Emerald IslesAs I sit in the 12th floor Palm Court, I see overcast skies, fog just above the water, and waves maybe two to three feet high as the Crystal Serenity sails smoothly toward the English Channel and the last port of this eleven day cruise of the Emerald Isles. The temperature hovers around 60 degrees with slight winds of eight miles per hour and 82% humidity. Today is much better than our second day at sea when waves reached 22 feet and tossed everyone drunkenly from side to side as they, completely sober, maneuvered the halls. Many people onboard turned green, stayed in their rooms, or took the motion sickness pills offered by the ship’s staff.
My husband and I suffered much higher, rougher weather on two of the eleven or so cruises we’ve taken. Still, we love to cruise. I feel it is the only true vacation a woman experiences. Except for doing a little laundry once in a while, she spends her time reading, walking the promenade deck, exercising in the fitness center, getting pampered in the spa, or in my case, writing. Be aware, the spa is rather costly. Every night, or during the days at sea, music is provided for dancing. If single, dance ambassadors twirl her across the floor and allow little time to rest her feet.
We spent three days in London before we were bused to the port of Dover and boarded the ship. We watched the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, toured part of the National Gallery, and the Tower of London. We walked huddled beneath a small umbrella in an English downpour to an old English pub where we tasted traditional food and drank the local brew. We cruised the Thames and viewed the whole city from atop the London Eye, an extra large enclosed Ferris wheel. Westminster Abbey, located across a bridge from our hotel, lay at our feet as we descended the ride. Three days didn’t allow nearly enough time to take in all the attractions.
Once we sailed, the captain cancelled our first port of Lerwick in the Shetland Islands because of aforementioned rough seas that showed no sign of letting up. Instead, we headed to Edinburgh. Other stops included Belfast, Liverpool, Dublin, Waterford, and tomorrow, St. Peter Port on Guernsey Island. I read about WWII events on the island in the book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Now, I look forward to visiting the port.
Panoramic, highlight, or historic tours in each location provided plenty of information about castles, palaces, attractions, and even Irish politics. We tasted authentic Irish stew and drank Guinness beer. A visit to an old Belfast pub included a half-pint of Guinness. Not fond of beer, I asked for something light and was served Coors!
We heard bagpipes, viewed Riverdance style Irish dancing, and purchased cashmere and wool scarves, authentic Liverpool Football Club jerseys, as well as other gifts for family and friends. We walked narrow streets lined with shops, pubs, old street lamps and hanging flower baskets, and shot lots of photos.
Tonight we’ll don our formal attire, attend the captain’s reception, eat a succulent meal in the dining room, and listen to our Jazzdagen All Star Band. We travel once a year with Jazzdagen, a Dixieland Jazz tour company, which arranges cruises all over the world and highlights various Dixieland Jazz bands or musicians. They play swing and other forms of music besides Dixieland. We’ve made friends with many of the passengers and musicians who frequent the Jazzdagen cruises.
In September, 2011, they travel to Tahiti and tour French Polynesian Islands aboard the small Paul Gauguin ship. Over Christmas and New Years they sail from Los Angeles to Hawaii on the Crystal Symphony. The ship’s decorations are extraordinary. Travels in 2012 include leaving Ft. Lauderdale to Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and other ports, plus trips to Alaska, the Mediterranean, and more. For a guaranteed fun trip, good music, and excellent care, check out jazzdagen.com or call 1-800-433-0078 to receive travel brochures.
Too soon this trip will end and our hectic home schedule will fill our days. But, we’ll look back fondly on this cruise to a part of the world we’d never encountered.