Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Our 115 day World Cruise day 115, coasting into port!

This is it!  Tomorrow everyone disembarks the ship and a new group embarks!            Mary Ann and Bill also need to get off and go through customs but when they re-board they will be in their same cabin!  I have already started working on the blog !  Yes, they will be leaving the ship in San Diego!

I gave my iPad 2 to my DIL Amy but it appears that Davin's cat thinks it belongs to her!  Myself I think she is looking a little defiant!  lol!

Now about the diet...food plan...healthy liv ing...whatever!  Did I ever tell you that I was put on my first diet at the age of 5?  lol!
So, here it is...like I said before it has cost me $50 to join the weight loss contest...$100 to Weight Watchers, plus another$52 for the month of May...$49 to Dr, Weil and his 8 weeks to Optimum Health, I am still on week one....now Curves wants $25 a month to join their weight loss program, with a 6 months commitment and individual counseling sessions...does she not know that I wrote that book?  lol!!  I think I am feeling a lot of pressure  and a little broke!  lol!

We took Rosine to the Chiropractor today and it was not as successful as it was last week.  Rosine had a spill today when she was trying to get up from her chair and she slipped down on to the floor!  She is not happy and I think it was a bit of a set back for her.  He worked on a different area and it was not comfortable for her trying to lay on the table!  We will see how she is tomorrow!

Where we did not go today.....but the Amsterdam did!

Pictures of the day, the last ones!
Kween Karen had a wonderful cruise and she finished it off at the big food extravaganza and by participating in a shipboard talent show!  This is my kind of party...go Kween Karen!



 At Sea

Another spectacular day at sea…..  We have been so lucky with the weather.  Yes, it also was a day for a bit of packing, it’s all coming together….  Tonight Corrine & I  had dinner with our closest friends, Aart, Ellen, Barbara, Allan & Sandra at the Pinnacle Grill.  It was our chance to spend some quality time together before we scatter to the 4 winds.  It was a wonderful evening.  Tomorrow, our last day at sea…..  Ft. Lauderdale here we come!

 At Sea!  Last day!

Well the final countdown has begun….  All good things must come to an end.  This has been a magnificent 7 ½ month journey.  I feel privileged to have visited so many exotic places.  It had been one heck of a ride.  Now it is time to head home and figure out where my travels will take me next.  Tomorrow is the dreaded debark day.  I hate this part of cruising.  I will look forward when the airport limo takes me home….

Monday, April 29, 2013

Our 115 day World Cruise day 114, at sea!

A friend of ours, Pam, flew to Beijing last night to start her 2 week cruise to Alaska.  She is flying in style!
We will keep tabs on Pam and her adventures over the next 2 weeks!

So, as it stands now...we will be following Pam in Asia, Bill and  Mary Ann in the Panama Canal and Vicki and Sandi in New Orleans and Biloxi!  This is going to be a real challenge!  No tracking on sea 
days!  I will post everyday like I have been even if it is just to say hello but we don't need to know what they are doing on sea days!  lol!

Today we were suppose to go to the beauty shop and have a hair cut and color.  Vicki got this great idea which resulted in me getting a perm...all things considered, it looks pretty good!

Now next week I will put some color in it and hopefully I will look younger!

This morning, after we had coffee with Sandi and Irwin, we went to the low vision store and I had an eye appointment!  My good eye is a little worse but overall I am functioning at a very high level!  She wanted to know what my goals are...did I want to get a drivers license?  I could just see all of you out there shrieking, NO! lol!   No was the right answer...I would not even consider that unless they could give me a new retina!  Binocular glasses would not work for my sense of responsibility and liability!  So, that being settled we moved on to the exam!

Now we are home and the day is all gone and all I did was take 1 picture for the blog.  It has been 114 days and I still miss a lot of good shots and it has nothing to do with my vision!  lol!

Where we did not go today....but the Amsterdam did!

Postcards from Paradise!  Thank you Mary Ann and Bill!
           Day at Sea April 28, 2013 Sunday

Packing must have been on the agenda for most folks today, because the boat was like a ghost ship. The weather was sure cooperating too, as it had really cooled off overnight as we sailed in a northwesterly direction. As we passed many islands in the Caribbean, there were occassional rain showers in the afternoon.

Even though we do not have to pack now, we did some anyway. Starting with the breakables that were gifted on this cruise, we quickly filled one duffel bag. The ice chest we brought worked well for these delicate items, especially the Delft tile gifts. Unlike some folks that tried to divest themselves of these presents, we treasure the plates, vases, coffee cups, and platters we have collected over the years. They are indeed one of a kind.

We did take several breaks, spending time walking on the promenade deck. Some masked boobys have joined the ship, and put on quite a show with their diving-for-fish skills. At one point, we even saw a small dinnerplate-size turtle go swimming by. There should be some good luck mojo with sighting a lone turtle like that, as this is our second such sighting while out at sea.

There were two jobs we had to do today besides a little packing. Deciding it would be far easier to ship all of the luggage, instead of taking two suitcases on the plane with us in San Diego, we purchased two more Fed Ex tags for the extra pieces. The first four duffels are shipped complimentary, and we would have had to pay $50. at the airport for the other two. Then there is always the worry about being overweight on those bags. Now we will not have to be concerned, because those suitcases have no weight limit. And with past cruises, we have gotten all of our luggage delivered to our home within a week's time. And having only our hand carrys with us, flying home will be a breeze. The Fed Ex gals had no line when we went to see them at 5:30pm. They had the new tags printed up in a few minutes, and billed to our shipboard account. Easy.

The other job was to pick up our passports at the front desk. On May 1st, we will have to clear the ship with everyone else, passing through customs and immigrations with our passports. Hopefully, we will do this in a small group, as we have booked a shore excursion for that morning, and should return before 3pm.

All of the speakers went home yesterday in St. Lucia, so there are no more lectures scheduled. Those guests that participated in the games and activities that paid DAM Dollars were able to pre-order their prizes today, with the final pickup tomorrow in the Queens Lounge.

By the time we went for lunch in the Lido, the waiters were cleaning up after an Indonesian lunch. All that was left were the decorations of the pretty umbrellas and the statues. Instead, we had turkey and swiss cheese sandwiches on ciabatta rolls. These guys make one good sandwich. We usually top lunch off with a small ice cream cone.....the only disappointment was that they have run out of sugar cones until we reach Florida. Life is tough...............ha-ha.

Dinnertime was International Favorites and also a most important birthday...............Captain Mercer turned 60 something today. So for his special day, he treated all of us to free wine, beer, or sodas with our meal. What a guy. Our international meal consisted of a crispy egg roll, potato salad which was mostly a regular salad, spaghetti, and chicken cordon bleu. Dessert was the best, a lemon tart with blueberries on top. We're going to miss these desserts, since we sure don't do this at home.

Mary Ann & Bill

 At Sea!  Thank you Jeff!

Had a very pleasant day at sea…..  The temperature is hot but we did get a bit of a breeze.  It certainly is a lot warmer than Virginia will be when I get home.  Can’t believe it’s still very cool for this time of the year.  Got some more packing done today, beginning to see the end in sight.  The sunset this evening was really beautiful….  A couple more days and we’ll be back in Florida….  So sad!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Our 115 day World Cruise.day 113, at sea!

Here we are and everyone is packing like crazy.  Jeff and Kween Karen are both anxious to see friends and family and to be at home.  Bill and Mary Ann, however, are continuing through the Panama Canal!  I believe they may be getting off in San Diego but I am not sure!  so, we will continue also and will use our own personal pictures from when we were on this cruise 3 years ago!  This will depart on Wednesday!

i don't know what has gotten into me for the last 3 days but I have been absolutely useless.  I did make a diet cake...1 can pumpkin, 1 cup water, 1 cake mix, flavor of your choice.  It is good.  I made a batch of cornbread that is in the oven now and I put on a pot of soup and then I laid in my chair.  Not good!  I think it is the whole diet thing so we need to do some revamping!

Tomorrow is another ay and I will need to wake up with a better attitude!

Where we did not go today .....but the Amsterdam did!

At sea!
Pictures of the day!  from Kween Karen...thank you!

                              This is my kinda day!     Look at all the bags, purses and wild colors!


                             It is so amazing to have all the different landscapes on such a small island!
Here she is enjoying herself in a sulphur mud bath!  What fun she is having...she tries everything!

                       Kween Karen is so adventurous!  She lives life and enjoys every minute of it!                                                       


 St. Lucia

Twenty-seven miles long, and 14 miles across, the island of St. Lucia is one of the Windward Islands. Created by volcanoes, St.Lucia has peaks that tower over 3117 feet, forested hills, sulfurous pits, and valleys full of banana plants. In fact, 70% of the island's earnings come from the export of bananas, as there are 2000 banana farms on the small island. The population of 145,000 are mostly natives of African descent. Hotels and miles of golden sand beaches have brought tourists here as well. Cruise ships bring many guests here. As many as four ships can be seen here on a single day during the peak season.. The downside to that scenario, is that the vendors are not willing to bargain much at all. And we found the prices to be way out of whack for typical souveniers.

We were here on a Carnival ship somewhere around 1995. At the time, we had taken a tour, which took us up to the scenic volcanic peaks and rainforest. So we do not remember anything of the town of Castries, except that we must have been here on a weekend, and the stores closed early. In our daily newsletter, it stated that the shop hours were 8 to noon on Saturdays, although large malls tend to operate from 9am to 9pm every day. We do not know where these malls were located, because they did not show up on the ship's map.

Back to the start, the ship arrived here early at around 8am, which was good because it could have been much later due to the problem we had with the hatch and our leaving late from Devils Island. The Captain was able to keep his promise and get us here on schedule. It was promising to be a good day weatherwise, with some clouds floating by, and a slight chance of rain. That rain never happened, because we packed two umbrellas with us to town.

There had to be a dozen shore excursions today, but since we have been on one that did the whole island, we decided to walk to town. There was a cute little water taxi that was taking folks to the center of Casries from Pointe Seraphine where the ship was docked. It cost $10. per person for a round trip. Walking to town took only about 15 or 20 minutes. We think we made it to the center of town before the folks even boarded the little taxi, since there was a mile-long line.

On the way, we passed a man who was selling his coconut carvings of small birds and a half coconut as a feeder.. They were hanging from a tree with strings. He claimed he personally created each one, but we also saw these in huge amounts in the marketplace.

There was a huge market that included veggie and fruit stalls, meat sellers, and souvenier stands. One huge building had clothing, handbags, swimwear, wooden carvings, jewelry, and masks for sale. But upon asking the price for a few items, we were shocked that things cost four times more than they should. It was obvious that too many cruise ships passengers come here, and that keep the prices up. Even though we were told that most of the ships will be re-locating to Europe and Alaska for the late spring season, the vendors still did not want to bargain to make any sales. For that reason, we saw few treasures being sold anywhere. One of us was looking for a visor, a simple item, but almost non-existent here. Baseball caps, woven hats, and ladies or mens safari hats were everywhere.

We covered the entire marketplace, then decided to go back to the ship. This area had no restaurants or cafes at all, so looking for our favorite pizza was not an option. In our opinion, this market was not the cleanest place we had been, or the most welcoming for cruise passengers. The only restrooms we saw had a charge to use them. In this area, Belem in Brazil had them beat by miles with their newer facilities and cafes. Perhaps, you would have to find the places on the island where the nice hotels are located, and you would find the nicer cafes and restaurants.

On the stroll back, we sat for a while on the seawall. A very young policeman came along to chat. Wanting to know where we came from, he told us some info about his island. He sort of suggested that we would be pleased to see the rest of the island, and not just the waterfront and marketplace. We did tell him that we did tour the island several years ago and enjoyed the views. Then he went into detail about the nearby stores, explaining where the grocery store was located, as well as the bigger outlets. They are are related to each other, like our Walmarts, Kmarts, and Costcos. We thanked him for the information, then continued walking.

Back at Poine Seraphine and the dock, there were many pierside shops offering better souveniers. That's where we found the coveted St. Lucia visor for a grand total of $7. Not a bad deal at all. Back on the ship, we had a soda break and a few crackers and cheese. After a quick walk around the dock area, we went to the aft pool for some quiet sun time and a swim. The water was chilly and clean, but felt oh so good. Between reading a book and watching helicopters and planes landing at the small nearby airport, the afternoon flew by quickly.

The sailaway party was at 5:30pm, and was attended fairly well, despite the fact that it was dinnertime for half the folks. Bill and Leta came to this last sailaway, and stayed until the sun went down, giving us all a treat to photograph.

Our host, Tom M., joined us for dinner this evening. He is always a pleasure to have as a guest, keeping us all entertained with cruise stories. On the menu tonight was the 22 ounce ribeye steaks, and of course, we both ordered one. Since our lunch was really just a snack, we really enjoyed the tasty steaks. They were tender, juicy, and seasoned nicely. So much better than the beef they served during most of this trip. It took long enough, but perhaps they have finally used up the last of the imported beef.

Now we have three days at sea as we sail towards the final port of Ft. Lauderdale, a complete circumnavigation of the world in 115 days. Wow!

Mary Ann & Bill

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Our 115 day World Cruise day 112, Castries, St. Lucia

Here we are and today we are in a funk....both of us woke up tired and just did not want to do anything.  We went to coffee at Paradise with George, Sally and Irwin.  Sandi is still out on sick days!  After coffee we went to the bank and to Safeway and of course QT.  Then it was off to home as we did not want to go on an adventure!

I think part of our problem is that we have been on this Weight Watchers for almost 3 weeks now and have not lost an ounce.  This has never happened to me before...it is really discouraging.  The problem is that when we get discouraged we then want to and usually do...eat!

My grandson texted me and we are going to meet them and Mark and Tami for mexican food at 5:30.  That will be nice and I hope I will remember to take pictures!  Maybe by the time we come back Jeff will have posted pictures from St. Lucia

Now Joshua, I will say....that is one big honker of a margarita!
                                Tami has one too....she deserves it.....she has been working very hard!
                   Only 25 more days and Aaron will be having one too....just kooky no drinky!  lol!
I really do believe that Mark is the designated driver!  I offered to drive him home!  lol!  It was nice to see everyone and have a little time to catch up on all the latest gossip.  I hope we are all caught up!  lol!

Where we did not go today....but the Amsterdam did!

 Castries, St. Lucia, , this is the last port and then it is home!

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Well that’s that…..  Castries, our final port for the 2013 Grand World Voyage.  It’s a bit bittersweet because as much as I love doing this I am also eager to return home and see family and friends.  The arrival was pretty special as we were escorted by a huge number of dolphins, pretty spectacular!  We went ashore first thing this morning and basically spent the morning exploring the markets.  Great time for people photos….  We then returned to the ship for a little pool time in the hot sunny weather.  Sail away was a fun time spent with friends….  It turned out to be a wonderful day for our last port of call…..

 Day at Sea 

You could sure tell that this cruise is winding down. Fewer people were at breakfast, and even less were sitting on the promenade deck as we took a walk this morning. Packing must be the activity on most folk's minds, although there will be three sea days to do this on our way back to Ft. Lauderdale after leaving St. Lucia. And we did get an extra hour's sleep last night with the clocks going back for the final time on this trip. Sometimes that throws people off of their daily routine.

The weather was less than inviting as the day wore on. It was quite overcast when we woke up and remained that way all day. The humidity was still there, but the high temperatures we experienced yesterday were gone. But then, so was the sun. It's funny how the clouds make the sea and the sky all look the same, or at best, different shades of grey. Almost depressing.

It was a good excuse to make it a two movie day, while trying to download photos from yesterday. A problem occurred when our computer , or the program where we download photos, ran out of space. Guess it is time for a new one. One of us spent the entire time of watching the movie "Papillon" to try to make room for pictures. And that movie ran 2 1/2 hours. The only thing was that we did not recognize any of the actual buildings we saw yesterday in the movie. Even the ocean scenes with plunging cliffsides did not exist there. Of course, the actual events of the movie were taken from a book written by a prisoner, who may or may not have been on Devils Island. The scenes of the real prison ruins were shown at the movie's end, and they were the real thing.

A different activity for this morning was a Friday Market, where the ship's stores sold some items on tables around the Lido pool. That and the Mongolian Cookout, also happening in the same area, filled the center of the ship with people. We are not sure what they were thinking, other than having the cookout brought more people in contact with the sales. Maybe they are more clever than we know.

At 3pm, the dance teachers Judy and Mike, showcased their students with a special dance performance that hilighted their new talents. This was held in the Queens Lounge. The HAL Chorale group are still practicing, so their show will be coming up soon as well.

The biggest announcement in the newsletter dealt with laundry. The folks have one more day to turn in their laundry in order to get it back on time for their departure on May 1st. Wonder how much that will slow down normal service for those of us that are staying on?

The entertainer this evening was Lorraine Brown, advertised with a velvet voice and personality. We guess that means she is a singer. We spotted her a couple of days ago, as she was getting a one on one demo on the muster drill.

When we took our nightly stroll outside, we noticed that the decks were wet from rain. Sure hope this doesn't continue tomorrow...........

Mary Ann & Bill