A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Swenigale

Jan 14 - FT. LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA

sunny 78 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

FT. LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA

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Hello, virtual travel friends. We have enjoyed a couple of days thawing out in Ft. Lauderdale as we prepare to board Crystal Serenity tomorrow. Yesterday we saw pelicans flying in formation and chose them to test out our 2015 World Cruise blog - And away we go...!

Posted by Swenigale 16:35 Archived in USA

Jan 15 - PORT OF MIAMI

sunny 80 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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The first segment of Crystal Cruise's "Silver Celebration" begins with "Panama Panorama", January 15th to January 30th. After our few days unwinding in Ft. Lauderdale we transferred to the Port of Miami and boarded the beautiful Crystal Serenity. It is like coming home to greet so many friends and fellow travelers.

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We boarded the ship the day after the Bon Voyage ceremonies, so we have no traditional "balloon drop" photos. But - this was fun - the Carnival Victory was in port and who should be sailing on her but...

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.our son and daughter-in-law and their friends! Same day, same port - how cool!

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We were able to locate each other for a good-bye wave using the magic of phone and camera.

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The Victory sailed out of Miami before 5pm and we sailed at 8pm, as we looked forward to two days at sea to get back our sea legs.

Posted by Swenigale 08:55 Archived in USA

Jan 18 - SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

sunny 81 °F
View Serenity 5- WC 2014 & Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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The walls of Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial came into view as the sun rose. This is a city of "firsts" in the New World, thanks to Christopher Columbus who "discovered" the island of Hispaniola in 1492 and to his brother, Bartholomew, who settled the city of Santo Domingo which now has a population of 3 million.

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Although in Red Sox Nation the most loved Dominican may be "Big Papi", this imposing statue in the harbor honors a Dominican Friar who in the early days of the settlement preached against the abuse of the native Tiano people.

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Our small group hired a cab and guide for our early Sunday morning exploration of the Old City. The many sites included these firsts in America: Cathedral, Monastery, Fortress, and Convent - all of which I will show you right now! No, not really.

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Christopher Columbus and the first Indian to learn to read and write

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The Convent of Santa Clara, 1522

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Fortaleza de Santo Domingo, 1507, known as the "hub of the conquest of America" and the first medieval style fortress in America. Today, gearing up for a party - see Lighting McQueen?

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We watched as this horse and driver backed expertly into their parking spot

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First sundial in the Americas

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Possibly the first Swedish horse

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A fine museum contained this map of Christopher Columbus' voyages to find India

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First judge

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One of Columbus' sons Alcazar de Colon, the oldest Viceregal residence in America

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A short drive from the old city brought us to Los Tres Ojos de Aqua, a series of three underground lakes and a 50 yard open limestone cave.

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A continuous stream of fresh water flows through the pools - we threw food to the many Tilapia here, near the walkway.

Posted by Swenigale 18:45 Archived in Dominican Republic

Jan 20 - WILLEMSTAD, ÇURACAO

sunny 82 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Our early morning walk as we sailed toward the “C” in the “ABC Islands”: Aruba, Bonaire, and Çuracao

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The charming colonial Dutch architecture of Willemstad on the “Punda” side of St. Anna’s Bay

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The Queen Emma (swinging) Pontoon Bridge was open, so we crossed the bay by ferry instead of on foot.

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Our plan was to find a taxi to take us to a nice beach for snorkeling.

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…we were not disappointed!

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Back “home”, after a quick shower and lunch we strolled through a few of the streets on the Otrabanda side of the bay.

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Willemstad is the capital of Çuracao and is an intriguing, harmonious blend of cultures: Dutch, Caribbean, African and South American.

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We are only 38 miles north of Venezuela, but a world apart.

Posted by Swenigale 12:05 Archived in Curaçao

Jan 22 - SANTA MARTA, COLOMBIA

sunny 83 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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The ship's forward camera is always available to be seen on our cabin TV - in case we forget where we are and what day it is!

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We both escorted tours today called "Santa Marta by foot and La Quinta visit". As we drove into the old city Ed caught a quick roadside glimpse of a man selling ice - yep, it is hot here!

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We walked with our guides through the old city center. Our first stop was at the "Gold Museum" which also includes objects from Santa Marta's past from the Indians in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. But the city's primary focus historically is that it is the city in which the South American liberator, Simon Bolivar, spent his last days.

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Street scenes in Santa Marta

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Santa Marta cathedral, built in 1765

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A view from the Bastidas Promenade with the Serenity in the distance. Santa Marta's beaches and resorts make it one of the leading tourist destinations in the Caribbean.

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After reboarding our small buses we arrived at the farm where Bolivar spent his last days before he died of Tuberculosis in 1830. He was 47 years old.

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The farm belonged to a close friend of Bolivar and is today preserved as a shrine to their revered hero of independence.

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I guess cactus doesn't need much soil to take root!

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Tile roofs are just plain picturesque!

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An orange-legged Iguana is - well, fascinating, if not picturesque!

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Driving back to the port - a quick peek at a weaver of plastic bags

Posted by Swenigale 17:11 Archived in Colombia

Jan 23 - CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

sunny 84 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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The view across Cartagena Bay to the Bocagrande section of the city

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A photo of the statue of the Virgin Mary in the harbor -this was to be a short port of call (we had to be back onboard by 2:30pm) and since we have been privileged to visit the Old City a few times in the past, friends who would like to see our pictures of the San Filipe Fortress and the Old City, please visit our Travellerspoint blogs from Jan. 23, 24, 2013; Dec. 28, 2013, and Jan. 9, 2014.

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We stayed close to the ship, in the little park at the cruise terminal, enjoying the parrots,

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Flamingos and black swans (which were pretending to be flamingoes), and the WiFi!

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The people-friendly terminal has won awards.

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Today we settled for memories of past visits to this beautiful city.

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This iguana was BIG! And I think he thought he was a dog.

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Parrots were good at posing for pictures, but the monkeys were too elusive to be "captured".

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Back onboard - a suckling pig "graced" the Lido buffet. Yikes!

Posted by Swenigale 20:15 Archived in Colombia

Jan 24 - PANAMA CANAL TRANSIT

semi-overcast 85 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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We are about to get tied up to the locomotives that will guide us through the first set of locks. Our passage today was smooth and operated right on schedule. Scattered clouds and a light breeze even kept guests from getting sunburned.

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In last year's blog (we were here on Jan. 11, 2014) we included some of the fascinating facts about this amazing canal that links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans across the Continental Divide.

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Noriega is still locked here in his prison on the banks of the Canal.

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Our transit lasted from our entrance at 7:00am until almost 4:00pm

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Ahead, dark skies over Balboa and Panama City - off to the right, construction of the new locks continues.

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The rains never came.

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At the Miraflores Locks a crowd watched the passing ships, cheering at our captain to blow the ship's horn, which he did.

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We sailed under the Bridge of the Americas and into the Bay of Panama on our way to the Pacific Ocean.

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Now completed and just opened in October, the Biodiversity Museum: Panama Bridge of Life, designed by Frank Gehry, brightens up the dark skies.

Posted by Swenigale 13:45 Archived in Panama

Jan 26 - MANTA, ECUADOR

semi-overcast 79 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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So - here we are again, in the "Tuna Capital of the World". Seriously. The Tuna don't have a chance! Fleets of these ships go out with their very large nets and use a helicopter (see it?) to spot the schools of fish. They are netted, winched up the back of the ship and frozen in the hold.

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The number one souvenir in Ecuador is the Panama hat (made in nearby Montecristi, but the name stuck during the building of the Panama Canal when workers were provided with thousands of hats).

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Today was an even shorter day in port - and the ship's shuttle brought folks to a nearby mall if they didn't choose to take a shore excursion.

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Back at the ship - we sailed before 1pm! Historically, Manta is the port used by a French mission in 1735. The astronomers were seeking to establish the location of the equator, which they did along with measuring the circumference of the earth. We will cross the equator around 2am tonight.

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The view from our room

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Shouldn't be any trouble having sushi tonight!

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Yes, we spent a lot of time watching this whole operation!

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When you shop in Manta, you are not simply admonished to recycle your plastic bag, but you get really good "reuse" suggestions!

Posted by Swenigale 15:45 Archived in Ecuador

Jan 27 – GUAYAQUIL, ECUADOR

semi-overcast 80 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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This is a good map to get an idea of where we are for two days on the coast of Ecuador, on the west coast of South America.

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Unlike our stay in Manta, our time in Guayaquil is a full-day-all aboard at 8:30pm.

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A half hour shuttle bus ride from the port brought us to Parque Seminario – also known as Iguana Park.

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After a brief visit to the beautiful Cathedral and a nod to Bolivar, we strolled off toward Rio Guayas and the beautiful Malećon 2000.

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This waterfront promenade is popular with everyone.

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Ecuadorians honor and revere their liberators, Bolivar and San Martin.

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The river flows quickly and this bird is quite willing to take a ride on some of the unending supply of water hyacinth that floats by.

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Our destination lies at the eastern end of the boardwalk at the lighthouse on Santa Ana Hill.

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The old colonial and artist section of the city, called Las Peñas, has been beautified and the new steps (there is no road) have actually been numbered – all 444 of them!

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A little black cat on a side “street” waits for visitors.

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Yes, we are here together – almost at the top – in the remnants of Fortin del Cerro.

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El Faro, the lighthouse – just 52 more steps to the top.

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Hästa made it too!!

Posted by Swenigale 11:45 Archived in Ecuador

Jan 29 - SALAVERRY, PERU

sunny 77 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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If you followed our blog of 2013 you will recognize this port by the dry desert fronting the ocean. The main purpose of our stop here is to visit (or revisit), archeological digs in the areas inhabited by the Mochica people and the Chimú Nation.

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A modern museum now houses pottery and artifacts from the Mochica dig – no photos allowed inside.

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The stairs to the Temple of the Moon, first started around 200 AD by the Mochica

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The two mud brick temples and the small city between them were in use for 600 years.

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Somehow, we did not expect to see an owl here!

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Our day-long excursion included a stop in Independence Square in Trujillo, the “City of Eternal Spring”.

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It is always good to see people caring for their buildings.

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At another site we saw the capital of the Chimú Nation, Chan Chan, which existed for almost 400 years until it was destroyed by the Inca.

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Travelling again, we came to the surfing town of Huanchaco. This church, our guide explained, is an Indian Roman Catholic church – the indication being the single tower.

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School vacation in Peru – yes, it is summer!

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These traditional boats, called “little reed horses” are still used by Peruvian fisherman who sit astride them with their nets as they plunge into the surf.

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Flowers can, indeed, bloom in the desert. And who doesn’t love flowers!

Posted by Swenigale 13:15 Archived in Peru

Jan 30-31 - CALLAO/LIMA, PERU

overcast 77 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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The first segment of the World Cruise ended here, in Callao, Peru. Callao is the seaport for Lima, which is 45 miles inland.

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Dramatic cliffs edge Lima's sea side - 9 million people live in this 310 square mile city.

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Walking about on a Saturday in Lima, we enjoyed glimpses of everyday life and disparate architecture.

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This is for you, Ing.

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Back in the port the Crystal crew had been busily preparing for new guests and for our upcoming days at sea. Commercial ports have a certain fascination all their own, don't you think?

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We set sail at 9pm on Saturday night, heading west to Easter Island, somewhere in the Pacific! (We have been promised that we will be able to watch the Super Bowl in real time tonight - go Pats!)

Posted by Swenigale 14:25 Archived in Peru

Feb. 1-4 - DAYS AT SEA

sunny 78 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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The view from deck 10. This is our 4th day headed west across the Pacific Ocean. We thought you'd enjoy some pictures of this vast blue sea and sky that surround us. We have had excellent weather and our beautiful white ship has been riding the swells, gently gliding up and down. Here we are on the earth's largest ocean - the Pacific is more than twice the size of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Views from the 13th deck - it is taking us four full days and nights to reach Easter Island, the most isolated island on earth. Of course, we started this part of our voyage in high spirits after watching the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl!

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A glorious sunset seen from deck 7. Wow.

Posted by Swenigale 06:05 Tagged ocean

Feb. 5 - EASTER ISLAND, CHILE

sunny 80 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Through the marvels of navigation, our intrepid captain has "found" Easter Island! We are more than 2000 miles west of our last port of call. "Remote" only begins to describe how far we are from anywhere! And yet we are in the Eastern USA time zone - crazy huh!

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This is the ship's tender boarding area. The sea swells were quite high and boarding the smaller boats for the 20 minute run to port was tricky.

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We were blessed with fine weather and a very good guide - we were already on our way to our first site as we looked back to the port and the many tour vans awaiting their passengers.

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This photo shows how erosion has covered the stone statues (the mysterious Moai) so that only a third of their total height is above ground.

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We climbed the ancient quarry in Rapa Nui National Park where 90% of the statues were carved over a period of 500 years.

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Mystery surrounds us - why were these giant statues made, and how were they moved and placed on their platforms?

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Our knowledgeable guide held our rapt attention - but this Moai looks miffed at being ignored!

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There are 1000 statues scattered around the 45 square mile island, some 40 feet tall weighing 70 tons!

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There is huge variety in the landscape of this tiny volcanic island.

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It is thought that Easter Island was settled 1600 years ago by seafarers from a Polynesian island.

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Wild horses roam freely about the island. This year the land is green, enjoying much rainfall after several years of drought.

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A young tourist asked us to help him pose with his banner in a very unique place. The Serenity is in the distance.

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This is Rano Kau, one of the island's three extinct volcanos. It has a lake with dense vegetation and beyond lies Antarctica!

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Two happy travelers (really!)

Posted by Swenigale 14:15 Archived in Chile

Feb. 8 - PITCAIRN ISLAND, UK

sunny 80 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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This is Pitcairn Island (of “Mutiny on the Bounty” fame), all 2 square miles of it! It is easy to see why the Bounty mutineers chose to hide from the Royal Navy here.

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This is a camera close-up from the ship of the houses in the town, Adamstown.

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We anchored off shore. The steep cliffs and rugged coastline, beautiful as they are, seem barely habitable.

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Most of the island’s 52 inhabitants came to the Serenity in their longboat.

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Hästa, the guard horse, keeping us safe from Pitcairn pirates

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All but four of the island’s population are descendants of Fletcher Christian and company. They boarded our ship to sell their crafts and to give a presentation about their beautiful island.

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These pictures are from the speaker’s slides: the anchor was recovered from the HMS Bounty.

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The mutineers burned their ship so as to avoid discovery. They commemorate that event in an annual reenactment (shown here in another of the speaker’s slides).

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As a farewell to the guests and crew, the Islanders sang a few songs. The mayor, Sean Christian, gave a thank you speech and an invitation to any who would wish to move to Pitcairn Island. Any takers? There is only one child living on the island at present – a few are at boarding school and college in New Zealand.

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The Islanders have hopes that their crystal clear surrounding waters will be declared a Marine Sanctuary.

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They departed with their “bounty”. Crystal guests were generous in their purchases and the cruise line also provided bedding, furniture and other supplies to take back to the island.

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Our Captain circled the rugged island for our viewing pleasure. Good luck to these hearty souls and their little island home.

Posted by Swenigale 16:05 Archived in Pitcairn Islands

Feb. 11 - PAPEETE, TAHITI

semi-overcast 85 °F
View Serenity 6- WC 2015 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Our noon arrival in French Polynesia

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Papeete is the capital of these 118 islands and atolls.

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Yes, we are using DEET. Even in "paradise" we are warned to be cautious. We had not heard of Chikungunya, yet another mosquito-borne disease.

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We planned to explore a bit of the waterfront this afternoon.

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Using my school-girl French is always fun.

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We had heard there was a Micro-Brewery to be visited -

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So why not?! (Who would have thought the French would brew beer?)

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Talk about getting into your work.

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We revisited the cathedral.

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.that has our favorite window

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The picturesque, painting-worthy, artfully arranged produce in Marche Municipal

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A very talented local dance troupe entertained us on the ship before we set sail in the evening.

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They were fast paced and excellent..

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..and beautiful too!

Posted by Swenigale 16:55 Archived in French Polynesia

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