ABOUT THIS BLOG
Voyages to Antiquity is a specialist cruise company focusing on the history and culture of the Mediterranean.
Our beautiful ship, The Aegean Odyssey, takes just 350 guests to key heritage sites across the Aegean, Adriatic & Mediterranean.
This blog is written by the staff, passengers and expert lecturers who sail aboard the ship.
We hope you enjoy your journey with us.
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Category Archives: On board the Aegean Odyssey
As many of you know we have regular guest lecturers and one of our most entertaining is Dr Karen Exell, an Egyptologist who has cruised with us previously in the Middle East. I saw Karen speak on her first cruise in 2010, where she gave a lecture on how film and TV has influenced our perceptions of the ancient Egyptian culture. At times like this I wish we recorded our lectures for Youtube as it was excellent! Here is her latest blog from our recent Asia to Europe cruise, as well a few more of Kevin Dean’s wonderful paintings, this time of Muscat, Oman.
“I was very pleased when I heard that the Aegean Odyssey would be stopping off in my part of the world as it cruised all the way from Mumbai to the Mediterranean. I moved to Qatar 18 months ago, and joined the Aegean Odyssey for the third time at the end of March, in Salalah, the second city of Oman, just in time for the four days at sea as the ship cruised around the Arabian Peninsula to Egypt. Oman is a beautiful country, my favourite in the region for a weekend getaway. The ship stopped in Muscat, the capital city, and Salalah in the south, famous for the natural landscapes, including beaches, frankincense and its geological blowholes.
I joined the Aegean Odyssey with two other lecturers, Martin Bell and Sandy Gall – eminent company indeed! In addition, we had the artist, Kevin Dean, giving daily art classes (so popular that Sandy Gall was sent away when he tried to join one!), Karen Solomon, an amazing singer and musician, as well as the Fantasia Trio – brilliant musicians from Romania. All this, perfect weather, delicious food, facials and massages in the spa, and champagne cocktails with the Captain – and all of us looked after brilliantly by the Cruise Coordinator, Alison Lewin. It was once again a wonderful experience.
Martin and Sandy gave lectures on their careers reporting from all over the world, everything from walking through war zones to surviving incarceration in distant prisons. As I announced at my first lecture, I felt like the amuse bouche between these two heavy weights… My first talk was about what it was like to live in Doha, the capital of Qatar, currently the wealthiest country in the world and undergoing rapid development. It’s a fascinating place to live, and I was happy to take people behind the scenes of this little-known – but getting better-known all the time – country.
My other lectures introduced people to some aspects of ancient Egypt that they were about to visit – the Valley of the Kings, the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun – and in my last lecture I brought the subject up to date, discussing the complex nature of heritage and politics, with both a small and large P, in Egypt today, in the wake of the January 25th revolution.
The highlight for me was Martin Bell’s book of poetry, For Whom the Bell Tolls: Light and Dark Verse by Martin Bell (Icon Books 2011), from which he gave some readings. At his final lecture, he came up with a limerick about me:
“There once was a girl called Exell
Who lived up to her name rather well
And in her four lectures
On old architectures
She had us all under her spell”
- What an honour!
All in all, it was a wonderful few days and I was once again sad to disembark in Safaga, Egypt, and make my way back home to Doha. The Aegean Odyssey continued through the Suez Canal, to Limassol and Istanbul – imagine waking up in that magical city…?”
Karen Exell is Lecturer in Museum Studies at UCL Qatar, based in Doha. She has worked for over 15 years in museums, heritage organisations and universities in the UK and Egypt before moving to Doha, Qatar, in 2011. She has a BA in Egyptology from Oxford University, a Postgraduate Diploma in Museum Studies from the University of St Andrews and a PhD in Egyptology from Durham University.
She has been based predominantly in university museums in the UK, curating Egyptology and associated collections at the universities of Durham and Manchester as well as teaching Egyptology, Archaeology and Museology at these universities. Karen’s research interests include the reception and perception of Egypt in the West, museums and the creation of knowledge in relation to archaeology, heritage and identity, and the impact of museums on cultural identity. Widening the focus from Egyptian archaeology and cultural heritage, she is currently developing a number of Gulf-focussed research projects that explore the complex multiple heritages and heritage practices in Qatar and the Gulf and their relationship to the construction of a national heritage discourse; and researching intercultural performance in Western and non-Western museums, with a focus on the Islamic world.
Our cruises are well known for their historical and cultural experiences, but for the first time in March we tried something a little different… and it was very popular!
We welcomed Kevin Dean onboard Aegean Odyssey for the cruise from Mumbai, India to Safaga, Egypt. This cruise has a number of sea days and we wanted to include something a little different for our guests. Kevin Dean is a leading UK based artist, known for his floral artwork which features on the external walls and flooring of the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi as well as patterns for products such as wallpaper, crockery and fabrics from many of the UK’s leading retailers.
Kevin came up with a series of lectures designed for both novice and experienced artists. We hope you like these watercolours and drawings Kevin created during the voyage, as well as his diary from the cruise.
“Before leaving the UK, I spoke to Ann Carr, Enhancement Programme Director at Voyages to Antiquity’s office in Oxford. She said, “We don’t know how many people will be interested in the art classes but I’m sure you will have a good time!” Two weeks later I’m pleased to say that not only did I have a wonderful time but the demand for the classes was very high! About 45 people came to the various classes, either drawing, watercolour, or keeping a travel journal. Some people came to all the classes, some just for the occasional session. Most people who took part said they’d not drawn or painted since their school days, others were very experienced, including a former art teacher. All said they really enjoyed the classes and some hoped to develop their newfound skills upon their return home.
The sea was so calm and the weather so warm that we used the aft deck for all the workshops, sometimes using the surrounding sea as our subject matter.
Whenever the ship docked, I either set off independently or joined the tour buses. I painted temples and street scenes in India, souks and rocky landscapes in Oman. It sometimes meant working quite quickly as the tours try to include a good variety of exciting sights and I didn’t want to keep people waiting. The guides and tour managers were very patient with me, though, and in Porbandar, India, I left on one bus and returned to the ship on another, to give me maximum time to finish my paintings!
It was actually a good way to work as I really had to focus on what I was going to paint – I would set up my equipment and just paint. This has given the finished pieces, I think, a lot of spontaneity and atmosphere, something that doesn’t always happen if I have an endless amount of time. It was also so pleasing to have such vivid colours and strong shadows to work from, so different from the light in the UK!
Painting on location is sometimes problematical but on this trip it was fun interacting with the local people. Some offered me refreshments and one shopkeeper bought me a more comfortable seat than my little fold up stool.
The passengers were also very interested in seeing me work on the tours. At the end of the trip I held a very well attended exhibition of my work, which also included samples of the passengers’ work from the classes.
I also enjoyed meeting my fellow lecturers – the famous Martin Bell and Sandy Gall, the highly knowledgeable Robin Cormack from Cambridge University and renowned Egyptologist Karen Exell from Doha University. It all made for a fascinating and very creative trip.”
We are hoping that Kevin will be back onboard again over the next year as well as extending this programme with other artists on specific cruises. Watch out on our web site for further opportunities to ‘paint and cruise’.
Kevin sells his work including some of the paintings from this cruise. If you would like to contact him, please email email@example.com.
From our various tweets and blog posts, you will have noticed that Burma has proven to be ‘a big hit’ with guests and our expert lecturers. Just before Christmas, we sailed a 14 night voyage from Singapore to Malaysia, Thailand and Burma. We were pleased that Dr Antionette Mannion, one of our guest lecturers thoroughly enjoyed her cruise, especially Burma and has shared her experiences in the blog post below. Enjoy!
“In early December 2012, the grey skies of Reading, the town where I live in the UK, were replaced by the moisture-laden skies of high-rise Singapore, the difference being a mere 25°C! After a day at sea, the visit to Kuala Lumpur proved atmospheric in more ways than one; a serious downpour turned roads into rivers and the word ‘ark’ sprang to mind at the sight of a reassuring Aegean Odyssey which later sailed north toward the limestone pinnacles and blue, calm waters of Phang Nga National Park in peninsular Thailand.
This stunning scenery provided the backdrop for snorkellers, canoeists and speed boat tourists. A highlight of the following sea day was one of my fellow guest lecturers – Martin Bell’s presentation which included video clips of his war experiences.
However, the apogee of the entire cruise was the subsequent stay in Rangoon which began with an early evening visit to the breathtaking 99m high Shwedagon Pagoda and was followed next day by a drive to nearby Bago with its impressive Buddhist complex and a visit to Commonwealth War Graves in Taukkyan War Cemetery.
A final Rangoon day allowed a city tour, a visit to the National Museum and the famous Scott’s Market where the jade jewellery proved irresistible. An irritating problem of stamps with no glue was solved by an accommodating lady in the main Post Office, a hop and skip from Aegean Odyssey’s berth and close to a grocery shop from which numerous packets of Burmese tea and coffee were purchased with remaining Kyats, the local currency.
On return to Malaysia, Penang was the next stop; features included the colourful Chew Jetty, home of a Chinese community which was established a century ago, the botanical gardens, several colourful temples and a Batik workshop.
One highlight was colonial Georgetown including Fort Cornwallis, the Queen Victoria clock tower, Penang City Hall, and the Burmese Dharmmikarama Temple. Georgetown was founded in 1786 by Captain Francis Light, a trader for the British East India Company which, with the Dutch East India Company, was influential throughout the region including the expansion of Singapore and Malacca as trading ports.
The later was the final stop before returning to Singapore; it was necessary to tender into the port where the colonial and UNESCO-listed old town with its fort, museum and church are major attractions.”
Voyages to Antiquity will be offering this cruise again next year – click through to see the available dates »
Dr Antoinette M Mannion graduated in Geography from the University of Liverpool and went on to complete a PhD at the University of Bristol. She has been on the academic staff at the University of Reading since 1977. In semi-retirement she is now an Honorary Fellow and continues to pursue her academic interests in environmental history, human impact on landscapes, agriculture, environmental issues, and the environmental and cultural changes of the last 3 million years. She has written/edited nine books, contributed to 23 encyclopaedias, published numerous papers in journals, and continues to review books regularly.
Her other interests include travel, theatre and opera as well as collecting Shona sculpture and Scottish landscape paintings. She has a cat called Gus who rules the house she shares with husband Mike Turnbull who is a retired research chemist.
During our recent cruise on Aegean Odyssey, the ship spent 24 hours in vibrant Ho Chi Minh City. Previously known as Saigon, the city is the largest in Vietnam and was previously capital of the Republic of Vietnam before the country was unified at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Below are the impressions of David Horner – one of the guest lecturers, as he greeted the Year of the Snake on February 10, 2013 in this fascinating city, as well as a glimpse into the Lunar New year party on board the ship
“The ship was able to navigate right up the Saigon River, past jungle covered banks, into the heart of the city. We arrived at midday on Vietnamese New Year, which is the biggest and most popular festival of the year in Vietnam. First we set out on a tour that took in the controversial War Remnants Museum and the magnificent French-built Notre Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office. Usually notorious for its crazy traffic, with swarms of jostling motorbikes and scooters, the city was in relaxed holiday mood, and the traffic much lighter than normal.
The highlight of the afternoon was a stroll down the colourful median strip of Nguyen Hue Street enjoying the extensive and beautiful floral displays marking the start of the Lunar New Year –2013 being the Year of the Snake. In Vietnam the snake is considered a symbol of luck. The Vietnamese also believe the colours red and yellow will bring good fortune. The men were busy photographing their wives, children or girlfriends, who were often dressed in the colourful traditional ao dai (a tight fitting silk tunic over long pants) in front of the flowers, evidencing a significant recent revival in the wearing of the national costume for special occasions.
The following morning we drove into the countryside to the Cu Chi tunnels. Three years earlier my wife and I had visited the grim Viet Cong tunnels in Baria-Vung Tau Province near where I had served during the war, and I expected much the same at Cu Chi. However, the visit to Cu Chi, about one and half hours north of Ho Chi Minh City, provided much more insight. We had the good fortune to have a great local guide. He had served briefly in the South Vietnamese army and at the end of the war had stripped off his uniform to avoid retribution from the North Vietnamese.
Our guide was able to show us the various tunnels, the booby traps, underground workshops, hospitals, and kitchens. You could even try your hand at firing a few shots with Vietnam War-era weapons on a rifle range, and experience crawling down into the tunnel system. Other fellow passengers reported that the Cu Chi tunnels were a particularly memorable experience for them, too. As a professional historian and writer, I always get a great thrill from being able to witness such reminders of a country’s past, and having the opportunity to appreciate expressions of its culture and heritage.”
Professor David Horner is one of Australia’s leading historians. Currently Professor of Australian Defence History at the Australian National University (Australia’s top world-ranked university), he is Australia’s premier military historian with an international reputation for military history and strategic analysis, although his expertise also ranges across Australian and international history.
A graduate of the Royal Military College, he saw active service as an infantry officer in Vietnam in 1971. Later, from 1998 to 2002, as an Army Reserve colonel he was the first Head of the Australian Army’s Land Warfare Studies Centre. With a doctorate in history from the Australian National University, he is the author or editor of 30 books on military history, strategy and defence, is general editor of the Australian Army’s Military History Series, and is the Official Historian of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations. In 2009 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for services to higher education in the area of Australian military history and heritage as a researcher, author and academic.
P.S. After seeing some amazing places in the city, our on-board crew and guests celebrated in traditional style with a midnight party on the Lido Deck. There was Champagne toasting and popping of streamers to get the party mood, and then on the stroke of midnight, everyone shouted, “GONG HEY FAT CHOY!” which is Cantonese for Happy New Year!
Next year we will be back in the Far East in January and February. If you would like to join us for Chinese New Year in 2014, we’ll be celebrating in style in Hong Kong, probably one of the best places to see the festivities.
As part of the continued enhancement to our lecture programme, we are looking forward to welcoming Kevin Dean, a professional artist and designer, onto Aegean Odyssey next month.
Kevin is a highly acclaimed artist who has illustrated numerous books, designed textiles and wallpapers, and worked with leading retailers, publishers and museums. His most famous commission is the floral artwork that adorns the Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque in Abu Dhabi. He has worked extensively in the Middle East and in March he will be joining us on our India to Egypt cruise. Read below his thoughts on the classes he has prepared for guests on board.
You can also browse Kevin’s website for more information about his portfolio of work: http://www.kevindean.co.uk »
“People often ask me if anyone can learn how to draw and paint and I always say ‘ Yes, absolutely’. Obviously you can’t expect to become an artistic sensation overnight, but with practice and application people can make a great deal of progress quite quickly.
Usually a person’s level of artistic ability is equivalent to the level they were at when they last drew or painted. So a person who stopped art aged 14 for example, will probably work in a similar way and at a similar level if they begin drawing again as an adult. This may be frustrating to some people, especially if they have been successful in their careers and have high expectations of themselves. As adults, however, they probably have a few things in their favour compared to when they were younger, i.e. higher levels of concentration, more commitment, and possibly more time or at least better time management!
So confidence building is always important, as is helping people to just explore the subject, learn from what they perceive to be ‘bad pieces of drawing or painting’, as well as have fun with the subject – I’ve never produced good work when I’ve been tense or stressed!
I always like to start with drawing, even if it’s a painting class, as I believe it’s the foundation of all of the visual arts. One of the most important aspects of drawing which I spend a lot of time teaching is to start thinking about the quality of line that we use. People often just draw with one weight of line and yet it’s possible to get so much variety and expression from a single line. What makes Picasso, Matisse or Miro such great artists is their quality of line.
Then there’s some simple perspective rules to be aware of, as well as understanding proportions. It’s all about looking, something people often get out of the habit of doing.
Watercolour is my favourite medium as it’s so versatile and perfect for travelling – the materials are quite simple and you don’t need an easel or lots of cleaning equipment.
After looking at drawing, I like to show people how to lay beautiful translucent washes and apply resist techniques, and I also introduce some colour theory. We then see how all of these might be applied to making images of what we see around us. Of course, people want to capture different things and details, but I always try to emphasise that trying to make pictures too realistic can be very frustrating, and besides, we have cameras to do that for us. It’s more important to concentrate on making the work attractive in it’s own right rather than trying to create a copy of the world around us. We start with simple still life compositions before moving on to bigger, more complex subjects.
One of the things I’m hoping we can do on this voyage is to begin a travel journal, starting with a record of life on board the ship and then on land. Some people might want to add words and paper ephemera, such as tickets or wrappers, etc. It will be a great way to remember the trip. I’m also planning to do something similar myself and if I get enough work done, I hope to have a small exhibition by the time we reach Egypt.
I’ve always enjoyed teaching, whether people are complete beginners or accomplished art students. In fact, I’m always a bit envious of people who have never drawn or painted before, as I can still remember what it was like to draw and then paint in watercolour for the first time – it was magical and it changed my life!
I’ll be starting off my programme of lectures with a short presentation – I intend to give guests an overview of my work and the artists which have influenced me. My four lectures while I am on board will be the following:
An introduction to drawing – all levels of ability are welcome, especially complete beginners. Examining drawing techniques, experimenting with drawing, having fun and gaining confidence.
Watercolour Painting 1 - all levels of ability are welcome, particularly complete beginners or intermediate level painters. Learn how to lay clean flat washes, use resist techniques, spontaneous painting and controlled transparent washes.
Watercolour Painting 2 – applying a variety of techniques to paint images from observation. All levels of ability welcome, from complete beginners to more experienced painters.
Creating your own travel journal - using a mixture of drawing, watercolour and words. Starting with images on board ship and looking out to sea. All levels of ability welcome from complete beginners to more experienced painters.
I look forward to meeting guests in Mumbai. There will be materials available on the ship or you can bring your own with you if you like.”
Enrichment cruising covers a wide variety of topics from history and archaeology to art and sculpture. We are well known for our cultural cruises visiting amazing sites like Pompeii and Ephesus, as well as little known treasures which may be less familiar. When we were planning our Far East programme nearly two years ago, we knew that nature would also play an important part in these magical cruises.
The wonderful blog below is from Ray Hale, a wildlife expert who joined us in December. He has captured some of the iconic images we have come to expect from Far Eastern travel, like the face image from the Bayon Temples at Angkor.. Sit back and relax as Ray takes you travelling.
“When I was invited by Voyages to Antiquity to be a guest lecturer on their mid-sized cruise liner “The Aegean Odyssey” during their Singapore to Bangkok cruise in December 2012 I was of course delighted, but at the same time I admit to feeling a little apprehensive. I have lectured too many organisations and institutes both here in the UK and in the Far East but usually have the opportunity to get to know my audience.
Whether it be a Women’s Institute in a Village Hall in the wilds of West Sussex, a Camera club keen to hear my thoughts on apertures and F stops or a group of students keen (or otherwise) to expand their knowledge on their way to a degree, I try to pitch at the right level. When I sat down to research the company I discovered that it had previously specialised in tours of the Mediterranean and that the Far East was a departure from their normal tours. Voyages to Antiquity are intrinsically a cruise company that specialises in cultural trips for retired or semi retired passengers from all walks of life. They concentrate on the art, the culture and the civilisations of their destinations and whist I enjoy all of these things I am by choice a Natural Historian not a connoisseur of the arts. I am more at home in the jungle at midnight up to my knees in mud and leeches usually with a camera in one hand and a torch in the other. Cruise lecturing seemed to be a world away from my usual outings. What should I talk about? Would they like or to that matter even understand me, as whilst I am immensely proud of my Midlands heritage I am at times also conscious of my rather broad “brummy” accent.
Then there was of course the etiquette required on board ship. Having consulted a number of friends who had travelled on such trips before, I was apprehensive as to the dress code on board. Dinner jackets? Black ties? It was all very daunting. So, conscious of this was I that I decided to contact the company to ensure they were aware of my field of expertise. My fear was allayed after a very pleasant meeting with Ann Carr in London and an assurance that my skills were exactly what the company was looking for. At ease I returned to the South Coast to prepare my lectures and begin planning the trip. Christmas must be a particularly difficult time to acquire lecturers as I would imagine that people have family and plans. My wife and I are fortunate in this respect as our extended families are spread far and wide and with no children we normally spend Christmas at home with our two cats. The idea of escaping the cold and miserable wet weather in the United Kingdom appealed to us both and as we have a wonderful lady who looks after our cats during our frequent trips away we felt that the opportunity was not to be missed.
Time passed and we began in earnest preparing for the cruise. All too quickly 2012 seemed to disappear and we found ourselves about to depart for Singapore on a cold, wet and windy December morning. I had settled on four lectures that I felt would fit in nicely with the cruise itinerary. I would begin with the story of Sir James Brooke, The first White Rajah of Sarawak and although this particular cruise was not visiting Sarawak, it was visiting Brunei and Sabah and at the time when Brooke ruled over 30,000 headhunting Dyaks, Sarawak was still part of the Sultanate of Brunei.
My second lecture would tell the story of Alfred Russel Wallace, possibly the most famous man that no one has ever heard of. He was a great English naturalist that had travelled extensively in the Far east , he had written an excellent book on the area and without whom Charles Darwin might never have published his groundbreaking Theory of Evolution. I have always enjoyed history and whilst the history of a particular region interests me, what really fascinates me is the history of the people that shape an area. I always seem to settle on the underdogs of history. The nearly men, those individuals that stood in the shadows of others and often faded in to the mists of time without so much as mention in a fourth year history lesson. Brooke and Wallace are just two such men. Both deserve to be remembered and honoured but both have been overshadowed by the deeds of others. In Brooke’s case – by Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, and in Wallace’s case, of course, by Charles Darwin.
For my remaining two lectures I would choose the effect that man has had on the ever decreasing rainforest of the region and in particular the fast disappearing wildlife of Borneo. My final lecture would see me return to yet another “underdog”. The Orang-utan. If ever there was a creature that deserves our respect and help then surely this gentle of all the primates is such a beast. Hunted to near extinction in the 19th Century and then evicted from its natural habitat in the 20th Century by man’s devastation of its home, this near relative of man has been pushed to the edge of extinction. My lecture aimed to introduce the passengers to these beautiful giants and hopefully inspire them to look closer at the efforts to save them from oblivion.
My lectures prepared and honed to my satisfaction, we began our trip. A trip that would take us first to Singapore and then to the Sultanate of Brunei.
Then to the Malaysian state of Sabah, before travelling to Vietnam where we would visit the magnificent Hai Duc Pagoda of Nha Trang.
We would arrive at Bangkok, the vibrant never sleeping city of Thailand. A city that exudes charisma and one that the casual visitor will fall in love with in a breath. Finally we would end our journey with a visit to the unbelievable temples at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The written word cannot begin to describe these monuments to the past. I would stand dumbstruck before the carved faces of the Bayon temples and open-mouthed at the sunset at Angkor Wat. It was my reason for coming to Cambodia and it will be the reason I will return one day.
In the following blog I hope to take you on our journey and by doing so inspire you to make the trip yourselves for there are wonders to behold in the East. I fell in love with the East so, so many years ago and it is an affair that continues today. I hope it will continue for many more years to come and that you too may find such a love.”
Ray’s full blog is on his own website http://thenaturallywildcompany.co.uk »
RAY HALE – AUTHOR & WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER
Having spent many years in the Private Sector as an Industrial Health and Safety consultant, Ray has finally had the opportunity to follow his passion.
He is now a wildlife lecturer, author, photographer and naturalist. He enjoys sharing his experiences so much that he now leads groups of naturalists, researchers and eco-tourists into the rainforests of Borneo in search of endangered wildlife. He gives illustrated lectures around the United Kingdom and has been invited to lecture on Malaysian wildlife by a number of organisations within Sabah.
His subjects include Rainforest Conservation, Saving Endangered Species, The History of Sabah, Rajah Brooke and the Head Hunters of Borneo. Although he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of wildlife in general, his main field of study has always been centred around arachnids and he is a recognised World authority on the large so called “bird eating tarantulas” as well as the large number of species of spiders of the United Kingdom. He belongs to a number of organisations including the British Arachnological Society and the British Tarantula Society of which he is a council member.
He has written a number of articles on arachnology and in 1998 he published the book “An Introduction to the Spiders of the Genus Haplopelma: A Study of the Tarantulas of South East Asia”. He is currently writing a field guide to the spiders of Malaysia. He has had a number of his photographs published in entomological and arachnological journals.
Now based in Sussex, he regularly runs courses for the Sussex Wildlife Trust, contributes regularly to radio and TV programmes as a consultant and undertakes entomological habitat surveys for landowners and local authorities. His studies have taken him to many destinations around the World which have given him the opportunity to share his enthusiasm for nature and conservation with adult education classes, industry personnel and students alike. Over the last twenty years he has delivered many presentations to events and audiences. He is passionate about reconnecting people with nature and the conservation of the Worlds endangered species all of which infuse his wildlife lectures.
As part of our specialist jazz evenings, Nicki our fabulous vocalist, Elvis our wonderful pianist, and myself, got together at the end of January to produce an evening of Cole Porter told in narrative and music.
With a slide show featuring all his Cole Porter’s old theatre bills we told the story of this incredible man’s life, from his early years of his mother’s domination right through to his riding accident that almost cost him his life.
With songs from his shows such as ‘I get a kick out of you’ , ‘My heart belongs to daddy’ and the forever famous ‘Every time we say Good bye’ , we demonstrated how Cole Porter became a legend.
This is just part of the variety of entertainment that we have on board Aegean Odyssey, including our wonderful lecture programme, our poetry recitals and our Jazz Four Jam Sessions.
A couple of days ago, Aegean Odyssey crossed the equator into the southern hemisphere while on our way to Pare-Pare in Indonesia.
Following in the footsteps of mariners the world over, the Captain decided that we should undertake the ‘Crossing the Line’ ceremony for guests and crew. The ceremony dates back to the days of the Spanish and Dutch explorers and is a great fun experience for guests and crew alike.
Sailors who have already crossed the Equator are nicknamed (Trusty) Shellbacks; those who have not are nicknamed (Slimy) Pollywogs.
Crew members (Trusty Shellbacks) are traditionally organised into a ‘Court of Neptune’ to indoctrinate the Slimy Polywogs into ‘the mysteries of the Deep’. ‘Physical hardship’ is the name of the game and as the pictures show we weren’t short of volunteers on the beautiful sunny day by the pool.
For all of the Aegean Odyssey Pollywogs, crew and guests alike, King Neptune and his Queen were on hand to initiate the audience into becoming Shellbacks. And what an initiation it was…
In a time honoured tradition, all were cleansed of their misdemeanours, and pledged an allegiance to the king by offering to kiss his fish and we were finally sprinkled with good fortune from the king.
It was tremendous fun, as the photos will testify!
A few weeks ago we received a lovely letter from David Morton asking if we would like to see his blog and photos from his cruise from Istanbul to Venice in September 2012. We always study our passenger comment cards after each cruise and really welcome an extended diary like the one below from David. We do hope that you like his diary from the cruise and would welcome similar pieces from our guests.
“I was a cruise virgin, prior to embarkation in Istanbul, with no idea what to expect over the next twelve days.
What did happen was a blissful and relaxing break from the English climate, with good food and a comfortable cabin. To be able to unpack properly, and only once, proved an advantage over hotel-based holidays.
I found the cruising experience delightful. In particular, it was exciting to wake up just before sunrise, to see mysterious islands loom out of the morning mist, and all from the comfort of my own balcony. I would have liked to have known exactly where we were, to be able to put names to the places I saw. There was a navigation summary on the cabin TV but I longed for the greater detail some airlines provide on their ‘flight path’ screen.
At 68, I found myself just a year older than the passenger average. It was a shame that so many of us were much the same age, though a fair number of Australians and Americans did lend some variety to our group. I missed the presence of younger people on board, though.
I had come to ‘Voyages to Antiquity’ by chance. My interest in this sort of trip was aroused by an advert in The Times for a cruise to the Cape Verde Islands, and then the links led first to the MV Aegean Odyssey and eventually to this particular cruise, which was at a convenient time of year for me, if not in quite the same geographical region.
I cannot claim an abiding interest in the Byzantine period. As a mathematician of sorts – a former high-school teacher of the subject – I would have preferred Classical Greece, but the dates didn’t work out. Icons and mosaics belong, for me, in the category ‘seen one, seen them all’. However, the itinerary was well put together, and the shore excursions were outstanding, with expert local guides, and made even better by the ‘Quiet Vox’ system; I was sceptical about this, but it really works. In fact, everything was done to a high level of efficiency, on all our trips ashore.
I particularly enjoyed the architecture of the various destinations. The wonderful mosques of Istanbul; the spectacular monasteries at Meteora, and the coach-ride across the Plain of Thessaly to get there; the walled towns of Monemvasia and Dubrovnik….these would be the highlights of the cruise, along with a perfect swim from the beach at Skala on the lovely little island of Patmos.
Or these were the highlights until we arrived in Venice. Why hadn’t I taken the stop-over option? I shall return to this wonderful city.
Apart from the sun, and the relaxation, and the chance to visit places previously unknown to me, I was also able to indulge my hobby of photography. Working backwards from Venice, I have uploaded many photos to my online gallery on Flickr.
There is a ‘favourites’ set of just 27 images, covering the whole trip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/forwarddefensive/sets/72157631917497357/.
Otherwise all my images, good and bad, can be seen, and are freely available for download, at www.flickr.com/photos/forwarddefensive/sets, where you will find them clearly labelled by port of call.
I lost some files by jumping into the ship’s saltwater pool with an SD card still in my pocket, but the photos that remain still form a reasonably complete personal account of my time on board the Aegean Odyssey. You may wonder if you were on the same trip!”
Dave Morton, Manchester, England.
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Over the last few days Aegean Odyssey has been sailing north along the Vietnamese coast. The ship spent two days in Ho Chi Minh City before sailing onto the coastal city of Nha Trang and then to Da Nang, which was founded over 3,000 years ago by the Cham people. Now it’s sailing north to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam and the visually stunning Halong Bay.
Earlier this week, Ali – our Cruise Coordinator on Aegean Odyssey posted some pictures which were taken on the evening of the first day in Ho Chi Minh City. The overnight stop meant that we could host the wonderful Phuong Bao Company of performers – a local dance group, who were extremely popular with our guests.
Not only did the group sing, they also danced and played a whole host of wonderful local instruments – they even let our guests loose on them to create all kinds of noise!