Holidays and Other Excursions

Tag: Regent seven seas

Day 14 Sea Day 15.5.2023

Seven seas explorer

Seven seas explorer

Sea days tend to revolve around staying awake, we cannot sleep properly at night and can drop off just about anywhere during the day.

At one point we have a very cold night as the heating has simply stopped working, turns out that it had tripped out from working too hard.  Once reset the temperature improves.

The masking tape on the balcony door has been removed and the whistling reduced.  A further complaint means a visit from an engineer with a hammer, followed by some hammering and the whistling does then seem to go away.

Finally the television seems unwilling to talk to the network at any time to which the solution is a couple of technician visits, the first to remove the television and to bring a new one and thereafter we largely have a working box.

With a lot of spare time, we have had been watching a lot of news programmes, the choices being mainly BBC and Sky.  Odd moments spent watching Fox News add little enlightenment.

Day 12 Sea Day 13.5.2023

RSSC Explorer

RSSC Explorer

We are now tracking to the south of the Aleutian islands which is a very long island archipelago which stretches south westerly in a very long arc from the mainland.

Jackie is disappointed as once again there are not enough takers for the games of bingo – it seems that they schedule them at the same time as the major lectures in the theatre so there is a split of those on board between the two events – so no bingo for Jackie.

The lectures are recorded and can be watched on one of the television channels in our cabin at another time – so people could go to the bingo – but perhaps the passengers are not that keen on a little flutter.

Never mind the on board food and drink continues to flow, as does the toilet!   Talking of the food the various restaurants on board publish their daily menus onto one of the television links and we can think about what we shall eat later during the day – and seeing the possibilities sometimes determines where we will eat in the evening.

Sleep patterns are poor, the bedding and heating system combining to be too hot when under the sheet and quilt whilst too cold if on top of the covers.  Added to which my left knee seems to provide discomfort at almost any time – it seems to be playing up more than at home.

I am unable to concentrate sufficiently to read despite having brought a lot of reading material.  Over the holiday I just about manage a couple of chapters of one book and not a lot else.

Day 10 Sea Day 12.5.2023

RSSC Explorer

RSSC Explorer

We continue on the same heading of 73 degrees so roughly north westerly as we have been on this heading since leaving Kushiro more or less continuously as we head in the general direction of Alaska.  After all the state is too big to miss!

At lunchtime we have a special meal in Pacific Rim restaurant and there are 5 accompanying matching wines.  All excellent and the inevitable follow up of a post prandial snooze which then means it is now time for dinner and a lighter option is consumed.  The bad news about cruises is the excellent food and wine.

Having received some emails which ought to be answered I decide to make use of a proper screen and keyboard in the business centre on deck 5.  I get connected and then seek to access office 365.  Multi-factor authorisation is in place on the account so Microsoft wants to send me a text message.  No hope.  I knew there was a good reason not to have MFA and here it is!  And it has also logged me out of the resources at home so I am cut off from Office 365.  We really are out of touch with the normal world.

Time is wasted watching television, in particular the news channels which are endlessly covering “Title 42” an expiring piece of US legislation which may or may not alter how refugees may enter the USA from Mexico.  No one actually seems to know what difference it will make!

We are going to lose two hours tonight making this a 22 hour day which is only one of the many confusing aspects in our Pacific transit.

Having had our sliding balcony door taped up with vast quantities of masking tape, the cold wind continues to breeze into our suite and so we turn up the heating system.  The hot air inlet is in the ceiling of the lounge area whilst the cold air is entering at floor level.  Thermodynamic theory says hot air rises so feet are permanently cold.

Day 9 Sea Day 11.5.2023

Seven Seas Explorer

Seven Seas Explorer

Post-breakfast this morning we head into the Constellation theatre to have most of our pre-conceptions about Alaska disabused. – or at least so the speaker claims, based on being resident there and experiencing some of the low winter temperatures.

It remains a large state with the long stretch of Aleutian Isles meaning that it stretches to touch the four boundaries of the main 48 states of the USA if overlaid on it.  Most of the limited population resides around Anchorage with huge unoccupied areas which was largely in accordance with our preconceptions!

Much else is not true.  No igloos, nose rubbing is not kissing and no one quite knows how many words might mean a form of snow as different wordsmiths have separate totals!  And most residents no longer and never did have dog sleds; the Iditarod being created to keep the tradition alive and has ensured the survival of the Alaskan husky which has thinner fur than the Siberian.  We will come back to huskies later on our journey.

We are unlikely to see the Northern Lights as the immediate forecast band is much further north.  Yes you read that right, they publish forecasts for the location of the Northern Lights and if we had come when originally planned the odds would be far better!

The ship is making steady progress across the north Pacific.  Today is a little less stable with some definite rock and roll overnight leading to us waking several times.  Walking is a little more complex as the floor does not seem to be where it should be when you put a foot down.  Outside it is pretty misty and visibility is very limited.

Another day passes.

Day 8 Sea Day 10.5.23

We are somewhere in the Pacific Ocean heading roughly North East.  Watches and phone needs manually updating as ship time has changed by one hour.  The cabin clock was changed last night by the service team who also left a note about the change.

The first inevitability is that the WiFi signal to the satellite is intermittent, overnight the system managed to deliver emails but answering them is an apparent impossibility!  Jackie departs to play bingo which is the second inevitability and I get a chance to listen to some of the recordings I have stacked up, but getting last night’s episode of the Archers to download is a lost battle.

In the afternoon we choose to watch “Eat, Pray, Love” but just when it starts getting interesting the sound track is completely distorted and it is unwatchable.  Men then arrive to try and reseal the sliding door to stop the drafts and whistling noise which is more obvious now we are in open sea.  So we abandon ship, sorry cabin, and head up to a bar for a drink!   On return the howling wind is actually worse!

We turn the heating up to counter the inflow of cold air but the bathroom remains cold.  Winding the film forward means we lose some of the plot exposition but reach a scene where the normal sound returns for most of the rest of film.   Jackie tells me that the film is a poor interpretation of the original book with some simplification of the events and characters which are far more complex in the book.

Never mind it helps pass the day!

Tokyo Day 3 and Sail Away Friday 5.5.2023

Friday is a day of two halves.  The morning is our last two visits to Tokyo sites and then we journey on to Yokohama port to board our cruise ship.

As we were shown earlier in the week the Buddhists have temples, the Shinto religion has shrines and our first stop this morning is the Meiji shrine.  The shrine, located in Shibuya, honours Emperor Meiji, although his tomb is elsewhere.  He was notable for opening Japan to western influences and outside the shrine this is reflected in there not only being, as with most shrines, a range of sake barrels, but also a range of wine barrels with some of the historic wine brands of which the Emperor was an early Japanese consumer.  He ruled from 1867 until his death in 1912 and was responsible for the transformation of Japan during that period.

Our next stop takes us back to the warlord era at the Hamarikyu gardens adjacent to Tokyo Bay where the waters are a fresh / sea water mix and replica Japanese tea houses have been constructed.  In the 17th century the land was reclaimed from Edo bay and a warlord villa constructed along with gardens.  It has been a public space since 1946 and the teahouses have been reinstated in the current century.  It is warmer again today and I was extremely pleased to find a water fountain adjacent to the toilets before we depart.

Rejoining coach 1 we are therefore first to reach the Hammerhead pier where the Regent Seven Seas Explorer is berthed.  First however is a need for a health declaration, no coughs, no sneezes, no covid.  Boxes ticked and we are moved to a seried rank of seats to await being summoned onboard and check in.

Once through check in we head to deck 11 to get a first taste of the dining facilities (not found wanting in the slightest) before descending to our suite with the first bag already delivered awaiting our attention.    The other two soon arrive and we slowly unpack and get ourselves organised.

Between the bathroom and bedroom there is a walk in wardrobe and we manage to fill the hanging area with our clothes plus there are enough hooks for our coats!  And there is room under the bed for the three now empty suitcases.  Beyond the bedroom there is a lounge space and finally a balcony, although weather expectations are such that it may not see much use!

A welcome drink (and canapés) in the observation saloon are consumed as we sail away prior to descending to the main dining room for an excellent meal.

It is noticeable from the guides that we are some of the first travellers seen in Japan since restrictions have been lifted and they are glad to be closer to normal.

2023 Starts Here

Over five years since the last post and a lot has happened – many holidays took place and quite a few did not.  Hardly surprising given the intervention of a pandemic and the consequent disruption to holiday plans.

Long ago in 2020 we booked this trip.  Initially to commence in April to see the cherry blossom and with a stop in Russia along the way.  The trip was redated to May, the Russian stop expunged in the light of the invasion of Ukraine and another day shaved off the schedule to satisfy the timetable of the ship’s later cruises.

As we are sailing from Yokohama we have to first get to Japan.  Once at Heathrow it is to JAL for check in!  As a traveller in front has a lot of luggage we get redirected to the first class check in, but regrettably not the first class cabin.  Security does not take long and we had for the Qantas Lounge.  The quality of the snacks is lacking so we decide to visit the Cathay Pacific lounge.  Champagne and samosas gets us off to a good start!

90 minutes to kill is enlivened by an advert for a play at the Donmar Warehouse and after a brief discussion we also book Corrigans for dinner.  Waiting time at airports is obviously online shopping time.  I am relieved when our flight is announced.  We board and pull back from the stand on time.  It is about 30 minutes before we take off and start heading east.  It soon turns dark outside.

We are heading for a variety of ‘stans plus Mongolia whilst the on board system thinks we are going to overfly Russia.  Amusingly like a car sat nav it keeps showing an immediate left turn is needed to achieve the desired route whilst like me the pilot is no doubt saying that he knows he is not lost!   Once in the air I sequence a number of radio recordings and podcasts.

So having eaten dinner I have just worked out that it is really about 6am, future time.  Somehow I think it is time for some sleep.

Not enough hours later I wake, somewhere “near” Ulan Bator according to the maps, but with about four hours flying time still to go.   Looking at the map later as we fly over South Korea it is noticeable that there are lots of small turns as we are presumably following a more tightly defined route and not simply taking a route akin to a great circle.  Just past Seoul we turn left and then right again.

I stopped the podcasts but on restarting then realise I am half listening half sleeping through the last item I had sequenced and realised that I have missed large chunks of the various podcasts.

About 40 minutes before landing I manage to destroy the calm as I have lost my passport which I thought was in my jacket but it was in the zip pocket on back pack, but not before absolute panic descends as the JAL 777-300 also commences downwards.

Passport found in zip pocket of backpack and calm returns.  In less than an hour from touchdown we are waiting departure in our coach.  Much of the coach ride is in tunnel as we head from Haneda to Shinjuku Hilton.

Check in, order room service burger and then some sleep.