Behind on the Cruise Posts but…

It’s almost time to start posting Scotland stuff!

I think I have 5 days to catch up on the Bermuda Cruise posts and I’ll try to get those done this week.

tattoo

Meanwhile..

We’re headed to Scotland by way of Amsterdam on Friday.

August 12, 2015, I’ll be going to the Edinburgh Tattoo. This has been on my bucket list for a long time since my grandfather was in the Black Watch and I just love to hear bagpipes. Even my cellphone ringtone is Scotland, the Brave.

My mom says that my Grandfather’s name is inscribed as a war hero in Edinburgh Castle, where the Tattoo is held.  You know, I’ll find that!  We have tickets for a tour of the castle as well as a bus tour of Edinburgh.  I don’t know if we’ll get all of that done since we’ll be driving down from Inverness on the morning of the 12th.  We will be staying overnight since the Tattoo gets out late so we’ll see.

 

I never met my grandfather.  He had died in Peshawar, India, fighting for the Black Watch during World War l.  Peshawar was on the northern frontier of British India, near the Khyber Pass.

In 1947, Peshawar became part of the newly independent state of Pakistan after politicians approved merger into the state that had just been carved from British India.

peshawar

We have a trunk of his belongings, though, and it’s very interesting to recreate his life.

My dad was born in Scotland in 1913.  Somewhere I have a picture of him getting off the boat at age 5 wearing his little kilt.  I’ll have to post that for a TBT sometime.

In 1914, my grandfather was involved in this:

On the outbreak of war there were seven Black Watch battalions – for in addition to the Regular 1st and 2nd Battalions and 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion there were a further four Territorial ones which had become part of the Regiment in 1908. They were the 4th Dundee [Mary O’Note: I’m pretty sure this was his, since that’s where my dad was born], 5th Angus, 6th Perthshire and the 7th Battalion from Fife. The 1st Battalion was in action at the very start of the war taking part in the Retreat from Mons before turning on the Germans at the River Marne and the subsequent advance to the Aisne. Trench warfare then set in and the 2nd Battalion arrived from India, both battalions taking part in the Battle of Givenchy. Meanwhile the Territorial battalions had been mobilised at the start of the war but only the 5th was in action in 1914.

From http://www.theblackwatch.co.uk/index/first-world-war

black watch

 

Black_Watch2

I guess this is why I love the Pipes and Drums of the Black Watch so much.

blackwatch-pipers

Thanks, Grandpa!

 

 

At Sea, Monday, June 8, 2015

image

I woke up about 7 and Tom had brought me coffee – hooray!

We went for breakfast at the good old Garden Cafe then went to a talk about Bermuda in the Breakaway Theater.  It was pretty good and told us a lot about the island and good places to go.

At 11, we had a Cruise Critic Meet and Greet in La Cucina.  The officers didn’t seem to want to be there but we did get cards with their phone numbers, if needed.  No offer of a dinner with the officers like we had last time.

I texted Michael using the iConcierge app and he was napping already so I took the time to get Tom’s app working.

Back at the cabin we found out that Michael had bought shorts and shirt in the store.  He hadn’t known that he couldn’t use his debit card – it was all on the room key.

Then, of course, it was time for lunch.  You know where.

We decided to go on the Bermuda full-day bus tour Wednesday and BAMZ/Crystal Caves on Thursday.  Michael signed up for them during lunch, using the app.

We walked around some and came to the ropes course and zipline. Michael went but didn’t walk the plank.  I had planned to go, too, but I was wearing sandals and couldn’t go. Tom checked everything out and said he’d try it “later”.

 

 

As if the Aqua Park wasn’t enough deck-top fun for one cruise vacation, Norwegian has devoted another generous chunk of the ship’s exterior space to a three-story sports complex with a smorgasbord of gee-whiz amusements.

Among the attractions is a suspended-in-the-sky ropes course that has 40 different elements including The Plank, a platform that extends 8 feet over the vessel’s edge. The sports complex also offers a miniature golf course, basketball court, rock climbing wall, bungee trampoline and a 24-foot enclosed climbing cage called the Spider Web.
From http://www.usatoday.com/story/cruiselog/2013/05/01/norwegian-breakaway-five-things-love/2126133/

We went to store for more band aids for Tom. I liked a tshirt but didn’t get it which is pretty amazing for me.
This night we had reservations for the Cirque Jungle Dreams and Dinner.  I had read many complaints about the Cirque dinner so we ate in the Garden Cafe a bit before the show. The food (and show) were great. I told the waitress that I was allergic to shrimp so she offered double filet mignon but I declined. My portion was excellent.

The show itself was fantastic, especially for being at sea. The costumes were very clever.

We wandered outside deck 8 before bed.

All pictures from today:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/cushingshelp/B3g57A

 

 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday was a big rush of things.  We had agreed to skip breakfast due to time constraints, which was fine with me since I never/rarely eat it anyway (I know, I know – most important meal of the day)

As planned, Michael arrived at our hotel and we put luggage tags on his backpack, made sure we had everything packed up and got an Uber.  Tom had checked us out and we went out the door and into the Uber with all our luggage.

The ride to the temporary Steinway Hall was pretty fast and we got there about 10:30 or so.  The doors were locked but Michael’s teacher arrived a couple minutes later and we were inside.

Eddie Strauss, Sales Manager, let us use the freight elevator to haul all our luggage to the second floor/mezzanine where we could leave it outside the Henry  E. Steinway Recital Hall.

Although this is a temporary location while their new facilities are being built, it is very beautiful.

…temporary location at 1155 Avenue of the Americas.

This short-term “pop-up store” will allow Steinway to remain open as the new headquarters is being constructed, allowing for continuous service to its customers.

Steinway, well-known for handcrafting the world’s finest pianos, will now have a gallery space that encompasses approximately 18,000 s/for both retail and showroom, and a small concert hall that caters to the world’s most prominent pianists.

via Steinway Hall, Temporary Location. | MaryO’Studio.

Michael played Johann Sebastian Bach’s Italian Concerto.

This video certainly doesn’t do his performance justice!

We played the first two movements of Peter Warlock’s Capriol duet (also, the video isn’t the best quality):

Speaking of video quality, Eddie told us that the new Steinway Hall will have professional recording equipment in the recital hall and that will make things much better for the future.

We left Steinway about 12:15 and took an Uber to the terminal. The driver left us at the terminal by the Gem about 12:35 but it was an easy walk next door to the Breakaway terminal at Pier 88.

We left our checked baggage and went through the terminal process very quickly. We never even had a chance to sit down and we were on board by 1:00. That was the fastest I have ever boarded any ship.

The Garden Cafe was crowded but we found a table without much effort. Before we finished eating, it was announced that the cabins were ready. Our cabin – 9918 – was fantastic! It was a bit tight for the 3 of us but we made it work.

The balcony was the best part. I had chosen an aft balcony on 9, starboard. We had 2 loungers, 3 chairs and 2 tables and plenty of room to move them and ourselves around.

Looking up to the other decks, we could see from the angle that ours was larger than the others above us.

There was a lot of storage but some was tricky to find. The bathroom was a good size, as was the shower. There were more shelves in the bathroom than usual and I liked being able to leave my  stuff in there. I had read that there was no conditioner in the showers so I brought my own.

I also followed advice from Cruise Critic and brought magnet hooks for the walls and those were great for hanging hats, card lanyards and so on.

The end tables on each side of our bed were pretty narrow but we made that work. The lights beside the bed were a little high up, so I’d have to get up to turn mine off. Luckily, I read a Kindle before bed so I never really needed to use the bedside light.

Our luggage arrived before 4:00 pm which was really nice.

I had been concerned about going on a ship this size but there was really no problem. The elevators were crowded the first day but after that, no big deal. I would like to point out that we mostly always took the stairs going down and walked up if it was only 2-3 decks.

We got the unlimited internet package and it was well worth it for us. On other cruises, I would get the max minutes and always be watching the time – and I would still often run out at the end. I am the web master for a couple companies so I need to spend some time online each day. This internet package was a life-saver for me and we were able to share it between the 3 of us.

We also made good use of the iPhone iConcierge app. We used it as a messenger to let others know where we were and we made reservations for 3 restaurants and 2 shore excursions with it. I also checked how our account was doing. That cost us $7.95 per phone and was well worth it.

While we were waiting to “set sail”, there was a beautiful monarch butterfly that flitted from the next balcony over to ours.  Butterflies always remind me of my good friend, Alice.  I have a monarch butterfly as my phone background.  I’d like to think that this butterfly was a reminder from Alice to have a wonderful trip.

Then, right after sail-away, the traditional First Nap :)  Our bed was great, very comfortable king sized with 2 pillows each. 

Tom went out to a meeting, something that he would do at 5:30 every day.

We ate our first dinner in the Garden Cafe, followed by Guest Relations to get band aids, antiseptic and distilled water for Michael’s CPAP machine

Then, off to an early bed. Our steward, Bradley, turned the couch into a nice bed for our son.

Slideshow of some of our pictures:

All pictures for Sunday:

https://flic.kr/s/aHskaL6Nk7

All Cruise Pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/cushingshelp/6795k6

Cruise Critic Review

breakaway-nycharbor

 

 

This review is available now on Cruise Critic at http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=506152 and on Cruiseline.

Meanwhile:

Three of us travelled: my husband (Tom), our adult son (Michael) and myself. I’ve been on several cruises – NCL, RCI, Celebrity, and some Windjammers. My husband NCL, Celebrity, and some Windjammers; and our son one other NCL.

Our son lives and works in Manhattan and we had seen the Breakaway when we were visiting him in November. I chose this particular week because it included my husband’s birthday.

My husband and I took Amtrak from DC on Friday and stayed at a hotel in SoHo for 2 nights. We had used RCI points so there was no cost for the hotel.

On Sunday, our son and I were playing in a recital at the temporary Steinway Hall at 11:00 am and this worried me a lot, getting from 1155 Avenue of the Americas to the cruise terminal by 2:00 all aboard.

We left Steinway about 12:15 and took an Uber to the terminal. The driver left us the terminal by the Gem about 12:35 but it was an easy walk next door to the Breakaway terminal at Pier 88.

We left our checked baggage and went through the terminal process very quickly. We never even had a chance to sit down and we were on board by 1:00.

That was the fastest I have ever boarded any ship.

The Garden Cafe was crowded but we found a table without much effort. Before we finished eating, it was announced that the cabins were ready.

Our cabin – 9918 – was fantastic! It was a bit tight for the 3 of us but we made it work.

The balcony was the best part. I had chosen an aft balcony on 9, starboard. We had 2 loungers, 3 chairs and 2 tables and plenty of room to move them and ourselves around.

Looking up to the other decks, we could see from the angle that ours was larger than the others above us.

As it turned out, looking out over the balcony, we could see the fireworks just fine.

There was a lot of storage but some was tricky to find.

The bathroom was a good size, as was the shower. There were more shelves in the bathroom than usual and I liked being able to leave my cosmetics and stuff in there. I had read that there was no conditioner in the showers so I brought my own.

I also followed advice from Cruise Critic and brought magnet hooks for the walls and those were great for hanging hats, card lanyards and so on. Giant clips, meant for holding towels to chairs were repurposed for clipping our last day paperwork under the TV.

About the TV – we never watched it so we can’t really comment on the programming. We did watch the info from the deck once or twice to find out about the sea conditions.

Our bed was great, very comfortable king sized with 2 pillows each. The steward, Bradley, turned the couch into a nice bed for our son.

The end tables on each side of our bed were pretty narrow but we made that work. The lights beside the bed were a little high up, so I’d have to get up to turn mine off. Luckily, I read a Kindle before bed so I never really needed to use the bedside light.

Our luggage arrived before 4:00 pm which was really nice.

I had been concerned about going on a ship this size but there was really no problem. The elevators were crowded the first day but after that, no big deal. I would like to point out that we mostly always took the stairs going down and walked up if it was only 2-3 decks.

When we were in the elevators, they were clean. Both of the RCI cruises I took had sticky elevator buttons, presumably from children using them after eating ice cream or something. One thing that RCI has that I would like to see on other ships was the “day plate” on the floor. Often, I get involved in a cruise and have no idea what the day is, so that would be helpful on all ships.

We got the unlimited internet package and it was well worth it for us. On other cruises, I would get the max minutes and always be watching the time – and I would still often run out at the end. I am the web master for a couple companies so I need to spend some time online each day. This internet package was a life-saver for me and we were able to share it between the 3 of us.

We also made good use of the iPhone iConcierge app. We used it as a messenger to let others know where we were and we made reservations for 3 restaurants and 2 shore excursions with it. I also checked how our account was doing. That cost us $7.95 per phone and was well worth it.

Everywhere we went, crew was smiling and friendly – and everything was very clean. At the end of the cruise, we took the behind the scenes tour and everything was so well run. Amazing.

We mostly ate in the Garden Cafe. We also ate once each in Taste and Savor. Our specialty restaurants were Moderno Churrascaria, Teppanyaki and La Cucina.

We had been at the Churrascaria on another Norwegian cruise and loved it. This time, we knew not to eat too much earlier in the day! This time, I went lighter on the salad bar portion. The “gauchos” (aka waiters) brought sausages, lamb, both beef and pork ribs, chicken, filet mignon, and garlic beef, among others. Of those, I had the sausages, lamb, chicken and beef before I was too full. All excellent. Michael gave up even earlier than I did! For dessert, I had mango rice pudding – nearly as good as Thai sticky rice with mango.

Teppanyaki was a pretty standard Japanese food, on this ship cooked by a Philippines chef (he called himself fake-Japanese). Because it was on a ship, with no flames allowed, there was no onion volcano although another chef tried it with an onion and water for steam. Not as impressive as with oil and fire but clever nonetheless. There were combinations of chicken, beef and seafood (including lobster) served with miso soup, seaweed salad, vegetables and garlic fried rice. I had green tea cake/ice cream for dessert and the others had fruit sashimi.

La Cucina was good Italian food. The minestrone was unusual (for us, anyway). We got bowls with a little bit of pasta stuffed with vegetables and a piece of Italian bread on top. Then came the “surprise” when the waitress brought around the tureens of broth that was poured over all.

We also attended Cirque Jungle Dreams and Dinner.

I had read many complaints about the Cirque dinner so we ate in the Garden Cafe a bit before the show. The food (and show) were great. I told the waitress that I was allergic to shrimp so she offered double filet mignon but I declined. My portion was excellent.

The show itself was fantastic, especially for being at sea. The costumes were very clever.

Tom was using the Internet Cafe one morning so Michael and I played the 15 minute Sudoko challenge. One of the main challenges of that was they gave a blank form and we had to fill in the starting numbers. I messed up some in copying from the big screen and that made it harder to figure out the answers.

After that was Trivia and we did ok as a team.

The library was very small and open only certain hours. Tom went back later and checked out a book.

The library, game room and halls outside were decorated with photos/history of the Rockettes – the “godmothers” of this ship. 2 of them were on board, giving exercise classes, Q and A periods and photo ops.

We played Scrabble a few times in the games room and that was fun. Others played board games like Clue, chess, Yahtzee and card games.

Michael did the ropes course. I had planned to go, too, but I was wearing sandals and couldn’t go. Tom checked everything out and said he’d try it “later”. Unfortunately, neither of us ever got a chance to try that later.

On a different day, Michael also climbed the rock wall. Even if I’d been wearing closed-toed shoes, I wouldn’t have tried that!

Our star athlete, Michael, also used the gym all the sea days and reported that it was really good. The treadmills and ellipticals have sudoko and other games to while away the time.

We had no use for any of the Children’s Clubs.

Generally, we found the service to be excellent and friendly everywhere we went on board. We had occasion to visit Guest Services a few times – Tom cut his hand on something and they were fast with bandaids, antiseptic pads and so on. Michael lost his apartment keys the very last sea day – those never turned up :(

We didn’t do any entertainment other than the Cirque Jungle Dreams and Dinner which I mentioned above, under restaurants.

Tom and I had been to Bermuda on a land stay before but Michael had never been. The first day, we did a bus tour of the whole island. That was very interesting but we had some folks that had trouble getting back to the bus on time.

One person ended up being on a regular bus to Hamilton from St. George and we spent quite a bit of time locating her and getting her back with us. If I’d known that would be the, we would have just stayed in St. George and taken the ferry back. Instead, we rushed out lunch to get back on time.

The next day, Thursday, we took a bus to BAMZ and the Crystal Caves. When we were in Bermuda before, we’d tried to take the bus from Hamilton to the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo but somehow missed the stop.

BAMZ and Crystal Caves were well worth the trip. Someday, we will go back to BAMZ when we can spend more time.

Friday, I’d arranged for the Restless Native for snorkeling. I had arranged that not through the ship but through CheapCruises and saved $30 per person over others who booked through NCL. I had never done that before so this was a trial run and worked very well. We were back in plenty of time for 4:30 all aboard.

This was one of the best snorkel boats we had been on. Shallow enough that I didn’t have to worry about drowning getting back on the ship but lots of caves and coral to support fish swimming around. This sailboat also offered noodles for floating with, kayaking, banana boats and paddle boards. Lots of fun – and boat-made cookies.

We were in the “Orange” disembarkation group so we had a leisurely breakfast, went back to the cabin to pick up our carry-offs and down to the Atrium. WiFi still worked so I checked my email and we read.

The giant screen was showing the staff singing and waving goodbye to us.

There was some hold up at Customs on shore so they stopped offloading for a few minutes, then resumed.

Our color was supposed to be called about 10. It was called around 9:45. We were off the ship, got our luggage, through Customs and in an Uber by 10:30. Very fast and efficient.

We had a great time overall and wouldn’t hesitate to take this ship again. I loved our balcony! Having only one port was great so we could use the ship as a hotel was really nice.

The one “problem” was Saturday night coming back into New York. There was a lot of cabin shaking/noise (remember, we were on 9 aft). I had read about that in one of the reviews so I wasn’t too concerned. I had been expecting noise/vibrating when leaving Bermuda but that wasn’t so bad.

Coming back to NY was the loudest/shakiest.

I’m ready to go again, as soon as I can save up enough money :)

 

Beach Buddies
MaryO

Saturday, June 6, 2015, Part 2

During Michael’s workout, I wrote part 1 of today’s post.  When he arrived at the hotel, we set out for Tribeca Park on our search for the Sing For Hope pianos.

We found it!

Then, we Ubered (is that a word?) to Michael’s apartment for us to practice a bit.  We dropped by Duane Reade, a relative of Walgreens, for some munchies and actually practiced – finally!

From there, we got another Uber and headed to the Lincoln Center complex.  Our plan was to eat at the same restaurant we’d found before we saw The Marriage of Figaro at The Met.

When we got there, there was some sort of upscale street fair on the grounds.  It turned out to be the American Crafts Festival.

We walked through that to find the next S4H piano, which we located in the Charles B Benson Grove.  Yamaha grand.  There was a woman playing ragtime and a long line of folks who wanted to play.  Turned out the woman played clubs around the city and was using this event to advertise.

Off we went to the restaurant to find it closed for 2 months renovation.  The next place reservations only so we went back to the Lincoln Center and had sandwiches in their coffee shop.  Not bad!

We went to our pre-program Mozart lecture given by Joelle Wallach. Very interesting!

Then, into Avery Fisher Hall to hear an all-Mozart program including:

Piano Concerto No. 21

 

Symphony No. 38, Prague

 

Piano Concerto No. 20

 

 

kahane

Here’s a review of the exact same performance that we attended! The same program had been performed on Wednesday.

Review from the New York Times: New York Philharmonic Gives Mozart His Due

As the festival continues to evolve in directions that have less and less to do with its namesake, the Philharmonic, perhaps sensing an opportunity, offers a Mozart program of its own this week: the “Prague” Symphony and the Piano Concertos No. 20, in D minor, and No. 21, in C, with Jeffrey Kahane as guest conductor and soloist.

The “Prague” must be every opera lover’s favorite Mozart symphony. Composed in Vienna in 1786 and evidently given its premiere in Prague early the next year, it is a virtual caldron of tunes more or less shared with “Le Nozze di Figaro” (1786) and “Don Giovanni” (1787).

More than that, the symphony, played before intermission, evokes the moods and characters of those operas, especially “Don Giovanni.” Mr. Kahane treated all of that a bit matter-of-factly at Wednesday evening’s performance, with little lingering to search out lascivious byplay in dark recesses or to limn a bumbling Leporello.

So it came as a delightful surprise, after intermission, when Mr. Kahane injected the condemnatory sequence of rising and falling scales from “Don Giovanni” into his own cadenza for the first movement of the D minor Concerto. His playing was deft and virtuosic in both concertos, though his fast tempos in the outer movements of the C major resulted in some blurred scalar passages and a slightly hectic feel at times.

You might have feared a certain weightiness from the Philharmonic in Mozart, but Mr. Kahane generally drew stylish playing from a reduced band of 40 or so. The strings had a pliant quality, and the woodwinds were especially fine.

The program was fantastic but we wondered why it was Concerto-Symphony-Intermission-Concerto.  With that type of programming, it started with the piano on stage, then moved out, then moved back during the intermission for the final concerto.

A quick stop at Duane Reade for night time snacks than an Uber home.  We went right by the cruise terminal on our way to the hotel.

Tomorrow’s a busy day with Steinway Hall then boarding the cruise ship.  I may not finish writing these until we get home, depending on WiFi and other activities – but I’ll take good notes :)