Tuesday, 29 August 2017

6 Months on Incredible Norwegian Sun - The Wildlife

I think this has to be the part of the last 6 months that I'm most excited to share! Seeing animals in their natural habit is something I find wonderful, and as those who came on tour with me know, I can watch them for hours!

Let's begin with penguins.

Our ship stopped at the Falkland Islands and the main thing you can do here (apart from stock up on English chocolate) is see penguins.

Did you know? There are 17 different types of penguin and they all only live in the Southern Hemisphere (so extra special for those of us from the Northern Hemisphere!) and you can see 5 of those different types of penguin in the Falklands.

The most accessible are the gentoo penguins:


These are the first wild penguins I ever met, we stopped to see them on the beach.


Before heading over to the nearby grassy areas they make home and have their babies!


We were able to go very close.


In this area full of gentoo penguins I also met a pair of kings


The next trip I took I wanted to see more beautiful king penguins


More baby penguins!

Throughout this posting I have videos to share as they can reveal much more about the animals. Here's the kings with their babies, plus the gentoo penguins were here too and you'll see they want a piece of the limelight!


Next up rockhopper penguins.


To get to these beautiful animals we had to go off road in jeeps for around and hour and half. The ground is soft peat so they are unable to build roads. Along this cliff edge area there are hundreds of rockhopper penguins plus a macaroni penguin, slightly larger but similar it's in there somewhere! The penguins are here shredding their feathers which makes them lethargic.


But there were some who's feathers were complete and had more energy. Meet Brian:


He's showing you why they are called rockhoppers!

That's 4 types of penguin and 5th in Falklands I actually met in a place called Peninsula Valdes, a UNESCO protected animal reserve in Patagonia on the coast of Argentina. These are magallanic penguins.


Hmm the iPhone panorama gave a crooked skyline however you get the point of how few of these guys were here compared to the rockhoppers.


But Peninsula Valdes is a reserve, here's what else you can see...

Darwin's Rhea:


Mara (Patagonian hare):


Dwarf Armadillo (video):


Here's a video of a family of sea lions:


And this amazing video of an area they call the sea lion nursery:


You can see why people travel from all over the world to visit Patagonia.

In the northern parts of South America the alpaca is very popular, providing wool for natives and tourists:


Then in Costa Rica we had an amazing day of letting monkeys climb all over us and then holding 10 day old crocodiles!




And now, Alaska! Famous for it's wildlife I saw as much as I could. And what brings the wildlife to Alaska? The salmon.


They come into the streams in their millions and turn red when they're ready to spawn. It's an incredible site! There are 5 different types of salmon and the bright red one below is a sockeye.


Who eats salmon? Huge bald eagles.


And bears!


Coastal brown bears, in this video you see momma call over the cubs.


And here's a black bear video, no zoom, when the salmon is in they don't care how close we are.

Black Bear

We found this bear later, hidden but eating the salmon it had caught.


In the areas of the bears we also found deer:


And mountain goats:


And finally the animals of the water! Sea otter:


Sea lions floating on buoys with spectacular views or lying on rocks!



Tufted puffins!


We saw orcas from the ship so this photo is from very far away but still...!


But last and not least the majestic humpback whale:




We were fortunate enough to see bubble feeding, this video is a photo burst stitched together:


We also saw this kayaker nearly get knocked over by these creatures the size of a bus!


To fly home from Alaska I had to travel to Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska and home to 1400 moose. I was fortunate enough to get this video before coming home:


When I get chance my next post will be all about Glaciers!

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

6 Months on Incredible Norwegian Sun - The Cities

In January I joined the ship Norwegian Sun in Chile and over the following 6 months I travelled over 11,000 miles of places I've never seen before. I've been working on cruise ships almost 7 years and this was the dream contract, it's unlikely I'll get to see so much in such a short space of time again.

To share some of my experience with you I'm dividing my photos into categories so let's begin with cities.

Before even joining the Sun I arrived into Santiago, capital of Chile, found my friend Glen and explored! It's a very interesting and historical city and clearly very beautiful. I had seen the Andes as I flew in however serious forest fires prevented us from really experiencing the view from Gran Torre... I'll just have to go back one day.


I'll also have to go back to Valparaiso because although we drove through to join the ship I was never able to explore on foot due to strike action at the port on our return.

The cruises that I did went down Chile, up Argentina, past Uruguay and onto Brazil and back round again a few times before we then carried on up the Pacific coastline and ended up in Alaska. For this blog posting I'm going to start at the Atlantic coast as it went from Brazil all the way down, round and up to Alaska.

Rio de Janeiro.


I'm completely in love with Rio. We were fortunate to have plenty of time to explore. Here are the views (and crowds) at Christ the Redeemer.


You can see Sugarloaf Mountain sticking up in the distance, I went up there twice because the view was just stunning!



You can see Christ the Redeemer lit up on the highest peak.

Because we're crazy (!) we took a tour of a favela (the slums) that are so famous in Rio, a city of contrasts.



We did so much in Rio, the botanical gardens, eating at an amazing churrascaria and although we weren't there for the week of carnaval (carnival) we were overnight for the rehearsals so I experienced this at the Sambadrome and for free!



For me Rio is so special and unique. Here's my sunset sailaway with the city skyline that's not skyscrapers but mountains.


We actually had many stops in Brazil, there are many beach locations! But here's a couple of views of Santos, a coastal city in the Sao Paulo state, one of the largest populations in the world, famous for its long gardens running parallel to the beach.



Heading south of Brazil you come to Uruguay, a much smaller country than those around it, it does not suffer with the same extremes of poverty. Montevideo is the capital.



It has an old historical centre and then out of town we also stopped at Punta del Este, full of small boats and posh cafes it is famous for it's artists and art including this giant hand on the beach.


Opposite the coast of Uruguay you come to Buenos Aries, capital of Argentina and proudly home to the dance, Tango (I saw a wonderful show!)



This is La Boca and Caminito where the music for Tango was inspired.

Buenos Aries is another city of contrasts with La Boca still being the poorer area but the centre of town is overwhelmed by old European style buildings, we were even able to go for a very posh afternoon tea, then along the waterfront are the newer, modern city areas.



The main square and the pink building where Evita did her famous speech from the balcony. And her much visited grave.


The shape of this bridge in the new part of town is inspired by the movement of the Tango.


Moving on to the city at the "End of the World", Ushuaia



Almost 1500 miles away from Buenos Aries but still in Argentina, Ushuaia is where you come to take a trip to Antartica (about another 3 days sailing south). You can also take a trip on the stunning train at the end of the world.


So, heading back up, round through the Chilean Fjords and Chilean Lake District (beautiful) I didn't really stop anywhere you could call a city until Arica, the northernmost city in Chile.



Only 10 miles from the border of Peru beyond those mountains you're looking at the way to Machu Picchu.

In Peru we went to the capital city of Lima and got to see the changing of the guard.



This next photo is of the area called Miraflores, the upmarket area where our Peruvian friends advised us to stay for safety (we didn't listen!)


More north and in Nicaragua we visited the second largest city in the country, Leon. The thing to do here is walk on the roof of the cathedral! Looking out at the volcanos in the distance.




Next up Guatemala and I visited the historical city of Antigua famous for it's Spanish colonial buildings.



And surrounded by volcanos!


And finally after a bit of Mexico (beaches, not cities) and the U.S. we arrived into Vancouver, our home port for taking guests on Alaska cruises.


I wish this view called "the Lookout" didn't have these strange windows, however you can still see city and mountains, it is beautiful. I took a trip to the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge in a beautiful park area in the mountains.


After this was Alaska, Juneau being the capital and Anchorage, the largest city but the experiences I had here don't relate to them being cities and will follow in a future post. But I will finish with a picture of Norwegian Sun in Juneau, capital city of Alaska.