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Are you not in port long enough that you can claim it from customs and then ship it home? I really do not know how that works as I have never done that. So, it would be interesting to find out how you do this. Loved all the pictures and following you on your trip. I myself have never done that. Loved the read. Thank you for sharing.

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

At Sea en route to Florida

Sea Day #4


If we thought it was wild and wooly yesterday, today was just rockin’ and rollin’ from the middle of the night until now (10:00 AM).  Since the gym is at the front of the ship, my treadmill vantage point allowed me to watch the ship twisting from side to side and then bucking up and slamming down onto the waves, with water vapor flying past our windows.   Boy, did I hang onto those handles.  The wind has been up to 45 knots this morning (force 9 on the Beaufort scale) and the seas are at about 20 feet.  Even before we left our cabin this morning, we could watch the spray come past our balcony (about 60 feet up) and see the whitecaps everywhere.  John decided he needed a photo from the balcony (even though I suggested he rethink that idea), but he couldn’t even open the door because of the wind.  When we spoke to the gym trainer, she said that she was considering just closing the guy to avoid accidents.  


As we enjoyed breakfast outside on the Lido, we were occasionally witness to plates and glasses falling and breaking inside the service area near us.  Some people had a hard time keeping their balance, but fortunately, we didn’t see anyone fall.  This is one of those days when I can’t just blindly trip down the stairs; I walk slowly with a good grip on the handrail.


In his announcement last evening, the captain said that these conditions should last into late morning, but that the wind would continue all day.  I know that anyone who is susceptible to motion sickness is really suffering today.  At the front desk, passengers can avail themselves of green apples, saltine crackers, or over-the-counter seasickness pills.  We are so lucky not to be afflicted, but we really feel for those who are.


In his most recent weather update (this afternoon), Captain Jonathan said that similar conditions would continue until about midnight tonight, with a slow reduction of wind as well as rocking.  He also promised that tomorrow, it would look like “a new planet.”


After calling on the new comedian to replace the singers and dancers at last night’s show, the ocean calmed enough that his services were not longer needed.  However, the cruise director said in his introduction that rehearsal showed that a few changes were necessary, including shortening the show, to allow the performance to go on.  

Tonight’s entertainer will be a jazz pianist and singer whom I met yesterday at the coffee bar.  She’s bright and bubbly and I think we’ll really enjoy her show.  








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Know all about rough seas.


On one ship everyone was ordered back to their cabins at about 8:30 PM -- late dinner was cancelled -- all the elevators were taken down to the lowest level and tied off -- pools were emptied.  Our waiter broke 2 fingers and our assistant waiter burned his hand trying to pour coffee.


Hope your seas soon calm down.

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Worst night every on the water years ago between Charleston and Hamilton Bermuda on the Cunard Countess. Everyone sent to their cabins. We went to bed to keep from falling. Hamilton looked extremely welcome the next morning !


I can imagine what you're gong through. Hang in there!

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Sunday, May 12, 2019

At Sea . . . Day #5


It’s easy to tell that things are winding down around here.  Last evening was an excellent example.  It was the last gala night and the awarding of medals of all sorts, with photos taken with the captain and the hotel manager.  Our friends Bill and Jane received their gold medals for 500 days on board, while Rich and Ginni were given platinum medals for 700 days.  We received that second one two years ago, and at the end of this cruise we’ll be a bit over 1000 days.  That number seems strange to me, but it does help to explain why our daughter says, “Mom and Dad, you’re never home!”


Everyone dresses “to the nines” to attend their half of the ceremony, one at 4:15 for the early diners and the second at 6:45 for those of us who dine at 8:00.  Of course the free drinks and good hors d’oeuvres attract some people, and today Bill commented that he saw one lady who attended both of the ceremonies.  I wonder why.  


This is also when members of the President’s Club are seated in a separate area in the middle of the Queen’s Lounge, with lovely little three-tiered trays of yummies and are poured Tattinger Brut Rose Champagne, one of my favorites, but pretty much out of my price range.  Luckily for us, since Leslie and Handler are PC members and Leslie dislikes Champagne, she saved her glass for me.  Delicious!


Then today was our last Sunday Brunch Sampler, with the added benefit of it being Mother’s Day.  The combination of those two events made this the first such event that was so popular it required reservations, so we met promptly at 11:00 at our usual table to enjoy brunch, with Leslie bringing two bottles of good Champagne to share with her tablemates.  Atta girl!


I do love the little “samples” of food on offer, especially because they look so pretty on the plates.  We all know each other’s food preferences by now, so we just trade around.  For example, I don’t like goat cheese, so I traded my pistachio-crusted goat cheese with Rich for his deviled egg, which he doesn’t like but I do.  I’m not much of a caviar fan, but I didn’t mind the bit they put atop each egg half, even if they did call it “egg white with Malossol caviar” instead of just “deviled egg.”  


That meal, although made up of small bites of delicious foods, was really quite filling and a food-induced coma required a nap this afternoon.  Now, having eaten probably too much for brunch, we’re headed to The Pinnacle at 8:00 to try out their new menu.  What are you gonna do?






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Monday, May 13, 2019

At Sea . . . Day #6 


What a wonderful start to the day, opening the curtains to blue skies and calm seas.  I think it has been since Oslo (of all places) that we had blue skies, and calm seas are just a foggy memory, especially after the last few days.  At 9:00 this morning it was 70 degrees, and this after we’d become used to waking up to 45 or 48.  It makes us realize that we’re coming close to Florida, hopefully with sunshine and swimming pool temperatures.


Last evening was a good one (as though all of them on a cruise aren’t good), a combination of good entertainment and good food.  The 7:15 Spotlight show featured Claire Ivory, one of the Amsterdam singers and dancers.  Boy,does that girl have pipes!  Her songs varied from Broadway to pop and beyond, and the audience really enjoyed it.  Tomorrow evening Rich and Ginni are hosting a cocktail party and Ian, one of our officer friends, is bringing Claire and her best friend (and Amsterdam dancer) Stephanie.  Maybe we can talk Claire into a song.


After the show, all eight of us headed to the Pinnacle to try out their new menu.  While it’s still considered a steak and seafood restaurant, they’ve introduced some new and exciting menu items.  The favorite last night was “bacon on a clothesline,” which was ordered by half of us (and sampled by the rest of us).  The presentation gets an 11 (out of 10), with a stone on the bottom, topped by a metal structure with a wire “clothesline” strung between the two sides.  Three pieces of thick, maple-syrup marinated bacon are strung from the line, with a small branch of rosemary on either side.  I hope the photo does it justice.  It was pretty darned tasty and I’ll bet you’re salivating right now.  


The biggest shock of the meal, however, was Jane’s 23-ounce ribeye steak.  It came out looking like a caveman’s club, with a huge bone extending about six inches out of the steak.  Again, the photo tells the story, and even Tina, the Pinnacle manager, was fairly surprised at the size of it.  It fed Bill and Jane and even gave them a doggie bag for lunch today.  


We had intended to go to the comedian’s show at 10:00, but we didn’t finish dinner until about 10:30, and I think the staff was happy to see us leave, since we were the last diners in the restaurant.  


This morning in the gym, there wasn’t just exercising going on.  A group of people, including the wife of one of the ship’s top officers, had an angry discussion going on about the dogs on board.  I think I may have mentioned them before.  A couple boarded the ship somewhere in Europe and, with HAL’s permission, brought aboard two “comfort dogs.”  Apparently the husband had had heart surgery recently and felt he needed the comfort of his two dogs.  Unfortunately, these are NOT service dogs, which I realized when one “escaped” their cabin one morning and ran helter-skelter down the hallway.  Apparently the situation has become worse rather than better.  During one show in the Queen’s Lounge, one of the dogs began to bark and then to howl, continuing until removed from the room.  Also, one pooped in the elevator and another peed on the carpet somewhere on the ship.  In addition, the couple brought their dogs to The Pinnacle for dinner and a conflict broke out with other diners which required that security be called.  We don't know the outcome of that situation.  Of course the person who approved this doesn’t have to deal with the consequences, but both passengers and especially crew do, and officers and crew at the very highest levels are really fed up with the whole thing.  I realize that some people really do need their (well-trained) service dogs wherever they go, but noisy, badly-trained ankle biter dogs are certainly not a good idea.  I know that it’s possible to find “service dog” certificates online, but I think the situation should require a letter from a vet certifying that the dog is actually a trained service dog as well as a letter from a physician explaining why the person needs such a dog.  That would not violate the ADA, but it would keep situations like this from arising.  Enough said.


The pickle ball players are hoping to get back up on Deck 9 to play, and it looks like today will be the day.  I’m just hoping that tomorrow will be a back deck swimsuit day so I can start working on my Panama Canal tan.



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21 hours ago, tennisbeforewine said:

Everyone dresses “to the nines” to attend their half of the ceremony, one at 4:15 for the early diners and the second at 6:45 for those of us who dine at 8:00.  Of course the free drinks and good hors d’oeuvres attract some people, and today Bill commented that he saw one lady who attended both of the ceremonies.  I wonder why.  


That is nice that they had the medallion ceremonies later in the day.


On most of our cruises they are at 10:30 AM.  I think I need to do a Grand to go to a ‘civilized’ time 😉 


Great reports - thank you 😄 

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That steak looks delicious.  Don't care for this new bacon idea as I like my bacon very crispy.


We had a bad situation on a cruise a number of years ago with a "service" dog -- which he wasn't.  Owner was in a wheel chair -- allowed him to eat at the table.  He was dirty -- fur matted.  She never wore shoes and her feet were dirty.


Do agree that there has to be a better way to control who really have service dogs and need them.  We have been on ships with the real service dogs and there were wonderful and very well behaved.


Glad your weather has improved.

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Sadly these fake service dogs seem to be invading the whole world.....on land and, now, on sea.


We have all sorts of issues with them in our community as, I expect, many other communities do as well.

Many merchants and eating/drinking establishments are posting severe restrictions about having them come in.

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Tuesday, May 14 and Wednesday, May 15

Days 7 and 8 en route to Ft. Lauderdale


I guess it was a good thing I was a teacher instead of a weather forecaster, because my prediction for our eight-day transatlantic crossing turned out to be completely wrong.  I thought it would be four stormy days and four fair days, but so far (except for one day), it’s been nothing but clouds, high winds, rain and the occasional thunderstorm.  John and Rich have been quite frustrated in their wishes to play pickleball, but there’s been a lot going on to keep us busy.


One of the highlights of the end of every world cruise is the crew shows presented by the Indonesian and Filipino crew members.  These are the best attended shows of the entire world cruise, and even though they both begin at 3:00, you’d better be there near 2:00 for a good seat or by 2:30 for any seat at all.  This year, the Indonesian show came first and was a beautiful collection of acts illustrating the rich culture of that country, home of more than a thousand islands.  The traditional costumes worn by the crew members illustrated the differences between the various cultures in the country, and the popular “Monkey Dance” was a highlight.  The dancing and singing showed us a different side to those crew members who serve our dinner, clean our rooms, and do many jobs around the ship.  


Yesterday was the Filipino crew show and it was amazing.  The introduction emphasized the slogan, “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” and the various acts showed us just how much fun.  The opening number reminded me of a Las Vegas show with its colorful costumes, dancing, singing, and enthusiasm.  Passengers were thrilled to listen to Mary, our favorite omelette lady, sing a beautiful song in both Tagalog and English.  Josephine, the dining room hostess, sang a duet with Nestor and earned a standing ovation.  Nestor followed that up with his always-popular song in which he sings both the male and female parts, dressed accordingly.  There was bamboo dancing and other acts, but the highlight was the final presentation, in which black-clad cast members were in the dark with white gloves.  Using a musical background, they created messages ("We Love You" being one) and designs like flying birds with those gloves.  I’ve read about this act, but this was the first time I’d seen it and the audience loved it.


After dinner was a “Top of the World” party, which represented a special evening near the end of the WC.  The Ocean Bar band played and their singer kept us dancing for an hour.  During that time she never stopped singing, just going from one song right into another.  We had a good time dancing until the party ended at 10:30, after which we headed up to the Crow’s Nest to join Bill and Jane and other friends to continue dancing.  The Station Band, which plays really good dance music in the Crow’s Nest, only has one more night on board before they head home, and the only music up there will be recorded.  So sad!


This afternoon is The Grand Farewell by the Amsterdam crew, which always requires Kleenex.  My favorite part is the video which features every group of crew members, from the front office staff, to the laundry workers, and so on.  We are really looking forward to it and, again, it’s another show where you’d better arrive early.  


P. S.  A few minutes ago, we had 80 mph gusts, forcing the ship into a sharp list to port.  In our cabin, the result was a sliding and then broken Champagne glass.  About 20 minutes earlier, John and Rich were rained off the pickleball court, and by the time he returned to our cabin, the rain was sheeting down and our balcony looked like a lake.  Nothing like the good old Atlantic for unpredictable weather.  






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Your reports and photos are amazing.  In my mind I think I am on the cruise!!!!!


In reading your reports for several years I have always thought that a final night at HMC with a big bash would be such a fun end to the WC, of course only if coming from Europe.  But, I am a warm weather, beach person so relaxing in a warm climate with old and new friends would be my choice.  Which direction of the WC do you prefer?  Thank you so much for including us on your voyage.  Cherie

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Hi Cherie,

Thanks for your idea.  Actually, we've talked about that very idea several times, and everyone on the WC that we've suggested it to have agreed.  While it doesn't stop at the private island, next year's WC begins with stops in Dominica and St. Lucia and ends at Barbados (we love The Boatyard there), Guadeloupe, and San Juan.  

Regarding direction, I think world cruises that go eastbound should be illegal.  Instead of gaining an hour every 4-5 days, you lose one, and while the passengers can easily make them up by napping, it's very hard on the crew.  

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 

Day 113 and Day 1


Taking a world cruise is a lovely, leisurely affair.  We can go ashore or stay on board.  Going ashore only takes the effort of descending the gangway and then just making sure we return before the assigned “all aboard” time.  Four months of that schedule really spoils a girl.


Today, however, was almost a rude awakening.  For one thing, we had to change cabins.  HAL does make it as painless as possible to do that, but it’s still somewhat traumatic, especially since we moved from our verandah cabin to an outside cabin on Deck 1, Dolphin Deck.  We made so many changes in our itinerary before sailing that a verandah cabin wasn’t possible (unless we wanted to pay an additional $5000), so here we are looking out our window at the beautiful blue ocean that seems really, really close.  We’ve told Shannon, our wonderful cruise agent, not to accept any upgrades to Decks 2 or 3.  On Deck 2, we had the Promenade Deck above us with walking noise,  the cabins on Deck 3 are just too small, so here we are where we like to be (if we can’t have a verandah).  


All you have to do when moving is leaving your hanging clothes in the closet and put your remaining things in suitcases.  Then, after you leave the room, room stewards, like little fairies, come and transfer everything to your new cabin, even putting the hangup clothes in the same place you left them.  Talk about spoiled!


There were 19 of us who were continuing on the trans-canal cruise, and we were asked to meet in the Ocean Bar between 9:45 and 10:00 to be escorted through immigration, then wait for a “zero count” to be able to re-board the ship.  Apparently there were serious delays in the disembarkation process, primarily due to the 12,000 pieces of luggage (according to Ian, the EXC Guide) that had to be transported from the ship to the terminal building - in the pouring rain.  It was about 11:00 before we decided to just exit the ship, showing our “In Transit” cards, and grab a cab.


We had a couple of things on our list for today.  For John, it was to have a haircut and buy two bottles of wine.  For me, it was to have a pedicure and find a place for lunch.  We were successful on all counts.  John’s hair looks great, I had an excellent pedicure, and one of the bottles of wine is now chilling.  Lunch at Panera was just like being at home, but since we’re in the United States again, I guess that makes sense.  We love eating local food in other countries, but here things are different.


We called an Uber for our return to the ship and arrived a full 45 minutes before all-aboard at 3:00 (really early!)  We had almost everything put away by the time the essential safety drill began at 3:15 and then joined the rest of the passengers on Deck 8 aft for sailaway.  We had been scheduled to actually push off at 4:00, but because of the new luggage, we actually sailed at about 6:00.  


This evening we’ll have to find some new friends in the Crow’s Nest, and then we’ll head to the dining room to our new table, #84, a four-top for the two of us on the upstairs railing.  We’ll have our favorite former beverage service Manny as our wine steward, but we’re not sure who our waiters will be.  Usually our after-dinner time would find us in the Queen’s Lounge for the show, but since tonight they’re just showing AquaMan, I think we’ll take a pass.  


We have two sea days (yea!) before Cartegena, and since the sun is now shining and the temperature was above 80 today, I think it’s time to work on ruining my skin.


P. S.  Photos tomorrow - I'm having trouble getting them to upload.

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