WELCOME TO PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA
We returned to the Crystal Cove for a pre-dinner drink last evening. The evening attire was Black Tie (BTO) Optional.
While at the cove our son Eric called us on Facetime so it was great to see him along with grandsons Jackson and Preston.
This was one of the quietest times we have had at the Crystal Cove since December. Where was everyone? Not sure. LOL.
Pianist Richard Pucci played wonderfully on the piano including a few songs by The Beatles. Thank you Richard.
Dinner was at Waterside. Following are the dinner menus.
We began the meal with Caviar for Keith & Soup for Anne Marie. We both had appetizer salads. We mainly have seafood and poultry for dinner but decided Beef Wellington was in order and it was a perfect choice. Cooked to perfection, arrived to the table hot and was delicious.
We would say that Waterside was the quietest we have seen it on a Black Tie Optional Night. Where was everyone? LOL
In all seriousness, about 100 people are off the ship on overlands. Another 100+ people were at the Supper Club. Some people were likely relaxing in their rooms and with several other restaurants people were spread out all over the ship.
We slept well as Serenity sailed to our next port of call; Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Our day started as it normally does with a workout for Keith at the Fitness Center followed by coffee and breakfast in our room.
Some information about Port Elizabeth.
Port Elizabeth is one of the larger cities in South Africa. The population totals a quarter of a million residents. Port Elizabeth is a tourist destination attracting tourists for its beaches, parks, museums and nearby national parks.
South End Museum which has several displays including fishing, sports, music and dance.
No 7 Castle Museum which was completed in 1825 and one of the oldest surviving settle cottages in this city.
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum which reflects the history and character of this area of South Africa.
Market Square which is the heart of the town center.
Humewood Beach which is a popular beach for families.
Addo Elephant National Park which we will discuss below.
The last two times Serenity was scheduled to be in Port Elizabeth while we were on-board we were on Safari. In 2014 we flew from Durban to Port Elizabeth returning from Safari and boarded Serenity two hours before we left for Cape Town. In 2015 we were supposed to return in the same manner as 2014 as we were on another Safari. However, due to strong winds Serenity was unable to dock at this port and instead went to Cape Town. We were returning from a Crystal Overland Tour and Crystal took care of all of this for us. This included adding a flight to Cape Town and booking us at a hotel and providing dinner and drink and breakfast the following morning while we waited for Serenity to arrive. We actually stayed at a hotel we always want to stay at. When Serenity arrived we were taken over to the pier to board the ship.
We have been to this city on two prior occasions and the first time was in 2007. We did a Crystal tour of Addo Elephant National Park. We have fond memories of that visit so Keith arranged for a private tour of the park for today.
We were met by our private guide and driver Andrew and driven to the park. The park is about thirty minutes from the port.
The park is one of nineteen national parks in South Africa. It ranks third in size behind Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The original park was founded in 1931 to provide a sanctuary for the eleven remaining elephants in the area. Today, the park is home to over 600 elephants and other mammals. The park is popular and 300,000 tourists visit the park annually.
We enjoyed a great tour. Our tour guide was Andrew. As we drove to the park he told us a great deal about Port Elizabeth (its name will be changing), the economy, the country and countless other items plus what we might see in the park.
A few items:
The economy is not doing well and unemployment is very high; almost 30%.
There are several automobile manufacturing plants in Port Elizabeth.
The Chinese are investing a lot which we knew and that is not only here but throughout Africa. We are reminded that the Chinese do not think short-term but think long terms. No one is really talking about this much in South Africa or for that matter in our own country.
When we last visited South Africa in 2015 they were already in a drought which lasted four years. Thankfully they are getting rain but what that meant is we would see less animals at the watering holes since there was a lot of rain.
We stills saw many different animals and birds. While we have seen many elephants over the years we had one that was inches from the vehicle. We saw a hyena which we can't remember if we saw before.
All in all it was a wonderful tour and day.
During the tour another vehicle driven by the same company stopped as our tour guide spoke with their tour guide. A person in the vehicle called out Keith. He is on the Seabourn Sojourn but knew us from our Blog. Later on when we were at lunch he came up to us and said that he has been following our blog for many years and he said his favorite cruise line is Crystal Cruises. All nice to hear.
These photos show some of the art the local art pieces brought on board Serenity in Durban which is being sold on board until we reach Namibia. They are being sold at the Apropos store which is one of three stores on-board Serenity. Each piece is one-of-a-kind made by one of several artists. They are part of the Ardmore Team founded by Fee Halsted in 1985. She is on-board with one of her daughter's.
We had a marvelous day and we are making memories which will last a lifetime.
Anne Marie & Keith