Carry on cruising, Mavis!

She's back! Our popular globetrotting columnist Mavis Bensley is on her travels again. Today, as she gets the suitcase out of the loft, she talks to JAMES MARSTON about her latest odyssey.

She's back! Our popular globetrotting columnist Mavis Bensley is on her travels again. Today, as she gets the suitcase out of the loft, she talks to JAMES MARSTON about her latest odyssey.

“I'M flying down to Buenos Aires picking up the ship there and going round South America and I'm very excited!”

For three weeks Mavis is going to see some of the most fascinating and amazing sights the continent has to offer.

Originally from Yorkshire but now resident in Devereaux Court, Ipswich, the intrepid 72-year-old is going to record her journey in a weekly Globetrotter column.

It's not the first time Mavis has satisfied her lust for travel and she is no stranger to Evening Star readers. Two years ago the former schoolteacher joined Cunard's QE2 for a world cruise and kept us abreast of her amazing and hilarious experiences.

She said: “I was born and brought up in Yorkshire and met a man who was in the armed services. We lived in lots of different places and that's where I think my love of travel started.”

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The couple, who had three daughters, lived all over the UK and also in Cyprus.

She added: “We retired early to travel. We thought if we are going to do it now is the time before we get too old.

“We went to China, Bali, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brazil and the Americas.”

Now on her own, her husband Don died four years ago, Mavis is determined to keep travelling and enjoy life.

She said: “I love travel, it's a bug. I love to see new places and new cultures. There's lots of places you hear about then want to go and see for yourself. There's so many places to go.

“When my husband died I found I could either sit here and watch daytime television and read and while the days away or I could get up and go. So while I'm still fit and well and able then I'm off.

“One of my daughters lives in the US so I go there two or three times a year and we travel around America when we are there.”

Energetic, quick-witted and a great storyteller, Mavis is an observer of life, fascinated by the world and people around her.

She said she enjoys writing a column about her travels.

She added: “What you see is what you get with me. I write with a pen and I don't re-write or re-read. It's a raw product but I enjoy it and it's something to look back on.”

It was from January to April 2007 that Mavis first reported back her experiences aboard the QE2.

She said: “The best bit was Sydney. We had such a welcome as the QE2 and Queen Mary were both in the harbour. It was an historic occasion.

“I also enjoyed the Panama Canal and Papua New Guinea, not because of the scenery but because for half a day I went and taught in a classroom.”

Her memorable 16-week trip included the Caribbean, New York, Hawaii, New Zealand, Japan, Shanghai, Vietnam, India, Namibia and Madeira - to name a few - and it whetted her appetite for cruising.

She said: “If you are alone it is one of the best holidays you can have. You are not alone, there are other people in similar circumstances. For this cruise I have asked to be on a table for eight. There are always people to talk to and there's always lots of gossip. I couldn't believe it the first time how much people gossiped but there is a caring community, people know each other from previous trips. There is even a woman who lived on the QE2.”

This time Mavis is not going away for quite so long.

She said: “I'm going on February 11. I'm flying out to BA (Buenos Aires) via Brazil and I'm picking up the Boudicca ship.

“This is the first time I've travelled with Fred Olsen so it will be interesting to see what the ship is like.”

From Buenos Aires the ship will hug the Argentine coastline calling in at Puerto Madryn before heading off to the Falkland Islands.

Mavis said: “I have a friend here in Ipswich who was there 16 years ago so I shall be asking him about his memories before I go.

“I'm interested in seeing the battlefields, and it's either that or a sheep farm. I'm interested in history.”

From there the Boudicca will cruise the Beagle Channel - sailed through by Charles Darwin - before sailing up the Chilean coastline.

Mavis said: “There are going to be fjords, glaciers, lakes and penguins I hope. So I'm looking forward to seeing some wildlife there.

“We stop at Valparaiso near Santiago and from there go up to Peru.”

Stopping for a few days at Callao, the port of Lima, Mavis has a number of options.

She said: “We are stopping for people to take excursions and for people to go to Machu Picchu. I thought long and hard about going but I'm not doing it. It's very high altitude, 10 to 12,000ft, it takes three days and you only get a couple of hours there once you get there.

“I don't want to run the risk of getting altitude sickness and if I am going to go there I would rather do it more gradually and spend more time there, that's another trip in the future.”

Mavis said that instead of Machu Picchu she is going to visit northern Peru, where she will see the famous Nazca lines, Inca pyramids and sand mummies - one of the highlights of her trip.

She said: “It's a two-day excursion and should be fascinating. I'm trying to fit in as many different things as I can.”

After Peru the Boudicca will head towards Ecuador and the Panama Canal before visiting Costa Rica, Jamaica, Bermuda, the Azores and then back to Southampton.

Mavis said: “It is going to be summer in South America but it won't be very warm in the Falkland Islands.

“I haven't been round South America much and I want to get a bit of winter sun as well. I'm very excited.”

Today as we wish her bon voyage from all at the Evening Star team, Mavis who will celebrate her 73rd birthday on board sums up her attitude to life.

“It's simple. If you can do it, do it, that's my outlook.”

Are you a fan of Mavis Bensley's Globetrotter column? Where would you like to visit? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to

The Nazca Lines are a series of geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches 53 miles or more than 80km between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana in Peru.

They were created by the Nazca culture between 200 BC and AD 700. There are hundreds of individual figures, ranging in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fishes, sharks, llamas and lizards.

The Nazca lines cannot be recognized as coherent figures except from the air.

Since it is presumed the Nazca people could never have seen their work from this vantage point, there has been much speculation on the builders' abilities and motivations.

Population: 2,379 (census, 2001)

Capital: Stanley

Area: 12,173 sq km (4,700 sq miles)

Major language: English

Major religion: Christianity

Monetary unit: Falkland Islands pound (equal in value to British pound)

Main export: Fish

According to the brochure Boudicca is: “A truly world class cruise ship with a light and airy design, Boudicca's scale creates a sense of warmth and welcome from the moment you embark.

“Boudicca has attracted a band of loyal followers, thanks to her spacious layout and stylish interiors. An appropriate British historical theme is reflected throughout, with each public room, lounge and restaurant designed to ensure the mood is in keeping with her sister ship Black Watch.

Ship Information

Cabins 437

Crew 320

Passengers 839

Refitted 2006

Tonnage 28,388

Length 205.47metres

Beam 25.2metres

Speed 20 knots