We awoke just after 8.00am, despite the four-hour time difference. Donning our exercise gear, we went to the Lookout Lounge for 8.30am, where one of the entertainment team was holding a “Wake Up and Stretch” gentle exercise session.
There weren’t too many of us there; about five women and two men. The instructor put on some ambient music (starting off with Enya’s Orinoco Flow) and the exercises just focused on stretching and breathing. The class only lasted about 20 minutes, which was enough to wake us up and put us in a positive frame of mind for the day.
Afterwards we went to the self-service Veranda Café on the aft decks, and enjoyed a light breakfast in the tropical, sultry air. Although it wasn’t quite nine o’clock the day already looked as if it would be a scorcher.
After breakfast we wandered around the ship, taking in our surroundings and deciding what to do. We hadn’t booked any excursions today as we didn’t know how much the jet-lag would be affecting us and we didn’t want to have to stick to a timetable.
As Voyager was docked in what was largely a container port there was nothing very inspiring in our immediate surroundings to whet our appetite to explore, so we went back to the cabin, got changed out of our exercise clothes, gathered together camera, local currency, water bottle etc. and decided to disembark and look for a taxi to take us into town or to the beach – whatever.
As we reached the bottom of the gang plank one of the ladies who’d been in our exercise class asked if we were taking the local water taxi across the bay to where the shops, bars and restaurants were. We hadn’t thought of that, but it seemed a great idea so we made our way to the dock-side, where a couple of motor boats were waiting to take us across.
It cost 70 Mauritius rupees each (about £1.50) and the ride took about 15 minutes. We enjoyed the feel of the sea breeze on our skin; it provided a welcome respite from the sun – it was already 30ºC.
Once we disembarked it was time to explore in earnest. We took a leisurely stroll along the waterfront and were amused seeing the remains of the festive decorations and withered Christmas trees. Mauritius is multi-cultural, with lots of races and religions, including Christian, Muslim, Hindu etc. We could see a lot of Indian influence and many ladies and girls were adorned in pretty saris of many colours.
One of the things we’d already noticed was that the traffic drives on the left as we do in Britain; this harks back to the days when Mauritius was part of the British Commonwealth. Indeed the first language is English, despite a lot of the road and shop signs being in French.
As it was Sunday a lot of the shops, bars and cafés were closed, or were opening later. However, because of the two ships docked in the port, some of the souvenir shops had wisely stayed open, and the shopping centre thronged with passengers from the ships.
We went into a small shop and got half a dozen postcards and stamps, which cost a total of 180 rupees. Trevor handed over a 200 rupee note, but the lady came back and said they didn’t have any change, and would I like to purchase something else for 20 rupees? I therefore chose a pretty key-ring, but on leaving the shop we wondered whether having “no change” was true or just a ploy to get you to buy more!
We wandered around a bit more, looking at the fresh fruit juice and coconut stalls, with their tables and chairs set outside. There was a slight shower of rain which was actually quite refreshing in the relentless heat, but we decided to go and find a bar that was open, so we could write out the postcards while enjoying a welcome, ice-cold local beer.
We spotted a pub called the “Keg and Marlin” (which amazingly served beer and fish) so in we went and ordered a bottle of “Blue Marlin” beer each, choosing to sit at a table outside in the shade.
It was very pleasant sitting there, drinking the beer and just watching the world go by. The town was getting a little busier now as more of the shops opened up, but we didn’t really want to buy any souvenirs today so, after going to the post-office to post the cards, we slowly made our way back to the landing stage to await the next water taxi.
Back on board the Voyager we were tired, hot and sweaty so we were eager to go and try out the ship’s pool. Therefore, after a light salad lunch we went back to 4130, changed into our swimsuits under our clothes, then went up to the pool deck. It wasn’t too busy as a lot of people were ashore, so we found a table with an umbrella, grabbed a pool towel each, got undressed and slid into the cool water. Bliss!
The pool isn’t very big but there was only Trevor and me in it, and it was certainly enough to have a swim and splash about and wash off the grime of the last 24 hours. We stayed in the pool for about 30 minutes then sat, wrapped in our towels, in the sun to dry off. A nearby ice-cream station was service vanilla, strawberry or rum ‘n’ raisin with various toppings, so we enjoyed a dish of ice-cream each, then I had a frozen margarita.
To be honest, I don’t think too much of the cocktails on this ship so far; they are not a patch on the ones we enjoyed on the Boudicca or the Braemar last year! 😉
Once the drinks were finished, we went back to our cabin and I had a long, hot shower and washed and blow-dried my hair before changing into clean clothes. Then we rested for a short while before going along to Scott’s Lounge for the afternoon quiz. We didn’t do very well – only got 13/20.
We have already noticed that the lounges and decks are all named after explorers: there is the Darwin Lounge and Scott’s Lounge, as well as decks named for Livingstone, Columbus and Raleigh. Quite appropriate really as we are exploring all new ports of call and will be adding another three countries to our world tally. Mauritius makes 76 so far. 🙂
At around half-past five we felt increased vibrations through the floor of our cabin which could only mean one thing – Voyager‘s propellors and engines were revving, and she was getting ready to set sail. We therefore went up on deck to watch the sailaway, and enjoy a couple of drinks.
The impressions we had of our fellow passengers was that most of them were 60+ and, like us, well-travelled. Many chose to advertise how well-travelled they were with the array of t-shirts and baseball caps we saw, proclaiming different destinations and/or cruise lines. So far I have seen t-shirts advertising Sri Lanka, Peru and Singapore, as well as those showing that the passenger had previously cruised with Voyages of Discovery. We also found out through our conversations with other passengers that they, also like us, prefer the smaller ships and choose a cruise based on the destinations, rather than one that boasts climbing walls, skating rinks and Disney parades every day. (Ugh!)
We decided to sit at the pool bar and enjoy a cocktail of the day, called “Bay Breeze”. It contained vodka, pineapple juice and cranberry juice and was nothing to write home about. I think I’ll avoid the cocktails in future and stick to wine or beer. As we sat there, the Voyager gave a single long blast of her foghorn, as our voyage began.
I then noticed a lady next to us order a glass of sparkling wine. This appears on the drinks menu but is only advertised by the bottle; I hadn’t realised they sold it by the glass. I therefore ordered a glass of this German sparkling hock which is a demi-sec and very bubbly and refreshing. I told the lady, who introduced herself as Jean, that I was glad I’d seen her!
We then spent a very interesting hour or so in conversation, each talking about previous voyages we’d been on, and we discovered we both had a love of that little old classic ship Marco Polo. Jean had, like us, been on an unforgettable Antarctic expedition on the Marco Polo and we reminisced and swapped stories, while enjoying a second glass of sparkling wine as the sun went down in a blaze of pinks and oranges over the Indian Ocean. 🙂
Back in our cabin, we got washed and changed and went along to the Discovery Restaurant for our dinner at about 7.00pm. We were shown to table #20 where we shared it with a very pleasant couple called Gerald and Elizabeth. As ever, the conversation was peppered with names of ships and cruises past, present and future, and we enjoyed a convivial dinner spent in their company.
Then it was along to the Darwin Lounge for tonight’s show, which was really just an introduction of the entertainment that was to come, with each of the artistes coming on and giving us a taster of their talents. There was a fantastic classical duo as well as a male singer and a sample of the ship’s singing-and-dancing show company.
We finished the evening off by going up to the late-night lounge, the Sunset Club, at the very top of the ship. At first I thought it was karaoke night because a guy was standing with an iPad propped up on a music stand; he was reading the lyrics to the song which was accompanied to a backing track. But no, it was the professional singer Paul Burley. And to be honest, I have actually heard better karaoke singers. Bit of a let-down really, but I suppose he provided a bit of background entertainment.
We just sat at the bar and enjoyed one drink each and watched the dancing in a desultory sort of way, before making our way back to cabin 4130 to enjoy a good night’s sleep, lulled by the gentle motion of the Voyager on the waves.