At Sea, Wednesday March 5 ~ Panama Canal Cruise

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Weather Forecast:  Sunny High 81 / Low 77

Sunrise 6:32 am / Sunset 6:06 pm

From the Navigator: After passing the Santaren Channel, Coral Princess will alter to an easterly course as we enter the Old Bahama Channel, which lies between the Great Bahama Bank and the Northern coast of Cuba.  We will continue to follow the north coast of Cuba before rounding Punta Maisi at the eastern end of the island.  We will then pass through the Windward Passage which lies between Cuba and Haiti.

I woke up about 8:30 and took a shower in that tiny shower stall.  A removable head shower would be better in tight quarters like that.

Tom was reading on the balcony. He’d brought me coffee, a croissant, banana and yogurt.  Nice!

After a bit of me writing this, Tom napping, we went up to Horizon Court for real breakfast.  We almost always sat looking out the windows over the bow.  It was such a nice view.

our-table

We wandered around a bit and went to the Wheelhouse where I’d planned to join the Princess Pop Choir.  Tom was going to wait but ended up knowing all the songs so he’s singing with us, too :)

wheelhouse

We’ll have rehearsals every sea day and a final show the last night.  James, the leader, said we’d get special pins to wear.  Oooh!

Our songs, complete with choreography, will be:

Oh, What a Night

Waterloo

Isn’t She Lovely

It’s Not Unusual

We Are the Champions (might not be in the final show)

Sweet Caroline

We Will Rock You

We will be wearing black and white (where have I heard that before?!?) and our pins.

I have some black shorts with me but I didn’t think that they were performance-ready so when we were walking around later, I bought some black capris (and a *few* other things)

We talked to one of the young crew members, Hannah from Southhampton.  We’d seen her at the show last night.  Turns out she lives right up the street from James but they’d never met until this cruise.

After choir, we wandered around a bit, toward the atrium and into a couple shops (see black capris, above) , watched a bit of “Goofy Golf” and ran into some folks Tom knows (Jim and Rosie).  Goofy Golf consists of hitting a golf ball down a stairway with a right turn and hill at the bottom.  The ball was supposed to go into a plastic cup…eventually.

Back to the cabin for some reading and email, Then I decided to go out to a deck to read, instead.

We sat by the Lotus Pool for a while, then out on the deck.  I think I rested my eyes in both places.

lotus

It was formal night but I didn’t feel like going to the bother so we just got a bit more dressy, but nowhere near formal.

We ate in the buffet, anyway, and the main meat offering was roast lamb.  Yummy!

We were a bit early for the show, but there was a string trio playing in the Wheelhouse across the hall.  We went in there – they were playing Mozart, Vivaldi, Ravel, Strauss but the thing that got to me was when they played Astor Piazolla’s Oblivion.

Several years ago, Alice and I were talking about skating and I mentioned that several of the skaters were using the music of Astor Piazolla.  She’d never heard of him so I played some of his music over the phone for her.  She immediately fell in love with his Oblivion and ended up buying the music for herself.

I couldn’t believe that this little group was playing this, another reminder of my Alice.

There are several versions of Oblivion on YouTube, none with string trios, so I liked this the best since it showed off a violinist:

We went into the show in the Princess Theater – it was completely full – so we sat in the 3rd row.  It was wonderful.   The show was called What a Swell Party and featured music of Cole Porter – how can you go wrong? I was just amazed at the talent the singers and dancers have.

After the show, we went out to see what was running on MUTS.  It was the end of Jobs and we stayed for the rest of that and into the beginning of the next showing.

After getting a glass of ice water, we went back to the cabin.  A reminder that we change our clocks forward tonight.

Lots of promising activities tomorrow, including choir practice.

And, on TV tonight – Great Expectations.  I loved that book.  The movie (2012 version), not so much.

I read about a paragraph of mine (Pigeonwings) before I fell asleep.

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Day Three, At Sea – November 19

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With the new time, my watch is correct again.  Now I have to remember not to keep subtracting an hour.

Up about 8:30 and started drinking coffee on the balcony and writing in this blog.

At 10:30 we went for breakfast at the Garden Cafe.  They were almost closed. Yesterday they closed for breakfast at 11.  Today, 10:30.  By the time the cruise is over, maybe there will be no breakfast.

Walked around, read, nap, lazy day…

My wrist broke out in a rash so I won’t be wearing the watch anymore anyway. Aloe vera seemed to help.

More pictures from Deck 13:

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Off to the Mongolian HotPot.

Several staff asked if we were familiar with this process and we were able to say that we were since we’d eaten at this very place on a previous cruse.

We were talking to the chef while he cooked and he said that this ship was the only one with a Hot Pot restaurant.  Most of the others had the Chinese and Teppanyaki like we do but with Sushi as the third choice.  Glad we’re on the HotPot cruise :)

Our appetizers were steamed vegetable dumplings, seaweed salad and edaname,

The main course was Shabu-Shabu with Udon noodles, chicken, ginger, bok choy, nappa cabbage, carrots, onion, snow peas, broccoli

My dessert was green tea cake with green tea ice cream.  Tom had a variety of fruits with coconut sauce and a mango sauce.

We stopped by the store again but didn’t buy anything then did our evening walk around the decks

The show tonight is the comedian David Naster from the first night.  Didn’t go.

Our towel tonight was a swan (or a turkey?)

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This is very similar to our cabin:

Did You Know?

Norwegian Cruise Line sails to five continents and more than 120 ports of call.  With more than 65 itineraries calling on 52 countries, there’s aways a cruise that’s perfect for you and your family

Norwegian Cruise Line offers more onboard dining choices than any other cruise line.

The other ones aren’t worth my time typing out since they’re talking about the Art Gallery, Colombian Emeralds and other “selling things”.

Today’s Stats:

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Today’s Forecast:  Chance of Rain 77F/25C

Sunrise: 7:10 am

Sunset: 5:44 pm

Day Two, At Sea – November 18

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I woke up about 6:30 and sat out on the balcony writing yesterday’s blog post with the help of the Freestyle Daily newsletter.

We’re definitely off the river now but it’s still pretty calm.  Some seaweed floating by – there might be a storm somewhere.

About 9:30 or so we went to the Garden Cafe for breakfast – and ate too much!  A woman with a major Cushing’s-looking hump went by.  I didn’t see her face but I’ve been looking for her since, just in case. We walked up to the 13th deck, the Sun Deck and wandered around.

I had signed us up for the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet and I was sure that it was at 11:00 am in the Star Bar on the other end of 13 but when I looked at my phone, the time said 10:00 so I was sure we’d missed it.

We sat on 12 of a while, by the pool, just relaxing and decided to go shopping.  I needed some glue for one of my sandal soles that was leaving the rest of the sandal.

When we got up, I saw a guy in a Cruise Critic tshirt and we followed him to the elevator.  He was going to the Meet and Greet!  I guess my phone compensated for the difference in time zones and we hadn’t missed it.

We got to the Star Bar and signed in just before about 10 officers came in.  The heads of the various departments were introduced and answered questions.  We got their phone numbers in case of problems.  We were able to sign up for dinner with one of them on Cayman Island night.

Left there and went shopping.  On the way, I saw that no one was at the restaurant reservation desk.  We signed up for Brazilian Churr-whatever for tonight at 7:30.  We’d always wanted to try that.  This was a perfect opportunity at only $20 each.

Tomorrow night we go to the Mongolian Hot Pot.  We did that before when Michael was with us and loved it.  We’re looking forward to experiencing that again.  As an aside, I am the only person I know (or have heard of) who owns her own personal Mongolian hot pot.  It makes a great conversation starter at dinner parties.

Finally got to the store.  I found my glue and we got a couple tshirts, one on sale.

Up to the cabin.  I was reading and suddenly it was quite a bit later.  How did that happen?

Out on the balcony, I finished my first book Midnight at Marble Arch: A Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Novel, by Anne Perry.


Started City of Dark Magic: A Novelby Magnus Flyte.  I love having all my books on a Kindle.  So much easier than carrying a suitcase of books!

 

Back up to 13 for Tom’s meeting and I read out on the deck, same as yesterday.

The sunset was so glorious again. Looking out at it, it looks like you can get a glimpse into heaven.  I said a few words to God and reminded Him to take good care of my Alice.

It got chilly after 5:00 pm, same as yesterday.  Maybe tomorrow i’ll remember to take my hoodie.

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We stopped by the grill to see if they had bratwurst and sauerkraut like they did last time, but no :(  Probably just as well.  That was a daily occurrence before.

We did get burgers, fries and stuff to tide us over until dinner at 7:30.

Back to the cabin/balcony.  Tom napped, I read.

I got semi-dressed up since it was what passes for formal night here and we headed out.  We thought we were following the signs to Moderno, Brazilian Churrascaria but ended up in a long hallway of cabins.  Back to the elevators and tried again.

We ended up in a horseshoe shaped area, in a bar.  We stood there for a few minutes and finally had to ask for help.  The waitstaff indicated we should be on the other part of the horseshoe so we went across the connected part.  I’m sure these all have names but I have no idea what they would be.

We got to what turned out to be the back of Moderno but we didn’t know that.  Another waitperson said we were in the wrong place and we needed to go up to the hostess station at the horseshoe tip.  Sheesh!  We followed their signs.

Came up behind the hostess and kind of surprised her, I think, but she took us to our table.  Folks explained us things to us as we were going but I missed the info about the tongs.

Excellent salad bar with Brazilian and other exotic selections.  Brazilian seafood chowder and bean soup.  I had the bean soup due to my seafood allergies.

I used the tongs for the little round parmesan bread balls.  No problem.

Turned the little card to green to let the gauchos know we were ready for the 10 different types of  meat to start appearing.

The first one was 2 kinds of sausage.  One was Spanish chorizio, the other Portuguese something.  I tried both and they were both good.

Then, chicken legs marinated in lime juice and chicken breast wrapped in bacon and maybe marinated in something.  I just had the leg.  The gaucho had trouble getting it off the skewer (maybe wrong term for this) so she indicated I should take it.  I used my fork.  Should have used the tongs.  Oh well – next time!

Pork rib with BBQ sauce and marinated in red wine.  I had trouble cutting it but what I could get was very tasty.

Various cuts of been including sirloin and filet minion.  All wonderful and so tender.  No fork needed.

We could have made an evening of this, one meat at a time.  I was already stuffed and wanted a dessert so I flipped my card to red.  Stop the meat!  I missed out on the lamb but it had to be.

Mango rice pudding for me made with tres leches.  I had thought it would be like Mango Sticky Rice.  Similar but different.  I liked it and it would be a new favorite of mine had I never had the sticky rice version.

Back to the cabin. Our steward had left us a towel animal.  Tom thought it was a rabbit.

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I changed my clothes, mainly to lose the heels and back out .  We saw our steward and I thanked him for the rabbit.  He said it was a bulldog.  Oh, well!

Out on deck.  We wandered around a bit then back to the cabin.

I read (and napped) for a while as Tom went online.  Then, it was close to midnight so I did my Pender website work.

Then, actual bedtime.

Tonight we change our clocks forward one hour.  Easy for us since we never set our watch the hour back when we got to New Orleans.  We’ll be on time again rather than automatically always subtracting an hour.

The show tonight was Band on the Run with music from the 70s.  We didn’t go.

Did You Know?

The Norwegian Jewel was completed on August 4, 2005 by Meyer Werft Shipyard in Papenberg, Germany after 2 years and an estimated cost of $420 million.

The Norwegian Jewel’s maiden voyage started in Europe on August 10, 2005

Approximately 1,200 crew representing over 60 nationalities work on board

1,000 gallons of paint were used to cover the  Norwegian Jewel’s exterior and an additional 3,000 gallons for interior surfaces

There are 12 passenger elevators and 10 elevators for guests and crew.

Today’s Stats:

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Today’s Forecast:  Partly Sunny, 77F/25C

Sunrise: 6:19 am

Sunset: 5:02 pm

November 17, Leaving NoLa Behind

New Orleans

Not too much exciting in the morning.  Mostly posting yesterday’s blog post and pictures and packing up.

Tom went to Walgreens for some last minute stuff – again – and he got me the pink fleur-de-lis studded T-shirt I wore to board the ship (official boarding picture coming later).

We got our stuff together and headed to the lobby to check out.  Lots of folks coming in, off our ship!  Many had been on a B2B (Back to Back):  the same cruise we’re doing plus a week like we did on this ship in 2009 to Belize, Roatan, Costa Maya.

There was some snafu at the port and the taxi couldn’t get us all the way to the luggage drop off so he sort of stopped in the street and took our luggage across the street for us.  Then a porter took it the rest of the way.

We got into the building and into Group B.  We were at check-in within about 10 minutes and on the ship within about 30 or so.

Embarkation pictures were taken in front of a green screen which I thought was weird since I knew that we’d eventually have the ship behind us.  Whatever!

We were early enough that we got a nice round table by a window in the Garden Cafe on 12 and had some lunch.

Another couple from Anaheim, CA joined us.  They’d stayed the night at Harrah’s and this cruise (except for port charges) was comped to them.  Depending on how well they do in the casino on this cruise, the port charges may be waived.  She explained to us about how Indian-run casinos pay out compared to non-Indian and said that Harrah’s paid like an Indian casino and didn’t know why.  She was using a “buffalo machine(?)” as an example as my eyes started to glaze over.

The announcement came that our cabins were ready so there was a mass exodus.

We opted for the stairs.  On our last Jewel cruise, Michael had us walking up and down the stairs most all the time and it looks like we’ll continue the tradition.

Checked out the balcony, took some pictures, Tom took a little nap.

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Tom napping

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Watching the busy port

I was reading on the balcony, and this machinery rolled by on a little track.  I got a couple pictures and the guys on it said hello.  I guess it will be to wash windows later, or the ship?  We’ll see!

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Another couple dropped by – part of their luggage had been delivered to our closet.  We opened ours and – Voila! – their stuff was in there.  They tried to tell us that maybe we were in their cabin, too, but that didn’t go over too well.

At 3:15 we went to the Tsar’s Palace for the mandatory life boat drill.  We didn’t have to take our life jackets or stand on deck waiting for stragglers.  Hooray!

After the muster, we went out on deck just to watch the last-minute luggage coming on board and ships and barges on the river.

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Tom under a lifeboat

About 4:00 we set out to find the Chapel since Tom was going to meet some folks there.  It turned out to be tucked away next to the Spinnaker Lounge on deck 13, forward.  I went out on deck to get some sunset pictures and listen to the band during the “Party Like a Norwegian!” SailAway.

About 5:00 the ship finally began to turn around for it’s journey down the Mississippi amid lots of cheers from the folks at the SailAway.  I must have napped just a bit…

Got some good pictures, and some sunset pictures.  I overheard one confused young woman who thought we were heading the wrong way on the river.  Hmmm… Do they teach geography anymore in school or did she plan to go to Ohio?

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Sail Away

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Sail Away sunset

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It started to get a bit chilly on 13 so I headed down to the cabin for my hoodie.  Tom was already there and so was our luggage.  Yea!

Major unpacking and figuring where to put stuff.  Everything away, suitcases under bed. Made good use of the hanging shoe bag I usually carry around. Done.

We’re doing “Freestyle Dining” so we can eat wherever/whenever we want.

On the way to Azura (6, Midship) we ran into the Photo Gallery (7, Aft).  We saw our Embarkation pictures and decided to get those.  When they added the ship in (remember we were in front of a green screen) it made it appear that portions of the ship were “bunny ears”  behind my head.  Luckily – thanks to the green screen – that’s being adjusted.  Isn’t technology grand?

We went to Azura about 6:30, when lots of folks apparently wanted to eat, too.  Because we had to wait for 30 minutes, we got coupons for free soda or champaign in the bar.  We learned that “only Pepsi products” are available on Norwegian.  Luckily, we don’t have a very strong brand loyalty to anyone.

The wait was less than 30 minutes and we had a nice table for 2.  We both had French onion soup.  He had salmon, mashed potatoes and green beans and I had BBQ chicken breast, Caribbean vegetables and sweet potato fries  Yummy!

During dinner they announced that the Saints had won.  Lots of fans on this ship!

We chatted with the folks next to us – they’re from Canada.  She was from Canada originally, he was from England.  They’d been married 36 years and this was their first cruise.  She wanted to cruise the Mediterranean and this is a “trial cruise” to see it they like it.

Their daughter, son-in-law and grandchild live in London so they only see them a couple times a year.

Dessert time.  We had coffee, of course.  I had key lime pie, Tom had lemon sorbet.  Mmmmm.

8:20 – we hustled off to the Stardust Theater to see the show.  Since we were already on 6, Midship we’d just head to 6, Forward.

Unfortunately, we had to head through the Casino to do that.  We saw the Anaheim folks from lunch and said hi but they didn’t see us.  Maybe they weren’t doing too well and wouldn’t be comped.

I always hate going through the casino.  It’s always too smoky!  I understand that our next cruise to Panama on Princess won’t even allow smoking in the casinos.  Yea!

I held my breath and we got through ok.  The Stardust Theater was pretty full so we sat in about the 3rd row.

This preview show was called “A Taste of Things to Come” and was pretty good.  The cruise director (Alex) is from Uruguay.  He gave away some champaign to newlyweds (1 and 2 days each) and some jewelry to a couple married for 62 years.  The man thought it was 66 until his wife corrected him.

The house singers/dancers were quite good.  I always prefer live singing/dancing/music to recorded so I’m pretty easy to please.  They did a song and dance about vacations that showed a lot of good energy.

A comedian came out and he was pretty funny, although I don’t like when they comment on latecomers and possibly embarrass folks.  Other than that, he was funny – and wore a silly suit.

The band was from the Philippines but they managed to channel the Beatles and did I Want To Hold Your Hand.  Apparently, they do a Beatles tribute show at some point during the cruise.  They also appeared around the ship singing I Want To Wash Your Hands at meal time.

A selection of characters from Nickelodeon shows sang and danced.  Most, except for Spongebob Squarepants and Dora, the Explorer I didn’t recognize but the kids in the audience did.  Maybe this is the Norwegian answer to the Disney ships?

The singers/dancers came back for a selection of Mamma Mia! songs like Waterloo, Dancing Girl, Mamma Mia and more.  Love it!  There was a *bit* of singing along.

Back to the cabin by way of Guest Services (7, mid) and Decks 12 (walking around we ran into the Canadian couple) and 13.

The first day, at least, we got a lot of exercise walking and climbing.

Sat on the balcony a bit.  I tried to get picture of the pilot boat leaving us but it was just too foggy.

We saw a bit of the movie Chicago on TV.  I have the movie on my iPad so it didn’t matter that I shut it down early.

Tom went to bed and I got online to do my “Pender work”.  I like to keep that site updated daily, no matter where I am.

I read for about 1 minute maybe, then fast asleep.

Today’s Stats:

Sunday November 17th, 2013

New Orleans, Louisiana

Today’s Forecast:  Chance of Rain, 81F/27C

Sunrise: 6:29 am

Sunset: 5:02 pm

All Aboard: 3:20 pm

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

Cruisin’ With Susan, 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:

Cruise-itenary-2013

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.

Maryobeachbuddies

Cruisin’ With Susan, 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.

Beach Buddies

MaryO