BALTIC, DOLLY, 2 Tropical Storms, a Hurricane and Cyclone!
When the Walters Dinner Theatre 19th season ended I hit the road – 3 sold out, journeys one after another.
Started off with the Baltic on the NCL Getaway. A Baltic Cruise is a busy itinerary because there is so much to see. We sailed out of Copenhagen which is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Many tour companies won’t fly their groups into Copenhagen the day ahead of a cruise due to the big cost but in my books you take too much of a risk by not arriving early plus Copenhagen is a city well worth a look.
We lucked out with the weather during the Baltic cruise. At times the temperature was very nippy but the skies remained clear. We dressed in layers and were most comfortable. It was a hot summer in the Baltic (100F days) so by cruising in the fall we avoided that humidity plus the peak season crowds. I think my passengers would agree I picked the perfect time to visit this part of the world.
The Baltic ports of call are very diverse and exciting to visit but St. Petersburg is the highlight. For the first time in this part of the world I booked private (non-ship) shore excursions for my group. Even though I researched for a number of weeks I was still a little nervous but the Russian tour operator I selected was very professional.
Another major highlight was when we experienced scrumptious dinners in 3 St Petersburg family homes – a once in a lifetime experience.
Berlin, Germany was the most sobering destination we visited – its tragic history came to life during our excursion.
After we arrived back to Toronto I flew to Nashville in order to meet up with the “Yellow Brick Road Mystery Tour” passengers. Months after I put this Mystery Journey together I was excited to learn that country legend Dolly Parton was going to be honored with a special performance after celebrating 50 years on the Grand Ole Opry. As you can imagine tickets for this historic show sold out in a few minutes and then were only available for thousands of dollars a pop. I decided to completely re-work the Mystery Tour (changing the destination) in order to include this concert. I struggled to nab tickets but refused to give up. After a couple of months of trying I was finally successful. Completely changing the Mystery Tour itinerary in order to include Dolly’s 50th Anniversary superb concert was a great decision. Many told me this was the BEST motor coach tour they have ever been on.
As I write this update I am once again sailing on the NCL Getaway. My group started cruising from Copenhagen and will finish this 19 night cruise in New Orleans. We have already visited MANY wonderful European destinations. Unlike the Baltic departure this one is much more relaxed as there are a number of sea days. The itinerary is what attracted me to his departure. Its certainly the best Trans-Atlantic itinerary I’ve EVER come across. We even made history, as our Captain sailed through Tropical Storm Pablo as it turned into a hurricane. This is the first time in recorded history that a hurricane has ever formed this far East in the Atlantic. When reading about Hurricane Pablo, online in the Washington Post the writer stated that this storm will be studied for years to come. The captain did not advise us of the hurricane until the following morning. The seas were choppy but Ive certainly experienced much, much worse even in the Caribbean. A good friend at home advised that some ships sailing from Spain to England were delayed 3 days due to this storm.
The Getaway is a large cruise ship and easily handled the swells. To date on this departure we have sailed through 2 tropical storms (Pablo/Rebecca) , a hurricane (Pablo) and even a Northern cyclone made life challenging for our Captain. If the Captain wasn’t updating on this weather excitement we wouldn’t have had any idea but we now have a fun story to tell when we get home,
We visited many wonderful ports in the UK, France and Ireland but unfortunately we missed a port in the Portuguese Azores. A small, very old cruise ship was given priority getting into port. It took 1 hour and two tugs to get that ship to the dock. By then the winds picked up (was expected) and after 3 attempts to get our ship to the dock the port supervisor turned us away. Our Captain was not impressed and I’m sure that heads will roll over this. Our ship staff was expected to pick up supplies, food etc in this port. What a nightmare for the staff on board the Getaway.
I really like our Captain – he is very personal, very easy to understand and extremely professional. He easily manoevers this large ship.
A couple day prior to arriving in Bermuda the seas smoothed and temps reached close to 80F. Passengers flooded to the outdoor decks and it didn’t take long before we saw some major sunburns.
Entertainment has been terrific on board ship – the broadway show, Million Dollar Quartet is certainly the most impressive show. We also really enjoyed, another broadway show called Burn the Floor.
The ships internet connection is sluggish and extremely expensive (99 cents a minute) so I have been able to update Facebook with pictures but its been much more difficult getting a blog out.
We have a few ports to visit after Bermuda – Bahamas and Miami.
New Orleans is where this cruise will finish. I have some fun excursions planned while we visit that lively city.
We arrive back in Toronto late on Saturday.
Walters Christmas Shows will then be around the corner – November 14 at the Sanderson Center in Brantford. Hope to see you there!
I then fly out on the 15th with another group – Cunard Northern Lights Cruise.
Update – we have arrived in Bermuda – the sun is hot – the sky is clear – the sea is blue – we have crossed the Atlantic – congrats to my passengers – another one to take off your bucket-list!