Seabourn Encore Med season 2017

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High pressure over the Western Med. Loving it!

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Sunrise on a day at sea.

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Kotor Fjord on a summers day from the Alpine Pass.

My flights home landed in my email inbox today. I am a month away from returning to Aotearoa, New Zealand. Good Lord! Where has the time gone.

Debbie and I continue to waft around the Mediterranean Sea enjoying the warmth and tranquility of the place. Other than a windy night in the Gulf of Lions the weather has been very favourable.

We are well and truly into the summer season now. The ship sails continues her role of taking our guests in a modicum of comfort to the French and Italian Rivieras Debbie has been doing a sterling job of assisting the tours department by volunteering to be an escort which has helped both the department and herself gain many new friends. At the end of each tour she writes a summary of the days events often reaching a couple of pages of notes. I take great delight in listening to her stories of encounters with the locals and our guests.

A special moment for me was the meeting of two sisters in Barcelona port. I have commanded both ships and to see them nose to nose was quite special. These photos were taken by Philipp our Hotel Director.

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Moving astern to our berth whilst Seabourn Odyssey looks on.

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Both ships in the morning sun.

Today we have a day at sea. The outside decks are full of sunbathers, trivia is in full swing up in the observation lounge and we are heading to the marine reserve to the North west of Corsica to see if we can view the scenery ashore and watch for dolphins. This particular cruise is a 10 day one starting in Barcelona culminating in Civitavecchia on the 26th July. It brings back some fond memories for my wife and I because when our two boys were very young we came to both Mallorca and Minorca on holiday and visited the places we are going to on this cruise. Little did I know then I would ever come back on a Seabourn ship. At the time I was driving a ferry for a living.

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The Cuitadella after which the city takes its name in Menorca. A beautiful protected harbour.

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Debbie the Tour Escort on duty. Bag of water, pencil and notebook and supplies for the guests at the ready.

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Crepes from a caravan. Only in Spain.

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Docked on a sunny day.


Italy, the Adriatic and Greece.

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The famous ‘let me hold the tower up” photo.

If there is one tower in the world that really needs no introduction its the one above. It surely must be the most photographed by persons standing in a certain pose which of course when viewed from the one viewpoint that makes sense of the pose gives meaning to their picture. After all we have all done the same have we not?

After spending 6 years on Seabourn Odyssey plying the waters of Venice to Athens to Istanbul I am rediscovering classical Italys west coast. I must confess to loving it. The Italian Riviera ports of Porto Venere near La Spezia, to Sorrento, to Amalfi and indeed the East coast of Sicily dominated by the lofty heights of volcanic Mount Etna are ports well worth a visit. The big ships can’t reach most of them. We can and do.

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A watercolour artist sells his work.

I love pictures of the locals going about their lives. I can imagine that this scene will have been repeated over many years and invoke great memories.

The Dalmatian Coast of Croatia is another part of the world I really enjoy. Dubrovnik has always been a particular favourite. It is a city that has suffered in the past through wars although you could not tell now. Made famous by the Game of Throne programmes it can get really busy. But first thing in the morning and in the evening it quietens down when most of the big ships leave and we are left alone.

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Dubrovnik city walls seen from our anchorage.

Debbie gets out and about most of the time helping our Destinations Manager as a tour escort. I reckon she has seen more of Europe in the last few weeks than I have in all the years I have been coming here.

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The iconic house of Tullio in Italy.

As I write we are sitting at anchor off Gythion. The thermometer outside is touching 40C. That is not a typo. I am hiding inside out of the sun. Sunday is meant to reach 47 as a heat blast moves into Greece. We will he’d to Piraeus and then back to Civitavecchia where we will continue our West Med routes. I will say farewell to our Staff Captain Stefan as he goes home on leave and Daniel returns. We have taken to having a cup of coffee in the Seabourn Square around 10:30 each morning. Guests come and say hello and we chew over the fat of the day.

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Senior management team at work.

So I will leave you with a few photos giving you a taste of where we have been recently.

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Sibenik National Park.

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Leonidis, Spartan warrior.

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The Olympic flame crucible at Olympia. Still used to this day to light the torch carried around the world.

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Mosaic floor at Ancient Nicopolis.

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The Acropolis in Athens.


Sitting in Ajaccio, Corsica

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The view from my office. Ajaccio marina.

It is a perfect day here in Ajaccio which lies on the west coast of the island of Corsica. I have learnt not to call locals French. They are Corsican! I was reminded of that fact.

I am enjoying this itinerary that we are currently doing. Our turn around ports of Civitavecchia in Italy and Barcelona in Spain mean that we can reach the French Riviera ports, Corsica, Livorno and others more easily within a week. The added bonus of fine weather since I joined really is the icing on the cake. Except last night maybe when we had a period of fog.

Debbie has been assisting the tour manager escorting guests on tour and really enjoying that experience too.

In the port of Palamos in Spain we were joined by the Seabourn Odyssey. It was a great day where both guests and crew from both ships mingled and talked together. It is rare we ever get a chance to do this.

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A meeting of sisters in Palamos, Spain.

It is still early in the summer season on the Riviera and the ports are still quiet and tranquil. They are gearing up for the summer season but now its restful. The yachts and other pleasure craft are beginning to circulate, leaving their marinas and venturing out on the azure seas. It is a great time of year to out and about.

I will leave you with a few images of our travels so far. As for where they are, well that would give the secret away. You just have to come and see for yourself.

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Settling in.

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As I write we are at anchor off Bandol France which lies in a small bay some kilometres east of Marseille.

Debbie and I joined the ship in Civitavecchia on the 13th May after rather a long flight from our home in New Zealand. It was truly amazing walking up the gangway to be greeted by familiar faces, both guests and crew and the rest of the day for me was spent getting up to speed with the workings of the ship, reading correspondence from Head Office issued since I left in February and completing a handover from Captain GA The Nilsen.

Our call to Bonifacio in Corsica was substituted with Bastia. Here is what Lonely Planet had to say about the place. This port is also in Corsica but on the NE corner of the island. The change was due to poor sea conditions forecast at Bonifacio which is a tender port. I had been to Bastia previously and it turned out to be rather a good substitute. It was a Sunday and a large market filled the town square adding interest for our guests going ashore. Debbie took the chance to wander ashore and soak up the ambience. I remained to fight the jet lag and continue catching up with life onboard.

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A view of the ship in Bastia

On Monday we spent a glorious day in the port of Livorno. From here the cities of Florence and Pisa are in easy reach and Siena lies a little further afield. The forecast for the day was for zero visibility. I am glad to report it was very wrong! The sun shone from sunrise to sunset. Debbie escorted an all day tour to Siena and by the time she got back it was time for us to go.

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Siena Cathedral.

We sailed for Santa Margherita Ligure on the Portofino peninsular. Here we anchored and sent the guests ashore in our tender boats. This place was typical of this part of the world. Well kept villas nestled on the hillsides among the trees while boats of all shapes and sizes filled the marina. Once again the weather gods are smiling. Our Third Officer Lovre for the very first time, manoeuvred the ship beautifully to our anchorage. A special day for the bridge team when this is achieved.

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Third Officer Lovre after his first ever anchorage arrival.

Now we lie off Bandol in France.

I hosted a group of local dignitaries in the Observation Lounge for an exchange of gifts and Plaques. This is traditional for a ships maiden call to a port. We will call here a further 6 times over the course of this season. Debbie is off to Cassis today. Here is a little snippet on Cassis.

Tomorrow is sure to be a special day for we will be berthed in Palamos Spain together with my old ship Seabourn Odyssey. More on that tomorrow.


Mark Dexter 2015