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Johnny B

John and Diane's 125-day Adventure at Sea

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It's the most favorite time of the year - the WC blogs! Excited to follow your journey once again. :)

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You always provide a good read. Thanks for taking us along again.

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Thank you for sharing again. Always look forward to your postings. It's because of you that we took Patrick's excursion in Bora Bora and I will always be grateful. Have a very Merry Christmas, wonderful new year and fantastic world cruise on the Amsterdam.

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Tried to post this yesterday, but apparently it didn't work. Sorry.

 

Friday, December 23, 2016

At Sea en route to Puerto Vallarta

 

Another blissful sea day! Yesterday we took full advantage of the day to relax and catch up on rest, a bit short in this festive season. We re-established our morning routine, with a trip to the gym for about 40 minutes, breakfast outside on the midships Lido deck, showers, and then to the verandah and reading for John and a trip to the long marble table in the library for me. It is a wonderful place to write and it sits right in front of the ship’s main server, which helps with internet. Speaking of libraries, it is just delightful to be back on a ship with one. The Koningsdam, for all its size and beauty, has a small room, perhaps 8’ by 15’ which they laughingly call “The Library.” It has a few travel books, perhaps two dozen novels, and a paperback book exchange in which about 90% of the books were in Dutch. As a retired English teacher, I do so love a good, well-equipped library.

 

The weather is getting warmer as we travel south, but the winds are still there. It seems like there is a bit less wind today, so we’re going to try to spend some time on the aft Lido deck soaking up some sun. The seas have been so smooth that it’s difficult to even know we’re on a ship, although I’ve heard a couple of people (new cruisers perhaps?) who complained that they were having trouble with the motion of the ship. I always feel bad for people who suffer seasickness, since it serves to take away one of the great pleasures of life. We experienced one of those pleasures before we headed to lunch, when a pod of about fifty dolphins appeared, jumping and playing for all they were worth. I think that it was more than we’ve ever seen together, and it was just wonderful.

 

After lunch we joined our friends around a table near the Lido midships pool to sit and just talk and gossip and laugh for a couple of hours. One of the treats of a sea day is that there’s no schedule unless you set one for yourself and it provides time to while away with friends. After so much time talking, it was time for a nap for John and more reading time for me. It’s funny how our shipboard schedule is so different from that at home. Here, our usual bed-time is between 11:00 and 12:00 (although this eastbound setting the clocks ahead plays havoc with that), and we sleep until about 7:00. At home, we’re usually in bed between 9:30 and 10:00 and up with the next-door neighbor’s chickens at 6:00 or 6:30. Because everything is later on board, naps can also be later, so one that begins at 3:30 or 4:00 is not a problem, since we don’t have anything to do or anywhere to go until 7:00.

 

Speaking of 7:00, that’s the meeting time in the Crow’s Nest, since we all have main dining, which begins at 8:00. The circle of chairs is fairly large, and when we have extra visitors, it expands even farther. Last evening, Graciela and Manny, our two favorite crew members, showed up, so we made room for them. Then it’s off to dinner two hours later than we would eat at home.

 

The show last night was a comedian named Ritch (first name - actual spelling) and when Gene mentioned that he had been on the Johnny Carson show, we knew he’d be about our age - and we were right. Although he had a bit of a slow start, he warmed up quickly and the audience just laughed and laughed. Many of his comic bits were about the differences between young people and old and how many of the young people in the audience didn’t understand things like “dial telephone” or “arm signals” when turning your car. At least he didn’t get into colonoscopy jokes - if he had, those young people would have been completely lost.

 

We have to gain three hours between the West Coast and Florida, so that’s three nights when we have to lose an hour’s sleep. We’ve now had two of them (in a row!) so after just one more, we’re done, and when the world cruise begins, it’s all westbound and gaining hours and hours of sleep - 24 of them, to be exact. Can’t wait.

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What a nice surprise to find another of your wonderful blogs! Have a Merry Christmas tomorrow onboard the Amsterdam.

 

Sue/WDW1972

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

 

If days at sea are relaxing, this day in port almost equalled them. We docked by 7:00 this morning, but it was still fairly dark, since sunrise was not until 7:34 AM. We decided that we’d take it easy today, since it was a short visit, sailing at 3:00 PM. Because of that, we did just that, heading to the gym and then to breakfast before showering and getting ready for the day. We didn’t feel obligated to take full advantage of the port, since we’ll be back here in about 10 days for a full day, not sailing until 6:00 PM.

 

We finally disembarked at about 9:15 and headed toward the main street, walking along it until we arrived at Galleria Vallarta, about a 10-minute walk away from the ship. It was a large, modern mall, but the shops remained closed until 10:00, so we entertained ourselves at Starbucks, with their free wifi and a couple of cappuccinos.

 

When the shops opened, we went to Liverpool, a large, modern department store which had just the items we needed. It’s strange the things one leaves behind, and this was our first opportunity after unpacking to replace them. The fact that they are unmentionables means that I shall avoid mentioning them.

 

After wandering around the department store and the mall for a couple of hours, we headed back to the ship, stopping to look at a local market set up next to the Amsterdam. We looked over some clothing and crafts but then discovered a nice Mexican restaurant alongside. Since it was about 12:00, it seemed to be time for a bit of lunch, which just happened to be pork tacos accompanied by some very large, very strong margaritas. Oh my! Returning to the ship required a margarita-fueled nap before we called our kids at home to wish them a wonderful Christmas.

 

All aboard was at 2:30 with planned sailing at 3:00, but something happened in the engine room (according to the captain), so it’s now 4:40 and we are finally getting underway - I think. Sometimes these things happen, and all you can do is roll with the punches.

 

While we were waiting to find out what was going on, our friends Alan and Sandra (Alsas) came by with a Christmas offering of sea salt caramels. They go just perfectly with those oversized margaritas.

 

Tonight is a gala celebration, with formal dress and a Christmas celebration at 11:00, followed by midnight mass and an interdenominational service at midnight. We’ve done this before, and the three choirs, Indonesian, Filipino, and international, will sing us beautifully into this sacred celebration.

 

We wish you and yours a blessed holiday celebration, whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah or whatever. Keep your loved ones as close as possible and enjoy the season.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOURS!

So happy to see another wonderful blog from you and Diane!

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas!

Smooth sailing and so look forward to the coming adventures!!!!

Denise:)

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

At Sea en route to Huatulco, Mexico

 

A long, long time ago, we were on a ship with friends for New Year’s when the cruise director told us in an offhand manner that people who go to sea at Christmas are very sad people indeed, wanting to create distance between themselves and their loved ones. Having been onboard a ship twice for Christmas, we have found this to be quite untrue. We sail on years when it’s our daughter’s turn to spend the holiday with her in-laws and we, in turn, spend the time with our excellent cruise friends. The ship is full to the rafters with 1350 passengers, and there are 110 children who brighten up everyone’s time at sea. Families, including grandparents, parents and children of all ages seem to be having a wonderful time aboard the Amsterdam.

 

As an aside, this Christmas is a WHOLE lot better than last year when John had an attack of appendicitis on Christmas Eve and an appendectomy on Christmas morning!

 

Last evening and this morning were perfect examples of families in action. The three tables behind us in the dining room are filled with one extended hispanic family of all ages, led by a matriarch of perhaps early 70‘s, with the youngest being a tiny one in a stroller. There must be about 25 in the group and they just overflow with family love and togetherness.

 

Christmas Eve was a “gala” evening (formerly called formal), and the suits, tuxedoes and gowns made it a festive affair. After dinner and dessert - including Christmas cookies and petit fours to conclude the meal - we all headed to the Queen’s Lounge to find seats for the crew choir presentation at 11:00. What a treat! There are three choirs that sing: an international crew choir, a Filipino choir (in traditional clothing), and an Indonesian choir. Contrary to some passengers’ beliefs, there’s a large group of Indonesians who are not Muslim, but are divided between Christianity and Hinduism. The former group, dressed in native Balinese batik, sang beautifully, especially their rendition of “O Holy Night.”

 

Between and after the choirs, the Amsterdam singers entertained us. I thought the two most outstanding offerings were Tom, singing “Mary, Did You Know?” and Brianna, singing “Ave Maria.” The concert concluded at midnight with all the performers, holding imitation (but safe) candles in their hands, leaving the stage while they and the audience sang “Silent Night.” It was a memorable evening, followed by Roman Catholic midnight mass in the Queen’s Lounge and an interdenominational service (which we attended) in the Wajang Theatre. When we finally headed to bed around 1:00, we felt that we had had a wonderful Christmas Eve.

 

This morning the fun began at 10:00 when families and children assembled in the Queen’s Lounge to listen to announcements about the location of Santa Claus. When he arrived about 15 minutes later, he welcomed the children, one at a time, to either sit on his lap or stand by him and be presented with a gift. Our favorite memory of this event from our last Christmas on board a couple of years ago was when Santa asked a young man what his favorite gift had been so far. When he answered, “A model of the Titanic,” Santa just laughed and hurried him off the stage.

 

The weather continues to get better and better; today is in the low 80’s with bright blue cloudless skies. We spent some time next to the aft pool, which we laughingly call “The Beach,” and then headed to the Dive-In for our Sunday mid-day burger along with some of the best fries on the planet. A nap to make up for that extremely late night, and we were two happy cruisers.

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Huatulco, Mexico

 

If you’ve ever wanted to visit the perfect little Mexican resort village, Huatulco is it. We’ve talked about coming here to the Club Med several times, even though we don’t even know if it still exists, but we’ve never made it. Finally we sail on a ship that has Huatulco as a port and that’s where we spent a good part of today.

 

Gene, the cruise director, had said that this was a pretty sail-in, and since we didn’t arrive until 8:00, we saw it from the gym. He was absolutely right. The mountains grew up around a perfect little beach and small town. The pier extended out into the bay, and as we approached we could see the town becoming a hive of activity, anxiously awaiting us. Although lots and lots of people rushed to disembark for their tours, we had a leisurely morning having breakfast and getting ready for the day.

 

We finally went ashore at about 9:30, and although the temperature had been forecast for a high of 84, we could already feel that it was warmer than that. We passed the dozens of offers for tours and taxis and just wandered through the small town, rather more of a village, looking in windows and greeting locals. After sending the requisite postcard to our granddaughter, we ran into our friend Jeff who reminded us that the local authorities had built a mile-long walkway through a valley between this village and the next town, so that’s where we headed next.

 

By now it was headed into the high 80’s, and the walk over the hill in bright sun was getting rather uncomfortable. It’s a beautiful walk, though, with plumeria and ficus trees but very little shade. After about twenty minutes we arrived at the other town, whose name we still don’t know. It was much larger and seemed to be a typical Mexican town, with families enjoying small restaurants, shops open even on this holiday, and a church on the square with a beautifully painted ceiling. Since this is less a tourist town, there weren’t so many people trying to sell us taxi rides and jewelry, but it was just lovely to walk through.

 

After we’d seen what we wanted to, we headed back to the path between the hills, leading us again to Huatulco, where we found a small cafe for nachos and margaritas. By that time, it was about 1:00 and our phones (using the restaurant’s free wi-fi) said it was now 90 degrees - thank heaven for a shady restaurant! All-aboard was early today, 1:30, with sailaway at 2:00. We left almost on the minute and now we’re headed to Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, where we’ll arrive tomorrow morning at 10:00.

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J & D,

 

Sounds like you are having a wonderful time so far. We had a good Christmas. Went to Handler's daughter's. The whole family was there and we had non-traditional grill-roasted tenderloin. It was great!

 

Can't wait until we board in Fort Lauderdale, although we still have quite a bit to do before then.

 

leslie & handler

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Monday, December 26, 2016

 

Huatulco, Mexico

 

 

 

If you’ve ever wanted to visit the perfect little Mexican resort village, Huatulco is it. We’ve talked about coming here to the Club Med several times, even though we don’t even know if it still exists, but we’ve never made it. Finally we sail on a ship that has Huatulco as a port and that’s where we spent a good part of today.

 

 

 

Gene, the cruise director, had said that this was a pretty sail-in, and since we didn’t arrive until 8:00, we saw it from the gym. He was absolutely right. The mountains grew up around a perfect little beach and small town. The pier extended out into the bay, and as we approached we could see the town becoming a hive of activity, anxiously awaiting us. Although lots and lots of people rushed to disembark for their tours, we had a leisurely morning having breakfast and getting ready for the day.

 

 

 

We finally went ashore at about 9:30, and although the temperature had been forecast for a high of 84, we could already feel that it was warmer than that. We passed the dozens of offers for tours and taxis and just wandered through the small town, rather more of a village, looking in windows and greeting locals. After sending the requisite postcard to our granddaughter, we ran into our friend Jeff who reminded us that the local authorities had built a mile-long walkway through a valley between this village and the next town, so that’s where we headed next.

 

 

 

By now it was headed into the high 80’s, and the walk over the hill in bright sun was getting rather uncomfortable. It’s a beautiful walk, though, with plumeria and ficus trees but very little shade. After about twenty minutes we arrived at the other town, whose name we still don’t know. It was much larger and seemed to be a typical Mexican town, with families enjoying small restaurants, shops open even on this holiday, and a church on the square with a beautifully painted ceiling. Since this is less a tourist town, there weren’t so many people trying to sell us taxi rides and jewelry, but it was just lovely to walk through.

 

 

 

After we’d seen what we wanted to, we headed back to the path between the hills, leading us again to Huatulco, where we found a small cafe for nachos and margaritas. By that time, it was about 1:00 and our phones (using the restaurant’s free wi-fi) said it was now 90 degrees - thank heaven for a shady restaurant! All-aboard was early today, 1:30, with sailaway at 2:00. We left almost on the minute and now we’re headed to Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, where we’ll arrive tomorrow morning at 10:00.

 

 

Was the town Tapachula?

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums mobile app

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

 

Another day, another country. After our lovely abbreviated day in Huatulco, Mexico, yesterday, we’re having a much longer day here in Puerto Quetzal, from 10:00 AM until 8:00 PM. The main problem is that there’s really not much here. It’s primarily just a port, beautifully surrounded by pointed volcanoes and piles of salt ready to be exported. There’s a thatched hut with tourist information, a little cafe and many, many market stalls selling brightly colored textiles, some really cute ceramics, a bit of silver and a shop which sells only jade. The most popular thing to do here is get on a bus or a full tour and go to Antigua, a World Heritage Site with a really beautiful and historic town.

 

The last time we were here we booked the ship’s round trip transfer to Antigua. It only provided us with transportation - about an hour and a half each way - and cost us $59.00 each, if I remember correctly. I have since learned that the tourist office in that cute little thatched hut will book bus transportation to Antigua for about $10.00 each way. The really annoying part of this is that when we watched the port lecturer yesterday, he spent about ten minutes warning passengers that if they were late, the ship would sail without them - unless, of course, they had booked a ship’s tour. I do dislike threats, and it made me wonder why we spent an extra half hour in port yesterday waiting for people who had just wandered into town (with NO tour) and forgot the all aboard time. Once we were on a Cruise Critic tour with about 20 people and although we were a full 45 minutes late, the ship was there waiting for us. I remember one time waiting about four hours for the ship to sail from Ft. Lauderdale because two passengers had flown in from the snowy northeast and their plane was quite late. The memory is very clear because they became our next-door neighbors. I don’t think the captain likes to sail without his full complement of passengers.

 

The other reason for doing almost nothing today except wandering over to the cafe for some free internet has to do with John’s knees. He’s scheduled for knee replacement surgery when we return in May, but he really is supposed to take it easy on them until that time. Sixty years of tennis have pretty much shot his knees and destroyed any cartilage he used to have. I’ve suggested he use the recumbent bicycle in the gym, which he did for one day. The next day, there he was back on the elliptical cross-trainer. When I commented on it, he told me that he was going to alternate between the two. Later in the day, he wanted to hike the mile over the hill into the next town, and when I suggested we take a taxi back, he said that he was “fine” and would have no problem walking back. Last evening he could hardly walk! Some high-voltage Aleve didn’t seem to help very much, so this morning he was smart enough to avoid the gym altogether. I’ve been insisting on the elevator rather than the stairs since last evening, even if it’s only one flight, and I’m hoping that he’ll be back to his usual “it only hurts if I do too much” state. Of course he usually insists on doing too much. I can hardly wait for that surgery! The only alternatives for now seem to be either acupuncture or cortisone - any suggestions?

 

There was an interesting occurrence last evening. Our friend Heidi said that it was her “significant other” Aschiel’s birthday yesterday and asked if we would sing to him when they came up to the Crow’s Nest at 7:00. We got there a few minutes early, and our friends were waiting outside a sign that said “Private Event.” When we asked, they told us that we were all invited to a cocktail party with the Captain, the Hotel Manager, and Gene, the Cruise Director - but we had not received any such invitation, although all of them did. Our friends told us that it must be a mistake and to come in with them, so we did. When I asked Captain Fred what the occasion was, he said he didn’t know since he hadn’t received an invitation. I figured we were in good company, so we just enjoyed an hour of excellent hors d’oeuvres and free drinks, singing for Aschiel when the two of them came in. We figured later that the party was probably for the passengers who were staying on for the world cruise, but that since our cabin number was only good until January 4, they didn’t send us an invitation. Who knows? It was fun nonetheless.

 

Two sea days are coming up (hooray) and then we sail through the Panama Canal, which is always an interesting part of the journey. We’re halfway through this part of the Christmas cruise, and enjoying every bit of it.

 

P. S. I still don't know the name of the town - that may be it.

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We are doing that same transfer in a few weeks, still $59.00/ pp. Having spent a week in this very port a number of years ago (sail fishing, fantastic), I don't trust the locals to get me anywhere on time. While we had a great time, lots of armed guards which implied lots of crime, the grocery store had guards in the parking lot :eek:. I won't even mention all the underage prostitutes.

Edited by KirkNC

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... I’m hoping that he’ll be back to his usual “it only hurts if I do too much” state. Of course he usually insists on doing too much. I can hardly wait for that surgery! The only alternatives for now seem to be either acupuncture or cortisone - any suggestions?

Let's say I feel his pain, and leave it at that for the time being.

 

I had years of cortisone shots, and they helped a great deal---but not for the full time period between shots. If he can get them on the ship, or locally from someone you trust, it can help make the next months better. But I had to have the cortisone out of my body before my replacement surgery, so don't wait too long to make the decision.

There is also something that's a "gel" shot (I don't recall the official name). It worked well after the cortisone shots stopped working.

 

I have had acupuncture on the ships on several cruises, as well as in real life, and they helped tremendously.

 

You're on a long cruise, and the pain levels tend to build over time, so if there is something he can do, then talk to the doctor on board and listen to his advice.

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Thank-you very much for bringing us along on your travels. I can't believe it's that time of year again but am very much looking forward to your travels to exotic reaches of the globe. A welcome tonic to New England winter!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app

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I hope John will do one knee replacement at a time, if he has to have two done. DH's longtime bestie (they first met in flight school), recently died from double knee replacement surgery at the same time. Because he could not walk, he developed clots in his lungs. A week after surgery he was pronounced dead. He had no other existing health problems.

 

Thanks for the posts and have fun!

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first of all..thank you for this wonderful blog you do every year! And as Ruth said...I also feel his pain...I have had the gel injections...cortisone injections...oral steroids....and when things get too bad I take Celebrex...which my family doctor does not like..but my cardiologist says take!! I try not to do stairs....use the elevators...and pace myself...if he has never had the cortisone injection that may help him a lot...I know people say to me repeatedly get the knees done but I have seen too many bad recoveries...and having had three shoulder surgeries in the last 10 years...I am content to slow down mobility wise....as a wise ortho PA said to me one time...when you get to the point you no longer want to go to church or go buy groceries...and he should have said..go on a cruise..then you can think about doing the knees....but one at a time for me:eek: Hope he can find some relief....

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I concur with the one knee at a time. My ortho refuses to do both at the same time. He believes the recovery is never as good as rehabing two at a time.

 

Elaine

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

At Sea en route to the Panama Canal

 

As I’ve mentioned in previous years, there are some little things that make me very happy on the Amsterdam. One of them is the rolled washcloths with which to dry your hands in the public restrooms (or “washrooms” for our Canadian friends). Another is the fresh-squeezed orange juice every morning for breakfast. Well, here comes a real first world problem: the OJ is no longer fresh squeezed - it’s from concentrate. My world is certainly not going to fall apart, but . . . oh well. Can’t have everything.

 

The weather stays wonderfully warm - bordering on hot - as we sail farther south, but the seas are actually getting a little roll-y. We can see a lot more whitecaps and the electronic scale in the gym won’t keep a set weight - but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I can just accept that the lowest number it hits is the correct one.

 

Last evening’s entertainment was the Amsterdam singers and dancers, and boy, are they good. On previous cruises, there were usually two singers and four dancers, but now there are four singers and six dancers. It doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but it enables them to perform far more complex numbers. In addition, while the dancers have always been quite good, their quality has improved even more, while the singers are now not just good, but exceptional. We’ve also learned that they’ll be on for the whole world cruise, which is very good news. Not only are they very talented, but they’re very friendly and quite easy to talk to (which hasn’t always been the case in the past).

 

Our clocks were set ahead once more last night - for a final time. Now we’re on East Coast time and, as of January 4, the time changes will be on our side - we’ll only have to turn them back and get an extra hour of sleep every four days, on average.

 

After writing about John’s knees yesterday, we read that, coincidentally, there’s a seminar on acupuncture this morning, so he’s anxious to hear what the young lady has to say. When we met for our usual 7:00 PM Crow’s Nest time last evening, Renee, the spa manager, joined us and had nothing but good things to say about the acupuncturist, and knowing Renee, she “tells it like it is.” So . . . we’ll go and listen and John can decide if it wants to give it a try. Who knows? Can’t hurt; might help. If the internet weren’t down right now I’d be able to get to Cruise Critic and read your recommendations.

 

It’s going to be a nice quiet day today, hopefully spent by the aft pool. Since Jeff, Ann and Cathy are going to the Pinnacle this evening, we’ve invited Jodie, Gene Young’s wife, along with her dad, stepmom and Gene’s mom to join us at our table. They’re a great group, and since all except Jodie are disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale, we’ve wanted to get together with them before that happens.

 

Now it’s time to get to the acupuncture lecture; info on the decision will follow tomorrow.

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