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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Day 7 of the Northern Atlantic Transatlantic Cruise

Saturday, May 3, 2014 Day 7

Today after breakfast Chuck went to a seminar about opera in the Mediterranean while I went to an on board sale which was still very expensive. I forgot my black dress purse at home, and thought about spending $10 on this one at the sale, but you know me, I like to save money not spend it so I decided for the next 2 formal nights I will give my camera to Chuck to keep in his suit jacket pocket so I won’t need a purse.

When the opera seminar was done, we went to a talk about our stop in Lehavre/Paris. We learned a lot of thing about visiting Paris and the port city of Lehavre. We will only actually be in Paris for 3 hours which while disappointing, is still better than never making it there at all. Chuck said tonight that if we ever do another cruise to France, he really wants to visit Normandie. I agreed, and although I would much rather go to Paris again, this is my turn, next trip will be his.

We had lunch then came back and took a nap, worked out. I went to my usual place to work out which is the walking track on deck 17. On the way up there, I happened to look over the side railing and saw something dark in the water. I ran up to the walking deck and looked over the edge of the railing and there I saw a sight that made me laugh out loud…I saw a lone dolphin gliding through the water. I love watching dolphins in their natural habitat. They seem to enjoy the water so much it’s a thrill to watch them. I must say I was much more interested in watching for dolphins than I was walking but I needed to walk to combat all the extra calories I have been eating so I made a deal with myself: For each lap I walked around that deck, I would get to stop and look for more dolphins. I did do that and found dolphins on 2 more rounds of looking. They weren’t doing a lot of jumping but did surface a lot. It was quite exciting and I remembered that one of my favorite things about cruising is watching for wildlife. I met a woman who had seen dolphins at noon, and told me where she had seen them from which was from an outside deck at the back of the ship. On the way back to the room, I stopped at this place and was amazed at the beauty that could be seen from there. I couldn’t wait to take Chuck there. And after we got ready for dinner in our finest ( it’s the second formal night) I took Chuck there as a surprise. This deck is rather hidden, past the Horizon Court Buffet. There are outside tables and then nearest the railings there’s a series of couches and chairs with a bar at the back. We each had a glass of wine and watched the water as it glided away from the back of the ship. The sun was still in the sky and wasn’t going to set for a few hours. It felt warm on my skin as we sat there and marveled at how beautiful everything was from this perfect perch.

Scenes from the back deck

We went back to the Concerto dining room for our meal. I had a small dish of Fettucine Alfredo and Chuck had a beef dish. This dining room has been our favorite of the trip. There’s always good service and very competent waiters. After dinner we tried to go to the Al Katz show but there were no seats left at all.

We came back to the room and watched a movie instead. We have to get up early tomorrow to go on our tour in Ponta Del Gada.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Days 5 and 6 of the Transatlantic Cruise

Thursday, May 4th, Day 5

Today was another day we had to set the clocks forward. But today was also the first day I have felt normal and I didn’t I needed 2 naps a day. We went for breakfast and then after breakfast Chuck decided to go to a seminar titled, ‘Why We Love Opera.” I had no interest in hearing that lecture because I do NOT love opera ( hope I didn't offend anyone buy saying that!), so found a comfortable chair near the theater and read for an hour. He thoroughly enjoyed this talk, by a guy named George Weston who does a lot of seminars on cruise ships. After the seminar we went to the library and Chuck looked through a book about the bombing of the Lusitania while I read some more. We both got online and checked our email for a short time as the minutes, even the free 250 we each get, go by quickly when it takes 5 to 10 minutes to even get onto the internet itself, or to download emails. We then went to lunch and met a nice couple from right outside of Toronto. Their names were Steve and Brenda and we talked to them for awhile. For the last 5 years they have been going on 2 cruises a year and travel a lot on land. Steve does what Chuck does in terms of working when needed, and so his schedule is flexible enough to allow them to have time to travel. Chuck was happy because Steve knows about NDT. We left them to go to another art auction. I was hoping to win a free print but I did not and during the auction they said you had to pay to send it home if you won so I wasn’t interested in that.

After a nap for both of us, we worked out and I am up to walking 1 mile on the walking track, and then am doing more of the strength training machines. Here are some of the machines to the left of the track. It's fun to use them outside under a beautiful blue sky with a view of the ocean on all sides.

After showers, we went to the atrium and got a couch/chair right near the window so we could look out the window and watch the waves go by. They were about 10 to 12 feet high. After a glass of wine there, with music being played in the atrium by a band, we headed into the Concerto room for dinner. We have decided this is out favorite dinner restaurant as the service was better there. We had a delicious meal of roast chicken and veggies for me, and an Austrian weiner dish for Chuck, plus Cherries Jubilee for him for dessert and Chocolate brownie ice cream for me. We then went back to the room and watched some TV before heading to the Princess Theater for a comedy show starring comedian Al Katz.

Friday May 2, 2014 Day 6

Today the weather is cooler but the seas are a bit calmer. After breakfast Chuck went to a lecture about Jerusalem while I finished reading my first book that I brought along with me. Afterward we went to the Live taping of the ,’Wake Show” which is a round up of the days happenings and includes guests. The tapings happen one day in advance so today’s taping will be on tomorrow. The Captain of the ship was the guest, as well as comedian Al Katz who is quite funny. He travels 300 days a year entertaining on cruise ships.I think that sounds like a fantastic way to earn a living!Here's what the television on board the ship looks like.

After lunch we took a nap and worked out. I really enjoy working out on the walking track. It’s so beautiful to see the water from where we are all around me as I walk in a circle on that top deck. At night we ate at the Horizon Court Buffet and it was actually pretty nice. We sat side by side at a table that looked out over the water. At 8:30 p.m. we tried to go to the Illusionist show but it was booked solid and there were no seats left in the whole Princess Theater. We decided to go back to the room and do laundry until the third show. We did 2 loads of laundry, and that's one of the things I like best about cruising with Princess...they have washers, dryers and ironing boards so passengers can do their own laundry. We always bring our own trial sized packs of laundry detergent so we don't have to buy them from the machines, and a baggie with dryer sheets packs well in a suitcase. After doing laundry, we then went back to the last Illusionist show. Chuck really enjoyed it but I feel illusionists are just phony and I don’t like being tricked so I didn’t like it at all.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Day 4 Of Our Transatlantic Cruise

April 30th, 2014 Day 4

Today we had breakfast first thing but after too much rich food yesterday, I went easy and had yogurt with fruit (there is a choice of a peach or strawberry yogurt parfait with fruit on the top and in the middle) and I sprinkled granola on top, a small piece of banana bread, ½ bagel with whipped cream cheese (yummy) and a pear. Much better than some choices I could have had such as French toast, pancakes, omelets, etc.

After lunch we read for awhile on one of the couches placed all around the Promenade deck inside, and then went to a presentation about our second stop, Southampton, England. During the talk, an interesting thing happened. The Captain came over the loudspeaker asking for assistance for a person who was critically ill in the medical center. They needed blood donations from anyone who had an American Red Cross Blood Card with them, was a regular blood donor, and had O + blood, and O – blood as a last resort. Of the 300 people that were in the seminar, about 6 or 8 got up to go donate, to the applause of everyone else in the theater. And that was just from where we were sitting. I am sure other passengers from all over the ship also went to see if they could donate, as there are over 3,000 passengers on the ship. It was quite a touching moment to see these strangers willing to help out, and I would have gone because I am O positive, but haven’t given blood since my kids were born.Anyway, here's a picture of Southampton.

After the talk we came back to the room and I had a quick catnap as I am having a hard time adjusting to the time change. Then we went and had a light lunch…hard to do on a cruise ship with so many choices. I went to a seminar on advanced digital photography which probably was not a good idea because I am not an advanced photographer, but I did learn a little bit. After going back to the room, both Chuck and I had a nap and then he went to workout in the fitness center onboard while I went up to the 17th floor to the walking track. It was extremely windy out there and I felt like I was going to get blown away. Even so, it was warm out because this track was outside and the sun was strong. The track goes around the basketball/ping pong table area and alongside the track are strength training machines. I walked a bit, then worked out on some of the machines and it was fun to do it outside. Chuck went up to save us 2 seats on the lounge chairs for the Movie Under the stars. I joined him shortly afterward and we enjoyed pizza and french fries while we watched the movie, “Saving Mr. Banks.” During the movie, Princess staff came around and offered free ice cream and popcorn, ice water and lemonade. We enjoyed the movie but left it a bit confused and I am looking forward to getting back to the internet to research more about the book, ‘Mary Poppins” and its author, P.L. Travers.

After the movie, we went to the Horizon court buffet for a quick cookie snack, and headed down to bed. I watched the movie, “Blue Jasmine” by Woody Allen starring Cate Blanchett. It was billed as a comedy and was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. I did not think it was comedic in the least and was sorry I wasted my time with it. I don't know if you have seen it but if you haven't I don't recommend it.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 3 Of Our Transatlantic Cruise

April 29th, Day 3

Last night we were supposed to set the clocks forward by one hour, but didn’t realize it so all morning we were an hour behind schedule. We didn’t realize it till noon when the captain came over the loudspeaker to give his daily report. The captain on this ship is great about that and gives a lot more information than other captains on other cruises we have been on.

We started the day off with breakfast and I ate too much rich food, including eggs and biscuits with mushroom gravy which gave me indigestion for the rest of the day. After breakfast we went to the special $10 sale Princess has on every cruise. We were disappointed that the amount of items for sale were only about half of what is normally offered and we only stayed about 5 minutes without buying anything. The sale today offered scarves, dress purses, sunglasses and manicure set.

After this sale Chuck wanted to go to hear a lecture on Russian opera so we agreed to meet at the Princess Theater an hour later as that’s when the port talk about the Azores was being given. Although I had no interest in Russian Opera, I did have an interest in our port talk. I went and found a comfy couch with pillows to sit on up near the pool, and read for an hour. When I went to join Chuck, I found I was one hour late because we hadn’t set our clocks ahead. And he totally missed the Russian Opera talk, but had heard the whole port lecture. I was able to catch the last 30 minutes of it.The Princess Theater on this ship is huge, but it looks like the inside of a spaceship to me.

We went back to the room and I watched a movie, “The Big Wedding” which I thoroughly enjoyed but Chuck was not interested in so he watched TV and took a nap. After the movie, we went to lunch but just had a light one and went back to the room for a nap. After the nap, Chuck went back to the workout center, and feeling like I had been too lazy lately, went to find the jogging track up on the 17th deck. I was pleased to find a walking track adjacent to the jogging track. And on the side of the walking track, at various intervals were various pieces of equipment to do strength training. That was really handy and during my walk, I stopped periodically to try out some of the equipment. I also was walking and noticed that there was a Zumba class going on from 5 to 5:30 p.m. on the basketball court. I may attempt that at some point. I did a Zumba class a few times on a previous cruise, but it was in the morning and since I am NOT a morning person that got old pretty fast. The cruise has a class in the morning as well as one in the afternoon on days at sea so that’s really convenient for passengers.

Tonight was the first of three formal nights. We did the obligatory dress up thing and went to the atrium to join in the festivities for the champagne fountain and free champagne and mimosas. The Captain and crew were introduced, and as soon as it was over we hurried to the Concerto dining room, immediately got a table for two and had a very wonderful meal which included a crab meat quiche, salads, and I had chicken with roasted vegetables while Chuck had salmon which he thought was delicious. The best thing about the meal in this dining room was that the service by our waiter Mario was quick and personable. We had a great meal because of him and we even told him so. I am including a great picture of Chuck all dressed up for formal night as well as the champagne fountain in the atrium...a Princess cruises staple! They do this on the first formal night of each cruise, and offer people a chance to pour the champagne and get their picture taken, and waiters pass out free champagne and Mimosas during this event!

We went back to the room to change and then went to the show at 10:30 which was called, “Colours of the World.” It was fantastic and we were really impressed with the talent, both singing and dancing. Compared to the last ship we were on, the NCL, this group of entertainers were so much better.

Chuck turned in but since I wasn’t tired, I decided to watch a show on TV that I have never seen before but have heard of it so was curious. The show is called,”Veep” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and it was not as good as I had expected which was a big disappointment.If you haven't watched it yet, don't waste your time, unless you are a big Julia Louis-Dreyfuss fan.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Day 2 of Our Transatlantic Cruise

April 28th, 2014 Day Two

Because of the direction we are going, we will have to set our clocks ahead by 4 hours by the time we get to our first stop in the Azores in 6 days. So today was the first of those time changes. We had to set our clocks one hour ahead and I don’t know if it is that or because my body is so tired from cleaning the house for the Open House, but I am exhausted. Chuck woke up early today but let me sleep until 9, which was really 8. We had breakfast and met a very interesting man named Neil who is on the ship with his wife. This is the largest ship they have ever been on. This guy is a retired high school Math teacher and lives in Colorado. I don’t know how he and his wife have the money to travel like they do. But he told us of a recent trip to Tahiti where they stayed on my favorite French Polynesian Island, Moorea for a week. Also about a cruise they took down the Amazon River, and another one down around Cape Horn. They have cruised to Alaska, and many other places. When they get back from this trip they are going fishing in Canada for one week, and then to the continent of Asia. I often think I should write a book about cruise passengers and their adventures and lives. On the last cruise we took, I was thrilled to meet a woman who travels around the world in her RV with her husband and am now getting travel letters from her about her adventures.

After breakfast we found a cozy spot to read to give the steward time to make up our room. I just started to read a book called, “The Well Fed Writer” which is about how to have a writing career. Can't wait to read it and glean information from it. The library on this ship is not very good so Chuck didn't find anything he was interested in reading.Here's the ship's small library.

So, after reading for a bit, believe it or not, we went to eat lunch at 12:15 so we could make it in time to the first art auction on board. We met a really nice girl that works in the on board art gallery last night and she gave us advance tickets to the art auction. You get free champagne during each Princess art auction so we have gone a few times. Today they were touting the talent of an artist whose art I didn’t like at all. His work was the main attraction for today’s auction but people could go around the room prior to the auction starting and tag paintings or prints they were interested in. They had some Thomas Kincaid, Goya, Peter Max, a Renoir Lithograph and a lot of others. People were paying from between $500 to $17,000 for the pieces that went up for auction. I think I may go again because periodically they held raffles and you could win prints just for being there.

We came back to the room and I took a 2 hour nap while Chuck dozed for a bit and also worked on his computer as he had a report to review. We get 250 free minutes each on the internet because we are Platinum members on Princess. Chuck says he is worried about me sleeping so much but I think my body is just trying to catch up from all the work we have been doing on the house to get it ready to put on the market, which we did the day before we left for the cruise. When I woke up, I didn’t feel like walking as I am still quite groggy but I couldn’t wait to write. It’s just something inside me that needs to be able to be expressed or I feel something nagging at me. I am sitting on the bed and have the doors open to the balcony. I can see the deep dark blue of the water, feel the breeze and hear the water crashing against the sides of the boat. It sounds like waves hitting the shore. It is a beautiful and very peaceful sound and I am so very happy to be on this cruise.

After Chuck worked out we got ready to go to dinner. On the way to dinner, Chuck suggested we have a glass of wine in the Piazza, a beautiful atrium in the center of the ship that is mostly glass, brass and marble. There was a band playing called, “The Rick Clover Band” and they played ballroom Dance music. We watched about 6 couples dance beautifully together. One we surmised as a competitor couple because their moves were so fancy. The second best couple kept trying to get Chuck out on the dance floor. I was silently cheering him on because I have been trying to get Chuck to take ballroom dance lessons on every cruise we go on, but he always says an emphatic, “No.” The guy, Reggie says he was the same way and his wife signed them up for dance lessons and now they go dancing 3 to 4 nights a week. He says he is 70 and it keeps him young. His wife talked to us afterward and they tried to convince Chuck to dance, but he was having no part of that! Here's a picture of the atrium where there is a space at the bottom where people can dance.

After watching the dancers we went to dinner at the Symphony restaurant, one of 2 of the “anytime dining” restaurants on board the Royal Princess. This means we can walk in as at any restaurant back home and we can eat at any time without waiting till the traditional seating of 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on cruise ships a decade ago. We did not have a good experience at this dining room. They were very busy and we had the slowest service we have ever had in a cruise ship restaurant. To top it off, Chuck had lamb shank which he thought was awful, very tough and he only ate half of it. My meal of filet of beef was very good. So between the service and Chuck’s meal we would give this restaurant a big thumbs down. Tomorrow night we will try the Concerto Restaurant, the sister restaurant to this one but one floor up. After dinner we decided to skip the show which was entertainment by singer Jennifer Fair, and opted to go back top the room and finish the movie 9 to 5. After that we watched a Nicholas Sparks movie which I had seen advertised, called, “Safe Haven.” It was a love story with a few surprise twists and we both enjoyed it…me more than Chuck I am sure. Lights out after the movie to rest up for another busy but relaxing day tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 1 of Our Transatlantic Northern European Cruise April/May, 2014

4/27/14   Day One

Today was our first day of the cruise on the Royal Princess. This ship was christened in June, 2013 by The Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine, of Prince William fame. We have been excited about going on this cruise for approximately 7 months.
The check in went pretty quickly as we waited in a preferred cruiser line. They got us through within about 30 minutes and there we were, standing in front of the photographer for the expected start of the cruise photo. And then we were embarking on our very favorite part of every cruise, which is walking up the gangplank which leads up to the cruise ship, and setting foot on our home away from home for the very first time. 
Walking on was exciting until we tried to get to the elevators which had lines
packed about 5 people deep. We eventually got up to our floor, number 15 and found our room. We were able to go right in which is good because often cruisers have to wait till the rooms are ready. We dropped our carry on bags off at the room and marveled at what a wonderful room it is. As soon as I saw it, I turned around and kissed Chuck with a happy heart. The room is beautiful, similar to other Princess ships we have been on but improved. The color scheme is gold with blue and gold pillows. There are two sections to the room which is separated by a curtain. The bedroom area is first when you walk into the room, and beyond it is the sitting area. The couch is longer and wider than in most of the ships we have been on. Chuck is looking forward to taking some nice long naps on it. There is a desk across the room from it and it is much longer than in previous rooms we have cruised in. I can’t wait to sit at it and write all about our cruise on my computer! Another wonderful thing about this room is the fact that the two TVs in here are huge wide screen TVs. One is in front of the bed, and the other is in the sitting area in front of the couch. They have about 100 free movies on the ship, some of which are pretty good so we can’t wait to watch them. Most are new, but there are some pretty funny classics on here such as right now as I type this we are watching 9 to 5. That was definitely Chuck’s choice as I have seen it many times before but it is funny to watch again when everyone looks so much younger! The only complaint Chuck had is that the balcony is small. We had read this online, but it’s even smaller than we expected. I don’t care but Chuck is disappointed.

After seeing our amazing room, we met our room steward Enrique who is from Mexico and he brought us our complimentary glass of champagne which the cruise line provides. We then went to the required safety drill which was at the Princess Theater. This theater looks like something from Star Trek. It’s quite modern and very silver. After the safety drill we went to the sail away party. This was the most boring sail away party we have ever been to, hardly anyone was there, but we still had a good time waving goodbye to all the people on the shore, some from their homes and some on the beach. We toasted to a great cruise with Heinekens and found 2 chaise lounges and watched the water go by as we saw the Fort Lauderdale shoreline disappear into the horizon.

After a nap and Chuck worked out, we decided to go to dinner at the Horizon Court buffet. We love the new Horizon Court on this ship because at lunch you have a choice of the Horizon Court Bistro, which is sandwiches, soups and salads, or the full buffet area. And in the middle of both is a dessert aisle. We were quite happy with our decision to go there for dinner because it was not crowded at all and we had our choice of delicious food. The cream of mushroom soup, Louisiana crab cakes and mashed potatoes were my favorites. For dessert I had a delicious flourless chocolate cake with some kind of cream on top. I really need to learn how to make flourless chocolate cake because every time we have it on a cruise, it is absolutely delicious.

After dinner we walked around the ship for a bit, caught the last 30 minutes of the movie under the stars which was “Last Vegas” and then went to a variety show which showcased the Royal Princess dancers and an illusionist.

When we arrived back at the room, our Princess Patter, the daily cruise newsletter,
was waiting for us with all the details of tomorrow’s entertainment and activities aboard ship. It looks like it’s going to be a great cruise!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Missing My Husband!

Chuck has been away on a project for 8 days now. By the time he comes back, it will be 9 days and 9 nights that he has been gone. I have decided that enough is enough. I don't like him being away this long one bit. Since we have actually been living under the same roof together, this is the longest we have been apart. The first few days were over the weekend and I was busy so it wasn't quite as hard not to be with him. But as each day goes by, I feel more and more isolated. Thank goodness I have the dog for company. But then again, last night I started talking to her out loud. And not about dog topics either! I just started having a conversation with her, about work, as though she were a person. I am really going a bit crazy without Chuck here. And I miss his hugs. And I even miss our every day routines. He is due home tomorrow night, and it can't come quick enough for me. I miss my honey...hurry home Chuck! Reeses and I miss you!