Cruise Specialists hosts, Tom Mullen, Alex Tokar and Kirsten Ulmer, recount their experiences as they conclude the third month of the 2023 World Cruise on Zuiderdam, navigating around the continent of Africa. Learn more about their experienced thus far in the January recap and February recap.
The French-speaking Island, Réunion is located near the African Continent in the Indian Ocean and has a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that makes it a favorite of visitors. Guests were shuttled into Saint-Denis along the new coastline road between La Possession and St. Denis. The city walk was interesting as the French architecture of elegant estates, historic homes and colorful buildings lining the streets brought a bit of France to the island. As we continued our walk, we found ourselves in a lively market with plenty of baskets, clothing and lovely displays of Dodo bird items to purchase as a souvenir. The extinct flightless bird was once endemic to the island of Mauritius. For those who enjoyed a cup of French coffee later along with a treat from the Patisserie while sitting in the shade, they felt as if they were visiting in France. No matter if it was only a few hours, the time on Réunion Island was enjoyable.
Our first port on the great African continent allowed some of our guests to depart on an overland tour, a 3-day Kruger National Park Safari with Cruise Specialists host, Tom Mullen.
According to the hundreds of photos taken by Cruise Specialists guests, the game drives were very successful, including sighting the Big Five and the many other animals that live there. Guests talked excitedly about all the surprises and unique animal sightings!
A second group left for a 5-day overland tour of Victoria Falls and a Safari with host Kirsten Ulmer. The tour included an overnight at Chobe Game Lodge, a short game drive and extended River Sunset Cruise on the Zambezi River in addition to visiting Victoria Falls which had great sheets of water falling over the land formation, including the spray, mist and rainbows. Every guest returned with fond memories and a warm feeling of camaraderie with the other members of our group.
Prior to these epic journeys, guests were treated to a short get-together to meet their fellow travelers, learn what items to bring and a review of the itinerary, so every guest was informed and knowledgeable. That alleviated some stress, especially when Tom Mullen modelled the African attire and hat, or basket.
Cape Town, South Africa
A favorite location by many guests, we were pleased to have an overnight in Cape Town. Day one was beautiful, and Table Mountain was there in full sight, whereas on the second day the ‘Tablecloth’ covered most of the Mountain.
Cruise Specialists offered a tour to Cape Wineland hosted by Alex Tokar. The tour included driving through the dramatic range of Mountains called the “Hottentots Holland’ and past rolling green hills covered with wildflowers. Visits to the Huguenot Monument and Memorial Museum plus wine tasting followed by a picnic lunch at a local wine estate rounded off the morning. Our guests enjoyed the incredible vistas and the charming town, Franschhoek.
Another Cruise Specialists Tour was ‘The Mother City, Penguins & Tea’ with host Tom Mullen and Kirsten Ulmer. The wind was blowing strongly as we stopped to enjoy the magnificent views onto Camps Bay Beach and the Twelve Apostles Mountains. Seeing the African penguin colony was a winner for everyone, as we fell in love with the small babies! A ‘High Tea’ at the Belmont Mount Nelson Hotel brought this tour to a great conclusion, and two busloads filled with happy Cruise Specialists guests returned to the ship.
Namibia, Exploring Africa’s West Coast
Luderitz and Walvis Bay were pleasant areas, with an opportunity to visit one last market and spend the day wandering around sandy hills or on sandy roads.
Cruise Specialists offered a tour to Swakopmund and the Namib Desert hosted by Alex Tokar and Kirsten Ulmer. The 2,000-year-old Welwitschia Mirabilis plant unique to this desert was a highlight of the tour, with impressive adaptations that allow them to thrive in this dry desert climate. The drive was fascinating, the moonscape looked vast, until we reached an oasis, where we enjoyed a great lunch. When we reached Swakopmund, we had some time for shopping, photo opportunities and to enjoy a beer if that suited us. On our return to the Zuiderdam, several guests on each bus chose to climb up a sand dune, many of us watched in awe as they climbed despite their feet sinking deep into the sand at each step!
Banjul, The Gambia
The laid-back city of Banjul sits on an island where the Gambia River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Cruise Specialists offered a tour visiting Kachikally Crocodile Pool and the Bijilo Forest Park. The Crocodile Pool was not created for tourism, but for local rituals some 400 years ago. A museum and knowledgeable staff do provide cultural enrichment when visiting. Along with the crocodiles, monkeys and massive trees surround you. It is a wonderful place. The Bijilo National Park is a beachside forest reserve home to endangered red colobus monkeys. It was a wonderful experience had by all.
There were only a few port cancellations on this leg of the Grand World Voyage, due to poor weather or other issues. We left the continent of Africa behind us – the desert landscapes we had grown used to gave way to the lush mountainous region of our next port, Santa Cruz! With bright spirits we look forward to the adventures to come!