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Seek Timeless Treasures with Bill & Mary Ann - 2019 World Cruise -131 days


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Report #129   Cabo San Lucas, Mexico   May 27, 2019   Monday   Partly cloudy & 77 degrees   Part #1 of 4    81  Pictures


Cabo San Lucas is on the southernmost tip of Baja California.  Once a haven for pirates, it became a fishing village.  Back in the 1970’s, we visited Cabo to find a small community with a couple of hotels, unpaved streets, and a few stalls with vendors selling wood carvings, woven blankets, and some silver jewelry. We tendered to shore, getting off, not too easily, on a boat ramp landing.  We have watched this area transform into a whole different scene over the following years. 


Today, we will tender into a very nice marina, full of yachts and fancy fishing boats.  The only familiar sights are the rocky outcroppings and Los Arcos, the famous “hole’ in the rocks. Timeshares, condos, apartments, and huge resort hotels line the harbor, beaches, and hillsides.  And of course, restaurants, bars, and night clubs abound for the party-hardy.  Mostly notably – the Spring Breakers.


There are a whopping 21 tours available through shore excursions, which is over-kill, since our time here is limited from 7am to 2pm.  Anyway, 5 tours are sightseeing, while adventure and water activities take up 11 more.  Finally five tours are for scuba diving, snuba, and dolphin experiences.  Prices range from $40 to $220.  The most expensive is for deep sea fishing…catch  and release.


Since we have been here a gazillion times, and taken most all of the tours, our mission was to take our usual hike, and eventully find a place for lunch, if there was time.  The last tender was 1:30, and we know from experience not to wait until the last boat.  Although we had priority tendering, we decided to wait until most of the tour groups went off to shore.  So after breakfast, we went off the ship around 9am. 


The weather was better than perfect.  Not too hot or humid, we would enjoy a cloudless day with gentle breezes.  By the way, the Amsterdam was the only cruise ship in the bay today.  Sometimes , there can be as many as three.  For that reason, we would have been happy if we had a longer stay here, but it was not in the planning.


One thing nice about being the only ship here was the fact nothing was really crowded.  And the folks that were vacationing here in the myriad of accommodations were not out and about yet.  And for that reason, few of the hawkers and vendors were present yet.  And those that were there, were pretty low-key. 


Our first stop was at Cabo Wabo, but not for the food and beers, but for t-shirts.  Then it was back to the main street and a walk through town to the major shopping mall at Puerto Paraiso.  We were surprised to find that the entire front of the mall was being re-designed, and another hotel complex was going up on the property.  It is staggering what already exists here, and the need for more vacation rentals is unbelievable.


This is the area of high end shopping, so the restaurants are also on the nicer side, in our opinion.  After walking through the mall and the upscale Luxury Avenue, we decided to see if the restaurant we liked the best was opened yet.  Good thing we did, because the doors were opened at 11am, instead of noon, as advertised.  Inside, there was a table full of young ladies, who we found out were from California.  How did we know?  One of the gals came over and asked if we had visited San Francisco, since one of us was wearing a Hard Rock SF t-shirt. Not only did we visit, there, we lived there as young kids.  Some of the ladies were from Petaluma, in the north bay, so it was like meeting neighbors.  They confirmed that the beer was great here, as they already had been enjoying it for a while already. 


So we ordered our pizza and blonde craft beer, as this was a brewery restaurant.  Good as always, we stayed until noontime, and also enjoyed a shared carrot cake.  Time to go, we walked slowly back to the ship, picking up a long sleeve Cabo t-shirt to wear while in cooler Canada in a few days.  Most all of our cold weather clothes are packed already.


Going back on a local tender boat was much better, since the driver  slowed down so we could see the huge sea lions perched on the back platforms of fishing boats, begging for scraps of bait.  They are so big, they practically tipped the smaller fishing boats backwards.  Then the driver took us slowly along the outcroppings past Los Arcos, before he headed for the ship.


Then it wasn’t so easy getting back onboard, since other boats were waiting their turn.  We were third in line, but riding in this boat was nice, since we were on the top deck with the driver, and in the open air. The seas were calm, so no one complained.


Guess we boarded by 1:30pm, but we were not the last.  We always like this sail away, mostly for the scenery, but also for the sudden change in temperatures and winds.   But we would have over an hour before we would leave, due to an emergency medical debark.  It was more like 3pm when the ship made the exit past Los Arcos, and made that turn towards the north.  As the Captain had warned, the cool wind picked up and blew a lot of people’s things without warning.  Some of it went overboard.  Within a few minutes, the back decked cleared.  We followed shortly after getting enough photos of the rocks and the hole from both sides.


That left the afternoon to work on photos before heading for a nice and relaxed dining room dinner.  Two good choices tonight were the minestrone soup  and the honey mustard breaded chicken breast.  With a couple of small desserts, we were good to go. 


A different type of show was performed tonight by an award-winning mentalist by the name of Alan Chamo.  However, we wanted to catch a movie, The Accountant, which was on TV.  Glad we did, since it was a good one.


Now we have two days at sea as we head towards San Francisco, a very favorite place for us.


Bill & Mary Ann




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Report # 130   Day at Sea   May 28, 2019   Tuesday   No forecast


If we did not know better, we would not expect that we are still sailing along the coast of Baja California, which is Mexico, of course.  Yesterday’s temps were warm and sunny, but today, we went from mostly sunny, to partly cloudy, then entirely cloudy and very cool.  No rain, but it sure looks like it could.


Taking our morning walk, we still counted about 20 quite large flying fish as the ship cut through the oncoming waves.  At least we think that means that the water temps are still on the warmer side.  We highly doubt that will last much longer as we head towards California. 


Morning activities included another session with the Captain giving a virtual bridge and engine room tour of the Amsterdam.  Actually the last one we saw was given by Captain Mercer.  And at both lectures, the Captain was open to all questions that he was able to answer.  It is a good substitute for the real tour we went on back in 2009 on the Rotterdam.  What was missing were the steep stairways to the bottom decks, the tight spaces, the incredible heat, and the never-ending noise.


And with the next port of San Francisco coming up, a talk was given about what to see and do there.  While that was happening, a $39 premium wine tasting was taking place in the Pinnacle Grill.  Later in the day, another $5 sip and savor group was testing the cornflake crusted shrimp with mayo and mango.  This new activity must be a hit, because they are using the Explorer’s Lounge instead of the Crystal Terrace. 


We have to laugh with the eat more to weigh less, followed by yoga, cycling, pilates (these three for $12), then dine at the special Seafood Lunch in the dining room at noon.  We did the lunch thing, but ordered a plain salad, a bowl of soup, and one shrimp and one veggie ravioli main.  A slice of pumpkin pie was shared by the both of us.  And we had quite a surprise to recognize two people that were tablemates on a South Pacific cruise a few years ago.  A few of days ago, we spotted this couple for a nano second outside the elevator.  The doors closed, and we both said at the same time, was that the nice couple we used to know?  Highly unlikely, we figured it was not.  Anyway, they did remember us, and also said they will be back on the Tales of the South Pacific in the fall.  What a coincidence to do a repeat cruise like that.  We promised to keep in touch until then.  


Another unusual activity was an Introduction to Self-Hypnosis with mentalist Alan Chamo.  If it wasn’t for a really good TV movie at the same time, we might have peeked into the Wajang just to see what that was about.  It promised to help with losing weight, eliminating fears, relaxing, and getting rid of bad habits.  Afraid the movie won out……The Upside, a semi-comedy, but a really good story.


Now that we are down to less than a week left, we packed away things we do not need.  With two ports in Canada before we arrive to Seattle, we don’t want to be stuck doing a lot of last minute chores. 


And our time to sit in our favorite spot across from the Ocean Bar at 4:30pm is also limited to a few more days.  One good reason for relaxing here is two-fold.  We like to listen to the live band, but also talk to many of the officers and staff members we have come to know.  But we get the biggest kick out of seeing the cutest housekeeping gal, who will stop what she is doing, and wave to us every time she spots us.  Even if it is three decks down in the atrium.  


Dinner for us was in the Pinnacle Grill, where we both ordered the wedge salad, steak, fries, and a quarter baked potato.  We forgot to mention to our waiter that we preferred our dinner very hot, so perhaps next time, we will ask for hot plates.  Usually the main course has been served with plates hot enough for the servers to use pads, but not since this Panama cruise has begun.  Dessert was the baked Alaska, which we really ordered for just the Cherry Garcia ice cream. 


For the final time on this trip, the clocks went back one hour tonight.  So since January 22, we gained back every hour, one by one, sometimes ½ by  ½  ,giving us back the day we lost when crossing the International Dateline.  Finally, we are back to Pacific time, the correct one for us.


And this evening’s goodnight message is one to think about – Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.   -  Anonymous –


Bill & Mary Ann    

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Report # 131   Day at Sea   May 29, 2019   Wednesday   No forecast   Part #1 Of 1    16   Pictures


There could be a reason for the lack of the forecast in the When & Where program.  That is probably because it has turned really cold, overcast, and windy.  Not exactly what you would expect cruise weather should be.  However, this is normal for the coast of California this time of year.  We understand the Bay Area in the San Francisco region has been unseasonably cool, and rain has remained in their forecast.  And it is almost June.  On the upside, there have been no crowds on the promenade deck, so walking during the day has been quite easy.  The seas have turned a bit rough, although, so keeping the walks short has worked much better for us. 


The biggest event today took place in the Mainstage at 10:15am, when we were invited to another Mariner Reception for this Panama Cruise.  Entering on the port side, we were greeted by Captain Eversen, Norbert, the hotel director, and Bruce, the cruise director.  All good guys we might add.  Today, there was a grand total of five President’s Club members.  A space had been reserved for us in the center front section of the lounge.  We are not sure what level of days were needed to be invited to this assembly, but only the lower section of this show lounge was occupied.  Considering that this cruise has over 1300 passengers onboard, this group was relatively small. 


Bruce began the awards program as always, by announcing the highest level of guests here today, which is President’s Club (1400 pure sea days).  The two of us happened to be the first introduced, but when we got up to have our photo taken with the Captain and Norbert, someone else popped up, stepped in front of us, and took our spot.  That would be Dolly, who may or may not have heard our names mentioned.   Didn’t matter, she was determined to be first.  Standing aside, we gladly let her have her glory, although her mistake drew a lot of chuckles from the crowd. 


Then about 20 medals from bronze to gold were handed out to the new awardees.  While we watched and clapped for everyone, we sipped drinks of our choice, and tasted the special appetizers left for us.  Too bad Barb was not here, because they had some generous servings of the good caviar. Then those who were already holders of the four levels of Mariners were asked to stand for applause.  Short and sweet, we were then escorted to the dining room for the 11am brunch.


A table in the center of the lower dining room had been reserved for six of us.  After the toast by Captain Eversen, Norbert and Maria, the Guest Relations Manager, joined us as hosts.  The menu was simple with starters of smoked trout, mackerel, and salmon, or amber beer cheddar soup.  The soup won out, and in this case, was the best.  The mains were beef pot roast, European plaice fish, or asparagus red rice cakes.  The beef dish was just fine.  The meal was served with white or red wines, and the finale dessert was a meringue berry tart.  The conversation flowed with the easy going hotel director and equally as nice, Maria, who we just met today.  This meal would be repeated again at 1pm for the remainder of the guests.


By the time we returned to our room, our last delivery of our PC perks arrived as well.  We will have to work up quite a thirst to finish off 17 Coke Zeros in four days.  The pretty bouquet of flowers will not have time to wilt before we leave, so that’s good.  They will help brighten up our room, which is beginning to look pretty naked now. 


Now that there are few sea days left before this trip ends in Seattle, shop sales were the biggest activity today.  In fact, we learned that almost 500 passengers will be debarking in Vancouver.  Of course, there will be a one night cruise for that many new people that will board that afternoon.  It is called the “party cruise”, since most of these folks will be eating, drinking, dancing, and probably gambling throughout the evening.


Our laundry was returned with a cute note attached:  Your laundry was neatly folded today by Arjang.  That is the first time ever we have had a message left for us.  Take that back….one time someone wrote:  Welcome back. We wrote back saying “Thanks”.  This part of the hard-working crew,  we seldom see out and about, but we sure do appreciate the work they have done for several months. 


Once again, dinner was in the Pinnacle Grill, where we discovered the trick of getting the food really hot, is to ask for it hot.  Duh….On the grand voyage, we never had to ask for hot food, since it always came that way.  Different managers, can mean a different type of service.  Most times, the guests would not notice, unless, for instance, your food arrives cool to warm and not hot.  Easily remedied.


Tonight’s show was a combination of the mentalist, Alan Chamo, and the singer, Tony Pace.  It’s a good thing the singers and dancers were not on stage tonight, because it became pretty rough, with the ship rocking and rolling enough to notice.  When we feel the motion on the Dolphin deck, you better believe, it is much more pronounced the higher you go.  Many people mentioned to us that they were turning in early in order to be on time for tomorrow’s mandatory immigration inspection in San Francisco.


Tonight’s saying:  Maybe the best moment of your life will be on your next big adventure.  -  Siya Zarrabi  -   This seems to be the idea for the daily reminder to book a future cruise while onboard.


Bill & Mary Ann


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Your Mariner's brunch sounds really good -- the best U have seen in a while.  Beer, cheddar soup makes my water.  We gave up the brunches years ago (even on our Amsterdam cruise) as there were no reserved tables and no hosts especially for higher day Mariners.  We couldn't stand the free-for-all when the doors opened.


Enjoy your day in San Francisco.

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Report #132   San Francisco, California   May 30, 2019   Thursday   Partly cloudy & 63 degrees     Part # 1 of 4    80  Pictures


Founded in the 1700’s by the Spanish, San Francisco continued to flourish from the California Gold Rush in the 1800’s.   In 1906, a devastating earthquake hit, causing massive damage.  And the quakes have not stopped since then.  As native-born San Franciscans, we have lived through many of those earthquakes over the years, yet we have continued to live in the Bay Area despite that. 


Today, we came into the city via the Amsterdam, going under the famous and most photographed bridge in the world – the Golden Gate Bridge.  The bad news was that it was pretty foggy, so it was difficult to see a lot of it.  Much was the same story with passing by Alcatraz Island, named for the pelicans that nest there.  During the Civil War, the US Army used this island as a prison.   It became a maximum security penitentiary in 1934, earning it the name of “The Rock”.  Although there is no recorded history of anyone surviving an escape, this prison closed down in 1964, as it became too expensive to run.  These days it is a really popular tourist destination. 


We passed by all of the places we would walk to later in the day, then docked at Pier 27, the newest Cruise Terminal.  Once we were alongside, we had to attend a mandatory immigration inspection shoreside.  We had been given notices with a group letter on it, and an estimated time we would be called. Even though we would be called sometime between 8:45 to 9am, we decided to go to breakfast as usual, then go off closer to 9:30am.  This would be a zero count, and no one would be allowed back onboard until 11:30am.  So we planned on continuing with our outing for the day, and come back later in the afternoon.  Many other guests used this time to take advantage of the free wifi in the cruise terminal.


We lined up to see the agent, and when he scanned our passports thoroughly, he looked up and said welcome home.  Sure is a good feeling to be greeted this way, as these officials usually are not that friendly.  We were free to go and make our way to Pier 35.  There was an hour before we were to meet our youngest son for lunch at the Hard Rock Café, so we toured Pier 39.  The best fun there is watching the massive sea lions perched on the floating platforms at the back end.  They will sometimes fight with each other, sleep, or slither off the side to hunt fish.  One thing for sure….they all stink. 


We checked out all of the shops, especially the salt water taffy candy store, and the Ghirardelli Store.  The clothing shops really had some good deals on t-shirts and souvenirs.  But we had to chuckle when we spotted the very same round purse we bought in Bali, selling for $50.  We saw a similar one in Cabo for $97.  Bought in Bali?  Try $10.  Can’t blame them for trying


It was wonderful seeing our son, and spending some quality time together.  Would have been great for our oldest son to join us, but he works quite a long distance from here, it would have been impossible.  With traffic in and around the city, nothing is easy these days.  Our time was short, but it was soon time to say goodbye. 


We were on our way to Fisherman’s Wharf, and Ghirardelli Square, taking in the scenery along the way.  For a Thursday afternoon, it was really busy, especially the restaurants along the wharf, where they were serving lobster, crab, and shrimp sandwiches.  Round loaves of French bread were made into bowls for clam chowder.  All types of fish and shellfish were on the menus, which the city is famous for.  Highly allergic for one of us, we had stuck with the burgers instead.  Dungeness crabs were being cooked in big steaming cauldrons, while the lobsters waited their turn in the pot.


The fishing fleet docks were next, where we were treated to a display of a very hungry sea lion ripping into the carcass of a halibut, tossed to him by the fisherman who just fileted it.  The seagulls also fought for bits of the chewed up pile of bones, head and tail.   Nothing is wasted.  There were several boats available to take folks on ½ or full day fishing trips for salmon, squid, abalone, sand dabs, sole, bass, ling, rock cod, maceral, and halibut.  Pier 45 houses up to 300 commercial fishing boats, which is the largest concentration of commercial fish processing and distributors of the West Coast.    Also located here are the ships, USS Pampanito, a WWII restored submarine, and the SS Jeremiah O’Brien,  a D-Day Liberty ship, both available to tour.


The main street, Jefferson St, has shop after shop of souvenirs, and some really good buys.  One happened to be a reversible water-resistant lined jacket for $25.  Having already packed our arctic jackets (who knows where?), buying one of these was a great idea, even if it will have to be worn home on the plane. 


Coming out at Hyde Street Pier, we saw more ships from the past….namely, an 1888 square-rigged sailing ship, an 1895 lumber schooner, a 1907 steam tug Hercules, and an 1890 walking beam ferryboat, Eureka.  Ranger-guided tours were available as this is the only floating National Park in America.  So intriguing to visualize living in those centuries and actually sailing on one of these historic ships.  Can’t imagine it was pleasant…..


From here, we made our way through Victorian Park, but not before seeing the Powel-Hyde Street Cable Car Turnaround.  And no visit is complete without taking a ride on one of these icons.  Actually, these cable cars have no engines.  They are pulled by a steel cable embedded in the street.  And that cable is always moving at 9.5 miles exactly.  There are three Cable Car lines, which we recall riding frequently when we were kids, and even adults.  More of a form of transportation in those days, now they are filled to capacity mainly with tourists.  And with the risk of sounding “dated”, we paid 10 cents or used a transfer from a bus to ride them.  It’s quite a bit more now we heard.


On the hillside, we went to Ghirardelli Square, full of specialty shops as well as the famous chocolate candy store.  It was here that we found another bargain of the day…..pumpkin pie spice chocolates for 75% off.  Yes, the date was soon to expire, but they will not last that long.  


Down at the water’s edge, was the South End Rowing and Dolphin Clubs, another icon of the city.  There were swimmers in the sheltered Aquatic Park, as cold as that water must be, they were having a race.  Also here is the Maritime Museum, where the admission was free.  A great place to explore if you have more time.  A kids, we also recalled going out on Municipal Pier and fishing.  One of us remembered buying hot French fries on the way to fish, a good way to stay warm on this windy long pier.


Time to head back, we took our time watching the busy shops and restaurants with all of the people enjoying the variety of food offered here.  One such place was Boudin Bakery, where we watched an experienced baker creating loaves of French bread….specifically, sourdough bread.  We did not know this, but the French baker, Isadore Boudin, created a tart and tasty loaf of bread that had that special crust with a chewy soft heart.  His creation has stuck around ever since then.  The secret?  It was replacing the yeast with the bacteria from yogurt that made the sourdough rise.  So all of the bakers save some of the “mother dough” to use the next day, and so the story goes.  Just thinking about eating this bread, makes our mouths water. 


With one stop at a local CVS for some supplies, we got back to the ship by 3:30pm, an hour before the all onboard time.  That left a little time to work on photos before we went out to watch the sailing out of the scenic harbor. If we had more time, we would have made our way to the Ferry Building, but that was another long walk, so maybe next time.


Heading up to deck nine, we found many guests that were going to the Crow’s Nest instead of going outside.  Even though the sun had peeked out briefly, it was still cold and the wind was picking up.  By the time the lines were dropped, we weathered the sail out under the Golden Gate Bridge, glad we had bundled up, and one of us very happy to have bought the new SF jacket.  The only disappointment was that Captain Eversen did not go around the backside of Alcatraz Island this time.  On past cruises, it gave us a closer look at the prison that once stood there.  Although it was still overcast, most of the bridge was visible as we sailed under it.  This time we did not see any whales, like we did last year.  The views of Ocean Beach, Seal Rock, the Cliffhouse, and the coastline of Marin county kept our interest until the ice cold winds and rough seas drove us back inside the ship.


Now we are headed towards Canada for the final two ports of this journey.  The next time we will see San Francisco will be when we land at the airport on Monday.


Bill & Mary Ann


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Report # 133   Day at Sea   May 31, 2019   Friday   No forecast


Our forecast ……very cloudy, also very cold, windy, and slightly rough seas.  Not exactly the way we wanted to spend our final day at sea, but for most of this extended cruise, we have had fairly good weather. 


Our day was simple. Eat, pack, get a haircut, and eat some more.  Since it was not a fitting day to be outside for any length of time, we needed to continue with the majority of the packing.  It’s the little odds and ends that take time.


The best part of the day was lunch in the dining room, where we shared our table with guests…..Ellen and Aart.  We had so much catching up to do, it would take months, let alone days.  The perfect meeting spot would have been at the aft pool deck, but with this weather, no one has gone out there that we know of.  The wind would have been a factor today for sure.  At least we could linger over a fine lunch in comfort, with the expert help from our waiters.


That worked out perfectly time-wise, because we wanted to watch the movie “The Kid”, yesterday’s Wajang feature.  It was a western based on the times of Billy the Kid, but had a different twist to the story.  Glamorized, it was not.  Made you happy you did not live in those times of the wild, wild west.  It was also a good time to catch up on yesterday’s photos and report.


When finally reading the When & Where paper, we noticed there was a sale on some of the 2019 world cruise logo wear.  Whatever was left was 50% off.  This morning, we asked Slam if these t-shirts and sweatshirts ever went on sale for the crew.  The answer was yes, and they did get it at 75% off.  Whatever does not sell at that time, is possibly donated.  Funny thing was we were riding in an elevator with a lady that just purchased a world cruise sweatshirt.  She said it was a good idea, since she needed something warmer, and no one will ever know that she did not actually sail on that cruise.  Always a good reason to buy these items.


Tonight’s suggested dress was gala attire, the final one of this 18 day trip.  The late seating at 8pm had many fewer guests, but the open seating on deck four had even less.  Despite that, the wait for the surf and turf entrée was long, as most folks ordered that.  The rack of veal was equally as good.  Usually we try to pass by the desserts, but we did have one flourless chocolate cake and one orange-glazed cheesecake.  This will be a hard habit to break once we go home.  And that is coming up soon.


Around 9:30pm, we noticed some waiters coming into the  dining room dressed in white vests.  Turns out they were going to be passing around chocolate treats throughout deck five.  This is something that also occurred on the grand voyage too.  Sure looked like a big hit, because people were indulging in the lounges, bars, and the casino as we made our way to the forward elevators.  We’re guessing most all of them had dined much earlier.  And for about 500 guests, this will be about the end of their trip as they will be debarking in Vancouver. 


The good news is that we will be arriving early to Victoria tomorrow at 10am instead of 1pm.  It’s such a beautiful city that we appreciate the extra time to explore and enjoy.


The saying for today is a very good one to ponder:   Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.                     -  Mark Twain –     We did, and intend to continue.....


Bill & Mary Ann

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1 hour ago, WCB said:

Report # 133   Day at Sea   May 31, 2019   Friday   No forecast


When finally reading the When & Where paper, we noticed there was a sale on some of the 2019 world cruise logo wear.  Whatever was left was 50% off.  This morning, we asked Slam if these t-shirts and sweatshirts ever went on sale for the crew.  The answer was yes, and they did get it at 75% off.  Whatever does not sell at that time, is possibly donated.  Funny thing was we were riding in an elevator with a lady that just purchased a world cruise sweatshirt.  She said it was a good idea, since she needed something warmer, and no one will ever know that she did not actually sail on that cruise.  Always a good reason to buy these items.


Yep, I just knew they would do this.  I'm still peeved that they wanted $180 for a sweatshirt (zip up with hood one)!  I always buy those; I have a bit of a collection, lol!  Not this time....


1 hour ago, WCB said:



The saying for today is a very good one to ponder:   Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.                     -  Mark Twain –     We did, and intend to continue.....


This is one of my favorites; the other one is "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out ..." Hunter S. Thompson


1 hour ago, WCB said:

Bill & Mary Ann


Linda R.

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Report #134   Victoria, British Columbia, Canada   June 1, 2019   Saturday   Partly cloudy & 65 degrees     Part # 1 of 4    80  Pictures


Today’s port was quite a lovely one…..the city of Victoria, situated on the southeastern end of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  It overlooks the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Victoria was the original trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1843.  The gold rush hit here in the 1860’s, and this company was the main supplier of the equipment needed to find it. Now the city is the provincial capital for British Columbia.


Today Victoria is a thriving haven for tourists and the retirement community, mostly due to the mild climate.  There is much to see and do here, especially the Victorian-style Parliament buildings and the Empress Hotel – all within walking distance of the pier.


Shore excursions offered nine tours today.  Sightseeing of the city either by walking, a horse-drawn carriage ride, or by bus took up four of them.  The hours ran from 1 to 2 ½ hours for $40 to $75.  Food-based tours were royal tea time or craft beer tasting for $75 to $129.  Whale-watching for orcas was 3 hours for $130, and two tours went to Butchart Gardens, the 55 acres of spring blooming plants and trees.  They ran $95 to $105 for 5 hours.


Originally, we were supposed to be docking here at 1pm and leaving at 11pm.  But last week, that had changed to an arrival time of 10am, leaving at 6pm.  And that was fine with us as it gave us time to enjoy the city during the daylight hours.  The Amsterdam was docked at Ogden Point by 10am, and we were off by 10:30am.  Even though the forecast said 65 degrees, we think it was much warmer than that once we reached the city center. 


There was a shuttle service which would depart from the pier to downtown and back for $16, but it was such a beautiful day, walking was by far the better choice.  And besides it was fun watching the helicopter and float planes taking off for commuting or sightseeing.  Following the signs, we made our way to town passing some Victorian tea houses and hotels along the way.  This area has many condos and apartments over-looking the bay as well.


We walked past Fisherman’s Wharf, a small version of the one in SF, but full of good views and good eats.  Staying on the main drive, we came across Coho Ferry and the Steamship Terminal where you can catch ferries to Port Angeles, Seattle and Vancouver.  Also a good place to book whale-watching tours. 


We began to see the horse-drawn carriages that offered rides for 15 to 90 minutes for $60 to $295.  These carriages hold six people and the price is for the carriage for up to six.  These rides were right next to the Provincial Legislature and the Parliament, probably the most impressive Victorian buildings in the city.  Then adjacent to this, was the Empress Hotel, now owned by Fairmont.  It faces the Inner Harbor, that has a life of its own.  Besides the ferries, there are fishing boats and yachts to watch from the Harbor Walkway down below the street level.  There are eateries and vendors that line this walkway that are most entertaining.  There were street artists today, one dressed totally in pink, like a mime, and one balloon-making fellow.  Arts and crafts of the area were the most common souvenirs to buy here.


Our destination was lunch…anywhere there was pizza and beer.  This time we were able to research local pizzerias online.  Now with the new internet system on the ship, we have the freedom to research anything we like.  That was not always possible when using the “by the minute” plan.  Anyway, we located a possible restaurant on Johnson Street, close to Chinatown.  Taking our time walking, we easily found it, and it was perfect.  And we were lucky it was not too crowded yet, since today was a Saturday, and a very busy weekend. 


We ordered a Margherita pizza (like that is a surprise?), with side Caesar salads.  The beer was a local pale ale on draft.  Dessert was a Nutella pizza calzone, something totally new for us to try.  And of course, we liked it.  We had a window seat with a view of the Esquimalt Road Bridge, and were surprised at the amount of traffic coming into town. 


Taking our time walking back, we window-shopped, picking up one novelty t-shirt.  This shop did not accept the credit card we were using, so we paid cash in US dollars.  Guess they can adjust the rate, since they quoted $1.10  Canadian to $1 USD.  We were told it was $1.35 to the dollar, however, they take the fee for using US into account.  Using a credit card really does get you the better rate, but then the store has to accept it.  And, of course, no other store sold this special t-shirt.  It will be treasured.


We usually walk around the waterside of the road back, but there was a renewal project taking place there, so we went back the way we came.  Getting back to the ship by 4pm, we had time to catch up on photo-sorting, before going to the sailing out of the harbor.  While we were doing this, another ship pulled in across from us….the Oosterdam, another HAL vessel.  Up to now, we had been the only cruise ship here.  But soon to follow was the Star Princess, and even bigger, the NCL Bliss.  With those huge ships, the town will be inundated.  Good for business.


By now, the wind had come up, and it was really cold on the aft deck.  Going down to deck seven aft was a little better, but still cold.  We lasted outside, getting all the photos we needed, then went back inside to warm up by 6:30pm.  We know we were close to Vancouver, our next port, but checking the TV, we found we only had about 85 nautical miles to get there.  No wonder we were going at 6 to 8 knots, because our arrival time in Vancouver is 7am.   If we have as nice as a day as today, we will be most lucky.


Dinner for us was in the Pinnacle Grill, ordering the wedge salad, lamb chops, and a steak.  Fries, rice, and carrots were the sides, as well as one order of the delicious bacon. Who knew you could mix smoked peppered bacon with maple syrup, lemon juice and a slice of pickle, and it would be so tasty?  Dessert was small servings of sorbet and ice cream.


Bill & Mary Ann


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Report #135   Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada   June 2, 2019   Sunday   Partly cloudy & 70 degrees   Part # 1 of  4    80  Pictures


The city of Vancouver was founded in the late 1800’s by the British.  It was originally a lumber mill village.  A man named Gassy Jack was the first person to see a need for bars to serve the thirsty mill workers.  The story goes that Gassy Jack gave a barrel of booze to the men that built him a saloon.  His name is now transferred to Gastown, which is an area of boutique shops and restaurants these days.  Vancouver’s famous steam clock is also there.


Captain George Vancouver sailed on Captain Cook’s expeditions, and later chartered the area for the British.  The city was named after him, George Vancouver.


There were three tours here, including the highlights for $60 per person (2 ½ hours), or Northwest exploration and Suspension Bridge for $100 (3 ½ hours).  The hop-on, hop-off bus for $50 had 29 stops and covered almost all of the city and surrounds.  We have done this tour many years ago, and found it fun.  And since many passengers would be leaving today, somewhere near 500, a highlight tour with an airport transfer was also offered for $80.


The Amsterdam arrived to the port at 7am, with two ships also docked there.  One was the HAL Westerdam, while the other was the Celebrity Eclipse, one of the big ones. Breakfast was served early in the dining room, although we did not go until 7:30am.  It was not crowded.


Leaving the ship was like going into a hornet’s nest, due to so many people debarking those two vessels and ours too.  However, had we known what it was going to be like getting back onboard later, we may have changed our minds, and stayed onboard the ship.  We had been given “in transit” cards, which we would need later to go through the US Customs and Border Protection in the cruise ship terminal on our way back.  The time allowed for this inspection was from 10:30am to 3:45pm.  All aboard was at 4pm.  The procedure here is very different from everywhere else we have been.


Once clear of Canada Place, we took a right turn to walk the seawall along Burrand Inlet.  The Vancouver Convention Center is located on this corner, and it was bustling with activity with all of the cafes and shops on the ground level.


Walking further, we came across the seaplane terminal, which is reportedly the world’s largest multi-user terminal.  A 20 minute flight for sightseeing ran about $138 for 20 minutes.  These planes were taking off the entire time we were there.


Coal Harbor Quay was next, where some mighty fine small boats to luxury yachts were docked.  It is also home to many houseboats, complete with verandas and potted rooftop gardens.  Some of these boats were also for sale.


The Westin Hotel and other condos and apartment buildings are situated here over-looking Coal Harbor.  Turning the bend, we entered Stanley Park, a 1001 acre public park almost entirely surrounded by the waters of the Pacific Ocean.  One of the highlights of this park that draws many customers, young and old, are the horse-drawn trolleys.  This pleasant ride lasts for one hour and costs $50 for adults, or $46 for seniors.  This is all in Canadian dollars by the way. 


Some of the horses are a rare Grey Shire imported from Yorkshire, England.  Other breeds used are Clysdales, Belgiums, and Percherons.  Back in the 1800’s, these animals were used to haul logs in the lumber industry.  Some of the larger breeds stand 2.4 meters tall, have feet the size of frying pans, and consume  27 kilograms or 60 pounds of feed a day.  They can drink 100 liters of water a day as well.  The trolleys are aluminum-framed with signal lights and hydraulic brakes.  And they run completely on hay and oats!


The walk in the park was delightful.  We did see one Douglas squirrel, and a Canada goose.  What we did not see were raccoons, river otters, beavers, and great blue herons. All reportedly in this huge park.  There are a whopping 20,000 bald eagles in all of British Columbia, but we did not see one here.  What we did see were the trees, in fact there are ½ million trees in this park, some are over 100 years old.  However, in December of 2006, a hurricane-force windstorm destroyed 10,000 trees here.  That probably why we spotted many young trees planted in their space.


There are 17 miles of trails through this park with towering red cedars, hemlock, and Douglas firs to name only a few.  Logging went on here from the 1800’s to the early 1900’s, until it was declared a park.  Walking the seawall around the park presents stunning views of downtown, the Lions Gate Bridge, English Bay, and many sandy beaches.  Sure would have been nice if we had more time to explore here.  But it was time for lunch.


Backtracking at this point, we ended up at  Steamworks Brewery on the other side of Canada Place.  There was still a mess of people coming and going, as the two bigger ships were beginning a new run to Alaska, while we were loading an additional 500 or more folks for a one night cruise to Seattle.


Lunch was very good with a shared cheeseburger, fries, and one apple crisp with ice cream for dessert.  Beers were the special draft of the day….pale ale – ice cold.  Sure was nice to relax for over an hour.  In hindsight, we should have lingered longer. 


Finally, we made our way back to the cruise terminal with at least  one million other passengers from three ships doing the same thing.  Our “in transit” cards meant nothing.  What we found was a long line where all of us were funneled into a row of chairs.  Each row had about 100 seats, and there were six rows.  Every 15 minutes, a row of guests was released to line up for the customs check.  We guess we waited for about I hour in total before getting to the kiosks. 


These are self-explanatory passport scanning and questionnaires for the US clearance.  As long as you followed the directions, it was simple and quick.  Then we lined up to see a live agent, who took our receipt, checked our photo page, and finally we were free to go back to the proper ship.  Last time we did this, the Eurodam was the only ship in port, so the line was short and it moved really fast.  Later on in the day, we talked to Sue, who also has sailed on this Panama cruise after the grand voyage, and when she saw the process of getting back onboard, she changed her mind and went back on the ship.  Probably a good choice.


As we said, all aboard was at 4pm, when a mandatory muster drill was held for only the newly boarded guests.  At least that was a good thing.  Around 4:30pm, we went up to deck nine to find it was still warm outside, although the skies had become totally overcast.  Around that same time, the Celebrity Eclipse began their sail out of the harbor.   They were barely on their way, when the Westerdam pulled away from the pier, turned around, and followed them. We were last to leave around 5:30pm, doing 12.8 knots after we went under the Lions Gate Bridge, and headed out to sea.  We would have 178 nautical miles to sail to Seattle, according to the cruise log. 


Speaking of the cruise log, during this 18 day trip from Ft. Lauderdale to Seattle, we will have sailed 5807 miles, using 227,186 gallons of fuel.  Once again, the egg consumption was high at 46,570.


Our last dinner was with our favorite waiters.  We had soup, salad, and one pork chop and one pasta dish with sliced chicken.  Dessert was one date pudding and one rocky road ice cream.  Naturally, Slam snuck us some biscotti cookies, and Marco found some ginger.  It was hard saying goodbye, but we hope to see them again soon.  Saying goodbye to Ellen and Aart was harder, but they will be back on the 2020 world cruise, which is only months away.  By the way, we had a most beautiful sunset this evening, as the ship wove in between the dozens of islands of the coast.


There was entertainment this evening.  Part of it started during dinner ,when we watched with amusement the diners down on deck four.  They were part of the party-hardy one-nighters here to have fun.  And fun they were having.  Later, the show was a performance of the singers and dancers doing Crossroads, one of which we did see on the world cruise.


Hauling our luggage outside the room was fun (NOT).  At least we will not have to carry any of it home, as we are shipping all six of them.


The final goodnight saying for this trip is:  No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old familiar pillow.

     -  Lin Yutang  -


Bill & Mary Ann



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Thank you both for sharing this extended World Cruise with all of us.  It has been enlightening.

You find a lot of T shirts to buy in the ports.  Do you have mountains of souvenir shirts at home or do you present some as gifts or ???

Welcome home and happy unpacking !


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Thank you so much for taking us on your journey - your descriptions and photos made it seem like we were there with you.


The hardest part at the end of any cruise is saying goodbye to the crew - they have a way of working themselves into your heart and it's like leaving family members behind when we get off.  Safe travels home.


Smooth Sailing!  🙂🙂🙂

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