Monday, November 24, 2014

Repositioning as a Way to Travel

Our last trip back to the U.S. was via a repositioning cruise that left from England and sailed to Fort Lauderdale as it's final port.  The point of these cruises is to take ships from an area that will not need them to an area that will need them.  Not many people take cruises around Europe and the Baltic in the winter.  But, they do love to take cruises in the warmer Carribbean area. 

The number of ports of call on repositioning cruises is minimal, ours was scheduled to stop at Lisbon, Bermuda and the Bahamas before finishing in Fort Lauderdale.  The cost of these cruises is lower than the usual expected cost of two week cruises.  As you might expect, this fact appeals to many individuals.
Crew got some time off at each port to explore but many just used this time to sleep. Their work schedules are grueling.

Shore Excursions:  usually more expensive than what you can book locally.  Some excursions can be booked ahead of time but others can book while in port.  But, the boat will wait for you if the tour comes back late.

Because of the extended time of the cruise, it was not surprising to find that the majority of the passengers on the ship were in our age group or older.  The younger individuals were there in small numbers but they were there to some extent.

To make sure we did not literally "miss the boat" we traveled down to the port of departure in the south of England by train the day before.  It was a wise decision since we were delayed by maintenance being done on the rails and the need to take a bus from one train station to another to get around the maintenance area.
We also faced a distinct "challenge" in connecting with a taxi to take us from our final train station to our hotel.  And to make it even more fun, it was pouring down rain the entire time we waited. 

At the hotel we stayed in the night before we boarded the boat we met a young couple (in the bar and who could blame them) who had taken a cruise for their honeymoon, US to England.  They were waiting at the hotel for the boat to dock so that they could retrieve their luggage.  Yep, they missed the boat and it departed without them at their last port of call.  I know now that what they say about leaving without you is not an idle threat.

Shore Excursions available from the ship are usually more expensive than what you can book locally.  Some independent excursions can be booked ahead of  the time of sale and others can be booked while in port.  These are usually less expensive and are what we have always used.  But, if you book the excursions through the boat, it will wait for you if the tour comes back late. Our solution, have a reliable watch, keep track of the time and give yourself a margin for error.  We have never been left behind yet.  (Knock on wood.)

Ponta Delgarda, Azores:  Since we couldn't go into Lisbon, Portugal because of weather, a last minute arrangement was made for us to dock in Ponta Delgarda, Azores, located about 800 miles off the coast of Portugal.  It was a lovely island with gorgeous buildings.  We loved walking around the island and looking at everything.

During our uninterrupted days at see, I enjoyed going to talks about the Crown Jewels of England, the kings and queens of England through the ages, prisoners in the tower,coronation rituals,etc. They were given by a gentleman whose actually life time career was to work in the Tower of London where the Crown Jewels are kept.  Since I love all things England, these were very enjoyable for me.

Mike enjoyed talks about the Bermuda Triangle, the movement of the "plates" of the Earth's crust, Atlantis, submarines, etc.   We learned a few new things and it was not at all painful.

Our two weeks had 3 Formal Nights.  In past days, formal dress was expected.  But now, cocktail dresses, formal pantsuits (if there is such a thing), and even what one would call casual dress were all seen in the dining rooms those evenings.  Just keep in mind that portraits will be taken of you on those evenings and dress yourself accordingly.

We bought, before we got onto the boat, the 14 day soda pack, a bottle of Jameson, and a bottle of Jim Beam.  While iced tea, coffee, some juices, etc. are available free of charge, things like cola are not.  Hence, our soda pack.  Since the Special of the Day (Alcoholic) was two for $10.50 or $5.25 each with other drinks higher, the non alcoholic special of the day $6.00 each, and the daily coffee available for purchase at $8.50 each we felt having a drink in our cabin each night was the smarter way to go.

Our ship arrived at Nassau,Bahamas just after it had been "visited" by its second hurricane in a week or so. Tarps were seen on roofs that had been damaged and "Hurricane Discounts" were widely advertised.  Unfortunately, it also rained almost non stop while we were there.   But what we did see looked quite nice and I hope to return some day when the weather is less wet.

Usually, you put your luggage out by your door the night before you dock.  But, since we had to catch a train and we did not have the time to go through the normal process.  So, we took our own luggage off the ship and through through customs and, made the train.

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