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Kokomo_Man

Live (sort of) from the Carnival Glory

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Pre-Cruise in Key Largo.

 

I’m embarking on a seven day cruise on the Carnival Glory and I’ll be posting about the cruise throughout the trip. I hope you enjoy the ride along with me.

 

One of the reasons I added the “sort of” to the title is because as I write this, I’m sitting in Key Largo enjoying the warm weather. (High 70’s… low 80’s today) Those of you still up to your Ahhh-Haaa in snow… eat your hearts out! The “Woman to Blame” and I have developed a tradition of spending a day or two before the cruise in “The Keys”. This started a few years ago when I was up to my Ahhh-Haaa in cold and came down here early because I couldn’t take it any more.

 

I recommend this to everyone who has to fly in to the Miami area for a cruise. If you have to spend the night here any way, why not come a day early. Rent a car… drive down to “the Keys” and stretch your vacation by a couple of days. Yea… it will cost a few hundred extra bucks, but what the heck… spend the kid’s college fund or inheritance… you deserve it.

 

One good reason for coming down here a couple of days early (as if I needed a reason), is you’ll have “insurance” against travel hiccups. Every cruise I’ve been on I meet someone who had their travel screwed-up and had to catch up with the ship after it sailed. The last trip I met at couple at the “Antigua International Airport” after my adventure to Montserrat. They had missed the ship’s sailing and were just catching up with the cruise… after it was half over. Besides that, if you drink fewer of the ship’s mojitos and don’t use the ship’s overpriced internet, then you’ll save a lot of the cost of the trip to “the keys”.

 

Speaking of the ship’s internet, I added the “sort of” to the heading partly because I won’t be posting this “live” from the ship. I did this from the ship on my previous cruise on the Freedom and because of the miserable internet I burned up more than 200 minutes of overpriced poor service. (It took 10-20 minutes just to copy_n_paste the text I had already written.) So, this time I’m going to write everything as I go, but only post it when I can find a wi-fi hot spot ashore. It’s not that I’m cheap… well, maybe I am… but I hate being ripped-off by the ship’s internet. (You can see my “rant” on this in my previous posts “Live From the Carnival Freedom” here à http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1330342&page=2

 

That’s all for now… it’s time to go SCUBA diving. That’s one of the reasons for coming to “the Keys”… some of the best snorkeling and SCUBA diving in the world.

 

Bob

Memories of Naked Fanny

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OK Bob,

I am ready for your cruise to begin!! Wish we were there as well, but wedding bells will soon be ringing, so here we sit. Maybe next time I can live the "live from" along with you.

Watch out for the warm chocolate melting cakes..but do have a couple for Jim and me. Emily already has my drink order, so all is well there.

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Good morning all.

 

The "Woman to Blame" and I are sitting in the Nassau Dunkin' Donuts enjoying the good coffee and tasty donuts... and most especially very good internet hook-ups.

 

I'm going to post all that I have collected for the past couple of days so I can catch up. So the following few posts are the stuff in the order I wrote it. I'll write more as the day goes along and post it when I can.

 

Bob

Memories of Naked Fanny

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OOH, OOOOH, can you save all the Fun Times and post them when you return??? Pretty Pretty Please? Hubby and I really want to see some recent ones from Glory since we are cruising for the first time on it in May!! I haven't been able to find any recent ones elsewhere! :D I will be excitedly reading your review!

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I forgot to post this yesterday so I want to just drop a quick message to everyone before sail-away and the internet service turns to poo-poo. [i didn't make it so you are getting this from the Nassau Dunkin' Donuts]

 

If anyone has questions about the Glory, crusin’ or the ports, I’ll try to answer them here. I’ll answer as I can, but also this is a good time because this is the “John Heald Bloggers Cruise” so there are going to be special Q & A sessions twice during the cruise. There are also going to be some other Carnival “management” folks (“the beards” as John calls them) on board for the “bloggers cruise”, so this will be a good time to ask.

 

I also want to say a quick hello to Mickiemac… We’re already missin’ you. “The Woman to Blame” is going to order a Chocolate Mocha Watcha-ma-call-it tonight at the piano bar in your honor… and I’m going to pig out on Chocolate Melting Cake in Jims honor. (Ok… I can pig out on Chocolate Melting Cake on my own but I’ll think of Jim while I’m doing it..) Any way, we’re already thinking about you and wishing you were here.

 

Bob

Memories of Naked Fanny

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I discovered something today that might save everyone a few bucks. I mentioned in my first post that we rented a car and went to Key Largo. We rented from Alamo and they have a free shuttle service from the Miami airport to the Cruise port if you rented a car from them. So if you rent a car you will likely save more than the cost of the car in taxi or cruise ship shuttle costs. I don’t remember what a taxi from the airport to the Port of Miami, but if you use Priceline you can rent a car for as little as $15-$20 and I’m pretty sure that’s a lot cheaper than a taxi. I think a couple of other rental car companies have shuttles too, but I’m not sure which ones.

 

We’ve finally made it onboard the boat… but not until after I have “busted a gut”; popped a hernia; and had massive coronary carrying all of the stuff we brought with us. Now I know what you’re thinking… “this guy must be a rookie cruiser”. But that’s not the case. Although I’m not one of the “professional cruisers”, I’ve got enough under my belt to know better.

 

But part of it is just because we have experience. We find more and more stuff that we just can’t live without. It starts with little things… we added two flashlights after the Splendor had the fire. When that ship lost power, all non essential lights were turned off. So we figured better safe than sorry. And so it goes. We keep adding stuff.

 

Last cruise we had left behind sort of a “mini-medical” kit we never used that had band-aids, aspirin, bactine… sun-burn cream… sun block lotion… Rolaids… tums… chap-stick… Neosporin, Visene and a dozen other spray cans & tubes of stuff because we never used it. Yea… you’re right… of course we needed it last cruise but didn’t have it with us. So it’s back in for this trip. And so we keep addding stuff to cover every contingency on earth. We now have tool kits, flash lights, duct tape, electrical tape, toe nail clippers, and everything else so that we can “McGiver” anything on earth. Oh yea… 3.5 tons of batteries of every size to cover the ever growing assortment of electrical paraphernalia that we now carry with us.

 

Of course we couldn’t possibly leave home without all the electrical stuff. We now find it impossible to live without things we didn’t even have a few years ago. First is the computers… yea that’s plural. I HAVE to have a laptop. I try to do some writing while I’m on a cruise because I can get time with no interruptions. So I have a lot of research collected and in my computer so I must bring that with me. But it’s really not very portable when out and about, so the last cruise I discovered that an iPad is perfect to just throw into my back-pack and take everywhere. Now the iPad is a necessity… along with it’s external keyboard. When I post from the internet “Hot Spots” it’s likely that it will be from my iPad… this is from my iPad.

 

The “Woman to Blame” discovered the iPad before I did. Sharing one iPad between us doesn’t work out very well because we both seem to want to use it at the same time. So we bring hers too. She also reads a lot and can’t leave home without her Kindle. Of course we both have cell phones that we can no longer live without.

 

Last cruise we managed to shrink our clothes baggage down to one large suit case, but that left us no room for souvenirs, so we had to buy another bag to get it all back home. This time we decided to bring two big bags and that way we would have room for souvenirs. Good plan… bad execution. The “Woman to Blame” filled her suitcase with all the stuff she had sacrificed on the on the last cruise… and then some. And I have now accused her of lining her suitcase with lead. She denies any lead, but I’m sure it’s in there. We flew Virgin America because they allow the first bag (paid for) to be 70 pounds without penalty.

 

I’m no better. I have to have all my SCUBA gear, so we have one large suitcase for that… which weighs right at 50 pounds. And then I have my suitcase for everything else… a minimum of seven “parrot” shirts; seven t-shirts; several pairs of “walking” shorts; gym shorts and other work out clothing; two swim suits; two pairs of shoes… tennis shoes… socks… flip-flops… shaving gear… a toiletry kit… and a partridge in a pear tree. And least I forget that we both have every suitcase filled with battery chargers and miles wiring stuff to support all of our electronic gear.

 

Then there is our camera case. It has a video camera, an SLR digital still camera with it’s interchangeable lenses, and my underwater camera… got to have that. Of course, these cameras are all really electronic stuff, so they each have their battery chargers, spare batteries and all the wires, plugs and download cables. There’s also a pair of binoculars in the case along with out portable GPS receiver that works for finding Diamonds International world wide… don’t leave home without it. With all of that stuff crammed in that bag has gotten heavy and its strap digs into my shoulder whenever I carry it. It has made me tired just telling about it.

 

One last thing I have failed to mention. We have been on enough cruises to know that we could finance a large condo in Boca Raton on the money we would spend on sodas and water if we buy them all on board. (Nearly $14 for a six-pack of soda at ships prices.) To avoid this we buy a couple of 6 packs of soda and a case of 20 oz water bottles when we get to Florida. We also add in a couple of bags of snacks, and candy bars. By the time we loaded up on this stuff, we need another small suitcase… a small fold-up one that we brought in one of the other suit cases. And of course all the drinks have to be in the carry-on per the cruise lines rules. All that liquid must weigh a thousand pounds. Ok… maybe a little less than that, bit it’s heavy just the same.

 

But finally now we are in the room and I don’t have to slog around all that stuff. It’s properly stashed and the party is about to begin… well… after the “muster” drill… ugggghhhh. But then the party can start. Let the crusin’ begin.

 

My next update will be from Nassau.

 

Bob

Memories of Naked Fanny

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Aprilgurlie...

 

I will collect the Fun Times from this cruise, but it will probably be a couple of weeks before I can get the scanned in and then posted somewhere.

 

In the mean time John Heald has begun posting the Fun Times from various ships on his blog. (http://johnhealdsblog.com/). Since he's on the Glory right now, he will probably be posting some of them.

 

Bob

Memories of Naked Fanny

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I call this "Day 0" because it really isn't the "first day"... but I consider it crusin' the minute I clear the gang-plank... err... gang-way.

 

I'm writing this late in the evening… about 11:30 P.M. It’s been a good day!!! From the time I set foot on the ship I’ve had this big grin (BG) plastered on my face. I can’t exactly describe to anyone what it is about crusin’ that has captured me, but it always happens… I think I must look like Jack Nicholson’s version of “The Joker” with the smile that is plastered on my face.

 

The sail away party got everyone started today. Young “hard-bodies” and mature… ummmm… ample bodies alike were dancing to the music that was rockin’ the Lido deck. It never fails… no matter what the type of person they are, everyone seems to become a “go-go dancer” during sail-away. I don’t know what it is about the Village People’s song but it always has people all around the pool and the overlooking decks singing and dancin’ to Y-M-C-A. Young and old… big and small, everyone knows how to make the symbols.

 

Nearly everything on the ship has been good or better so far. The wait staff around the pool was always available to get you a frozen concoction to help you hang on… but they were never pushy or trying too hard to sell you something you didn’t want. I found this the same on my last cruise and said then that this is one that Carnival has figured out very well.

 

Food in the main dining room was good as usual. And as expected, I pigged out on chocolate melting cake. I love the stuff but think they should serve it with a deliberator, an exercise machinel and maybe a roto-rooter to clean out your arteries. No matter, it’s mmmm-ummmm good. Service was a bit slow… not bad, but we didn’t get out from our 8:15 P.M. seating until almost 10:00 P.M. But before I pass judgement, it may have been just first night settling in, so we’ll see.

 

We went to the Piano Bar after dinner. Ron Pass is performing there so we wanted to see him. Ron is renowned to be one of the best… if not the best piano bar entertainer on the seven seas. Those of you that have followed my posts in the past know that we were just on a cruise less than two months ago. I wasn’t planning on another cruise until next fall, but when we found out that Ron was going to be performing on the Glory this week I immediately booked the cruise. We had not seen him before and simply put, he did not let us down. He is certainly worthy of all that we had heard of him and we will have seven entertaining nights with him. Unfortunately tonight the “Woman to Blame” was all tuckered so we left the piano bar a bit early. But there’s always tomorrow night.

 

Big grin not withstanding there is one thing that tries to wipe it off each time I cruise on Carnival… the internet service. As I started writing this tonight I decided that I would give in and use the ship-board internet to post the stuff I’ve written over the past couple of days. But when I tried to “get on” and sign up for a little bit of time, I couldn’t even get connected to the first step of signing up (paying) for the service. After a few select cuss words and frustration, I gave up. I think that they had just saved me a chunk of money. We’ll be in Nassau early in the morning and I’ll post everything from the Dunkin’ Donuts where they have free wi-fi if you buy a donut and coffee.

 

I know that Carnival management has people reading these boards, so I’m going to describe the internet service each day. Since I couldn’t even get on to see how well it worked, I’ll close today with the internet price that Carnival charges. I’ll let you be the judge of value for money spent. The “least expensive” per minute plan is 40 cents per minute (250 minutes for $100), the next plan is 55 cents per minute (100 minutes for $55) and the “per minute” plan is 75 cents per minute. I’m told that these prices are “in line” with the rest of the cruise industry. If that’s true, the cruise industry is ripping off their customers. If Virgin America can supply five hours of adequate internet service when they are flying faster than 500 MPH (ground speed) for about $12… well… as I said, you be the judge.

 

Bob

Memories of Naked Fanny

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great start to your cruise. have a great time and thanks for posting.

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Kokomo Man - I love your reviews. I'm recently off the Glory (2/13-2/20, sailed the same itinerary as you are, I believe). I'm in the proces of putting together a review of my trip as well. I will say, however, that it certainly humbles in compared to your "live" reviews. I love your humor and writing style, and look forward to sharing the rest of your cruise with you, and thank you for doing it!

Edited by chocolatelabguy

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Love this Review as we had continplated the Glory or the Liberty we wound up with the Liberty but we might have to change the dates and go on the Glory...Its nice read reviews like yours as Ive heard some terrible trips on board the Glory and was a bit skeptical to book...Cant wait to hear more!!

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KokomoMan - just got off as you got on Glory! I think we left her in pretty good shape for you! I might add some comments along with yours as a comparison, if you don't mind. Ron Pass was fantastic, as usual. I had the best head waiter ever in 11 cruises - Houston (table 434 Platinum early dining) was incredible. Our cabin (9242) had a/c issues the first 5 days - couldn't get it cooler than a stuffy 73 - finally, last 2 days got it cooler. (maintenance tried their best) On a more interesting note - my "11 cruise platinum level" surge protector (multi plug) was removed from my luggage upon embark - they called it an extension cord, which it definitely was not. Was wondering why my luggage came 2 hours later than dd's. Got it back 5 days later after multiple stops at Guest Services (probably the most uncooperative staff there I have encountered on- everything I asked them was answered with "no") Otherwise, had a wonderful cruise - hope you have the same. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

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I also want to say a quick hello to Mickiemac… We’re already missin’ you. “The Woman to Blame” is going to order a Chocolate Mocha Watcha-ma-call-it tonight at the piano bar in your honor… and I’m going to pig out on Chocolate Melting Cake in Jims honor. (Ok… I can pig out on Chocolate Melting Cake on my own but I’ll think of Jim while I’m doing it..) Any way, we’re already thinking about you and wishing you were here.

 

Bob

Memories of Naked Fanny

 

Looking forward to your adventures aboard. Thanks for the drink and dessert sacrifices you are making.

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Hi All,

 

Thanks for all the kind comments.

 

The next few posts are the stuff I've saved up over the past couple of days.

 

I'll try and post one more later on our stop in St. Thomas

 

Bob

Memories of Naked Fanny

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Day 1

 

There's one on every cruise. You know the one... the woman or maybe even a man who has colorized their hair for the festive occasion of a cruise. (I like to think it is for just the cruise. I can't imagine that they go through life that way.) This time it's Ms. "chicken hair". She's colored her shoulder length hair the color of baby chicks. Then she's cut it a bit raggedy and has it layered... sort of like chicken feathers. Then to top it off, she has sort of an orange-yellow tuft of hair on the top of her head. That's the crowning touch... and as soon as I saw that, the image of a chicken popped into my head. I'm sure she's having lots of fun with it. Cock-a-doodle-doo.

 

--Nassau--

 

It was only a short day for us in Nassau today. The ship arrived at 7:00 A.M. but we slept in past that. We ordered room service this morning with only coffee, cereal and fruit for me; hot tea, croissants and Cherrios for the "Woman to Blame". Everything got here right on the time requested. The hot stuff was hot and the cold stuff was cold. Our order had everything as requested including the skim milk for my cereal and reduced fat milk for the "Woman to Blame". My coffee was only marginally tolerable... but just barely. By the time I drank half of it I decided that it was more like, "pa-tooie". It sure was good to get to Dunkin' Donuts for some good coffee. Everything else we ordered was fine... it's hard to hurt boxed cold cereal and the fruit was OK.

 

We got off the ship about 10:00 and went to the "Straw Market" and to Dunkin' Donuts. We had just been in Nassau in January, so we didn't plan to do anything else. The "Woman to Blame" bought a "Couch" purse for $20... bargained down from $30, and some other trinkets for $22 bargained down from about $28. I'm being reminded that it is a "Coach"purse. When I use the word "knock-off" I get back an explanation that goes something like... "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it's a "Coach" purse." (That probably sounds a little peculiar, but you know what I mean.)

 

As I mentioned, it was a short day in Nassau. We sailed out of the Nassau harbor at 2:00 P.M. There's a very narrow passage for the cruise ships have to go through to get into and out of the Nassau harbor. Many of you know that Nassau was a haven for Pirates during the "Golden age of Piracy", but here's a couple of tidbits that you might not know.*

 

The harbor used for cruise ships didn't used to be as deep is it is now. The pirates used the harbor because was shallow. The swift, nimble and smaller sloops the pirates used didn't require a deep water port. The Man-of-War ships that might otherwise threaten the pirates couldn't come into the shallow harbor... they had to stay out in the open ocean. If the men from the "Man-of-Wars" tried to row smaller boats into the harbor, the pirates could easily "pick em off". It wasn't until more modern days that the port was dredged to make it into a deep water port.

 

The other tidbit is that Paradise Island... the island that the huge Atlantis resort is on... was called "Hog Island". It was renamed Paradise Island in 1962 by the Bahamian legislature at the request of American supermarket tycoon Huntington Hartford. I don't think too many tourists would be attracted to "Hog Island"... arrrrgggggg me maties... tis forever it be known as "Hog Island" to me.

 

After the sail away from Nassau the pool area filled up with people. All the usual people were there. You know... those with bating suits that were too small for the bodies that were too big. There are those who are "hot-hot-hot" and know it... they shame the rest of us for not spending enough time in the gym working off the chocolate melting cake. This cruise is not as bad as most of the previous ones I've been on. Most of those who should cover up are covering up and those that should display are displaying. In general, this only makes me suck in my gut just a little bit. (But I will be in the gym later today trying to work off the Chocolate Melting Cake... from the last cruise.)

 

There was one woman at the pool that I need to tell you about. She's the tattooed lady. She had a lot of tattoos even by today's standard. I suspect that thirty or forty years ago might they may have all been very pretty. But now what had probably been a large butterfly on her lower back has now morphed into a big buzzard trying to escape from "no mans land". YEEOOOWWWWWWW

 

-------

 

Mickie... I meant to tell you this morning... we did have that Mocha Chocolate whatcha-m-call-it in your honor while we were in the piano bar last night. The "Woman to Blame" made and awful face and stuck out her tongue, so I had to drink it all down. It's a tough job but someone's got to do it. (I really did like it.)

 

That's all for now y'all. Time to go to the gym... or maybe a nap. More to come on the rest of the day 1 activities later tonight.

 

Bob

Memories of Naked Fanny

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Day 2 beginning; Day one wrap-up

 

Day 2 gas begun. I'm sitting out on the Lido deck by the pool having morning coffee with the "Woman to Blame"... doing some people watching, and obviously writing this. But before I get going on to day 2, I'll to tell you about the rest if Day 1.

 

I didn't do much of anything else in the afternoon. I did wander around the ship and tried to take pictures of everything. I'll get them posted somewhere as soon as I can so y'all can see them.

 

Our room steward's name is Gabby (I'm sure that's short for some name that I have no chance of pronouncing.) Gabby has been very, very good. If we see him, he calls us by name and always goes out of his way to say something like "have a nice day". We "think" that we are "low maintenance" when it comes to room stewards, but the Woman to Blame always has one extra request. We have late dining so we go to our room in the late afternoon to "chill". The "Woman to Blame" asks that a fresh bucket of ice be brought to us about 6:00 P.M. So far, Gabby has been right on time every day. As long as he keeps that up, we will "take care of him" at the end of the cruise.

 

Dinner was again very good, but the service still seemed a bit slow. So when the Mitre'D stopped by while we were waiting for the dissert menu I asked him, "has the kitchen been a bit backed up tonight". He did say that on lobster night they do sometimes get a little behind, but didn't want to blame anything on anyone. He asked if the service had been a little slow. I said, "a little". After that, things "picked up". We'll see how things go tonight.

 

After dinner it was on to the piano bar featuring Ron Pass at the piano. Ron is far more than a piano player... which he is very good at. He is far more than a singer... which he is also very good at. He is an entertainer. He is funny and personable. He engages all the people in the room with him and everyone joins him in a fun filled sing along. I apologize if I sound a bit like a Carnival advertisement, but Ron is that good. I booked this cruise specifically because Ron was going to be entertaining in the Piano bar. Otherwise I wasn't going to cruise again until the fall. It has been more than worth it. I even bought a couple of extra "frozen concoctions to help me hang on" that I don't normally buy. I stayed there until nearly 2:00 A.M.*

 

I do have to give you a bit of warning though. Ron gets a little rough / raunchy after midnight. He was very funny but there are probably some who could be offended. He does give fair warning to everyone but then it's "have at it". He obviously knows his audience because the place was "full up" and "roaring". As I said, I was there until he was singing his "last song". (Ron really responds to the folks there... and to a few bucks in the tip jar to keep him going, so I suspect that he probably sang about 10 more "last songs" before everyone would let him go.)

 

All in all I think that last night was the best night I've ever had on a cruise ship thanks to Ron Pass.

 

Carnival... Are you listening? Actually I know they are. There was a guy named "Chris" (I didn't catch his last name) who is the head of Carnival entertainment that came to "visit" in the Piano Bar. I spoke with him some and told him what I've told you here. He was a nice, personable guy and seemed to listen carefully to what I had to say. Moreover, he was there observing a lot of people having a lot of fun... and, like me, spending a lot of extra money on booze and other drinks. To Criss I say, thanks for visiting and paying attention. Now we'll just have to be sure Gerry sees this.

 

So as I sit here this morning I'm not quite as "spry" as I normally am. It's not that I'm hung over or anything like that. I'm just that I've been burning the candle at both ends since we started on the trip. It's a good thing today is a sea day so I can recuperate a bit.

 

I have been looking out for Ms. Chicken Hair but haven't seen her so maybe that was just temporary coloring that she had at the beginning of the cruise. I also haven't seen the tattooed lady, so maybe that was just a henna tattoo gone bad.

 

As I sit here sipping my orange juice (about the coffee in a minute) I have been noticing that there are lots of women on this ship who aren't bashful about displaying their... errr... talents. *And there are some very talented women. I have written about the good; the bad; and the ugly before... but on this ship it's mostly good.

 

I know... I know... some of you are thinking that I'm a "dirty old man". Well... in the immortal words of Bill Engval, "I'm just a guy". AND... I'll never admit to being old. (I know that I have daughters at home who as they read this are saying "EEEWWWWW"... too much information about my dad.)

 

That's all for now. I've had enough of this coffee. I actually only drank less than half the cup. This stuff is "pa-tooie". I guess I'll just have to find a way to get to Carnivals director of "coffee".

 

More later.

 

Bob

Memories of Naked Fanny

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Today was a standard sea day with the usual activities... the mens harry chest contest with the usual craziness, and the mixology contest.*

 

For those who don't know, for the mixology contest a few people are selected from volunteers to brew up some new concoction with their favorite blend of booze and juices. ("there's booze in the blender"). These are then given some exotic sounding name. I'm sure this is how drinks like "sex on the beach" got their name. Most of these "brews" are really awful as you can tell by the faces on all of the tasters. But after all have been sampled... especially by the bar manager who has to try to sell the swill... one is selected as the winner and is made available throughout the ship for the rest of the cruise. Since this is the "John Heald Bloggers Cruise" I should have expected that the drink that won would be named "Johnny's Underpants".

 

At noon there was a Texas Hold-um Poker tournament. The "Woman to Blame" entered it... I was glad. She usually plays the slot machines... poker machines... and I told her that you have no chance of winning against the machines. All of those machines are just computer controlled money takers. If I owned those computer-machines I know how I would set them up. I said that at least at a "live" poker game you stand a chance 'cause you're playing against people, not a machine.

 

She entered the tournament and I went back to the room to do a little writing. An hour passed and she was hadn't come back to the room. Another hour passed and she was still gone. After nearly 3 hours she came back into the room. I asked how she did and she finished fifth... not bad, but no money (this is a winner take all tournament.) But then she took out a wad of money and put it down on the table. I counted it... it was a THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!! She asked me, "What was that you said about machines." I decided I wouldn't put my other foot in my mouth just then.

 

The service at dinner was much, much better. Without any fanfare we got a different waiter. He is the head waiter for the area. We were finished eating about 30 minutes earlier than the first two nights. It was still a nice leisurely dinner as we finished the main course by about 9:30. Then we had the waiters dancing on the tables for entertainment... that's always a nice "bit". But I always feel sorry for the waiters. They have to bust their butts keeping folks like me happy and then have to get up on the tables and entertain us with a dance.

 

After dinner we spent a few minutes in the Piano bar with Ron Pass. Then we drug ourselves away from Ron to go see John Heald's Marriage Show. We figured that it was going to be just his version of the "Newly Wed Game". We were WRONG! The Marriage Show is entirely different. I won't spoil it here for folks who have not seen it before by telling you the details. (I'm not sure I could tell about it in words any way.) You'll have to go see it for yourselves. I will tell you that John is very funny and the show was very, very good. Don't miss it if you are ever on a ship with him.

 

Also, our "standard" cruise director, Jorge, was also on stage with John to introduce the show. Jorge is also very funny and together Jorge and John were even funnier. They could take their comedy show on the road.

 

After the show we went back to the Piano Bar. Ron was in great form again tonight, but I was a bit "tuckered out". it was after midnight so we left the singing and cheering and laughter to finish off these few words... and for the solace of a good night's sleep.

 

Nighty-night all

 

Don't let the bed bugs byte.

 

Bob

Memories of Naked Fanny

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We "slept-in" this morning... what else is new?... and then went up to the Lido deck for a light morning breakfast. But no coffee today... pa-tooie! As we sit here we are pulling into St. Thomas. This is our third time here and the second time in just about two months. St. Thomas is one of the most popular cruise ports.

 

As we are pulling in, I've just gotten a chance to see the new Norwegian Epic. From the pictures I've seen, I've always thought it was an ugly ship. I've heard it said that it must have been designed by Stevie Wonder. But now that I've seen it first hand, it's a lot better than the pictures show it. I just wonder how it is with all the weird shaped rooms.

 

We are not going to do anything special at St Thomas this time... just some exploring on our own, and maybe a tram ride to the top. The most important thing is to buy a boatload of cigarettes. This is a good tip for all the smokers out there... you can buy 5 cartons of name brand U.S. cigarettes for $100 AND you can take them back into the U.S mainland duty free because St. Thomas is a U.S. territory. Just save your receipt(s) so you can prove you bought them in St. Thomas.

 

As we sit here on the Lido deck we can't help notice how good the staff is that is taking care of the area. They clear tables and keep everything very ship-shape all the time. Add to that they are all very friendly. Just now the guy who was taking away my empty cereal bowl struck up a nice conversation about how nice the day is and about St. Thomas... And this wasn't an act... I'm sure he's truly a nice guy. His name is Osmond and he is from Granada. (The Carnival "Beards" who are reading this need to take care of him.)*

 

Finally it's nearing time to go ashore... and find an internet hot-spot. I've managed to survive a whole sea day without my internet "fix". It was really hard and I've been going through severe withdrawal pains. But at last, I'm about to satisfy my craving.

 

More when I get an "I-V" plugged into my iPad.

 

Bob

Memories of Naked Fanny

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Sounds like you all are having a blast. I know the casino trip made someone very happy. :)

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I am enjoying every word you are writing! Wish I could have done a back to back. Keep up the great review in progress!:D

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Good Morning All,

 

I'm coming live to you this morning... really live!!!... from the Starbucks in Downtown "Old San Juan". For the price of a Grande (about $3) you get a good cup of coffee and free internet. *And you don't really have to buy a cup of coffee. There's an area in the back where all the folks with their internet devices are and I noticed that several have just walked in and set-up. Me... I wanted the coffee. It was a late night last night. I'm posting this "real time" for the moment. I was put onto this place by "MISSISSAUGA" (that's her screen name)... and her real name is Mary. (She's one of the Bloggers on this cruise too.)

 

For now I'm just going to post the stuff from yesterday and then sit, chat, and enjoy a good cup of coffee.

 

Bob

Memories of Naked Fanny

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There's lots to tell, so I'll get right to it.

 

What a day. I've been all over St. Thomas exploring. I'm sure I walked 100 miles... really... maybe even two hundred. The "dogs are really barking". Whatever the real distance was... reconsidering, it could have been 3 hundred miles...*I won't be going to the gym this evening... and I'm sure I worked of enough for an extra helping of Chocolate Melting Cake tonight. (smiley face goes here).

 

The "Woman to Blame" and I walked all around the port shopping area. This area has all the usual tourist traps... t-shirt shops, trinket-shops and jewelry shops. And... Shazam, Shazam (think Gomer Pyle, USMC) there was a Diamonds International. There were also the usual bars and "watering holes"... in particular, there's now a "Senor Frogs" in the port compound. And Shazam, Shazam... we didn't buy a thing in the port compound. That's probably a first, but I'm sure we've made up for that on the previous trips.

 

Something I need to correct is what I told you earlier about cheap cigarettes... the place that had the 5 cartons for $100 doesn't do that any more. What used to be a big wall of cigarettes is now sparsely populated with pretty decorations. (It was the drug store in the port "compound"). Now the only place that comes close is "Al Cohen's" which is against the hill across from the port compound area. Their price is 5 cartons for $115 which is still pretty good deal, but their selection is limited. *Other places were $26 per carton.

 

My first real order of business was finding a "wi-fi hot spot". There's a place right at the main opening from the dock to the shopping compound. It's called the "Havensight Cafe". Don't waste your time there. First of all they charge $6.00/hour for the internet hook-up, but most of all, it was useless. I couldn't even get connected, and the "Woman to Blame" tried to download a video... which was also a waste of time. She was able to check her email but that was it. By the time we had a coke at $4 each, a bowl of soup, and some shrimp-n-rice the bill came with almost useless internet came to $31.00.*

 

It was around 1:30 (ships time) and the "Woman to Blame" was "done-for", so she headed back to the ship. So I went back to a place that I had looked at earlier for a good wi-fi spot. (The "Woman to Blame" didn't see anything she wanted there.) The name of the place is the "Barefoot Buddha". It's an interesting little "coffee and tea" place with a lot of "character". It's kind of a cross between a coffee house and a health food place. I had coffee... a good cup of coffee for the first time in a couple of days... and a strawberry filled croissant with chocolate drizzle on the top... all very tasty. The internet hook-up was reasonably good (that's where I posted the stuff earlier today), but they do charge $5.00 per day. I was there about 15 minutes before they closed, so they didn't charge me anything. (They close at 3:00 P.M.*local tie which is 2:00 P.M.*ship's time. This place is the closest good connection to the ship. Go straight out from the dock, cross the street, and it is right there.

 

After that I went on my walk-about and found two other wi-fi places that are "free" for their customers. The first place is called the "Hubbly Bubbly Hookah". I'm not sure what everyone was smoking from the Hookahs... and I didn't ask. I did ask about the internet and the folks I asked said the internet hook-up was good. They also said the food & drink prices were "reasonable". To get there after you exit the "fenced-in" dock area, stay close to the water's edge and follow it around to the left in front of the docked boats. It's will be on your left as you enter a small area of shops and drink places.

 

If you keep going about another mile (I'm not exaggerating this time... it's really about a mile) following along the bay, you'll find a place called the "Big Kahuna Rum Shack". It's across the street from the bay. Again, I didn't try it out, but there were a bunch of people working away on their internet devices... which is a pretty good indication that there's a good internet hook-up.

 

-- Getting around --

 

The next time I'm here, I'll probably rent something so I can explore farther out. In the port's shopping compound there is a Budget rental car place, and just out the main gate there is an Avis rental car place. (My dogs are telling me I should have rented something this time.)*Be advised though, driving here is on the left side of the road.

 

If you are really adventurous, then you can rent a scooter or motorcycle at a place also just outside of the port compound. You'll find it in the area across the street from the main gate to the port compound. They have a bit more than the usual scooters (although they do have those.) They have larger motorcycles too. Well... it depends on what you call larger. What I'm talking about here are Honda 250cc motorcycles. In any case they have Hondas and Yamahas. Prices range from about $40 for a couple of hours to about $100/day. You can check them out and get details on pricing-n-such at http://www.scootrvi.biz. One other caution is that there is a helmet law here so you will have to wear one... bring your own or wear a sweaty one someone else has worn. I think renting a motorcycle is what I'll do on my next trip here... *so now my helmet is another thing to add to the packing list.

 

There are also plenty of taxi's you can take from the port compound. Most of these are pick-up trucks that have had the bed converted to hold ten or twelve open air seats with a cover over it (I'll post pictures eventually). Get together with a bunch of other people and design your own tour... or just to take one to the main part of town. I have no idea of what the prices are.*

 

--- St. Thomas itself ---

 

It's a little hard to describe St. Thomas... at least the part that I saw on foot. Everything is a contrast and contradiction to what you might expect. I've sort of told you about the first contradiction... we're in the Caribbean, but the car rental places are Budget and Avis... steering wheel on the "Normal Side" of the car (a "left-hooker" for the British types) for us in the U.S (a "left-hooker" for the British types)... *but driving is on the left side of the road (the proper side for the British types).

 

The port compound area is like most in the Caribbean with all the tourist traps... but... there's a U.S. Post Office in the port compound. (This is the place to ship stuff home if you need to. They had plenty of those priority shipping boxes you see advertised where "if it fits, it ships".)

 

Looking at a large part of the population, it's clear that the Caribbean Slave Trade of the 1600's to 1800's has had a large impact... yet everyone in the shops we went into (with one exception) was someone who looked and talked like someone from the midwest... mostly someone I would have thought was a white, twenty-something college student from the University of Oklahoma. The exception was a very friendly woman who I'm pretty sure had a Jamaican heritage. She always had a warming smile... everything seemed to be "no problem" and "airy". (She worked at the "Bones Virgin Islands Rum" store... where of course I had to buy a shot glass... and the bottle of rum to go with it.)

 

Looking at the architecture and buildings you would think that this was a typical Caribbean island. But then from my balcony on the ship I can look out and see a Radio Shack and a Hooters. There's also a Pizza Hut, a Foot Locker shoe store, and a K-Mart. Lots of the ship's employees can be seen bringing bags of stuff back from K-Mart. We even saw on guy (ship employee) with one of those roller carts with a couple of big cases of water.

 

Another oddity that I saw was the "Lucinda A Mullen Home, Mature Living by the Bay"... a retirement home in St. Thomas, right on the bay with all of the ships.

 

The ships in the bay are another contrast. I'm not speaking of the cruise ships, but all of the other boats and ships. Looking at the island, you might think that the economic status of the place would be a bit above most of the other Caribbean islands. But looking at the bay is almost unbelievable. There were twenty or thirty luxury yachts along with hundreds of sail boats. By luxury, I mean L-U-X-U-R-Y!!! If you recall the movie "Overboard" with Goldie Hawn and Curt Russell... and think of the boat that the debutant that Goldie Hawn played was on... and then realize that boat Goldie was on would have been a dingy compared to the yachts in the harbor today.

 

I walked out on the docks where the yachts were and there were also two very nice sail boats for sale... I should call these sail-yachts. One of them was sixty-something feet long and was "only" a "million-two". The other one was really a good deal. It was a 46 footer and was only going for $400K. (I think this probably was a pretty good deal.) I talked to the "skipper" who was there with the boats and he told me the owner was selling both boats and was going to move up to something larger. He told me that the smaller of the two boats was still big enough to go anywhere in the world where there was water. He added that it was "only" about $80K per year for maintenance and the crew. Again, that sounds like a pretty good deal. I could just give up a couple of cruises a year and then get one of those... yea, that's the ticket. I told the "skipper" that even if I could figure out some way to buy the boat on some kind 50 year lay-away plan, I couldn't afford the divorce.

 

One other thing I noticed was that all of the shops and stores along the bay closed at 5:00 P.M. local time (4:00 P.M. ships time). *I thought this was a bit odd since there were still two cruise ships docked... along with all the luxury yachts. Our "all aboard" time wasn't for another hour and a half. All of the "watering holes" did seem to be staying open.

 

By the way, there was an interesting "watering hole" in the walk area a bit past the "Hubbly, Bubbly, Hookah" place I mentioned before. It was called the "Fat Turtle". It looked like a typical Caribbean sea-side, tiki-hut kind of place... except that they had a rock-n-roll band playing music... and they were pretty good.

 

I guess the license plates on all the cars sums it all up best:

 

"U.S. Virgin Islands

Americas Caribbean"

 

That's all for now... I'll fill you in on the rest of the day tomorrow morning.

 

Bob

Memories of Naked Fanny

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