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Wilba On The Indian Ocean Pt 1

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    Wilba On The Indian Ocean Pt 1

    Hi Everyone, This was intended to be a live blog, especially with the ongoing concerns of the Coronavirus, but unfortunately, the poor internet connection would not allow uploading of photo’s. No photo’s, no live blog is my policy. Full details will be in my final summary………..Wilba



    Around 18 months ago I wrote a blog on a Mekong River Cruise, stating my bucket was now full, but one part of the world that has been in and out of that bucket many times over, is the Seychelles. As much as I love an idyllic beach in an idyllic setting, I very quickly get the fidgets lying on a sunlounger for hours, days, weeks on end.

    That all changed when I came across a 14 night Costa Indian Ocean cruise, with an itinerary that re floated my boat. Two days docked in the Seychelles, plus two day docking in other major Indian Ocean ports. This was the perfect compromise of beach/cruise itinerary for me.

    I haggled a good ‘cruise only’ deal with Cruise.co.uk, plus the £100 Forum Cruise credit for a mid ship Supreme Balcony with ‘Comfort Premium’ Package, on Costa Mediterranea out of Mauritius.
    ‘Comfort Premium Package gives us unlimited non premium drinks, 24/7 free room service, breakfast in bed, choice of 1st or 2nd Sitting (no anytime dining on Costa), plus a 10% discount on a future cruise.

    I cruised on Costa Mediterranea about five years ago out of Venice, loved the ship, service and entertainment, but if I’m honest the food in the MDR was not great, but I never say never, so I’m banking on things have changed for the better this time around.

    The only direct flight out of the UK within our cruise dates were with Air Mauritius out of LHR, but after reading their reviews, which were not that good, plus travelling and parking, I decided on flights out of our local BHX with a change of planes with Emirates via Dubai, all on Double Decker Airbus A380.

    These were exactly the same flights we did two years ago for a Dubai cruise plus a Mauritius land stay. After a few weeks of price watching we settled for flying out a day earlier. This gave us three major benefits, three further Emirates flight options should we get delayed by weather etc, a day to recover from long haul, and a Brucie bonus of over £320 saved by flying just one day earlier. A decent quality overnight beach hotel in Mauritius at around £100 per night made it a no brainer.

    The flight(s) out of BHX could not have gone smoother. Online checkin got us seats together in a good position with window seats. I would have preferred aisle seats even nearer the front than we were, so Mrs W turned on the charm at the bag drop desk and the very amiable Emirates gent was more than willing to oblige, moving us on both flights, four or five rows from the front door into aisle positions.

    Drinks are complimentary on Emirates, two miniature gins, or any other spirits served by default. With just a one hour fifty change of aircraft in Dubai, I was feeling the effect of their generosity with the twenty minute walk to the next gate, but even after going through security again we arrived/staggered at our departure gate with well over an hour to spare. I had forgotten just how big Dubai Airport is.
    IMG_20200227_175031863_TOP by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr
    Mrs W with the Emirates Girls

    After another 6hr 40 minute flight into Mauritius, a temperature check on arrival due to coronavirus, then a 45 minute taxi ride took us to our chosen overnight hotel in Pointe aux Sables, about three mile from Port Louis cruise terminal. We arrived at 10.30 am and were glad our room was ready so we could catch up on some much needed sleep, plus a few hours poolside.



    Villa Anakao is a small boutique hotel and was quiet at this time of year, the pool bar, come alfresco dining area, was unmanned, so we went to reception to order drinks. Oh! Just help yourself, and write down what you’ve taken on the sheet! We did this for the rest of the day, night and next day until we checked out at 2.00 pm the following day. My choice of hotel won honours from Mrs W.

    P1050635 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    P1050637 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    The weather in Mauritius at this time of the year is around 88-90 Degrees, but by the afternoon, it had clouded over and dropped to a cool 80.

    We took our time leaving the hotel, hopefully to miss the initial rush, as Costa were boarding between 1.00 and 8.00 pm. I have always championed Costa boarding procedures, but this was the ultimate.
    We stepped out of the taxi at around 2.30 pm, normally a manic time for boarding in the UK, and were handed the inevitable health quiz sheet. That took about a minute to complete. There was not a soul at any of the checkin desks, where our boarding passes and passports were scanned. Including pleasantries, that took about 15 seconds, move on, sidestepping the Welcome Aboard photographers, a 10 yard walk to the gangplank where we were given another temperature check, hand over the boarding pass, a photo taken on an iphone device and we were onboard in about three minutes of leaving our taxi. No faffing about swiping credit cards, or handing over seapass cards, just how it should be on every cruiseline. Maybe I’m just unlucky, but I always seem to get the checkin operator with the dodgy laptop, the card swipe that doesn’t work or the webcam that has given up.

    Seapass cards are waiting in your unlocked cabin, and credit card self authorisation is at your convenience at one of the many terminals on the lower decks at some point during the cruise.

    Mediterranea was launched in 2003, carries 2100 pax in normal configuration, and has a gross tonnage of 85,000. This will be the ships last year of service with Costa, as it is to be transferred to Carnivals Chinese Cruise wing later in 2020.

    I have to be honest, this made me somewhat nervous, with the ship coming to the end of its days with Costa, is it going to be in a rundown state? Nothing was further from the truth. In every public area furnishings, carpets and fabrics were showing the vibrant colours of a recent refurb, and sunloungers looked like they had just been delivered. Not a mark or stain on any that I saw.

    Our Supreme Balcony cabin was spacious and bright with a decent size balcony and a reasonable size toilet/shower facility.

    P1050641 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    So far, so good. After unpacking it was time for 1st Sitting in the MDR. We were shown to our table, which was a table for two, next to a window, just a few rows from the main entrance. It could not have been better if I had chosen the table myself.

    I was less than complimentary of the food on this ship five years ago, but on a subsequent Costa ship a few years later I was more than impressed. If the first nights menu is anything to go by, I am going to be one happy bunny on this cruise. I had to ask what some of the courses on the menu were, as I had never heard of half of them. Perfect for me, as I’ve quoted many times, same old same just doesn’t work for me anymore.

    From there we moved on to the theatre for the opening show, Extra Live! An innovative presentation of a magical experience. What’s this all about came mind, thinking I would be in and out of there by the second number. How wrong I was, it was brilliant. A very mixed variety show with a live band, acrobatics and song and dance. Two of the dance couples did a fabulous jive routine to Boogie Woogle Bugle Boy and Candyman, with all the kicks and flicks, which was well up to the standard of the Strictly Pro’s we have come to admire.

    Day Two, a sea day, dawned with cloudy skies and rain, lots of it, so we passed away much of the morning at the theatre for the English Hostess talk on the port tours. Thankfully the rain cleared around lunchtime, but I, myself, attended the afternoon onboard lecturer’s talk on the history of the Indian Ocean.

    Tonight is Gala Night, but with a mix of 36 nations onboard, there were very few DJ and black ties, a few, like myself, in a jacket of sorts, most in casual, and others in what they wore for breakfast. I no longer see the point in Gala Nights on International cruise ships. It hasn’t worked for years in my experience.

    The meal was something else. A tasty starter of prawn in a pastry case with Marie Rose sauce, with a creamy cod mouse on a circle of rye bread. For main, I chose Beef Tournedos. Wow! This looked and tasted as if it was cooked to order. I know it wasn’t, but it really was that good.

    The theatre show was an acclaimed female solo Italian vocalist. As good as she was, it was not my scene, so Wilba didn’t linger with the singer. A few more samples from the drinks package, and it was time for bed.

    Day Three dawned with early morning rain, which soon cleared to leave a cloudy morning. Not the sort of weather I was expecting in this part of the world, but by midday the Australian Gold was in high demand. By the end of day, I felt like I had fell into a deep fat fryer.

    Another exceptionally good evening meal in the MDR of mussels in a wine and seafood bisque, followed by a stunningly presented Sea Bass could break all records for me, as I am normally the number one complainer of bland cruise ship food.

    IMG_20200302_153634382 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    Day Four we are docked in Victoria, capital of Mahe, Seychelles. Good Heavens! At 8.00 am in the morning, the sun is seriously hot. As we are here for two full days, today is beach day, that’s if I can cope with the heat.

    We took a 30 minute taxi van to Anse Royale, the white beach area on the south eastern side of the island. Our driver took us to a beach with a restaurant, toilets and shady areas, should we need it. The shade under the palm trees was most welcome, as the searing heat was overwhelming my Factor 50. We had a fabulous, but expensive, fish/seafood lunch, plus copious beers at €10 a glass, but hey hoe, this will be a once in a lifetime experience at our time of life. This was just what I had come to the Seychelles for.

    P1050648 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    P1050655 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr
    The water is so clear

    P1050651 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr


    P1050652 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr


    IMG_20200228_143714896_HDR by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    The scenic drive along the coast road back to the ship was worth the cost alone, finishing with a visit to a nearby hypermarket as we needed another gallon of Factor 50 and a bucket of Aftersun before reboarding Mediterranea.

    Day Five, still in Victoria, four of us arranged a half day tour of the island with our taxi man from yesterday, €200 between four of us for a 5 hour tour in air conditioned taxi van. Plenty of stops for photo memories, a stop at a stunning waterside hotel, finishing at the nearest beach to Victoria on the north side of the island for lunch, before arriving back onboard.

    P1050660 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    P1050667 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr
    I can’t resist a good fish market

    P1050689 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr

    P1050696 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr
    A lovely hotel where we stopped for a beer

    P1050681 by Wilba Cruise, on Flickr


    The theatre show this evening was Juke Box Jive, more Disco than actual Jive, but entertaining, none the less. Two very good vocalists leading a large dance group, albeit when they are all on stage together, the dancing can be less than slick at times.

    Day Six, time to try the complimentary Continental Breakfast in Bed, as today is another sea day. So far it has been cloudy on sea days, and this morning is no exception, but don’t be fooled by not seeing the sun. It is still very strong, and after three hours of Factor 50, I was starting to feel the burn.

    After another very good evening meal of a pasta and seafood soup, followed by crispy roast suckling pig, we enjoyed an evening of aerial acrobatics, illusions, juggling chain saws, and roller skating by Duo Donnert, a male/female act that I feel sure had been on X Factor or BGT a couple of years ago.

    Day Seven we are due to dock in Nosy Be, Madagascar. That was until 6.30 am an announcement was made stating the ship has been denied entering all three of our planned ports due to coronavirus. There is no signs or reported cases on this ship, but Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world and does not have the infrastructure of hospitals or medical care to cope, should an outbreak occur. That applies to their populous and cruise ship passengers alike.

    In truth, I am not really that bothered about missing Nosy Be, reading the letter about crime on the island that was waiting for us in the cabin on our return last night. The advice was to leave all jewellery, watches, and sunglasses in the safe. Take as little cash as possible ashore, no passports or ID (only copies), keep phones and camera’s in a rucksack, and only use ATM’s inside a bank. Finally, do not offer any resistance if accosted.

    I really don’t need that at my time of life, so for now we are heading back to the Seychelles. Our other two planned stops in Madagascar were Diego Suarez and Tamatave, where in truth, I doubt if there was anything that appealed to me, other than a white sandy beach. The excursions were mainly about jungle treks to see the islands indigenous wildlife, the Lemur Monkeys, which were never on my agenda anyway. I suppose we will just have to sit in that baking hot sun and fry. Seriously though, whenever we travel to very hot climates, Mrs W always packs Factor 15 sunblock for herself, and Factor 50 for me. Neither has worked for either of us on this trip, and we are now on Factor 50+ for babies and toddlers! It really is that fierce.

    As this was not a planned seaday, an unplanned deck buffet was hastily set up for lunch. They carried in a paella the size of the average dining room table, plus sliced fish of some sort, mules marinere’ and shell on prawn the size you would like to find in Aldi and Sainsbugs, but never can. We were given an artificial cast iron griddle pan (black plastic) to load up the aforementioned. That was the best lunch on any cruise ship I can recall in recent years. A couple of glasses of dry white, and I was in heaven.

    Well what a day this has been. At 6.30 am we were turned away from Madagascar, and at 4.30 pm we were offered €200 per adult OBC for the change of itinerary.

    We are now heading for the port of Praslin, a small island about 25 miles from our last stop in the Seychelles. I’m happy as I came to see the Seychelles, so the more I see of them, the better.
    Last edited by Wilba; 16th March 2020, 04:43 AM.
    Wilba

    #2
    Great start looking forward to part two.

    Good you got one in before the lock down.

    Comment


      #3
      Brilliant! Just what we need in these troubled times, the Wilba feel good factor. Looking forward to part two.

      Comment


        #4
        Great read. Looking forward to more. I liked Victoria when we visited last year. An easy place to wander round. We caught a local bus to a beach. Just got serrked down and the heavens opened. Pleased to hear you had better weather.

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks Wilba. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and seeing the photos.

          It brought back fond memories of our best ever cruise around Africa and the Indian Ocean 4 years ago. The heat in Victoria, Seychelles knocked me for 6 too but was still a wonderful experience, as was Mauritius.

          It's a shame you couldn't visit Nosy Be but I guess if you are not interested in seeing the lemurs, then you didn't miss much.

          Keep us posted on the r est of your cruise and enjoy!
          Jill

          Comment


            #6
            Thank you Wilba fantastic read, and it sounds my idea of heaven. That beach in the Seychelles looks beautiful......................................... .....................Carol

            Comment


              #7
              Wow, some great shots, I would struggle in those temperatures though. Sounds like a good experience so far, I don't ever really consider Costa but your report is very positive.

              Will look forward to reading more..Carol

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks Wilba, The Indian ocean looks beautiful. Im pleased you enjoyed the full experience, Look forward to the next read. Jan.

                Comment


                  #9

                  Great read as always and a shame some has been curtailed but unfortunately at the moment as old blue eyes sang " that's life"

                  Look forward to the next installment.

                  Garf.
                  Last edited by Garfield, Waterlooville; 16th March 2020, 05:48 PM.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Great blog as usual . need something here to cheer us up ,thank you .

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Great blog & photos. Brought much needed sunshine & cheer to a rather gloomy UK. Looking forward to reading the rest. Thank you for posting.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Is this retrospective Wilba or are you still away?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by cymrucruiser View Post
                          Is this retrospective Wilba or are you still away?
                          It is retrospective as I tried to make clear in my red prologue
                          Wilba

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Wilba View Post

                            It is retrospective as I tried to make clear in my red prologue
                            Yep I thought so sorry 😐🙈
                            glad you are back home. Look forward to reading more x

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Thanks Wilba, a great read, the beaches look amazing. I think the heat would get me though. Looking forward to the next instalment.
                              Barb

                              Comment


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