Old friends are always wanted . . .

prime-c

Will, John and I first met in September of 1960, and we had kept in touch – on and off – over the years, so when we had the opportunity of sailing together we jumped at joining Azamara Quest for the South American cruise.

When Will & John found out that during the cruise Maureen and I would be celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary, they insisted on inviting us to dinner at Prime C, which is a specialist restaurant on Azamara Pursuit that specialises in meat dishes.

1800x1000-life-onboard-dining

Prime C  – starboard side, aft, over looking the sea.

The booking had been made for the evening of the 22 nd February, which was the evening of our day in Punta del Easte, Uruguay, and also the date of our anniversary.
Fortunately, by late afternoon of the 22nd, Maureen had recovered from the excess amount of exposure to the hot sun.

Knowing that Maureen is a coeliac, and that I was not fussy on spaghetti, the Italian specialty restaurant was not a consideration.

DSC05221r

The six of us around the dining table.

The restaurant has limited seating, so seating can be at a premium, especially when at sea, as against being in port.

DSC05224r

The entrance to the restaurant was at the end of this area – on the left hand side of the picture is the galley (kitchens).

prime-c-restaurant--v14101832-cc-720

Same area different angle.

prime-c-restaurant--v14101966-cc-576

Our table was the far end of the restaurant, beyond the support pole.

DSC05229r

Once the dining staff realised the reason for our celebration, they produced a cake with ‘Happy Anniversary ‘ iced across the centre – and from memory it was GF!

2006311

I’m not sure if you will be able to read the menu, but I can say that all the food was beautifully cooked and the steak done perfectly for me – medium – rare, knife went through the meat without any strain!

We were offered a menu of various wines at an additional fee, but we were also asked if we wanted the daily wine special – after checking the prices, we stuck to the daily special.

pals

Old friends from 57 years ago . . .

It was June 1962, after two years at HMS Conway, that we left to go to sea, we joined different shipping companies, so sailed in different parts of the world.
Will (who now lives in NZ) is on the left, John (UK) on the right, and the daft one in the middle is yours truly, now living in Australia.
I’d just turned 18, and was the oldest of the three of us, I think Will & John were still 17.
I extracted the above from the photograph of the thirty six cadets leaving HMS Conway that time.
Excuse the pun – but a lot of water has passed under our ‘bridges’ since we left the ‘Conway’.
Once again I close with Golden Wedding a different version than the Woody Herman 1939 version.

 

 

 

 

Sailing & White Night

DSC04299r

Cast off, the voyage has started as we make our way from the dock area to the open sea.

DSC04296r

Some just like to sit in the spa, with little interest in our sailing, but that is their choice

DSC04300r

A pleasant warm day with clear sky, but not all are interested in the passing scenery.

DSC04301r

Even after all their years at sea the two master mariners above still enjoyed the beginning of a voyage.

DSC04303r

We are now at sea as the land falls behind us  . . .

DSC04305r

I have dozens of photographs of sunrises and sunsets, and never get tired of the ocean view, and my limited attempt to capture the right moment.

White Night

White Night is an evening when everyone is encouraged to dress in white, but it is not compulsory.

DSC04991r

Preparing for the White Night, which is a BBQ style experience.

DSC04994r

The area around the pool becomes livelier as more and more passengers arrive to find a table with friends

DSC04998rOur wives in the spirit of White Night.

DSC05002r

The Captain (standing near the man in a coloured shirt) made a point of visiting every table to greet the guests and make sure that they were happy.

DSC05001r

The ships’ Master, Carl Smith, is from the Isle of Man (UK) and has been at sea for thirty years, not quite as long as my two friends.

DSC05005r

BBQ meat on one set of coals and lobster on the other

DSC05008r

You have your plate and this line of food is just one small area from which you can fill it, I went for the Asian dishes cooked to order (not shown).
I asked one of the cooks, who was Malay, to cook me a stir fry, and he asked how spicy would I like the dish, and so I told him to do it exactly as he liked it – so he made it as such, and it was great! Spiced just right . . .

We could go back to the food area as often as we liked, but I only went back for a small desert, and some cheese and biscuits – the choice of different dishes from around the world was mouthwatering.

DSC05011r

The evening moves on, and the deck light come on because at the end of the meal the dancing will start.

DSC05013r

The three of us first met in September 1960 – John (left) & Will (right) stayed at sea and commanded their own ships. I left the sea and joined an airline.

DSC05014r

The crew march around with the flags of their own nation, while the passengers wave their napkins.

DSC05016r

Speeches of appreciation from Captain Carl, after which the band strikes up for the dancing.

DSC05024r

DSC05025r

At least nobody fell in the pool – the seating, BBQ and dancing is all around the pool.

DSC05022r

This is the last photo as Maureen & left to go to bed – a real sign of age, it was only 11.00 pm. . . .

DSC05029r

But I was up early enough to watch the sun rise – again . . . .

 

 

 

 

A look around inside ‘Pursuit’

DSC04289r

Our cabin – it was adequate, except that the pillows of today are multiplying – one doesn’t have a single or double pillow anymore, we have to have pillows for show, yet few viewers are invited in to one’s bedroom . . .  note the long tube like pillow that spent all day at the back of the sofa, out of the way.

DSC04307r

Azamara’s vessels are small, and have a feel of a country club rather than the razzmatazz on the large cruise ships that aim at families with children. The above is an area that leads to a few shops and on the right is a coffee bar with cakes (all inclusive), passed the shops is the ‘theater’, which is not all that large compared to other cruise ships, but more like a night club.

DSC05238r

The area was also used for chocolate evening – as much as you could eat . .

DSC05234r

Chocolate fountains and fruit on a stick – people were allowing the chocolate fountain to flow over their fruit stick – excuse the pun, but not to my taste.

DSC04309r

The theater – you can see how close the ‘stage’ is to the audience. On walking in you are asked what you would like to drink . .  all very civilised.

DSC04695r

The audience is very close to the entertainers – the two above are part of the permanent group of ship’s entertainers.

DSC04789r

Entertainers joined at one port, stayed a few days, and then departed either for home or to their next ship. This singer, Helen Jayne, had a Scouse accent (a Liverpool twang), and when I asked her where she was from, it was Lythem St Annes, which is just outside Liverpool. She has a very powerful voice. The video is not all that good, but you get the idea, fast forward through the chatty bits.

DSC04861r

Another indication of how close the audience is to these dancers – Dima & Sasha from Kiev – we’d seen them before in 2016, but well worth seeing again with their new routine.

DSC04488r

Discovery dining-room  a very pleasant area with tables that can seat from one to more than ten.

DSC04723r

On one particular day the centre of the dining room was turned in to a presentation arena for lunch, and the ship’s officers carved the joints and served the passengers. We  helped ourselves to various items, and then the ship’s officer would serve the fish or meat dishes. Once we found a table the steward would arrive with the wine list.

DSC04728r

A whole roasted pig, with crackling just waiting to be carved.

DSC04780r

Another shot of the dinning-room as the evening meals is about to start.

DSC04460r

One of the stairways from deck five to deck four leading to guest relations.

DSC04869r

Guest relations desk.

DSC04508r

Another example of the staircases from one deck to another – quiet quality.

As for bars, we had a good choice – the coffee shop that I mentioned at the beginning of this blog also offers wine and beer.

DSC04304r

At the entrance to the main dining-room there is a small bar – ideal place to wait for friends before going in to dinner.

DSC04989r

Nothing better than sitting outside in the sunshine and having a drink with friends – I never get tired of watching the wake.
But our favourite place was the ‘Living room’, which was a large semicircle comfortable location overlooking the bow. DSC04527rQuiet, light music at 5.00 pm, and hors d’œuvres, hot & cold, were also served at 5.00 pm.
The Living Room was open from very early to very late and one could wander in there at 9.30 am or earlier for coffee or what ever you wanted. We used to meet our friends in the Living Room at 11.00 am on sea days –

pre-lunchtime drinks . . . .  DSC04526r

700x534-card-room-and-in-touch-azamara-pursuit

The picture windows around the Living Room allowed one to photograph anything of interest, without going outside, particularly if it was cold. I copied this picture from Azamara’ s web site.

the-drawing-room--v14101662-cc-576

One of my favourite places was the Drawing Room,which was also the library.

The picture is from Cruise Critic, for some reason my copy didn’t register. . . . . .

Sail Away & White Night to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas past. . . .1962

Ellenga

BI vessel S.S Ellenga

As a first trip cadet – I’d been at sea for about three months – it was Christmas at sea – we left Mina el Ahamadi in Kuwait at 3.00 am on Friday 21st December – it would be Christmas at sea for the five day voyage to Little Aden in what is now Yemen.

gettyimages-105217986-1024x1024

We were not all that sorry to leave, because I doubt that an oil refinery in Kuwait would be on many people’s ‘bucket list’, particularly at Christmas time.

Even though it was Christmas at sea the watching keeping officers and crew still had to work on Christmas Day.

Breakfast62rc

Christmas breakfast menu,  on board the Ellenga in 1962.

The one thing we didn’t worry about was being hungry – couldn’t fault the British India Steam Nav. Co for the standard of food.

Certain cruise ship today think that they invented breakfast menus  . . .

For those of us who didn’t have to work on Christmas Day,
after a beer or two we all had lunch.

Lunch62

A quiet afternoon for the cadets and at 7.00 pm it was time to eat again . . .

It was Christmas dinner!

Xmas62 dinner

Ellenga menu.jpg

Cover of the Christmas dinner menu – signed by the officers.

All the time were ‘eating’ we were steaming down the Persian Gulf towards the Straits of Hormuz

strait-of-hormuz-chokepoints

Coast of Little Aden, Yemen shot from Al Burayqah

The view of our destination – Little Aden- of course we were not allowed ashore. If for some reason we had to visit Aden, it was about a 45 minute road trip, and HOT!
The above is from the internet and thanks to Taff Davies in the UK.

Aden and Little Aden were still Aden colony in 1962 – the British having captured the area  in 1839 to secure the route to India, control the entrance to the Red Sea.and to dissuade pirates.
Until 1937 Aden was governed from India, but in 1937 it became a Crown Colony.
Its location is equidistant from Bombay (now Mumbai), Zanzibar & the Suez Canal, so it was a very important strategic location.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

We now jump forward four years to 1966, when I experienced another Christmas at sea.

I’d passed my 2nd Mates ticket and had been appointed 3rd Officer in the Bankura.

Bankura

BI ship M.S Bankura 6,793 gt, launched in 1959.

We sailed from Chalna in East Pakistan (the name changed after liberation to Bangladesh in 1971), after loading in the Rupsha River from floating warehouse type barges – the photograph below will give you and idea. We used our own derricks / cranes to load the cargo, After we completed loading we sailed for Colombo in Ceylon.

CCI11102015

I was once again at sea for Christmas, but only have the dinner menu as a souvenir.
This time I was third mate in a cargo ship running between Calcutta to the Australian & New Zealand coast. The round trip would take us about three months, unless we were lucky and became strike bound in Australia . . . . for the dockers in Australia this was their main hobby in the 60’s.

Although I was ‘at sea’, we were not sailing the oceans at Christmas, but anchored in Colombo harbour in Ceylon, (now called Sri Lanka). We arrived on the 20th December and worked cargo until Christmas Day, which was a holiday, not just for us, but Colombo as well. While we at the buoys another of the  Company’s vessels arrived and moored at a buoy close to us. She was the Carpentaria.
I think we were left at buoys because it would have been cheaper than going alongside due to the downtime, because of Christmas.

Carpentaria

 Carpentaria 7268 gt Launched 1949

We had company and a change of faces, and the ability to swap books. The Carpentaria carried eleven passengers so their Christmas was going to be ‘posher’ than ours, not that we had any complaints. The menu for our Christmas dinner is below

Cropped

Cover

Front cover of the menu – once again signed by the officers.

I have a letter that I sent to Maureen detailing the high jinks that took place between the Bankura & the Carpentaria officers – but that is another story.

 

 

Transplanted Christmas

A friend of mine commented on an old post, (which I posted in 2015), about cooking a Christmas turkey that doesn’t dry out, so I thought I’d post the recipe again, because Christmas is only a few weeks away.

Turkey-Picture

Christmas comes but once and year, & this is the only time my wife and I eat turkey.
Over the years we have experienced different ways of cooking the bird so that it doesn’t dry out.

The ‘must have Christmas turkey’ is a hangover from our time in the UK, before we emigrated.
Our Australian friends favour pork, ham or shellfish – prawns, oysters etc.
This coming Christmas will be our 38th Christmas in Australia, which for me, is three years longer than my UK Christmas’s.

The only ‘Pommy’ things that we have transplanted from our life in the UK is turkey at Christmas Mince pies and home made mince pies, from Maureen’s mum’s recipe.

Mincemeat

and it has to be Roberton’s

The best turkey recipe that we have found was sent to me a few years ago by a HMS Conway friend, who is half Dutch and half English, and now lives in the UK.

The process is quite simple – cover the turkey in streaky bacon, and then foil.

Set the oven to switch on at 1.30 am Christmas morning, at a temperature of 70 degrees ‘c’ and set the timer for seven hours.

At 8.30 am increase the temperature to 180 degrees ‘c’ for three hours. This allows us to attend the 9.00 am service at church.

At 10.30 am remove the foil from the turkey – leaving the oven at 180 c – depending on your needs, the removal of the foil can be between 30 to 60 minutes, before the end of the three hour period.

At 11.30 am remove the bird from the oven and wrap it in plenty of towels (or you can use a small blanket), which locks in the heat, but doesn’t dry out the bird . The turkey will stay warm for hours, leaving the oven free for other food to be cooked.

Lunch can be served any time after the vegetables are ready – it all depends on your timetable.

We sat down for lunch at 2.00 pm and the meat was moist, tasty and very appetising – dry turkey is a thing of the past.

australia-beach-snowman-1

 

It takes time to get used to Christmas in Australia,

 Snow White Boomers

In Praise of Something Smaller

DSC05915r

Maureen & I have completed ten cruises over the years, mainly with Princess Cruises, but the one that we use to judge all of the others is Azamara Cruises.
Azamara Quest 30,277 GT, the smallest ship in which we have sailed, launched in 2000, with a passenger capacity of 686 and a crew of 408.

 

Majestic Princess cruise ship

The largest vessel in which we have sailed was Majestic Princess at 144,000 GT, launched in 2017, and she has a passenger capacity of 3,560 and a crew of 1,346 and I must admit that we never felt crowded.

As a comparison Majestic Princess offers 1 crew member for 2.64 passengers and Azamara Quest offers 1 crew member for  1.68 passengers.

The larger vessels offer climbing castles, multiple swimming pools, some with wave makers, wind tunnels, promenades that hang over the water, whereas smaller vessels offer the opportunity of seeing smaller accessible ports that the large vessel can’t enter.

It all depends on what the customer wants, so I thought I’d post a few photographs of the Azamara Quest as a comparison.

DSC05539r

The buffet area where one can have any meal, but we used it mainly for breakfast & lunch.

DSC06105rThe passenger doesn’t help himself, all food is covered and a crew member serves you so there is tight control for health reasons, not portion control – you can have as much as you require.

DSC06106r

Waiter service at lunch time if you want a glass of wine or beer.

DSC06107r

I’ve never experienced the buffet to be rushed, or noisy, and we never had to wait for a table, obviously the sitting area is larger than the area shown in the photograph.

DSC05554r

Swimming or sunbathing on a sea day.

DSC05760r

For those who don’t swim, there is always some where to sit – and before you ask I don’t have any idea who the guy is behind Maureen. During our cruise we had a good choice of beers, which were complimentary, as were all the soft drinks.

DSC06048r

The pool is also used in the evening for ‘White Night’ – people dress in white (which is not compulsory) and there is a buffet of hot food, all cooked to order, of dishes from around the world, and of course various wines.

DSC06052r

Towards the end of the evening there is the ‘march of the flags’ representing the international mix of the crew. As you see the Isle of Man, or Manx flag, was also represented as part of the flag march, because I think the ship’s Master was a Manxman.

DSC05545r

A favourite of mine is always the library, which is in the Drawing Room.

DSC05546r

Quiet, with picture windows overlooking the sea, board games available for those who like chess, scrabble, cards etc, plus desk top computers if you wish to go on line.

DSC05558r

The Living Room.

A large room that overlooks the bow – with picture windows to watch the world pass you by, while you sit in hammock seats suspended from the deck-head, or just in comfortable armchairs – your choice.

The above was taken in the early morning, but around 4.30 pm it becomes popular because the piano player arrives or other musicians (music is never too loud), stewards serving pre-dinner drinks, and it is a place to meet fellow travelers, without being too shy or uncomfortable.

DSC05559r

The bar area in the living room.

DSC05560r

Port side of the Living Room for a quiet read.

DSC05642r

Come 5.00 pm and the hors d’oeuvres have arrived – complimentary of course – they never seem to run out.

 

DSC05586r

From the Living Room over looking the bow as we left Bombay.

DSC05609r

Sunsets over the Indian Ocean as we head for Muscat in Oman.

DSC05562r

Around 6 to 6.30 pm we made our way to the dinning room – choice of tables for small groups, or just for two, we were happy to sit with people we didn’t know, but on such a small ship it wasn’t long before your ‘knew’ everyone.
Each day the complimentary wine changed (one red, one white) from different parts of the world, this always made for a very happy friendly evening meal.1058-DiscoveriesRestaurant

I copied the above from the Azamara Pursuit site – all the other photographs are mine from our cruise in the Quest.

DSC05660r

Entertainment is not as extravagant or as spectacular as the shows on the larger vessels, but more like a night club where you are closer to the acts. The above was a local dance troop during our visit to Goa in India. They didn’t sail with us, but came on board just for the show .

DSC05778r.jpg

You still have the all dancing and all singing acts. . .

DSC05786r

The difference with the smaller ship shows, is that you get to talk to the entertainers because they are all involved with the daily running of the ship – they run the trivia quizzes,  teach ballroom dancing or just chat about their life at sea as an entertainer.

DSC06116r

This guy was ‘DIFFERENT’

DSC06118r

The balloon appeared to be a standard balloon when he began.

DSC06119r

DSC06120r

You can see how close he is to his audience.
He was a ‘magic act and did more than climb in to a balloon, he was very funny.

A day ashore in Muscat,

DSC06209r

The local Souk or market – air conditioned . . . .of course.

DSC06211r

DSC06213r

and on our return – the Quest had remembered Maureen’s birthday,
and her gluten free cake.

azamara-pursuitAzamara Pursuit
There are only three ships in the Azamara Group – Azamara Quest, Journey & now the Pursuit, they are all sister ships.
The Pursuit was launched in 2001,  30,211 GT and has just completed (August 2018) a substantial refit in Belfast, UK, to bring her up to the standard of her two sisters.

Maureen & I are booked to sail in her in 2019 – I do hope the experience will be as good as the Quest.

We may consider that sailing in a ship of ‘only’ 30,000 GT is small today, but having sailed in cargo ships, such as the British India ship Pundua, launched 1945, at 7,200 GT Azamara Quest, to some of us is quite large.

PunduaI was 3rd Mate in the Pundua in 1966.

 

 

 

 

 

Oбед = lunch

DSC03445r

Lunch on our second day, was at our own expense, but the guide made sure that the restaurant that we visited was able to cope with 12 of us dropping in for a meal.

I asked the guide for a traditional Russian light lunch, not borscht or beef stroganoff. She’d chosen a restaurant that offered a type of wrap – it’s advertised in the above picture.

We all sat at different tables in blocks of four, which was the layout of the restaurant.

DSC03444r

We had a chat with the waitress, who was very pleasant and tried her best to understand us, but her English was very limited and our Russian was nil. I was trying to ask for a gluten free dish for Maureen, and we didn’t get anywhere until I called the guide over to help with the ordering.

DSC03447r

Our first priority were the drinks – I wanted Russian beer and the waitress kept pushing German beer, which was not much different in price, but when in a country I like to try their own beer.

The Russian beer, based on the menu card, was fine, but I was a little concerned because of the beer mats. The above beer mat is for Krusovice, which is a Czech brewery named after the village where it originated.

DSC03448r

 The crown shown, is not Russian, but Austrian, so as the beer I drank was draft beer, I am not sure if it was Russian or  Czech or even German.

DSC03446r

Regardless it was a pleasant drop that hit the thirst spot.

DSC03449r

Maureen’s gluten free meal – it looked attractive and from memory Maureen enjoyed it.

DSC03450r

I ordered the above, which was filled with a Chinese type vegetables, with chili sauce on the side. I’d only seen pictures and worked out that you could have two for a certain price or one for a cheaper price. I wasn’t sure if they meant double fillings or two full wraps, so just picked one, which was a specialty of the house. I thought that if they were small, and I was still hungry, I could always order another. As you see one was enough. Puff pastry filled with stir fried vegetables – it was OK, but I didn’t think this was particularly Russian – but I might be wrong.

DSC03451r

The experience was entertaining, the food OK, and beer cold, and we were on holiday so, can’t complain. The meal & drinks for both of us, cost less than USD $15.