Loving every minute of a 108-day ‘true’ world cruise

By Marvin Silverman
This article appears on page 6 of the January 2016 issue.
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Majestic moais on Easter Island.

Crystal Cruises celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015, and to mark the occasion it scheduled a world cruise — not an ordinary world cruise like the ones it and other cruise lines schedule every year but a true world cruise, a circumnavigation of the globe, from Miami to Miami, for 108 days. 

This cruise was divided into six segments ranging from 15 to 21 days each. Passengers could sign up for all or some of the segments. I was told that Crystal had never had more than 400 passengers sign up for one of their “full world” cruises, but in 2015, because of the unique itinerary, more than 600 people signed up for all six segments, and I felt privileged to be one of them.

On and off the ship

We embarked the Crystal Serenity on Jan. 15 in Miami, celebrating our departure with a gala event in the Crystal Cove, the ship’s main lobby. Music, confetti and dancing got us off to an enthusiastic start.

Crystal Serenity has a maximum capacity of 1,070 passengers, but there were never more than 950 passengers on board for any of the six cruise segments.

The average age of the 600 world cruisers was 78, so some medical issues could be expected. There were three doctors and several nurses on board to care for the passengers and crew. 

Sadly, one passenger did have to leave the ship in Manta, Ecuador,  because of a medical problem. I later learned that she and her husband had to stay in Manta for three weeks before she could return to California on a medical plane. Remember your emergency-medical-evacuation travel insurance!

Aboard the ship there was a main dining room plus two specialty restaurants (Asian and Italian) and a casual dining area for dinner. Breakfast and lunch were available in the main dining room or at a buffet. 

The ship had a resident golf pro who gave free lessons in the two hitting cages and on the practice green on board. In Curaçao I played golf with 23 other guests, an outing arranged by the golf pro. 

During the cruise, he arranged 8 to 10 golf outings for those who were interested. It was a real treat to play at courses in different countries.

There was also a destination lecturer on board who gave lectures on upcoming ports. He had prepared us well for the Panama Canal, so our transit through the canal was thrilling. 

Cruising from the Caribbean into the Pacific Ocean, we stopped at Manta, where many of the passengers left the ship for side trips to the Galápagos Islands or Machu Picchu, Peru. They would meet the ship several days later at another port.

Going ashore

A very active shore-excursion department arranged tours in every port. Passengers could go on these prearranged trips or choose to have the “shore-ex” department put together a trip tailored to their individual interests. Some passengers chose to make their own arrangements, going ashore to be met by drivers whom they had hired in advance. 

Or, as I did on occasion, they could go ashore and hire a taxi or van driver (often involving active negotiating) to drive to scenic spots or just to a good restaurant for lunch. 

The nightly entertainment on the ship was varied and excellent. There was a troupe of eight dancers on board, as well as several solo dancers, two orchestras and two piano players, plus a string quartet who played in the lobby and the cocktail lounges. 

Full-scale musical revues were scheduled, and individual entertainers of all types flew in to meet the ship in different ports and perform. There was never a dull moment! 

Friends have asked me if it isn’t boring on a cruise ship. I once took the ship’s daily newspaper and counted the number of activities available in a single day. From 7 a.m. until noon, there were 53 different activities, including yoga, pilates, spinning, knitting, needlepoint, computer classes, Spanish instruction, golf lessons and line dancing, zumba, photography and watercolor classes. If you’re bored, you ain’t trying!

South American stops

In Salaverry, Peru, I decided to take a 6-hour tour to Chan Chan, the site of some ancient ruins. It was a hot, sweaty and dusty experience, made much worse by my realization, halfway through, that I had taken the same darn tour two years before!

The end of the first cruise segment was in Callao, Peru. There, some passengers left and others joined the ship. 

Lima was 45 minutes away, and the ship provided shuttle service to the city. The Miraflores District of Lima was elegant. Built on a 500-foot-high bluff overlooking the Pacific, it contained tall, modern buildings, top-name shops and fine restaurants. Several of us had a lovely lunch on top of the bluff, looking down at the ocean.

Now, if you are looking at a map, you will see that we made a sharp right turn before heading west into the Pacific for our next stop, Easter Island. 

Easter Island was, for me, the high point of the entire cruise. I was to visit it in 2006 but had to cancel my cruise, so I had been waiting for nine years to get there. 

I joined six others in hiring a van and driver to take us around the island, and we got lucky. Our driver was an archaeologist who was born on Easter Island and was working on a UCLA-funded project to study the moais, the tall iconic carvings for which the island is famous. Our driver’s knowledge was very helpful. 

There are 887 of these moais, and we saw many of them as well as the quarry from which they were carved. Some of the moais stand 30 to 40 feet tall and weigh 60 to 80 tons each.

Visiting Easter Island is a rare experience for many cruisers because it is not often included on itineraries, as it is so far out of the regular shipping lanes. 

New Zealand

We were supposed to have a day in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, but high swells kept us from landing there. In many ports, there was not enough or adequate dockage to accommodate the ship, so we had to anchor offshore and use the ship’s boats to ”tender” in to shore. 

The swells in Rarotonga kept us from doing even that, so we had an extra day at sea and arrived in New Zealand one day early… only to find that the dock that had been reserved in Auckland was taken. We anchored off a small area called Bay of Islands and tendered in for a nice lunch.

All experienced cruisers know that weather and politics can cause changes in itineraries. I’ve missed a few ports in recent years because of weather, and I had to skip Bangkok several years ago because they were experiencing civil unrest. 

New Zealand featured six ports, starting in Auckland, at the top of the North Island, and working down to the bottom of the South Island. Auckland was a lively city with much to do, both in the city and out in neighboring islands. I played golf there at the Gulf Harbour Country Club, which had a beautiful layout with wonderful views of the Pacific from the elevated tees.

Our next ports, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, featured the New Zealand wine country. Many tasting opportunities and many lively conversations with the locals were had. If there is any other country where the people are as fun-loving and friendly as New Zealanders, I haven’t seen it. 

Our last day in New Zealand featured sailing through some of the most beautiful waters in the world: Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound. Vertical cliffs covered in thick vegetation and dotted with plunging waterfalls made the passengers leave their bridge games and knitting classes to take in the spectacular scenery.

On to Australia

We crossed the Tasman Sea, which separates New Zealand from Australia, and arrived in Sydney, Australia, as the sun was rising. There are few harbors in the world that can come close to matching the spectacle of a sail-in to Sydney Harbour, with the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge greeting you.

After a day in Sydney we headed to Melbourne, and on the way we ran into our first stretch of rough water. With 15-foot-high seas and 70-mph winds, items fell off shelves and sleeping was a bumpy experience.

I was up at 6 a.m. to go to the bow to watch the ship crash through the waves, sending spray high into the air. Later on, I leaned across the table for my coffee cup and, at the same time, the ship was hit from the side by a huge wave. Over I went, onto the floor, my chair landing on top of me, just like the pratfalls Arte Johnson used to do on the “Laugh-In” TV show. No harm done, except to my pride.

People I had met on previous cruises, now friends, live in Melbourne, and they invited me to their home for dinner. One of the benefits of cruising is the friendships you can make. We had a wonderful evening, reminiscing about our cruising experiences.

Passengers on the ship wave good-bye to the Pitcairn Island residents who had come out to visit us on board.

Our last Australian port was Fremantle, the port city for Perth, on the far west coast of Australia. Our arrival in Perth also marked the end of a number of the ship staff’s contracts. (Contracts typically end at major ports so workers can be flown home more conveniently.) 

The entire staff, from the captain down to the lowest-ranking dishwasher, work on contracts. The waiters, maids, bartenders, engineers deckhands, etc., generally work on 5- to 8-month contracts, then are home for two to four months. 

One of the reasons I think Crystal Cruises (Los Angeles, CA; 888/722-0021, www.crystalcruises.com) is such a good cruise line is it seems to have happy employees. Many of the folks who served us in all those capacities had been with the company for 10 to 20 years.

I took an excursion in Perth that included a one-hour boat ride around the harbor and a lengthy bus tour of Perth and Fremantle. It would have been swell, except that the temperature was 99°F and every time we got out of the bus, I melted! 

Crossing the Indian Ocean

The next segment, 22 days from Fremantle to Cape Town, South Africa, included a 6-day transit of the Indian Ocean.

During the ocean crossing, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. The ship went all out. All the crew was in green, the lobby was festooned with green balloons, the cocktail lounges poured green beer, and the passengers outdid themselves with their own costumes and apparel.

Following a call at Mauritius, we docked at Réunion, an overseas region of France. Several of us hired a van and driver and were taken to the mountain village of Hell-Bourg. A deep canyon runs almost the entire length of Réunion, and our route twisted and turned along that canyon as we climbed several thousand feet to get to Hell-Bourg. We saw dozens of thready waterfalls as we climbed into the mountains. Magnificent scenery!

Our next port, in Madagascar, was special. It is the only place in the world where one can find lemurs in the wild. A few of us hired a van and driver and went to a national park, where we saw a number of different types of lemurs, some very rare, we were told. It was fascinating to see them leap from tree to tree, using their tails to grab onto or hang from a branch.

Finally, we reached the continent of Africa. In Durban, South Africa, I left the ship to go off on my own to a game camp for three days, returning to Durban to catch a flight to Cape Town, where I rejoined the ship.

Leaving the ship and meeting it at a subsequent port is becoming a more popular practice for adventurous passengers. However, it must be considered that if you book a tour on your own, as I did, you are on your own. If you twist an ankle or miss a flight, you have to fend for yourself.

We spent three days in Cape Town, and that wasn’t enough time to take advantage of all that this city offers. Table Mountain, the wine country, whale-watching, diving with sharks, its wonderful botanic garden, Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned) — lots to see and do!

A notable night

And that marked the end of another segment. I now looked forward to the next stretch at sea, seven straight days sailing from Cape Town  across the Atlantic, with no land in sight until we reached Montevideo, Uruguay, more than 4,000 miles away (even farther than it is from California to Maine).

At this point I had completed 78 days of my 108-day cruise, and the time had flown by like 78 minutes! 

During this segment I was invited to have dinner with the captain in his quarters. The occasion was my having reached my 75th Crystal cruise. I was one of three guests invited to dine with him that evening.

Each cruise averages 14 days in length, so if you multiply 14 days by 75 cruises, you can see that I’ve spent almost three years of my life on a Crystal ship. But there were passengers on board who had taken 150, 200, 250 or more Crystal cruises as well as three women who live on the ship, so, in comparison, I’m just a rookie!

When we arrived in Montevideo, the 600 travelers booked on the full cruise were treated to a visit to an estancia, or cattle ranch, about an hour’s drive from the port. However, this estancia was much more than just a cattle ranch; part of it had been made into a luxurious resort.

As our buses turned onto the long driveway, gauchos in their traditional flat hats and flowing pants greeted us on horseback, tipping their hats and whirling their ropes through the air. We were treated to hors d’oeuvres and wine and saw men and women dancing the tango and other handsome couples strolling around in costumes in the style of long-ago days. 

Eventually, we were led into a very large tent for a traditional beef, lamb and chicken barbecue — mountains of food served buffet style with wine and beer. The entertainment featured a dance performed by the gauchos, their heavy boots stomping on the wooden floor, and couples dancing the tango.

Returning to South America

The following day, we sailed into Buenos Aires, Argentina. One of the most colorful areas of this colorful city is La Boca, the site of the city’s original port, which features great restaurants and artists. I looked up an artist from whom I purchased a print two years before, and he was delighted to learn that his print is now hanging in my living room. 

Several of us then took a taxi to a very long walking street, Florida, where we had lunch and then walked the entire length of the street. We passed many of the world’s best shops, interspersed with shops selling the tackiest tourist stuff.

A ring-tailed lemur in Madagascar.

On every block there were men calling out “Cambio,” Spanish for “Change.” They wanted to get US dollars and were willing to offer twice the official exchange rate. However, this is not a good idea! Dealing with them is illegal, and the pesos you get might be counterfeit. 

As we reached Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we enjoyed one of the most picturesque sail-ins on the globe. The weather was perfect, with bright sun, and cameras were clicking furiously.

There was Corcovado, standing nearly 2,500 feet high, with the statue of “Christ the Redeemer” towering 125 feet above its summit, and Sugarloaf Mountain, with its iconic shape, guarding Guanabara Bay. There also were Ipanema and Copacabana beaches and the infamous favelas climbing the green hills surrounding the city.

As we began our last cruise segment, 18 days from Rio to Miami, new friends began to say good-bye, exchanging email addresses and promises to stay in touch, just like at summer camp 60 years ago!

Our last two ports were Barbados and St. Thomas, then most of us spent time packing and saying good-bye. 

We had sailed around the globe, about 38,000 miles in all, and I loved every minute of it! 

In total, my experience cost about $100,000, plus the cost of round-trip airfare from Carmel, California, to Miami. The 108 days had been filled with adventure, friendship, new vistas and many laughs.    

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.
Majestic moais on Easter Island.

Crystal Cruises celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015, and to mark the occasion it scheduled a world cruise — not an ordinary world cruise like the ones it and other cruise lines schedule every year but a true world cruise, a circumnavigation of the globe, from Miami to Miami, for 108 days. 

This cruise was divided into six segments ranging from 15 to 21 days each. Passengers could sign up for all or some of the segments. I was told that Crystal had never had more than 400 passengers sign up for one of their “full world” cruises, but in 2015, because of the unique itinerary, more than 600 people signed up for all six segments, and I felt privileged to be one of them.

On and off the ship

We embarked the Crystal Serenity on Jan. 15 in Miami, celebrating our departure with a gala event in the Crystal Cove, the ship’s main lobby. Music, confetti and dancing got us off to an enthusiastic start.

Crystal Serenity has a maximum capacity of 1,070 passengers, but there were never more than 950 passengers on board for any of the six cruise segments.

The average age of the 600 world cruisers was 78, so some medical issues could be expected. There were three doctors and several nurses on board to care for the passengers and crew. 

Sadly, one passenger did have to leave the ship in Manta, Ecuador,  because of a medical problem. I later learned that she and her husband had to stay in Manta for three weeks before she could return to California on a medical plane. Remember your emergency-medical-evacuation travel insurance!

Aboard the ship there was a main dining room plus two specialty restaurants (Asian and Italian) and a casual dining area for dinner. Breakfast and lunch were available in the main dining room or at a buffet. 

The ship had a resident golf pro who gave free lessons in the two hitting cages and on the practice green on board. In Curaçao I played golf with 23 other guests, an outing arranged by the golf pro. 

During the cruise, he arranged 8 to 10 golf outings for those who were interested. It was a real treat to play at courses in different countries.

There was also a destination lecturer on board who gave lectures on upcoming ports. He had prepared us well for the Panama Canal, so our transit through the canal was thrilling. 

Cruising from the Caribbean into the Pacific Ocean, we stopped at Manta, where many of the passengers left the ship for side trips to the Galápagos Islands or Machu Picchu, Peru. They would meet the ship several days later at another port.

Going ashore

A very active shore-excursion department arranged tours in every port. Passengers could go on these prearranged trips or choose to have the “shore-ex” department put together a trip tailored to their individual interests. Some passengers chose to make their own arrangements, going ashore to be met by drivers whom they had hired in advance. 

Or, as I did on occasion, they could go ashore and hire a taxi or van driver (often involving active negotiating) to drive to scenic spots or just to a good restaurant for lunch. 

The nightly entertainment on the ship was varied and excellent. There was a troupe of eight dancers on board, as well as several solo dancers, two orchestras and two piano players, plus a string quartet who played in the lobby and the cocktail lounges. 

Full-scale musical revues were scheduled, and individual entertainers of all types flew in to meet the ship in different ports and perform. There was never a dull moment! 

Friends have asked me if it isn’t boring on a cruise ship. I once took the ship’s daily newspaper and counted the number of activities available in a single day. From 7 a.m. until noon, there were 53 different activities, including yoga, pilates, spinning, knitting, needlepoint, computer classes, Spanish instruction, golf lessons and line dancing, zumba, photography and watercolor classes. If you’re bored, you ain’t trying!

South American stops

In Salaverry, Peru, I decided to take a 6-hour tour to Chan Chan, the site of some ancient ruins. It was a hot, sweaty and dusty experience, made much worse by my realization, halfway through, that I had taken the same darn tour two years before!

The end of the first cruise segment was in Callao, Peru. There, some passengers left and others joined the ship. 

Lima was 45 minutes away, and the ship provided shuttle service to the city. The Miraflores District of Lima was elegant. Built on a 500-foot-high bluff overlooking the Pacific, it contained tall, modern buildings, top-name shops and fine restaurants. Several of us had a lovely lunch on top of the bluff, looking down at the ocean.

Now, if you are looking at a map, you will see that we made a sharp right turn before heading west into the Pacific for our next stop, Easter Island. 

Easter Island was, for me, the high point of the entire cruise. I was to visit it in 2006 but had to cancel my cruise, so I had been waiting for nine years to get there. 

I joined six others in hiring a van and driver to take us around the island, and we got lucky. Our driver was an archaeologist who was born on Easter Island and was working on a UCLA-funded project to study the moais, the tall iconic carvings for which the island is famous. Our driver’s knowledge was very helpful. 

There are 887 of these moais, and we saw many of them as well as the quarry from which they were carved. Some of the moais stand 30 to 40 feet tall and weigh 60 to 80 tons each.

Visiting Easter Island is a rare experience for many cruisers because it is not often included on itineraries, as it is so far out of the regular shipping lanes. 

New Zealand

We were supposed to have a day in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, but high swells kept us from landing there. In many ports, there was not enough or adequate dockage to accommodate the ship, so we had to anchor offshore and use the ship’s boats to ”tender” in to shore. 

The swells in Rarotonga kept us from doing even that, so we had an extra day at sea and arrived in New Zealand one day early… only to find that the dock that had been reserved in Auckland was taken. We anchored off a small area called Bay of Islands and tendered in for a nice lunch.

All experienced cruisers know that weather and politics can cause changes in itineraries. I’ve missed a few ports in recent years because of weather, and I had to skip Bangkok several years ago because they were experiencing civil unrest. 

New Zealand featured six ports, starting in Auckland, at the top of the North Island, and working down to the bottom of the South Island. Auckland was a lively city with much to do, both in the city and out in neighboring islands. I played golf there at the Gulf Harbour Country Club, which had a beautiful layout with wonderful views of the Pacific from the elevated tees.

Our next ports, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, featured the New Zealand wine country. Many tasting opportunities and many lively conversations with the locals were had. If there is any other country where the people are as fun-loving and friendly as New Zealanders, I haven’t seen it. 

Our last day in New Zealand featured sailing through some of the most beautiful waters in the world: Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound. Vertical cliffs covered in thick vegetation and dotted with plunging waterfalls made the passengers leave their bridge games and knitting classes to take in the spectacular scenery.

On to Australia

We crossed the Tasman Sea, which separates New Zealand from Australia, and arrived in Sydney, Australia, as the sun was rising. There are few harbors in the world that can come close to matching the spectacle of a sail-in to Sydney Harbour, with the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge greeting you.

After a day in Sydney we headed to Melbourne, and on the way we ran into our first stretch of rough water. With 15-foot-high seas and 70-mph winds, items fell off shelves and sleeping was a bumpy experience.

I was up at 6 a.m. to go to the bow to watch the ship crash through the waves, sending spray high into the air. Later on, I leaned across the table for my coffee cup and, at the same time, the ship was hit from the side by a huge wave. Over I went, onto the floor, my chair landing on top of me, just like the pratfalls Arte Johnson used to do on the “Laugh-In” TV show. No harm done, except to my pride.

People I had met on previous cruises, now friends, live in Melbourne, and they invited me to their home for dinner. One of the benefits of cruising is the friendships you can make. We had a wonderful evening, reminiscing about our cruising experiences.

Passengers on the ship wave good-bye to the Pitcairn Island residents who had come out to visit us on board.

Our last Australian port was Fremantle, the port city for Perth, on the far west coast of Australia. Our arrival in Perth also marked the end of a number of the ship staff’s contracts. (Contracts typically end at major ports so workers can be flown home more conveniently.) 

The entire staff, from the captain down to the lowest-ranking dishwasher, work on contracts. The waiters, maids, bartenders, engineers deckhands, etc., generally work on 5- to 8-month contracts, then are home for two to four months. 

One of the reasons I think Crystal Cruises (Los Angeles, CA; 888/722-0021, www.crystalcruises.com) is such a good cruise line is it seems to have happy employees. Many of the folks who served us in all those capacities had been with the company for 10 to 20 years.

I took an excursion in Perth that included a one-hour boat ride around the harbor and a lengthy bus tour of Perth and Fremantle. It would have been swell, except that the temperature was 99°F and every time we got out of the bus, I melted! 

Crossing the Indian Ocean

The next segment, 22 days from Fremantle to Cape Town, South Africa, included a 6-day transit of the Indian Ocean.

During the ocean crossing, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. The ship went all out. All the crew was in green, the lobby was festooned with green balloons, the cocktail lounges poured green beer, and the passengers outdid themselves with their own costumes and apparel.

Following a call at Mauritius, we docked at Réunion, an overseas region of France. Several of us hired a van and driver and were taken to the mountain village of Hell-Bourg. A deep canyon runs almost the entire length of Réunion, and our route twisted and turned along that canyon as we climbed several thousand feet to get to Hell-Bourg. We saw dozens of thready waterfalls as we climbed into the mountains. Magnificent scenery!

Our next port, in Madagascar, was special. It is the only place in the world where one can find lemurs in the wild. A few of us hired a van and driver and went to a national park, where we saw a number of different types of lemurs, some very rare, we were told. It was fascinating to see them leap from tree to tree, using their tails to grab onto or hang from a branch.

Finally, we reached the continent of Africa. In Durban, South Africa, I left the ship to go off on my own to a game camp for three days, returning to Durban to catch a flight to Cape Town, where I rejoined the ship.

Leaving the ship and meeting it at a subsequent port is becoming a more popular practice for adventurous passengers. However, it must be considered that if you book a tour on your own, as I did, you are on your own. If you twist an ankle or miss a flight, you have to fend for yourself.

We spent three days in Cape Town, and that wasn’t enough time to take advantage of all that this city offers. Table Mountain, the wine country, whale-watching, diving with sharks, its wonderful botanic garden, Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned) — lots to see and do!

A notable night

And that marked the end of another segment. I now looked forward to the next stretch at sea, seven straight days sailing from Cape Town  across the Atlantic, with no land in sight until we reached Montevideo, Uruguay, more than 4,000 miles away (even farther than it is from California to Maine).

At this point I had completed 78 days of my 108-day cruise, and the time had flown by like 78 minutes! 

During this segment I was invited to have dinner with the captain in his quarters. The occasion was my having reached my 75th Crystal cruise. I was one of three guests invited to dine with him that evening.

Each cruise averages 14 days in length, so if you multiply 14 days by 75 cruises, you can see that I’ve spent almost three years of my life on a Crystal ship. But there were passengers on board who had taken 150, 200, 250 or more Crystal cruises as well as three women who live on the ship, so, in comparison, I’m just a rookie!

When we arrived in Montevideo, the 600 travelers booked on the full cruise were treated to a visit to an estancia, or cattle ranch, about an hour’s drive from the port. However, this estancia was much more than just a cattle ranch; part of it had been made into a luxurious resort.

As our buses turned onto the long driveway, gauchos in their traditional flat hats and flowing pants greeted us on horseback, tipping their hats and whirling their ropes through the air. We were treated to hors d’oeuvres and wine and saw men and women dancing the tango and other handsome couples strolling around in costumes in the style of long-ago days. 

Eventually, we were led into a very large tent for a traditional beef, lamb and chicken barbecue — mountains of food served buffet style with wine and beer. The entertainment featured a dance performed by the gauchos, their heavy boots stomping on the wooden floor, and couples dancing the tango.

Returning to South America

The following day, we sailed into Buenos Aires, Argentina. One of the most colorful areas of this colorful city is La Boca, the site of the city’s original port, which features great restaurants and artists. I looked up an artist from whom I purchased a print two years before, and he was delighted to learn that his print is now hanging in my living room. 

Several of us then took a taxi to a very long walking street, Florida, where we had lunch and then walked the entire length of the street. We passed many of the world’s best shops, interspersed with shops selling the tackiest tourist stuff.

A ring-tailed lemur in Madagascar.

On every block there were men calling out “Cambio,” Spanish for “Change.” They wanted to get US dollars and were willing to offer twice the official exchange rate. However, this is not a good idea! Dealing with them is illegal, and the pesos you get might be counterfeit. 

As we reached Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we enjoyed one of the most picturesque sail-ins on the globe. The weather was perfect, with bright sun, and cameras were clicking furiously.

There was Corcovado, standing nearly 2,500 feet high, with the statue of “Christ the Redeemer” towering 125 feet above its summit, and Sugarloaf Mountain, with its iconic shape, guarding Guanabara Bay. There also were Ipanema and Copacabana beaches and the infamous favelas climbing the green hills surrounding the city.

As we began our last cruise segment, 18 days from Rio to Miami, new friends began to say good-bye, exchanging email addresses and promises to stay in touch, just like at summer camp 60 years ago!

Our last two ports were Barbados and St. Thomas, then most of us spent time packing and saying good-bye. 

We had sailed around the globe, about 38,000 miles in all, and I loved every minute of it! 

In total, my experience cost about $100,000, plus the cost of round-trip airfare from Carmel, California, to Miami. The 108 days had been filled with adventure, friendship, new vistas and many laughs.