Tag Archives: ship

April 6 – Alicante, Spain

Yesterday was a sea day and there is not much to report. I did go to play one of the quiz games and Mr. Moustache and his friend were there, I sat with them. We only got 2 answers right and Mr. Moustache looked one up on his phone. I also played bingo, I did not win but it was fun. Carolyn was tired and stayed in the room dozing and reading.

Over all it was also a very frustrating (and then happy) day for me. On the night of the 4th, before dinner, I found a note canceling my Rome excursion, not enough English speakers. I was upset, mostly because Costa does not in any way let you know this is a possibility before you book. Tours get cancelled, I get that, but not for this reason. I spoke of my distress at dinner and after dinner we went to the show. The show was a mish mash of songs with nice costumes and even had a little mini Harry Potter skit. These shows offer a wide variety but sexily clad men and women seem to be a constant.

On the 5th, a sea day, I went to the service desk to complain. I was very upset. I told the girl I wanted her to know how I felt. I told her that I felt as if Costa does not want English speaking passengers. Nicky overheard and came rushing around the desk to lead me to a couch and sympathize with me. I know she understood my concerns, but I don’t think there is actually a way to explain to this cruise line how disregarded we feel. She made a few suggestions and comforted me, and Carolyn, who joined us, as much as she could. Carolyn said she would go into Rome with me, and my Facebook family sent me a slew of suggestions, but I was really unhappy about the entire situation. And then, my delightful table group changed everything! At dinner, Larry suggested we all get together and take a bus to Rome and hang out and see what we please. I was so delighted, especially since he came up with this idea partly to make sure I saw Rome. We agreed to all take the ship arranged bus and ate our dinner happily discussing it. Carolyn and I stayed for the show again and then went to our room, happier than we had been in the morning.

I want to be sure to be clear about this cruise line. The food is fairly good, though changes very little. And it is certainly abundant. Carolyn dislikes it more than I do, but we both love the ice cream. The crew are friendly and funny and helpful. The rooms and bathrooms are very well appointed. The public rooms are beautiful. The shows are fun and if you like to dance there are opportunities to learn and to dance constantly. The children have a lot to do and are very well looked after by the crew. There are several pools and millions of places to lie in the sun. The cities on the itinerary are fun and interesting and the excursions are very low priced. I feel as if I have made a really friend in Renata, a woman who works in one of the shops.

So, all that said, neither of us would use Costa again. We don’t like the disregarded feeling we get as English speakers. We don’t care for the multi language tours. We do not mind the fact that there are many languages on the ship, we have met many nice people who say hi in their native tongues and everyone participates in a bit of laughing sign language. But English is in such a minority that we feel excluded and as if we are not important or wanted. Perhaps this sounds complainy, but this is how we feel, we are enjoying everything as much as we can, we love our dinner friends, we adore our balcony and the crew is wonderful. We have seen many terrific cities and that is what we will mostly remember.

 

And now, today in Alicante:

Alicante was wonderful. We got into port about 1pm and our tour was scheduled for 1:30. We had slept very late and only got up and ready for lunch. I found and had sushi!!! They had smoked salmon sushi and gosh it was yummy. After lunch we went to our tour meeting spot. We were happy to know our crew member favorite Nicky, was to be on our bus. Irene and Bobbi were also on the tour with us. It was a German and English tour.

Alicante is a beautiful coast city, modern in many ways and yet still very different from home with beautiful architecture and tiled walkways. The promenade has a tile design to look like waves and it creates and optical illusion of higher and lower sections, even though it is flat. If you stare at the tiles it is very difficult to walk. Our bus tour drove around the city and then stopped near the city hall building. We walked around and ended up on the promenade. We were to have a taste of horchata and then be on our own for an entire 90 minutes. We skipped the horchata and headed straight for the shops. They were tented stalls all along this lovely walkway and the coast was just across the street. There were ice cream shops and restaurants also. We saw one ice cream shop that had a sigh that said it was the THIRD BEST ice cream in Spain. How hilarious is that?

We bought a few items and then had ice cream at an ordinary stand, I had coffee and chocolate gelato and it was delicious. We sat in the mild sunshine and really enjoyed our time. On our way back to the meeting place, we saw a very nice looking, shirtless young man painting a balcony railing. When I took his picture he waved and smiled. Continuing on, we stopped in a very American little ship and Carolyn bought a really nice scarf. Scarf prices here are so much more reasonable than at home.

Our bus group was on time, we are a smaller group than other tours, about ½ the bus is full. The bus drove up, up a hill to a place the guide called a fortress, and it is also called the St. Barbara Castle. The narrow road seemed to be about to scrape the sides of the bus, but did not. It was a little nerve racking. Once on the top, we began to walk along the fortress cobblestones. The age of this place is fascinating, I wish we had really old stuff in our country. The walls and ground show that it was all hand built. There were views in every direction of the entire city of Alicante as well as the mountains in the background. We came to a pretty area with benches and trees and Carolyn and others choose to stay there while the rest of us continued to climb up the fortress. In this area, there was a gull sitting on a nest at the foot of a tree. The spouse gull was nearby and when we got too close she would call out to him to protect her. We stayed a respectful distance and got to watch the two of them changes places so she could rest a bit and grab a bit to eat.

Further up the fortress were several statues along the way that were guarding the castle. They looked like archers and swordsmen and were fun to take pictures of. We also went in one room that had a beautiful mosaic wall made from shards of pottery found in the excavation of the area. I could not stop taking pictures of the scenery, the views were amazing and got more so as we climbed higher. On the top were cannons and by standing just so I was able to get a photo that looks like the cannon is aimed at our ship. The guide pointed out the bullring, another photo op.

Eventually we headed back down. I picked up Carolyn and we were all on the bus by 6. Going down the hill was scary, and the bus was crawling past the huge fortress gates.

We were soon back at the port and the busses were able to get very close to the ship, that had not been the case on our other stops. We passed a few gift shops and I was able to finally get some Alicante bookmarks. This is a city I would love to visit again, it is very beautiful, easy going with a lot to see.

By the time we got through security we went straight to dinner. Soon we were all eating and laughing and sharing our stories. Larry, when he ordered dessert, asked for the chocolate obsession WITH a scoop of ice cream, we all thought that was brilliant and as we gobbled it up, well, it was brilliant.

At dinner Courtney and Keyane told us they could not take the same bus because they had a Segway tour booked and the ship bus would not get to Rome on time. They got Andrea’s cell phone number so we can meet up when they are done. We picked Andrea because she and Emmett are currently living in Germany and we know her phone will work.

After dinner, Carolyn and I decided to skip the show, she is really tired and I have things to remember and write.

Tomorrow is a sea day and we will spend part of it getting most of our packing done. My plan is to put my little carpet in my carry on since it is folded small but still somewhat heavy. We also have a disembarkation meeting at 9:30 to explain all the procedures.

I was able to post Barcelona on Facebook and will add photos to the blog at home.

April 4 – Lisbon, Portugal

More about last night. I was sitting on deck 5 waiting for the show, I had finished typing and was simply sitting when a woman approached me. She spoke in French and when I told her I did not understand she switched to limited English. She asked me if I was by myself and I said yes and she invited me to join her and her friends. I went with her to her table around the corner, there were two men. On was young, maybe late 20’s and the other was older. The older one I sort of knew. He and his friend and I had been standing in line together and though we did not speak the same language we had fun pantomiming the long wait to each other. Then the shorter man, who had a moustache, reached and yanked a hair out of the taller mans arm and ran a ways off, laughing. Later I saw them playing a ship quiz game and I called out to their little group when I though I knew an answer, I was typing rather than playing. Turns out, the young man is the woman’s daughters boyfriend, and the man with the moustache is her and her husbands best friend and travels with them. The husband and daughter were asleep. Apparently Mr. Moustache had pointed me out to her and said there is the lady with the pretty smile. She told him to come talk to me and when he would not, she came and got me. I was flattered silly. I sat with them for a while and then left to see Keyane sing. Even as I type this, I smile.

As to Keyane, it was very exciting. The show is set up almost exactly like The Voice, the judges even have turning chairs. We had all discussed strategy with Keyane, she wanted to avoid being on a team with the Spanish singer, the Italian singer and the English singer. The others could not really sing very well. When the Italian singer came out, she did a pretty good job, faltering a bit at the beginning. The Spanish singer did My Way (again) and was very good (again). The English singer, Greg, was fine, doing Elton John. When Keyane came out, she was wearing leggings with holes across horizontally, and a white blouse. She sang Rolling in the Deep and she rocked it! Only 2 judges turned, so since she really wanted to avoid the Italian lady she had to go on Greg’s team. The Spanish singer was not a good strategy player and went on the Italian lady’s team, even though all 3 judges turned for him. When all had sung the judges stood with their teams and announced their choice. The Italian lady was picked (the ship is 75% Italian) and the Spanish man was visibly crushed. A man in a ball cap who couldn’t really sing very well was next and then the judge picked Keyane over Greg. We were so excited. Next they showed a brief clip of the 3 top singers and all of us who had picked up a voting device made our selection. There was a long, suspenseful few minutes while the host held the envelope and tortured us. And then it was announced; Keyane Won!!!!!!! We screamed and laughed and she was so delighted. Her trophy actually has some weight to it, it is a hand holding a microphone. WOW! What a night.

 

And now, today in Lisbon. We woke up at 7 and went to breakfast at the International Café. Carolyn had eggs benedict and I had a cheese omelets. It was nice to have real breakfast food for a change and we could order as opposed to getting it ourselves.

At 9am we were given our bus assignment and made our way off the ship. Larry and Linda and Emmett and Andrea were on the bus with us. This tour was in English and Spanish. The tour around Lisbon was really nice. The architecture is lovely and they have many large, imposing statues. Unfortunately it was raining, often very hard, and by the harbor the wind was blowing HARD HARD! The ship had given us all ponchos but they were so light weight, after watching everyone struggle with them, we left ours in our purses. We stopped now and then for pictures and I took a few from the bus window, but the rain made it difficult. We saw the President’s Residence which is pink. We went into a museum that had been the King’s Palace and walked through. The guide talked a lot about each room, and in two languages, so this part of the tour was much too long. Many of us wanted to walk through faster, but the guide was determined to keep us together. At the museum bookstore I got a children’s Portuguese coloring book and a flash drive that looks like books! Our last stop was by a pastry shop. There was a tiny store beside it, here I bought my bookmarks and a small Lisbon book with plenty of pictures. I wanted this because of the rain messing up most of my camera shots. In the pastry shop Carolyn got us each a coffee and a big chocolate chip cookie. So delicious! We then stopped at a pretty nice restroom and went back to the bus. As we walked to the ship from the bus we passed two tiny shops. In the first on I found these funny, round cloth things that are for little breads and a kitchen towel. This shop also had many cork products. I could not resist and bought the cutest purse, made of cork! Carolyn bought some items also.

Back on the ship we dropped off our stuff in the cabin and went up to the 9th level to get something to eat. The hot buffet had a bit of steak, potatoes, salad and spaghetti. Pasta every night at dinner is enough for me! As we looked for a table, Irene and Bobbi called us over and we all enjoyed lunch together. Those two are so funny, friendly to each other and bickering at each other in an odd but almost endearing manner. Carolyn and I each had ice cream bar for dessert and now we sit happy and comfortable in our cabin.

Tomorrow is a sea day, so I may not have much to post.

April 3 – Cadiz – nope, at sea instead

Well, we were awakened at 9 am by an announcement from the captain. Those announcements have an importance about them. He repeated himself twice in Italian and then someone did English twice and then each of the other languages. Apparently there was a “bureaucratic” issue with 2 passengers and we had to leave port very late. Due to this we have been forced to skip Cadiz and go straight to Lisbon, with an 11pm arrival.

I gossiped with my friend on the crew (no names for safety) and it looks as though it was a drug bust, trying to get a kilo of marijuana. What idiots. In Morrocco, of all places, they are probably in prison, though I haven’t found that out yet.

Our friends Andrea and Emmett are unable to use their Alicante excursion, because Emmett has a business phone call he must take on that day, so Carolyn and I will buy it from them, works out for all of us.

This morning we went all over the ship trying to find breakfast. The one restaurant that has a hot, American breakfast to order was closed due to the delay and opens for lunch instead. All we could find was cold cereal, cold meats, cheese and about 20 different donuts. I had some dry frosted flakes and cheese and bread. Carolyn tried some of the cold meats. We sat by a window with a teenage girl who was happily eating donuts. Her English was limited but when I asked her if she had donuts for breakfast at home she laughed and said oh no, only brown bread.

The sea is very rough, handrails are needed for walking around and sea sick pills are being handed out. We are both fine, though I am fighting a major headache. We went shopping, I got a few items in the Costa shop and Carolyn bought something also. We wish there were more shops, 3 is fine when you get off the ship most of the time but not too much when you have a sea day. Oh well, our wallets will be fuller for Lisbon. Lol

When Terry and I took our Holland Cruise we had ads for things to buy on the ship, especially art, in our cabin mailbox every day, many times several times a day. On this ship they do not do that at all, they don’t even sell art. That is nice. The photo shop does a large business and snap posed and candid shots all the time. My camera is not downloading as easily as I wish so I spoke to them about it. I am using the wrong cord and the nice guy told me to stop because I was going to hurt my camera. He showed me a few other things, like a mass delete and so, the rest of the photos will stay on the camera card till I get home.

There are a few parent and adult child couples aboard. We chatted yesterday with a nice young man from Scotland and his mom. I asked him if Siri could understand the Scottish accent yet and he said no. He told me that it is very funny to listen to Scottish speakers try to imitate an American accent so Siri could understand them.

We plan to go to the hot buffet for lunch, though right now neither of us are very hungry. If I get an internet connection I will try to put some photos on Facebook.

I was able to put one set of photos on Facebook and of course I will add photos to the blog when I get home.

The hot buffet was pretty good, I had chicken cooked fajita style and some carrots and potatoes. We both had ice cream bars from the vending machine for lunch. We went back to the room after lunch because the ship was rocking very hard, I felt light headed from the movement and Carolyn was not thrilled with it either. Once in the room, we both took nice, long naps. The movement is not so bad when you are laying down, it is more like rocking.

We went to the excursion area to book a trip to Civitavecchia for Carolyn, but there were none. The only trip was to a castle and lake far outside the city and it was not going to be in English and only had 16 sign ups, so probably it will be canceled. We sat in the bar and waited to meet with Emmett for the ticket exchange. As we took care of that it turned out that Emmett and Andrea were planning to visit Civitavecchia on their own and were pleased to have Carolyn join them. I, of course, will be seeing Rome that day.

We went into dinner and I only had a main course, beef tenderloin and my ice cream and coffee. I have been eating more than I like today, I think cause there has not been much to do. We have all been gathering information and it appears the foolish duo tired to board the ship with a kilo of cocaine (or some drug). One persons phone, in their pocket, went off in the xray and the resulting pat down found the drugs. A visit to their room and more drugs were found hidden throughout. They and their luggage were handed over to the Morroccan authorities. I imagine they will be learning a very hard lesson.

Apparently canceling a port stop does not bother the majority of the European passengers, unlike Americans, who I feel would be really angry. I plan to contact our travel agent to see if we can get some sort of compensation, 4 sea days are too many.

After dinner, Carolyn and I had a brief visit with Bobbi and Irene and then went to our room. The dress for tomorrow is black and white and I have convinced Carolyn to wear her pretty black and white pants. While she got ready to relax I cleaned up some stuff and headed out, determined to see Keyane sing in the Voice competition tonight. It is not until 11:30! Most of our table mates will not be up that late. I just saw the evening show and it was fun. Lots of singing and dancing and many songs I knew. There was an Elvis medley, a fun 9-5 song and dance and a sexy dance where the men stripped down to their briefs. When I arrived at the theatre, it was dark and the show had started. They were singing Big Spender and when I finally found a seat there was a jacket on it. The man who owned the jacket gave up the seat in a most ungracious manner. A man and woman sitting behind us were talking very loudly to hear each other over the music throughout the show. The man and his wife next to me turned to them repeatedly and told them to be quiet (both couples spoke Italian) but it was no use. That really surprised me.

The show is over now and I plan to just hang around the lounge and wait for The Voice show to start.

Tomorrow – Lisbon. We leave at 9am for a 4 hour tour, hopefully it will be a good one.

March 31 – A Day At Sea

We woke up at 9 but remembered that the clocks were going to be set back an hour so we still had time to be lazy while we waited for breakfast. When it arrived, we enjoyed our cold cereal and coffee but it was only ok.

There was no internet but it was a nice, relaxing day to rest up from our Barcelona tour.

After breakfast we showered and dressed and went in search of the internet café to try and send this blog. Again we were flummoxed by the elevators but finally found it. Oh joy when I was actually able to connect and send the past two days. There was no internet in the evening.

Next I went to discuss our tours at the tour desk. I was concerned that there was going to be too much walking for Carolyn. All other tours were sold out and the girl I talked to was not much help. I plan to try again later.

We stopped by the hospitality desk to get some change and check on our room account, which we realized later was a waste of time. With that accomplished we went to Costa Smeralda Restaurant (that’s how they spell it) to try a sit down lunch. The menu was very sparse and though we were seated with nice people, they only spoke French. Carolyn had pasta and a salad. I decided to take the opportunity to try rabbit. I though it tasted good and since the French diners ordered it and enjoyed it I guess it was good. The rabbit was served with two pieces, leg I think, on the bone. I wanted to nibble off the last bits but just could not pick up the bone with my hands in front of the French diners at our table. We both had pineapple sherbet for dessert and are now back in the room. Carolyn has dozed off, which is good because she was up a lot last night not feeling well. I slept a while too, gosh I love a nap!

Once we were up and feeling good we went up to the buffet in search of a little snack. I found some cookies and coffee and we were sitting by window out by the pool. There was an announcement over the loud speaker that we had to go about an hour out of our way because a passenger was very ill nad need to be taken off the ship. The announcement was made much more carefully than usual, instead of a rush of many languages, a different person who was extra good at the language made the announcement in each language.

The ocean was fairly rough and the pool water slopped out and began rushing along the floor. Everyone who saw it tried to warn others but the language gap became pretty apparent. It was pretty funny. We took a walk on a deck Carolyn called the promenade, but I think on this ship it is where the crew takes their breaks. We enjoyed watching the rough sea since we both felt ok. We went back to the room to for Carolyn to change for dinner, and it was a good thing because she had been in jeans but when we went to to dinner we discovered it was dress up night. Linda and Andrea were resplendent, the rest of us were acceptable. I teased Emmet for not singing at Karoke, turns out he went on last, after I had gone to the room. I had roast duck leg for dinner, it was very good. I also had a cheese plate and my ice cream for dessert.

After dinner Carolyn and I went to the show. When the girl brought me coffee she said my Costa account was closed but I could fix it and she gave me the coffee anyhow. The show was all Italian singing, which would have been fine, but most of the songs sounded like a funeral so I did not stay, Carolyn left with me.

We went to the desk to check on our accounts. When we paid for our tours and tried to give them each of our Costa cards we had been told at the tour desk all of our stuff was together and that at the end there would be one bill so we did not both need to hand in our cards. However, turns out that is not true. When I told the girl at the desk she said I should have come to them to find out what is really true. I disagreed and told her she should tell the tour people to get it right. I feel anyone on the ship who answers a question should know what they are talking about. We have been given incorrect information on several occasions. It may be a language problem, but I always ask in simple terms, I am used to speaking to people with limited English. For example, the maître de came to our table during dinner and I told him I thought it would be nice if we could have coffee after dinner without a charge. He said the charge was only for fancy coffee and American coffee was free. One would think that everyone who works on the ship could know these things, or else they should say “I am not sure, please check at the main desk.” Anyhow, I had her open my account with my credit card and Carolyn still had some money left on her Costa card, so she did not bother at this time. Having about 500E in ship credit is lovely, and we have very little to buy now, since we have booked and paid for our excursions, but it is nice to know my Costa card will work.

Carolyn has gone to the room, maybe to bed. I am sitting in the lobby listening to the singer and typing away. I plan to go to the Karoke show and watch my new friends. But that did not happen because our excursion was set for 8:45 and I needed to get to bed. We asked for a wake up call and we were both out.

Tangier Tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

A Day In Savona

March 27 Adventures

Once we were all dressed and ready we went to find food. Out the back of the hotel (we are on the street side) we were directed to a small building on the beach side where we could order food. We had a tasty gnocchi and more breadsticks than we needed. We also had coffee and water. The service and view were terrific, a pretty, windowed room and a gorgeous view of the Mediterranean Sea. This hotel is pretty spectacular and the price is so reasonable. In the US it would easily be $500 a night, but here we are paying 119E. A quick trip back to the room and then with coats and cameras, we were ready to go out. It was about 1:30.

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Our room with pretty blue lights. Nice and big!

We decided to take a cab to the center of town. It was 15E. Once there, we were able to visit the small Sistine Chaple. It is very pretty, not very small. We each lit a candle and then strolled around admiring the art and the sculptures. Because of the holiday, the entire  chapel area was not all open, but we enjoyed what we did see.

Then we walked to the huge, ancient Priamar Fortress. It was built in 1542 and is an amazing place, crumbling façade and stone walkways. It is also a museum, but today is Easter Sunday and the museum, and almost the entire town was closed. We walked all around the fortress and up on a few of the higher towers. Once we were back outside we also took pictures of the ruins of the monastery that used to be there as well as a few modern sculptures on the lawn. We enjoyed this very much, the oldness of the area is wonderful. We also saw, from the top of the fortress a COSTA cruise ship, so we now know that our ship will be very close when the hotel takes us on Tuesday.

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Carolyn’s hand pointing at a COSTA ship docked nearby.

 

Once we had looked to our hearts content, we crossed the street to have a coffee in Pizzeria Restorante, which must get many tourists but they speak no English. Of course, that’s fine, this is their country after all. I had an espresso, OMG, never again! Carolyn ordered the lemon gelato and we shared it. It was light and creamy and for a bowl they used an actual lemon. We also shared some water.

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We wanted to take a bus back, save a bit of money but were not sure where to catch the bus. I approached a table to ask if anyone spoke English. There were 6 people at the table and the young couple said they spoke a little. Carolyn took photos as they all gathered around the table, looked at our (useless map) and began a very long discussion in Italian with much disagreement. I finally said maybe we should taxi. The young man, who was somewhat bemused by his 5 female companions and their desire to talk about a bus for a long time, said, “good idea!” It was all not much help, but seriously fun.

We paid for our snack, it was 10E and tipped 2E. Then we began to walk in a suggested direction. We were worried about it getting dark and when we passed by an emergency ambulance place, we asked if they could get us a taxi and they were very nice and did so. When the cab came we told him our hotel and off we went. Though we were much closer this one cost 20E. We knew we were being ripped off, but by now did not care.

We stopped at the desk to get our key (we leave it when we go out) and are relaxing in our room with coffee. The balcony door is open to cool off this room and we are content. Later we will eat in the hotel restaurant. Much later because it does not open until 8pm. Our choices are limited because though we are on a nice beach, there is nothing nearby. In California the road by the beach and hotels would be filled with restaurants!

At about 7:55 we went to the Hotel Bistro to eat. They asked us is we had a reservation, we said no, after a long discussion in Italian they sat us at one of the “fish tables”. We were offered a menu in English and took it. The prices were extremely reasonable. Carolyn got a vegetable soup and I had stuffed anchovies. We also had a large plate of delicious bread. The soup was the best she has had in a long time.  My anchovies were fried and yummy, but tasted like any random fish, not salty at all. We also had sparkling water. It was 16E for the meal.Turns out the regular restaurant, which we did not think was open due to language confusion, had prices well beyond 16E, so we are glad we missed it.

(photos coming)

We are back in our pretty room, in our jammies, comfortable and ready for our exciting day tomorrow. We will leave for Lake Como at 9 in the morning. We plan on having breakfast first.

Carolyn says “beautiful city, so nice being back in Italy again.” Hope everyone enjoyed Easter. I did, I am licking chocolate off my fingers right now.”

More tomorrow……………….

Sunday off the ms Amsterdam and in Seattle July 5

We woke up about 7 to the sound of being at dock. Our luggage was gone, as expected. We both cleaned up and got dressed. At the Lido buffet we got juice, coffee and dry cereal. We brought it back to our room. We felt relaxed, and finally left the room about 8:30 and sat in the library until they called us. We were Yellow 1. The line to get off the ship was very long and only got longer while we waited. Once off the ship it was surprising simple. The luggage was neatly gathered by color and we found our easily. They had spread out the disembarkation very well and there were not big crowds. Once through customs we discussed our next move. There was a place we could leave the suitcases, but the temperature was headed for 95 and we were only on foot. We decided to use Uber and had a pleasant, chatty ride to the Holiday Inn. Breakfast was still going on when we arrived. We had to wait a couple of hours for our room, but the lobby was big and comfortable and we were able to use wi fi.

I was able to get our boarding passes, both “A”s and finally we got a room. Terry is very happy to have a room with wi fi and normal TV. We walked across the street to a festival near Angle Lake. It was a tiny fair with one food booth. And it was hot and there was trash everywhere. So, back to the hotel, and we have ordered a pizza to be delivered from a local pizza place called Pizza Time. Hopefully it will be good, but even mall pizza is better than what they had on the ship.

Our plane leaves tomorrow at 12:25 and we are looking forward to seeing friends, Otis and home.

Are there any cruises in the future? Yes for me, but no for Terry. I will travel with an enthusiastic friend, and Terry will be happy in the garage with his scooters. And, you know, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Friday on ms Amsterdam July 3

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We woke up early and excited. Zip lineing, hooray and OH MY!!!
I wore my fleece lined leggings and a book t shirt and a book sweatshirt, and carried a jacket, but it was an extremely warm day and the sweatshirt proved enough. We did not have breakfast, we had to get up at 6:30 and be on the dock at 7:20.
Our driver of the Grayline bus that picked us up was a nice girl named Kat. She chatted with us, and the two brothers from our ship, who were also going. She stopped at another cruise line and picked up about 12 people who were going on a rainforest hike. When we reached the base camp for zip lining she let us off and continued on her way. Then, we were driven in a big four wheeler called a Unimog to the place where we got all hooked into our gear. Our guides, Taylor and Jeff were great. Young men, they were funny and casual but obviously very professional. I was nervous and they made me feel safe, I could tell they knew what they were doing. We left all our stuff, jackets, purse, etc in a big box and watched a tiny safety film, which was pretty useless.

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We put on red helmets and gloves that are big and silly and they guys began helping us into our harness. As we left the little building we walked out to a small platform and our first line.

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Before we started and often after that, they guys tugged on our gear and checked all the attachments. Tylor explained and demonstrated a little, how to zip line and then it was our turn. The brothers went first and then me. Tylor was at the next platform and Jeff hooked my sling to the cable and told me I could go. I thought about it for a brief moment and then stepped off.

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Wow, it was great. The gear completely holds you so you do not need to use any strength to zip line. As directed, I held my little handels, leaned way back and crossed my ankles. As I neared Tylor he called out to break. I lay one hand on the cable above me and that slowed me down. We had been warned not to grip it. Just as me feet were at the platform Tylor reached out and tugged me in. It was like flying, like going up on a swing when you’re a kid and feeling sure that you can touch the clouds.
Tylor and Jeff always seemed to know whose clip was whose and gave us turns to be first. After we had zipped a few times, we went on the longest one, almost 800 feet. I would have been happy if it had been twice that long!
On one of the platforms, Jeff, the comedian, shouted “oh no, wait” to one of the brothers just as he took off. Not being the victims of this prank we laughed at his horrified face. But he laughed also. I sternly warned Jeff that jokes were not to be played on me.
Next we walked across a suspension bridge. It was more like a narrow wooden curb than a bridge. We were hooked on but about halfway across we all stopped and enjoyed the scenery. We had such beautiful sunny weather, we saw several eagles but no bear. We chatted and joked on the bridge and then finished the walk. The last part was very up hill, I got to a place where there were no knots in the rope and I was almost stuck, I had nothing to keep from sliding back. Finally I got a good grip on the rope rail and pulled hard and got across. There was a second smaller bridge and though I was hooked on and holding the rail ropes, I still slid on the slightly down hill part, I shouted that I was ice skating!
Then we came to the last platform. I was sad, we had been having such a very good time. It was too soon, I wanted to zip all day!

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There was photographers along the way and the last one took some group shots. Once we got out of all our gear we went into the little store for some salmon on crackers, cookies and coffee. Terry bought a water for us. I bought 4 photos, one of each of us, and one group shot and one from the suspension bridge. They were very pricey but had to have them.
We looked at the small blacksmiths shop and visited Sitka, a beautiful bald eagle who lives there. She was hit by a car when she was a year old and lost a back talon and injured her wing. She is not able to go back and has lived there a long time. She is huge, 13 pounds, and very majestic.

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Our van arrived to take us back to town. We chatted about our adventure and the driver pointed out interesting sights. Back in town our plan was to wander around and see the sights. We only had about 2 hours until our ship was leaving. Suddenly we realized Terry did not have his messanger bag. We did a quick cabin check and then panicked a bit. A nice crossing guard (live signals) gave us the number for a cab and we were soon on our way back. The driver was a nice guy and chatted with us about fishing and his life in Alaska. When we got to the store, he waited while we jumped out, Terry ran to his last spot and I went in the store where they were just looking at the bag and trying to decide what to do. Whew! It was a $70 mistake, but that’s life. Back in town, our time was very short, so we walked a tiny bit and then used the rest of the time to take advantage of having some internet.

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I had some lunch while Terry finished loading pictures to our laptop and ipads. I had chicken and mashed potatoes again, safe and easy, tastes best to me. They were having a beerfest on the pool deck and though I skipped the beer, I did take some of the bratwurst to Terry. Along with 2 very large pretzel breads. For dessert, Angie scooped strawberry and chocolate with nuts and chocolate syrup for me.
I was able to make 6:30 dinner reservations for tonight at the Pinacle Grill. Hopefully the food will be better, since it is $29 apiece but anything will beat ship food.
We went to the Pinacle Grill with high hopes. We were seated in a nice booth, and the hostess laid a jacket across on of our chairs to imply Terry had a jacket, pretty funny. We were served an appetizer that was escargot in a cream sauce, it was wonderful and we had a good feeling. I ordered a baked potato and a medium rare, bone in rib eye. Terry got the same and we also ordered grilled asparagus. For starters Terry had crabcakes and I had lobster bisque. The potato was good of course, and I though my steak was delicious. I did not care for the asparagus or the soup, but Terry found them to be ok. He though his steak was too fatty. I only wished I had smuggled in a baggy, because I must have left over half my steak and they wouldn’t wrap it to go. I had coffee and sherbet for dessert and Terry had fresh berries. The best part of dinner was how peaceful it was in the restaurant instead of the chaos of the Lido deck.

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After dinner I went to the lounge to watch another singing/dancing show and Terry headed for the room. He had to take his key to the front desk because it stopped opening the door, but they fixed it. When the show was over I went back to the cabin and we spent the rest of the evening watching movies. It was very relaxing.
I filled out the breakfast order form and hopefully the food will be decent.
I have been doing most of my writing in the ships library, it is fairly peaceful here and the table / chair height ratio is perfect for me.
Tomorrow we will get to Victoria about 6pm. A long ride ahead of us.

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Thursday on the ms Amsterdam July 3

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Today got off to a wild start, at about 1am almost everyone on the ship (some slept) experienced a lot of turbulence. It was crazy, it was enough to toss you off your bed. Terry and I looked out the window, it was not a storm, it was just very rough sea. Though it was impossible to fall back to sleep for a while I was pleased to not feel ill. I guess my seasickness wrist bands are working, so that is good to know. Eventually we fell asleep, I’m sure most people did.

 

Morning came to a calm sea, we were now close to Sitka, our second stop. We took our time getting up and showering and then went to the Lido Buffet for some breakfast. The lines are so long, so disorganized and the food is only mediocre, what a pain! I much prefer the river cruise style of breakfast, with the cold food out and hot food is ordered and brought to you. Of course there are only 200 people on the river cruise and almost 2000 on this ship.

 

When we were all ready, we went, as directed, to the Wajang theatre to get a number which would allow us to be “tendered” to shore. In large, covered boats they took about 50 of us at a time. It was a quick, easy ride to the nearby dock.

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Sitka is a tiny, charming little town. We headed toward the B___________ Castle. It was such a nice stroll, with so many pretty plants and flowers along the way. Once up the hill, we found only a small, round park overlooking the sea. The “castle” which had only been a mansion, had burned down long ago and the land was dedicated as a park to honor the sale of Alaska to the USA from Russia. There were some informative signs, most interesting to me was the one about the actual transfer of land ceremony. There were a bunch of American soldiers and a few Russian soldiers, there were the representatives from each country to make the change and a planned ceremony of lowering the Russian Flag and raising the American Flag. Unfortunately the Russian Flag was stuck and after two climbing attempts to free it had failed, they tried another tactic. The soldier got the flag free, but to the horror of onlookers, he dropped it to the ground. Amid this embarrassing situation, the American Flag was quickly raised, hands shaken and they quickly departed.

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Because of it’s native and Russian beginnings the town has a strong Russian influence. We visited several shops with the Russian nesting dolls and Faberge Eggs. I bought a few souvenirs, it’s hard because I do not want to get stuff made in China, neither do I want to spend a huge amount of money for native made items. I would have loved to buy my mom a set of nesting dolls, she used to love them so much.

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The flowers were simply beautiful, it’s nice to visit places that are not in drought! We also so wild raspberries growing in many places. Terry took way too many pictures to post but here are some favorites.

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We saw a building that was a senior residence, it was a very old building that had gone through several changes until finally refurbished. They had a tiny gift shop with handmade items from the residents, as well as some other items. I bought a few things, glad that my money was going to such a nice place.

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We then headed for the other side of the harbor to see the famous totem poles and their special park and museum. The totems were fine, but the forest walk was great. The foliage was beautiful and some of the plants had HUGE leaves! We also saw and heard a mated pair of bald eagles. I wondered if they knew Liberty and Spirit, a pair of eagles who live in Northern California. The walk was through a forest, but also along the shore. We wished we could bring some of the beautiful driftwood home, but settled for pictures.

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LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THIS LEAF!

 

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Having seen everything we were interested in, we headed back to the dock. As we passed a shack selling Clam Chowder, Terry suggested we try it. The chowder was wonderful! We were both reminded of the amazing lobster bisque we had from a tiny shack on Martha’s Vineyard. You just never know for sure where the good food will be.

The last tender was to be at 3:30, but we returned about 1:00.

I was very tired, having had little sleep last night, so I took a long nap while Terry watched TV. There is always a movie on which is good and bad. Good cause the movies are current and bad because Terry will start watching in the middle and just as I find myself involved in the story and an exciting part comes along, he stands us and suggests we go out. I have never, and will never, understand how he does that.

We went to the buffet for dinner and sat by the pool. There was a very good jazz band playing. The ship was moving a lot and the swimming pool was swishing the swimmers back and forth, they were shrieking with delight and mock terror. Finally the crew had to close the pool so no one could get hurt. For dinner I had steak, chicken and potatoes. It sounds like a lot but I barely made a dent. Between the ship motion and the not great food, neither of us are eating a lot. However, my favorite server, Angie, always has great food, because she scoops ice cream. We are on a first name basis.

 

The disnitigration of manners and the unawareness of appropriate behavior is apparent on the ship. A older man who was extremely sweaty from his workout came to a table by the pool, and lay on the floor to do sit ups. It was not a very nice sight. A lady took a diapered baby into the Jacuzzi, yuck. And a very large man was leaning back in the Jacuzzi entertaining his friends with the sight of his huge belly. He looked like a beached whale. Terry looked over and said “you never have a harpoon when you need one”. Lol.

 

We took our dessert back to the room to find another nice surprise! Terry immediately found Million Dollar Baby to watch on TV and I went to the ships library to do some writing.

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Tomorrow we will be in Ketchikan and go ziplining in the morning. I am excited about that.

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Tuesday on the ms Amsterdam June 30

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We went to see a show last night. There was dancing and singing. The young performers were hard working and talented enough for the 35 minute show.

We had a surprise when we returned to our room!

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Slept in and woke up rested ready for another day. We had breakfast on the lido deck and eventually made our way to the upper rear deck where we grabbed some chairs to enjoy our progress thru the Tracy Arm. I am excited to see a fiord in person. We have seen several small whales and Terry go a good tail picture.

The food is turning out to be mediocre, but I don’t care and Terry is managing.

We saw a boat pull up to our ship and a man got on our ship from it. He is the pilot from the National Forrest service to guide us thru the fiord and make sure we don’t bother the wildlife.

 

Barbara, the ship guide, began a talk about the fiord and will point out interesting sights and explaining what we are seeing. We had comfortable seats for viewing.

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And we saw several whales!

 

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Terry spotted a tiny iceberg, our first!

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And then icebergs were everywhere and one was so dark blue it did not seem real. It was a very rare type, even the crew were excited to see it.

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We saw seals resting on the icebergs.

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We finally reached the end of the Tracy Arm and right in front of us was a huge glacier. The ship stayed still for a long while so we could get all the pictures we wanted.

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I wrote some Haikus as we moved through the Tracy Arm.

I am a glacier

Slowly reaching toward the sea

The past behind me

 

 

I finally broke free

I am iceberg on my own

Melting now goodbye.

 

See me blue like sky

See me white like a snowcone

See me drift along

 

At 3pm they will serve split pea soup, they say it’s a HAL (Holland America Line) tradition. We are outside on deck 3 now watching as we go through the Tracy Arm. The scenery is breathtaking. They brought us bowls of split pea soup and it was actually the best food we’ve had so far.

Once the Tracy Arm was completed we had some dinner and then went to the comedy show in the Queen’s Lounge. It was funny when the woman, Maria, did her own material, but when she tried to do ship jokes and clean up her act for the kids in the audience, then not so funny.

We went to bed early because we had an early wake up for our helicopter flight and glacier walk in Juneau. Today was a much better day for both of us. I do not think the sea days are our thing, on the River cruises you get off the ship pretty much every single day and that makes time zoom by. An at sea day is slow.

Monday on the ms Amsterdam June 29

 

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We both had trouble falling asleep but not much waking up. I got up at 6:30, wrapped in a blanket and coat, I sat on the balcony for a while, it was great!

We both were up about 8:30. I went up for breakfast and had cereal and a grapefruit. Terry was not ready to eat.

We have made a discovery, we are looking forward to our off shore time, but find the ship rather confining. There is a lot of children swimming in both pools and the jacuzzis, bleh,  and even more drinking. People seem to start very early, I saw a lady having a martini with her breakfast! And there are so many “commercials” for things to buy on and off ship. We were not expecting that at all. I went to the shopping seminar and gosh, it was such a long commercial about diamonds, blah, blah, blah.

Since we are not swimming, not drinking and not getting internet, we are sort of wandering. We like our room and balcony very much, our room is narrow but otherwise spacious. There is so much closet space, and so many drawers that storage is not a problem at all.

I had lunch and sat with a nice couple, Kristen and Bryan. Terry joined us later. I had chicken and some fruit. Even though I feel ok, my stomach is a little uneasy, so I am eating gentle food. It could be the boat, but it is more likely just my fussy stomach.

We have met some nice people, including some from near us in Mission Veijo, but the majority of people are in their own groups. Everyone is happy and smiling and that is lovely.

Tonight there is a show in the main theatre at both 8 and 10. We plan to go to the 8:00 show. The captain gave a champagne toast to the passengers and the cruise.

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We are both glad that we did not take a specific meal time. We have enjoyed the Lido Buffet and the Dive Bar and there is ice cream! We have found the buffet to be tasty enough for us, and that is really all we ask.

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Right now we are watching a movie in the room, McFarland USA and Terry is eating Rocky Road and cookies.

The sunsets are amazing!

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I must admit that in spite of earlier bragging about knowing the ship, I keep getting sort of lost. I am always on the correct floor, I have that down, but I wander a lot looking for the exact room I want. Well, I am getting exercise for sure.