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Balmoral's Antarctic Adventure


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The Balmoral is now well underway on her 78-night Exploration of South America and the Antarctic... with the promise that "this once in a life-time journey" will give passengers "a rare chance to capture the rugged icy landscapes on the Antarctic Peninsula."

 

She left Portsmouth on Thursday 5 January and by breakfast this morning she was on route to Porto Dalgada and is due there on Monday 9 January at 11.30 am. 

 

The position at breakfast time was between Penzance and Roscoff in France. The temperature was about 12˚C, there was a fresh breeze about 16 knots, the sea was rough at about 3.4 m. The wind was forecast to pick up to about 30 knots during the day. 

 

The Balmoral is far from full but... those on board can admire the brochure photos of Elephant Island, Antarctica, and Machu Picchu, Peru, in eager anticipation of things to come.

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By about 5.00 pm (UK time) on Friday 6 January the Balmoral was about 125 miles due west of Brest, France. The ship was pushing forward at about 14 knots through high seas against a head-on near gale with wind speeds of about 34 knots. The forecast for Saturday 7 January was high winds of about 28 knots. The Balmoral was still expected in Ponta Delgada on 9 January about 10.30 am but, unlike, most of the other cruise ships expected, there were no published times of arrival or departure.

 

However the Balmoral changed course in the middle of Friday/Saturday night. By about lunchtime on Saturday 7 January she was about 125 miles North-West of A Coruna in Spain. and heading in the direction of Madeira... about 200 miles off her original projected course. Later in the day she changed course again and headed towards the Azores with a new estimated arrival time of 11.30 am.

 

By breakfast time on Sunday 8 January the Balmoral's itinerary had changed to miss Ponta Delgada on 9 January to sail directly to Horta.. due to arrive on Tuesday 10 January. From there the itinerary is Kings Wharf, Bermuda on the 15 January and Nassau on the 22 January. Some high winds are expected.

Edited by twotravellersLondon
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3 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

By about 5.00 pm (UK time) on Friday 6 January the Balmoral was about 125 miles due west of Brest, France. The ship was pushing forward at about 14 knots through high seas against a head-on near gale with wind speeds of about 34 knots. The forecast for Saturday 7 January was high winds of about 28 knots. The Balmoral was still expected in Ponta Delgada on 9 January about 10.30 am but, unlike, most of the other cruise ships expected, there were no published times of arrival or departure.

 

However the Balmoral changed course in the middle of Friday/Saturday night. By about lunchtime on Saturday 7 January she was about 125 miles North-West of A Coruna in Spain. and heading in the direction of Madeira... about 200 miles off her original projected course. Later in the day she changed course again and headed towards the Azores with a new estimated arrival time of 11.30 am.

 

By breakfast time on Sunday 8 January the Balmoral's itinerary had changed to miss Ponta Delgada on 9 January to sail directly to Horta.. due to arrive on Tuesday 10 January. From there the itinerary is Kings Wharf, Bermuda on the 15 January and Nassau on the 22 January. Some high winds are expected.

 

I noticed last night that she had changed course to the west and that she was heading for Horta.  Yes, could be bad weather as your post seems to imply, or I am wondering if they may have had a medical emergency.  We returned from the Caribbean via the Azores early December and took a similar diversion to meet with a helicopter for an evacuation near A Coruna.  It did not delay our arrival in Southampton, but the weather was fairly good comparatively, though was quite windy.  She is still on the way anyway and weather should improve soon.  Round S America is a journey I always wanted to do, but perhaps will not make it now due to our age and the covid disruptions, so am taking an interest in her journey.  I hope all goes well for their journey.

 

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7 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

By about 5.00 pm (UK time) on Friday 6 January the Balmoral was about 125 miles due west of Brest, France. The ship was pushing forward at about 14 knots through high seas against a head-on near gale with wind speeds of about 34 knots. The forecast for Saturday 7 January was high winds of about 28 knots. The Balmoral was still expected in Ponta Delgada on 9 January about 10.30 am but, unlike, most of the other cruise ships expected, there were no published times of arrival or departure.

 

However the Balmoral changed course in the middle of Friday/Saturday night. By about lunchtime on Saturday 7 January she was about 125 miles North-West of A Coruna in Spain. and heading in the direction of Madeira... about 200 miles off her original projected course. Later in the day she changed course again and headed towards the Azores with a new estimated arrival time of 11.30 am.

 

By breakfast time on Sunday 8 January the Balmoral's itinerary had changed to miss Ponta Delgada on 9 January to sail directly to Horta.. due to arrive on Tuesday 10 January. From there the itinerary is Kings Wharf, Bermuda on the 15 January and Nassau on the 22 January. Some high winds are expected.

 

It is only an afternoon which Balmoral appears to be missing in Ponta Delgada as she was due there from early afternoon to early evening, so usually about midday (or soon after), until about 5pm.  I have pasted Fred's itinerary below.  The time periods published are the same method used by both Cunard and P&O, to mention two lines who use that system, which is common for UK based lines, though Fred's normally stays longer in port, compared to similar descriptions than the Carnival UK lines using the same description, as you will probably remember since you have travelled with Fred a lot pre-covid.. 

 

Cruise Itinerary: Portsmouth, England (05 Jan d late evening); Ponta Delgada, Azores (09 Jan early afternoon-early evening); Horta, Azores (10 Jan early morning-early afternoon); Kings Wharf, Bermuda (15 Jan early morning-late afternoon); Nassau, Bahamas (18 Jan early morning-early evening); Colon, Panama (22 Jan early morning-late night); Panama Canal (Cruising Canal) (23 Jan early morning-late afternoon); Guayaquil, Ecuador (26 Jan early morning-early evening); Callao (Lima), Peru (29 Jan early morning(+1)early evening); Matarani, Peru (01 Feb early morning-late evening); Arica, Chile (02 Feb early afternoon-early evening); Valparaiso, Chile (06 Feb early morning-late night); Castro, Chiloe Island (09 Feb early morning-late afternoon); Puerto Chacabuco, Chile (10 Feb early morning-early evening); Punta Arenas, Chile (13 Feb early morning-early afternoon); Ushuaia, Argentina (15 Feb early morning-late afternoon); Port Stanley, Falkland Islands (22 Feb early morning-early evening); Montevideo, Uruguay (26 Feb early morning-early evening); Buenos Aires, Argentina (27 Feb early morning(+1)early evening); Itajai, Brazil (03 Mar early morning-late afternoon); Ilhabela, Brazil (04 Mar early morning-early evening); Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (05 Mar early morning(+1)early evening); Salvador De Bahia, Brazil (09 Mar early morning-late afternoon); Recife, Brazil (11 Mar early morning-late afternoon); Mindelo, Cape Verde (16 Mar early afternoon-late evening); Tenerife, Canary Islands (19 Mar early morning-early evening); Southampton, England (24 Mar a early morning)

 

I am interested how the itinerary will progress and if covid will have an impact on it.  It is possible some changes had already been made before departure as I had not taken a copy directly from Fred's website recently, but I know there have been changes in world cruise itineraries for a number of lines.  Sadly a sign of the times.

 

 

 

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Th Balmoral passed the Spirit of Adventure overnight and by breakfast time on Monday 9 January doing 16 knots through rough seas and was on course for Horta, Azores. Very few cruise ships visit Horta in the winter and the Balmoral was the only ship scheduled for December/February 2023.

 

The Balmoral arrived at Horta early on 10 Jan in a fresh breeze, overcast skies and a temp. of about 14˚C with the promise that the rest of the day would be clear, bright and about 15˚C. First landfall after four sea days. 

 

By Wednesday morning, the Balmoral was on-route for Bermuda with an estimated arrival time of 11.15 am on 15 January according to one source. The original arrival time at Kings Warf had been 9.30 am and departure time was 3.30 pm. However that's when the original itinerary was that the Balmoral would sail on from Bermuda to Havana, Cuba. 

 

The forecast for the approach to Bermuda on 15 January is high winds of over 30 knots but that could well change in the next few days.

 

Edited by twotravellersLondon
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IMG_8258.thumb.jpeg.898f3a17660ff0f06796a29a862503dd.jpeg

 

The Balmoral is in now mid-Atlantic almost 1000 miles from the closest cruise ship. The Balmoral is doing a "bumpy" 18 knots in a strong breeze through rough seas in overcast conditions... but the weather is a tad warmer... about 17˚C.

 

Personally we would have preferred the more southerly route similar to the one currently being taken by the MSC Poesia, the Arvia and the Ambience which are all about 1000 miles further South where the weather is warmer, brighter, the wind is less bracing and the seas are more moderate. But... the attractions of Bermuda may have swayed FOCLs team "hand crafting" these itinerates. Plenty of people on board will look forward to stretching their legs of terra firma after so many bumpy sea days.

 

Some pretty high winds are expected on the approach to Kings Wharf on 14/15 January... with one model now predicting wind speed of over 40 knots... a severe gale... similar to the conditions that the Balmoral experienced while returning to the UK from Norway in November 2022.

 

However, the weather forecast for Hamilton, Bermuda for Sunday 15 January...  SW winds at about 18mph, temperatures about 19˚C, humidity at about 75% and, sadly, a good chance of thundery rain.

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On this "once-in-a-lifetime" "incredible voyage" "for the first time ever" that FOCLs "will be sailing to Antarctica," the Balmoral is currently in a near gale about 300 miles North East of Bermuda. The temperature is about 12C, the sea is rough and the windspeed is about 15 m/s or 34 knots and the wave height is over 3 m. The wind speed is predicted to reach 38 knots, gale force 8, overnight.

 

The weather on Bermuda on Sunday is likely to be very breezy with winds of 20-28 mph and gusts of up to 38 mph with the odd chance of thundery rain. After so many rather choppy sea days, lots of people on board must be looking forward to shops, cafes, restaurants, museums, parks and tourist attractions in Bermuda and then, in a few days later, the delights of the Bahamas.

 

And then, so much to look forward to... the Panama Canal, Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, the Patagonian Fjords, Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula... all of that "joy of the journey" just in the first half of this "expertly" "handcrafted" voyage!

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Quite!  “joy of the journey” and  “handcrafted” or “sit down and shut up” and “hand-knitted”! 


Sounds grim so far.  Hope our less adventurous trip to Madeira and then Cape Verde in a couple of weeks has quieter sea conditions but just in case, I’ve already looked out my anti-puke wristbands!  We had very rough seas on the Pacific Princess (small and lovely) coming back from Greenland and I was fine so I’m quietly hopeful.

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1 hour ago, teenieleek said:

Quite!  “joy of the journey” and  “handcrafted” or “sit down and shut up” and “hand-knitted”! 


Sounds grim so far.  Hope our less adventurous trip to Madeira and then Cape Verde in a couple of weeks has quieter sea conditions but just in case, I’ve already looked out my anti-puke wristbands!  We had very rough seas on the Pacific Princess (small and lovely) coming back from Greenland and I was fine so I’m quietly hopeful.

 

All chance, no matter where you are sailing but with the right medication to hand you will be fine.  The wristbands do not work for me, but I know some people use them all the time.  I often find one stugeron settles me and often do not need any more unless the seas are really bad, but we always take a supply in case.

 

The ship is in Bermuda today and not windy there at present.  I have seen some good comments from on the ship.  Mention of various dance classes, shows and the food is apparently back to the original quality, so seas have not been stopping the cruise enjoyment altogether, though a lot of long lazy days out on deck have not been on the cards as yet.  It is unusual to see a S. America going clockwise, but some good ports and they got into Horta, which can be a very iffy port, that is often skipped due to rough seas.  They will be coming back from the East of the continent, so much calmer seas from that direction, but all swings and roundabouts, depending on the route taken and as I said just chance.  We did a round trip to the Caribbean on Aurora in November, which I have heard reputed as the worst month in the North Atlanic by seafarers, yet we did very well, with just a couple of days on the return when we could not access much of the outside decks.

 

I hope the weather is much better for them form now on and that your pending cruise goes through some calmer waters as well,

 

Barbara

  

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1 hour ago, tring said:

 

All chance, no matter where you are sailing but with the right medication to hand you will be fine.  The wristbands do not work for me, but I know some people use them all the time.  I often find one stugeron settles me and often do not need any more unless the seas are really bad, but we always take a supply in case.

 

The ship is in Bermuda today and not windy there at present.  I have seen some good comments from on the ship.  Mention of various dance classes, shows and the food is apparently back to the original quality, so seas have not been stopping the cruise enjoyment altogether, though a lot of long lazy days out on deck have not been on the cards as yet.  It is unusual to see a S. America going clockwise, but some good ports and they got into Horta, which can be a very iffy port, that is often skipped due to rough seas.  They will be coming back from the East of the continent, so much calmer seas from that direction, but all swings and roundabouts, depending on the route taken and as I said just chance.  We did a round trip to the Caribbean on Aurora in November, which I have heard reputed as the worst month in the North Atlanic by seafarers, yet we did very well, with just a couple of days on the return when we could not access much of the outside decks.

 

I hope the weather is much better for them form now on and that your pending cruise goes through some calmer waters as well,

 

Barbara

  

 

Just realised I referred to Balmoral going clockwise, though of course she is going anti-clockwise.  I claim old age as an excuse, though perhaps the modern digital clocks do not help 🙂

 

 

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3 hours ago, teenieleek said:

Quite!  “joy of the journey” and  “handcrafted” or “sit down and shut up” and “hand-knitted”! 

 

We had very seriously enquired about a balcony cabin on this voyage and that's why we're so interested. Of course it was the Antarctic Peninsula that really appealed to us. We didn't book because we suspected that the itinerary would have to be changed.

 

Today seemed to be a reasonable day...

 

The Balmoral's arrival into the Bermuda Great Sound at around 8.30 am Bermuda time on Sunday morning was "challenging." Headwinds of 24 knots from the southwest, gusting up to 27 knots and waves up to 4 m in height certainly made skilled seamanship and a trusty tug highly necessary. But the captain did it... despite the Disney Wish having abandoned the attempt on the previous day. There were bright skies and 19˚C, the odd drop of rain and passengers were off and making their way up the quay by about 9.30 am Bermuda time. 

 

It clouded over later and the temps dropped to 17˚C. It was very definitely light jackets for many of those returning to the ship. As the Balmoral prepared to leave a few brave souls were bracing themselves against the weather viewing from the rails as the ship's flags were horizontal in the breeze, the gangplank was pulled in at 3.51 pm Bermuda time and the door was firmly closed a minute later. As the Balmoral sailed away it was surprising just how few people were out and about... we counted only a handful on the balconies on the upper two decks and there were far less than we expected on the prom deck. No wonder that FOCLs were trying to flog the cruise in the last couple of days before the Balmoral sailed.

 

The Port of Bermuda webcam operator has been brilliant today scanning onto the ship and zooming in. Dozens of people have been watching at all time through the day and it would have been very easy to recognise friends and family on the quayside or on the decks... and even to hear announcements on the ship... if the wind hadn't been so strong.

 

Perhaps the "joy" is still to come. Peru?

 

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16 hours ago, tring said:

“joy of the journey”

 

The Balmoral is currently doing 14 knots, experiencing a strong breeze from the west, temps of about 18˚C  and high seas but is expected to arrive at Nassau, Bahamas at 11.45 on Tuesday. 

 

The winds are expected to ease to 2 knots over the course of the voyage and the forecast for Nassau is 20˚C and bright clear skies. We're sure that folks will be delighted to look forward to all of the delights that the Bahamas can offer... shops, cafes, bars, beaches and some wonderful excursions. So perhaps plain sailing and joys to come in the next few days for passengers on the Balmoral! 

 

However it's lucky that they're not currently "cruising the Antarctic Peninsula" as per their itinerary for the 16 - 19 February... there are 51 knot winds, snow and below freezing conditions forecast for that area in the next few days. 

 

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1 hour ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

The Balmoral is currently doing 14 knots, experiencing a strong breeze from the west, temps of about 18˚C  and high seas but is expected to arrive at Nassau, Bahamas at 11.45 on Tuesday. 

 

The winds are expected to ease to 2 knots over the course of the voyage and the forecast for Nassau is 20˚C and bright clear skies. We're sure that folks will be delighted to look forward to all of the delights that the Bahamas can offer... shops, cafes, bars, beaches and some wonderful excursions. So perhaps plain sailing and joys to come in the next few days for passengers on the Balmoral! 

 

However it's lucky that they're not currently "cruising the Antarctic Peninsula" as per their itinerary for the 16 - 19 February... there are 51 knot winds, snow and below freezing conditions forecast for that area in the next few days. 

 

 

Not sure how you edited the post of mine which you "quoted", but the words "joy of the journey" were not in my post at all, though did appear in a post which I had quoted yesterday.  No matter though as I am interested in the cruise as are you, though I am doing my best to leave the internet alone and get on with things we really need to get sorted at home, so have not been seaching webcams etc. which must have made for interesting viewing yesterday.

 

Yes, the Drake Passage and indeed any travel "around the horn" are always a challenge from the point of view of bad sea conditions/winds, so unlikely to be calm there at any time.  We had looked at Antarctica expedition cruises a number of years back, but the thought of traversing such a stretch of water in a smaller expedition ship was one factor in our decision not to book it, though must admit the prices of such cruises and having to fly such a long distance were more important things which clinched our decision at the time.  A cruise around South America does appeal though and any entry into Arctic waters would be of interest, yet of course the bigger cruise ships do not allow for leaving the ship in those locations due to max numbers allowed ashore and that is what we mainly what had interested us.  We may yet do an expedition cruise into the Arctic though, but are lucky to have been a fair way into arctic waters without the expense if expedition ships at present.  We are also heading more in the direction of warm weather cruising as we get older 🙂

 

Barbara

  

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The Balmoral arrived in Nassau this morning after a day and night of moderate seas, gentle breezes and balmy temperatures in excess of 20˚C. Nassau this morning 17˚C and a few clouds. A bit sticky with humidity of over 88%... forecast for 23˚C.

 

Just a few days ago FOCLs' "head of destination experience and itinerary planning" was quoted in the trade press talking about the Balmoral’s current "78-night adventure" and saying that FOCLs' smaller ships allowed the company "to truly venture away from the well-trodden tourist path, and delve deeper into the history and culture of some truly fantastic ports."

 

When we considered this cruise, one of the "hand-crafted grand voyages" that  FOCLs is so "incredibly proud" of, we were very attracted by the promise of a "mix of Classic cars, Spanish colonial architecture and the Latin Dance (that) is unmistakeably that of Havana"... truly  "away from the well-trodden tourist path," and giving us a chance to go deeper into the history and culture of the fantastic port of Havana. But in the world of geo-politics things have changed. Cruise companies based in the USA are now fighting to appeal a US$ 440 million+ judgment against them for contravening the Helms Burton Act by illegally offered their passengers additional tourist services in Cuba... like visits to night clubs, cocktail making lessons and suchlike! And... anyone, like ourselves, who's travelled to Cuba with FOCLs since March 2011 will need a visa to enter the US but won't be able to apply for a ESTA online and instead will have to pay £137 for a US visa and wait months for an interview appointment.

 

Sadly the Balmoral's itinerary was changed, the wonderful history and culture of Cuba was cancelled and replaced instead by the well-trodden sidewalks of Nassau... the busiest cruise port in the Caribbean... in fact one of the busiest cruise ports on earth... (it attracts over 3.5 million cruise passengers a year!)

 

There's certainly no need to be on a ship the size of the Balmoral to dock in Nassau... it can take the biggest of the big! The Balmoral (1,420 pax) will be in port alongside the Norwegian Pearl (2,934 pax), and the Carnival Liberty (2,974 pax) in berths vacated yesterday by the Freedom of the Seas (3,634 pax), the Mariner of the Seas (4,252 pax), Disney Wish (5,555 pax) & Carnival Liberty (2,974 pax) and will be replaced tomorrow by the Carnival Sunrise (2,984 pax ), the Carnival Elation (2,052 pax) and the Liberty of the Seas (3,798 pax). So the potential of well over 35,000 cruise passengers and crew over three days... now that's a busyish cruise port and a "well-trodden" tourist quay!

 

Anyway... we're sure than many of Balmoral's passengers will welcome the bustle and excitement of Nassau after being "chased by storms" on such a long and often choppy transit. We think that even we would enjoy the blue skies, sunshine and a little warmth on terra firma today.

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Actually you can use an ESTA for the US unless you have been to Cuba since 12th January 2021 when Cuba was added to that list.  There was confusion at first and some agents have been slow to get the position straight (not helped by US sources either), but clear now.  Visits at this stage may cause problems in the future though, unless Cuba is removed from the list, which it seems is a possibility, since the US are aware they are loosing some tourists who prefer to visit Cuba but not bother with the full US visa subsequently.

 

I would hardly call Havana "away from the well trodden tourist path" with Cuba being one of the cheapest Caribbean Islands to go to on holiday and one which is very commonly visited indeed. There are places of interest in Havana, yes, but Tropicana, for instance, is just a tourist trap, as you get in many mass tourist destinations.  We have been to Cuba a number of times, to different locations as well as traveling widely when there.  We booked a cruise around Cuba with a Canadian company as part of a month there, a few years back, though before we went Obama had brought out his, "People to People" scheme and many of the passengers where on one of those plans with an inclusive schedule.  If US based ships have offered normal excursions it seems a bit silly to me, though I understand that judgement is to be appealed.

 

 

 

 

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23 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

"away from the well-trodden tourist path

 

Is the Balmoral "off the "well-trodden track" on this "Antarctic Adventure?"

 

The Balmoral's passengers joined the 800,000 tourists expected in Bermuda this year and the 7.5 million tourists expected on the Bahamas this year.

 

In between these two ports, the words, "away from the well-trodden tourist path" are those of FOCLs' Head of Itinerary Planning & Destination Experience who has been in the post for over five years and was quoted in a FOCLs Press Release at 13.54 on 16 January concerning the Balmoral arrival in South America. He was in charge of planning the itinerary, the changes to avoid Havana. He is quoted by FOCLs as saying, “Our smaller ships allow us to truly venture away from the well-trodden tourist path, and delve deeper into the history and culture of some truly fantastic ports...”

 

He mentions without giving the annual tourist numbers; the Galapagos Islands, (200,000 tourists a year), the Panama Canal, (647,000 a year), Machu Picchu, (1,500,000 a year), Ushuaia, Chilean Fjords, (250,000 a year) and Antarctica, (100,000 a year). By contrast only 350,000 tourists are expected to visit Havana this year... times have very much changed.

 

Almost as an aside... The United States Department of State designated Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism on January 12, 2021 and ,since then, travellers who've visited Cuba can't use ESTA Program and have to apply for a visa to enter the USA. Theoretically, its mainly only travellers have been to Cuba since 12 January 2021 who can't use ESTA. The problem is that Cuba was also designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982. Although later rescinded, some problems/confusion still persists at some US border entry points... and who wants to take the chance of having to arguing the toss over legal technicalities of US law in the US with a US official after a long flight? The point is; this is the likely reason that the itinerary was changed. In our opinion, FOCLs made the right commercial decision and the right decision for their clients at the time to cut Havana from the "Antarctic Adventure" itinerary. It's a real pity but we just don't think that FOCLs had a choice.

 

Passengers on the Balmoral have just crossed the Tropic of Cancer and should now be looking forward to a wonderful sea-day. The ship is about 12 miles off San Salvador island in the Bahamas with Rum Cay on the starboard side. The forecast is for temps in the mid 20˚Cs, a moderate breeze, moderate seas and some blue skies. Hopefully some blue seas and the chance of seeing flying fish as well. 

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1 hour ago, LandC said:

I understand from reading comments on another site that the 3 day excursion to Machu  Picchu has been cancelled due to civil unrest in Peru.

 

Plain Sailing?

 

Guests on the Balmoral should have woken to clear skies, a strong breeze, temperatures of about 26˚C and roughish seas this morning as the Balmoral cruised in the middle of the Caribbean Sea about 300 miles South of Jamaica. Destination is Colon, Panama, where the Balmoral is expected at 13.00 hrs the day after tomorrow. 

 

Perhaps a chance for some birdwatching today... this is a pic that we snapped in the same area a little while ago.

 

DSC_9748.thumb.jpeg.72d9784c40fa4acb6cd9b757648a14ce.jpeg

 

 

We're sure that news of the Peru situation would not have been welcome onboard.

 

It's really sad that the trips to Machu Picchu have been cancelled but the arrangements for the Balmoral's visit to Peru between 29 January and 1 February must have been in some doubt for some time because of the political situation there... large scale riots in major cities, dozens dead, airports closed, roads and railway lines blocked and tourists trapped in Machu Picchu. 

 

A 30-day state of emergency was declared and on 15 January. The port of Callao, just outside Lima, where the Balmoral is due to dock and Cusco are also covered by emergency measures. Despite the state of Emergency, by 21 January there were increasingly violent demonstrations in Lima, thousands of tourists to Machu Picchu have been left stranded in Cusco and demonstrators have attempted to storm the airport at Arequipa. 

 

We know from the experience of travelling in Peru independently that It's a difficult time of the year to visit Machu Picchu anyway because of the rainfall, floods and landslides. In our case, we had to take a helicopter out just to get back to Cusco.

 

The Foreign office is urging British tourists in Peru to have caution. In these circumstances, we don't think that FOCLs had any real choice except to cancel.

 

However, it's surprising that FOCLs issues a press release on 16 January that' "Guests currently on Balmoral’s 78-night adventure have chances to ... explore the “Lost City of the Incas” on an overland tour to Machu Picchu... " when these political problems in Peru have been apparent for weeks and have been reported in the international media.

 

We're so sorry for those people on the Balmoral who must be so disappointed. 

 

 

Edited by twotravellersLondon
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2 hours ago, Essiesmom said:

A nice start to your c anal transit day:

 

 

2A8A59E2-F6DE-4082-85A3-B8D4A0C6EE14.jpeg

 

 

Panama Canal Transit

 

A great picture of the much anticipate Balmoral transit of the Panama Canal! For those of us who, for whatever reason, didn't book this cruise a time-lapse of an entire transit (not the Balmoral) is available. It takes in about five minutes instead of 8-10 hours ...

 

 https://youtu.be/qaFwygTR8Ig

 

Lots of others there too... some in real time!

 

Earlier it looked as if the Balmoral had abandoned any idea of the transit and was heading back into the Caribbean. The Balmoral left it's berth in Colon, headed out of the harbour, through the breakwater on a N-NE course for 30-40 miles out into Golfo de los Mosquitos and the Caribbean Sea.

 

But... it turned back again after reaching and the limit of Panamanian Territorial Waters.

 

The Balmoral is currently in the Panama Canal doing 5 knots on the transit between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans and is making its way out of Gatun Lake into the narrows that lead towards Gambola. It's a nice day but hot. Getting up to 30˚C and a light breeze.

 

Next stop is Guayaquil on 26 Jan.

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3 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

 

 

Panama Canal Transit

 

A great picture of the much anticipate Balmoral transit of the Panama Canal! For those of us who, for whatever reason, didn't book this cruise a time-lapse of an entire transit (not the Balmoral) is available. It takes in about five minutes instead of 8-10 hours ...

 

 https://youtu.be/qaFwygTR8Ig

 

Lots of others there too... some in real time!

 

Thanks for that link, will watch it when I have more time.  Reports from on the ship are that it is hot, one person saying it was too hot to go outdoors!  They will have a bit if time to acclimatise now, before they get into the colder waters.  Lots of temperature changes on that cruise.  Shame about Peru, but has to be, hopefully they will find somewhere else to go.

 

I have also been looking at reports from Aurora as well, which left at a very similar time and is doing it clockwise.  They are in the third S. American port of Rio at present - some interesting pics posted.

.

 

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Sorry to be delayed with the pic from the Miraflores cam.  Interesting looking trimaran in front of you.  Wonder how much they payed in cash for their transit…. EM

 

those vessels in the other lock are excursion ferries…

4C031A7D-9F7C-48E1-BAFF-DE40918876BF.jpeg

Edited by Essiesmom
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Next stop is Guayaquil on 26 Jan?

 

That was the lodged itinerary and the projected course by FOCLs' expert team of itinerary planners at the start of the cruise. It should have been a simple route... about 850 nautical miles over two to three days depending if the speed was 11 knots or 17 knots through light breezes, calm seas and clear tropical skies. It was a distance that the Balmoral could have covered in 2.4 days at 15 knots.

 

However for a significant part of today the Balmoral has been only making 11 knots and is currently about 30 miles eastwards of the forecast course and is about 150 miles from Buenaventura in Columbia... heading directly towards the small Ecuadorian oil-port of Esmeraldas on the Columbian border. 

 

The Balmoral will only be able to reach Guayaquil by early morning the day after tomorrow the if the course is changed and the Balmoral's Captain steps on the gas a bit. But as FOCLs posted only three days ago in relation to this once in a lifetime adventure, "In our world, the journey is just as important as the destination."

 

So it's currently around lunchtime on the Balmoral: there's a very light breeze and moderate seas and it's about 27˚C.

 

 "In only about three weeks guests should be "Cruising the Antarctic Peninsula... An experience like no other." and as FOCLs brochure and website also set out; "Our epic voyage allows you to witness awe-inspiring natural beauty of one of the world’s most spectacular regions and its wonders, wildlife and waters. This vast stretch of land, ice and sea is an example of nature at its most astonishing. When it comes into view, you can’t help but be staggered by its overwhelming size, the might of its snow-capped mountains and the sheer volume of icebergs and glaciers."

 

Wow!

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14 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

Next stop is Guayaquil on 26 Jan?

 

The Balmoral altered course late last night local time to a more westerly and should soon be back on its forecast route to Guayaquil... but may arrive there later than expected on 26 January. And who knows... perhaps a pleasant sea day to come and a Burn' Night celebration this evening.

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