Mediterranean Cruise

Golden Iris - 28/7/13 to 2/8/13

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We pose with our Family Cruise T-shirts in front of the bus about to take us to Haifa port.  The shirts were a big hit and we were asked by other passengers where they could pick up their shirts! (Click here for a back view of the shirts with our logo)
Soon after leaving port we had an emergency drill. It was light-hearted fun, always part of a sail. Never did we think we would possibly need them or would have a serious discussion whether to fetch the life jackets.

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Rhodes was one of the highlights of our trip. Aviv's children were delighted to be in another country, although Itamar said because of all the Hebrew, it felt more as if we were somewhere in Israel, and not in Greece. Trips are a chance to help broaden the children's horizons. Here we pose outside the walls of the Old City of Rhodes.
We discusssed Judaism and Christianity. We visited the ruins of the ancient Church of Mary. It was built by the Crusaders when they were forced from the Land of Israel after Beybars and Arsaf destroyed the Second Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. They moved to Rhodes and set it up as a maritime super trading power.

We know that 1604 Jews were rounded up from Rhodes and sent by boat and train to Auschwitz. About 150 survived. But it became very real to  us all when we met Rachel and her daughter Tamar (pictured here with us in the synagogue). Rachel told us that her parents moved to the Belgian Congo where she was born, but her grandparents remained behind and were murdered by the Nazis.  Tamar pointed out pictures of her great grandparents and various cousins who were the mainstays of the commuity.  Today there are about 5 families in Rhodes.
 Itamar and Amit read about the history of the beautiful synagogue while Ilai waits, ready for action..

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Mediterranean CruiseAt the museum in the Old City we saw many artifacts from Rhodes' rich past.

In Crete we took a bus. For much of the time we were by ourselves and the children were delighted at the novelty and fun of riding in a bus! We then took taxis to Kritsa, a small village perched on the mountain.
Shopping and waiting and another church, this time a functioning Greek Orthodox Church in the mountains. 
Grannies are called upon to do many things with their grandchildren. Here I happily joined Dani and Lior for an afternoon of sun and swimming in the crisp clear waters of the Aegean Sea.

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It all changed on Wednesday evening at 9.00pm. Aviv and Limor had just joined the other couples on stage for a “couples quiz” and we were in the audience watching with delight.

Suddenly the lights flickered and went out followed by the emergency lights coming on. If you listened hard you would have noticed that all four engines had stopped as well.

Fortunately we were all together and we shepherded the children onto the deck. An announcement over the PA system informed us that there was a problem, we were quite safe, and that within an hour we would be on our way again. It was pleasant on the deck. We calmed the children, trying to turn this into an adventure.  Luckily the sea was calm and as we waited, we tried to identify the constellation of stars. About two hours later there was another announcement that we were in no danger, but the problem would take a little longer to be solved.

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Hour after hour dragged slowly past.

Aviv brought sunbeds and blankets down to our deck and the children eventually went to sleep. The ship was quietly drifting but there were no more announcements and there were no crew in sight during all this period. The wait was beginning to be rather tiresome. A few elderly people fell, but since there was no crew about, the passengers had to help them.

Before the sail Aviv told us that he had bought flashlights and spare batteries for all the children.  What seemed an unnecessary expense turned into a godsend as a flow of people asked to borrow a flashlight and one even went to the doctor, whose flashlight soon ran out of batteries.

Eitan and I went below deck to sleep, threading our way through people lying on the staircases and in the corridors.  Aviv and Limor remained on deck to look after the sleeping children and help those who fainted or became panicky.

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At 3.00 am the generator went dead and there was not a single light on the boat; even the emergency lights went off. We were a ship with 800 passengers floating rudderless with the wind and waves “somewhere in the Mediterranean,” a famous line from those who remember Abie Nathan’s broadcasts.  
In the sudden complete darkness people began to panic and there were hysterical cries of “We are going to die!” Children woke up from the screams and began to cry too. Some angry men stormed the bridge but were stopped only when the security men were called out. And still no announcements or the presence of personnel to calm everyone down.  

After eight long hours the electricity came on and an hour later there was a cheer when the engines started. The boat immediately did a U-turn and sailed toward Haifa.  

During all this time we never saw the lights of another boat.  Fortunately we were in the middle of the ocean and not near a rocky shore. We were never in physical danger, but the potential for a calamity was ever present.

In hindsight, the crisis only added to the excitement and success of the cruise. Six days together in close quarters can be nerve racking, but we had lots of fun. The children pose in our cabin with towel-art on our second to last day. Entertainment: A lot of reading, playing Yatzee and of course, eating!  Dani singing karioke.Every-one watching a show.
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