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SailorJack

Our Frolic on The Baltic Aboard the Jewel

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England! The very name of this tiny island evokes the heros and images – both real and fabled – of our youth. King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable, Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Lord Nelson at Trafalgar, and Henry the VIII and the widow next door.

The sudden jolt of the wheels hitting the runway at Gatwick snapped me out of my reverie and I realized, that after years of anticipation, we were finally here – ready to start our great European vacation. One of the benefits of starting our first ever European cruise in Great Britain was the fact that the British language is fairly close to the language we use right here in the States - which, I hoped, would make independent travel a little easier in this exciting new country.

Our first objective was to get to get to Dover, so after exiting customs I asked a porter how to get to the Gatwick Express. “Follow the signs for the free shuttle to the South Terminal. From there just follow the signs to the National Rail terminal and Bob’s your uncle.” His instructions were perfect, but to this day I haven’t a clue as to how he knew about Uncle Bob.

Arriving at the National Rail ticket office I asked for two tickets to Dover. “Single?” the clerk asked.” No, married” I replied – thinking that maybe there was a discount for married couples. I thought I detected a slight murmur from the back of the line.

“No, do you want a single ticket?”

“No, I need two tickets.” The murmuring was growing louder.

Well, to make a long story short, it turns out that “Single” is British for “one-way.” Who knew? I had learned my first British word! As I retrieved my credit card and gathered our tickets I learned several more British words from the growing line in back of me.

Safely seated in the railcar and on our way at last, we were approached by a vendor with a pushcart of edibles and refreshments. I asked how much the Coke was and learned something astounding. Even though they are in the common market the British do not use Euros, but something called Quid. I told him I didn’t have any quid, but had euros and dollars.

“Two pounds”, he said.

Well, this was totally unexpected. The British apparently sell beverages by weight. I pointed at the bottle that looked to be about a pint and said I didn’t know how much it weighed, but that was the one I wanted. “How many quids in a dollar”, I asked.

He gave me a look very much like the one my remedial math teacher used to give me and pushed his cart down the aisle. Oh, well. I told SailorJill we would get something in Dover.

Arriving in Dover, we hailed a cab for the Beulah House and were overjoyed to find a jovial and friendly driver. “Just pop yer kit in the boot”, he said with a smile.

What? I knew he was speaking British and whispered to SailorJill that my best guess was that he was asking us to put our rear-ends in the backseat. So we did.

After checking in at the Beulah House we spent the first few minutes looking for our bathroom. It finally dawned on us that we didn’t have one! I went back down to the front desk and learned another British word – En Suite – which means “with a bathroom”. The very nice lady said that I could either spend a penny down the hall (you don’t want to know) or upgrade to an En Suite room.

It appears that the civilization that gave us the British Empire, the Magna Carta, the 13 colonies, and men in tights apparently has a shortage of bathrooms. I was beginning to get the real story behind the whole “stiff upper lip” thing! Anyway, I forked over the necessary amount of quids and upgraded to an En Suite room – grateful that it already came En Bed.

This British thing was tougher than I had thought. But tomorrow we board the Jewell!

Day 1 – Dover

We arrive at the Dover Docks and see the Jewell, gleaming in the bright morning sun and reflecting the spectacular white cliffs of Dover. A welcoming NCL agent gives us a warm greeting and hands us a nicely printed letter:

“Dear Valued Guest:

This letter is to inform you that on our previous sailing approximately 150 percent of the guests on board experienced the symptoms of severe gastroenteritis. Symptoms included diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, body cramps, fever and osteoporosis.” (O.K., I made up the osteoporosis part).

This was alarming news! I turned to SailorJill and told her that I was starting to feel a little dizzy. She responded that a) that was my normal state, and b) we weren’t even on board yet.

I immediately felt better and we continued on to the registration area. Despite the understandable delay caused by the crew’s effort to disinfect the ship, the boarding process was the smoothest and most organized we have ever experienced.

In the very comfortable waiting room we met two delightful couples from Oklahoma, and were gladdened to learn that not only was Oklahoma no longer a Territory, but that its University was now fully accredited! I mentioned that while I had never visited the state, I had something in common with them, as I had once owned a Merle Haggard record.

At 12:30 we were allowed to board the ship and given full use of the pubic rooms, but could not go to the staterooms as they were still being sterilized. Once boarded, we headed to the Garden Café for lunch and discovered the safety routine that was to follow us on the entire cruise – we could not touch anything. Upon entering the Café, a crewmember, standing behind a guarded table handed you 1 plate, 1 knife, 1 fork, and a napkin. Other crewmembers, standing behind the buffet line, placed the food on your plate – in near approximation to the amount requested, filled a glass (or cup) of your requested beverage, and dispensed condiments (mustard, ketchup, hot sauce, etc.) in little paper cups.

Even salt and pepper shakers were banned from the table -to be replaced by little individual packets that were dispensed, upon request, by the Guardian of the Plates (a very powerful position. If you were able to amuse her or get on her good side she would sometimes even give you a second plate for bread or dessert – or even …a spoon!)

Gratefully, however, we were permitted to chew the food ourselves.

Later that afternoon there was an announcement that the staterooms were now available. Thankfully, we headed down to our stateroom to unload our carry-on luggage and to shower. Entering the room I immediately felt that something was amiss. It did not take me long to realize that while the stateroom came “en suite”, there was no “en beds”. There was nothing to sleep on! Perhaps this was the reason I had received such a good deal for the cruise.

Not sure as to how SailorJill would react to two weeks at sea without a bed, I tried to cheer her up by suggesting we go up to the shops and see if they had any futons. After getting “the Look” I decided that it might be better if I go up to Reception and speak to the Hotel Manager.

As I had expected, he had trouble accepting the fact that there were no beds in the stateroom and suggested that we go down and have “a little look”. After reviewing the room, he somewhat reluctantly agreed that it appeared that there might, in fact, not be any beds; but I suspect he was wondering what I might have done with them.

He suggested that we go have dinner to give him a chance to address the problem and check back later. So we did.

After an outstanding dinner at Chin Chin, we went back to reception and found out that we had been moved to a wonderful balcony stateroom that not only had a bed, but also a fantastic basket of fruit and wine! SailorJill was ecstatic- which meant that I was going to be very happy.

So ended our first day at sea– still healthy, well fed, and in a room with a bed and a bottle of red!

Day 2 – At Sea

We awake to partly cloudy skies, rolling seas, and temperatures in the upper 50s. We attended the cruise critic gathering to meet with the Captain and the senior members of his staff. It was an outstanding group of gregarious and well traveled people who enjoyed sharing some of their more memorable and outrageous stories from previous cruises. It was here that we also met the three other couples that we would be joining for our tour of St. Petersburg – and a better band of companions I could not imagine.

In the meeting with the Captain, he reviewed the safety measures to be taken to prevent the spread of the virus and one of them was a ban on shaking hands. Instead it was suggested that we bump elbows.

As I am all for preventing the spread of the virus I comply with the Captain’s suggestion. Unfortunately, not everyone attended the meeting. Invariably, when meeting someone, he/she would extend their hand while – simultaneously – I stuck out my elbow.

As I would stand there with elbow outstretched, feet shuffling to maintain balance on the rocking ship, I most closely resembled a one armed penguin doing the chicken dance.

As their jaw dropped and their eyes widened I could sense that I was being immediately being dropped from the “A” list, pausing briefly at the “B” list and plummeting immediately to the “D” list (Don’t invite this guy to anything!).

If I kept this up I was not going to meet a lot of people on this cruise.

Later that day, as the weather precluded any outdoor activities, we decided to attend a dance class. I am not sure what level of convoluted logic told us that even though we couldn’t even walk a straight line in the hallway because of the pitching and rolling caused by 12 foot seas, we could manage intricate and coordinated dance steps. But we gave it our best and then retired to our stateroom to apply the necessary salves and ointments to our toes and shins.

Day 3 – Copenhagen

The city of Hans Christian Anderson could well be the ideal port. We dock just yards from Copenhagen’s most notable landmark – the Little Mermaid, and within an easy walk to downtown, Nyhaven and Tivoli Gardens.

We make our obligatory visit to see the Little Mermaid and are delighted to see that she had a head (vandals have decapitated her twice). We look around and spot the closed circuit TV that now monitors the statue and decide against any flirtatious mugging in front of the little lady.

We visited Tivoli gardens, enjoyed a cold Tuborg in the city square and strolled down the main shopping street of Stroget – taking in the sights and sounds of a beautiful and bustling city. Architecturally, Copenhagen has stayed true to its heritage. By managing its growth, the city has been able to be both modern and traditional at the same time.

On the way back to the ship, I am overcome with a desire to contribute to the city’s economic well being so I purchase a nice selection of Carlsberg and Tuborg beers. I am then overcome with a desire to figure out how I am going to get them onboard the Jewel.

My first plan, to have SailorJill distract security by dashing through X-ray with a couple of cans while I unobtrusively slip past with the mother-lode, is upset by SailorJill’s refusal to “do any such thing”.

In the end, we come across an amazingly simple plan, and later enjoy a cold Tuborg on our balcony and toast the city as we sail out of the harbor.

That night we have been invited to the Captain’s Cocktail Party. As we get ready, SailorJill gives me a list of 10 things that I cannot do or say. She calls it her “Don’t Embarrass Me” list and it usually includes the same items. This time there are three new items:

  • Under no circumstances will you stick out your elbow.
  • You will not, under penalty of death, tell your Drunk Sea Captain and the Sea Lion joke.
  • You will not, I repeat, not, ask the captain is the ship’s transmission is automatic or stick shift. (I had been thinking about this one a lot lately).

Day 4 – Warnemunde

Warnemunde is a postcard perfect seaside port. Once a sleepy fishing village, it has become a seaside destination for German vacationers. While some of our passengers use it as a stepping off place to take a train to Berlin, we decide to explore the little town. So we set off from the ship to see Warnemunde. Fifteen minutes later we wonder what we should do next. In Warnemunde’s postcard perfect little canal there are numerous postcard perfect little boats that offer a postcard perfect 2-hour tours of the area, including a visit to the neighboring town of Rostock – all for seven Euros.

We sign up with one and enjoy the passing scenery from the open top deck. Later, as lunchtime nears, SailorJill suggests we go down to the main cabin and have a bite to eat. We order cold beer (well, we are in Germany!), knockwurst and french fries. The beer was great and the knockwurst superb, but I must have missed the fine print about the fries: “Warnung: Wir gefryen der Pommes-Frites in das guten schweinenlarden”.

I accidentally dropped a fry on my napkin and the “guten schweinenlarden” oozed out on the napkin like a spreading red tide. After eating just half of my fries, I can honestly say that I now understand how my car feels after it has gone through Jiffy Lube.

Speaking of food, I am finding that Europeans, despite their headlong rush to form the European Union, remain steadfastly loyal to their own cuisine and are critical of other ethnic specialties. At dinner that night one of our tablemates was a delightfully dour old Scottish gentleman by the name of Mac Fhearghuis:

SJ: So how was your visit to Warnemunde?

MF: How da ye think! Ken ye no believe that they eat something called Blood Sausage!

SJ: So how was it?

MF: It was bloody awful. I ken no understand how they ken eat it!

SJ: So what would you be having in Scotland?

MF: A right bonnie meal of Hagis and Clapshot!

SJ: Hagis?

MF: Aye...you take a boiled sheep stomach, turn it inside out and stuff it with boiled organs, chopped up suet, liver, and….

SJ: Ah, waiter…check please…..

And the English, apparently, share the same affectation. Ian, from Liverpool, eschewed the French for eating Escargot (snails), while singing the virtues of Bangers, Mash, and (I swear I am not making this up) something called …Spotted Dick. I’m thinking, the Brits have gone and named a food after Sitting Bull’s nephew? I excused myself before the gruesome details could be brought forth. And, God help me, I was certainly not going to ask about Clapshot!

This is not to imply that Americans don’t have their own culinary quirks…after all, I live in the South - where gravy is considered a beverage.

Day 5 – At Sea

We are sailing for Estonia, and the weather is actually quite pleasant. SailorJill and I decide to go on deck, grab a lounge, read a good book and work on our tans.

After settling into a lounge and glancing about I reached the conclusion that the pool is not a friendly place for the older male with an ego.

 

As we age, gravity begins to affect the body and we find that (among other things) the hair on the top of our heads begins to migrate south to our backs…and to other nether regions. In gravitational physics this is referred to as the “what grows up must grow down” theorem. This inevitable migration places the aging male in an extremely disadvantageous position when wearing swimming attire. Especially, apparently, among many European men.

As I lay here with my bucket of Corona, I think I may have stumbled upon a plot by which the feminist movement applied this theorem in devising a scheme to level the playing field between men and women. I think Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, and Helen Ready got together around a table in the garment district of New York:

Gloria: We should design a bathing suit for those strutting peacocks that will make them look as ridiculous as they really are.

Bella: Yes, it should accentuate their beer bellies, wooly backs, and hairy butts.

Gloria: And we should market them to older European men on cruise ships.

Bella: We should call them… let me see. Yes! We will call them…Speedos!

Helen: I am woman… hear me roar.

I warned SailorJill not to look towards the pool and told her that, at the next port, we will purchase custom sunglasses – ones that block out both harmful UV rays and damaging images of to-tight Speedos.

Day 6 – Estonia

What can I say? This is another perfect port. There are so many perfect picture opportunities that one is tempted to think that the town of Tallinn was designed by the boys from Kodak. The town square reminds us of Prague and the side streets are a shopper’s paradise. We spend the day walking the cobblestone streets, visiting churches, and admiring this old city.

After this exciting day ashore, SailorJill and I adjourned to the Fyzz bar to enjoy a well-deserved relaxing libation in the company of our fellow adventurers – at least that was our intention.

In “The Divine Comedy”, Dante describes the 9 Circles of Hell - those concentric circles of the underworld that inflict ever-increasing punishment upon sinners. The 9th (and worst) circle he called “Uglino”, which I think must have been Latin for …Karaoke.

While I had heard of this device, I had never before seen one in action. Apparently, custom demands that you have several stiff drinks before attempting to Karaoke. This may be why you don’t see Karaoke in other entertaining and convivial places, like IRS offices or divorce court.

As if to prove my point, the first performer was “Al” who tried to sing “I Did it My Way”; but he apparently had the wrong song programmed into the machine so that he was faced with trying to sing Sinatra’s lyrics to Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”. I marveled at the irony.

Why didn’t I just get up right then and leave? I think the proper medical term is Ataxia – a condition in which the mind sends signals to the muscle (namely the legs) to move, but to which there is no corresponding response. An example of Ataxia in the animal kingdom is the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. You just know he’s got to be thinking, “Man, this CAN’T be good - I’ve really GOT to get off this road”. That sort of summarized my thoughts on Karaoke.

Well, perhaps, in a more perfect world, the Norovirus will mutate into a 24 hour bug that only strikes people who have had approximately six beers and a “tequila shooter” and are starting to seriously eye the Karaoke machine; but until that time, we will spend our ducats in the Spinnaker Lounge.

Days 7 and 8 - St. Petersburg, Russia

At last! We are actually in Russia. We see amazing sights – the Winter Palace, the Hemitage, the Church of Spilled Blood, Peterhoff, and too many other sights to mention. The opulence of old Russia is staggering.

But to us, the highlight of the visit went in the opposite direction. We had lunch with a Russian family. I had expected to visit an upper middle class home, but was surprised to find that it was, in fact, a “typical” family – if there is such a thing. Lunch was in a 1950’s five-story walk-up Khrushchev era apartment building somewhere in St. Petersburg.

I say somewhere because the driver was going in circles trying to find the right street. I could tell by the excited talk between driver and guide when the right street was found, but not the right building. Our guide made a call on her cell and almost immediately we see a babushka waving a dishtowel from a 3rd floor window. Another fine example of a Russian multi-media solution to a logistics problem.

Our hosts, Oleg and Lida were both warm and congenial. Lida prepared a delicious lunch and Oleg and I discovered that we were both stationed at nuclear missile bases – I in West Germany and he in Western Russia. He wondered if maybe our missiles had been pointed at each other. He brought out a picture of him in uniform and I was immediately jealous. He had WAY more medals than I did. Heck, I had trouble just earning my Good Conduct Medal.

Asked if he ever thought that one day he would have Americans at his home for lunch, he laughed and said that was the last thing he thought would ever happen to him.

On the second day of touring we left the van to visit the Church of Bleeding Hearts and I realized that I had lost my sweater. Backtracking, I came across a Russian picking it up for me. I thanked him and told him I really would have missed it if I had lost it.

“Not to be problem, SailorJack,” he said, “we would to mail it to home in Atlanta”.

“How do you know my name?”

“Ah, is sewn inside sweater?”

“No it’s not. And how do you know I live in Atlanta?”

“Ah, you have accent?”

“No I don’t. I’m Canadian. You’re KGB aren’t you!”

“Nyet, am Boris – simple farmer from, ah, from Murmansk. Besides, is no longer KGB. Under glorious leadership of Comrade, er, President Putin, is now family friendly KGB called SVR!”

“Then who is that woman in the car with the telephoto lens and the parabolic microphone?”

“Ah…is Natasha, simple farmer’s wife who watches birds and records birdcalls.”

“Forget it – good by”.

“Dos Vedanya. Ah, SailorJack.”

“Yes”

“You wouldn’t happen to know where are Trident Nuclear Submarines in Baltic Sea would you?”

Day 9 – Helsinki

What can you say about Helsinki that hasn’t already been said before?

Day 10 – Stockholm

Today we visit another perfect port. Built on 14 islands, the city is marvelous to see and explore. The highlight of our visit was the Vasa Museum.

The museum houses the warship Vasa, which sank in 1628 and which was salvaged in 1961. It is the most beautifully reconstructed warship of that age that I have ever seen. Two years in the building, the 64-gun warship was one of the largest and most heavily armed ships of its time.

On August 10, 1628, after two long years of construction, the ship was launched. Foreign dignitaries, members of the Swedish Court, and citizens by the tens of thousands turned out to witness the launching of the ship that was to become the pride of the Swedish Navy.

It was a glorious day. As the signal was given, the great ship, with flags snapping in the breeze and colorful pennants waving from the mast tops, began its slow decent down the launch ramp.

To the cheers tens of thousands of observers, the most magnificent ship ever launched slid into the Baltic, spread its bright white sails, rolled over, and sank to the bottom of the sea.

In hindsight, the Vasa rolled over because its superstructure design suffered from what those in the Swedish shipbuilding industry commonly refer to as the Anita Ekberg effect. When the first wind hit the Vasa’s sails it rolled over because, well, because it was top heavy.

Day 11 – At Sea

Today I attended an interactive comedy workshop conducted by members of the Second City Comedy Troupe. I and another adventurist volunteered to perform in a skit and we were given the scenario - You have broken into the ships offices and gotten into some mischief.

From there we had to improvise a comedy sketch. We played off each other quite well and by the end of the routine I found that I had developed my character into a gay computer hacker on vacation.

I thought the whole routine went quite well and after it was over I sat down with SailorJill and asked her what she thought.

“You’re an idiot”

That night we dined at the Mongolian Hot Pot. On the menu is an apparent Mongolian delicacy called “Chilled Seaweed Salad” now I have nothing against kelp. It is a renewable resource that grows faster than the Kudzu in my back yard.

I am, however, having trouble understanding how the average housewife cooking in her yurt was able to get a supply of seaweed in a landlocked dessert nation. I was also curious as to how she could chill it even if she got it.

Our server, who was otherwise quite knowledgeable about the menu, could not resolve this conundrum - and I was unable to reach the Captain to get his take on this significant issue. Oh well, a touch of mystery to end our cruise!

Day 13 – Dover

We are back in port. The ship docks at 5:00 A.M., we are off the ship by 6:15, on the bus with our luggage by 6:30, and at Gatwick by 8:00. It is the smoothest disembarkation I have ever witnessed. Together with the smoothest boarding process ever, I am going to suggest to NCL that all their cruises should begin and end in Dover. While I know this may add a few days to the Caribbean cruises, passengers will be compensated by the time they save getting on and off!

The ship’s crew did a fantastic job of handling the safety procedures, and while those procedures may have caused some inconveniences, nobody (that we heard about) became ill on the cruise. Furthermore, the Hotel staff responded to our room problem with efficiency and alacrity. If NCL keeps this up, I may have to stop cruising on other lines!

Oh, well, we are at Gatwick waiting for our plane, already planning our next cruise, and wondering just where are those Trident Subs?

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Thanks Sailor Jack for another interesting and fun review. :cool:

 

Looks like the Captain didn't have to choose between running aground or hitting a barge on this cruise.

 

Which cruise did you enjoy more, the South American on the Dream, or the Baltic on the Jewel?

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SailorJack, we knew we could count on you to post a wonderful review! We also had a great trip and will be sharing our less interesting review as soon as we can recover from jet lag and a cancelled flight that kept us overnight in Detroit instead of arriving home last night! :eek:

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Sailor Jack:

 

Thanks for an awesome and extremely entertaining review. I laughed out loud at many of your descriptions! We are booked on the Jewel for next June. Your review makes me even more excited for the cruise to arrive! :D

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Another wonderful review from SailerJack. You've definitely made my list of people whose reviews I HAVE to read as soon as I see them! It sounds like this trip was much less eventful than your previous NCL cruise, which was probably a good thing, but your writing style is still wonderfully entertaining.

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Thank you SailorJack for making me laugh out loud every three seconds during my lunch break! You almost killed me! You are such a riot. I am off now to reapply the mascara...

coka

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I've enjoyed reading both your South American and Baltic reviews. You had me laughing out loud both times. Thanks for your very entertaining reviews. Please keep writing, you're very talented.

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Laugh out loud funny! Love your sense of humor - I bet the Second City folks learned a thing or two from you!

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Incredibly funny....this is the first time I've read one of your reviews!!!

I,too, laughed out loud....you would be so fun to cruise with. We are heading on the Jewel in March, and I always look at these boards for info, but I think I like these entertaining reviews much more.

Thanks for the laugh....it made my day. Now I'm going to have to search out all of your other stuff and read those posts as well.

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Thanks SailorJack!!! No one can do a review like you!!! Are you sure you're not a writer? You should be!!!

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Thanks Sailor Jack for another interesting and fun review. :cool:

 

Looks like the Captain didn't have to choose between running aground or hitting a barge on this cruise.

 

Which cruise did you enjoy more, the South American on the Dream, or the Baltic on the Jewel?

 

Thanks for your kind words.

 

Clearly, we enjoyed the ports in the Baltic to a greater extent than those in South America. While we met some great people on the Jewel, we met more people on the Dream (because it was smaller and a little more intimate) and had a great time in building relationships. Also, for more obvious reasons, the Dream was a more exciting cruise while at sea.

 

SailorJill and I discussed this same question on the way home and the consensus was a tie. Each ship offered something exciting and fun - but in different ways.

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Thanks for your kind words.

 

Clearly, we enjoyed the ports in the Baltic to a greater extent than those in South America. While we met some great people on the Jewel, we met more people on the Dream (because it was smaller and a little more intimate) and had a great time in building relationships. Also, for more obvious reasons, the Dream was a more exciting cruise while at sea.

 

SailorJill and I discussed this same question on the way home and the consensus was a tie. Each ship offered something exciting and fun - but in different ways.

 

Priceless review keep it up. Can i tempt you to blood sausage aka black pudding or spotted dick ?

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Welcome back! I don't which I enjoyed more, your prose or the news that they may have the norovirus under control on the Jewel. We sail on July 4th.

 

You didn't miss much while you were gone. The City of Atlanta is still broke, the sewers are still broken, and, oh yeah, Buckhead is thinking of seceding from the Union, I mean Atlanta.

 

But, everything will be fine once we elect Vernon Jones as our new Senator. Vote twice for us since we'll be on the Jewel on July 15th. And would you mind keeping an eye on our house in Dunwoody?

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Great review!

 

Quick question...how did you get back and forth to the Vasa?

 

We actually took a ship tour(the only one on the cruise) that included a visit to the museum and a city tour.

 

You could also take one of those "hop on/hop off" buses. They stop right at the dock area and I saw several of them at the museum - so I know they stop there.

 

Doeymeister - I read in the paper this morning about Buckhead's secession plan - in the great southern tradition. Doesn't sound like Shirley will support it though. Our house was fine when we got back - your's will be also;)

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We actually took a ship tour(the only one on the cruise) that included a visit to the museum and a city tour.

 

You could also take one of those "hop on/hop off" buses. They stop right at the dock area and I saw several of them at the museum - so I know they stop there.

 

 

Did you need a visa to enter Russia? or did NCL have a group one.

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Did you need a visa to enter Russia? or did NCL have a group one.

 

If you take a ship tour they provide the visas. A cheaper alternative is to take a tour with an agency in St. Petersburg. We used a company called DenRus and they were prompt, reliable and efficient. They also provide the visas. You can explore their tour options on their website. Another good agency in Red October. There is a third one, but I can't remember their name offhand - Alta (or something similar). They have a lot of cheerleaders and someone will probably give you the correct name.

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Thanks for your kind words.

 

Clearly, we enjoyed the ports in the Baltic to a greater extent than those in South America. While we met some great people on the Jewel, we met more people on the Dream (because it was smaller and a little more intimate) and had a great time in building relationships. Also, for more obvious reasons, the Dream was a more exciting cruise while at sea.

 

SailorJill and I discussed this same question on the way home and the consensus was a tie. Each ship offered something exciting and fun - but in different ways.

 

Superb review, recognised the style and humour from your South American Dream, before I noticed your name. You should really take up writing.

We had the best of both of your worlds by doing the same cruise on the Dream last year. I would have loved to read your comments about sailing through the Kiel Canal with the Dream's own fan club and an avid fascination from all the locals who turn out to see it.

When we were in Tallinn, we had clear blue skies so the pictures were wonderful. It could only have been better if we had seen the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang coming round the next corner.

 

Can't wait for your next cruise.

 

PS Could you expand on what happens in the pubic rooms. Is this a Freestyle 2.0 innovation

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PS Could you expand on what happens in the pubic rooms. Is this a Freestyle 2.0 innovation

 

I was wondering if anyone was going to catch that. I saw it when it was to late to do an edit:rolleyes:

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If you take a ship tour they provide the visas. A cheaper alternative is to take a tour with an agency in St. Petersburg. We used a company called DenRus and they were prompt, reliable and efficient. They also provide the visas. You can explore their tour options on their website. Another good agency in Red October. There is a third one, but I can't remember their name offhand - Alta (or something similar). They have a lot of cheerleaders and someone will probably give you the correct name.

 

 

Thanks for the info.

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SailorJack- you really should be published. I just finished a Jeff Foxworthy book, "How to Really Stink at Golf", and it was funny, but your commentary was far more of a ROTFLOL!

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What say we take up a collection to keep SailorJack and SailorJill on the high seas year round so we can enjoy his reviews more often?

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