Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cruise Part II

March 23

72 degrees. At sea all day so perhaps will catch some zzz’s. An early walk around the deck nearly turned us into seagulls. As we rounded to bow, which was facing into the wind, a gust nearly took us off our feet and we inched back holding the handrail. We did our walk on the port side only to avoid being blown overboard. I only had a continental breakfast as I’m over indulging on every meal, as the food is so fabulous. John should gain some weight as he is having all the low fat available, which is considerable quantity. We spent the day getting the rest we’ve missed even though there is a full calendar of activities and you have to make choices. For instance – we decided to go to a discussion on St. Thomas, it’s history and shopping opportunities instead of dancing class, hoping to catch that another day. I took a nap and John went to a concert – a steel band playing classical music. John says it was fabulous. The management sent us a bottle of wine – a Bordeaux by Mouton Cadet, just delicious. We shared it with our table at dinner. The food is so great. We had fish again – this time Grouper. After dinner we went to a concert by Guy Lombardo’s Canadians – what fun – great music and Al Pierson was a fabulous entertainer. He can sure play a mean piano. We danced a bit, but clocks go ahead and we lose an hour so we hit the bed at eleven. Tomorrow a new adventure.

March 24

85 degrees. Up early for a two mile walk on deck – eight times around – I quit at seven. Nice big breakfast – ate on deck. The Lido restaurant has a buffet line and you can take it out on deck It is very warm. San Juan is very picturesque – buildings in bright yellows, oranges and lavenders with white trim and dark mahogany porches and shutters. We walked up the hill to San Juan cathedral, a lovely old church open to the outdoors. Iron gates instead of doors. We made our three wishes and continued up to San Jose church at the top of the hill, which was built in 1532. It is white stucco and looks like a primitive building with few windows. The altar is the only decoration except for Blue and White delft stations of the cross – very unusual. The Dutch tried to capture Puerto Rico and were defeated by the Spaniards. Eventually the island was captured by the English and is presently a U.S. protectorate. We returned to the ship early enough for a nap before a full evening. A barbecue on sun deck was delicious and we danced to Guy Lombardo’s orchestra. Small world department – as we introduced ourselves to a couple we were joining for dinner, a friend of John’s from New Bedford overheard the name and came over. George and Terry Ladino. We spent the rest of the evening with them and they are joining us before dinner in our cabin for a glass of wine tomorrow evening.

March 25

85 degrees; St. Thomas. What a beautiful morning! We looked out our stateroom window to see another large cruise ship approaching St. Thomas and St. John. We dressed quickly to be on deck before docking. A launch picked up some passengers that chose to spend their date in St. John. We walked the deck for our two mile constitutional and enjoyed another fabulous breakfast before getting dressed for our day on shore at St. Thomas. We’ve been waiting for this day – what a shopping Mecca – liquor (not great) better on board – perfume and jewelry of every description: gold, pearls, gems, all at fabulous prices. I am just thrilled with my Omega with slicker and gold earrings. We also did a little Xmas shopping for Karl and Steve and my birthday gift to John. A very successful shopping day – hate to think of the bottom line. This is a lovely spot!

The people who went to St. John said it was a lovely island – a bit more affluent perhaps than St. Thomas. We rested on deck before dressing for dinner. George and Terry came for cocktails in our room – more catching up and some good laughs. Dinner was spectacular as usual. We all had Dutch hats put on by our waiters – I looked like the flying nun. I had Roast Lamb for a change from fish. John had Dover Sole, which he said was great also. The desserts are dangerous – so delicious and beautiful. Danced until 10:30 – great orchestra.

March 26

At sea today – nice leisurely schedule. Walk two miles on deck – windy, warm, cloudy day. The fitness bikes are great; looking out at the sea makes time fly by. Another breakfast and lunch to fit a king. Bingo at 10 just to try it out and John won $213. Now we are hooked and tomorrow’s game is for $2,900. Dinner is beyond description – Shrimp Cocktail, Lobster Bisque, Beef Wellington and Baked Alaska. The kitchen crew and chefs lineup and all the lights are out except for table candles as they march through the dining room with sparkles topping the desserts.

Seaquest game played in afternoon. We laughed so hard. Each team must get articles asked for to the table first – man’s pants, false teeth, TT, picture of a white house, black teeth (comb) – really hilarious. Danced our feet off in two different lounges – what fun! Then our chocolate extravaganza at 11:15 – around the pool, ice sculptures, fruit and vegetable sculptures and chocolate desserts of every description. Wow – to bed none too early. Boat will rock us to sleep tonight.

March 27

Rough sea; sunshine. Our trip to Half Moon Cay is delayed by rough seas and a medical emergency. A man had a heart attack and a helicopter is coming to take him to a hospital. The tenders are all our waiting and they are bobbing around like corks on the rough waves. It calms enough by eleven for us to leave the ship and sail a short way to the most gorgeous beach I have ever seen – turquoise water and white confectionary-like sand set against emerald hills. The place is virgin – not a sign of seaweed or fish or shells. We took our mats from the chaise and floated in the sunlight. The water was about 70 degrees and the air about 80. Heaven! Arrived back about 3 p.m. for Bingo and dinner. Tonight is goodbye to our new friends and wonderful crew. It has been fabulous.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Eastern Caribbean Cruise 1998

March 21

Our bus arrived at MacDonald’s at Davis Blvd in Naples early and Mary and Bill dropped us off. The trip to Ft. Lauderdale was comfortable and fast as my new M. Binckey book, “Evening Class” was engrossing. Port Everglades Terminal was bustling with activity, and it was a motley collection of humanity dressed in every conceivable costume. Lived up with their baggage in sneakers and hats of every description, they patiently waited to board.

The moment we boarded they snapped our picture and took our carry-ones and a steward led us to our cabin. Our steward is Andy. Everyone uses first names and the crew is either Filipino or Indonesian, but very polite and helpful. Our cabin is on a deck, outside, just above the restaurant deck – comfortable with sofa and double bed and adequate storage space.  A bottle of champagne from our travel agent was in our cabin #884 and a bowl of fresh fruit. Luncheon was being served at a buffet until 4:15 so the first thing we did was find a restaurant and have a little sustenance. We chose Shy Deck and took our lunch out in the sunshine. This ship is huge and it takes awhile to discover where all the facilities are and the best way to access them. A lifeboat drill at 4:15 was revealing. Those lifeboats have motors and food and water – very reassuring. They seem to work.

By this time it was time for dinner at 6 o’clock. Our table was assigned and we were disappointed to find ourselves at a table for four instead of eight. We informed those in charge and it will be rectified by tomorrow. We had two delightful widows from Ft. Meyers as dinner companions – Norma from Michigan and Anne from New York. Both live in a mobile home park in the winter. John asked the waiter for olive oil and ended up with a bowl of olives. We had a good laugh before correcting him. It was his first tour and he was trying so hard to please. Our dinner was superb: pineapple soup, arugula and spinach salad, roasted snapper and pineapple sherbert. Then we went to a show in the Admirals Lounge. It was very New York nightclub, but then they introduced the social crew. After that we danced to the Guy Lombardo Canadian Orchestra. There were eleven pieces and they were excellent. John and I visited some of the other lounges – one had a string quartet, one had a four-piece Caribbean band. They were all lovely and a hard choice to make. However, since I’m not drinking we went to our cabin early. It was a good thing as John called at 3 a.m. to find out about drumming and noise, which the staff came and investigated. They stopped the party below us and we were off to sleep.

March 22

Sunrise out our window and a quiet sea awaits our docking in Nassau. After a hearty breakfast we left the ship for a tour of Nassau. It is very disappointing as it is badly neglected. We visited Parliament Square where all the government offices are and even these buildings are in disrepair. Everything needs a fresh coat of paint. Work in progress at the docks is half completed. We visited the straw market, which was full of cheap junk. The Anglican Cathedral was the only beautiful building we saw. It is called Christ Church and we attended part of a service. The people, predominantly black, were very well dressed – no women in shorts or slacks and most wearing hats. The men were nicely dressed also and the stained glass windows are gorgeous. We know why we only spent four hours in this port. On our return to the ship we had lunch and went to Mass at 1:15. Many attended – about 250 or 300 I’d guess and a Benedictine monk said Mass. We rushed to a talk on jewelry and then high tea with a great combo playing. We are really tired and try to catch a catnap before the Captains Champagne party at 5:15. After cocktails, dinner at our new table was terrific. Our new dinner companions are Jo and Ingrid from Long Island, N.Y. who taught German at Hofstra University and Mary Anne and Henry from Syracuse, who are now permanent residents of Tampa. He was an environmentalist, who had an accident when someone mislabeled chemical containers he was using, which caused an explosion that seared his arms and ruined his lungs (cyanide).  They were both great company and were looking forward to the dinners for the balance of the cruise. We took in the show, which was terrific based on Hollywood famous music and people. The costumes are fantastic. Then to bed as we too tired to dance. Another night we had to call to stop the partying below us by the kitchen staff.