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John and Diane's Lucky Number 7

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When I went back and looked at the pictures again -- especially of the troll -- I knew he looked familiar.  That is grandpa of the 3 we have.

 

We have grandpa, son and granddaughter.

 

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Grandpa by himself -- he about 12 inches tall:

 

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Thursday, May 2, 2019 - Day 100

At Sea en route to Portree, Scotland

 

It’s getting to THAT part of the cruise.  Two weeks from today the vast majority of the passengers on board will have completed their world cruise and will be disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale.  There are those people, however, to whom we don’t dare mention that fact.  Our friend Barbie is one of them, and if you say something like, “14 days left,” she’ll turn around and walk away.  She does love this cruise each year.  

 

No matter how much denial there is, however, the signs are appearing.  Yesterday, everyone but those of us NOT disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale, received a sheet called “Debarkation Information,” on which passengers are asked about their plans after getting off, so as to be able to assign them a luggage tag color which indicates the time they’ll be called to disembark.  For example, if you have a flight at 11:00 AM, you’ll have an earlier time than our friends Rich and Ginni, whose flight isn’t until 4:00 PM.  

 

This morning, as I was waiting at the front desk for some laundry quarters (for those things I won’t send out to the ship’s laundry), three people in front of me were purchasing bubble wrap, boxes, and sealing tape for the belongings which won’t fit in their suitcases.  We do have four free suitcases (with no weight limit) to be shipped home, and it will be interesting to see how much “stuff” can be stuffed into them.  We’re limiting ourselves to two small suitcases and the ship’s “pillow gift” of two small pull-along bags.  Since we’ll disembark in San Francisco, we just have to get our things down about two blocks to the car rental agency and then drive them four hours home.  I emailed our renters to alert them to the fact that four large suitcases will arrive home before we do and to ask them to put them in the garage.  I think packing for a trip is fun; unpacking is a job that I could do without.  

 

* * * *

 

Two special events we’ve always enjoyed on the WC are sommelier dinners and Disco Night.  This evening those will be combined, but instead of the usual gourmet fare of sommelier dinners, it’s going to be “home cookin’” for dinner.  Wine will be included with each course (for a set price), and there will be disco dancing between courses.  Four years ago, we attended with Jane and Bill and Rich and Ginni and we had a great time.  There was a dance contest which Jane and Bill won (they really are good), with a prize of a bottle of Cristal Champagne.  Being the good sports they are, they shared it with us and we loved it.  I don’t think I’ll be buying $300 Champagne any time soon, though.  

 

We’ll be sitting with our friends Martha and Bob, since no one else at our table wants to go, and I’m sure we’ll have a great time.  Bob’s only on until Cork in a few days, so it will  be good to spend some time with him before he flies home.  

 

* * * *

 

The evening was great!  The evening was planned that we’d eat a course or two and then have dancing (more rock and roll than disco) in the back room of The Pinnacle on a temporary parquet dance floor.  This was to be “comfort food,” so the first course was a shrimp cocktail accompanied by a wonderful French sancerre. Next we had tomato soup, with Oberon Sauvignon Blanc from California.  Then it was time for dancing - for awhile.  Course number three was a lobster mac ‘n’ cheese rolled in a sort of egg roll wrapper served with Pine Ridge chardonnay from California.  I’m not a chardonnay fan, so I just had more of the sauvignon blanc.  Then, of course, it was time for more dancing.  The fourth course was good old meat loaf and potatoes, but to upscale it a bit, the meatloaf was partially made with foie gras.  Yummmm!  The wine was Clos de Betz from Washington, a nice light red much to my taste.  After more dancing, it was time for dessert, a banana split sundae, somewhat of a deconstructed banana split with scoops of ice cream and chocolate covered banana pieces along with caramel sauce and pieces of almond brittle.

 

Now I couldn’t eat all of any of these courses, but that isn’t to say I didn’t find them absolutely delicious.  It was a great night, a great deal of fun, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  The captain had a great time too!

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Friday, April 3, 2019 - Day 101

Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland

 

If you like cold, blustery weather with snow flurries, then this is the place for you.  However, if like us you’re from more moderate climes, then be sure to dress very warmly when you visit the Isle of Skye in far northern Scotland.  

 

This truly is a beautiful port, but when the captain spoke of it yesterday, he mentioned that it would be very cold with very rough seas and, since it was a tender port, he’d try 

to make it.  Last evening at the Sommelier/Disco evening, I asked him if he was setting us up to miss this call and he replied, “You’ve got it!”  However, as we sailed into the bay early this morning it was calm and not too windy so we were giving it a go.  

 

Everyone had to go through a quick “face to passport” check with the local immigration authorities and then pick up a tender pass to go ashore.  We were #26 on the tender passes, which wasn’t so bad when you consider that they started at #15.  I guess we sat too close to the door on the tender (which they usually close but didn’t this time) and the blast of wind nearly made me think I was in Antarctica instead of Scotland.  I think I finally understand the term “wind chill factor.”  

 

By the time we arrived in this pretty little town it didn’t feel quite so windy, but then some rain began as we were headed up the hill and onto “The High Street.”  To keep ourselves warm and dry, we found a cute little cafe with two things that always make me happy:  cappuccino and scones.  We wiled away the time there until we actually saw some sun come out.  We walked through the town, taking photos of pretty little churches and colorful buildings, heading up the hilly streets and popping into stores to see if there was anything to tempt us.  

 

At one point we ran into our friend Bob (from church at home) and decided that the three of us would have fish and chips for lunch.  That was a wonderful idea, but not as easy as it sounds.  There was a really nice chip shop near the tender port, but when we entered we found it only did take-away and had nowhere indoors to sit.  They directed us to the restaurant next door which also did fish and chips and, since it was now 12:10 and the sign said they opened at 12:00, we thought we were safe.  Wrong!  They were “running late” and wouldn’t open for another half hour.  Then we headed up the hill, encountering our friend Hazel who directed us to an upstairs restaurant with a pretty view of the harbor.  Alas, no fish and chips.  I should have realized, considering that Hazel is a vegetarian, that her recommendation would fit that category.  Finally, finally, we went to the cafe where we’d had our morning stop and found that, not only did they have fish and chips on the menu, they had one booth available, so the three of us sat down and enjoyed our lunch.

 

Bob had a 1:30 tour with his Roads Scholar group, and we did a bit more walking around town before we headed to the dock for the return tender.  The wind was blasting as we nearly froze in line, and then, amazingly, snow flurries began.  I thought at first it was sprinkles, but then realized I could actually see little white things falling.  I was amazed and, even though I was really, really cold, I thought this was pretty darned exciting.  Sadly, they ended almost as soon as they had begun, and then it was time to board the tender for a rather bumpy ride back to the ship.  The tender repeatedly hit the ship as we all sat there hoping to disembark.  When the crew decided it was safe, we could only disembark very slowly and with the assistance of two crewmen for each passenger.  I’ve seldom been so happy to find the warmth of the ship after a port.  

 

We really did enjoy our time in Portree, and I loved listening to the Scottish accents, but I do wish it had been a bit warmer.  What a whiner I am!  All this beauty and then a complaint.  Shame on me!

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Ah -- wind chill factors.  We know all about them.  Many of our schools got only Good Friday off as Thursday and Monday were make up days for weather around here.  Temperatures down to -2 with wind chill factors of -25.

 

Portree looks like a very nice port -- to visit on a warmer day.

 

Wonderful reports -- loved the pictures.

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If you think I was kidding about the weather here, here's the weather update from last evening.  The last tender was to leave shore at 5:30 and we were to sail at 6:00.  Unfortunately, the weather was not going to cooperate, and getting that last tender hoisted to its designated position was a two to three hour ordeal while the ship went in circles trying to shelter that side.  The poor crew members responsible for this job were working in freezing temperatures, rough seas and pouring rain.  Finally, finally after the tender hitting the ship multiple times in efforts to secure it and connect it to the hoisting cables, they finally had success - sometime after 8:00 PM.  I know that crew members work hard on this ship, but this was above and beyond.

 

In addition, the captain had come on over the PA system throughout the ship (including cabins) at about 4:40 PM, telling two guests to hie themselves to Deck A forward to return to shore.  When he had to make that announcement a second time 20 minutes later, we could hear the steel in his voice.  I'm assuming they got off, but I wouldn't have wanted to deal with Captain Jonathan if I were them.

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Quite a bit of drama at the end of the day.

 

It is hard to get those tenders back up safely and tied off when the winds are bad.

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Saturday, May 4, 2019 - 

Belfast, Northern Ireland

 

What a wonderful day and evening we had in Belfast.  As a city we’d never visited, we thought the best way to take a first look would be on a Hop-On, Hop-Off bus, and when we found out that it cost ten pounds ($13.00 US), we were even more convinced.  We had a two hour ride, seeing all the major sites that were visited on ship’s tours, and we were very impresssed with the city itself.

 

Our friend Bob told us that his Roads Scholar group was going to see “some murals,” and we didn’t really understand what that meant.  However, as we drove around the city, we saw that murals were everywhere, espousing various political and philosophical views.  They certainly aren’t what you’d consider graffiti, but rather are more works of art covering an entire wall expressing the artist’s philosophy.  There was a wonderful paiinting of the man who was the first (of ten) to die as the result of a hunger strike, which precipitated the peace talks, and another wall celebrated people from around the world who advocated for peace, including Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others. It’s been years since “The Troubles,” but we found that certain neighborhoods are still blocked off at night to avoid violence.  

 

After our tour, we wandered through the streets until we found a really nice traditional pub, where we had a variety of lunch items (steak and Guinness pie, a panini, soup, and a pulled beef sandwich.  Then it was time to get back to the ship so that we could have time to rest (and nap) before the evening’s event.

 

We’ve used a couple of cruise agents in our eleven years of world cruises, but this was the first time that our agent (Cruise and Travel Experts) had an evening event.  This one, organized by Tom Baumann, was fantastic.  We were taken by bus to the Titanic Museum where we spent an hour going through the exhibits after all the “tourists” had left.  Since the Titanic was built in Belfast, the museum was built here in 2012, one hundred years after its sinking.  It’s a spectacular building, with four sides that each represent the bow of a ship and are exactly as tall as the bow of the Titanic.  

 

After our museum tour, we crossed the street to the Nomadic, a small ship which tendered passengers from Cherbourg to the Titanic.  It’s the only White Star Lines ship left in existence, and it’s a lovely piece of history.  The bar was open for a half hour before we were called downstairs for dinner, which was really quite wonderful. The first course was a chicken and ham terrine, followed by a choice of tournados Rossini, chicken, or hake for a main.  The dessert was an apple mousse ice cream slider topped with apple crisp.  Oh, yummmm!   There were chocolate truffles afterward, along with tea and coffee.  The meal was accompanied by a choice of malbec or sauvignon blanc.  It couldn’t have been better.  

 

During dinner a couple of local musicians played and sang Irish music, and on some songs, like “Molly Malone,” the group sang and clapped along.  Another highlight was the china which, although not original, copied the dishes on board the Titanic.  In addition, we found that in the men’s and ladies’ rooms, the facilities were original Thomas Crapper fixtures.  He’s the plumber from the 1800’s who invented all kinds of bathroom improvements and was rewarded by having us use his name in a negative way.  Poor guy!

 

It was a wonderful day and an even better evening, and now we can’t wait until Dublin tomorrow.

 

 

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You certainly did have a wonderful evening and the food sounded wonderful.

 

Enjoying your reports and pictures.

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Belfast has reinvented itself. Thank goodness!

Great memories of being there and having a grand time.

Glad you had a good experience.

 

Special thanks for your blog. It's great fun to read and much appreciated.

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Sunday, May 5, 2019

Happy Cinco de Mayo

Dublin, Ireland

 

If there’s a city that just begs you to have fun, it’s Dublin.  John and I have been here twice, both times for three days, and we just loved it.  Today, of course, we only have one day, but It’s still such a wonderful place.  Dublin is on Ireland’s east coast at the mouth of the River Liffey and was founded as a Viking settlement in the 9th Century.  When I mention having been to Dublin, people who have been here just smile, and those who haven’t been here express a wish to visit.  

 

We didn’t dock until 10:30 this morning, and then the shuttle took us for a 15-minute ride into the center of the city, right across from the statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square.

We rode in with Rich and Ginni, with an agreement with Bill and Jane to meet at 2:00 for lunch.  They had to have time to ride the HO HO bus and have a stop at the Guinness Brewery for a tour and a pint.

 

We wandered the streets of the city, passing the statue of Molly Malone, who’s sometimes called “The Tart with the Cart” because of the belief that she sold more than cockles and mussels.  Even though many stores were closed because of it being Sunday, many more were open, including seemingly all of the 751 pubs in the city (I looked it up).  

 

We passed Grafton Street, the popular shopping area, and poor Ginni, almost a professional shopper, was heartbroken not to spend time browsing.  We walked through Temple Bar, the center of “the action” in Dublin and probably the location of about half of those 751 pubs.  We found a bookstore with the necessary postcard for our granddaughter and luckily they sold stamps too.  I knew the post office would be closed, but it’s not difficult to find a green mailbox for the card. 

 

We walked down to and along the River Liffey until we found ourselves at Bridge Street and at our destination, the Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Ireland, founded in 1198.  As an American, where if something is 200 years old it’s ancient, a place which has been in business for almost 900 years is really something. The pub itself is large and sprawling and we found ourselves on the second floor (third American) in a cozy booth for six in a room with a crackling fireplace and a young lady waiting tables with a tee-shirt which said “Bulmers,” my favorite cider.  

 

One of our group had Irish stew, whose main ingredient is lamb, and two had steak and Guinness pie, which is like a shepherd’s pie with mashed potatoes on top.  Guinness seemed to be the drink of choice, but I had my Bulmers and Jane had a Diet Coke.  We all agreed that lunch was great and, although a bit pricey, was a good experience.  

 

After eating, Jane and Bill took a taxi to the Old Jameson’s Distillery, which dates back to 1780.  Talking with Bill in the Crow’s Nest this evening convinced us that it was a great experience and that the Irish whiskey produced there is of the very highest caliber.  

 

Rich and Ginni and John and I decided to walk back to the shuttle, but there were several window shopping and indoor shopping visits along the way.  We’d been looking for something for our daughter that she would like and we found an enameled Celtic cross that we think fits the bill (fortunately she doesn’t read this blog).  John has a former student for whom he still picks up the occasional shot glass, and Ginni found some caramels that we enjoyed as we walked.  

 

By the time we found the shuttle (again across the street from Oscar), it was about 4:30, and even though all aboard wasn’t until 9:30, we decided we’d had enough.  Besides, we needed to have a bit of a nap and time to change before it was time for cocktails in the Crow’s Nest.  

 

Overall, it was a wonderful day, and again we wish we had three or four days here to explore further and become even more familiar with this incredibly enjoyable and popular city.  Maybe next year. 

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Wonderful report.  We spent several days in Dublin on one of land tours.  So much to see.

 

Nice you all had a great place to eat and relax.

 

Great pictures.

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Special city in a very special country. I love the place!

Glad you had a good day in this wonderful town. I can't wait to get back there again.

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Monday, May 6, 2019

Cork, Ireland

 

While Cork is the second largest city in Ireland, it prides itself on being “just as good” as Dublin.  I don’t know about that assertion, but it is a beautiful little town situated on both sides as well as the middle of the River Lee.  

 

Once we docked, we took a shuttle into the center of the city, disembarking at City Hall.  I may have mentioned it before, but one thing I love about Grand Cruises is that the shuttles, when needed, are always complimentary.  I know that once we begin our Panama Canal transit on May 16  if we want a shuttle, we’ll have to pay for it.

 

Having only been to Cork once before and not remembering really any of it, we just began walking, crossing the Lee River South and walking into the center of the city, which is the area between the Lee River South and North.  It was very quiet for a weekday, so I asked a couple of young ladies in a shop why nothing was open at 10:30 AM.  They replied that it was a bank holiday, one of those “days off” in Europe which have no particular occasion.  They also told me that the shops which were going to open would do so at 12:00, so all we had to do was go into the ones which were already open and wander around until the others did so.

 

One of the most interesting things we saw was part of the medieval city wall, where we learned that although many of the buildings are fairly modern, the paths of the streets are as they were in medieval times.  They bend and wander from one place to another and it’s an adventure just to follow one to see where it leads.

 

It was finally noon, and after finding and mailing our postcard, we found a charming little pub down a side street I've heard it said that in Ireland there's a pub on every corner.  However, we've seen corners where there are two or three pubs.  Who knew?  We tried to share fish and chips but were told they were out.  Can you imagine?  A pub without fish and chips?  Anyway, we then settled on a Mexican hamburger, named that because it had some slices of jalapeno atop the meat.  There were three or four other things we would have liked, but we had decided that sharing our lunch would at least allow us to be hungry at 8:00 for dinner, and that steak and Guinness pie was not quite as sharable as a burger.

 

After lunch we wandered some more, until it was time to hop on the shuttle back to the ship.  Once there, John and Rich decided that it was time for Pickleball, and I decided it was time to begin the last book for our book club.  It’s Save Me the Plums, a memoir by Ruth Reichl, telling of her ten years as editor of Gourmet magazine.  I had intended to read perhaps 30 or 40 pages, but by the time John returned, I was on page 138 and had not done any blog writing.  Shame on me!  Tomorrow I’ll sit down and finish it, since I find it absolutely fascinating.

 

Tomorrow is Bantry, a small town on Ireland’s southwest coast that is our last port of call.  We’re looking forward to another Irish port, but not to the fact that we’re almost done with our cruise.  

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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Bantry, Ireland

 

Over the course of our WC, one comment we’ve heard over and over was, “Why in the world did HAL cancel Bermuda and add Bantry?”  Many people had hoped to visit Bermuda and were very disappointed that one little “insignificant” Irish town was added.  We still don’t know why the change was made, but after today, I found that I was pretty happy to be here.

 

Several years ago, my friend and colleague Keri and I set out to bicycle in Ireland.  We first had the idea to bike the Ring of Kerry, but after we read about the number of tour busses and their exhaust, we decided on a little-known area called The Ring of Beara.  We rented bikes in Killarney, rode down past Bantry, and spent a week riding a total of about 150 miles from town to town, staying in B & B’s and eating lunch and dinner at local pubs.  Since it was July, the weather was beautiful and the people (none of whom had American accents) were ever so friendly.  

 

Today our stop at Bantry was a nice reminder of that ride and an introduction to a pretty little town which has pastel-colored houses and shops climbing up the hills.  It used to be primarily a fishing town, but now it seems to have added several other ways to spur the economy, and today tourism was certainly one of them.

 

Bantry is a tender port, and in addition to the usual ship’s tenders, a blue and white boat called “Harbour Queen” assisted in carrying passengers to and from the town.  We traveled to the town on a ship’s tender, but we returned (at about half speed) on the town’s boat.  We were told by some of the crew that the city makes it a requirement that any tendering must include the city-owned boat, I’m sure because it helps the economy.  It was a nice ride, and with seats for two, somewhat more comfortable than the usual tenders.  

 

Upon arrival in town, we began our walk (two miles total) toward what we thought was the center of town around the town square.  However, we found that the town actually continued up the High Street, past several pubs and shops and a beautiful, modern-looking library with a mill wheel in front, to St. Finbarr’s Roman Catholic Church, which is full of stained glass windows.  There were several of St. Mary, but my favorite was St. Patrick.  I’m not sure if he’s blessing his followers or casting the snakes out of Ireland, but I thought it was a beautiful window.  

 

Since the church was at the top of the town, we then proceeded back down, finding a children’s store to buy a cute outfit for our assistant waiter’s new baby, expected in a few months.  We also wandered into a small market where we picked up two cans of Pringles for our room stewards, and finally we arrived at the new supermarket and bought a roll of Oreos for our friend Bill, who thinks they are the world’s best food group.  We also visited St. Brendan's Anglican church, learning about St. Brendan the Navigator, who may have been to the New World before Leif Erickson.  The people in Bantry think so, anyway.  

 

Then it was time for lunch, and since the lady in the children’s store had highly recommended “The Snug,” we headed there.  A check of the menu outside and a quick look inside (it was extremely well named) convinced us that this was the place for us.  Since we had decided in advance that sharing was the thing to do, we found the perfect choice:  a platter with an open-faced crab sandwich (with LOTS of crab), a bowl of really thick seafood chowder, and a small salad.  Even with sharing, we didn’t clean the plate, although it was delicious.  

 

At this point we were pretty pooped, and since we had completed our shopping and had a wonderful lunch, we headed back to the port where we boarded “Harbour Queen” and had a leisurely ride back to the ship.  Upon return, John and Rich decided that Pickle Ball was in order, so that’s where they are as I write.

 

We have now finished all the ports on our world cruise, and sad as it is, I loved all of them and now look forward to our eight days at sea sailing toward Ft. Lauderdale.  There are lots of activities planned for these days, so I don’t think anyone will be bored.

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Charming town in a country full of charm. Glad you had a good day. Thanks for sharing it.

Safe Crossing.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

At Sea en route to Ft. Lauderdale

 

I think everyone figured that we would have eight laid-back days en route to our home port, but that was not to be.  If you’ve looked at the list of topics for HAL, you’ve no doubt noticed the heading about a missing passenger.  Sad but true.

 

In early September, we were on the Zuiderdam from Copenhagen to New York and were expected to call at St John, Newfoundland.  However, the captain came over the PA system early that morning, announcing that another ship from the AIDA line, had issued a “man overboard” message and, as the closest ship, under maritime law we were required to begin a back and forth search pattern, hoping to find him.  Of course we didn’t find any evidence of that passenger, but we learned a lot about maritime law and practices from the experience (and we missed the port).

 

This morning an announcement was made asking for a female passenger in a suite to call the front desk at 911 if she was on board.  The message was repeated about 30 minutes later.  When we talked to a friend who always seems to know what’s going on, she told us that the woman had not been seen since last evening and there was, understandably, concern for her safety.  After about another hour, the captain came on and told us that we were now going to turn around and return to the area where we were when the woman was last seen, so we are now traveling northeast instead of southeast.  

 

One of our friends who’s in a suite told us that cameras are trained the length of the ship to cover all balconies and that security officers must have seen something that made them think that the poor woman was no longer on board, leading to the rescue effort.  We feel just terrible for the elderly woman, her sister/roommate, and her family and know better than to join those passengers who are bemoaning the possibility that “We might get to Ft. Lauderdale late.”  I’m sure the last thing on that troubled person’s mind was inconvenience to other passengers.  

 

                *    *    *    *

 

It seems that everyone is doing their best to get ready to disembark.  I heard one woman tell a friend that she was all packed and wasn’t sure what she’d wear for the next eight days.  As for us, I think I convinced John to wait until the weather gets warmer, because then we’ll be able to pack all our cold weather clothes and keep out the warm weather ones for the Panama Canal cruise.  We’ll have three formal nights on the next segment, so I have to figure out how to pack lightly for those in my one small suitcase and a small pull-along that was a “pillow gift” from HAL.  

 

One of our other concerns is getting rid of some of those same “pillow gifts” that we’ll never use.  I gave the two tote bags to Twinkle, the Assistant Beverage Manager, the luggage locks are going to our cruise agent, and the grey warm weather togs (beanie, gloves, and scarf) are going to Ginni (along with the grey fuzzy blankets) because she’s sure her grandchildren will love them.  We just didn’t have the space to pack them, and beanies and gloves aren’t really useful in Central California.  

 

So . . . we’re not having eight boring days.  Rather, we seem to be having eight busy, but sad and unexpected days.  

 

P. S.  The captain didn’t do his regular noontime briefing, but then came on at about 1:00 and told us that, indeed, a woman was overboard and we would continue toward the place we were when she was last seen at 1:30 AM.  Apparently she was a recent widow traveling with her sister.  Such a sad situation and we really feel for the family.

 

 

 

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How distressing to read about the missing woman; prayers for her family and friends.

 

Smooth Sailing!    🙂🙂🙂

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I would rather visit Bantry than Bermuda.  Bantry is a cute port.  I love Ireland and enjoyed the weeks we spent there on a land vacation.

 

Great pictures.

 

Yes, it is sad about the missing person.  Prayers for her family and friends to get through this difficult time.

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Agree with KK about Bantry over Bermuda.

 

Sad to know about the lady overboard. One never knows.....

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

At Sea en route to Ft. Lauderdale - 

Sea Day #2

 

Yesterday was a really difficult day on board.  It began with two announcements, 30 minutes apart, asking for a particular lady to contact the front office.  About an hour later, the captain came on with an announcement that we had a person overboard and we would be turning around, going to the area where we were when she was last seen  at about 1:30 AM (NOT to Bantry), and then we’d do a search and rescue operation, as required by maritime law.  

 

In the late morning we were speaking with some Trivia friends who, it turns out were very close to the missing woman’s sister and are providing as much support as possible, including helping her pack today.  From what they said, there was no doubt that it had been a suicide because of evidence in the cabin and the fact that the woman had been deeply depressed since the death of her husband in the fall.  As can be imagined, a pall was cast over the ship, with people talking softly in groups and tears frequently being shed.  

 

After lunch, the captain had a letter distributed and made an announcement that the Marine Rescue Coordination Centres of Ireland and the UK made a decision that because of the sea temperature, the high seas, and the general weather conditions, further rescue efforts were to be discontinued.  I think the finality of that decision continued to affect many passengers and crew members throughout the day and into the evening.  

 

Today we seem to be back to as normal as possible, but just the thoughts of that poor woman who now has to pack for two and return alone made me sad.  To the relief of those people who only worried about how this event affected their lives, we will arrive in Ft. Lauderdale on time.

 

* * *

 To cheer us up last evening, there was an exceptional group of four young men from England.  They’re called The Runaround Kids and they perform “the greatest music of the 1950’s and 60’s.”  I think virtually everyone loved them, based on the clapping and the “chair dancing” which took place during the performance.  The best part, of course, was singing along, which everyone seemed to love.  

 

The funny part was afterward when we went up to the Crow’s Nest for a couple of dances.  Our friends at the bar commented that a couple came in and said that the show was “just awful” and they had left after three songs.  However, we and everyone who came in after us said just the opposite.  I think we finally convinced them.  Barbie seemed to need more convincing, and during one of the dances, one of these young men came in, danced her around the floor, spun her, thanked her for the dance, and went off to meet his “mates.”  After that, Barbie needed no more convincing.  

 

I guess the best metaphor for yesterday is a roller coaster.  We began at the bottom of the ride, but by the end of the day we were doing much better.  

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Wow. Hearing about this is really unfortunate and certainly not what people ever want to hear. I feel fortunate that after what my mom and I have been through losing may dad who was a commercial airline pilot  and then my older brother coming up 2 years ago the end of May we have been able to support each other and move forward with our lives. Even my current Orthodontist said to me once to keep getting out with my mom to do as much as we can as long as she can. This is because there is a story as it relates to one of his offices that was a part of when my dad passed away and I was with a different Dr doing treatment at the time.

 

This is also sad because a very dear close friend of ours who what would have been about 3 years ago moved to be closer to us because she she thought so much of our friendship that she wanted to be closer to us. About 3 weeks into last year's  WC had to leave because of a problem and when trying to do this years had to leave again even earlier into the cruise still dealing with the problem that caused having to leave last years WC (2018) in addition to other issues and is also no longer with us. At least made it back and were together about 3 times before passing. I now that a lot of people on the WC knew our friend and I know that I am probably still showing my emotions way more than my mom over this loss. We first met while doing the Statendam 1999/2000 Millennium Holiday Cruise to Hawaii and back from San Diego as we were always at the bar in the Crows Nest to have some drinks before going to dinner at the same time. Our friendship was like we were family and when my mom experienced heart problems after our return from time with our friends in the Netherlands and a Koningsdam cruise from Amsterdam in 2016 our friend was with me to lean on. Everything worked out good with my mom and still going strong.

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Thank you for sharing your experiences as they relate to this difficult situation. All the best with your mom and we hope you two have many travels ahead of you. 

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I know that was hard on all you to have the captain announce that because of all the various bad weather conditions the search had to be called off for the missing woman.  And for her friend who has to pack everything up herself.

 

But thankfully you all had a happy ending at the end of the day with the performance from the Runaround Kids.

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Friday, May 10, 2019

At Sea en route to Ft. Lauderdale

Sea Day #3

 

Oh no, not again!  My weather prediction for our eight days at sea was four cold days and then four warm days.  I don’t know how that’s going to turn out, but I do know that days three and four are going to be nasty.  In the captain’s noontime update, he told us that there’s a particular bad weather system pretty much spreading across the entire Atlantic.  We’re having to go somewhat out of our way (adding about 125 miles) to avoid the worst of it, but all day today and all day tomorrow we’re really in for it.  The captain predicts 50 mph winds and 20 foot seas.  As soon as I heard him say that, I commented that the singers and dancers, who were scheduled to perform tonight, wouldn’t be able to be on stage.  While we were at lunch, the young man who’s in charge of all the shows walked past us, approached a man sitting behind us, pointed at him and said, “You’re on tonight.”  

 

Today was the Mariner Appreciation Luncheon, basically including everyone on board.  I think we might have attended on our first WC, but have skipped them since then.  We don’t mind a good meal, but we find that three courses at lunch is just a lot more than we are comfortable eating and pretty much put us in a food coma for the afternoon.   Instead, we went to the nearly empty Lido, hit up the Asian Station, and had fried rice topped with kung pao chicken.  It was delicious.

 

This morning I had some errands to do around the ship, and when I returned, there was John, surrounded by four very large suitcases, two smaller ones, and two pull-alongs that had been “pillow gifts.”  What?  Why so early?  I don’t believe in waiting for the last minute, but six days early?  Since they were out, I began putting in things I won’t need on the warm Panama Canal transit, and things just spiraled from there.  We found all kinds of purchases we had forgotten, including some beautiful Dutch vases, Christmas ornaments, gifts for our kids, and so on and so on.  

 

What does the cabin look like now?  We managed to get two of the large (now full) cases under the bed, two are stacked on the couch with the two smaller ones stacked atop them, and the two little pull-alongs are on top of the refrigerator.  What a mess!

John, who believes if you’re not ten minutes early for something that you’re late, obviously carries this philosophy to end-of-cruise packing.

 

There is, however, one problem.  We anticipated that, since we get free shipping of two bags each (with no weight limit), we would just drop our bags off in Ft. Lauderdale and just have the four small bags left for the two week cruise.  Wrong!  When I met this morning with Sara, the HAL luggage expert, she told me that since we’re continuing on, we can’t offload luggage in Ft. Lauderdale, but we have to ship it home from San Francisco, our final port.  When I explained that we had booked the two cruises separately, she said that it didn’t matter, that U.S. Customs makes the rules and we can’t take luggage from two different ports.  So now it appears that we’ll have to find somewhere to store those four bug bags, but we do have a week to figure it out.  Since Bill and Mary Ann always sail back through the Canal after the WC each year, I’m going to ask them for their advice at dinner tonight.  

 

So . . . the cruise winds down and we try to wind down with it.  I think a world cruise must be like toilet paper:  the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.

 

P. S. I’ve included some photos of the floral beauties of the ship as well as the almost as beautiful displays of sushi and desserts.  

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Can't you have the luggage stored until you go to San Francisco?

 

HAL always does a lovely job on the flowers.

 

Great pictures.  DH loves sushi.

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