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cboyle

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About cboyle

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    North Carolina, USA
  • Interests
    Hiking, snorkeling, SCUBA
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Princess
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Mediterranean

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  1. At least once the MTPs got private tours of the Bridge. Also, the Cruise Critic roll call members are occasionally invited. We have been as high as 3rd most travelled but on our last cruise, we were nearly at the bottom. We very much prefer the luncheons to the cocktail party. However, everything depends on the Captain and the number of Elites aboard.
  2. Thanks, we are looking forward to it. Just need to finish packing. Glad you agreed that Derantur is a great option in Buenos Aires! I am sure they would appreciate a positive review on TripAdvisor, if you have not already submitted one. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g312741-d6219332-Reviews-Defrantur_Argentina-Buenos_Aires_Capital_Federal_District.html
  3. We are leaving Friday afternoon, but I guess it will be Saturday for you!🙂 Time zones are confusing.
  4. Check out my review for the Star Princess from Valparaiso to BA; you will probably have some of the same ports. https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=80603
  5. Le Soleal? John and I are in cabin 318. Hope to see you aboard!
  6. I have a word processing app on my Kindle and take notes every day; so does my husband. We also take a lot of photos and that helps jog our memories. Plus the daily program has a lot of information. We are doing an Antarctic expedition on Ponant starting February 3. Maybe we will see the Ocean Adventurer down there! Also, we booked both the Arctic and the Antarctic expeditions well ahead of time and chose two different companies in order to be able to compare the experiences. We would have no hesitation about exploring with Quark again. I am sure you will have a fantastic time! If you have any questions, just ask.
  7. I'm surprised that you didn't see it there. I put a link to this forum rather than posting the entire report twice.
  8. You are both very welcome. When we were planning this trip, I found lots of reviews and information for Antarctica but comparatively little on the Arctic. I hope this helps. If you have any questions, I will try to answer them.
  9. I am very surprised--I always receive a reply within a day at most. The only email I have is the one on their site: info@defrantur.com. I will email Laura and ask whether they are having internet problems.
  10. Day 16: Wednesday, September 25, 2019—Disembarkation, Kangerlussuaq, Greenland to Ottawa, Canada At 12:30 a.m. this morning, Ali woke us all up to see the Northern Lights! We hastily threw on some warm clothes and hurried to the outer decks. The ship was navigating the 120-mile (190 km) long Kangerlussuaq Fjord; we could see the pale green curtains of light above the wall of the fjord to the south. Unfortunately, the display did not last very long but we stayed out for as long as we could see it. I was so excited to finally see the aurora that I was simultaneously laughing and crying. John tried to take some photos; he thought maybe after some Photoshopping, we could see the lights. Alas, it was not to be. I also hoped that someone on the Expedition Team took some shots that would be included in the photo journal. Again, no luck. We had to put out our checked luggage at 7:30 a.m.; it was taken to the Lounge and arranged by cabin deck. After breakfast, we collected our passports and found a spot in the Lounge to wait until the airline officials came to give us boarding passes and luggage tags. Our luggage would be transferred to the Kangerlussuaq Airport and we would claim it in Ottawa. Then it was time to wait for everyone to be checked in, by deck. At 10:15 we watched the 60-minute documentary, "Chasing Ice." Finally it was time to disembark the Ocean Adventurer by our Zodiac groups; Parry was third. Near Kangerlussuaq (“big fjord”), the fjord is silted up, so the ship anchored in deep water; the Zodiacs must follow a narrow channel to reach the Kangerlussuaq Pier. Even though this was a dry landing, we were advised to wear waterproof outerwear for the crossing. This was the only time we wore our unlined waterproof pants over our cargo pants. When we reached the pier, we surrendered our life jackets and boarded buses for the transfer to Kangerlussuaq Airport. It is a 40-minute drive from the pier to the airport. The 1.9-mile (3 km) long airstrip was built by the U.S. during WWII as a refueling stop for military flights between North America and Europe. There were landing craft from that era on the beach near the pier. This is a very small town (population ~500); almost all of the adults are involved with the airport, the hotel or some other tourism-related job. Along the way, our driver pointed out highlights of the area. Even though we had a charter flight, we had to go through regular airport security and some of my toiletries over 3.4 ounces (100 ml) were confiscated. One guest had a bottle of wine and I think he was able to have that placed in his checked luggage. This was a bit frustrating as Quark could have warned us that the liquids rules on the flight back to Ottawa were different than on the charter flight to Resolute, where no inspection took place. Again we had no problem with the luggage weight although we had picked up a few souvenirs on the ship. My bag was 25 lbs (11.3 kg) and John’s was 30 lbs (13.7 kg). Now there was a long wait in an overheated gate area. People were getting pretty unruly by the time we finally were ready to board the plane. Again, there were no seat assignments, so the boarding process was chaotic. It is 1756 miles (2826 km) from Kangerlussuaq to Ottawa and the flight took over four hours. After we arrived at Ottawa International Airport, we went through immigration, collected our luggage and cleared Canadian customs. The local transfer agent met us in the arrival hall and herded us onto buses for the ride back to the Marriott Delta hotel. We were fortunate to be on the first bus, so while John retrieved our luggage, I picked up our key and we were quickly in our room. We had hoped to return to the Bier Markt for dinner but it was closed for a special function. We decided to try the nearby Brixton’s Pub. It was nothing special but did the job for us. The burgers were a bit dry and they had no steak sauce to go with them. (They said they don't serve steaks anymore, so they no longer provide A-1, Heinz 57, etc. for the burgers.) The fries were good and so was the beer. Maybe other items on the short menu were more exciting. Back at the hotel, we made it an early night because we had a 6 a.m. flight to Philadelphia. Day 17: Thursday, September 26, 2019—Ottawa, Canada to RDU Because of the changes in the bus routes, we decided that it would be best to take a taxi to the airport. At this early hour, there was no traffic and the fare (with tip) was only 32 CAD ($25 USD). We were able to check in and go through security right away but there was quite a wait for U.S. Customs and Immigration to open. By the time that happened, the regular passport line was quite long; however, there were only a few people with us in the Global Entry line. It was good to get through those formalities fast because there is only limited seating in the gate areas. Once we arrived in Philadelphia, we had over three hours until our flight to RDU. We decided to use our Priority Pass membership at the Minutes Suites there. Because we are both members, we could use a suite for two hours. This was the first time we had used a Minute Suite and it was wonderful to be able to stretch out and nap. We were thoroughly refreshed by the time we had to go to the gate for our flight to RDU. The flight and drive home were uneventful. This expedition vastly exceeded our expectations because of the wildlife sightings and the superb Expedition Team. We were extremely fortunate to have good weather, sea and ice conditions. I can only wish that everyone who takes such a voyage has an equally good experience.
  11. Day 15: Tuesday, September 24, 2019—Exploring West Greenland: Sisimut and Itilleq It was even warmer today; the air temperature was 44.6°F/7°C. Today we would visit two Greenland towns, one large and one small. The first was Sisimiut (population ~5500); the name means "the residents at the foxholes.” We were given a map with points of interest (www.mappery.com/maps/Sisimuit-City-Map.gif) but decided to take the guided walking tour first. Our local guide was a teacher with her 7-month-old baby. We walked past all the sights: Kayak Club, schools, grocery stores, municipal buildings, sled dogs, cemetery, etc. The city was nice and had great surroundings. After the walk, we visited the tiny museum (admission again prepaid by Quark), which consisted of several buildings, including the oldest (1775) surviving church in Greenland. Outside the yellow house near the main museum building, we were offered a “Taste of Greenland.” The foods included seal blubber, dried minke whale skin and jerky, dried cod, red shrimp and reindeer soup. The shrimp and reindeer stew were great. The blubber was chewy—I wouldn't want to live on it. By the time we made it back to the ship, we had only walked 2.8 miles (4.5 km). While we were in town, those who chose to stay on the ship or return earlier had the option of a presentation by a local teacher about his experiences living and teaching in Ittileq and Sisimiut. However we made sure to be back on the ship in time to view a traditional kayaking demonstration. Maligiaq Padilla is known worldwide for his kayaking skills and is the only person in history to win ten Greenland National Kayaking Championships. He demonstrated many of the 35 rolls that must be executed in the competition. This was an amazing performance! After lunch Andrea, the Expedition Coordinator, gave us a short disembarkation briefing before we headed off on the final excursion of our voyage to the tiny community (population ~130) of Ittileq (“hollow”), situated in a scenic hollow on a small island with no freshwater and no roads. Here we were first treated to another traditional Kaffeemik, after which we were free to stroll around this colorful community surrounded by sea, mountains and fjords. The community invited the guides and guests to a football (soccer) match. We did not stay for the game but it was clear from the warm-ups that Fabrice is a ringer and some of the others on the Expedition Team are also pretty good. In the evening, the Captain invited everyone to the Farewell Cocktails in the Lounge. For dinner, John started with pumpkin bisque and I had the pear and Roquefort salad; we both followed that with the rack of lamb provençale. The wines were a Chianti and a good Chardonnay from Montes Alpha. Dessert tonight was a special chocolate buffet. Excellent! After dinner was a slide show “Northwest Passage: Epic High Arctic,” which included photos taken by the Expedition Team and the guests; this photo journal would be available for download about two months after the voyage. Kataisee made all of us in the mitten group stand up to be applauded; later she gave each of us a certificate written in English and Inuktitut. Thankfully, we did not have to sing the alphabet song.
  12. Day 14: Monday, September 23, 2019—Exploring West Greenland: Ilulissat & the Ilulissat Icefjord This morning it was foggy and the ship was plowing through sea ice and icebergs of all sizes. Occasionally the ship shuddered as an iceberg scraped against the hull. The air temperature was 41°F/5°C. Today’s destination was the village of Ilulissat ("iceberg”) and the nearby Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site—the only one in Greenland. The glacier that produces the ice field is Sermeq Kujalleq (aka Jakobshavn Glacier), the most productive glacier in the northern hemisphere. Sermeq Kujalleq is thought to be the source of the iceberg that sank the Titanic, based on the sheer number of bergs that it calves. The glacier is so far up the icefjord that we would not be able to see its face. Because of the poor sea conditions, the start of the transfer to Ilulissat (population ~4500) was delayed; Parry was the third group ashore. There was a choice either of walking 1.2 miles (2 km) to the trail head at the Old Heliport just outside the World Heritage Site or of taking a complimentary shuttle there. We decided to take the shuttle and save our energy for hiking. We didn’t need an armed guide today. There are three trails (www.kangia.gl/-/media/images/om-kommunen/isfjorden/ilulissat%20vandrekort%20kal.jpg) that start at the Old Heliport: Blue, Red and Yellow; most people took the Blue trail. The first section, the World Heritage trail, is a boardwalk that leads to the edge of the icefjord. There were Team members to guide us along; we walked with Kataisee’s group. It is important to stay on the trails because of the threat of tsunamis. The boardwalk ends at the abandoned Inuit settlement, Sermermiut. From there, the Blue trail continues up the icefjord over boulders until it connects to the Red trail, which leads back into town. We continued on the Blue trail up to an overlook and walked a bit more along the edge of the icefjord, enjoying the spectacular views, before backtracking to the trail head in order to take the Yellow trail. We even spotted a sightseeing boat dodging the icebergs. The Yellow trail passes the cemetery and winds around a headland before it enters town near the Power Plant. This trail gives fantastic views of the entrance to the icefjord and a multitude of gigantic icebergs. This is a fairly well-marked trail but we still missed a marker somewhere near the end and had to cut cross-country. We only met one other guest from the ship; he was enjoying lunch on one of the high points and later caught up to us as we reached the wooden stairs at the end of the trail. We also encountered Erin (Polar Boutique Manager/Guide), who was hiking the trail in the opposite direction, and, as we got closer to town, Tara, who was just starting. Back on the boat, Claire told us that she had run the entire loop before breakfast! Oh to have the energy of the young! Even though we hiked 5.1 miles (8.2 km) today—nearly as far as we did at Eqip Sermia—it did not seem as difficult to me because we could go at our own pace and stop for as many photos as we wanted. On a rock near the Power Plant is a monument commemorating the 250th anniversary of the town; it is a tangle of Inuits, fish and polar bears. From here, we walked to the small Knud Rasmussen Museum. The explorer, who was the first to traverse the Northwest Passage by dogsled, was born in Ilulissat and there is a bust of him outside the museum. There are also other exhibits outside including boats, sledges and a whalebone arch. Inside are various exhibits about Rasmussen and aspects of Inuit life. The stairwell is lined with pelts from different types of seals. A depressing exhibit is an overhead photograph of the icefjord, with lines showing how much it has retreated over the decades. Admission to the museum was covered by Quark; we only had to show our ship’s ID cards. Although a number of people wanted to eat lunch in town, we returned to the ship to eat and relax before our afternoon Zodiac cruise of the legendary icefjord. This was another spectacular 90-minute outing among the icebergs. At one point we received a distress call from another Zodiac and thought that the bad fuel was still causing problems. It was simply a ruse: Claire, Ali, Jesse and Dr. Jane were waiting for us to toast the awe-inspiring scenery with sparkling wine or ginger ale. As we sailed away from Ilulissat, the Expedition Team presented a “Taste of Greenland: Fish & Beer Sail Away.” This was an opportunity to taste Greenland ale and lager, schnapps and tea plus a few other Arctic treats. After the Sail Away and briefing, there was a fund-raising auction to benefit Polar Bears International. Various mementos and souvenirs of the trip were auctioned; bidders were given extra champagne and buyers got a patch to recognize their donation. We had intended simply to donate but I ended up placing the winning bid for some cards designed by Inuit children, a baseball cap and two bags of Greenland tea. Nat was a very entertaining auctioneer! Dinner tonight was a good black bean soup and filet mignon. Wines were a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile and a Pinot Grigio from Italy. Later the Expedition Team held an Arctic Quiz and other games.
  13. Day 13 Sunday, September 22, 2019—Exploring West Greenland: Eqip Sermia After breakfast Ali gave a presentation called “There Is No Plan(et) B.” That was followed by an introduction to Quark’s brand-new Arctic Ambassador program, given by Nat (Naturalist Guide/Mandarin Guide). Eqip Sermia, at the upper end of Disko Bay, is an outlet for the Greenland Ice Sheet and is one of the fastest moving glaciers in the region. This is an impressive glacier: the face is up to 626 feet (200 m) high and over two miles (4 km) wide. It also is one of Greenland's most active glaciers. Our route to the glacier was littered with huge icebergs that had calved from the glacier. When a huge chuck of ice fell from the glacier in 2014, it caused a tsunami wave 164 feet (50 m) high. Ali and the Captain had doubts that we would be able to visit the glacier because the Sullorsuaq Strait and Ata Sund were predicted to be blocked with ice. However, we were fortunate and the Ocean Adventurer was able to navigate close enough that Ali could organize Zodiac cruises to view the glacier face from as near as was safely possible. Alas another problem arose! Fuel for the Zodiacs had been purchased in Uummannaq and it was contaminated. Most of the Zodiacs were disabled and had to be towed back to the ship, cutting short our cruise. We did see some calving and were able to observe more from the ship. It was hard to get any photos though! While we enjoyed some wonderful samosas and passable chicken cordon bleu for lunch, the Expedition Team and the ship’s crew was busy flushing the fuel lines and cleaning the Zodiac motors. Ali was concerned that there might not be enough fuel for the remaining Zodiac cruises that she had planned and hoped to buy more when we reached Ilulissat. By the afternoon, enough Zodiacs had been repaired that we could be sent off in our hiking groups for a 5.3-mile (8.5 km) hike to a glacier overlook on a lateral moraine. From the beach, we walked around a small lagoon (where we saw some Pink-Footed Geese), so the trail was fairly flat until the steep climb up the moraine. It was worth it for the great view of the glacier face and we even saw black ice emerge from the bottom of the glacier. The Quark parkas are much too warm to wear when exercising strenuously and lots of us took the outer shell off before starting the climb to the overlook; we just dumped them in piles on the ground. Although I managed to do this hike, I was the slowest in the Charger group. John, however, stayed up at the front of the Charger pack. If there had been any more group hikes, I think I would have gone with the Medium-Fast group. Dinner tonight was styled “Dining with a Glacier: Arctic BBQ Dinner.” The food was good and interesting: boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce, lamb patties, suckling pig with really hard skin, pork ribs, salmon, apple crumble; there were lots of other dishes too. However, standing around shivering is not our favorite way to eat and it was really cold outside! We were saved by multiple cups of Glühwein (hot mulled wine), as well as some South African Sauvignon Blanc and Pinotage. Later there was an Ocean Adventurer Arctic Dance Party outside for those who like to shiver and dance at the same time.
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