On Thursday, April 30, the 2015 Grand World Voyage came to end at Fort Lauderdale, Fla. After spending 114 days onboard, traveling the globe and making life-long friends, it will be hard for guests to go back to making their own beds and cooking dinner!
Along the journey, we followed the adventures of Jeff Farschman, President’s Club member and “World Adventure” blogger; Mariners Gary and Jeanne Frink, Mariners Jan and Dick Yetke, Cruise Critic members John and Diane, and the ship’s Captain Mercer.
In this last look at the 2015 Grand World Voyage, we travel through the Suez Canal and Europe before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy some highlights of the final leg of the journey, and perhaps we’ll see you onboard for the 2016 Grand World Voyage.
TRANSITING THE SUEZ CANAL
Our original scheduled date for the transit of the Canal was the 4th April, the day on which I now write. The Canal Authority are involved in a vast dredging and widening project; digging new channels and widening existing ones. The aim is to be able to take larger vessels and also to avoid the one-way system presently in use.
Prior to the project, northbound and southbound convoys, (usually of 30 ships or so), would pass each other in the Bitter Lakes. Now however, the Bitter lakes themselves are being dredged and having new channels cut. The result? South and north bound convoys can no longer pass each other and either convoy has to complete its entire transit before the next one can commence. This has led to delays, one is never quite sure when one can transit and the convoy times vary from day-to-day.
This was the dilemma I found myself in and, after numerous emails with our agents in Suez and endless calculations, I decided that waiting for the 4th was not an option I cared for, there being no guarantee I would transit and the result would be too appalling to contemplate, missing ports in the Mediterranean. Read the rest of the entry by clicking HERE. — Captain Mercer
First we headed to the Mount of Olives for a great view of Jereusalem and then went down to the Garden of Gethsemane. Then we headed to the old city where we visited the various quarters: Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Arab. We visited the church of the Holy Sepulcher which was near impossible on Easter Sunday. We paid a nice visit to the Western Wall before heading off to the Dead Sea. — Jeff
We began with a panoramic tour of the beautiful Baha’i Gardens in Haifa and then headed to Nazarath to see the Church of the Annunciation which was magnificent! Then we went off to the River Jordan Baptismal site, taking in the sights along the way. We then headed off to the Sea of Galilee where we had lunch at the Ein-gev Kibbutz. After lunch we visited Capernaum, the house of Peter and then on to the Mount of Beatitudes. — Jeff
GRAND WORLD VOYAGE DINNER: AN EVENING AT EPHESUS
Tonight we had a very special invitation to an evening at Ephesus … They had a cocktail party at the Library in Ephesus which was spectacular … The evening culminated by a special performance by the Aegean Chamber Orchestra. What a fabulous evening!!!! — Jeff
Unique, peerless, unmatchable, unimaginable, pick your adjective. For Jeanne and Gary Frink, the Holland America “thank you” evening at Ephesus was a dreamlike, once-in-a-lifetime party. — Gary Frink
I had a special treat, Samantha, Anthony, Olly and Emily joined us for a week, Gramps is a happy man! They are with us for a week and leave in Cartagena, Spain. — Captain Mercer
CIVITAVECCHIA (ROME), ITALY:
Sam and Antony and Karen, have all been to Rome before; I have never done so, it’s too far away for my ‘within 2-hours of the ship’ rule and besides, the audit was ongoing, I stayed on board while the family strolled the town … Karen took the photographs for this jaunt ashore. — Captain Mercer
The reason we couldn’t see the Museo del Theatre from the entry was that the museum follows a subterranean path under even more buildings, until one finally exits three blocks later, about midway up the side of an enormous amphitheatre. It must have held thousands of spectators, as it extended at least fifty rows up the hill and spread over several acres. We hiked up to the top row (probably the “cheap seats”) and then down to the orchestra area as well as the stage. It is amazing that this beautiful structure could have lain underground and undiscovered for almost 1500 years. — John and Diane
My love affair with Nerja, the Mediterranean village 40 miles east of Malaga up the coastal road (or by freeway), began on Easter weekend 1973. It has held me in its grip to this day. On this Malaga port Saturday, Jeanne and I would not be denied. We arrived at the top of Nerja, as it begins to slope through the town streets, ending in the Mediterranean. We walked on very narrow sidewalks heading down to the center of Town. Our first objective was 32 Calle Carabeo, a street that springs out from the town plaza and the Catholic Church that dominates it. In November and December 1983 we lived in a late friend’s restored home, high over the sea, while she was resident in Washington D.C.
Our next objective was Meson Antonio, a tapas bar on the street passing to the right of the church. I hoped Antonio was still alive and running his joint, for he was the last person in Nerja I would know … When he entered Antonio recognized me immediately, though at least 20 years have passed since I last sat at his bar. — Gary Frink
PONTA DELGADA, PORTUGAL:
As we left the city, we realized how very green this island is. We could have been in Ireland with the colorful hills and valleys. Olivia, our guide, told us that the Azores are subtropical, and that the weather is mixed almost every day. If it’s sunny, you’d better take advantage of it, because it might be raining in 30 minutes. Even though today is cold and windy, there’s plenty of both rain and sun because of the gulf stream, resulting in such crops as bananas, pineapples, tomatoes, and many others that you wouldn’t expect on a rocky outcropping in the Atlantic. — John and Diane
SO LONG, FAREWELL:
Today is our final day, certainly a day filled with sorrow for leaving such great friends and “family” but also a day filled with joy as we remember all the great adventures we have had on this Grand World Voyage … We have seen magnificent places, met wonderful people along the way of so many cultures and enjoyed the company of our fellow guests and beloved crew. It has been an awesome adventure.— Jeff
Last evening all of our new and old friends gathered in the Crow’s Nest for a last hurrah, and we had a wonderful time. Our friend Ginny had painted the ship in perfect form, sitting in a blue sea, and then made copies of it, so we all now have a “signed and numbered Ginny lithograph.” It really is beautiful. Those of us who hadn’t exchanged cards did so, and we’re hoping to get together with some of our friends between cruises … So, it’s been a wonderful 4-1/2 months since the Caribbean pre-cruise and continuing on to our amazing world cruise. We’ve loved every moment of it and hope that all of you get this experience at least once. — John and Diane