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Everything posted by Izzywiz

  1. Unfortunately, I can’t help with your scooter rental question but just a little information about Santorini. I use either a wheelchair or mobility scooter (I bring my own) for longer distances so I’m speaking from experience in 2022. I don’t know if you are aware that you need to use a cable car to get from the tender dock to Fira Town. Luckily, both cable car stations (quayside and the town) provide special access for disabled people. One of the cable car stewards spotted me being wheeled along the quayside and took me and my family group under his wing and escorted us to the disability access area where he organised our journey up and later, he organised our return trip. We have been to Santorini many times when I was more mobile so didn’t realise how difficult it was to move through the very narrow, cobbled streets in the wheelchair. We will be there again in May and I plan to go up to Fira but find a cafe within a short ‘hobbling’ distance of the cable car station where I can sit and enjoy a Greek coffee and the fabulous view while my DH wanders the streets. it is a long time since we were in Mykonos but I’m sure that the streets there will be narrow and probably many of them will be cobbled too. Sadly, having mobility issues and visiting these glorious, ancient destinations are not always compatible so I wish you luck in finding a suitable appliance. santorini Santorini streets
  2. We had to provide evidence of having had the YF vaccination before we left Miami for the flight to Manaus and at least one couple were denied boarding because they had not had the vaccination and didn’t have a doctor’s waiver certificate. They were boasting, as we waited to check in, that the requirement to have the YF was all a big con by the cruise company and nobody would check. Their faces were a picture when they were asked for the certificates and they then had to do ‘the walk of shame’ away from the check in. They would have had to fund their own flights back to the UK so an expensive lesson for them!
  3. Looking at the answers already given to your initial question, it is obvious that the Amazon divides opinion quite dramatically. We sailed from Manaus to Miami on the Royal Princess (now Azamara Quest) in January 2010 and absolutely loved the experience because it was so different to anything we had done and seen before. We were fascinated with the rural life along the river and loved the chance to swim with the pink dolphins and catch and eat piranha. We did experience a lot of rain but not many bugs in the daytime. We were advised to avoid the open decks after dark because lots of bugs land on the ship having been attracted by the lights. Crew members cleared the decks once it got light in the morning. These are a few pictures from our trip..... Manaus Parintins Boca da Valeria Santarem
  4. You are very welcome. I hope you enjoy Menorca as much as we do. We have spent many happy holidays on the island over the years.
  5. Menorca is a beautiful island with many lovely beaches. There are 3 that are quite near Mahon: Punta Prima is a 20 minute taxi journey from Mahon Cala en Porter is a 25 minute taxi ride from Mahon Son Bou is a 35 minute taxi ride from Mahon
  6. We did the Explorer cruise from Corfu in 2022 and had a fabulous time. The great thing about a Marella cruise is that, because your flights are included in the package, disembarking at the end of the cruise is easy. The fact that you are able to stay on the ship and enjoy all the facilities saves having to find options to fill the day but you are also able to leave and return to the ship as you wish as long as you are back in time to get your transfer to the airport. You put your hold luggage outside your cabin before you go to bed on the last night (make sure you have your clothes and shoes for the following day…I’ve seen people disembark in pyjamas!!) and it is collected and stored until you identify it as you get on your coach to the airport so you do have to worry about suitcases. You keep your carryon cases for your night clothes, medication, flight needs etc. which are then stored in a safe but accessible location. If you haven’t been to Corfu before, Corfu Town is easily accessible from the port and is a blend of ancient and modern with lots of nice cafes, green spaces, a castle, a cricket pitch in the main square and plenty of nice shops. Marella Explorer docked in Corfu Relaxing on board
  7. You don’t say which cruise company and ship as this can make a difference. If you are sailing on a Marella ship with your flight included in the package then you will have to vacate your cabin by 08.00 but you then have the run of the ship until your flight transfer is called - usually about 3 hours before take off. You can eat at the food outlets and use your drinks package until you disembark. There is an area to store your hand luggage and cabins are made available for you to shower and change to your travelling clothes. Sometimes, depending on availability, you can pay for the use of a cabin for the day.
  8. You might get more relevant information if you post your question on the ‘Spain Ports’ section for La Corona, Mallorca, Barcelona and Seville and the ‘French Ports’ section for questions about Marseilles. This section is basically for questions about the British Isles and Western Europe (mainly Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and western France). You will find the Spain and France forums in the ‘Europe’ section below this forum. I can, however, give you a little information about some of your ports as an introduction….. La Coruna. Ships dock very close to the centre of the city and it is a short walk to the main square where there are cafes and shops. The city is built on a peninsula and there is a pleasant, scenic walk from the port that takes you around the headland to the beach area at the other side of the city from the dock. Mallorca (Majorca). The ship docks in Palma, the capital city of Majorca. The city is very picturesque with a huge marina, gothic cathedral, castle and old town as well as more modern areas. It is probably a mile walk along the sea front from the port exit to get to the cathedral and old town. Barcelona. The port area is huge so it is quite a long walk to the start of La Ramblas and the Gothic quarter. There are shuttle buses from the ship to the port exit where it is possible to get one of the Hop on, Hop off buses or walk across the very busy main roads to get to La Ramblas. Unfortunately I can’t help you with Seville and Marseille.
  9. There is a Premier Inn situated a 5 minute walk from the FO check-in terminal. We are sailing from Newcastle in September and have just booked our room for the night before our cruise - £92 including breakfast. It is free cancellation up to the day of arrival. The address is Coble Dean Road, South Shields. Last time in July 2022, we checked out of the hotel at 10.00 on the morning of the cruise, left our cases in reception and drove in to Tynemouth where we spent a pleasant hour and then drove up the coast to Whitley Bay where we spent another pleasant hour with a coffee and cake on the sea shore before heading back to the port. We collected our luggage and drove it to the terminal before parking back at the Premier Inn and then walking back to do our check in. I can’t remember if we paid for parking at the hotel during our cruise but, if we did, it was a lot cheaper than the official Port parking.
  10. I need a wheelchair or mobility scooter for long distances on shore but rarely need it on board the ship as there are plenty of places to sit between venues. I use an elbow crutch on the ship and plan my route around the ship to make sure that I know where I can rest for a few minutes. I can move around in the cabin without using any aids so, for that reason, I don’t need an accessible cabin. I have always stored my folding wheelchair in the cabin and completely understand the danger of leaving wheelchairs/scooters in the hallways. I do feel that the people who make decisions for those of us who are mobility impaired and people with other disabilities are probably young and have little personal experience of what we really need despite having the best intentions. I also know that we, who have a disability, should follow the rules and take responsibility for our actions but I wish the cruise lines would assess each case individually to ascertain whether a particular cabin is suitable for our needs rather than having a ‘blanket’ rule with no consideration for the degrees of disability…….rant over!!
  11. As CruiserBruce says - have a look at the forum ‘Other Mediterranean Ports’ which is found in the ‘Europe’ section of the Ports of Call area. I have posted a review of our day in Praia do Vitoria and the email address of our taxi driver.
  12. Have a look at my review of our day in Terceira which I’ve posted above. You could try contacting our taxi driver as he was excellent Our independent taxi tour - Taxi Amigo (taxiamigo 66@gmail.com)
  13. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or money to spend on extended visits to places of interest so, although it would be a more immersive experience to stay for longer, I would encourage the OP to use this excursion as a taster of a wonderful part of Italy. The bus journey also gives people a chance to get an overview of the area. Both Florence and Pisa have their attractions, especially if you haven’t been before.
  14. My husband and I visited Praia do Vitoria, Terceira, on a Fred Olsen cruise in April 2022. It was a very emotional visit for me as my father had been stationed on Terceira as an air traffic controller in 1944/45 at the Royal Airforce base. The islands of the Azores were used as staging posts for transatlantic flights and also had aircraft that monitored enemy submarines and sea traffic. My Dad loved the islands and he spoke often about his time there and how beautiful the islands are. Unfortunately, he never got the chance to return so my visit felt like a pilgrimage to honour his memory. This is my diary entry for our day on Terceira which may have some information that is useful for you. I also have mobility issues so the taxi tour was perfect. Day 7. Monday 25th April 2022 Praia do Victoria, Terceira, Azores. 08.30 to 17.30 (all aboard time) A.M. Mixed sunshine and cloud, pleasantly warm but very windy in places P.M. As above Sea conditions: slight swell We were up early again so we could get organised and have breakfast before catching the shuttle bus into town. We left the ship at 09.00 and arrived in the town at 09.25 only to find that most places were shut because it was Portugal's 'Democracy Day'. Fortunately, there was a tourist information booth in the small square close to where we had been dropped off so I went to talk to the assistant. I explained about Dad and showed him the photographs before asking if there was any way that we could get to Angra de Heroismo. He was very helpful and rang for a taxi. We negotiated a tour and had a wonderful time. We got back to Praia at 12.45 and went to the cafe in the square by the tourist office for coffee and the custard tarts…..a bargain for €3!! We got the shuttle bus back to the ship at 13.45. Praia de Victoria Port. The port is industrial and is situated a 25 minute shuttle bus ride to the town. The shuttle bus cost £5pp for those on the 'saver fare' and was free for the rest of us. The fare covered unlimited trips to town. Passengers were allowed to walk within the port and out into the local area but there wasn’t much there, basically agricultural fields and a couple of farm houses. Ship’s tour busses were parked at the bottom of the gangway. I didn’t see any independent tours being offered but it’s possible that that was because it was a public holiday. Praia de Victoria town. The town is small and quite picturesque with a small marina, a beach, a few shops and some very nice cafes. The shuttle bus drop off point was on the upper edge of the town. The tourist information booth was situated in the square close to the shuttle bus stop. There were maps and advice available at the booth. The assistant spoke good English and was very helpful. Our independent taxi tour - Taxi Amigo (taxiamigo 66@gmail.com) The information official called the taxi driver. His name was Hildeberto and he spoke excellent English with an American accent as he had lived in the US for over 5 years. He came in a 7 seater van as was very happy to take Carol and Graham as well as us for €20 pp for 3 hours. We negotiated a route and were taken to the viewing point overlooking the lush fields before being driven through pretty villages to Angra do Heroismo. Our first stop was at the top of Mount Brazil where we had a great view of the town of Angra and the coastline as well as seeing the county park and the fortress. I had shown Hildeberto the photo of Dad and he was able to take us to the exact spot where Dad stood in 1945 so I had my photo taken there too…..a very emotional experience. Hildeberto then took us back to Praia and dropped us off in the square at 12.45 A most enjoyable experience
  15. Who says you can’t drink the toilet water?😱🤣
  16. If you go to the Cunard website there is a place where you can look at the deck plans for each ship. When I look at your QM2 deck plan your cabin it has a black square by the side of it. This indicates that it is a 4 berth cabin and 2 of those berths pull down from the ceiling. If you are sailing alone or as a couple , those ceiling berths will remain secured to the ceiling and will not intrude into the cabin. In fact, when we have sailed in similar cabins, we hardly notice the extra beds. They just show as slight ‘bumps’ in the ceiling.
  17. It is interesting that you mention a dock on James Island as I believe in 2015 that the canoe tender pulled straight onto the beach so a little different now. Hopefully Mrs. F will have good weather and be able to land.
  18. Hi again Mrs F and congratulations on having 2 new knees. I hope your wait for the hip replacement isn’t too long. My issue with making it to James Island was that I had only had my hip replacement 10 weeks previously so our Gambia holiday was a chance to recover in a warm climate. I was walking on flat ground without a problem but it was the fact that the boat couldn’t dock at James Island so we had to climb down a rope ladder to a canoe type craft to access the Island which I decided was too risky. Also, I had done quite a lot of walking that day so I was tired. All this took place in 2015 so it is possible that access has improved since then as a way of encouraging tourism. We love The Gambia and hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Regards Izzy
  19. Hi Mrs F, my husband did the canopy tour in Ghana and enjoyed it but he doesn’t write reviews. He did say that the beaches were spectacular, he found the countryside drive ‘interesting’ and the canopy walk ok but he loves photographing birds and there weren’t many in the forest.. I really hope you enjoy the Roots tour. We found it very interesting and it certainly opened our eyes to the horrors of the slave trade although we were disappointed that there was no mention of the British Navy’s valiant efforts to prevent the trade in the early 1800s. I didn’t risk going to James Island as was recovering from a hip replacement operation so didn’t dare risk it but it shouldn’t be a problem for more mobile people..
  20. Banjul We have been to the Gambia several times, both as resort holidays and port stops on cruises. Very little has changed in the country during the 8 years that we have been visiting. It is a paradise for bird watchers and has stunning beaches but, by western standards, the conditions are quite poor. I have mobility issues so that is why I did a beach day in 2022 and would recommend this as an option but I really enjoyed our other trips when I was more mobile. 2014 - Fred Olsen Cruise Banjul Banjul, Gambia. General Information 08.00 to 18.00 Cleared for disembarkation at 08.40 Banjul port The port is very industrial but there was a nice view from the ship across to a small beach and the local small ferries. It is approx 2 km into town centre. The currency is the Dalasis. Most vendors accept € and US$ but you need to haggle....it's expected. I didn't see any taxis on the dock side but they may have been hidden by the tour busses. There were a few taxis at the port gate 400m from the ship There was 1 person holding up a passenger's name so I assume that was for a pre-arranged private tour. IMHO walking into town would be a real challenge to the senses and sensibilities of someone who is used to more sophisticated urban surroundings. I spoke to a couple who walked in to town and they were approached by several locals who offered to show them the sights. They said that they should have negotiated a price immediately with one of them which may have prevented the pestering. There didn't seem to be a lot to see in the town centre. Ship’s excursion 'Lazy Day Cruise' We met in Neptune Lounge at 08.30 The coach had air con. Our guide spoke good English and had a sense of humour The coach ride was 30 mins We drove through the centre of Banjul and then through the countryside to the river dock. It was a short walk over rough ground to the jetties to board the boats, It was a bit tricky to get on board but there were plenty of helping hands. Each boat held approx 20 passengers plus 5 crew including the guide. The top deck is open with some garden chairs and lounging mats. There is a small, covered area. Downstairs has bench seats around the exterior sides of the boat with some cushions. There is a small kitchen. The toilet is a proper flushing one and there was toilet paper + a wash basin with soap. Cups of tea/coffee + 1 beer or 1soft drink we're complimentary. There was also a complementary glass of sparkling wine or orange juice at lunch. Some boats had sets of binoculars and bird books for passenger use (ours didn't which was annoying as we could have brought our own) Lunch consisted of shepherd’s pie, fish, salad, rice, French bread and fresh fruit (mango, oranges and bananas) We sailed in a loose convoy along the river. It was lined with just mangrove trees so the scenery was rather monotonous. There were several species of birds to spot including storks, kingfishers, ibis, bee-eaters and rollers but not much else. Our boat did stop in mid river for 30 mins so people could swim but the ladder was a bit rickety. Some boats pulled onto a beach so people could paddle or walk Banjul 2015 Resort holiday at the Laico Atlantic Hotel in Banjul Half day taxi tour to the monkey park, vulture feeding and crocodile pool. We organised a taxi at a cost of 1100 Delassi for the tour. The car was a 6 seater people carrier so we fitted in comfortably. Our driver, Seiko (like the watches!), spoke good English, was very pleasant, knowledgeable and helpful. It was a 30 minute drive to the BIJILO FOREST PARK to see the monkeys. The entrance fee for foreign nationals was 150D pp. People were selling bags of peanuts for 50D. There was a very small and somewhat dilapidated visitors' centre at the entrance where there were some local crafts on sale and toilets (I didn't use it so can't comment on the style and quality). The trail winds its way through quite dense forest and is a half mile circular route. The pathway is a dirt track with some quite steep slopes in places. Seiko was our guide and he showed us termite mounds and pointed out different types of trees. We didn't see any monkeys for the first 30 minutes and we were beginning to think it was a wasted journey but suddenly there was a monkey and then 2...3...and we were surrounded. There was a whole troupe of about 20 monkeys of all ages and sizes. They were very adept at taking the peanuts, shelling them and eating them. The babies were very cute. The monkeys only came up to you if you had the nuts in your hand so I was ok. Emma was quite happy to have the monkeys on her shoulder and we have some great photos. We spent about 75 minutes at the forest before moving on to the SERAKUNDA HOTEL (Senagambia) VULTURE FEEDING EXPERIENCE. SENAGAMBIA is a more touristy area with shops and restaurants. It is free entrance to the hotel. The hotel is very 'posh' with beautiful gardens, a grand atrium and large terraces with a lovely pool. The vulture feeding takes place at 11.30 on an open grassy area where a ranger brings a tray of meat. There must have been close to 100 birds.....mainly vultures but also a few kites and cattle egrets too. KATCHIKALLY CROCODILE POOL. Seiko then drove us to the crocodile pool which was a 20 minute ride through a very poor area. It was 150D pp entrance fee. The conservation pool is in a compound with a small museum and shop. There was a 250m walk along a rough track to get to the pool. Fortunately, the crocs had been fed before we arrived which gave Jim, Tony and Emma chance to stroke one.......notice that I didn't!!! We spent 30 minutes around the pool where there were perhaps 20 crocs visible.....most were sunbathing before re-boarding the taxi for the journey back to the hotel. Day 6. Thursday 29th January - 'ROOTS' river trip. The tour left the hotel at 08.50 and we were the last pick-up. There were just the 2 of us From the Laico and approx 20 others on the coach. It was a 10 minute ride through central BANJUL to the port and then a walk along a pier to the boat. There was no gangway onto the boat so everyone had to be helped aboard......quite scary for me. There were several other tour companies with passengers on board. The boat is quite small with an indoor seating area, a shaded upper deck with chairs and bench seating at the stem and stern. There is a small bar which sells soft drinks. Apparently the boat is Spanish owned with a Gambian crew. We sat outside at the back. We departed at 09.30. They brought round a tuna sandwich (tiny) and a glass of sangria at 10.00. There was no non-alcoholic alternative......disappointing. As we sailed, the weather began to improve....the wind dropped and the sun came out. We had the perfect seat at the back against the bulkhead......sheltered from the wind and in shade. The journey to ALBADARR was just under 3 hours. I was surprised that the river was so wide that we often couldn't see land. The ship docked at a very crumbling jetty but there were many helping hands for us less agile folk. As we walked along the jetty to the village the abject poverty (in our terms) was obvious......derelict buildings from colonial times, shacks for homes and no paved roads. However, the guides, tourist police and locals that we met were all fiercely proud of their homes and heritage . The guided tour consisted of a chance to see a local school (we were able to buy packs of exercise books and pencils for 300D) followed by a visit to the 'slavery museum' (very humbling.....man's inhumanity to man came to mind....but also a pride in knowing that Josiah Wedgwood and Josiah Spode had huge influence in the abolishing of the slave trade - We come from Stoke-on-Trent where Wedgewood and Spode had their pottery factories) . We then walked to the next village, JUFUREH, where the group had a meeting with a distant relative of Kunta Kinte, the Gambian slave who inspired Alex Hayley to write his best-selling novel. It was well worth doing as it really brought home the horrors of the slave trade but it also gave us a further insight into the way the poorest people in the world struggle to live each day. The walk was about a mile and a half. Once back on board we bought a bottle of water each and there was a buffet lunch.....mainly salads, prawns and a vegetable rice dish. Our group was first back on board so avoided the long queue but there was plenty for everyone. We set sail at 2.15. And sailed over to JAMES ISLAND where the captured locals were held in prison until they boarded the slave ships. You had to climb down a ladder onto a large canoe which transported the passengers across. There were a few people, including me, who stayed on board the ship.....I didn't dare risk the ladder. Others said the experience was worthwhile. They were on the island for about half an hour. We were served a delicious slice of watermelon as we set sail back to Banjul at 4.00. On the way back we were treated to the sight of a small shoal of bottle-necked river Dolphins. We were served complementary coffee/tea and biscuits. 2022 - Azamara Journey. Day 10. Tuesday 6th December 2022 Banjul, Gambia. 07.30 - 17.00 We got clearance at 07.35 and we disembarked at 07.50. We were approached by taxi drivers as we were walking towards the port exit and we settled on using Mussa to take me to the Sunprime Tamala hotel and Jim to his birding spots for £50. Mussa pushed me to his taxi which was a bit rickety but clean. . Mussa took us to the hotel and got me settled. He then took Jim to the fishing village for an extra £10. I spent the time sitting in the beach bar and used the wifi to catch up with emails and banking. It was a very pleasant few hours. Banjul port · The port is very unattractive, industrial and generally poorly maintained. · There were a few stalls at the bottom the gangway selling local souvenirs. · ‘Mr. Fixit’ had a stall there where he did currency exchange and sold stamps and post cards. He will even post the cards for you! · The road surface was very uneven and parts were flooded. Banjul city. · Unfortunately, the city is very poor by western standards and it came as a big shock even to us who had been there before to see the conditions in the town. · There are not many ‘sights’ in the town so it is better to go out to Serrekunda for a better shopping experience or get a taxi to the monkey forest and/or crocodile pool. Sunprime Tamala hotel · I contacted the hotel before we left England to arrange a day pool pass and the hotel charged Gambian Delasi 1000pp which included use of the wifi, sun beds, general facilities and pool. Food and drinks were payable at the resort. · The hotel is very modern and is situated right on the beach in the Kotu area about a 30-minute drive from Banjul. · The hotel has a beautiful pool and lush gardens. · There is a beach bar and direct access to the gorgeous long sandy beach. It is unfortunate that there is some hassle from beach vendors when walking along the beach.
  21. Takoradi December 2022 Day 14. Saturday 10th December Takoradi, Ghana. 08.00 - 18.00 Ghana · Ghana is an ex-British colony which gained independence in 1957 (I think) so English is the first language. · The areas that we passed through in Takoradi seemed very poor with most buildings constructed from foraged materials. Takoradi port · We had to show our yellow fever cards and Covid vaccination certificates before we could disembark. · Tour busses were waiting at the bottom of the gangway. · There was a small market set up on the dockside where local souvenirs were being sold. · the port is large and extremely industrial. · There is a free shuttle bus into the town centre which is good because you are not allowed to walk around the port and the city centre isn’t within reasonable walking distance. Takoradi city · The city is a sprawling metropolis and the poverty by our standards is very obvious. · I’m glad that I was on a ship’s tour because I don’t think there is much to see. The shops were very basic but the people waved and smiled as we passed. Shore excursions. Ship’s excursion - Twin Cities of Sekondi and Takoradi. 08.30 - 4 hours · I was surprised by the good quality of the busses although the sound system wasn’t particularly loud and our guide had quite a strong accent which made it difficult to understand his commentary. · We drove through the town and out to a small museum which was very nicely presented and mainly featured exhibits to do with slavery…..nothing about the British anti-slavery campaign though! · We continued to drive through urban areas until we reached the main fishing port where passengers had the opportunity to get off and look at the boats and fish market. Again, unfortunately, it isn’t fishing season so nothing was happening there!! · Our last stop was at the Raybow hotel (correct spelling!) where we were entertained by a local cultural group and given refreshments of bottled drinks/water and fruit. I asked to use the internet and was able to download the papers, access my emails and WhatsApp people which was a bonus. · There was a wedding taking place at the hotel and I was able to get a couple of photographs. The bridesmaids were really cute.
  22. Luderitz 2015 - Ocean Princess cruise Lüderitz we were on an early tour and needed to go through immigration on board before we could disembark. The queue was very long and no provision was made for people with disabilities or ones on the earliest tour.....unusual for Princess and very disappointing. The immigration process seemed very long winded with only 3 officers processing the whole ship.....I can see lots of complaints! Luderitz Port And Town. The ship docked in an industrial port. The tour busses were all mini-busses. It was a 5 minute walk to the port exit. There were taxis available outside the port. The town was small with a few shops, cafes, a museum, several churches and houses painted in different colours. The harbour was large with lots of fishing boats. The main tourist attraction was the 'ghost town'. There will be a new shopping mall within the next 2 years as building has already commenced. It is a 10/15 minute walk to the Main Street of Luderitz. Princess Tour - Kolmanskop, The Ghost Town Of Namibia. We were supposed to leave for the tour at 07.45 but it was 08.45 when we finally departed. The tour was done in a 15 seater mini-bus. The tours met at the bottom of the gangway where the tour busses were waiting. We were provided with a bottle of water each as we got on the coach. The journey was about 20 minutes and took us through the town (very small but with a few interesting colonial style buildings) and out into the desert which is very bleak and rocky. There were 2 triangular warning road signs which went past too quickly for me to photograph but one said WIND and the other said SAND! Once we reached Kolmanskop which comprises of about 30 semi-derelict buildings we were met by a guide who led the tour and explained the significance in the history of the diamond mining industry. I gave up following after a while, because I found it very difficult to walk on the fine sand which had drifted into dunes in many places, and went back to the only occupied building which housed a cafe, gift shop, a small museum and very clean toilets . In the end, the mini-busses were running a shuttle service back to the ship so we left KOLMANSKOP at 09.50 and I was back on the ship at 10.10. The bus dropped Jim in town so he could have a look round. I’m glad we went as it was obviously the most important sight in the area and it was interesting to go through the desert and to see the conditions that people lived in but I certainly didn’t think that this tour was worth the money. What made it worse was that I heard from other people that they had got a taxi to the Ghost Town and paid the entrance fee for less than half the amount we paid.
  23. Durban Hi Islander47. We have visited Durban, Luderitz, Takoradi and Banjul over the years so I will post the extracts from my diaries in separate posts as they are quite long but may include so information that might be useful to you. We visited Durban as part of a land tour so can’t comment on the port facilities. Durban – 2015 As we neared Durban it became apparent that it is a huge, sprawling city built on a series of hills with the obvious differences between the affluent areas with beautiful houses and the less desirable high-rise flats. The tour took us to the botanical gardens where we had a 45-minute stop. The park is very pleasant with a small information centre, toilets, a snack cart and seating areas. The gardens are divided into a series of areas with paths between the flower beds, ponds and picnic areas with a vast array of native trees and plants. There is also an orchid house full of beautiful orchids of many different species. I had a wonderful time taking photos of the flowers while Jim went off on his bird hunt. The coach then drove us through the centre of Durban which, if I'm honest, seemed a bit rundown although there were some imposing buildings. We had a short stop at the yacht Marina in the harbour. The harbour is the largest in South Africa. Our journey continued with a drive along the Durban promenade where, because it was Sunday, there were crowds of people enjoying the beach, sea front cafes and souvenir sellers. We drove north out of Durban to the resort of Umhlanga, which is where we had our overnight stop. The areas that we passed through gradually became more affluent and when we reached Umhlanga, the lower town looked really interesting and the sea front was a revelation......it was lovely. The Indian Ocean had huge breakers and the sand was fine and golden. There were rocky outcrops which created rock pools and people were surfing, picnicking and generally doing 'beachy' activities. The lighthouse added a special feel to the place. We walked along the promenade and sat and 'people watched' while we had a coffee in a very attractive café.
  24. We have visited Walvis Bay twice over the years and I have posted my diary entries for each visit which may contain some useful information. 2015 Saturday 9th May 2015 Walvis Bay, Namibia. WALVIS BAY WILDLIFE CRUISE. WALVIS BAY. The port is huge and very industrial. There was a free shuttle to the port gate where there was a small craft market. There were taxis available on the dock. The town is larger and seems more prosperous than Lüderitz with wide streets and good quality, modern housing. The town centre is a good 20 minutes’ walk from the port gate. There are a couple of shopping malls and supermarkets. The majority of shops are closed on Saturday afternoon and all day on Sunday. There is a large lagoon just outside the town with a pleasant promenade. WALVIS BAY WILDLIFE CRUISE We left the ship at 08.15 by coach for the 10 minute drive to the boat dock and this is where my heart sank as it was right in the middle of the fish processing area and so the smell was awful. There were clean toilets and a tiny office area with a seat but that was about it. The boats were small, semi-covered, fast game fishing style vessels which held 10/15 passengers. There was no jetty so the tour boat firm had a narrow, extendable walk-way out from the mud flats and there were people to help you move along it. Once on board our pilot and guide, Ruen (he had a great sense of humour) showed us that there was a toilet on board (small but adequate) and explained the safety rules before we set off across the bay. This was where things improved and the fun began. Ruen stopped the boat in several places and we got very 'up close and personal' with pelicans, seals, dolphins and flamingos as well as many other sea birds and the sand dunes along the Namibian coast. At times, the boat went very fast so it was a bumpy ride and sometimes I had to cling very tightly to the rail to stop myself bouncing off my seat but it was so exciting and exhilarating! Ruen stopped the boat for 30 minutes by a sandbar and served sparkling wine, freshly shucked oysters and a variety of nibbles. Soft drinks and beer were offered throughout the trip. We saw a lot and learned a lot so, despite the unpromising start, we all had a great time. Hopefully, in years to come, the company will build a proper floating dock away from the fish processing plant and then the whole experience will be as great as the middle bit! We were very glad that we had our fleeces and waterproof coats as it was very cold when we were moving and the spray was splashing over the sides. It was a wonderful trip and well worth the money although I know a lot of people complained about the dock area. December 2022 Walvis Bay port. the port is large and industrial. There was a regular free shuttle service with 2 drop-off points - the beach and the town centre. The tour busses for ship’s excursions were parked a shortish walk from the gangway. There were tour operators waiting at the port exit offering trips to the sand dunes and lagoons. There were taxis too. A group of people had set up a souvenir market along the roadside close to the port exit. It is possible to walk into town and to a beach if you are reasonably fit. J&I - independent tour with Red Dunes Safaris. 08.30 - 18.00 I had done an internet search for a company that could pick us up at the port and tailor our tour to our requirements. I looked at several companies and emailed 3 but only got a prompt and personal response from JP at RDS. We emailed a few times and he always responded quickly and was very willing to provide the experiences that I suggested. John-Pierre was waiting for us at the port exit and his 4x4 was parked a few metres away. JP established our requirements and then set off to take us through the town to the wetland bird reserve where there were lots of flamingos and ducks. From there we drove down to the town promenade (beautiful houses) to see more flamingos. JP took us to the huge salt pans and then onto the beach where there was a large colony of seals with their pups and a shipwreck. The tour continued with a long drive (40km) along the coast and through the sand dunes to Sandwich Harbour. We stopped at an aquifer where there was a wooden platform to sit on while we had a picnic. JP had been very thoughtful and had included a bottle of non-alcoholic sparkling wine. We continued on to Sandwich Harbour where he drove the 4x4 up the huge and steep sand dunes in a ‘dune bashing’! The views along the coast were spectacular. JP took a different route back through the desert and we saw a jackal, onyxes, ostriches and springbok. We got back to the port at 18.00 which was long after our agreed time of 15.30 after a great day with an excellent guide!
  25. Hi Paula, over several years we have visited all your new ports except for Maputo so I will have a look at my diaries and see what information I have that maybe of use to you. It will take a couple of days to sort through them. It is a shame that your original itinerary has had to be changed but totally understandable in these very worrying times. I feel desperately sorry for the ordinary people who get dragged into the political conflicts and especially the tradespeople who rely on the trade generated by the cruise industry. Having said that, you will be visiting some very interesting destinations
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