Wandering World Cruiser’s Epilogue

This is our great group of new friends with whom we were traveling the world together, sharing each others experiences and enjoying the adventure.

First our update then the rest of the cruise.  John and I disembarked the Viking Sun in Darwin, Australia Feb 29th, due to John’s inability to walk. Nothing to do with the virus. The long flight from Brisbane to LAX went surprisingly well for us. I think we were flying on Angel wings in answer to much prayer. Our son met us at LAX with a wheelchair and a rental car and we took John to see the doctor on March 2nd. The MRI found that he had blood on his brain and he was immediately flown to a PHX hospital for emergency surgery on a subdural hematoma. A week later he tried to get up by himself while in the hospital and fell, requiring a second surgery. He is now in a rehab center undergoing physical, occupational and speech therapy. No visitors are allowed, so I’m in Yuma and talk with him on the phone each day, but he doesn’t have his speech back very well yet. However, he is getting better every day and the doctors remind me it takes time. Although the doctors agree he has a number of symptoms relating to Parkinson’s, the same symptoms relate to the slow brain bleed hematoma and resulting surgeries and brain damage. Lord willing, I will be bringing him home to our Yuma house May 8th.

At home in Yuma, I have a great support group here that will help with probably anything I need. I’m working with our immense hoard of photos and send John some pictures occasionally to help jog his memory. Friends in CA have our dog permanently now. That was a blessing to know she went to a good family. The apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”

We have been so blessed to have had many, many, many adventures in life, too numerous to even list……. Not the least of which was this World Cruise. My next adventure is navigating the waters of health care for my husband living at home. I’ve planned for us to laugh together with some old Carol Burnett TV episodes. Go for walks (when he is better) with our matching walkers!! (some folks hold hands when they go for a walk, we’ll just hold onto our walkers 😉 Mine is a red convertible Corvette and John’s is a VW Beetle!) And we’ll see what we can do with small jigsaw puzzles. Even though we experience some memory loss at this stage in life, maybe John more than myself right now, our memories, of so many years of wonderful experiences, family and friends, many travels, lots of building projects and lots of love, have become our Roses in our December years! And those family and friends, along with healthcare nurses visiting daily, will help us to enjoy those beautiful, fragrant roses of life!

From the Wellington Botanic Garden, New Zealand

We know God’s Grace is sufficient. And His Love is Eternal. Take care and God Bless you all during these different and sometimes difficult times in which we live.

Much love from the Wandering World Cruisers, John and Diana Maruska, now in the AZ desert missing the rolling waves rocking us to sleep at night 😉

The following is my “Reader’s Digest” Version of the rest of the story!

I received an update on the remainder of the cruise via emails from a couple fellow travelers who were sailing the Viking Sun to the end, not realizing where that end would end up! That’s what you call an adventure!

After John and I left Darwin, Australia Feb 29th , the next stop for Viking was Komodo Island. This is what we didn’t get to see in person!! And masks were declared a must for those going ashore.

At first glance he looks quite tame. But his rugged hide that is sort of like a chain-mail type armor, his forked tongue, sense of smell, his size and speed of maneuvering is enough for one to be afraid of this dragon that is without fire and smoke. He’s really only a lizard.

Then on to Bali, where many passengers flew home and the others still traveling were able to go ashore, tour the island and enjoy a dinner show at Bali’s Bird Park. We too were scheduled to go there…. thank you for the photos Beverly. 

The Black Palm Cockatoo, largest cockatoo species 

Then on March 9th, an announcement on the ship: no future passengers, no future entertainers, no future lecturers—no future anything was getting on board this ship! They are sailing all the way to London with approximately 360 psg and approx 430 crew.  As management said, this is now our own personal yacht. Now being called, Viking Magical Mystery Cruise 2020

March 12th, the US has closed travel from Europe, which means not going to London….

March 15th,  Sri Lanka for a technical stop. Refueling and provisioning.

Next stop — Muscat Oman — a no go except for another technical stop.

March 17th, no more ports to visit, no more shore excursions

March 18th, It was announced that the ship will stop in Gibraltar to let 7 or 8 passengers get off—if they will let us stop.

March 19th, changes in the routing daily. Will Dubai let psg disembark?  With the UK closed, Suez Canal scheduling a problem, with so many changes, and the question, will a port in the US allow disembarkation if we were to sail that far?

March 22, Dubai, the last of the Australians, Brits and Europeans disembark and are flown to their respective homes. Leaving approx 250 Americans and Canadians going ????? No Corona virus on board.

March 24th, announcement of a flight to Newark, NJ. Told to be ready by noon, then at 5pm that same day, told to go to the World Cafe for dinner.  Charter flight not cleared, Dubai airport closed.

Next day, we were told to have bags ready at 9:30pm

The trip home began at 10:30pm with a short shuttle ride to the terminal. This was the first time in 17 days our feet hit terra firma. We collected our bags and took a 45 minute bus ride to the airport, which was near Abu Dhabi. It was very strange as few cars were on the roads. The airport was huge, and driving to the terminal it was dark and eerily quiet with no passengers or cars.

Around 4:30 am, buses came to drive us out to the plane.

It actually took off and….     with thankful hearts, we arrived home safe.

Who would have thought that a mystery virus would be the cause of so much disruption, chaos, social isolation, economic downturn, hostile governments and ultimately the cessation of our dream voyage!

The very last of the Viking Sun passengers disembarked on a flight from Abu Dhabi to Madrid for refueling with no one getting off and then flew to Newark, NJ.  When they got to their respective homes they quarantined themselves for two weeks. They renamed the cruise The Magical Mystery Cruise 2020! They never knew from day to day where they would try to dock. At short notice, Viking were obliged to organize 361 flights to various destinations around the world. Ourselves included, we, along with all the others, applaud Viking Cruises for their handling of this unprecedented crisis. None of the passengers got sick and all were returned home safely.

This is a brief (?) photo review of the trip 😉

Vicki was the best Cruise Director any one would ever want. Funny, beautiful, helpful, friendly, very efficient and did I say she was funny 🙂

With the White Cliffs of Dover in the background, I’m holding a plate with John’s favorite breakfast of lite waffles found only in the Explorer’s Lounge with Norwegian brown goat cheese and fruit. Yum!

Liverpool, England
Docked right in town at Hamilton, Bermuda
Brazilian celebration dress up for dinner
Di’s B’day Tea
Equator Crossing Celebration. Kiss that ugly fish!
Ushuaia, Argentina “The city at the end of the world” between the Beagle Channel and the southernmost slopes of the Andes.
Estancia Fitz Roy, 100 yr old sheep farm, Patagonia, Chile
Leaving the Magellan Strait with the Patagonian Andes in background
Puerto Chacabuco, Aisen Fjord, Chilean Patagonia with the Andes Mountains

Southernmost tip of Baja peninsula, Cabo San Lucas where the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean meet.  Is that beautiful brown pelican looking down his nose at me?

Anchored offshore of…
…Akaroa, NZ
Doubtful Sound, rounding the southern tip of New Zealand
Aren’t they cute little devils? Tasmania, Australia

A recap: What a Wonderful World!  Viking has expanded our minds with great lectures, history, geography, cultural lessons, out-of-the-way small cities to visit as well as famous big ones, whetting our appetite to visit again at length. I could go on and on, kindness, efficiency, smiles, fantastic food, entertainment, crew, staff and management. I can’t help but think everyone on that trip is a walking advertisement for Viking.  They deserve to be #1 on the seas.             Thank you Viking.

Brisbane, Australia and a few others!

John’s last shore excursion, Feb 14, 2020. We flew out of Darwin Australia to LAX, Feb 29th.
Helen and Peter Ritson with Kathy and Ed Fronheiser, shipmates. Helen and Peter live in Brisbane and were shipmates till LAX. It was good to see them again at this park.
Australia has quite a few unusual animals native only to this area. This certainly is one of them. The platypus is a duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed, egg-laying aquatic creature native to Australia. It is one of the few living mammals to produce venom. While the venom’s effects are described as excruciatingly painful, it is not lethal to humans, but has been known to kill a dog. The echidna and the platypus are the only egg-laying mammals found only in Australia and New Guinea. Sorry but he would not pose for a picture for me 😉
Australian Water Dragon, sometimes a pet!!

In northern Australia, a didgeridoo is a wind instrument made by Aborigines from fallen eucalyptus branches or trunks that had been naturally hollowed out by termites. They cut off the bark, smooth and paint them. It is their haunting sound that has been identified for thousands of years.

Only shot of Darwin… Nice Crocodile Vest!! He was my Crocodile Dundee 😉

Sydney – Part 2 continued :-)

It looks like it has taken 2 months instead of 2 weeks to get back to this. A very brief update is that I am in Yuma, AZ at home and John is in a Healthcare Rehab center in Phoenix, AZ 3 hours north of home. Due to the virus shut down everywhere, I am not able to be with him, either in Phoenix or Yuma. John had two emergency brain surgeries, can’t walk, can’t swallow (has a feeding tube implanted in his stomach), has difficulty talking and is receiving physical, occupational and speech therapy everyday. Details will follow in the epilogue.   Some of you have received bits and pieces of this info and some no info at all.  But today is EASTER and above all a day of Hope.  All of us experience life’s traumas, trials, and tragedies, sometimes with trepidation but always with Triumph. Happy Easter.

I agree 😉

Architecture is the triumph of human imagination over materials, methods, and men, to put man into possession of his own Earth. It is at least the geometric pattern of things, of life, of the human and social world. It is at best that magic framework of reality that we sometimes touch upon when we use the word order.        ~          Frank Lloyd Wright

Though the domed roof ‘shells’ appear uniformly white from a distance, they actually feature a subtle chevron pattern composed of 1,056,006 tiles in two colors: glossy white and matte cream. American architect Louis Kahn would make the most enduring comment about the luminous effect of the tiles: “The sun did not know how beautiful its light was, until it was reflected off this building.”  
While enjoying beautiful Opera dinner music…
It appeared that ‘she’ wanted to join us in the dining room!
Tight squeeze for this big one. Our ship was smaller and able to sail under the Harbor Bridge.

The Anzac bridge was given its current name on Remembrance Day in 1998 to honor the memory of the soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (known as Anzacs) who served in World War I. An Australian flag flies atop the eastern pylon and a New Zealand Flag flies atop the western pylon. (I really wanted a picture of the tug!)


Sydney, Australia ~ Part 2

What wings are to a bird and sails to a ship, so is prayer to the soul.”  ~  Corrie Ten Boom

Because John has developed a severe case of Parkinson’s Disease, we are very saddened to say we will be departing the Ultimate World Cruise Saturday Feb 29th, making it only 3/4 of the whole that we accomplished. This will be the last post till I get back to Yuma, AZ, John taken care of and hopefully will have time to finish up the last of our beautiful (to us) pictures and memories.  Do watch for the final 3 posts and John’s update in a week or two.   Thanks for following along with us.

Sydney, Australia, Part 1

Just wanted you to know we’re really here 😉

Now back to what we are seeing and not dwelling on what we can’t see. The virus isn’t the only thing cancelling stops, bad weather makes a big dent in our trip, too. Melbourne was scratched due to ‘really’ wild storms. So we went straight to Sydney and spent an additional day there. One of the consolation trips from Viking was a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Opera House, an Opera star singing for us and a special dinner at the Sydney Opera House. A surprise treat, beautiful and interesting. 

But first, more beautiful and colorful Australian animals.

A camel is a horse designed by committee.  ~  Sir Alec Issigonis, who designed the British Mini car.

Perentie is the largest monitor lizard reaching 6′
This cutie was jealous that I was taking a picture of the other couple cuties and came right up to my camera by the fence and I got to rub his belly feathers which he seemed to like.
On his way over to me!

These dancing cranes are imitated by the Aborigines in their traditional dances. The picture below is from a performance on board ship in Brisbane (more pictures in the Brisbane post).

The brolga, formerly known as the native companion, is a bird in the crane family. It has also been given the name Australian crane, a term coined in 1865 by well-known ornithological artist John Gould in his Birds of Australia.

Beautiful Australian Pelicans. I didn’t know I liked Pelicans so much.

Australian pelicans are one of the largest flying birds in the world; they also have the longest bills of any living bird. With a wingspan of about eight feet, Australian pelicans can remain in the air for over 24 hours and travel hundreds of miles as they catch breezes to help them soar.

Cassowaries are among the largest birds on the planet. The Southern Cassowary is the largest species, reaching 5.8 feet in height. Males weigh up to 121 pounds and females reach about 167 pounds (so what else is new!). They make excellent rainforest gardeners, dispersing more than 100 plant species by keeping the seeds intact. The extinction of this endangered animal would result in the loss of the only method of regrowth for many rainforest species.

The cassowary head comb, the casque, is dark-colored on the outside and protected by a dense bone layer resembling a horse hoof or tortoise shell, the inside is made up of fragile, spongy honeycomb tissue. They can sprint up to 30 miles per hour for short periods. Only the ostrich is heavier than the southern cassowary.


Isn’t Joey cute?

Do you think I liked it? 🙂  BTW this was at the Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney.  John would not have been able to walk this park and he stayed home. I could hardly walk the next day myself, my feet and knees hurt that much, but I would have stayed a couple more hours if it was available, it was that nice. 

Coronavirus reroutes us

We did visit Sydney and Brisbane before the following notice. The next two posts will be more animals from two more animal parks in those cities.

A number of friends have asked how the virus worldwide has affected our trip. So this is the best way to catch up with you all.  Our itinerary has changed drastically due to the Coronavirus situation. All stops in China had already been cancelled, their ports are closed and now Viking thinks it prudent to bypass all areas of concern including Thailand, Philippines and Singapore. They think we may add stops at Galle and Colombo in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, among others.  For the next three weeks we’ll be sailing the Coral Sea and Java Sea (south Pacific N and E of Australia) with added stops at New Caledonia and Townsville, Queensland.  And there is the possibility, as the situation changes, that more cities may be cancelled and/or added.

The rescheduling must be a nightmare, but not as bad as if someone boarded our ship with the virus.  No one wants to be quarantined for two weeks in our room with meals being delivered. Then we would get cabin fever….. Viking has taken good care of our shore excursions and us on the ship and I am confident they will continue to do so during this difficult time which reaches worldwide.

Tasmania, Australia

In 1934, Jean Batten (24) smashed an England-Australia flying record with a solo 14-day flight over the same route. In 1935 she set a world record flying from England to Brazil, for which she was presented the Order of the Southern Cross, the first person other than Royalty to be so honored. In 1936, she made an 11-day, 22,750 km solo flight from England to New Zealand (with a break in Australia), a record that stood for 44 years. Her flights were characterized by precision navigation.  Her plane hangs from the ceiling of the Auckland airport. Born in Rotorua, NZ, she became the best-known New Zealander of the 1930’s, nicknamed the “Garbo” of the skies.
Yes, this should be in the NZ blogs, better late than never, and if I went back now and put it in Auckland, you would have missed it 😉

Here come some of the Australian animals!! We visited the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Bonorong means “native companion” in the aboriginal language. 

The ‘Tasmanian devil’ has been attributed to this animal’s blood-curdling call and the fact that it is only found in Tasmania. When excited, their ears turn red due to an increase in blood flow, another reason they are likened to devils. Despite their name, they are shy animals.

They fight with each other for food and their teeth are vicious looking, but other than that, they’re cute!! They are the largest meat-eating marsupials in the world.

Koalas mainly sleep in the daytime and move around and feed at night. They eat about 2 lbs of leaves each night!
Fellow World Cruisers, Sandra and her son John. More Koala photos coming on the Brisbane post.
Pronounced – a kid na The Echidna and Platypus are the only living mammals that lay eggs. Echidnas eat ants, lays only one egg a year and houses it in her pouch.

Wombats are often called ‘the bulldozers of the bush’ due to their short powerful legs, broad shoulders and burrowing abilities. Nocturnal too!

Black Tiger snake. Tasmania has 3 species of snake, all venomous

Tales of two bridges.  Left, Richmond bridge built by convicts in 1823. Right, Hobart bridge in 1975 was hit by a ship which felled a support and part of the bridge collapsed on top of the boat and sank it in the very deep river.  All died plus 5 civilians driving across the bridge and over the edge.

Who wants to go to Antarctica?

Dunedin and Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

The time it takes to sail 220 yards @ 1 nautical mile per hour  =  Knotfurlong  😉

Approaching Port Chalmers at Dunedin with quite a cloud cover that spans the day and the next into Doubtful Sound making it doubtful as to the quality of pictures!!
Red-billed gulls and NZ fur seals
That’s the best I can do. The boat ride was fun and we did see a couple tiny blue penguins but we couldn’t get close enough for better pictures.
It looks so small but it’s not. They told us this was a 30 lb Royal Albatross from the Royal Albatross Centre which watches the world’s only mainland breeding colony of northern Royal Albatross birds. Otago Peninsula and Taiaroa Head is a unique and very special place. It is a place that every visitor to Dunedin should see. David Attenborough, BBC

With even more clouds, the next day we sailed into the Doubtful Sound, New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park. It is ten times the size of the more famous Milford Sound. Named by Captain Cook because he encountered such a maze of cliffs that he was not sure if he would be able to navigate through it under sail, thus it was christened “Doubtful”.  There was so much rain at the Milford sound these previous couple days that 400 tourists were stranded there for some time.

When the sun shines it must be magnificent. Enough clouds for one post 😉

Christchurch (Akaroa), New Zealand

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the Ark. Professionals built the Titanic.   Good Morning!

Two pictures of the same range. One without the sun, the other with the Viking Sun!  Below is the Christchurch skyline. We didn’t make the trip to Christchurch, but stayed in Akaroa.  The Southern Alps contain more than 360 glaciers and run for more than 300 miles forming the backbone of South Island.

Alright Ben W. these rock formations are all for you.  Dolarite rock mountain in southern hemisphere, dolamite in the northern hemisphere.  Volcanic strata.

Wellington, New Zealand

This is NOT Wellington 🙂 These are the sheep we are missing due to inclimate weather. The town of Napier was to give us another fun day at a sheep farm where I would have found out that New Zealand is second only to Mongolia with the most sheep per capita. On the left, years ago it was 10 sheep per person, however today it is 7 sheep per person.
Approaching Wellington

Wellington is located on the southern coast of the North Island, on the Cook Strait.  A bus ride thru the Capital of New Zealand showed some interesting neighborhoods, attractive parks, and ended in the Wellington Botanic Garden.

The old government building built in 1876 is the largest wooden structure in the southern hemisphere. Once the Parliament building, it is now a Wellington law school. The Beehive, called that due to its look, opened in 1977 is now the executive building, one of four govt. buildings.