There are 200,000 lunches delivered a day and 1 mistake in 16 million.
The reason for this today is the trains are so crowded that there is no room for you to carry a lunch. This is slowly changing as more and more women are starting to work.

no bar code here
No Bar Code here.

the delivery
loading the bikes

loaded
off he goes to deliver lunch boxes

From here we crossed the street where one takes their own lives into hand as the cars do not want to stop despite what appears to be a type of crosswalk.

We boarded the train and rode in the First Class Car. (The only difference is padded seats vs. no padding) There is no AC on board except India AC which is a fan that you can turn on.
The doors on the train don’t close and people hang out the doors.
There are roughly 10 deaths a day from people falling off the train in Mumbai

train
Not real busy at this time of day

hanging out
Hanging out the train

Yes I managed to stand in the door and take photos.
Once we went down the tracks for 5 stops we were to get off the train. You have about 20 seconds to do this before the train departs.

We then walked to the Dhobi Ghat to watch the laundry being done.

laundry
As far as you can see

closeup
That is a lot of Laundry

Have you ever seen Jeans for Sale that say Stone Washed and made in India? This is the place it is done. The water is anything but clean. MY advice to you is wash your new Jeans if they are Stone Washed and made in India.

Once we left here we headed to the Gateway to India passing by many Cricket fields where matches were underway.
The traffic is incredible in Mumbai where there is something like 45,000 taxis. The constant horns does take some getting use too.
At the Gateway it is total bedlam where there are so many people offering to take your photo for a price. They all claim that their camera is better than yours and they can take a better picture. The word No is NOT in their vocabulary.

gateway to India
Gateway to India

We did manage to do the Earthcache at this location despite the bedlam.

A quick look at the Taj Mahal Hotel across the street is a incredible structure. This was the local of a mass attack in 2009. Today you have to go through metal detectors etc. and only guests can enter the hotel.

Taj Mahal

The next few photos are the everyday life of those in Bombay.

day

cow
Hey who said there was a McDonalds?

food?
Street Food

Once done we headed back to the ship where we boarded around 4:00pm.

The cruise port is right in the middle of Indian Navy base. I counted 6 submarines many destroyers and 1 Aircraft Carrier plus many other smaller vessels.

subs
Hey more Subs here than all of Canada has....

sunset
The Sun sets on Bombay

March 11/12 2017 - At Sea

I have to say these sea days are nice because you go all out in a port only to have a chance to relax for the next port and that will be the case when we get to Dubai in a couple of days.

Since boarding the ship we have had a few problems to say the least with our Cabin Steward Jimmy. I would say this that Jimmy appears to be as disinterested in doing what he is suppose to do.
On the first day when I met him I asked for only two things, a fridge and a bucket of ice twice daily. The fridge arrived on the evening of day 2 but the ice stopped on day 3. I get it you can only have one or the other but not both.
There are Kettles (they are allowed in Australia and Europe cruises) in the room for Tea and Coffee along with coffee mugs etc. I decided on Day 3 to have Tea on the Deck and left my dirty mug on the counter. I returned to the cabin to find the mug gone and no replacement in sight.
The other problem we had was the sink in the bathroom was very very slow at draining. Jimmy's idea of getting it fixed was take it apart and leave all the parts in the sink for us to come back to after dinner.
There was the pile of cleaning rags stacked up in the fridge that didn't add anything to the cabin.
There was coming back to the cabin to find empty large bags stacked up on the chair that were used for dirty towels.
I am sure Jimmy has a very good reason why he does this but it is annoying to say the least.
So today it was a call to House Keeping to get them to figure out Jimmy's reason's why he was doing this.

I came back to room after lunch to make this call and go into the bathroom to find that there are no towels period, not even the one I left hanging on the door this morning.

Soon after a call to House Keeping the Manager knocked on the door. I invited him in and we had a discussion with him noting that there were no towels today. An offer is made to replace Jimmy with a new Cabin Steward and I decline that, suggesting that Jimmy just needs some guidance to what his job is.
The Manager agrees to this and he is off to deal with Jimmy.

Tonight the first of the 2 sea days we had dinner again in Chops again with friends.

It is the second sea day and things have cooled off a bit with temperatures only reaching 25°C as the ship moves north from the Equator.

The next morning Jimmy stops by to apologize for the errors and assures us it wont happen again.
Talking to Jimmy starts to get  interesting as I talk to him more. For some reason the ship had a very small crew change in Singapore and he was one of those that came on. We had been told there were no crew changes for the last few cruises because the ship was leaving the fleet.
You see when a crew member reports to the ship he is a crew member first and his assigned job is second. They have to get caught up on things like crew muster drill and getting their passport, ID card all in order and then their assignment location in order. The first few days can be mind boggling for a crew member reporting to the ship.
I then get this little tid bit of information that RCI has no ship assignment for him until one week after the ship gets to Barcelona. He will fly home to Indonesia for 5 nights then fly to Orlando Florida to board his next ship. It becomes apparent that he is not happy with RCI over this as almost all others are being flown to their next ship and put up in a hotel for upwards of 6 night.
I now understand why maybe he has not been up to par as he has to deal with all this and a return to home then onto Florida, the long way around the world.

There are 800+ passengers staying on the ship for what is the start of the Final Voyage of the Legend starting tomorrow.

There was a meeting in the theatre over what would happen when we arrived. I have been to these meetings before and I can say they don't always go as they say they will.
The good news is I don't have to change cabins while many others do including some friends.

The plan is suppose to be all 800+ of us get off the ship and report to UAE Customs and Immigration with our passports and have then stamped which serves as our Visa to visit. Then we hand our passports in and get our new room key card with a pass to pass the check-in line.
We were further told we have to be off the ship for at least 3 hours while they disinfect the ship. You see with 8 sea days coming up in a row they don't want anyone getting sick.

We spend the rest of the afternoon getting organized for tomorrow as we have a very full day. We plan on getting off the ship at 8:00 AM and not getting back on until 7:00 PM when we have to be back on board.

March 13 2017 - Dubai UAE

We arrived in Dubai early this morning and I watched the sunrise from the Balcony.

sunrise Dubai

The plan for the day was to catch the shuttle to the Dubai Mall then catch the Big Bus Hop on Hop off Bus there. This soon changed when we arrived on the dock and found that Big Bus HOHO had a special shuttle to Dubai Mall much earlier than the ship did.
This would now allow us to do the Red Line and be back at the Mall for my ride in the A380-800 Simulator then our trip to the top of the Burj Khalifa.

As one leaves Port Rashid one cannot help but notice the old Cunard Liner QE2 tied up. She has remained here for the last 8 years believe it or not. It does appear some work is being carried out. The one noticeable thing is the missing lifeboats and davits.

QE2
QE2

It soon became apparent that we would not even come close to seeing much of Dubai or even scratching the surface.
There are some interesting facts though. There is a Mosque every 500 meters so everyone can make it when the call to prayer is done. There is even a Mosque in the Dubai Mall.
This sort of reminds me of Utah and all the Mormon Churches.

Mosque

We drove past several Souks including the Gold Souk which is said to have 10 tons of gold in it. There is also the Spice Souk and past the inland canal where all the Dows dock and off load their cargo from around the gulf. Interesting to see what is offloaded, everything from Fridges to Fans to Spices are carried on these Dows.

Dows


You cannot help but pass some sort of construction no matter where you go. Every building is trying to outdo the next one it appears. Construction happens around the clock. The whole city appears to be coated in a fine coating of sand with the Palm trees appear to be heavily coated in sand. On the positive side the one thing that is done is flowers are everywhere right now. Not sure how this works in the summer here with temps in excess of 40° C.

flowers

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa - Can you tell?

construction every where
Construction does not stop here



Now arriving at the Dubai Mall we decided to catch the Red Line and ride it around bringing us back to the Mall for 11:30 in time for the Flight Simulator.  While the information is very good there just isn’t enough time to get off the bus and catch the next one unless you have a 2 day pass. One could easily spend the whole day on the Red Line visiting the many Souks and the Fort before returning back to the mall before much of the day is gone.

canal system

Burg


After arriving back at the Dubai Mall we headed inside. Walking into the mall is the height of opulence.
First off was finding our way to the A380 Experience and the Concierge proved to be no help and said no such thing existed in the mall.
This is not a full axis simulator but is still configured as the real thing from what I could tell.
I was asked my experience and told the instructor and he asked my favorite plane and I said the L-19 and he pulled one up on his I-PAD and low and behold the first photo that came up was CF-TGA a plane I have logged many hours in.
I did two full circuits at two different airports one being Dubai and the second was Vancouver, somewhere the instructor had not been before.
The time I spent in here passed very quickly.

A380

A380 outside




Hey it might appear corny but when one has not flown in as long as I have it is all that I have.
After this we headed across the mall to do the Top of the Burg where we would be whisked up to the 125th floor in 70 seconds.
Arriving here we had to pick-up our reserved time slot we did prior to departing home. Some days it can be hours wait.
Then there is security and this is when you truly find out you are in the Middle East as women and men are placed in separate lines to go through security. There were a few older couples that rejected this idea but soon realized that if they wanted to continue they had to do as told.
You are not allowed to take any fruit to the top with you. It would appear that since the 124th is an open floor with slats they don’t want people dropping bananas from here or other such items. Just imagine the damage that could be done from this height.
I cannot begin to tell you what the view is like or imagine what it is like when it is not hazy. I have been up the Empire Building and this leaves the Empire behind, but in a different way.

Top of
view from the 125th floor - that is the Burg Al Arab way out there to the right

looking down
Heights a problem? Better not be....

Back on the HOHO Bus headed for the Beach Tour this time past Burj Al Arab and Atlantis on Palm Jumeira .
The trip itself is very interesting passing many small communities along the way. During this I have never seen so many Laser Eye Surgery places.
It should be noted if one wants to take the bus that there are bus shelters at every stop that are air conditioned.
Then as we proceeded there was the call to Prayer at one Mosque and by the time we got to the next one, a mere 500 meters down the road there were hundreds of shoes on the ground outside the Mosque.
The Jumeirah Mosque is the only Mosque that allows visitors.

Bus Shelter
Bus Shelter

Passing by the Burj Al Arab which is built in the shape of a sail is amazing as one wonders how they built it on its own island, and then one sees the heli pad at the top.
Once leaving here it is past the beach then onto Palm Jumeirah and Atlantis and this is another one of those engineering marvels.

Raffles Hotel Dubai
Raffles Hotel Dubai - Sister property to Raffles Singapore home of the Singapore Sling

Burh Al Arab
Burg Al Arab - see the helli pad sticking out at the top left

Palm
Hotels on Palm Jumeirah Island

Atlantis Dubai
Atlantis Resort Dubai

Yacht A
Hey look it is that Russian Billionaire Yacht "A" - saw this in Vancouver last year.


I cannot even begin to think of the places we should have got off on this leg of the bus trip but if we did we would off surely missed the ship if we did. Not a good idea to miss the ship here as it would be 9 days before catching up to it.
Arriving back at the Dubai Mall around 5:30 we had to think about getting back to the ship. All on board was 7:00 with lifeboat drill at 7:30.
There was brief stop on the pier for some shopping by the ladies while the men continued to board the ship.

All I can say is one needs many days here to get a better appreciation of Dubai, something we could not experience as we should have.

Oh yes and to my fellow Canadians there are 46 Tim Horton's in Dubai.

Tonight the show was at 10:00 PM and we took a miss on it. It was billed as Duo Artmotion - Life is Motion and we missed it because we were at dinner.

March 14 2017 - At Sea

Today was an interesting day because I woke up and opened the drapes and looked out the Balcony and saw 2 Zodiac's speeding away from the ship along with larger boats out in the distance.

I wondered what was going on as in the next day or so we would be in Pirate Alley and things would change onboard our ship. It turns out that the Zodiac's were delivering ex Royal Marines onboard along with all their equipment. It would appear that our armed guards were now on the ship.

It was later this morning that we had what was called a "Safe Haven" drill. As explained to us "if" the ship came under attack by pirates then their would be a announcement saying Safe Haven Safe Haven which would mean all those in outside cabins would have top take refuge in the hall outside your cabin or the ships theatre depending where you were at the time.
We were further told that Decks 4 and 10 would be off limits to passengers at sunset to sunrise due to guards on those decks and the ships fire doors being locked. Those with Balcony's could not have their cabin lights on a drapes open or cabin doors left open.
Dining Room blinds would be closed at Sunset as well as shades installed in other venues to block light. Lights on outside of the ship would be turned off except a couple left on on deck 9.

After the drill things turned pretty back to normal and the day went along. The problem with me is it felt like I was coming down with a cold. I hated this feeling as the day went on and by dinner time I knew it was pretty much a done deal as far as colds go. I suppose if there is a time to get one now would be it as I had a whole bunch of seas days in a row before our next port of Athens.
My next problem was it was Carol's 60th Birthday tomorrow and there was a big dinner party I had arranged for 16.

I retired to bed early to try and fight this cold.

March 15  2017 - At Sea

As I said yesterday I thought I had a cold coming on and sure enough I woke this morning not feeling very well and sweating badly. I wished Carol a Happy Birthday and we had Breakfast in the Cabin.
When I opened the door for the delivery of the breakfast there were cards stuck to the cabin door. It was a very nice collection of cards.

As we got dressed I expressed I just wanted to stay in bed and said I was not feeling well.
As most Men Cold's go their other halves hate them when they have one and tend to use it to get out of things, that was not the case today. Carol told me to suck it up and we would go sit up on deck as we were now headed back south and the weather was warming up to hot again.

After about an hour upstairs I needed to come to the cabin to get something and when I arrived I was surprised that the cabin had been decorated by none other than Jimmy our Cabin Steward. There was a sign on the door and a Birthday Cake on the bed with a Birthday Card from him. WOW this is the Cabin Steward I expected to have.

Birthday cake

card collection

 

I went back upstairs for the day and lied on a deck chair and either slept or just lied there sweating up a storm.
We headed downstairs around 5 PM to change and get ready for dinner as we had a reservation for 6:30 in My Time Dining.

I showered and got dressed for dinner and a short time later I started sweating badly again due to the cold I had. Just before we left the room I changed dress shirts and headed for dinner. By the time we had ordered dinner the new shirt was soaked.

I will say this the Maitre'D arranged it so we had 2 Waiters and 2 Assistant Waiters and this delivered an amazing meal service and time.

The usual Happy Birthday was sung along with a cake from the ship. This brought a few tears by some and all I can say is Happy 60th Birthday Carol!

The funny thing was we all left the Maitre'D said to me he would love to do it again during the cruise as the two tables were a lot of fun and the waiters liked our tables.

The group then headed off to the show which was Martin Brock and his Magic show. It was a good show.

I was then off to bed and deal with my cold and others headed to the Casino.

When Carol came back she said she was sorry to me for telling me to suck it up as she could see I was really sick..

March 16 - 19 2017 - At Sea

So it is the morning after the big Birthday bash of 2017 and the phone rings at 8:15 AM and it is House Keeping that has me out of bed.
It went like this: Good Morning Sir we just tried to make a delivery to your room on wine and cheese from yesterday for Miss Carol and the Do Not Disturb sign is on the door. You can well imagine my thought at this moment. By the way Carol is now awake asking what is going on.
Sir do you mind if we come by to deliver it now?
I look at Carol and say okay? We agree to have them come back. There was a knock a short time later and a Manager of Guest Services and a server carrying a tray with a bottle of wine and cheese on it.
The next request was to open the wine and we have wine and cheese for breakfast.
No Thanks we will save until later.
We were then told they tried to deliver it yesterday and last night but there was no one in the cabin. I said we were up on deck all day.

We later find out that the person that sent the gift were called at 11:30 PM last night asking them if they could deliver it at that time.

Wine and Cheese

So for the first night we had Beatles Tribute Band on-board and having seen them before they were a must attend. The Theatre was full and it was a great hour of entertainment.

 After returning this evening to the cabin we were approaching the Gulf of Oman. It was about 11:00 PM and I was sitting on our Balcony with the cabin lights out and looking out at the ocean which was lit by a full moon. There was a warm breeze and it was just magical sitting there.
I then noticed some quick lights on the horizon just ahead of the ship on the port side. I first wondered what they were as they suddenly came on and went for a short distance on the horizon and then up and off. I figured out it had to be a night time launch from an Aircraft Carrier in this part of the world.
The next day I was talking to the First Officer and mentioned it to him and he laughed and said you noticed it huh and said yes it is from the Royal Navy and they are not that far from us.

Full moon

As we headed a little further south before turning north into the Red Sea the heat was coming back again. You could notice the freighters trying to stay together as much as possible.
Then there was they huge container ship that went by. This ship was massive. The Captains Noon report talked about this ship and that it had just over 19,000 containers on it.

On the last morning of this stretch of sea days I woke up and pulled the drapes back and looked outside. I can best describe it as looking somewhere between fog and rain. The problem is there should be no fog here and there was no forecast of rain  either. Looking down onto the deck I noticed that there was sand on the deck and chairs. We were in a sand storm in the middle of the Red Sea.

Getting up and about for the day was interesting as when you opened the cabin door you could smell the sand. Going up onto deck 9 you could see sand on everything and everywhere.
The problem was all the windows had this coating of sand on them and it was hard to see out of, this included our Balcony rail glass wall.
Tonight we arrive at the entrance to the Suez Canal and start our transit tomorrow and this coating would hinder things. I decided to take a water bottle after dinner and wash everything down including the window/railing so we could see. This worked well.

During this leg of the cruise Chris Brown has been saying this last voyage is a voyage to remember and the entertainment will reflect that along with the program he has planned.
I have to say that so far there has not been much to remember and still no live band by the pool even with the weather being very nice.

The show tonight was Tracy Shield from Britain billed as an evening with Celine Dion.
I have to say the show was good but it appeared that she was trying too hard to make all the right moves Celine Dion would make. This was something to remember.

March 20 2017 - Suez Canal

I woke early and headed outside onto the balcony. This was one of the reasons I wanted to this cruise. As I have done the Panama Canal this would be the "other" canal to do.
The ship had pulled anchor at about 4:30 AM and started the process of getting ready to lead the convoy up the Suez Canal on the new canal that was recently built which was just starting as I stepped outside.

good morning
early morning

convoy
ships behind us, never knew exactly how many there were

canal

The trip un the Suez is interesting because small towns just appear and then it is just sand as far as you can see.
There are Military check points and Guard Towers along both sides of the canal. The there is bridging equipment in some areas to allow Military to cross the canal if needed. Then there is those men fishing in the canal that play chicken with the large ships. I watched one guy row like crazy trying to get out of the way.

fishing

bridging material
Bridging Material

canal

ferry
one of the many Ferry crossings

not sure
Suez Canal Office complete with it's own Mosque

Mosque
just odd with all that sand behind it

canal from bow

cross over
this is one of several cross over points in case there is ever a problem. Note the ship going south and the sailboat passing us.

guard tower
Guard Tower complete with it's own outhouse

We continued down the canal and could see a large bridge coming into view. It was El Salam Bridge connecting Port Said to the Sinai. It was closed in 2013 and was suppose to be opened in the spring of 2016 on a temporary bases. We could not see any vehicles on the bridge other than what appeared to be workers of some type.

El Salam Bridge
El Salam Bridge coming into view

the bridge

Passing the bridge brought us to El-Qantara el-Gharbiya on the west side.

El-Qantara

city


see the guard walking on top of the sand - must be pretty boring

on the phone
on the phone

Port Said in the distance
Port Said is up ahead on the left and we are headed up to the right down the new canal

Port Said
Port Said way out there and the Pilot Boat Station in the forefront

I enjoyed the trip north through the Suez Canal and once out we were now in the Mediterranean Sea headed for Greece.

The Captain informed us that we were lucky that we went through today as yesterday the sand storm we went through went through the Suez Canal and you could see nothing.

March 21 2017 - At Sea

 As we are at Sea today it should be a quite day but there are many things scheduled for today with the first being an Auction of Plaques presented to the ship over the 21 years of her service.

You may not know but when a ship visits a port for the first time the Port normally presents a commemorative Plaque with the date and something unique on the plaque to the ships Captain. The Plaque is then placed on a wall or walls in the Legend of the Seas case as she had over 500 plaques presented to her.
The plaques were no longer needed or wanted by the new owners as the ship's name was being changed to Discovery 2 and had no value to Thompson.

I have always liked reading these different plaques and what they say and thought it would be nice if I could take home something from when the ship was in my part of the world of Vancouver.
This had been long talked about by many onboard so it was no surprise to see the lounge full.
Viewing was suppose to begin at 1030 AM and the Auction start at 11:00 AM.
This did not happen as planned because RCI decided that the Crown and Anchor Society (frequent cruises club) would allow their highest members being Pinnacle  to have first pick through and buy them before they went for auction.
This alone slowed the whole process down and ticked off many passengers. Once the Pinnacle Members were done we could finally enter the area which I managed to do about 10:55 AM and as they started to move the Plaques to the Auction table.

Many of the prized plaques were gone and picked through. I did see one that I might be interested in and that was presented to the ship on October 21 2014 on her first call to Charlottetown Prince Edward Island here in Canada.
It is a painting of Charlottetown City Hall with the RCMP Musical Ride in front in a half circle and small brass plaque attached to the frame. 

Painting

For most this painting, would mean nothing, but for us as Canadians it had meaning. The start of Confederation took place in Charlottetown in the early 1860's and then proclaimed by Her Majesty Queen Victoria on March 29 1867 to take affect on July 1st 1867 naming the country Canada.
You see this year Canada marks it's 150th Birthday on July 1st so for Canadians this picture would mean something. You have two iconic Canadian things in the picture and coupled with Canada's 150th it needed a Canadian home.

The Auction started and many items went up for sale. The Painting I wanted came up and started at $20 and I managed to get if for $40. The problem then became how do I get it home.

After the Auction there were Plaques that didn't sell and my friend Chris found one that didn't go up for Auction that was presented by CFB Comox Rescue to the ship for some lifesaving event that it took part in.
I had spent a few years in Comox on the base so I thought what's $15 so I took this one as well.
They both hang on walls in my place now.

Comox

After lunch we all met to discuss what each of us were planning to do in Athens tomorrow. Since both Carol and I had been to Athens before we didn't see the need to visit the Acropolis again, after all it has been there over a thousand years I am sure it will be there again if I come back.
The last time I was here I wanted to see the Changing of the Guard at the Parliament Building so why not see them this time. Several were in for this and now it was time to figure out how to get there.
The First Officer's Wife was on the cruise and from Athens and near us so why not ask her. She gave us the directions how to get to Athens from Piraeus on the bus/train and where we had to go eat as well. An all day pass is 4 Euro which I thought was a good deal which you buy just outside the terminal building.
We were now set to go into Athens.

March 23 2017 - Piraeus, Greece - Athens

This morning we docked in Piraeus which is the port city for Athens. It is about a 30 - 40 minute trip from the port into downtown Athens.

We managed to be off the ship shortly after 8:00 AM and off to do a couple of Geocaches near the port and meet up with the rest of the group at 8:30 and then onto the bus/train.
Walking out of the port we could see the ship and it had this nice red colour to it with the sand still stuck to it from the sand storm a few days ago. The crew had fire hoses out washing the outside of the ship.

Legend of the Seas
Notice the sand on the ship...

After the successful logging of the caches we met up with our group and off to buy our tickets and then across the street top catch the bus. We hopped on the first bus which was an articulated bus. Everyone said to me are you sure this is the right bus and I send yep. They said how do you know and I said it is a large bus and it will stop at the train station and most everyone will get off and when they do we get off.
A few blocks down the road I get the question again from the group and I said we are okay trust me. Having driven bus for many years almost all systems use these type of bus to move lots of people to/from stations.
Sure enough 5 minutes later the bus stops almost everyone starts to get of and I say we are here.
Okay we followed the wrong group and went into the wrong train station and had to backtrack to the station next door. Right Bus wrong Train station....

We had to go about 6 stations up the line before we got off the train and headed to street level to proceed to the Parliament Buildings. As we start our way there we notice the Bairaktaris Restaurant we were told to have lunch at. The owner asks us if we want a table and we say we are going to see the changing of the Guard first as it is only 10:30 AM now and we agree we will be back at 1:00PM.

trains station
A mix of old and new buildings and technology

 

I have to say watching the changing of the guard here in Athens is more than a bit different than anything I have seen before. The uniforms are different and the shoes look to be heavy with a metal plate attached to them topped with what I would call a fluffy ball.

Guards

Guards marching

Guards at attentionm

Guards steps
notice the steel plate and spikes

new guards
new Guards

Marching Off
Marching Off

Once we were done here it was down to the Plaka and some looking around in the stores before lunch.
In the following photos there is a variety of goods for sale and it covers I would anything and everything. One of the things I learned on my last trip to Greece is buying wooden spoons etc. made out of Olive Wood as they don't stain and last forever.

 

Plaka

bottle opener
Bottle Opener anyone? Does size matter?

The Bairaktaris Restaurant is in the Plaka so we arrived slightly early and the owner was waiting with our table.
We each ordered and agreed to share a Greek Salad trying to share the food between 8 of us where needed.
I can not begin to describe the taste of the Greek Salad in Greece because the tomatoes are what makes the salad as we don't have tomatoes that taste like this at home.

lunch
Lamb on the upper left and Greek Salad and of course Greek Beer.

Towards the end of the meal I mentioned that we still had Ozo to go at the end. Everyone said we didn't order any Ozo and I said trust me it will arrive and sure enough a silver tray came with 8 small shot glasses of Ozo. I said this is a one shot deal do not sip it as it pretty much smells like paint thinner.
Well you always have a couple who have to sip and the looks were priceless. I have photos but posting them would only get me in some major hot water.
I had two shots and yep it went down and it hasn't changed since the last time.
It is said the reason for the Ozo is it helps with digestion. After we did this a couple plates a a traditional Greek Dessert arrived.
The total meal price for 8 came to about 45 Euro.

Some of the group departed in different directions for shopping while a couple of us continued to a couple of Geocaches.
We had passed one on the way from the train station nearby. I went back to it because it was an old Church called Church of Panagia Kapnikarea built about 1050.
The Geocache was on a sign by this old Greek Orthodox Church.
I came down this walkway lined with stores and saw the church at the end. I first sat down on a marble bench to take this in and a Gentleman in a suit wheeled up an old Music Box and started to turn the handle. The music started and everyone walked by like he didn't exist.
I sat here a good 10 minutes taking it all in that something this old was here amidst all this around me. A old time music box playing and the people going by just taking it for granted that all this is happening as this is just everyday life to them.

Panagia Kapnikarea
The Church

looking back from where I came
looking back from where I just came from.

Music box
Right side the music box is wheeled in.

I have to say that sitting here and not knowing until I got home how old this church really was because the sign that on the church was in Greek and there was no guessing what it said. As I type this, this was one of those moments I truly won't forget. Sitting there beside a Church almost 1000 years old and it is still open. There is nothing in North America like this.

Oh yes we did get the Geocache on the sign.

There was a Geocache on the way to the base of the Acropolis that we stopped for. While the cache itself is just a mint container it is what is next to the cache that they want you to see.

https://coord.info/GC2J2Z9
more ruins beside a flee market

walking to the next cache
walking to the next cache

next cache
That is the Acropolis on the hill

The above caches is what got me into Geocaching. I have seen many things in my travels and many of them I had no idea they existed until I arrived in the area.

We set sail of Piraeus just after 6:00 PM and past our first cache of the day.

The Lion

March 23 2017 - At Sea

The temperatures are truly dropping with the high today making it to 16° C today.

There was really no point is sitting on deck today as it was too cool.

This evening marked the Handover of the Legend of the Seas to Thompson Cruises. The event was in the Atrium which was just too small for the number of people trying to see it.

Then there was this huge cake that was there that in the end I was told turned out to be nothing more than icing on cardboard.

While I thought this was a nice touch the handover it was the wrong location for the masses.

March 24 2017 - Valletta, Malta

Waking up this morning just after we sailed and opening the drapes and seeing this picture below was amazing.

The Walled City
180 ° Photo from the Balcony.

I know through my Dad's travel and him serving in the Royal Navy in WW II he spoke a lot about Malta and the battles it went through over time and including WW II. It is referred as the Walled City and with good reason, it withstood a lot and is still there today. This Island has long been on my Bucket List of a place to get too, now it is checked off.
It was built during the Rule of The Order of Saint John. Walking around the city one see's signs saying built in 1567. That is 300 years before Canada became a country.
There was no thought of building a city so cars could drive around/through it in that time, yet today you see cars and trucks in the walled city.
We had to hire a couple of Taxi's for about 3.5 hours and head out and around different parts of the island but not before I did my first Geocache in Malta with the group.

walkway
walkway where we hired the Taxi's and did the Geocache.

 The first stop was San Anton Gardens home of the Presidential Palace. We spent 30 minutes here and they were readying the gardens for spring, not much to see.

Garden
not much in bloom

archway

 

We left the Gardens and headed towards Mdina with a stop at Valletta Glass factory. We spent a quick 20 minutes here including the walk through the glass blowing area. Having been to Venice and Murano Glass this was not even close in what you see.

Valletta Glass

Continuing to Mdina we would get 1 hour here to explore this city.
Walking over the stone bridge you soon find out that this city also has cars and trucks in it. They drive in here with what appears to be no regard for those walking around.
Mdina houses  St. Paul's Cathedral built between 1696 - 1705. There was a tour of the Cathedral but we did not have enough time to do it.
I found the 1 hour went very quickly and enjoyed my visit here.

Map of Mdina
map of Mdina

walkway
You get an idea of how narrow things are

road
another look

St. Paul's Cathedral
Side view of St. Paul's Cathedral
Main entrance to the right

truck
Not what you want coming up behind you

moat
What was the moat when Mdina was built

We went back to our Taxi's to find that suddenly it was time to return to ship because of traffic there would not be time to get over to the Blue Grotto.

We were driven back to Valletta and dropped off in the upper part of the city.

There was the usual stops for a few Geocaches which included on in a wall where you removed a stone to get to the cache. I really don't like doing this because walls like this are historic items.
One was located in the wall of the old Opera house that was bombed in WW II. It is now and open air Opera House.

Opera House
Opera House on right

street view
great place to sit and have a coffee/beer

strret
view from wall looking back

looking out to sea
looking out to sea and the entrance to the Harbour.

Napolean
 I stopped here and took this because I have run into Napoleon at a cache on Corsica at his Tomb

age of buildingfs
built 1574

street

elevator
waiting for the elevator to take down back to the ship

port
arriving back at the ship

sail away
across the harbour as we sail out

walled city
gives you an idea of how protected this city really is

sunset
sunset and yes we saw the green flash, 2nd time this cruise!

Well tonight there were a lot of small get together as the cruise is winding down.
Tonight it was the early show which at 6:45 PM and it was a group called Emperors of Soul. It was one of the better shows on this cruise.
From here it was off to dinner and then bed.

March 25 2017 - At Sea

Today marks the last full day on the final Voyage of the Legend of the Seas.

It also marks packing day which means trying to get everything back in the you brought with you plus anything you bought along the way.

There will be little get together for the final time with friends that we may not see for a long time. Between these gatherings there will be packing and the final meals on the ship. This is not only occurring with passengers but with the crew as well as they will also be leaving the ship tomorrow. 

Tonight another large table of 12 was arranged for dinner with the same wait staff.
Dinner was set for 6:30 as all of us wanted to be at the Final Farewell show which was a couple called Carlo Truzzi & Simona's Shadow Show scheduled for 8:45 PM.

Dinner was a bit of a disappointment tonight. Five of us ordered Lamb Shank and when it arrived all 5 of us tried it and the best to describe it was leather. They thought was why bother to send it back as this wasn't the first bad meal we have had on this cruise.
The waiters noticed all 5 of us rejected the Lamb Shank and asked why and soon there were 5 new dishes on the table. Now this is the way it should be served. There is no reason why this should happen but it does and it continued to happen this cruise.

After the show tonight, which was very good it was back to the cabin to put the cases out in the hall and prepare any last minute things for tomorrow.

March 26 2017 - Barcelona Spain

The ship arrived early and yes we were up early. Some final goodbyes and we were off the ship by 8:00 AM and at the Hotel Ibis by 8:20 AM where we stored our luggage.

We had tickets to the Sagrada Família for about 11:30 and it was just around the corner from the hotel. We did a walk over to there first thing and walked around before the crowds of people arrived. 
During this walk around we managed to do the one Geocache across the street.

It was then back to the hotel for 10:00 to get our room then change as it was warming up.

It was back to to the Sagrada Família where we had a few minute wait before we could get in.
One can pre-order tickets prior to their trip and that is what we did. Many people were trying to get to tickets but found that today the Família closed early and were out of luck.

It is safe to say once you enter Sagrada Família you are in more ahh than you were looking at it from the outside. Antoni Gaudí really had a vision and it is amazing to see it inside.
Listening during the tour you find out that the sound is the same no matter where you are inside. There were 5 different kinds of stone material used for the building all having different make-up for this purpose as well as strength.

outside
first view of the church

outside view

looking up

out
The detail is amazing

interior

interior

interior

up
In the tower looking down

walking down
This is some walk down - open both sides

different view

After completing the tour we headed across the street for Paella sitting outside at the restaurant.
It was great sitting here eating and watching the world go by and drinking beer.

Paella

We spent the rest afternoon walking around the area and finding a few Geocaches.

Geocache
Building where Geocache was.

After we returned to the Hotel we met up with friends and headed out for a walk and looking for a Tapas Bar. After walking for some time we came across a place we thought would do. It was a great meal with a couple more beers.

more Tapas

After this it was a slow walk back to the hotel shopping along the way.

It was an early night tonight as we had an early day tomorrow flying home through Paris and Montreal.

Thoughts on the Trip

When I booked this trip the price was very low. Things did add up quick such as Hotel cost in Singapore.
It was a cruise/trip that involved new ports of call at time of booking. I did not like the change to Athens from Crete but in the end Athens worked out very well and I was happy with Athens.
Singapore is very clean and safe but at the same time expensive.
I could spend more time in Malaysia and loved it.

India was amazing yet interesting in the amount of poverty yet most appear to happy and know no different. The houseboat tour was truly was amazing to be done with friends. Then there was Bombay which gave me new insight to Gandhi.
India and the constant honking of horns and garbage is something I won't soon forget.

Dubai was very interesting and I loved it. I do want to go back.

Malta is somewhere I would go for a land holiday.

As for the cruise I have come home to a change on how I view cruises. I have found this odd as I have been cruising since 1983.
This wasn't a great cruise but a good cruise in itself. My friends made this a great cruise compared to if I had done it on my own. I just found too many things missing on this cruise that Royal Caribbean have offered in the past. There was no live band by the pool and entertainment just appeared to be so so even though Chris Brown the Cruise Director kept saying how good it was going to be.
Food for most is a big part of a cruise. I found the food in the dining room lacking in temperature and taste. I remember getting what appeared to be pancakes for Yorkshire Pudding. There was many cold dishes that arrived at the table and had to be sent back.
I did eat in the Windjammer Cafe many times, something I have only done a few times before because the food was better quality and hot.

I am not sure if changing cruise lines will change my feeling. I do have a cruise booked for September to be with friends but I feel something isn't right. I do suspect I will be cancelling this cruise.

Thank you for reading - Phil