Itinerary = ports at anchor Show Maps
25th April
-Overnight hotel at Heathrow Airport
Sunday- Fly to Miami, USA & transfer to
Fort Lauderdale. Overnight at the Turnberry Isle Yacht & Country Club
Monday-Fort Lauderdale embark R V Sun
Tuesday-at sea
Wednesday-at sea
Thursday-Hamilton, Bermuda
Friday-at sea
Saturday-at sea
Sunday-at sea
Monday-at sea
Tuesday-at sea
Wednesday-at sea
Thursday-Funchal, Madeira
Friday-at sea
Saturday-Malaga, Spain
Sunday-at sea
Monday-Barcelona, Spain
Tuesday-(pm) Villefranche, France
Wednesday-Villefranche, France
14th May
-Civitavecchia, Italy
disembark and fly to UK
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Royal Viking Sun; serene in the bay at Villefranche.

Rated 5 Star-plus by Berlitz since her debut in 1990, she was the highest-rated cruise ship in the world.

(Below left) A rather choppy Atlantic crossing

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(Above right) Dad & Me, relieved to be ashore!

Nothing but the best this time, for Dad's return to cruising. This was the highest-rated ship in the world at the time and we were treated like VIPs by officers and crew alike. Afternoon tea was served in the lovely Stella Polaris lounge, to the sound of the classical harp and this is where I discovered chocolate-dipped strawberries; I could have been in heaven!

Sunday 26th - Monday 27th April
Flight to Miami, USA & transfer to Fort Lauderdale

As part of our VIP treatment on this holiday, Royal Viking Line provided free car parking and an overnight hotel at Heathrow Airport, in readiness for our flight the next day. But while John & Dad checked-in during the Saturday evening, much to their consternation, Andrew & I had been invited to a dinner party in West London and we didn't arrive at the hotel until well after midnight!

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Our overnight rest-stop at the palatial
Turnberry Isle Yacht & Country Club
A white stretched limousine and a 5-star
Boarding in Fort Lauderdale

Our BA "economy" flight was nothing special and this being our second time in Miami, we had to to endure that intimidating immigration queue again. But we were then met outside by a chauffeur who told us to wait while he fetched the car. Imagine our faces when he returned in a 25 foot-long, black stretched limousine! We were back in "Royal" hands again! We were then taken to another hotel, this time the truly palatial Turnberry Isle Yacht & Country Club, with not one but two 18-hole golf-courses, enormous bedrooms floored in marble and with bathrooms equipped with telephone and TV, as well as a shower enclosure itself almost as big as our bathroom back home!

The following day, after a sumptuous breakfast and a relaxing morning exploring the hotel's vast grounds, we were collected by another chauffeur, this time with a white stretched limousine, and we were at last whisked to Fort Lauderdale to join our ship, the 5 Star-plus Royal Viking Sun, where luxury extras just kept coming!
Show Picture Full Size In fact, 2 weeks ago, our staterooms had been upgraded - and for the first time, Andrew & I had a real window instead of portholes!
(left) E-grade Stateroom 317 (with window!) and (right) The view from the Bridge Wing
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Mark at sea again
Tuesday 28th - Wednesday 29th April
2 Days at Sea
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Clearly popular with wealthy single passengers, the ship was nowhere near full but we weren't complaining! It was spacious, quiet and relaxing; and it felt very exclusive.

The first morning at sea meant Lifeboat Drill as usual; then tours of the Bridge in the afternoon, followed in the evening by the Captain's Welcome Cocktail Party Mark's Photo with the Captain >>
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Dressed to Drill!

Another glorious day at sea prepared us for Dad's first trip to Bermuda, although for the rest of us it would be our 3rd visit and it was great to be coming back. But this was Dad's first cruise since that traumatic time in 1990 when Mum died in Barbados and I was apprehensive that Bermuda might stir unpleasant memories. However, Bermuda isn't Barbados and I need not have worried.

Thursday 30th April
Hamilton, Bermuda
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Royal Viking Sun (by John)
Other cruise ships had booked all the available berths in Bermuda today, so we were obliged to drop anchor in the Great Sound, just outside Hamilton, from where a local tender service was provided. Union regulations meant that the ship was not allowed to use its own tenders, which would have been much better. As it was, we had to make do with an hourly ferry service and as we only had the day here, there was no time to be wasted!

To give Dad the best introduction to Bermuda we decided to take our own trip ashore on one of the small pink and blue buses that criss-cross the island. From Hamilton, we took the No.1 via the South Shore to the town of St George at the northern end of the island, a scenic journey of about an hour. Historic St George dates from 1609 when the first settlers were ship-wrecked here.

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Front Street, Hamilton
& the famous "Birdcage"
Historic St George's Town
St Peter's Church (1620) is the oldest Anglican Church still in use outside Britain. (right) Kings Square
at the Bermuda Aquarium

Travelling back to Hamilton via the North Shore on the No.11 bus this time, we stopped-off at the Bermuda Aquarium where we had tea and enjoyed the Peacocks showing-off.

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Hamilton Harbour NCL's "Westward"
(the ex-"Royal Viking Star")
"Nordic Prince" & "Horizon"
(in 3 years' time, we would arrive here aboard "Horizon")

Hamilton Harbour was busy with cruise ships. We watched NCL's Westward departing for New York; until 1990, she was the Royal Viking Star and one of the original 3 sisters of Royal Viking Line. She was followed by Royal Caribbean's Nordic Prince (1971 23,000 grt), lengthened by 85ft in 1980. And by the time we were back aboard our ship, Celebrity's Horizon (1990 46,811 grt) was also leaving. Little did we know that in 3 years' time, we would be aboard that very ship and arriving in Hamilton again.

But at 6pm it was our turn to weigh anchor and depart for the main part of our Atlantic Crossing.

Friday 1st - Wednesday 6th May
Across the Atlantic - 6 Days at Sea
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Taking a course due east from Bermuda, this Transatlantic Crossing was taken at a rather more leisurely 15-16 knots, compared with the 29 knots of QE2 last year! And with strong winds and a following swell, even the shorter distance to Madeira would take us a rather bouncy 6 days & nights.

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View from the
Bridge Wing
The stunning
Stella Polaris Lounge
The spacious
The Lido & Pool
from Observation Deck
A Choppy Crossing!

One of the ship's most striking features was the stunning Stella Polaris Room on Sky Deck above the Bridge. With 180-degrees of floor-to-ceiling windows, afternoon tea was served here by white-gloved waiters to the sound of the classical harp. Here I discovered chocolate-dipped strawberries!

The ship's sea-handling however, was far from ideal; in certain conditions, she had a tendency to pitch noticeably, with the unfortunate result that the contents of the lap pool could be regularly deposited on the sun-deck below! See photos right >> Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size

Show Menu Cover Full Size Show Menu Cover Full Size However, the weather was not bad enough to spoil the highlight of each day. With customary panache, dinner in the Royal Viking Dining Room (see Photo >>) was fast becoming something of a nightly unlearned lesson in over-indulgence!
Souvenir Menus (left): Italian Dinner Menu >> and French Dinner Menu >>

Entertainment aboard was also pretty good. There was the usual motley assortment of singers & dancers of course, but Royal Viking Line prided itself in obtaining some of the World's best artistes and this voyage was no exception; a brilliant Juggler, an amazing Trumpet Vituoso, a Comedian, a renowned classical Guitarist, the incomparable Tommy Dorsey Orchestra >> and the wonderful Huber Marionettes >> There was also Juli, our heavenly harpist in the Stella Polaris Room and our lecturers even included Sex Therapist & American radio personality, Dr Ruth Westheimer! Show Picture Full Size

Show Programme Cover Full Size Show Programme Cover Full Size Even the Production Shows were given a 5-star touch by providing souvenir programmes and with Royal Viking Line being a Norwegian company, there was the ever-popular, traditional "Norwegian Night" of dancing by some of the crew.
Souvenir Programmes (left): "And That's Dancing" Show >> and Norwegian Folk Dancers >>

Show Invitation Full Size As newcomers to Royal Viking, we were surprised and pleased to be invited on the Wednesday evening to a "Special Cocktail Party", to introduce us to the "Skald Club", the Line's loyalty club. We had our photo taken with the Hotel Director, Costas Berou - such a nice man! Show Picture Full Size

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Thursday 7th May
Funchal, Madeira
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This morning, we had a dawn rendezvous with our ship's brand new baby sister, the small but ultra-luxury ship Royal Viking Queen. She was to have been the third shirp for Seabourn Cruises but they ran out of money!

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The View from Pico dos Barcelos
(left) towards Sao Martinho and (right) towards the interior
beneath the
Jacaranda Trees
Rendezvous in Madeira
Royal Vikings "Sun" & "Queen" together

We'd been here once before in 1990 but, as with Bermuda, this was Dad's first time, so we took the sightseeing tour to picturesque Camara de Lobos >> for some of the spectacular views around Funchal.

Upon our return, we were allowed to go aboard Royal Viking Queen - just to have a look! It was rather like a private yacht but for 200 passengers, it seemed a little claustrophobic for my tastes. Very plush though - lots of marble floors too, which I thought might get very slippery in choppy seas!
(right)Royal Viking Queen sets course from Funchal - photographed from Royal Viking Sun
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Royal Viking Queen - a dubious Legend in the making...
She was one of 3 sisters designed for Seabourn Cruises but they ran out of money after the first two, so she was snapped up by Kloster Cruises as a companion for Royal Viking Sun. However, they were ill-matched and she was transferred to Royal Cruise Line
Speed 2: Cruise Control - The Finale! as "Queen Odyssey" in 1994. Meanwhile, Seabourn Cruises came under the control of the Carnival Corporation in 1996, enabling it to buy the ship it had always meant to have. Renamed "Seabourn Legend" she made her dubious debut in 1997 as the setting for the film "Speed 2: Cruise Control", in which the ship goes out of control, smashing into a tanker and ulimately demolishing the pier! A dreadful film but rather fun!

Saturday 9th May
Malaga, Spain
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Show Picture Full Size Another day at sea and then through the "Pillars of Hercules" in the early hours, to arrive at Malaga, where John & Andrew did a little local sightseeing while Dad & I took the full-day excursion to Granada; rather a long coach journey but worth the effort.
(left) The Romance of Cruising and (right) Dad & Me disembarking in Malaga
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The Alhambra at Granada is an undeniable masterpiece of architectural symmetry and Moorish art but it is also one of the busiest tourist attractions in the World and one of the most difficult in which to take a decent picture without people getting in the way and spoiling the view!

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The Alcazaba (Fortress)
Torre de la Vela
(or Watch-Tower)
The Alhambra Palace
The Lion Court
The Pool Court
in the Generalife Gardens

Occupying a fortified setting on a mountain-side amidst stunning scenery, it is in truth something of a hotch-potch of palaces, courts and gardens begun in about 1238 and added-to over the centuries until, in the 18th century, it fell into neglect and decline. In 1870 though, it was declared a "National Monument" and its restoration was begun - and continues to this day.

It covers such a large area and you really need to spend the entire day here to fully appreciate it but the all-day tour allows just a few hours and only a brief glimpse of some of the highlights.

The beach and sea-front at Malaga
A view of the beach and sea-front at Malaga

As with most organised excursions, it was all a bit rushed and we spent too long over lunch - and frustratingly, we were still back at the ship quite early!

But with Royal Viking Sun not sailing until midnight, what better way to end the day than with an evening stroll along the Promenade after dinner?
(right) "All lit up"; Royal Viking Sun against a backdrop of the City, taken from the end of the mole
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Monday 11th May
Barcelona, Spain
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Another leisurely day at sea brought us to the City of Barcelona, from where we took the excursion 30 miles inland to the Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat ("serrated mountain"), founded in 1025. Largely destroyed by Napoleon in 1811, however, it was then deserted until a new community was formed and began its reconstruction in 1844, culminating in a new Monastery facade in 1968.

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The Benedictine Abbey of Montserrat
at an altitude of 2,393 ft (725m)
The Basilica
dating from 1592
Placa de Santa Maria Funicular
Sant Joan

Popular with walkers and climbers, the "serrated mountain" rises to 4,075 ft but the Monastery itself is at 2,393 ft. The Abbey is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin but Santa Maria de Montserrat is also associated by some with the location of the Holy Grail, of Arthurian Mythology. It is also famed for its 50 boy-choristers and Mass is celebrated daily for the countless pilgrims who flock here.

Set in spectacular scenery, it's a fascinating place, albeit highly commercialised these days. The Funicular Railway rises above the Monastery to where various pilgrimage walks are signposted to the 13 hermitages or shrines dotted about the mountain, including those of St Joan and St Jerome.

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Tuesday 12th & Wednesday 13th May
Villefranche, France
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By lunchtime the following day, we were arriving in the Bay of Villefranche on that magical coast of the Mediterranean known as the Cote-d'Azur.
(left) Royal Viking Sun enters the beautiful Bay of Villefranche on the Cote-d'Azur

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Belgian Star Clipper Line's
Star Clipper (Jan 1992)
Tendering ashore Villefranche
A view from
La Grande Corniche

Just 4 miles (6 km) from Nice, the deepwater anchorage that is the Bay of Villefranche is protected by a 16th century fortress, the Fort du Mont Alban, and the tourist coaches have to negotiate the fortress in order to reach the quay. Taking a general sightseeing excursion, we drove into Nice and along the famous Promenade des Anglais before taking the Grande Corniche back towards Monaco. The views along the coast, and of the Middle and Lower Corniche roads, were quite spectacular.

Death of a Princess 1982
It was on this road, 10 years earlier in 1982, that Princess Grace of Monaco lost control of her car and crashed, falling 100 ft from the road into someone's garden. She died the following day and the initial announcements claimed that her brakes had failed. Later, it was stated that a minor stroke had caused her to lose control, although it has always been rumoured that she was driving the same road on which she drove actor Cary Grant so recklessly in the 1955 film "To Catch a Thief".

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Monte Carlo
Principality of Monaco
Palace Guard
above Monte Carlo!
Monaco Cathedral Jardin Saint-Martin

The tiny Principality of Monaco has been ruled by the House of Grimaldi since 1297 and its independence is still recognised today, although it covers less than 2 sq km and is entirely within the borders of France. Monte Carlo is the main residential district and this is where the famous Monte Carlo Casino is located. Unsurprisingly, Andrew decided he quite liked Monaco, which is probably why the above picture is one my best photographs of him!

Returning to Villefranche, we had the rare opportunity of an overnight anchored in this magical bay.

Show Picture Full Size With a continuous tender service throughout our stay, some passengers (and crew) went ashore in the evening to eat in the restaurants or to visit the cafes and bars that line the Promenade, behind which the old town climbs steeply, with quaint narrow streets >> interspersed with views of the sea >>.

(left) Royal Viking Sun's "landing-craft" tenders come with air-conditioning and on-board toilet!

Next morning, our tour took us to the picturesque medieval village of Eze, perched on a hill-top overlooking 1,400 ft cliffs (427m) to the sea. Inhabited since 2000BC and occupied by the Romans and Moors, it was under the House of Savoy that the present village became a fortified stronghold in the 14th century. Its turbulent history continued until it became part of France in 1860.

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The medieval hilltop village of Eze Jardin Exotique The view from Eze
towards Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

The village is closed to vehicular traffic and part of the challenge is to climb up through its winding stone streets to the Jardin Exotique, a magnificent cactus garden perched on the highest point. You are rewarded with a fabulous view down to Cap-Ferrat and the Bay of Villefranche beyond.

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat boasts many palatial villas, none more so than the Ile de France Museum, a "Belle Epoque"-style villa built for Baroness Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild 1905-1912.

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The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
(Ile de France Museum)>
Jardin a la francaise
The Cascade & the "Temple of Love"
View of Royal Viking Sun
(Photo by John)

Bequeathed to the Nation in 1934, the house contains a priceless collection of fine tapestries, old master paintings, rare porcelain and Louis XV & Louis XVI furniture. The Villa is set in 17 acres of landscaped gardens designed by Achille Duchene, conceived in the form of a ship, to be viewed from the loggia of the house, which was like the bridge of a vessel, with the sea visible on all sides.

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Inspired by voyages the Baroness made on the liner "Īle de France", the villa was given that name. Her "crew" of 30 gardeners were all dressed as sailors, with berets & red pom-poms! (Unfortunately, they were no longer in evidence!)

An hour simply doesn't do this place justice and you could easily spend an entire afternoon here but as always, we were on a tight schedule!
(left) In the garden: John above & Andrew below
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Back at the ship, there was all the packing to do, as this was our last evening aboard and our suitcases were expected outside our cabins by 9.30pm! Hard to believe that we had spent nearly 3 weeks aboard the most exclusive and highest-rated ship in the world and now it was all over. Raising the anchor at 5pm, we had another 220 nautical miles to go - at full speed!

Thursday 14th May
Civitavecchia, Italy
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They proudly tell you that this is the main port for Rome and as we were flying home from Rome, I naively thought we might get to see something of the city. However, what they don't tell you is that Rome is actually 50 miles away (80 km) and Leonardo da Vinci Airport is well outside the city! So Rome would have to wait until another day!

See Detailed Mileage Log for this cruise >>

Cruise Mileage: 5,001 nautical miles
Total Mileage to date: 36,653 n miles

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