The Cruise

World cruise on the Dawn Princess starting in Sydney on May 21, 2010 and sailing west around the world for 104 days.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dawn Princess World Cruise 2010 - Tuesday June 29, 2010

Day 39 Santorini
I spent today on the most beautiful island I have ever seen. It is named after St Irene, and its whitewashed buildings cling to vertiginous, volcanic cliffs, that plunge to a turquoise sea below. It is part of the Cyclades Archipelago. Santorini, today, is shaped like a fishhook. Centuries ago it was called Thera and was shaped like a neat round cone, but that cone was formed by a volcano and sometime around 1600 B.C. Thera erupted. Some scientists believe that it was this eruption that was the cause of the end of the Minoan civilization. Excavations began here in 1967, but we were unable to see these excavations because they are unsafe at the moment. The Dawn Princess anchored in the caldera of the volcano, which is now filled with water to a depth of 400 metres. We took a tender ashore, and climbed the 580 steps to the town of Thera. There were only three ways to reach Thera from the point where the tenders dropped us, namely, cable car, donkey or walk. I chose the last of these because there was an hour and a half wait for the cable car, and I was a bit scared to ride the donkeys. The donkeys looked in peak condition, some of them being as big as horses, but once you were on the donkey the owner just gave it a smack on the backside and it started up the hill. One Japanese man fell off which was scary, and some of the donkeys had a will of their own and stopped far from the end point and refused to budge. As we walked the 580 steps down the volcanic hill at the end of the day, I looked back to see Bill leading a donkey with a New Zealand man on top down the steps. This donkey had just stopped and Bill was coaxing it down. The reason for the long waits at both ends for the cable cars was that there were a large number of cruise ships in Santorini today. There were Spaniards, Norwegians, Scots and Americans, not to mention English, Australians and New Zealanders. When we reached the town of Fira at the top of the 580 steps we were actually standing on the top of the rim of the volcano and we could see the centre of the volcano in the middle of the caldera. There were fantastic shops in this white and blue town, and restaurants all of which had the most magical views. After shopping and lunch, I walked up more steps to another town. This was a much quieter area with hardly any tourists, but the views just got better and better at every turn. Tonight I went to a song and dance show on board the ship but I was so tired that I could hardly wait to get to bed. (Barbara) We had a wonderful Greek lunch provided by a local man who added “mate” to the end of every sentence he spoke to us. I had a bottle of Mythos beer and chatted to a Scottish couple from another cruise ship while Tom, Valerie and Barbara did the walk that I had already done. Santorini has to go on the list of places to revisit in a more leisurely fashion. For those of you into Facebook, I have loaded ALL of the Santorini photos there. As usual, there are some sample photos below. (Bill)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dawn Princess World Cruise 2010 - Monday June 28, 2010

Day 38 Anzac Cove
The highlight of today was a memorial service as we cruised slowly around Anzac Cove. It was a commemoration I will never forget. The choir led the passengers in singing amazing Grace and Eternal Father Strong to Save. Then an ex-member of the Army, Navy and Air Force said a prayer of thanksgiving a prayer for the queen and a prayer for the nation respectively. The choir sang Now is the Hour and Waltzing Matilda which brought a tear or two to the eyes of most people and this was followed by a very fitting commemoration address by Deacon Harvey Dalton. Two of the officers then processed with the wreath, which they threw overboard while the trumpeter played The Last Post and Reveille. After singing Abide with Me, we finished by singing the Australian anthem, the New Zealand anthem and God Save the Queen. While this ceremony was being enacted, we could see the lone pine in the distance, but because it was hazy it was difficult to get some good pictures of it. The following words by Kemel Ataturk are engraved forever at Anzac Cove:
Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…..
You are now living in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us
Where they lie side by side, here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from faraway countries…….
Wipe away your tears;
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land
They have become our sons as well.
Tonight as we sail towards Santorini, we have watched a pink sunset, and later a full moon over the Aegean Sea. We were entertained this evening by an Englishman, Mark Donoghue. He played the violin, the piano, the guitar and the harmonica all with the backing of the Dawn Princess orchestra, which is made up of eight talented musicians. Mark also sang. He is also very talented. At one stage, using the guitar, he sang Vincent, and projected scenes from Vincent van Gogh’s paintings that suited each line of the song onto a large screen. We are fortunate to be able to see so many different really good musicians. (Barbara) Singing outside in a hot sun is very different from singing in air-conditioned comfort but overall I think we did a pretty good job. (Bill)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dawn Princess World Cruise 2010 - Sunday June 27, 2010

Day 37 Istanbul
After docking at Istanbul this morning, we went on tour of this beautiful city. We began with the hippodrome, which was once a colossal stadium for chariot races, and was able to hold 100,000 spectators. Constantine brought classical treasures such as the obelisk from the Temple of Karnak in Egypt to the hippodrome to embellish his stadium. We saw Hagia Sophia, which was built about 500 A.D. as a Christian church. Later, this building became a mosque and graceful minarets were added to the corners, while all the beautiful mosaics of Jesus, Mary and the saints were covered over with plaster to conform to the Moslem religion. Ataturk turned it into a museum and had the mosaics uncovered and restored. Next to this old church is the blue Mosque, with its six minarets. The blue Mosque is over 1000 years younger than Hagia Sophia, having been built about 1600. Old for us but young for the Turks! It has a multitude of small domes and semi – domes. The interior is decorated with some 20,000 delicate Iznic tiles, which have a shimmering blue hue. After seeing the new mosque in Oman this mosque did not appeal to me or excite me as much. We had lunch on a small cruise ship as we had a tour up the Bosphorus. This strait runs from the Black Sea to the Seas of Marmara and cuts Istanbul into the western side, which is the continent of Europe and the eastern side, which is on the Asian continent. Beautiful homes and restaurants and schools line the banks, as well as the hospital where Florence Nightingale worked in the Crimean War. We had a lunch of various Turkish delicacies while we were on this tour. After the cruise, we went shopping and bought a Turkish carpet. Later, we saw the Topkapi Palace. This was the opulent residence built and added to by various Sultans. It is lavishly decorated and is home to a remarkable collection of art from the most exotic parts of the world. There were gold water bottles decorated with rubies and emeralds, thrones from India, Egypt and Persia all decorated with a variety of pearls, emeralds and rubies and diamonds. There was a magnificent pair of candlesticks about seven feet tall, again studded with every type of precious stone, and there was an exquisite diamond, the largest that I have ever seen. Some of these art works were spoils of war, some were given to the Sultans by friends, and some of the medals that were encrusted with precious stones were given to the Sultans for services rendered. The gardens surrounding the palace were lush and still, today, are beautifully kept. We saw the room where the Sultan had breakfast overlooking the Bosphorus, the circumcision room and the room filled with relics. In this room was a fossil of a footprint of Mohammad, Moses’ rod, Mohammed’s beard and sword, Abraham’s saucepan and Joseph’s turban (looking in remarkably good condition) ! (Barbara) Istanbul is a fabulous mixture of East and West and the people are delightful. (Bill)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dawn Princess World Cruise 2010 - Saturday June 26, 2010

Day 36 Kusadasi and Ephesus
This morning we sailed into the beautiful, Turkish harbour of Kusadasi with its huge statue of Ataturk overlooking the city and harbour. We took a bus for the 15 km ride to the ancient city of Ephesus where St. Paul spoke to the Ephesians and where Mary and St. John are believed to have come to live about 50 A.D. Here we saw the ancient ruins that have been preserved from Hellenistic and Roman times. The Greeks built in brick, but the Romans built in marble. There are marble columns, marble stones in the streets and marble seats in the theatres. The Ephesians were interested in making money and so subjected themselves to whoever was in power. For this reason, they built temples to whichever Roman emperor was coming to visit, and they were quick to change the name of the emperor that the temple was dedicated to whenever a particular emperor fell out of favour. We saw remains of temples dedicated to Domitian, Vespasian and Hadrian, as well as the Trajan fountain. While the statue of Trajan has been removed to the museum, the orb representing the world he had conquered is still there. Originally, Trajan was depicted with his foot standing on the world. It is interesting that as far back as the first century, A.D. the Ephesians depicted the world as a sphere. We walked down Curetes Street, named after a class of priests of Ephesus, from the Heracles gate to the Celsus library. During this walk
we saw the Trajan fountain built between 102 and 114 A.D. At the fa├žade of the fountain, there is a pool in the centre and there are two tiers of columns on three sides. Between the columns there are niches with statues. Originally, water ran into the fountain under the foot of the statue of the Emperor Trajan. We saw the Scholastika Baths, which were owned by a woman but were only used by the men. There was an apodyterium where the men disrobed, there was a sauna where they sweated, and a caldarium where the servants washed and massaged their masters. Before leaving the baths, the men would swim in the frigidarium. These baths were built in the first century A.D. The latrina was a public toilet for men. They sat next to one another while they relieved themselves and talked politics and listened to live music. In front of the latrina there is a water channel and the floor is covered with mosaics. The southern section of Curetes Street is also covered with mosaics. It was cordoned off to stop people walking on it but this did not stop the local cat, who walked the full length of the mosaic looking for a sunny spot to sleep. We walked in the enormous theatre which seats 24,000 people where St. Paul scolded the Ephesians for selling idols of other gods such as Artemis. Because of this speech, which would rob the sellers and makers of these idols of their livelihood, Paul was imprisoned on a mountain top in Ephesus for three years. The library was the second biggest in the ancient world and was built with two walls, one inside the other to prevent the humidity from ruining the scrolls. It was a wonderful feeling to walk these ancient streets that Greeks, Persians, Romans and Turks have walked before us. (Barbara) The Turks have done a great job setting up the Port of Kusadasi for cruise ships. It is clean, attractive and efficient. We had a competent, enthusiastic guide and the vendors were friendly rather than intrusive – happy to talk to you without pressing for a sale at all costs. It would have been worthwhile staying a full day to appreciate everything fully. It was amazing to think we probably walked down the same main street as St Paul, St John and Mary. At 1 pm we sailed for Istanbul. (Bill)