Crossing the Atlantic Ocean is not for sissies!
Departing Tampa on April 17th we began the thirteen day cruise to Copenhagen on the NCL Norwegian Star. We passed under the St. Petersberg Skyway bridge out into the Gulf of Mexico down around Key West and into the Florida Straits on our way to Bermuda. The ship captain informed us on the second day that we were in the Sargasso Sea. The Sargasso Sea is the only sea in the world that is not bounded by land, but by ocean currents. It lies within the Northern Atlantic Subtropical Gyre, to its west is the Gulf Stream, to the north is the North Atlantic Current, the east by the Canary Current, and to the south by the North Atlantic Equatorial Current. We now know about the Sargasso Sea and its dynamic borders.
The fourth day we landed at the Navy Dock in Bermuda. A few years ago we visited Bermuda and played in a fun couples golf tournament, so we took the ferry into Hamilton and used the day to catch up on emails and purchasing a few items in. It was our grandson Collin’s birthday so we made a video birthday message for him, fun! On the ferry returning to the ship we passed the Oracle America’s Cup training facility with several of the racing sail boats.
The ship left Bermuda and headed across the Atlantic towards Porta Delgada in the Azores. Life
on the Norwegian Star is great. The ships staff works hard and they do a great job catering to your every need. Knowing the food would be plentiful we decided that we needed to get on a regular exercise program. Neither of us had ever done Yoga, so we tried a class, which we continued each day we were on the ship. The other exercise class was TRX, which we had not been introduced to before, but basically uses straps with handles that hang from the ceiling that are used for strength training and stretching using your own weight for resistance. A very nice fitness center with ocean views! Our intent is to continue the two programs over the Norway Fyord and Baltic cruises. The two trainers Andrea and Johann did a wonderful job. Unfortunately, we still need to do the other exercise-push away from the table!
The food is excellent, the complimentary dinning rooms are lovely and the food and service very
good. They have six premium restaurants running the gamut from steak houses, American and Brazilian to Japanese, Italian and French. All excellent.
We had some weather experiences on that leg of the voyage which included 24 hours with a
low pressure system that included consistence waves 25 to 30 feet with some waves as high as 45 feet. One couple told a funny store of their waitress looking out at one of the huge waves, even with the sixth deck, and screaming. She apologized and told them she would have to tell her supervisor she screamed in front of her passengers! We survived the rolling back and forth with the waves, including the rocking in bed, Janice had a bit of a headache, but we avoided sea sickness while others on board were not so fortunate.
Porta Delgada, Sao Miguel, the Azores
We were cleared to depart in Porta Delgada, Sao Miguel at 8:00 a.m. The Azores, unless you are doing a transatlantic cruise, is not your typical tourist destination. The Azores are a territory of Portugal and consists of 9 volcanic islands about 400 miles from the Portugal coast. The population of this island is about 125 thousand and the total population of the 9 islands is 250 thousand. The number one revenue is from milk with tourism a close second. Sao Miguel has more cows than people and provides about 60% of the milk to Portugal. In 2016 they expect about 400 thousand tourists and the forecast is for it to reach 1 million next year and become the number one revenue source.
Our tour guide, Josef, was highly rated by Trip Advisor and we were not disappointed. He had funny stories about how he moved from Switzerland 13 years ago and started his tour service. He built a fleet of cars, but as soon as his drivers learned the business, they started their own! So back to being a one vehicle service.
The Azores were formed about 4 million years ago by Volcanic activity and there has not been an eruption since the 1700’s. There are many craters and cones (over 200)from the original activity around the island, one of the most talked about is Sete Cidades, a volcano crater that is almost filled by the beautiful Sete Cidades twin lakes and the town of Sete Cidades. Steep mountain walls surrounds the lakes, one is azure blue, the other is grayish. We stopped in the town for a cup of coffee and then headed up to the top of the crater for the view in this picture.What was fun about touring with Josef, when we came to tour stops with a bunch of buses, he knew the little hidden places to avoid the crowds but still see the beautiful views. The next stop was the Hot Springs, we walked in about a quarter mile to the hot springs which are beautiful and natural.We continued up the mountain hoping to see the Mountain Lake, Lagoa das Pego, in the clear. As we drove up the winding roads the fog became thicker and thicker and when we arrived you could barely see anything. Josef said if we wait a few minutes the wind looks like it may blow the clouds away. What a surprise in about 5-10 minutes the fog lifted to a wondrous view of the lake. We stopped along the way and looked at beautiful rocks off the shore and we saw several men fishing off the cliffs for their dinner.We left port that afternoon and headed towards Copenhagen.
White Cliffs of Dover, the English Channel
A cataclysmic flood cleaved Britain from France hundreds of thousand years ago, in a violent act of nature that carved out the white cliffs of Dover and set the course of history for a new island.
Sanjeev Gupta and Jennny Collier at Imperial College London, who compiled and analyzed the images, believe the megaflood was unleashed after a vast freshwater lake formed over thousands of years in what is now the southern north sea.
Fed by the waters of the Rhine, the Thames and other European rivers, the lake spread 650km from East Anglia across the Netherlands to Germany and 350km northwards. It was hemmed in by glaciers to the north and a large, natural chalk dam at what is now the Dover straits.
The images suggest that the chalk barrier at Dover was suddenly breached by the rising lake, releasing a devastating surge of water that pounded and gouged the land beyond, creating a giant channel between the two land masses.
“This would have been a torrent of water carving out a huge valley through this wild landscape. There would be powerful eddies, with huge boulders and chunks of chalk ripped up and thrown around in the surge,” said Dr Gupta. The team estimates the surge released between 200,000 and 1m cubic metres of water per second, equivalent to 100 times the discharge of the Mississippi river.
“Prior to this ridge being breached, Britain would have been a promontary with a very clear connection to France, but once this happened, every time there were high sea levels, Britain became an island,” Dr Gupta said.
As we entered the English Channel we we had a beautiful view of the White Cliffs of Dover. The captain told us the story of the cliffs and the Channel.
End of the Transatlantic voyage
We landed in Copenhagen and reflected on our cruise. We met some wonderful people and became friends with three couples. From Left to right are Joe and Laura Salzsieder from the Tampa area, Sally Brown and Phillip Ross from Burlingame, California and Rudy and Vicki Gutierrez from the Los Angeles area, we are sure will will see them again!
That is it for now. More on the next cruises soon!