Having completed our 5 month journey through the West of Europe, we were ready to make our way to the good ol US of A for the final 10 weeks of our trip. When we were planning this trip we quickly discovered that it would be cheaper and more interesting to take a cruise from Europe to America, rather than taking a flight in cattle class. And we could take advantage of the many days at sea for some much needed R&R after carrying our 25kg backpacks around the cobblestoned streets of Europe for 5 months. So we booked ourselves in for our first ever cruise experience.
The cruise would involve a two week float across the Atlantic Ocean with stops in Lisbon, Portugal, Bermuda, the Bahamas and all the other places mentioned in that annoying Beach Boy's song, "Kokomo". Just kidding, the cruise drew the line at Bermuda and the Bahamas.
Our cruise immediately got off to a promising start as we made friends with a Canadian couple, named John and June, on the train ride out to the port from where we would board the ship. But as we queued up for our boarding pass, we realised that we would be one of the youngest passengers on the ship by a considerable margin. The boarding queue looked more like a queue for the Tightass Tuesday's movie and buffet lunch special. At least we could be certain that we'd get some early nights on the ship and give our batteries a proper recharge!
All jokes aside, the ship itself was absolutely perfect. All activities were perfectly run and the food and entertainment were top notch - it sure as hell beat the microwave meals in shoebox motels that we had become accustomed to in Europe. The first few nights at sea were fairly rocky as we travelled through the Bay of Bisque but it was smooth sailing from then on as we put our feet up and awaited our stops in Portugal, Bermuda and the Bahamas.
Ponta Delgada, Portugal
Our first shore excursion turned out to be an unexpected surprise. Due to the rough seas, we were unable to dock in Lisbon. So we settled for Ponta Delgada - one of the largest municipalities in Portugal's Azores region - instead. At Ponta Delgada we went for a ride on the tourist bus and learned that the island is famous for its pineapples. Other than that, we just enjoyed the local street art and the opportunity to walk on solid ground after a few rough days at sea.
While we were at sea and heading towards Bermuda, our captain kept us informed about the status of a hurricane that was on its way to Bermuda. Yep, a hurricane. Thankfully the hurricane passed through before our ship arrived and it didn't do much damage to homes and property. But there were still heavy rains to contend with and many of the local businesses were operating with frequent power outages. Despite the conditions, we enjoyed visiting the cities of Hamilton and St George and chatting with the locals. We also took plenty of snaps of Bermuda's unique white-roofed houses, which double as a system for storing rain water.
In the Bahamas Jess managed to tick a huge item off her bucket list and swim with dolphins on the Blue Lagoon Island. Jess came face to face with Clifton the Dolphin and together they danced, flipped around and shared hugs and kisses. After coming down from Cloud 9, Jess reported that Clifton felt a little bit like a hot dog.
All in all, the cruise was a perfect experience for us. It allowed us to stop and appreciate all that we had seen and experienced thus far on the trip. And it re-energised us for the upcoming two months travelling through the USA. But most importantly, it gave us the chance to meet some truly lovey people along the way. John and June have since been in touch via email and we continue contact with them. And we have made plans to catch up with another couple, Dan and Beth, in their home state of Kentucky when Jess and I are passing through in mid-November.
Next stop: Boston