Sunday 5th April 2020

All the photographs have now been uploaded. Enjoy!

Leaving the hotel at 07:30 a.m. was remarkable because instead of an aeroplane landing every minute there was silence. One could hear the birds and the wind adjacent to the runway!

Terminal 5 was quiet which enabled us to get away on time on a brand new A320-220 series aeroplane. One could almost smell the showroom finish! It was a little breezy on approach to Manchester and the motorways were empty but the closer we got to the ground the choppier it became and the captain slammed it down and burnt a lot of rubber. Was this his plan to make it look as if his aeroplane had been to lots of places.

There were taxis but the airport was deserted and we had to walk from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1 to access any facilities. Since arriving home we have been warmed and pleased by the concern, care and attention and interest in following our adventure both at home and abroad.

We travelled a round trip of 20,415 miles with nearly 10,000 of them in isolation!!

Saturday 4th April 2020

We boarded one of 10 coaches just after 10:30 p.m. last night. Each coach was only half full. It appeared that every one of Fort Lauderdale’s Harley Davidson police motorcycles were in use, stopping traffic and running alongside our convoy to the airport to the foot of the aircraft’s steps.

We eventually got away on our Boeing 777-300 ER of 1990s vintage, complete with small overhead bins which were rectangular and clunky as well as the large central screens for movies. Nothing in the seat backs. A delayed departure meant that most of the flight was in daylight. Landing at Heathrow after 4:00 p.m. was amazing as from the Thames Barrier, passed Canary Wharf, the London Eye, Kensington and into West London the streets were silent and the capital was like a ghost town. Terminal 2 was similarly quiet but the taxi got us to the hotel for an overnight stay.

Friday 3rd April 2020

It has been another quiet day so much so that as we write after dinner at 6:30 p.m. it is silent on the ship. When the dinner tray arrived a peep along the corridor showed around 20 trays. At breakfast there were over 100. During the day, as silently as the virus arrived, passengers have left. One is informed in writing that you will receive the knock on the door at a certain time. That is when you go!

Apparently the flights are chartered, are parked on a remote part of the airport and planes are shuttling back and forth to various locations. The coaches that take us to the airport take us straight to the plane. We do not go into the terminal. We prepare to go to our plane around 10:30 p.m. and should be in London tomorrow afternoon.

 

Thursday 2nd April 2020

We awoke, moored in international waters, off Florida where we waited for most of the day.

The big shots said we were good to go, but it wasn’t until 5:00 p.m. that we made it into Port Everglades. We were photographing the action through the window and on TV.

People living in the apartments alongside the dock entrance were waving flags, large colourful hands and whatever else they could use, as we passed. More locals were outside on the grassland, waving and as we manoeuvred to the dockside the workers waiting were clapping and waving. Helicopters were flying round filming for the news channels. It was surreal, something we have only seen happen to others.

By 8:30 p.m. all the luggage was sanitised and drying in the tropical air. We were called for our health check and given our authority to disembark. We could stretch our legs walking through immigration. Now we await tomorrow’s call to go to Fort Lauderdale Airport.

Wednesday 1st April 2020

At daybreak we were alongside the Zaandam, off Cuba. We had stopped to transfer oxygen and a nurse. Before breakfast were on our way again.

Little happened during the morning other than President Trump may be applying pressure on Florida, but no news yet.

After lunch was interesting. We sighted the island of Cuba, a ship and rain to our northeast.

In his daily news conference the President said something had to be done about the ships and the Canadians and British were sending teams out and Florida would handle the Americans. It is all in the logistics and protocols and the Captain does not expect anyone leaving until Friday.

Tuesday 31st March 2020

This has been another day at sea. We are heading north across the Caribbean to the gap between the Cancun Peninsula (Mexico) and Cuba.

If this was our regular cruise around now we would have been calling in at a piece of the Netherlands off the coast of Venezuela, namely the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. The natural landscape is stark and very dry and is heavily wind eroded. In contrast the human landscape is very colourful with Dutch built gabled buildings along their waterfronts.

The Spanish discovered the islands in 1499 and according to the records they couldn’t make things work for them. The oranges they thought were too bitter and there was no gold. The Dutch West India Company seized the islands in the 17th century and never looked back. The oranges are still used to make the world famous liqueur.

Around 9 o’clock the Captain announced that we were going to Fort Lauderdale, arriving Thursday but that getting off may be another day. This was followed by glasses of sparkling wine outside each cabin and the Captain proposing a toast on the TV but he didn’t have any.