Tuesday, March 4 ~ Panama Canal Cruise

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What a day!  I spent most of the first part being nervous that we would miss the ship.  There were phone calls from employees that weren’t sure what to do while we were gone, emails…

At 11:00 we were supposed to check out and housekeeping came by to check on us and I told her  “soon”.

My sandal broke, the part next to the heel separated from the sole.  <sigh>

Finally, we checked out at noon and set off to find the place to return the rental car that we never really used.  A wrong turn or 2 and we finally got there about 1:00.  Tom called for a taxi.  We waited and waited.  Tom called again.  Finally, the driver got there and we reloaded our luggage.

Fortunately, the port was only about a mile a way but there was a lot of traffic to the port and all cars had to stop and everyone had to show IDs.  That slowed everything up.

Dropped off our luggage and finally got in the terminal building.  It was nearly 2:00.  Tom had been thinking we had until 4:00 to get onboard – I reminded him that this ship sailed at 4:00.  We had to be on by 3:00.

Fort Port Lauderdale Embarkation 

Weather Forecast:  Sunny High 77 / Low 69

Sunrise 6:41 am / Sunset 6:23 pm

From the Navigator: As soon as all the passengers and crew are onboard and all pre-departure checks have been completed, the Captain will give the order to let go our mooring lines.  Once clear from the berth, Coral Princess will make her way out of the harbor before disembarking our pilot and altering our course to starboard.  We will then set southwesterly courses through the Straits of Florida toward the Old Bahama Channel, as we make our way towards Aruba.

A hustling, bustling port – not just cruise ships.  As far as I could tell, we were the only cruise ship there.

A lot of people got there about when we did but the lines moved fairly quickly…until it was time to actually board the ship.  That’s when you swipe your new card and they add your picture to the record for to be sure you’re who you say you are when you come back from port.

We got on the actual ship and were directed to the left.  We followed lots of other folks and ended up at an elevator.  Up to our cabin and our first 2 pieces of luggage were already there.  The third was only a few minutes later.  Very speedy!

I like this ship – Coral Princess!

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The cabin is (or seems) bigger than the one on Norwegian (NCL).  There is a desk instead of a couch (NCL).  The couch wasn’t very practical – the desk really is.

We have a walk-in closet which is really nice.  We haven’t even filled it halfway up (yet).  It’s at a right angle to the sleeping area which makes it seem like a separate room.

The bathroom is small.  I think the shower is smaller than NCL’s but I don’t spend that much time in there.

The end tables by the bed have actual drawers instead of open shelves.

The chairs on the balcony recline.  They’re fixed on NCL.

No coffeemaker, though.  NCL had one in the cabin.

We have a TV guide telling us what is on for the whole trip.  The new Hobbit movie will be on later.  Glad we didn’t see it in the movies.

Pool/Beach towels are in the closet.  We return them to the cabin and the steward brings us new ones.  We didn’t have to check them out and return them to the pool each day.  Hooray!

This ship has a self-service laundry on each deck.  I’ve never seen that on another ship.

We went off for muster  Here, we had to take our lifejackets and put them on at one point.  NCL, we didn’t take them.  They showed us how to jump off the side, if necessary.  Um, no.

I noted for future reference that many women on here wear white long pants.  Not likely!

Tom went off to a meeting, I did some church work – uploading Sunday’s sermons.

I took a little video of the sail away and some regular pictures.

http://youtu.be/snOVmXcPO-0

 

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The sheriff’s boat, acting as pilot

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Tom came back and wrote some emails.  I think I napped.  I didn’t feel like getting dressed for dinner so we went to the buffet.  It seemed smaller than NCL but then I realized that they didn’t have the pizza and burgers mixed in.  The buffet was all real food.  Among other things, I had prime rib.  Yummy!!!   We got to sit right ”up front” in the center of the stern.  Very impressive!

We walked around a bit, trying to get our bearings.  This ship has a lot of wood on it, more “real” than the mostly metal ones I usually see.  Teak tables, wooden doors.

I understand that this ship line used to be P&O from England before they became Princess.  There are British hints all over, from the afternoon Tea Time, to the huge selection of teas at dinner.  There are also pictures from the P&O line on the walls and 2 grenadiers guarding the casino.  Tom thinks that P&O might have stood for Pacific and Orient – I’ll look that up when we get home.  (Note – it is Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company)

I had wanted to go to the 7:45 Welcome Aboard show but there was some email to be sent.  I think I rested my eyes.

Then, we went out and walked around some more – by Movies Under the Stars (MUTS) which seems to mostly be showing a variety of things.  There are 2 movies later this week that I’d like to see.  They put cushions on the deck chairs and give out blankets, popcorn,  cookies and milk.  It’s also right by the ice cream, pizza and grill so not too much chance of hunger.

We walked all around a couple of decks.  It seems like we’re nearly alone on this cruise.  Except for embarking, we’ve seen very few other people.

At 9:30, we did see  the show.  I thought that they would do snippets from upcoming shows but the singers/dancers did a “welcome to Princess” type song and dance and the comedian told some jokes.  The cruise director, Susan Rawlings,  told us a bit about what was coming up.

Walking around some more.  We decided to get some pizza but they were just closing up.  Back to the buffet – Horizon Court – and I had some fruit (and another egg roll)

There was a note on our bed after dinner that they would be happy to deliver whatever fruit we wanted to our cabin.  Nice touch.  Also, a Princess tote bag.

We had chocolates on our pillow!

Just a bit of church work, should have taken about 2 minutes, tops, but it took 11, thanks to this s-l-o-w internet connection.

I think I fell asleep almost immediately.  If anything, I read one paragraph in my book.

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

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

Coming up…

Another cruise!

This year started off with another “Crusin’ with Susan” cruise which was fantastic.  I had it all set up to post daily entries (which I still haven’t gotten to do – and still may post since I have the notes.

We got back from that cruise and the next Sunday my DH had a heart attack followed by triple bypass surgery and months of rehab. I cleared out a room so he could have an office to work at home and start a new business. I moved almost all that stuff into the “sewing room”.

Then, over the summer my mom decided she would move in with us which required a LOT of moving stuff, getting rid of stuff, painting, clearing out a place for her things. She took over the “sewing room” so all that stuff had to come out…

At the end of the summer, my long-time best friend in the world died suddenly and I acquired her website – Power Surge which required a LOT of work.

I am so ready for a break and to go on this cruise.  It’s identical to the cruise I took with Susan in January except that we’re on another cruise line, Norwegian this time.  We are on the same ship (the Jewel) that DH, DS and I took in 2009 so it’s déjà vu in a couple ways!

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Calgon Norwegian – take me away!

Beach Buddies

MaryO

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.