• Upcoming trips



    13-23 January, 2018 Cruise out of New York around the Caribbean on the Norwegian Gem. Note : this trip has been cancelled altogether because of the damage caused by the hurricanes to the Caribbean islands.

    October 31st - 11 November. Caribbean cruise to break up the winter. Note: The itinerary has not yet been determined owing to the havoc wreaked by the hurricanes.
  • theatre and Concerrts

    October 8 Went to BAM, for the first time since Ethel died, to hear a wonderful modern opera composed and written by Matthew Aucoin called “Crossing”. It is based on Walt Whitman’s experience and the libretto is largely taken from his poetry.

    The story is multi-themed, as modern plays tend to be; the first is a harrowing anti war depiction of the suffering wounded seen through Whitman’s eyes when he volunteered as a nurse during the American civil war; the second is Slavery and its effect upon a run-away slave who fights on the Union side; the third is treachery portrayed by a guilt-laden deserter who spies for the South. And forth, inevitably these days, is the (entirely fictional) homosexual one.

    The powerful music fits the story perfectly and the voices of the lead singers and the chorus is magnificent; Rod Gilfry, bass-baritone, sings the part of Walt Whitman, Alexander Lewis plays John Wormley, the deserter, and Davone Tines, whose baritone reminded me, distinctly, of the sound of the legendary Paul Robeson.  Both Christine and I were extremely moved by the work. We newly discovered Walt Whitman’s poetry, too.

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“Epic” journey

We were disappointed with the much-hyped Epic. Built like an outsize container ship it is designed for maximum people-carrying. There is little  spectacular decor.  There is no  atrium  rising  with elevators to the top deck, for example. The capacity of the  theatre  is less than a sixth of 4,300 or so passengers the ship can carry, instead of the usual half.

 The ship was clearly not ready to take on passengers. TV’s, telephones and toilets worked spasmodically and the ship’s building contractors were still aboard coping with faulty sprinklers and a host of other technical hitches. Bad luck played a part: because of some hitch at the terminal, we spent two hours waiting in the ‘Express’ lane to disembark!  The ship’s crew did their very best to cope with all the complaints and still keep smiling faces. Full marks to them!

Our biggest disappointment was the abrupt change in demographic focus aboard the Epic. There are six 10-pin bowling lanes, a full size basketball court, climbing walls, a massive water chute complex and bungie jumping for the young family groups and couples. But gone are the library, reading rooms and game-playing rooms. There are no quiet places to sit and read. There are no adult lectures or art classes to attend.

For us, the entertainment was a disaster. There is now an ‘Entertainment Box Office’ where tickets are issued for both the free and extra-payment shows. Because of the small capacity of the entertainment rooms, there are long lines to first, get the tickets and then, more long lines to get the best seats. We refused to pay extra. We saw two glitzy shows in the main theatre but, by far, the best entertainment we enjoyed was provided by the resident magician/comedian. He could have easily filled the main theatre several times over, but he was restricted to a corner of one of the bar rooms with little head space for him to work in and, without raking, it was difficult to see around the heads in front of you. Another innovation which didn’t seem to work was the introduction of a dance band  into the main dining room at 9.00 pm, after most people had eaten and left. A kind of ‘Dinner/Dance’.  We saw one or two  brave couples doing a shuffle but the majority of the diners finished their meals and went.

Drivers on the bridge

Bridge equipment

Keeping the log

The Captain's Table. (not for dining)

Alexandra our friend and server. We have met before on other ships of the fleet

Dance in front of the huge screen-saver

Overhead view of a bar

Pub decoration

Magician supreme!

. . . . and there it is. Gone!

Stage lights

Talented performers and loud, loud music

Ethel inspecting one of the ship's kitchens

Soup chef

Explanation of the high-tech theatre equipment

Alexandra served us at "Le Bistro", one of the speciality restaurants.

Fancy chandelier

Happy guest

Dining down under

Screen-saver slide show

Dinner companion - Fred

Dinner companion, Ed Hanin.

Chute!

More chute

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3 Responses

  1. Fabulous photos.

    Sandy

  2. Thanks for the pictures. Garish and glarish and looks like LOUD!

  3. Sandy, John and Ann. Thanks. I would like to have included a picture of the massive ship, but neither in Southampton or New York was I able to get far enough away to get more than a portion of it in the frame.

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