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Cruises

Valerie and Michael are both cruise ship lecturers accredited with Peel Talent  (See: www.peeltalent.com). 


Cruises in 2018:
19th November - 30th November 2018(12 nights) - Cunard Queen Victoria V835
Southampton - Madeira - St. Maarten
 - Antigua
Confirmed

Completed Cruises (Total 19):

Valerie and Michael have successfully completed the following assignments and have been very well received by the Cruise Directors and passengers:

21st February - 7th March 2011 (14 days) - Marco Polo - Northern Lights 
Tilbury - Amsterdam - Molde - Svartisen Glacier - Narvik - Tromso - Tilbury




  • 1 lecture from Valerie delivered as passenger
  • Captain - Valentyn Zhukov
  • Cruise Director - Richard Sykes
  • Guest Lecturer  - Jane Ann Davey - Norwegian Specialist
  • Guest Lecturer - Gloria Barnett - Oceanography
  • Visits to Svolvaer, Alesund and Bergen cancelled due to bad weather
We did manage to get a good display of the Northern Lights from the deck of the ship in Alta. We didn't go on any tour there. But, alas, this cruise was blighted by bad weather on the way back. In fact we had to shelter overnight in a Fjord near Tromso since the pilot wouldn't let us out to sea. The Cruise Director, Richard Sykes, turned out to be the star of this cruise however. He asked Valerie if she would be willing to give a passenger lecture on the way back. This was encouraged by Jane Ann Davey who was a brilliant and amusing lecturer.  Valerie delivered her talk in a very rough Force 10. Richard Sykes wanted her to sit in a chair whilst she spoke. However the chair was sliding backwards and forwards across the stage, as was the table with her laptop on it! There weren't many people in the audience and the ones who did turn up looked a bit green!

23rd - 28th June 2011 (6 days) - Saga Pearl II 

Dover- Stavanger - Jondal - Orsta - Alesund - Bergen - Dover



  • 3 lectures from Valerie as guest lecturer
  • Captain - Alistair McLundie
  • Cruise Director - John Parton
  • Guest Comedian - Gerry Graham
10th- 21st October 2011 (11 days) - P&O Arcadia - Eastern Mediterranean
Southampton - Malaga - Alexandria - Port Said- Kusadasi - Nauplion


  • 5 lectures from Valerie
  • 1 lecture from Michael
  • 2 "Stargazing Live" on deck
  • Captain - Ian Walters
  • Cruise Director - Tracy Clegg
  • Deputy Cruise Director - Nikki
  • Assistant Cruise Director - Martin
  • Celebrity Entertainer - Bonny Langford
  • Criminology Lecturer - Martin Carlin
  • Flown back to Heathrow from Athens
5th - 23rd November 2011 (18 days) - Saga Pearl II - Ancient Mediterranean Wonders
Southampton - Melilla - Tunis - Sousse - Valletta - Trapani - Algiers - Cartagena - Ceuta - Casablanca - Lisbon - Southampton


  • 6 lectures from Valerie
  • 2 "Stargazing Live"" on deck
  • Captain - Wesley Dunlop
  • Cruise Director - John Parton
  • Guest Comedian - Gerry Graham
  • Gentleman Host - Martin Lee
24th September - 9th October 2012 (16 days) - Saga Ruby - Canary Islands Discovery
Southampton - Madeira - La Palma - Teneriffe - La Gomera - Lanzarote - Agadir - Casablanca - Lisbon - Southampton

    • 6 lectures from Valerie
    • 2 "Stargazing Live" on deck
    • Captain - Stephen Angove
    • Cruise Director - Jo Boase
    • Guest Lecturer -  Steve Brookes - Gardening
    • Guest Lecturer - David Saunders - Naturalist
    • Guest Lecturer -  Arthur Cotterell - History
    • Vocalist - Jayne Curry
    • Classical Music - Trio Villette
    • Cocktail Pianist - David Taylor
    • Dance Music - The Kodex Trio and Saga Ruby Orchestra
    • Banjo Entertainer - Steve Galler
    • Comedian - Peter Anthony
    • Magician: Matt McGurk
    • Gentleman Host - Michael Locke
28th February - 14th March 2013 (14 days) - Marco Polo - Northern Lights 
Tilbury - Amsterdam - Alesund - Svartisen Glacier - Narvik - Alta - Tromso - Sortland - Andalsnes - Bergen - Tilbury


 
  • 7 lectures from Valerie
  • Captain - Valentyn Zhukov
  • Cruise Director - Kait Davies
  • Guest Lecturer - Keith Hadley - Forensic Science
  • Guest Comedian - Syd Little

Shortly after leaving Sortland harbour, with the pilot on board, the Marco Polo hit an unknown and uncharted object. It was holed and returned to Sortland. The damage to the hull was repaired by divers overnight and, late the following day, the ship was given permission to put to sea. However the company decided that the ship should put into a port with a dry dock so that a thorough examination and repair of the hull could be effected. The ship did not call at Andalsnes or Bergen and proceeded to Antwerp. The 800 passengers aboard were repatriated to the UK by coach through the Channel Tunnel.

28th March - 10th April 2013 (14 days) - Saga Sapphire - Springtime in the Canaries 
Southampton- Funchal, Madeira - Santa Cruz, Tenerife - Las Palmas, Gran Canaria - Arrecife, Lanzarote - Agadir, Morocco - Lisbon, Portugal  - Southampton



  • 5 lectures from Valerie
  • 1 from Michael
  • Captain - Philip Rentell
  • Cruise Director - John Parton
  • Guest Lecturer - Michael Forrest - Military History
  • Guest Lecturer - Anne Graydon - fashion
  • Destinations Lecturer - Keith Pritchard
  • Classic Music - The Flanagan Trio
  • Virtuoso Violinist - Peter Fisher
  • Guest Singer - Mike Sterling
  • Guest singer - Laura Magann
  • Cocktail Pianist - Martin Orbidans
Very bad weather was experienced on this trip. We had a rough crossing of the Bay of Biscay. The Captain said it was the worst he had ever experienced. Many people were seasick. We found the sun in Madeira. The weather was mixed in Tenerife and Gran Canaria. It was very cold for the time of year. The wind was so strong in Lanzarote that the Captain could not get off the berth in Arrecife even with the help of the bow thrusters and a tug. As a result, we stayed overnight and missed out our planned call on Agadir. Valerie had to do extra lectures as a result but she persuaded John Parton to let Michael do one. The Bay was rough on the way back but it was from behind  so the ship didn't move as much as it did on the way out. But it was not a successful cruise for many people. We felt sorry for those who were first time cruisers.

5th November - 17th November 2013 (12 days) - Queen Victoria - Canary Islands Idyll
Southampton - Madeira - La Palma - Tenerife - Lanzarote - Lisbon - Southampton


          • 5 lectures from Valerie
          • Valerie's first Breakfast Television appearance!
          • Captain - Inge Klein Thorhauge
          • Entertainment Director - Joanna Haley
          • Guest Lecturer - Captain Les Evans
          • Guest Entertainer - Peter Corry
          • Guest Entertainer - Jon Courtenay
          • Classical Pianist - David McArthur

2nd November - 16th December 2013 (24 days) - Saga Pearl II Inaugural Cruise  - Adriatic Homecoming
Southampton - Lisbon, Cartagena, Palma, Valletta, Split, Venice, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Trapani, Barcelona, Gibraltar, Vigo, Southampton


  • 5 lectures from Valerie
  • 2 from Michael
  • Stargazing Live on deck (two sessions)
  • Captain - Kees Spekman
  • Cruise Director - John Parton
  • Assistant Cruise Director - Angela Cherry - Matthew (later)
  • Guest Lecturer - Peter Sissons - Broadcaster
  • Guest Lecturer - Wing Commander Bill Simpson - Military Historian
  • Destinations Lecturer - Keith Pritchard
  • Classic Music - The London Sessions Players - Daniel Burrowes, George Hlawiczka 
- Liam Brolly, Xandriha C T Edwins
  • Virtuoso Guitarist - Dimitris Dekavallas
  • Guest Singer - Hayley Westenra
  • Guest Entertainers - Piano a Deux - Steve Galler
  • Cocktail Pianist - Anthony Williams
This turned out to be a magical cruise to the Adriatic. We had some rough weather on the way out (including a Force 11 gusting 12 on the beam round the heel of Italy)! But once we reached the Adriatic we had perfect sailing conditions and sun all the way back until we reached the Bay of Biscay. Highlights were our visit to Venice (we hadn't been there for over 30 years) and Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia turned out to be incredibly beautiful (we had never been to Croatia before). But the highlight of the trip was an unexpected detour to Stromboli which we circled at sunset whilst it was erupting! We made some memorable friendships on this trip too.

2nd February - 24th February 2014 (23 days) - Saga Pearl II - Cape Town to Southampton
Cape Town, Saint Helena, Ascension Island, Freetown Sierra Leone, Santa Cruz Tenerife, Casablanca Morocco, Cadiz Spain, Lisbon Portugal, Southampton



  • 5 lectures from Valerie
  • 1 from Michael
  • Stargazing Live on deck (one sessions)
  • Captain - Wesley Dunlop
  • Cruise Director - Matthew Shaw to Gran Canaria then Kayleigh McMahon
  • Assistant Cruise Director - Angela Cherry 
  • Guest Lecturer - Brigadier Hugh Willing (Military Historian), Andrew Schofield (African wildlife expert and filmaker), Michael Fopp (Aviation), David Pollard (Maritime Historian), Mei Trow (Author and Hollywood film expert)
  • Destinations Lecturer - Cassie Edmondson
  • Watercolour Tutor - Jack Grey
  • Classic Music - Excolo Quartet - Davina Yui Shum, Jennifer Coombes, Matthew Karr, Tzu-Fan tang
  • Virtuoso Guitarist - Dimitris Dekavallas
  • Guest Singers - Anthony Stuart Lloyd, Philippa Healey
  • Guest Entertainers - David Copperfield, Tom O'Connor, Stars on Strings
  • Concert Pianist - Adam Johnson
  • Cocktail Pianist - David Read
There was some wild weather about on this trip particularly back in the UK. We managed to avoid most of it. Sadly we were unable to land at Ascension Island because the swell was too great for the tender operation. Our visit to St. Helena was the highlight of the trip for us. We were forced to hole up in Gran Canaria for an extra day and night so we had to miss out Madeira. Again memorable friendships were made on this cruise with the other lecturers and many of the entertainers. Particularly outstanding was an evening concert out on deck in the middle of the Southern Ocean given by Anthony Stuart Lloyd (bass/baritone singer)!

31st January - 28th February 2015 (28 nights) - Golden Princess 


Buenos Aires - Montevideo, Uruguay - Puerto Madryn, Argentina - Falkland Islands (Stanley) - Cape Horn - Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego - Punta Arenas, Chile - Amalia Glacier, Chile - Puerto Montt, Chile - Santiago (Valparaiso), Chile - Puerto Montt, Chile - Amalia Glacier, Chile  - Punta Arenas, Chile - Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego - Cape Horn - Falkland Islands (Stanley) - Puerto Madryn, Argentina - Montevideo, Uruguay  - Buenos Aires
          • 5 lectures from Valerie
          • 2 from Michael
          • Captain - Nicolo Bommarco
          • Cruise Director - Marahscalh Stanton
          • Port Lecturer - Julio Delgado
          • Guest Comedian - David Copperfield
          • Ship's Doctor - Don Van Wyk
The weather on this trip was mostly calm although it was much colder than many people expected. The Pacific proved to be rougher than the Atlantic. We did have warm, sunny days during the more northerly parts of the trip. There were 2,800 passengers on board - a mix of English speaking North Americans and Spanish South Americans. Several hundred attended our talks and they went down very well. The highlights of the trip for us were the two visits to the Falkland Islands, the two visits to Ushuaia (the most southerly town in Tierra del Fuego) and the two occasions we rounded Cape Horn! The down side of the cruise was that Valerie had an outbreak of shingles but was very well treated by Dr. Don Van Wyk. It was a pleasure to meet Marahscalh who proved to be helpful, friendly and sympathetic Cruise Director.

 March 11th - 23rd  2015 (12 nights) - Saga Sapphire - "Nordic Eclipse"
Southampton - Bergen- Geiranger - Andalsnes - Lerwick - Torshavn -Kirkwall - Dover


          • 5 lectures from Valerie
          • 2 Star gazing sessions on deck
          • 1 Sun gazing session with a solar telescope
          • 12 Astronomical facts for the daily newsletter
          • Captain - Philip Rentell
          • Cruise Director - Kayleigh McMahon
          • Port Lecturer - Peter Hipkin
          • Aviation Lecturer - Captain Tim Orchard Concorde Pilot
          • Chaplain -  Rev. Dr. Ken Newell assisted by his wife Val
          • Entertainers - "Stars on Strings" John Chisholm & Josef Probst
          • Cocktail Pianist - Martin Orbidans
          • Singer - The tenor Lee Bradley
          • Gentleman Host - Martin Lee
The weather on this trip was mostly sunny and the sea mostly calm. This was amazing for March. The two great highlights of the trip for us were the cruise down Geiranger fjord which was spectacular and, of course, the eclipse. We stayed overnight in Geiranger fjord tied up to buoys and we enjoyed a superb concert on deck given by  the tenor, Lee Bradley, surrounded by glorious scenery. For the eclipse we stayed overnight in Torshavn in the Faroe Island and left very early the next morning. The Captain opted to go South whereas most of the other ships went North to the point of greatest eclipse. We were followed by the Oriana. Our captain tried to drive his 37,000 ton ship like a Ferrari pursuing a patch of blue sky. He succeeded in getting underneath this and we saw the eclipse in its entirety. There was a carnival atmosphere on board ship after that.

8th August - 21st August 2015 (13 nights) - Fred Olsen Balmoral - "Meteor Showers and Sunbathing"
Southampton - Lisbon - Tenerife - Gran Canaria - La Gomera - Madeira - Southampton



  • 5 lectures from Valerie
  • Captain - Victor Stoica
  • Cruise Director - Jennifer Daulby
  • Port Lecturer - Tours Manager Miles Gardner
  • Entertainers - Tom Suha Violinist, Andrew and Maggie Zolinsky Classical Pianists
  • Cocktail Pianist - Francis Canning
  • Singer - Martyn Dominique
  • Gentleman Host - Gilbert Owen and Harold Walker
The weather on this trip was mostly sunny and the sea mostly calm. Sadly however we did have a lot of cloud and not many clear nights for star gazing. Also we couldn't put out the deck lights so we could only just make out a very vague Summer Triangle from deck 11. Two star gazing/Perseid spotting tours up Mount Teide in Tenerife had been planned and for many people this was expected to be the highlight of the cruise. Sadly both were cancelled because of rainy weather and a sand storm from the Sahara. People were very disappointed. However Valerie's talks went down very well. With over 1300 people on board the Neptune Lounge was packed out and she received a lot of very positive feedback.

16th November - 30th November 2015 (14 nights) - Cunard Queen Victoria Cruise V527N - "The Canary islands and Madeira"
Southampton - Lisbon - Lanzarote - Gran Canaria - Tenerife - La Palma - Madeira - La Coruna - Southampton


  • 4 lectures from Valerie
  • 1 TV interview
  • Captain - Commodore Christopher Rynd
  • Entertainment Director - Sally Sagoe
  • Celebrity Lecturer - Dr. George McGavin - Zoologist/Entymologist
  • Lecturer: Paul Stickler - Criminologist
  • Entertainers - Jon Courtenay Comedian/Pianist, Jacinta Whyte - Singer
  • Entertainers -Tenors Unlimited the Rat Pack of Opera, Suzanne Godfrey - Flautist
  • Harpist - Lara Szabo
  • Cocktail Pianist - Nick Messina
  • Classical Concert Pianist - Tom Yarwood
The weather on this trip was mostly cloudy with some wind and rain. The Bay of Biscay was rough in both directions but Queen Victoria sails very well. We had a force 9 from the SW on the way back through the Bay and the ship moved only slightly. Valerie chose to sit on a chair to give her 'Big Bang' lecture. There were almost no clear nights for stargazing and, with 2,600 passengers on board it was not feasible to hold stargazing sessions on deck. Valerie's lectures were well attended and went down well. She also had a breakfast television interview with Sally Sagoe. The other two lecturers were excellent.

24th Feb - 10 March 2016 (15 nights) - Cunard Queen Elizabeth Q603

Brisbane - Cairns - Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) - Cebu(changed to Puerto Princesa) - Manila - Hong Kong



  • 7 lectures from Valerie
  • 1 TV interview
  • Captain - Alistair Clark
  • Entertainment Director - Amanda Reid
  • Lecturer - Dr. John McMichan- Health
  • Lecturer: Aldon Ferguson - WWII history
  • Entertainers - Duo Diez: Dimitris Dekavallas (Guitar) and Violeta Barrena (Violin)
  • Entertainers -Tiffany String Quartet
  • Juggler - John Nations
  • Ventriloquist Comedian - Dean Atkinson
  • Cocktail Pianist - Ferry Bedy
The sea was very calm and the weather warm and sunny for the entire voyage between Brisbane and Hong Kong. It was very relaxing even though Valerie had to give 7 lectures in the 10 sea days we were on board. IShealso had a breakfast television interview with the Entertainment Director Amanda Reid who was delightful to talk to. After a few days we were pleasantly surprised to discover that our dear friend Dimitris Dekavallas was on board. He is a superb classical guitarist from Greece and we have sailed with him twice before. He now plays in a duo with Violeta Barrena an excellent violinist. They are definitely world class. This voyage cemented our friendship with both Dimitris and Violeta even to the extent that they have offered to play at our Golden Wedding celebrations this Summer. That will be a real highlight. There weren't many ports of call in this sector of the World Voyage. We were unable to go to Cebu because of some political unrest there so we diverted to Puerto Princesa instead. This was a delightful place to visit and we were able to enjoy the warmth of the Philippinos once again. We had time to hold a successful stargazing session on deck when we were in the equatorial regions. We were able to see both Polaris, the Plough and the Southern Cross in the sky at the same time. This is only possible near the equator. Jupiter was also in the sky so everyone enjoyed the evening. There was a total eclipse of the Sun in Indonesia on March 9th. Sadly we were not in the totality zone at the time but we did manage to see a partial eclipse. We took some images which I was able to include in my last talk.

14th - 22nd May 2016 (8 nights) - Cunard Queen Elizabeth Q606
Southampton - Cadiz - Messina Strait - Corfu - Dubrovnik



  • 4 lectures from Valerie
  • 1 TV interview
  • Captain - Aseem A. Hashmi
  • Deputy Captain - Russell Robson
  • Entertainment Director - Neil Kelly
  • Assistant Entertainment Director - Cat
  • Guest Lecturer - Derek Tedder - Broadcaster
  • Classic Music - Cambiare Duo - Rachel Steadman and Jessica Cox
  • Guest Entertainers - Changez
This was a short but rather tiring cruise for us since Valerie had broken her arm just before we left and was in plaster. She concentrated on delivering four lectures and doing one morning television interview with the Entertainment Director Neil Kelly. The rest of the time we rested as much as we could. The sea was very calm most of the way but sadly the weather was cloudy and rainy. We briefly met the other lecturer, Derek Tedder and the classical musicians, Rachel and Jessica who were great fun. We left the ship in Dubrovnik and it went on to Venice and then back to Southampton. Suddenly the weather became warm and sunny and we had a lovely 10 day holiday in Croatia. We stayed at the Radisson Blu resort up the coast from Dubrovnik. This turned out to be a lovely place to stay with views over the Adriatic and three swimming pools to enjoy. The food in Croatia is very good, the people very friendly and we discovered some excellent wines which are winning Gold Medals in International Competitions. It was lovely to be in Dubrovnik again. We also did a tour to the Island of Korcula which is stunningly beautiful and allegedly where Marco Polo was born. We visited Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina as well. This is famous for its old town and bridge and is very beautiful. It as so sad to see the effects of the war there with many buildings still to be rebuilt and masses of gravestones in the cemeteries. The politics there is also sad with Muslims living on one side of the river and Christians on the other side. We do hope the town prospers and survives in peace.

15th November - 27th November 2016 (12 nights) - Cunard Queen Victoria V619 - Big Band Ball Cruise
Southampton- La Coruna Spain- Antigua - St. Lucia - Barbados

  • 5 lectures from Valerie
  • 1 star party on deck
  • 1 TV interview
  • Captain - Peter Philpott
  • Deputy Captain - Chetan Sawyer
  • Safety Officer - Andrew Walker
  • Entertainment Director - Sally Sagoe
  • Assistant Entertainment Director - Cordelia Carmichael
  • Guest Lecturer - Malcolm Nelson - Customs
  • Guest Lecturer - Roy Hunt - Music
  • Celebrity Lecturer - Paul Fletcher MBE - Footballer
We left Southampton in cold, wet miserable weather and arrived in La Coruna in similar weather! Then it was non stop across the Atlantic until we reached Antigua. All of the lecturers turned out to be excellent. Malcolm Nelson lectured on "Customs and Excise"  which might seem a dull subject but he turned out to be hilarious. Roy Hunt gave a series of interesting talks on musicians including Sinatra, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, George Formby and Oscar Hammerstein. Roy played the banjo as well and got us all singing along. Roy also very generously treated all the lecturers and their partners to lunch at the end of the cruise. Many thanks Roy. The highlight of the cruise for me was getting to know Andrew Walker and hosting a star party on deck with him. He was the chief officer, safety officer and navigator and was very interested in Astronomy. He showed Michael and I around the bridge which was fascinating. At the star party a presentation was given by an officer who described how stars were used for navigation then they handed over to me. I showed them around Orion with my laser, pointed out Mars and the Pleiades and told the legend of Orion the hunter. There was a big turnout for this and everyone enjoyed it. We did a tour of Antigua and St. Lucia before disembarking the ship in Barbados.

22nd February - 6th March 2017 (12 nights) - P&O Oriana - Norway and Northern Lights X702
Southampton- Andalsnes - Romsdalsfjord - Tromso - Alta - Stavanger - Southampton


  • 7 lectures from Valerie
  • Captain - David Box
  • Guest Speaker - John Mercer
  • Entertainment Director - Elaine Coles
  • Classical Guitarist - Michael Christian Durrant
We left Southampton at 16:30 on Wednesday February 22nd in dull but calm weather. We were disappointed to find that our cabin was 4138 in the crew quarters next to the medical centre. We had been given the impression we would get a passenger cabin so we were not too pleased. There were not many ports of call on this cruise so Valerie found she had quite a heavy lecturing load - 7 talks in 12 days. This gave us little time to relax and enjoy ourselves. We were very pleased to discover there was a classical guitarist on board and we attended all of his concerts. By the end of the cruise we had become firm friends with Michael and his sister who was travelling with him. Saturday was our first port of call - Andalsnes where it was cold and snowing. Then we set off at high speed to Tromso where we arrived on Monday. We set off the next day for Alta and spent our first night there. So far no aurorae had been sighted. On Wednesday March 1st however we had an excellent display over Alta from the boat and for the first time we got some really good photos. Some of the passengers who went on tours were lucky and saw the aurorae but others weren't. We left Alta on Thursday and set off at high speed for Stavanger. We had rough weather on the way, sometimes touching force 11, but Oriana proved to be very stable. Valerie's lectures were very well attended and the audience proved to be very receptive. We formed a number of friendships. Everyone was amused when in the daily news it was announced that Valerie was to give a talk on Sammy Davis Junior! Obviously a cutting and pasting error although Valerie was tempted to borrow Michael Durrant's guitar and give a few songs! We arrived in Stavanger on Saturday March 4th and went a walk around the town. We docked in Southampton at 06:30 and we were home at 11:15 feeling very tired but satisfied that the cruise had gone well and was very much enjoyed by most of the passengers.

18th M
a
rch - 1st April 2017 (14 nights) - Fred Olsen Braemar - Norway Winter M1706

Dover- Cruising Karmsund- Haugesund - Cross Arctic Circle - Bodo - Tromso - Alta - Narvik - Cruising Seven Sisters Mountain Range - Torghatten - Rorvik -Andalsnes More og Romsdal - Bergen - Stavanger - Dover


  • 3 lectures from Valerie
  • Captain - Jozo Glavic
  • Guest Speaker - Jane Ann Davey
  • Port Speaker - Tony Pont
  • Cruise Director - Michelle Jeffries
  • Classical Singers - Emily Bradley & Lindsay Aldrich
We travelled to Dover by train and the journey went very smoothly. We were checking in by midday. Boarding of the ship was not due to start until 2pm so we had lunch in the terminal. We were concerned that our cabin was 2123 but at least it was a passenger cabin. It turned out to be quite well furbished with 2 portholes. Being so low down however meant it was near the engine and noisy. There were a lot of ports calls on this cruise so Valerie had quite a light lecturing load - 3 talks in 14 days. We were delighted to discover that one of the other lecturers was Jane Ann Davey. We had sailed with her once before on the Marco Polo in 2011 but hadn't seen her since. Our first port of call was Haugesund where it was overcast and windy. Unfortunately this weather continued for most of the cruise. On Tuesday March 21st we set off to sail for Bodo and the Captain announced the appearance of the Northern Lights that evening. Unfortunately this turned out to be the only time we saw them.

There was high drama the following morning in Bodo. A strong wind had blown up unexpectedly overnight. The Captain tried to back out of the berth and turn the ship around. However the wind caught him on the starboard beam. He dropped the anchor but it didn't hold. He was being blown onto another berth which had been occupied by the Hurtigruten the day before. He finally hit the berth with a bang. Fortunately there was no serious damage done to the ship and no-one was injured. But we had to stay overnight in Bodo. Sadly this meant we had to miss out Tromso.

We set off the next day for Alta and spent our first night there. I was pleased to discover that there was a geomagnetic storm on the Sun with a Kp index of 5. I expected a good showing of the Northern Lights but unfortunately cloud cover spoiled it all. We stayed on the ship but none of the tours saw the lights either.

The following day was very sunny and if  we had stayed we thought we would see the aurora. Unfortunately we left at 2 pm and the cloud cover came in again. We did have a lovely sail down the Alta fjord however and many of us sat on deck in the sun despite the cold. The port calls into Andalsnes, Bergen and Stavanger were all in dreary weather. So I took the opportunity to get on with my book!

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