It was grey and raining when we docked in Ketchikan on day two of the cruise. I had not booked any excursions as I suspected that I would need catch-up time for both sleeping and writing. Several nights of going to bed well after midnight and waking up as usual around 6:30 or 7 am, meant that I had accumulated quite a sleep deficit. I know I do best on 7 to 8 hours sleep a night, and with the energy I had been expending on my dancing, adequate sleep was even more important.
So my plan was to have my dance lesson early at the usual time, and then go ashore for a bit, come back and actually take a nap. But the best-laid plans...
I decided to take the opportunity to take photos as everyone looked so glamorous in their formal wear. However I think I must have altered a camera setting as they were not as good as I usually expect. Later that evening I reset the camera to factory settings and that semed to have improved things a bit.
Although I have lived in Vancouver for more than 30 years and often watched the cruise ships leaving our port to journey North, I have never until now, cruised to Alaska. In view of my current determination not to take a cruise unless I get to dance every night, I was really happy to see that this year the dance group with which I have cruised a lot was doing the Inside Passage cruise starting in Vancouver.
So lucky me, instead of a plane ride, I had a short taxi ride to the Vancouver cruise ship terminal and there she was, the Sapphire Princess, ready for me just to walk on board.
After 16 wonderful nights about the Queen Mary 2 on the Hong Kong to Dubai segment of the world cruise, we arrived in the port of Dubai early in the morning. A group of us from Dancers at Sea had booked a two day post-cruise stay in Dubai. The disembarkation and transfer to the Grand Hyatt Hotel was relaxed and easy, and by noon we were checked in and settled in our rooms.
The hotel is quite spectacular - towering ceilings, marble and gold everywhere. It was our first indication of the general design and architecture of the public buildings in Dubai. Even the giant malls are marble, glass and gold, with boutiques featuring all the big names in fashion, design, shoes, jewelery.
Cochin or Kochi, is a port city in the Arabian Sea, on the west coast of India in the state of Kerala. The name Kochi translates to "small lagoon" in Mayalam. Mayalam is the local language in Kerala, derived from Sanskrit and Tamil and is one of 22 official languages of India. It is one of the 85 related Dravidian languages, spoken by 215 million people. Amazing what one learns when going on a ballroom dance cruise!
Anyway I signed up for an excursion that featured two highlights - the Chinese Fishing Nets of Cochin, and an introductory demonstration of Kathakali (the classical dance drama of Kerala) and Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala. Check out the links below to my four YouTube videos of these highlights.
With this cruise covering 16 days, and ten of them being sea days, Robert, our dance instructor, had scheduled a series of dance workshops covering the gamut from waltz to west coast swing. Each workshop was supposed to last an hour but several times they were going so well that we ran over time. Because none of our group are beginners and we are all pretty much at a similar level, each session has been really enjoyable and we have been able to pick up new skills in each individual dance, while continuing to focus attention on posture, frame and movement.
Amazingly everyone turned up punctually for the second workshop at 9:30 am, even my cabin mate Linda, who is not known for coming to the dance workshops on these cruises. We joked that after a week of rooming together I might actually “sleep in” to 7 am and take a nap in the afternoon, while she might actually get up in time to attend all the workshops.
With 10 days out of 16 at sea, we will have plenty of dance workshops. The first dance workshop was scheduled for 9:30 in the G32 Disco just behind the Queens Room Ballroom.
All 8 of us were there for the workshop, and Robert had also invited Horst, (one of the QM2 dance hosts, who is also a frequent DAS host) to join us. So for the first time in any of these workshops I have ever been at, there was a dance partner for each of the women. No complicated rotations were needed. It was great.
I don't know whether the information on the poster is still current but according to that write up, the QM 2 measured along the water is the world's largest ship. That is probably why they can have that great ballroom, the Queen's Room. Walking along the corridor from one end to the other certainly feels like quite a hike. Luckily our cabin is situated aft, so all the REALLY important places like the Britannia Restaurant and the ballroom are right below us. No hiking needed.Any way, excited as I was about the prospect of dancing nightly on it I was too tired to think about it by the time I got on board. As anticipated I was quite jet-lagged after the flight. Although one leaves Toronto at 10 am EST and arrives in Hong Kong at 1:30 PM of the following day, theoretically having slept though the night, the reality is that the fifteen hour flight ends at 1 AM Eastern time. At least that is what the time is for your body’s internal clock. So I would have normally been asleep for only 2 hours. I had indulged in a glass of wine with my meal and felt drowsy for all of twenty minutes but though I tried to sleep – it was to no avail.
When I first heard about the Dancers at Sea (DAS) dance cruise from Hong Kong to Dubai, I thought 16 nights was longer than I wanted to be away for. I had also cruised from Hong Kong, to Thailand and Vietnam, when I did the Asia Cruise two years earlier, and had little desire to revisit the two ports on that part of the itinerary. So I decided to take the option of the 9 nights Singapore to Dubai leg. The dates fitted in nicely with my visit to Toronto to see Rhinoceros, the absurdist play my daughter was directing at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. So I was going to return to Vancouver for three days and then fly to Singapore to board the QM2.
When I learned at the last minute that the dance group for the Hong Kong to Singapore leg was unexpectedly very small – therefore there would be much more dance opportunities than usual - and I realized I could fly direct Toronto to Hong Kong instead of taking four additional flights, it took me about three seconds to decide to be spontaneous, blow my budget and my schedule and sign up for the whole 16 night segment.