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abbydancer

Live report from the Reflection

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My dear friend Abbydancer is so right! Muster drill is of vital importance. On our cruise, which was my first cruise ever, on Princess, muster drill was very informative and well organized. it is comforting to know where to go snd what to do in the event of an emergency.

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Dessert at dinner the first night. An almond cake. I've taken some random pictures that I'll post.

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So since today was a sea day, I finished up yesterdays post. By the way, I'm now putting pictures into the blog version as well. Here are pictures from my phone. The blog has pictures from Glen's camera.

www.abbydancer2003.blogspot.com

 

 

Today was Valetta, Malta. First thing, find out where Malta is. Oh wait, I don't need to know - I'm not driving. Next, find the falcon, or the puppy or the Cross, or the malted milk. Never mind.

 

We'd joined a tour a fellow cruisecritic member had organized for 4 of us. They had to cancel, but fortunately, Adele and Frank stepped it. Once again, we met at the Passport bar to meet for finding our guide.

 

Disembarkation was fast, and we walked out of the pier area. One other ship was the there - the Mein Schiff 2 (Mein Schiff is a joint venture between RCI and TUI shipping - a German company). I subsequently learned that the ship was originally the Celebrity Mercury.

 

We were to meet our guide, Therese at a bar at the end of the pier. After getting directions, we arrived at the bar and her at at exactly our meeting time 8:30. We jumped into her 7 seater car, and away we went.

 

The first part was a quick drive around Valletta, with a stop at the old looking walls of the harbor. (Pictures coming - promise!). We looked some churches that are getting ready for a feast or festival or something - the neighborhood was decorated, and it was all very festive. Therese started us off learning about Maltese food with some puffed pasteries - one stuffed with ricotta and the other with mushy peas. Both good.

 

Following that, we went to a fishing village and took some pictures. In addition to fishermen selling fish, there were a lot of local vendors selling purses, clothes, toys and the ubiquitous fidget spinners. Yes, they have made it even to small fishing villages.

 

Following that, and driving through other villages (Malta is made up of a couple of cities and a lot of villages) we arrived along the coast at the Blue Grotto - a rock formation where the water is very, very blue. We watched the tourist boats come and go for a bit.

 

We then stopped at a bar in a village called, I believe, Siggiewi for a tasting. I tried a local wine - a light wine made from Cabernet grapes, Glen & Adele had beer, and Frank a soda. The proprietress also served us some dip that was a cross between hummus and bean dip, a vegetable and egg dish that was roughly a quiche and maybe a sweet - neither of remember. We bid a warm farewell and headed to our next destination - Mdina.

 

Mdina is an old walled city in Malta. It was the capital of Malta on and off under different names, and it's history goes back over 1000 years. There are only a limited number of cars allowed, so we marked out side and walked in. The architecture is a mix of medieval and byzantine. It was a fascinating walk through the inner city.

 

From Mdina, we went to Therese's general home area for lunch in a restaurant that's known for it's local food. It was packed since it was lunch time on Sunday, so we decided to finish the north part of the tour, and eat on the way back. So we headed to the north of Malta.

 

On the way to the far point of our tour, we were quite surprised to see what looked like a New England building at the top of a ravine. When we got to the ravine, there was an entire little New England village! Turns out that was the exterior set for the 1980's movie Popeye. Malta agreed to let them film there, provided they leave the set intact. It was then turned into a theme park. We could see a stage in the middle where Popeye and Olive Oyl were leading the guests in a line dance or something.

 

From there, we drove towards the ferry to Gozo, but took a side road to the view instead. Therese said she liked that because the cruiseship busses couldn't get there. We drove to the end of the road, hopped out and took some pictures of Goza. We also watched the ferry heading to it's dock in Malta.

 

Back into the car, and back down to lunch. It was still busy in the restaurant, but there was a table for us. Lunch was included in the cost of our tour, and was very filling and good. There was bread with tomatoes and olives, rolled stuffed beef, stuffed eggplant, pork chop and stewed rabbit. I tried one bit of that. Not my thing. There were also roasted potatoes and fries. For dessert, there was a pastry stuffed with almond paste, but since almond is expensive here it was fake almond. She also gave us some halvah.

 

We went back to the car and then she stopped to run into a small grocery store. She gave each couple a jar of honey and some halvah. She also bought some prickly pear fruit to try. Not bad if you can get past all the seeds.

 

We drove back to Valletta stopping at the village of Mosta to look at their cathedral. A few more views of Valletta and back to the ship.

 

Tonight was our night for our first specialty dining at Qsine. We had a couple of hours before dinner, and we wanted to see the Beatles tribute show at 7:00 so we went up to the room to drop our stuff, relax and prepare for dinner. I took advantage of the time to call my mom and sister, who are still in France. This would be my last chance to talk to them in the same time zone. While I was chatting with my sister and explaining the differences between the Reflection and the Equinox, Arun came in to explain a few things about tomorrow night. (We get reserved seats at the show). We asked about making sure the laundry was out by 9:00 and he said just leave it and they'll get it when they make up the room.

 

We had a bottle of champagne that came with the room chilling in the fridge and thought we'd bring it to dinner. The issue was keeping it cold. At first we thought we'd drop at the restaurant on our way to the show, but we both ran out of time to drop and explain, and we weren't sure they would get it. So then we decided that since there wasn't time to go back to the room, we'd have our butler bring it down. No time to call him, so on our way to dinner, we stopped in Michaels club to ask them to call him. Apparently that was successful because the champagne did arrive.

 

We met Adele on our way to the restaurant and quickly got seated at a window table. Qsine is a tapas style restaurant, although not your mother's tapas. Our waiter said they recommend 6-8 things, and let them pick the order. He also said that he would do a few as a started, bring a "main", followed by the favorite tower of middle eastern treats and then we could decide what else we wanted.

 

We got through the main and the tower and then decided to go straight to dessert. I guess that happens a lot. Next time on a ship with Qsine, we'll go twice. For the food details, see the pictures that will follow at the end of the rather large catch up set following this.

 

After dinner we walked around on the outside promenade deck, and up on top for a bit, and called it a night. We'd been up early, so after that off to bed, and I decided to write this on the sea day. Pictures next!

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We are sailing on Reflection Dec. 8th. Can you find out who the Cruise Director is and if they will still be on the ship for the December sailing?

 

Thanks in advance.

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And finally Qsine

 

Salad and spring rolls

 

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You can see the sushi lollipops in the background.

 

Next the painters mignon

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The cups contained wine sauce,Mac and cheese, spinach, mashed potato and something that we forgot.

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And lastly dessert

 

The ice cream dessert

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Chocolate tombstone

 

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Cupcakes

 

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And beignets, fritters and doughnuts

 

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Today Monday, was the first of the two coveted sea days. (Med itineraries are very port intensive).

 

We slept in and missed breakfast, since I thought it ended at 9. Turns out it was 9:30, so if I'd hustled a bit, I could have made it. Instead we went to Cafe al Bacio for a latte and a pastry. After that was the cruise critic ship sponsored meeting. The event director was at the door of CellerMasters with nametags for everyone. Only about 20 people showed up if that. I think the problem was that there had been a time change the night before, and people were an hour behind. I saw at least 4 people come in while we were chatting after the event look around and leave.

 

After that, we decided to go ahead and book another cruise, so we went to the future cruise desk. Unlike Princess where there can be an hour wait, they have multiple people and long hours, so the wait was about 10 minutes max.

 

We decided we wanted to go back to Antarctica and Princess doesn't go there anymore, but Celebrity does. There were two cruises in 2019, one in January and one in February. The February one was probably a better date, but it was pricier and had less availability in mini(Sky) suites, so we went with January.

 

After that we went back up to the room for a bit, and then down to lunch at Luminae - one of 3 days it's open. We ran into a couple of our cruise critic peeps, so we decided to have dinner together. I made a reservation on our way out.

 

We then spent a while in the room, while caught up on this blog. Turns out, it's a lot of time to write - now I sort of see why people do it when they get home, but I'd forget everything. I also put on the on demand movie "A Dog's Purpose". It was cute. I'm glad I didn't take the time to go to the theater to see it, but we enjoyed it.

 

Following that, and about 3/4 of the way through my Malta post, we decided to go practice our choreography, since our dance coach went through a lot of effort to give it to us before we left. First, I suggested Glen find the spreadsheets he did for it. He couldn't get the google sheets to load, or the video. Oh well, down to the deck.

 

We worked on it for a while, I know there were some mistakes, but we got to a point where the sequences worked together. We'll continue to review. Following that, we headed to the Martini bar to try their Martini's. We ordered at the bar, but no tricks. On the Equinox, I really liked the Candied Apple Martini, but I decided to be different I'd get a Banana Split one. It was good, but not as good. They line the glass with chocolate syrup, and I'm not really a chocolate fan. I really couldn't taste it but I still like the other better.

 

After that, back to the room to get ready for dinner. Glen made the mistake of checking his work email and a minor crisis popped up. So at about 6:55 (our reservation was at 7), I headed to the restaurant while he finished up. He followed about 10 minutes later.

 

We joined our friends and had a lovely formal night dinner. Both Glen and Claude ordered the lamb from the dining room menu. Because of the proximity to the dining room (they share a galley) you can order from either menu. Carolyn and I had the steak with bearnaise sauce. It was great. Good dinner, good conversation.

 

After dinner, we found a solo guitar player in the foyer playing danceable music. I had a purse with me, and that was getting in the way, so after a few dances we decided to go back to the room to dump it. I looked at the schedule and noticed the house band was coming on at 10:30. We headed back about then, did a few more dances and called it a night.

 

 

Tomorrow - Mykonos and Rick Steves

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Before I do my post, here's a couple of answers. First, Norma Imake is still here. I haven't been to the Martini bar when he comes in, but I will try to do so in the next couple of days.

 

Damien De Lorenzis is the cruise director. I haven't seen him up close since it was asked when he was leaving - I will if I can. He's doing a pretty good job. More longwinded than Sara on the Equinox, but not working out his post cruise stand up comic career, so I'm good with him. Turns out his parents live about 40 miles from me. (This conversation was before I got the question).

 

Also, on the post that follows, I'm going to try, after I post the text, to go to the phone and embed the pictures (both of them) with tapatalk. We'll see if it works.

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Today was Mykonos (which I just learned how to spell) and the first of four back to back port days. It was a tender port, meaning the ship anchors in the harbor. Apparently this is one port where tender is better since the dock is about 2 miles away from the old (read: interesting or tourist) town.

 

 

 

We caught the end of breakfast in Luminae, and I asked for eggs Benedict with regular american bacon. I was not optimistic, but it was correct, including a pretty decent run on the eggs (often they are overcooked and come out closer to hard boiled). The hollandaise was tasty, so all good.

 

 

 

After breakfast, we headed back to the room to get our stuff, and our butler Arun called to see if we were ready to go to the tender. Apparently, they escort you to the next one. We said 5 minutes, and 5 minutes later there he was. We headed down to deck 3, and then through the closed side of the stairs to the line. It sort of felt like cutting, but nobody said anything. The way Princess usually does it for their elite skip the wait people is to have them go to the room, and when they announce the next tender group, they tell the elites in the room to go too.

 

 

 

It was about a 15 minute tender in, and I noticed a Costa ship, an MSC ship, and a Pullmatur. We'd read the Rick Steves book (this isn't what I'm talking about when I teased this post yesterday) and he said Mykonos has not much there, except a lot of people. He was right. The tiny twisting walkways of the old town were pretty much packed and mostly featured stores. After a little but of wandering, we decided to see the only site nearby - the windmills. We thought about the archeological museum, but it was a mile and half away along a tedious route with only a few things worth seeing. We opted for the windmills. We looked at the map and figured - follow the coastline.

 

 

 

We did that and after about a 15 minute walk on more crowded pathways, there they were. Basically just like in all the post cards. One had an open door so we peeked inside. Not much to see.

 

 

 

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We walked back to the pier, and decided it was just too crowded, so we went back to the ship. We talked to a British couple on the tender - like us (more or less) it was their first Celebrity cruise after many with Princes. We all agreed the food was overall better, but we miss our free laundry and other perks (nobody does loyalty benefits like Princess).

 

 

 

We stopped by Michael's club to get some water and ended up chatting with one of the Indonesian waitresses there about her life - the crew dining and other topics. After spending some time there, we went to our room, dropped our stuff and headed to the buffet for lunch.

 

 

 

It was not crowded, although I missed where Glen was sitting, so I ate mine quickly, then found him and finished up. After that, we headed up to the Sky Lounge to just enjoy the view from the front of the ship. Glen felt a nap coming on, so we decided to head back to the room. On the way out we noticed a couple practicing cha-cha. We started talking to them, asking if that was the cha cha they taught on the ship yesterday. No, they dance at home in London. We talked a bit about the difference between American and International styles and then headed back down. They'd mentioned the floor was sticky and the background music was distracting.

 

 

 

While at the Sky Lounge we noticed a deck just below. It looked like it was just in front of the fitness center, so we decided to investigate. On the way, we found a small studio with a wood floor that was quiet. We did find a way onto the deck, and practiced our choreography a bit. On the way out we decided to go back up to the lounge and let the couple know about the studio. We did, and walked them down there.

 

 

 

Then back to the room. I went to Michael's club to have some tea and work on the blog. I was there for a while, and Glen eventually joined me. There was a solo performer in the pre dinner show, and I didn't know what he did, so I asked the staff at Michael's. They told me he was an extraordinary hypnotist, so we decided to check him out at 7.

 

 

 

Eventually, we headed to the room, changed clothes, and went to the show. The performer first asked for volunteers - he wanted about 50 onstage, but it was a small crowd, so got about 20 if that. He had them try an exercise to see how susceptible they were - the idea was for them to hold out their arms and lock their fingers. He then tried to convince them that their fingers were glued together. If they couldn't spread them they stayed, if they could, they left the stage. He didn't have enough left, so he asked the entire audience to try. He ended up with about 10 people, but I think would have preferred more. He then had them all do things like play imaginary instruments, etc. Kind of cheesy, but fun, until he started pitching his CD to help you stop smoking, drinking, etc.

 

 

 

We left at that point.

 

 

 

We still had some time before dinner, and Glen's SD card had become stuck in his camera, so he decided to go the I Lounge (a licensed Apple reseller) to get a thunderbolt to USB cable. The staff member there didn't want to sell it without seeing with the camera (in case it didn't work), so we decided to go tomorrow. We went back to the room to get Champagne for dinner, and realized we probably had enough time to get the camera, determine it worked, and maybe get the camera back to the room. I grabbed the champagne in case we didn't have time to go back to the room - that way I could go to dinner, and Glen could drop off the camera.

 

 

 

We did have enough time, though, so dropped the camera, and headed up to the Lawn Club Grill. Originally, we were a table for 4 but now we were 6. We were seated first, and then Adele and Frank showed up, followed by JoEllen and Alan. I'd had the concierge notify the staff that it was Frank's birthday. We ordered a couple of flatbreads (small think crust pizzas, and we each ordered a meat course. They told us they'd bring all the sides, as well as one each of the three skewers on the menu. It was very good and a lot of food.

 

 

 

Midway through the meal, Alan noticed that one of the gentlemen at the next table was Rick Steves, the travel expert on PBS, and book publish. Adele, it turns out, is a total fan girl, so she started waving at him. He waved back and then came over to our table. We chatted with him, and he asked how we knew each other and seemed fascinated by the idea that we met on cruise critic. It was very friendly and I thanked him for the advice on previous trips, including the restaurant in Paris with the good GF menu (Le Petit Troupet by the way).

 

 

 

A few minutes later he came back to get our room numbers. They are doing a TV show and may want to film some people if we were willing. We all were. They left, and about 5 minutes later, he's back. They'll be filming at the party up on deck, and if we want, we should go, find his cameramen, tell them who we are, and they'll maybe film us.

 

 

 

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So after dinner, we went to the party. It was, of course, packed, Eventually we found both the cameramen and Rick. He called us over, so Glen, Adele, JoEllen and I danced with him. He kept giving Glen high fives. Eventually the camera guys left, a conga line started, and Rick gave us all goodbye hugs and left.

 

 

 

All in all, one amazing evening. Perhaps, when the show airs you will see me. I'm in a blue top with gem flowers around the neck. If I get pictures up, you'll see it.

 

 

 

After that, we walked JoEllen and Alan to their room, took a look at a balcony room (I'd seen one but Glen hasn't. We said goodbye and called it a night.

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And cruise director Damian is leaving with us on Monday, but will be back in November. As far as he knows, he is coming back to the Reflection.

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And cruise director Damian is leaving with us on Monday, but will be back in November. As far as he knows, he is coming back to the Reflection.

Has Damian given any indication as to who is replacing him on Monday? If you're able to ask the question if he hasn't it'd be really appreciated.

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Has Damian given any indication as to who is replacing him on Monday? If you're able to ask the question if he hasn't it'd be really appreciated.

Nope, but if I can, I'll ask.

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Nope, but if I can, I'll ask.

 

Thanks. I'm on the TA. It sounds like he returns after the repositioning ready for the Caribbean season.

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