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3 hours ago, tennisbeforewine said:

As we exit the ship in the morning, we’ll have one more task.  While in Portugal, our friend Ginni purchased a couple of cheese knives as gifts for friends.  You know what a cheese knife looks like:  as dull as dishwater and unable to cut anything more challenging than a soft brie.  However, as she returned to the ship and went through security, the officer decided that it would be far safer on the ship if they confiscated the “booty” and saved it for her departure on May 16.  Poor Ginni; she forgot to pick up her gifts when she disembarked and didn’t notice their absence until she arrived back in Texas.  At that point, Rich texted us and asked if we could check to see if the knives were still on board and, if so, could we pick them up and mail the offending items to them.  That sounds simple, but it required a specific email from Ginni authorizing me to collect the knives, have the front office make a copy of her email, and then a message sent to security to enable me to collect them on our way out tomorrow.  Is nothing ever simple?


My worst nightmare realized! 


We were on the 2017 WC and while in Mumbai we bought decorated ceremonial knives (not at all sharp and in holders) as gifts.  I knew they might be confiscated and worried I would forget about them in all the activity at the end of the cruise.  On the bus back to the ship I bundled them together as tightly as I could so maybe just maybe they would look like something else going through x-ray.  It did get a 2nd look by the guy on the machine, and had he asked we would of identified them for what they were but we got through.


The funny thing is I almost forgot them anyway.  I had put them and some other things we bought way at the back of the tallest shelf...almost missed them!  Now I inventory things we buy and make sure I have them all at final packing.


I've enjoyed your blog and wish you the best for your trip home.

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Have enjoyed your daily reports.


Hope all goes well tomorrow -- especially picking up your friends knives.


We still carry our own books onto our cruises.  DH falls asleep while reading and drops too many books onto the decks / floors.  Thus Kindles or Nooks for him.


Have a safe trip home.

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never even thought to ask you, we left ours behind as well.  I was hoping the ship would kindly ship them, but apparently no such luck!  Oh well!  If I can't find replacement knives, it will make a great Christmas conversation when I give the cheese plates to my girls.  My fault


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On 4/24/2019 at 3:07 PM, tennisbeforewine said:

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Cherbourg, France


What an amazing, moving, and emotional day we spent in the shadow of World War II, seeing and learning far more about D-Day than we had imagined.  Sabrina picked up the ten of us at 8:00 this morning and we kept moving all day.  We found out a few interesting bits of information.  The “D” in D-Day doesn’t stand for anything except the first letter in the word “Day.”  The reason the invasion was on June 6 was that it was a full moon, allowing movement the night before, and it was an incredibly low tide, allowing the incoming soldiers to see and avoid the mines and other exploding devices floating in the water.  


Our first stop was at the Normandy American Cemetery, which you’ve no doubt seen in photos or in person.  It is just cross after cross after Star of David after cross, totaling over 9,000 of them.  There are ten sections, six of which are currently closed to foot traffic to prepare for the June 6 ceremonies to observe the 75th anniversary of D-Day.  If anyplace will bring lumps to your throat or tears to your eyes, this is the place.  When looking at the crosses, what really stands out is the ages of these young men, mostly between 17 and 23, with the youngest only 16 years old.  Many, of course, died on June 6, but more than half died in the days following as the fighting continued. 


We also stopped at the German cemetery, where several thousand soldiers are buried.  Apparently the American families had the option of having their family members brought home or being buried in Normandy, but other countries didn’t allow that choice.  There are other cemeteries for English, Canadian, and other soldiers, including at least one woman who died in a war-related plane crash.  Although Americans are responsible for maintaining the cemetery, the land on which it exists is the property of France.


Our next stop was at Omaha Beach, home of the greatest number of American fatalities during D-Day.  The landing craft began disgorging its soldiers at 6:30 AM, and while German emplacements high up the hills made getting across the beach a treacherous endeavor, the soldiers continued to move forward.  One company was able to move up a hillside and get behind the German bunkers, marking the beginning of the end of the German superiority and the beginning of the American takeover of the area.  


Next we visited a place I’d never even heard of, but found was vitally important to the invasion.  It’s called Point du Hoc and it was the site of an Army Ranger takeover of a vital German outpost.  The Rangers had to climb hundred-foot cliffs, fight off German soldiers, look for 155-mm guns that weren’t where they were supposed to be, destroy them, and then defeat the enemy, an operation that took three days and reduced the 225 Rangers to 90.  It’s an amazing story of an operation that destroyed the enemy’s means of shooting big guns at both Utah and Omaha beaches.    


Then it was time to visit Utah Beach, one which suffered far fewer casualties than Omaha.  We wandered the beach, learned about the railroad which the Allies set up on the beach, and then saw the actual railroad ties which lead one to the beach itself.  


After a stop at a wonderful little boulangerie for lunch (always one of my favorite places anywhere in France), we continued to St. Mere Eglise, the lovely little stone-built town which is famous for the paratrooper who was suspended on the church steeple.  St Mere was the center of the paratrooper drop the night before the sea invasion, and many of those brave young men were shot before their feet hit the ground.  John Steele took a bullet to his foot before his parachute caught on the steeple.  Unlike my previous understand, and unlike the Red Buttons scene in the movie The Longest Day, Steele was pulled up by two German soldiers, taken to a POW camp, and he escaped three days later.  


Then it was time to return to the ship, after a day which packed in more emotion and information that almost any tour we’ve ever taken.  If you ever have a chance to tour these beaches with a knowledgeable guide, don’t pass it up. 


P. S.  I've included a photo of the itinerary presented yesterday  by Orlando Ashford of the 2021 itinerary.  It looks great to us!







Thank you for allowing  us to travel along with you through your mesmerizing posts. We’ll be in Cherbourg next year, (4/30/2020 ms Nieuw Statendam) and would like to know the company you used - Sabrina sounds like a wonderful guide.  There is keen interest on our 2020 roll call and a, willing to take the lead in organizing a tour.  Thanks in advance for any other pointers you can offer.  My email is chaomt1@gmIl.com

and my name is Maria  (cruise critic EVNKEEL).  

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Saturday, June 1, 2019

San Luis Obispo, CA


Home at Last!  It’s both happy and sad to be home; happy to be where we are most comfortable and sad to have left our favorite ship after 127 days on board.  On Wednesday evening it was again both happy and sad.  Our guests for dinner that last evening on board were Steph, one of the Amsterdam Singers and Dancers - a dancer, and Claire, one of the singers.  We’ve come to know them over the course of the cruise and had a great time exchanging stories about shipboard life both above and below decks and making plans to get together next WC, when they’ll be performing again.


The crew goodbyes were full of hugs and tears and hopes to get together next year.  Indy, our favorite waiter, is scheduled to be our waiter at the same table next year, although we don’t know about the others.  It’s been a wonderful time getting to know many of the crew members better.


On Thursday we set our alarm for 5:45 because Captain Fred had said that we’d sail under the Golden Gate Bridge at 6:30, something we hadn’t done for more than forty years (on the SS Lurline).  He was spot on with the time - I looked down at my watch when it said 6:30 and then up at the bridge above.  The fog kept us from having a full view, but what would San Francisco be without fog?  


From there we headed to showers and breakfast before disembarking just before 9:00.  Apparently there were only about 30 of us getting off in SF, and it really made a difference in luggage.  In Ft. Lauderdale we were told there were 10,000 bags; in SF, it looked like less than 100.  Our four were the only ones being picked up by FedEx as part of our WC perks, and we should have them on Tuesday.  Then it was Uber to the Hyatt Regency to collect our one-way rental car.  We were scheduled for a Ford Focus but they substituted a hot little Ford Mustang convertible so we looked ever so cool heading down the freeway.  We were on the 101 by 9:00, and with only two stops, one for lunch and one to pick up our mail from John’s brother, we were home by 2:00, returning the car less than 30 minutes later.  


It’s weird how one can fall right back into the home routine.  By 7:00 we were parked in front of the TV, watching that amazing guy on Jeopardy and eating pizza.  Our house had been left in perfect condition by our renters (now friends), and by 10:00 we were really feeling that 5:45 AM wakeup call.  On Friday we made it to two social events, one at a local winery with friends and another to our tennis club to watch one of John’s tennis buddies play in a Friday night band.  We even managed to pick up two wine shipments from wine clubs to which we belong, so our supply is excellent right now.


It has been a wonderful 4-1/2 months and, when someone last evening asked, “Would you do it again?” we answered “of course.”  The places we saw, the old friends we spent time with, the new friends we met this time around - all of it was a great experience.  We really have a hard time realizing that we’ve done this seven times and enjoyed every single one.  When we’re asked, “What was your favorite place?” we have no problem answering “Bhutan.”  We have next year booked, including the same dining table with almost the same friends and the same waiter.  


Thank you all for following along.  It’s fun to write about what we’re doing and it makes it far more special to know that many of you are “traveling with us.”  Your comments really make my day.  Next year begins on January 4 and I hope to “see” you then!






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Your reports are a favorite - always so upbeat, great photos, and you both seem to genuinely enjoy each moment of your voyages.  Thank you for taking the time - I've really enjoyed it!



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