Day Five, George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands – November 21

I woke up at 7:00 am and saw that we were getting close to shore – and there were a couple other ships close to shore.

Grand Cayman is a “tender” port, so we’ll anchor a ways out and take small tender boats into port.  Last time I did this, in January, it looked like a parking lot of boats out here.  We’ll see how it looks here later today.

People going on excursions go first, then we can get tender tickets.  I imagine if we go later in the day we won’t need those, but if we do, they’re in Topsiders on 12, mid.

The show tonight looks good – The Fantastic Flying Fingers of Piano Showman, Stephen Kane.  The description says “Forget your old piano lessons!  Stephen pushes the keys to their limits:  Jazz, ragtime, classical, the hits of Billy Joel and Elton John.  Exuberant playing and soulful vocals plus a few good laughs.”

Unfortunately, we’re going to miss that since it’s at 8:30 pm only.  Tonight is the night we have dinner with an ship’s officer in the Tsar’s Palace.  It might seem rude to say “Gotta Go!” in the middle of the meal.

(Note on 2/21/2014:  I just found out that Stephen Kane will be on our next cruise so we’ll get another chance to hear him!)

As predicted, after breakfast in the Great Outdoors, tender tickets were no longer needed.  We gathered up our stuff to take shopping and waited in line for the next tender.  On shore, we avoided “pirates” and other photo ops.

5 other ships in port today – 3 Carnivals, one other Norwegian (Pearl) and a Royal Caribbean.  All tendering folks to and from town.

We looked in the windows of the terminal stores, then kept walking out the gate to the main road along the harbor in George Town.  We looked in a couple jewelry stores and a Swatch store – Tom is still looking for a watch – but found nothing appealing in our price range.

We found the “Cariloo” store where everything is bamboo and Tom got another shirt.  He had bought one onboard the first sea day.  It does feel nice and soft but I didn’t want to get a Tshirt.  We ran into the “hot tub vet” and her mom and Tom mentioned Cushing’s again.  Maybe we’ll email later.  Or not.

Up the street to a Scotiabank where Tom enquired about opening a bank account.  Their dollar is more stable now than the US.

Back down to shopping – into DelSol.  I got another hat, this time with a butterfly that adds color when it is out in the sun.

A tshirt somewhere else, a bathing suit for Tom, some trinkets.

It was very hot and there were just too many people from all these ships so we crossed the street to go back to the ship and came across a small park.  The lookout station was in a small treehouse.

Back inside the terminal, we got a tote bag to carry all our swag, plus some wind chimes.

We had our first lunch onboard when we got back.  We took it to the Great Outdoors again.  Much nicer than sitting outside than in the Garden Cafe.

Walking, reading, writing, napping… tI had thought we might go in the hot tub/pool again but the afternoon disappeared.

Time to get ready for our dinner with an officer.  Dressed up and hustled down the Photo Gallery on 7, mid.  I thought we were going to have our picture(s) taken but it was really just a meeting place.

2013-11-22 18.05.04We got to our table in Tsar’s Palace.  Two others were already there, another Thomas and a Dr. Julie.  We had assigned seating so it was Sandra Franklin, Human Resources person, with a Tom on either side.

On my other side were 2 women who had been best friends since second grade, for about 50 years.  They talked about once a week but this was their first cruise without their families and their first non-Princess cruise.  The more talkative of the 2 was a photographer.

Dr. Julie was – oh yes – a veterinarian.  She seemed surprised that people got Cushing’s so we had more discussion about that.

This will be known as the Educating the Vets cruise.

It was an excellent dinner and we learned a lot about ship operations, NCL and more from Sandra.  Much of the crew here is from the Philippines but none had lost family members in Typhoon Halyan.  NCL offered support to all and made phone calls to check on family.

Sandra was originally from Guyana and now St. Lucia.  She has a daughter in college in NYC and thought that this would be a good job to have as an empty nester.  Sounds good to me, too!  I wonder if there’s much call for piano teachers onboard…

Walking around, changed clothes.

Chocolate Buffet night.  People lined up waiting.  We went in, got some pictures but it was just too crowded.

On our way out, we found the “Sugar-Free Chocolate Buffet”  Much fewer stuff by way fewer people.  So we got a few “healthy” items and went out to the Great Outdoors to indulge.  Maybe no sugar but I think that there was a bit of fat.

Walking, sitting by the pool, a bit of reading/writing.  I finished my book and started The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel by Neil Gaiman

Today’s Stats:

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Today’s Forecast:  Partly Cloudy 88F/31C

Sunrise: 6:38 am

Sunset: 5:48 pm

Arrival: 8:00 am

All Aboard: 3:30 pm

Sorry ‘Bout That!

Before I went on my cruise, I set up several daily blog posts so I could fill them out as I went – or do them when I got home in case I didn’t have much Internet service.

I set them all to auto-post yesterday figuring that would be enough time to finish them all up.

Well, a major Life Emergency hit and I didn’t give these posts another thought…but they all auto-posted yesterday.

So, sorry for all the posts with just the image of where we were and the weather. I’ll try to get the real info and photos our there as soon as possible!

Thanks!

At Sea, January 13, 2013

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We woke up in the morning and it was very foggy, so foggy we couldn’t even see see the river.  We got our bags repacked up and visited the little shops again in case there was something we missed.

The bellman took luggage to the taxi but the driver wasn’t quite sure how to get to the port.  He did find it after a bit and we were on the Navigator of the Seas in about 30 minutes and having lunch at Windjammer Café.

Even though our luggage hadn’t arrived yet, we went to our cabin and checked out where storage space was hidden.

4:00 PM was the required muster drill. The Captain said we’d have fog horns going until we passed another cruise liner at 11:30.

Sat in the solarium for a while to people-watch.

Up to our cabin.  I took a few pictures from the balcony. I read on the balcony for a while and dozed off.  Susan napped.

5:30 we went to the circus parade.  What fun!

This wasn’t “our” circus but it was from our ship in September

My pictures:

 

Then dinner at Coppelia

We have a table for 4. Our table mates, Pat and Jamie are from the desert in California and drove here to see the National Parks and such.  They’re aunt/niece and travel well together.

Luis (from Nicaragua), our waiter, forgot to take my order at first.  All following meals I would be first!  i had drink of the day, key lime pie lemonade, vidalia onion tart, prime rib/veggies/potato and chocolate cherry pie.  Joanna, our assistant waiter, was from Poland.  I think they said the staff was from 143 different countries.

Went to the show.  Dancers, comedian. Great band…they played Sing, Sing, Sing!

Walked around.  Luggage arrived when we got back!  Unpacking

Tried to sign up for 2 tours from tv. Didn’t work so I filled out a form and dropped it at the excursions desk. Susan got ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s.

Unpacked. Ordered room service breakfast.

Foghorn did keep going off.  Very foggy!

We passed 2 cruise ships very close, a Carnival and Norwegian. After the carnival, a pilot ship pulled up right beside us and picked up 2 pilots who had been on our ship. The dots on the pictures are the dense fog.

I fell asleep almost immediately.

New Orleans, LA, January 11, 2013

New Orleans

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We had the breakfast buffet at hotel and went to the little shops.  Then, for only $3.00 we got an all-day streetcar pass.  We took the streetcar to the French Market and back.

The streetcar driver was very helpful and knowledgeable.  We first got on at the Poydras Street Stop and he said that he had only one more stop – Julia Street – to go before he had to go to his terminal to turn around.  But he would ask us to leave in the “most polite and respectful manner”.

Along the way, he pointed out the Harrah’s casino, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, iMAX theater (“The Largest IMAX screen in the Gulf South”), the Mississippi river, paddlewheel boats (including ours) and more all the way to the French Market.

The French Market is a  series of commercial buildings, stalls and tents in the French Quarter.  These days, it’s mostly food and flee market and most of the stalls sell similar goods.  The food includes stuff like alligator kabobs and other novelties.

It stretches just inland from the Mississippi River downriver from Jackson Square, with the famous Café du Monde at the upriver end, down to the flea market stalls across from the New Orleans Mint building.

The New Orleans Mint operated as a branch mint of the United States Mint from 1838 to 1861 and from 1879 to 1909.   It was closed during most of the American Civil War and Reconstruction.

After its decommissioning as a mint, the building served a variety of purposes, including as an assay office, a United States Coast Guard storage facility and a fallout shelter. Since 1981 it has served as a branch of the Louisiana State Museum. It was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and reopened in October 2007.

The New Orleans Mint has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and is currently the oldest surviving structure to have served as a U.S. Mint.

The New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park office and visitor’s center is in the French Market.

The French Market market is included on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.

We got on the streetcar and rode back to the Poydras stop.

Waiting for the paddlewheel trip  met 2 couples who were also going on our cruise.  One was from Devon, UK – they’d flown to Chicago then Amtrak to Memphis/Graceland. Another UK couple behind them was doing the exact opposite. The couple in front of us was Canadian and they’d just come off a cruise and after ours were going on one in Dubai.

We boarded the boat and headed downriver.  The guide pointed out several of the same sights we had seen from the streetcar.

The Creole Queen

The Creole Queen

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Paddlewheel trip

The paddle

The paddlewheel

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I just liked this message :)

I just liked this message :)

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A pier that was damaged in Hurricane Katrina

A pier that was damaged in Hurricane Katrina

 

We didn’t get off at Chalmette battlefield. This was the location of what is often called The Battle of New Orleans, where United States forces under Major General Andrew Jackson defeated the British, led by  Lieutenant General Sir Edward Pakenham in January 1815. The battlefield is preserved as a national monument, and the military Chalmette National Cemetery is adjacent.

For those who are too young to remember:

Or the more popular:

In 1814, we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip’.
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in a town in New Orleans.

We fired our guns and the British kept a-coming
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more, and they began to running,
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

We looked down the river and we see’d the British come
and there musta’ been a hundred of ‘em beating on the drum.
They stepped so high and they made their bugles ring
We stood beside our cotton bales and didn’t say a thing.

We fired our guns, and the British kept a-coming
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to running,
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Ole Hickory said we could take ‘em by surprise
If we didn’t fire our muskets ’till we look ‘em in the eyes.
We held our fire ’til we seen their faces well
Then we opened up our squirrel guns and really gave ‘em… Well..

We fired our guns, and the British kept a-coming
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to running,
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Well they ran through the briars, and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go.
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ‘em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

We fired our cannon ’til the barrel melted down
So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round.
We filled his head with cannon balls and powdered his behind,
And when we touched the powder off, the gator lost his mind.

We fired our guns and the British kept a-coming
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to running,
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Well they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go.
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ‘em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

~~

We went by the Domino sugar plant which was in operation.  Susan was fascinated by the process.

We disembarked and headed for the hotel. After we crossed railroad crossing signs, the bars came down and Kansas City Southern went rolling by very close…too close for comfort!  No time to get back under them but time to whip out my phone:

Kansas City Southern.  Too close for comfort!

Kansas City Southern. Too close for comfort!

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Back to Gordon Biersch for dinner. Pineapple mojito was less pineapple-y. I got sweet and spicy cashew chicken. Wonderful. Susan had half a turkey sandwich. Last night’s BBQ pulled pork had been too spicy, even though the waitress said “no spice”.

Susan found an interesting movie on TV, Perfect Pitch, so we watched that then off to sleep.

New Orleans, LA, January 10, 2013

New Orleans

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Neither Susan nor I have been to new Orleans so we decided to go a day early to see what’s what…

My flight from DCA departed on time and arrived a little early at MSY…through a thunderstorm. The landing was a bit bumpy but I’ve bee through worse.

Walking to baggage claim, I saw a TShirt I’d have loved to buy but I figured they’d have them everywhere.  Of course, they didn’t.

I got to baggage claim and Susan was there.  Her plane had arrived an hour earlier but she’d had to have a connecting flight and left much earlier in the morning.

My suitcase didn’t take too long to arrive but it was wet from the rain :(

Susan had already reserved a shuttle, so we went outside and got on. Unfortunately, we had to wait for the shuttle to fill up before we left.

Because of the rain, we couldn’t see much of the city, but we were first off the shuttle.

We’re at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside and we are next to the Mississippi.

After a short nap (during which I started coughing – they had duck feathers in the pillows), we headed over to the Riverwalk Marketplace.

Riverwalk

 

 

The Riverwalk was a major disappointment. Most stores of the stores closed, no restaurants open. We got chocolate for later.  They turned the lights out on us at 6:30PM!

Gordon Biersch

We decided to look around for dinner and headed out to Gordon Biersch.   I had Pineapple mojito. Moroccan chicken. Bread pudding with ice cream, pecans, whiskey sauce.

We went to Walgreens for some incidentals.  Even they have beads and masks for Mardi Gras.  The parades start the 19th this year because of the Super Bowl.  I got a TShirt and Alavert for that cough.

Cruisin’ With Susan, 2013

Caribbean Cruise 2013

Caribbean Cruise 2013

I’m so excited!  Just over six years ago Susan M, one of my Cushie friends, invited me on a cruise to Bermuda. I was delighted and excited to go. Then I found out I had kidney cancer and had to bow out at the last minute – the cruise embarked the day I left the hospital. My surgeon said that there was no way I could postpone my surgery for another 5 or so days so someone else went in my place.

So, that was it for my first (and only!) Bermuda cruise.

Then in 2008, I heard from my friend again, asking me if I wanted to do the cruise then! Of course, I said yes… She said she was celebrating and upgraded the whole cruise to the Western Caribbean. We had a superior balcony stateroom and I could wear some of the clothes I got for the non-cruise.

You can read all about our 2008 cruise here: http://www.cushingsonline.com/cruise/cruise.htm and see a slideshow of pictures at http://www.cushingsonline.com/cruise/cruise.html

Last year, September of 2011, we went on a land trip to Gloucester, MA.  Blog posts and pictures for that trip start here http://maryoutandabout.posterous.com/last-trip-for-awhile.

I was at work today when I saw Susan’s name pop up on my cellphone and knew she wanted to go on another trip.  As soon as I got in my car, I listened to her message.  YES!  Another cruise!

We talked on the phone and decided on this trip:

January 2013 Cruise

January 2013 Cruise

Then, Susan booked the cruise and called back to say it was even cheaper than we thought it would be.  Major WooHoo.  And, we have the all-important balcony.

Stay tuned!

Cruise Countdown Tickers

Beach Buddies

MaryO