Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Johnny B

John and Diane are at it Again!

Recommended Posts

I hope the wallet, and everything in it, turns up. I can sympathize with John because I thought I lost my wallet at Cracker Barrel the other day. I rushed back to the table and looked all around. Then I took a deep breath and looked in my purse again -- I put it in the "wrong" pocket. That was just a few minutes but it was about as close to panic as I've come since my nephew wandered off at a Mardi Gras parade 20-something years ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Woohoo how exciting! I want to be like you when I grow up :) Thank you so much for sharing your adventures with us!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Monday, December 30

Panama Canal Transit

 

Today, as the ship keeps reminding us, is “The Highlight of our Holiday Cruise.” As I write this, we are about to enter Miraflores locks, the entrance to the Panama Canal from the Pacific Side. We will spend about an hour and a half in those locks, and then 20 minutes later, enter the Pedro Miguel locks, which take only about 45 minutes to transit. We’ll then spend much of the day sailing through the Culebra Cut and Gatun Lake. The Cut, the Canal’s narrowest part, was excavated through rock and limestone of the Continental Divide of the Isthmus of Panama. Having transited the Lake, we will enter Gatun Locks at about 1:10 and exit at about 2:35.

 

Yesterday, at the end of the Sunday service, the minister asked how many people had already been through the Panama Canal and almost every hand went up. Even though that may be true, it seems that virtually everyone on board has found a position from which to view our transit. We’ve been through three times before, but each one is a fascinating experience. It’s wonderful to have a verandah today, because we can just sit outside and watch the activity. Once before, I remember passing through while a much larger ship was going the other way. It seemed that everyone on that ship was wearing their white stateroom bathrobe while sitting or standing on their balconies watching us.

 

As we approached the lock, two men in a very small rowboat paddled out to the bow of our ship. I was wondering how crazy they were, but then I realized that they were attaching ropes to the bow of the ship and then bringing the ropes back to attach to the “mules” which will pull us through the lock. As most of you know, when the locks were built, they actually used real mules to pull the ships through, and when the animals were replaced by little train-like vehicles, those were still referred to as mules.

 

The area around the Canal is beautiful jungle, with exotic birds flying here and there accompanied by sounds of other unseen animals. The one drawback to all this beauty, which owes its existence to humidity, is that our camera got fogged up and wouldn’t take decent photos for about 20 minutes.

 

It was also interesting to get glimpses of the construction of the new locks which began construction in 2007 and will be complete in 2015. Currently, only ships of up to about 104 feet in width can fit in the locks, but the new ones will have a width of 180 feet, allowing supertankers and oversize cruise ships to transit. As it is, there are many ships that have to sail around South America because they just don’t fit. In addition to allowing larger ships through, the new locks will double the capacity of the Canal.

 

One bit of trivia: we found out that our transit of the canal costs $370,000! That’s about $270 for each paying passenger on the Amsterdam. The cost is based on gross tonnage, and we read that the least expensive transit was 36 cents, charged to a man who swam through the canal!

* * * * * *

We’re now in the Pedro Miguel locks, passing through very quickly and headed for The Cut and Gatun Lake. I’d really like to include some photos, but you can no doubt see them done much better on Jeff’s blog.

 

BTW, no luck on finding the card case with key, etc. The HAL front desk has graciously offered to let us call on their dime when we cancel the card and order a new one. What a great bunch! So today we called the credit union to cancel the credit card, and that pretty much guarantees that it will show up!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

At Sea en route to Grand Cayman

 

We did something last night we haven’t done in years: we stayed up well past midnight to welcome in the New Year. We haven’t seen in the New Year onboard a ship since 1976, when were were in the Caribbean onboard a ship we still laughingly call “The

S. Armpit.” It was truly awful, including rude staff, black growths in the middle of two baked potatoes in a row, and an fistfight between two waiters in the dining room. This was SUCH an improvement!

 

We began the evening by meeting our friends Henk and Lucia in the Crow’s Nest, where most of the people were beautifully attired. After a quick drink, we headed off to enjoy dinner together, which we enhanced by bringing a chilled bottle of Moet & Chandon - yumm! (If you’re reading this, Shannon, eat your heart out!).

 

There was an evening show, but we headed back to the Crow’s Nest to chat with friends and then at 11:00 we went downstairs to the main event: the New year’s Eve gala in the Queen’s Lounge. The entire contingent of officers (except the ones driving the ship, I hope) lined the entry, wishing everyone a Happy New Year. Then we were offered glasses of complimentary Champagne, which continued well into the New Year. (For the young people present as well as the non-imbibers, there was sparkling apple juice). We have on board a great band, called The HAL-cats, with Regan, a wonderful lead singer. They played and sang and dozens of people actually danced (including us.) There was a huge net hanging above the room filled with multi-colored balloons, ready to be dropped at midnight.

 

About 15 minutes into the party, the high seas forecast by the captain came into being. (He had suggested that passengers wear “sensible shoes.” On New Year’s Eve? I don’t think so!) It was fun watching the dancers being pushed by a rocking ship from one side of the dance floor to the other and then back. No one seemed to run off to be sick, so I guess everyone was OK with the motion. John was kind enough to remind us that “The Poseidon Adventure” took place on New Year’s Eve, and then proceeded to hum “There Has to be a Morning After.” The cruise director, Keiran, began the countdown to midnight at 11:45, and then at 11:55, a huge wave hit the ship, moving everyone to the starboard side, but more importantly, releasing the net of balloons. Everyone just looked at them falling everywhere and then laughed when Keiran said, over his microphone, “That wasn’t supposed to happen.”

 

We stayed for a while after the New Year arrived, and finally got to bed about 1:00, pretty good for these old folks. Nevertheless, we were awake bright and early this morning at 7:30, having almost the whole gym to ourselves.

 

Today was a whole different story. We had been invited to a Mariner Society presentation in the Queen’s Lounge at 12:00 noon. We forgot to RSVP, but yesterday we had a message from the front office telling us to arrive at the portside entrance to the Queen’s Lounge at 11:50 so that we could be escorted to our “honored seats” in the front of the room. The message continued to let us know that we would be escorted to the Mariner luncheon in the La Fontaine Dining Room so that we could be seated at our VIP table. We still had no idea what was going on.

 

So, promptly at 11:50, we showed up as assigned and were seated near the front of the Queen’s Lounge. It turned out that we were being presented our Mariner gold medallions for having sailed 500 days with HAL. The only problem is that we don’t hit that milestone until the day we arrive in Sydney. Oh well, details, details. The presentation of platinum (700 days), gold (500 days), silver (300 days) and copper (100 days) medallions took about a half hour, and then we headed into the dining room for lunch, where we sat with our friends Charlie and Betty and some new folks and had a really nice time. I guess I should be embarrassed to admit that our copper medallions, presented on the 2008 WC, were left on the ship, and our silver ones are one of our 7-year-old granddaughter’s favorite dress-up items. Oh well. I think Jessica will really like the new gold ones.

 

Now, after a much-needed nap, we’re ensconced on the couch in our stateroom rooting madly for Stanford in the Rose Bowl. I was born at Stanford hospital, so I really have no choice but to root for them! The game probably won’t end until about 8:30 our time, so I see some room service in our future.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Failed on the first try, but here's our anniversary party photo.

 

Congratulations!!! What is one hint you could give to a newlywed couple of 31 years to go the distance??

 

I will look forward to following you on your cruise. Thanks for taking us along!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How do you find "Jeff's Blog"?

If you go to gowithme.net she is blogging the World Cruise & has posted links to several other bloggers. Jeff's is World Adventures. Hope this helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to read that your valuables were not handed in to the front office.

 

Thanks for your reports.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Georgetown, Grand Cayman

 

If you’re looking for cruise ships, this is the place to find them. During our visit today, there were five (count ‘em, five) cruise ships lined up like bowling pins offshore, each transporting hundreds of passengers from ship to shore by way of tenders, a most frustrating way to get in. We were the smallest of the five and were accompanied by HAL’s Nieuw Amsterdam, NCL’s Pearl and Jewel, and a Carnival ship whose name we couldn’t read. There must have been several thousand passengers let loose on this little town and around the island.

 

We waited about an hour after the tenders began ferrying folks back and forth so that we wouldn’t have to wait in a mob. When we arrived in town, we walked and walked and saw luxury shop after luxury shop: Gucci, Rolex - you get the picture. Since my cold hangs on and the cold meds are almost gone, our first goal was a pharmacy for more of same. Then we found a cute little coffee shop which had the added benefit of free internet with a purchase of coffee - no problem. We got to check Facebook, email, our local San Luis Obispo newspaper and just looked at things for fun - because we could.

 

After wandering around town and deciding we weren’t going to pay $125 for a cute little fish with plastic legs that let it stand on your table at home, we headed for a place where we DID want to buy something: Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant. While we almost never head to places like Hard Rock Cafe or Planet Hollywood, we do like this restaurant where we’ve eaten before. What’s not to like about a huge, open-air place with a DJ playing ear-splitting recordings of Jimmy Buffet hits. I had the Cheeseburger in Paradise (they really, really know how to do a hamburger), and John had fish and chips (not to mention a margarita or two). Their fries were so good that adding catsup would have been a crime.

 

John wore his “UC Davis Dad” tee-shirt today, and had people come up to him three times within an hour because the person either had attended Davis or had children or nieces or nephews who had. It’s amazing how what you wear helps you make new friends.

 

After that lunch, there was no chance of us wandering around any more, so we crossed the street to board the return tender and were back on the ship at about 2:00. Since we didn’t get to a beach on the island, we decided that the aft pool would have to do, and that lasted until big black clouds blew in, sending us down to our cabin to finish our books.

 

This evening will be our last at our cute little upstairs table for two, since we’re joining Jeff for dinner in the Pinnacle tomorrow evening and then on Saturday our group of nine will begin our world cruise sitting downstairs. I guess it’s time to get out the curling iron and the makeup and try to get myself ready for dinner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Friday, January 3, 2014

At Sea en route to Ft. Lauderdale

 

There is such moaning and gnashing of teeth on the ship today. No only is it the last full day of the Holiday Cruise for all but 33 of the passengers, but the weather is truly awful.

The sky is dark gray, the ocean is slate, and the wind is 7 on a 9-point scale. Everyone who had planned to catch their last rays on the aft deck is extremely disappointed.

 

One symptom of the end of a cruise is always the loooong line at the front desk. Passengers receive final bills, and there always seems to be something wrong. Of course the “something wrong” is always something in the ship’s favor. If there were an error in the passenger’s favor, you can bet they’d steer clear of anyone in charge!

 

There was a meeting in the Wajang Theatre this morning at 11:00 for the 33 of us who are continuing on tomorrow. We are called “in transit passengers.” It was explained that we could disembark anytime between 7:15 and 9:30, but we could not re-board until the local officials declared “zero passengers on board,” probably about 10:30 AM.

There was also a Pinnacle luncheon for the group, but we took a pass since we’re eating there tonight and two Pinnacle meals in one day is more than we can handle, as wonderful as they are. Besides, with the weather outside, I declared it a “soup day,” and that was what I had.

 

John and I will probably be among the last to disembark and we’ll just wait around to re-board as soon as possible. Our friend Barbie (of whom you will hear a great deal) will be picked up by our friends Gene and Shirley and delivered to the ship to board. Because Barbie is a President’s Club member, her arrival will be greeted with much acclamation and a marching band (JK), but the bottom line is that she can board any time she wishes. Afterwards, the five of us will go out to lunch to catch up, and then we’ll get to pick up necessities - like wine and cold meds to replace the ones I’ve finished.

 

Anyway, it’s a quiet day for us, since we don’t have to pack or fill out any information. We did take the opportunity to book some Pinnacle dinners this morning: two Le Cirque dinners, two sommelier dinners, and one chef’s dinner (in the kitchen!) The only thing we have planned today is dinner in The Pinnacle with Jeff and then watching tonight’s show, which is the finals of the cruise’s “Dancing With the Stars” competition (which we didn’t even know was taking place until we saw the announcement of tonight’s show).

 

Let’s see - bad weather, nothing to do - I guess a nap is in order.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like your evening tonight and activities tomorrow will be fun. Will you miss at all not being in the chaos at the hotel the morning of embarkation for the World Cruise? It must be nice to be all settled and welcoming your friends onto the ship. I'm really looking forward to this next 4 months. Cherie

 

p.s. did my computer miss your reports for Columbia?

Edited by cccole

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hope you have a nice day tomorrow and I will be checking in each day for the next 4 months to travel along with you.

Have a great cruise and may the seas settle down for you.

 

Helen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SORRY! I GUESS THAT EVEN THOUGH I WROTE THIS, I FORGOT TO POST IT.

 

 

Tuesday, December 31

Cartagena, Colombia

 

Before we got off the ship today, we had to decide what it was that we’d be shopping for. Would it be cocaine or emeralds? Well, those ARE the two things that Colombia has been known for, but we took a pass on them, the first because my wrists break out from handcuffs and the second because - well, because we just can’t afford them.

 

It was a lovely, leisurely morning, since we weren’t docking until 11:00. HAL was nice enough to provide a shuttle service from the ship to the cruise terminal, which contained shops, wifi, and a great little “zoo” with parrots, flamingoes, monkeys, peacocks, and what-all. From there, we hopped in a taxi which took us to the Old Town section of Cartegena, which turned out to actually be on an island, separated from the mainland by two bridges.

 

Old Town was absolutely charming, with multi-colored colonial buildings adorned by balconies and wrought-iron window coverings. One of the nicest things about it was that, although there were plenty of tourists, it’s a thriving city of its own, with shops, and markets and restaurants populated by local folks. There’s an old wall surrounding the old town, which served to protect it from invading forces, although it didn’t do the job when Sir Francis Drake invaded.

 

The city sits on the water, which makes it even more beautiful. As we disembarked the ship, one of the stewards was handing out beach towels for those who were taking advantage of the water. Because of the heat (about 88 degrees) and the high humidity, we walked near the water at times to cool us off.

 

We thought of having some lunch but realized that we probably didn’t have enough time to make our return taxi, so we settled for the next best thing: an icy cold beer at a little cantina with old movie posters and fragile wooden chairs and tables. No one there spoke English and since we didn’t have any Colombian pesos, it was a lucky thing we had a good supply of American singles. Good tourists always have local money, and we usually do, but for a six-hour stop, we didn’t think we’d need it. Oh well, it worked out and the Colombian beer was great.

 

We returned to the ship on our pre-arranged taxi, and it gave us a chance to use an hour’s wifi at the cruise terminal. We had a chance to check Facebook, read and answer email, and, most importantly, pay bills. I realize that most people who are going to be gone for some time do auto-pay, but we just get our bills online and then I pay them on the 31st or the 1st of the month. Old School, I know.

 

Anyway, Cartagena was a treat, and we’d love to return to spend a LOT more time. Six hours just doesn’t do it, but a cruise does give passengers a chance to see which places they’d like to return to. We have a list a mile long.

 

Tonight is a formal night, and we are meeting friends in the Crow’s Nest for a drink and then having dinner together. At 11:00 there’s a ball in the Queen’s Lounge, letting us warm up to welcoming in 2014. At least tomorrow’s a sea day, so everyone (except the poor crew) can sleep in.

 

Happy New Year to everyone!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We will be dedicated followers for the world cruise blog...this is great, thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

 

Well, it’s the beginning of the World Cruise and we couldn’t be happier! Last evening and today we watched all but 33 of the Holiday Cruise passengers scurrying around, trying to get their luggage packed and into the hallways in time for midnight pickup.

We, however, just wandered around and relaxed, feeling very smug about keeping our same cabin and just leaving the clothes in the drawers and the closets. However, we’ll be in the same boat on April 27, the evening before the end of this cruise, so we probably shouldn’t be quite so smug.

 

We docked before 7:00 this morning, and even though we could have disembarked anytime after about 7:30, we waited until about 9:30 - boy, what a mistake. Everyone disembarking - even “in transit” passengers, had to go through immigration, and it took us an hour to get through the line. By then, we figured it was time for us to reboard the ship, so we walked over to the check-in area where our transit passes got us into the waiting area and our 5-star status got us upstairs to the “Preferred Passenger” lounge. The only problem was that the water, lemonade and cookies were still downstairs - oh well.

 

We waited and waited and finally I wandered over to the ladies guarding the passageway to the ship and they said, “Sure, if you’re a transit passenger you can go right on.” Grrrrrr! Why didn’t anyone tell us? So . . . we wandered back onto the ship, chatted with a few of our favorite officers, and then waited for our friend Barbie to arrive.

Within 20 minutes or so, she did arrive, we helped her drop her bag in her cabin, and we were off to join our Ft. Lauderdale friends Gene and Shirley for adventures.

 

Gene and Shirley (Trumpet Man if you’ve been on cruises with him) actually live in Palm Coast, in northern Florida, but they spend winters in Ft. Lauderdale and now have plans to move her permanently. We met them on the 2008 WC and have kept in touch ever since. In 2012 and this year they’ve been nice enough to pick us up to do whatever last-minute shopping we have to do and then go to lunch. Today was no different.

 

We had only a few errands to accomplish. Our first stop was at Total Wine to pick up a few bottles of white wine to round out our collection. Then we went to Walgreen’s to fill in the gaps in cold medication in case either of us has another bout. Our next to last stop was at an ATM to draw out some last cash, and we were finally off to lunch. We went to a cute little place called The Chimney where they’re supposed to have a wonderful chicken salad sandwich. They do! Barbie and I shared on, Shirley had one, John had his usual fish tacos, and Gene had a salad with grilled chicken on top. Everything was yum and we all headed back to the car quite pleased with life.

 

There was a lifeboat drill scheduled for 4:15, so we had to be back before that. We were dropped off at about 3:30, so we had plenty of time. We met some new neighbors at the drill and then went in search of free Champagne - always available for sailing day of the World Cruise. The ship doesn’t sail until 11:00, so the official sailaway party will be in the covered Lido from 9:30 until 11:30. Because we’ve had pretty crummy weather today with intermittent rain, it had to be in a covered area. It should be fun, though, since everyone’s always excited about beginning a world cruise - even if they’ve been on lots and lots of them.

 

In the meantime, we have dinner at 8:00 with some old friends and people who will be new friends. There are nine of us at the table, so it should be good fun and good conversation. Got to get ready now, since we’re meeting some of them early in the Crow’s Nest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many of us watched you finally sail away and wish you a wonderful journey. Many of us also would love to know the tale of the 2 people who just made the ship! Bon Voyage!!

 

Karen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sunday, January 5, 2014

At sea en route to Costa Rica

 

Oh, what a party! For the first time ever, sailaway time from Ft. Lauderdale was 11:00 PM - really late. We wondered why, but after the sailaway party the ship put on, we don’t care! Because of the lousy weather, it was decided that the sailaway party would be around the covered Lido pool. Unlike most sailaway parties for the WC, which have hors d’oeuvres and purchased drinks, last night was over the top. There were about six food stations and the food (we were told) was fantastic. The last thing we needed after finishing dinner at 9:30 was more dinner! One station had sliders and (huge) breaded scallops, another had potstickers and egg rolls, and yet another had Mexican cuisine. I’m not even sure about the others. In addition, there were three (yes three) open bars set up and drinks of any kind were on the house. Beverage stewards circulated with trays of red and white wine and Champagne, but my Margarita was made to order at one of the bars.

 

There were two bands playing, one for the first hour and another for the second and there were lots of dancers, enjoying everything from the two-step to the electric slide. There was a huge turnout, somewhat surprising because so many people were absolutely exhausted from the stress of boarding day, and some of whom who had just flown into Ft. Lauderdale that day.

 

Speaking of flying in on sailing day (always a bad idea), it turned out that the last people to board didn’t make it to the ship until 11:30. They had flown in from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and with the weather on the East Coast, it was amazing that they made it at all.

It turns out that that particular couple is our next-door neighbors, and we ended up talking across our balconies about their luck in having the ship wait for them. With their arrival, however, everyone was on board and no one has to meet the ship in Costa Rica.

 

We know that every officer and crew member on board is working their little fingers to the bone with embarkation and then the party, so we didn’t complain when we didn’t get the Sunday schedule by bedtime last night (at midnight), but when it wasn’t there this morning, I had to call the front office at 7:45 to ask where and when the interdenominational service would be this morning. Imagine my shock when she said it would be in the Queen’s Lounge - at 8:00. I don’t think I’ve ever brushed my teeth, thrown clothes on and applied the absolute minimum of makeup in a shorter time - and I was even on time. The new minister is Pastor Florence, a retired United Methodist pastor from Tampa, Florida. She’s very enthusiastic and we always appreciate another Methodist!

 

Now it’s back to Team Trivia, and even though I arrived in the Ocean Bar 90 minutes early, someone was already sitting in “our” place - oh well. Let’s just hope no fist fights break out; some people (not including us) take this very seriously.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another wonderful report.... and I am in deep shock over "all drinks on the House".:eek:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for yet another wonderful report. Some of us were watching the sailaway webcam last night and wondered the story behind the one late couple.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • 2019 Cruisers' Choice Awards
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...