Tag Archives: Tsar’s Palace

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

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

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