June 13, 2015

An Early Saturday Morning Interaction

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:14 pm by msweet42

5:45 on a foggy, misty Saturday morning in downtown Ottawa. I’m in my car in the No Parking zone outside Tim Horton’s checking a couple of things before I go in for a coffee. I have to kill time until a 7 am pick up at the Westin Hotel.

When I get out of the car I notice a mini van sort of parked behind me. I say sort of because it’s not by the curb but sort of offset. I’m trying to process that – trying to place where I’ve seen that before. It’s early, remember. Need my coffee.

As is my habit, I look at the van driver. We do that little “Good Morning” nod to each other and then it registers. She’s wearing a police uniform. Offset parking is what the police do when they are writing a ticket. I’m in the No Parking but that’s Monday to Friday and it’s Saturday. I look back at my car, the parking sign and then back at her.

She furrows her brow a bit, laughs and shakes her head. I look in Tim’s and realize she’s waiting for her partner to get coffees. It’s all okay.

I laugh, wave hello to her and get on with my morning.

Events that are not earth shaking should also be appreciated.

  

Advertisements

April 29, 2015

The muffin thing

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:03 pm by msweet42

April 29. A gloriously clear blue sky kind of day, Not a day I would have chosen to be sitting in the ER at the hospital in Gatineau waiting to see a urologist, But it’s the day I’ve got.

As we are waiting, the “benevole”, the volunteer comes down the hall with her cart selling coffee and muffins. Diane and I watched a young lady stop her and engage in conversation. Nothing is purchased. So far as we can tell, it appears the girl didn’t have the money.

When she got to us, we asked the volunteer. Turns out the girl wanted a muffin but had left her money in her car. She’s going to be called shortly so there’s not enough time to go get it.
While the volunter sells coffee to the people behind us, Diane takes $2 over to the girl. Oh no, she doesn’t want to borrow money. It’s not a loan. Take the money, enjoy your muffin, and help someone some time in the future. Big smles all around. SHe bought her muffin.

If you’ve got to sit around an ER, you might as well find someting to do to make you feel good.

March 1, 2015

2015 Post-Cruise Fort Lauderdale

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:58 am by msweet42

Disembarkation. Now there’s a word. I’m pretty sure the dictionary definition does not nclude this but it means, among other things, its over. Get off the ship. Ease yourself back into Real Life which is already in progress. Yup.

When the day started we double-checked to make sure we had all the little items that try to hide when you pack after two weeks. Carry-ons in tow, we found our waiting area and waited for our group number to be called. In due time, we were led off the ship, our Sea Pass scanned one last time to ensure we had left and took a long and winding path to the terminal. Found our luggage with no problem. Cleared US Customs and Immigration with ease. Found ourselves a taxi and headed off to the Marriott Hollywood Beach Hotel.

Because we had done some exploring the last day prior to the cruise, we had some idea where we wanted to book our hotel this time. The Marriott is nicely situated on the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk. An easy ten-minute walk to bars and shops but far enough away that noise wasn’t an issue.

Our room was nicely appointed, king size bed, two balconies, view of the ocean and of the Intercoastal Waterway and high enough on the seventh floor to be able to see everything.

Once checked in, we headed for the beach. The beach starts about fifty feet from the hotel. Sweet. But the day was a bit cool and clouding up so we only spend about an hour there.

We wandered down the Broadwalk checking out restaurants. We saw Peruvian, Argentinean, Mexican, Italian, Greek, Canadian, and traditional American bar fare, just to name a few. We chose a place named after two women pirates and had fish and chips. Actually, onion rings for the chips. Diane had a coke and I had an unpronouncable rum drink. We walked back to the hotel satisfied.

We took our rest for the remainder of the evening.

Saturday came with an unwanted gift – rain. Not exactly what we had hoped for but hey, it was rain, not snow. Diane found a Criminal Minds marathon to enjoy. I made occasional forays outside to check the weather. Diane was able to surmise the outside conditions by how much I dripped when I returned. I decided to see what I could do about that Black Russian mix I’d gottten back from the ship. We got a pizza and Cokes from the hotel and had an in-room picnic. Later in the evening I used the hotel’s computer to do our online checkin and print our boarding passes.

Sunday morning arrived. Time to repack everything in preparation for our flight. Make sure all the large liquids and such were not in our carry on luggage. Try to distribute things so both cheked bags were within the weight limit. Make sure our Traveling Clothes are in our carry on. Showers taken, everything packed, done and done.We parked our luggage with the hotel when we checked out so we could get in a few last hours of beach and sun. Now seems the best time to do it. Somehow, sitting in a beach chair on the back patio of our house just doesn’t have the same attraction today.

I’m writing this on the beach enjoying the last bit of time before the taxi to the airport.

The lifeguard station is displaying two flags, red and purple. Red for strong waves and currents. Purple for dangerous marine life. There are Portuguese Man ‘O War. I’ll take their word on this. Not going looking for them. They have tentacles that can be up to fifty feet long which can cause stings hours and days after death. I got some good pictures of them when they washed ashore.

So the remainder of our schedule is to do a bit more shopping, get a bit more sun. Change. Take a taxi to FLL. Catch our flight home. Looking for that little green monster guy that appears at the end of Just For Laughs shows sadly crying “It’s over!”

We shall see what we shall see.

February 28, 2015

2015 Cruise Day Eleven

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:37 am by msweet42

And that’s it. A few more hours of cruising and we will be in port. According to the map thing on Channel 40 we just went by Cornwall in The Bahamas. 

All the large luggage has been packed full and set out into the hallway to await transfer off the ship. Guest Services is busy adding up everyone’s final accounts and printing up the bills that will magically slide under our stateroom door during the night. 

Another sign that this is pretty much done is that the head of Food Services interrupted dinner to introduce all the heads of the various food departments followed by the Dance of the Waiters. 

Last cruise at this point we were trying to work out how much to tip our waiter and assistant waiter. That was not an issue today. While the service was adequate, there wasn’t anything about it that inspired a desire to tip above the amount they are already receiving as their portion of the $12 gratuity per person per day. That works out to $264 we’ve paid. That should cover it. I think it was in Day Five that I covered the waitstaff. That pretty much covers why we didn’t want to tip. 

We slept in again today and when hit up the Windjammer for one more excessive breakfast. Spent some time laying out on Deck 10. 

There are shops on the ship. They sell clothing, jewelry, watches and what-not at amazing prices. That’s not amazing as in good amazing. More like you’ve-got-to-be-kidding amazing. However, they do have sales where things are on offer for reasonable prices. They also have sales where they sell watches or necklaces for $20. How could you go wrong if your expectations are for a nice looking watch that keeps the approximate time and works for a year or so? 

We wandered down to see what they had on their last day sale. Diane found a name-brand watch with a real guarantee for a decent price. They needed to take a couple of links out of the band to fit it to her so they gave her the receipt and said to come back at 8:00 tonight to get it.

A couple of hours later when we were back up on a very windy Deck 10 I took something out of my bag and the wind caught the receipt. I took off after it to no avail. I went back to check my bag to see if maybe it was just a drink receipt that flew away. Nope. Got that. Don’t have the watch receipt.

I went down and looked around on Deck 9 by the pool to see if it stuck there. No luck. I told Diane I’d go down to the shop to see if they could print a duplicate from their records. She said she would sit on the bench by the pool and wait to see how that came out.

I had just gotten done explaining to the clerk what had happened and he was getting ready to pull up the sale when Diane walked in. With the receipt. She had gone to the bench to sit down. She noticed a piece of paper stuck under the leg of a nearby chair. She pulled it out and bingo. There is was. We got a good laugh out of that and, bonus, her watch was already completed. 

With that excitement behind us we decided that packing up our stuff wasn’t going to get done without us. In a fit of brilliance, we took notes on what we brought and didn’t use. Things like too many socks, too many shorts (only wore the black nylon ones) and definitely didn’t need the flannel pants. We finally got everything packed.

Rudy the attendant stopped by with the coconut rum I bought in Grenada. Liquor purchased at the various ports is collected when you come back to the ship. Got to protect that alcohol monopoly! A little while later he was back with the Kahlua and vodka confiscated back when we started the cruise. 

Time to dress for dinner. The suggested theme was white. Diane didn’t have anything white so she went for comfortable. She looked lovely, though. I had a white RCI shirt I’d gotten earlier today so I went with that. I checked in the shops to see if they had any white golf shirts or other collared shirts. They did. And they were only a mere $69 or $76. Pass. 

We had a nice final dinner with our dining crew. Don and Carol brought and shared another bottle of Zinfandel. We all commented on how much we had enjoyed each other’s company. We traded notes on future plans, coming cruises, things like that. Coincidentally, Don and Carol are doing back to back cruises on the Serenade next February and are leaving the ship the day we board her for our next cruise. 

We all skipped the traditional “Oh, we must stay in touch” thing that people do where they actually end up never staying in touch. I thought that was pretty grownup of us. 

Diane and I both had French Onion soup for our appetizer. She had salmon and I had a cheese rigatoni. No dessert for her. I had three. Something strawberry, something chocolate and key lime pie. In my defence I’d like to point out they were all very small desserts. 

After dinner we went to the theatre to listen to a comedian. He was occasionally funny but not heart-stoppingly so. Afterward Diane went to bed and I went to go write.

I was thinking today about an old guy I’d overheard when we were boarding the cruise. He showed up where the location where they had put the luggage for his floor. He said he was looking for his luggage and his wife. They asked him which one did he want to find?

Odd….

Tomorrow night we should be in our hotel in Hollywood, Florida. 

We shall see what we shall see…

2015 Cruise Day Ten

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 3:36 am by msweet42

Today was our first of the final two complete sea days. Which meant we had a full day of absolutely nothing scheduled. Which felt good after the last two days of having to be up too early. Since we had nowhere to go and no time to be anywhere, I celebrated by eating a full breakfast. I really like the scrambled eggs at the Windjammer. I had that, bacon, baked beans, two fruit danish and coffee. Loved every bit of it. Oh, and there was orange juice, too. 

Diane worked on being in the sun. I did that for a while then moved to the shaded part of the pool deck to finish reading the novel I was working on. I’ve read three books so far and have started on books four and five. I’m reading one on the Kindle and the other on the iPad. Multitasking and all that. 

The Legend of the Seas is briskly on course to Port Lauderdale. The ride has gotten a bit more bumpy again with a more noticeable roll. We jokingly refer to the more noticeable bumps as potholes.

The rolling contributes to that phenomena where you are walking and as you go to place your foot down the floor moves to a different place. You get used to it. Just like I’ve gotten used to the swaying deck that moves my keyboard as I write.

Another observation. Why is it when you are in a hurry to go down the stairs, the Geritol Express is in front of you? So you swing wide to pass them and one decides to pass the other. Like semi-trucks running with speed limiters trying to pass each other, this takes a very long time. Your only option at this point is to slow down and appreciate the pattern in the carpet. Clipping one of the old birds at the knees is frowned upon, I’m pretty sure.

Speaking of irritants, Diane drew my attention to four kids playing in and around the pool. A quick review of the pool rules: no running, no diving, no spitting into the pool, and all urchins under the age of 16 must be under the direct supervision of a parent. There were four kids spending the entire afternoon studiously ignoring all of these rules. Just to keep it interesting they threw in lots of cannonball jumps. By late afternoon, most of the adults had pretty much enough of their act and had abandoned the pool to the wee little angels.

I have to say I appreciate the trust the parents of these kids had shown by allowing the rest of the passengers to babysit their kids. I’m just wondering how we all will split up the six dollars and hour they owe us all. 

By the way, under the heading of Karma’s a bitch, one of the little guys slipped and fell hurting his shoulder in the process. Since there were no adults near at hand to help the poor dear he had to go looking for Mom. 

Diane spoke with Guest Services about the situation. They profusely apologized and said the Pool Supervisor should have addressed the situation. Pool Supervisor? Neither one of us had ever seen a Pool Supervisor on this or on our previous cruise. Maybe they are the Unicorn of the crew, only sighted on rare occasions by virgins or something. 

As long as I’m grinching about things, let’s talk about $10.75 Black Russians. Any bar I go to during the day charges me $10.00 for a Black Russian. Now you know why I was trying to get the vodka and kahlua on board. Some of the bars and some of the bartenders, in response to the simple request for a Black Russian, produce one and proffer a bill for $10.75.

The first time this happened was the evening of Day Six. The bartender was one I had observed pouring a shot and a half for a passenger who had ordered a double scotch. So I thought this was just a peculiarity of hers, upping the price of my drink. I asked her how she’s arrived at this inflated price. She explained that Smirnoff was a premium vodka. Smirnoff? Really? I pointed out I’d not asked for a specific vodka. She offered to pour it out and make me a new one. I told her not to bother and made a mental note to avoid this particular bartender. 

It happened again tonight. Different bar, different bartender. Didn’t bother calling the bartender about it. But it got to bugging me that there was an inconsistency to the drink prices so I went down to Guest Services. I prefaced my comments by saying I wasn’t looking for a refund or anything and seventy-five cents was not a lot to quibble about but I think consistency in pricing would be a good thing. The GS lady looked at my account and saw the charges I was speaking about. She agreed with my basic premise and said she would speak with the bar manager. If the customer does not specify a “premium” ingredient the price should be the same. 

As I was writing this Sandy and her husband stopped by. They are a couple from Ottawa. We’ve gotten to know each other because we haunt the same smoking venues at the same time. They also sit at one of the three tables at dinner being serviced by our head waiter.

We compared notes on ways we felt various crew members had fallen short of our expectations. I’ll go into that list in a later post. Suffice it to say that we are having a different experience with the crew on this cruise than we had on our previous cruise. One of the things I’ll be looking for on our next cruise will be this. Which cruise, the excellent one on Grandeur or this less than stellar cruise on Legend, is the aberration? Will we see service closer to what we saw on Grandeur? This would lead me to believe that is the standard we should expect. If the Serenade service is like this one maybe we need to adjust our expectations regarding RCI.

More on all of this later. Tomorrow is a new day. 

We shall see what we shall see.

February 24, 2015

2015 Cruise Day Nine – Part 1 – Updated

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:38 pm by msweet42

I won’t have a chance to upload blogs until we get back to Florida on Friday.

Just wanted to say we got to our beach with no problem. It is exactly as promised. Happy Dance! I’m at Tony’s Water Sports and Bar right on the beach. Do stop by if you’re in the neighbourhood.

More later. 

Anyone who has ever been with us to the beach in Sea Isle City will appreciate this. We surveyed the available chairs and settled on a suitable pair.

They are down just at the high tide make. To the left of the lifeguards. We did not do the same thing we do at Sea Isle on purpose. It just worked out that way.

There was a lot more to this post. It got lost. So it goes.

We shall see what we shall see.

2015 Cruise Day Eight

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:35 pm by msweet42

Good Lord, 6:30 comes early when you’re trying hard to not be responsible. In spite of that we managed to get going and meet up with our group for our 4 x 4 Escape, There were eleven of us that climbed up into what was essentially a stretched version of an open topped Jeep. Shortly after leaving the port we were heading into the hills. Lots of hills. 

As was the case with the last couple of islands, St. Lucia drives on the “other” side. Since all the roads are winding and hilly, the locals are given to passing in places one would think were collisions waiting to happen. They’re used to it so we didn’t see any carnage. 

The guide did a great running commentary on the passing scenery. The harbours and resorts of St. Lucia have appeared in several movies and “The Bachelor” series of shows. Because we were crossing the island through the rural parts we missed all the glitzy places. I liked this because glitzy is pretty much the same where ever you go. I was more interested in where people actually lived and how they lived. We got more of a sense of that. At least, whatever you can get whizzing by on the roadway. 

Trivia bit. Cattle are put out to graze using long ropes, not fences, to keep them in place. Occasionally, cows being how they are, they chew through the rope and wander into the roadway. When there is a collision, the driver has the right to keep the cow carcass. If the cow’s owner can be determined, which is not often, the owner is liable for the damage. 

We arrived at La Tille Waterfall. Notice the singular. One waterfall. Getting from the jeep to the waterfall was an adventure in it’s own right. The path was a trail that switchbacked several times on the way down. The rustic handrails were a necessity. I was concerned for some of the older members of our group.

Having made it to the bottom of the gorge, the next thing (optional) was to crawl out on the rocks to the base of the waterfall and leap into the pool. We both did it. Something to tell our grandchildren about.

I went back and sat so the water was actually falling on me. Loved it. I amuse easily. 

When we were back up out of the gorge we were introduced to the man who owned the property. He’s been hand planting and tending a tremendous number of herbs for 30 or 40 years. One of the drivers took interested parties for a tour explaining the uses for each of the herbs and flowers. Sour Sup is one that is supposed to help ward off or cure cancer. 

Back into the Jeep for the trip back to the ship. Yesterday was their Independence celebration so most of the shops were closed. We found an open bar and after several attempts were able to set up a wifi connection to check in.

Before we found the bar, some local gents were suggesting we go to another place, either a bar or a beach, not quite sure. They weren’t really interested in taking no for an answer and one especially was getting a bit too loud, insistent, and in my face. I started to get a bit testy but Diane helped me understand going up to the bar we found was the best course of action. As we headed in that direction I noticed a security guard watching our would-be guides. Good luck to ’em. 

Back on the ship we rested and caught up on the sleep we’d lost in the morning. Dress for dinner was Smart Casual so we got sort of dressed up and met with our dinner partners. Deb and Dave reported catching the bar staff at the bar we visited trying to add something extra to their bill. I don’t think they did that to us. 

Diane ordered two shrimp cocktails as appetizers. She got one with three shrimp instead of the usual five. About the time she figured she was only getting that the other one appeared. She had coq au vin for her entree, I had a mozzarella salad and vichyssoise for appetizers and ravioli mare monte for the main course. No dessert for her and a warm low-fat french apple tart and crema catalana for my dessert. 

My usual haunt for reflecting on the day and writing this was disrupted by a Mardi Gras dance party happening on the pool deck. I was doing my best anyway when “Anita” happened. She was this woman who came out of a nearby hot tub to ask if I had a match for her cigarette. I gave her my lighter. She insisted I help create a wind break so she could get it lit.

She then launched into how this ship was garbage. All of them – garbage. Except the Oasis and Allure. Just garbage. And the service? Don’t let her started. Then she informed me she’d joined the ship in Barbados. For her girl. I’m not sure if she meant daughter or partner. More to the point, I didn’t care. Joining the ship was the worst mistake of her life. And they screwed up her cabin giving her an Ocean View Suite instead of an Ocean View Suite with a Balcony. And she’s having one of those installed (pointing at the hot tub) upstairs at her house because she can’t be bothered to go down to her pool. And she just had back surgery.

Really? 

I excused myself telling her I wanted to be with my wife and went over to where Diane was watching the Mardi Gras thing.

Diane went off to bed and I went back to my writing. The two ladies at the table next to me asked me if I knew anything about this lady that had left her stuff asking them to watch it for five minute – fifteen minutes ago. Somebody named Anita? We compared notes and worked out that we’d all had the same reaction to her. The ladies were worried Anita was going to be gone a long time and then claim the women had stolen something from her purse or something.

Ultimately, Security was called to come take possession of the items. Just before the Security guy showed up a busboy came and took away the empty drink glasses. Right after Security showed, Anita returned. With a new complaint. The busboy had taken her $15 bottle of water. Security asked her where she had paid $15 for water. She pointed to the nearby pool bar. RCI doesn’t have a $15 bottle of water. 

With Anita preoccupied explaining her version of reality to Security, the other two women and I made good our escape. I went down to Deck 4 to see about writing there. Too cold and windy. Went back to Deck 9. Whoops. Anita is still there. Finally located the Library on the ship.

All in all, just an odd day. 

Tomorrow is our last island, Antigua. What’s on tap? Something simple: “Relax and unwind at one of Antigua’s premier beaches, located just 10 minutes from the pier via air-conditioned taxi. Enjoy your 3-1/2 hour break at your pleasure and pace: sunbathe on your reserved chair, stroll the long stretch of white sand, swim in the azure waters, or take advantage of nearby water sports and other optional activities. Enjoy a complimentary drink of rum and fruit punches.

Highlights – Millers by the Sea at Fort James Beach: Enjoy 3-1/2 hours on a popular beach, famous for its length of white sands overlooking the sparkling sea. Beach Amenities: Relax on a reserved lounge chair at a bar/restaurant with easy access to optional water sports and activities. Relax and Enjoy: Savor the flavors of the Caribbean served with rum and fruit punches.”

That’s what it says. 

We shall see what we shall see.

2015 Cruise Day Seven

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:33 pm by msweet42

Barbados. Finally. I was really looking forward to this. Didn’t know it was almost going to kill us!

Woke up. Did the usual morning things. Watched it rain. Was happy the rain stopped before we needed to disembark. Did the backwards math and figured when we would need to be on the pier in order to make our excursion.

Took off to do a little shopping. Found a nice Barbados hat I’ll enjoy wearing as well as a t-shirt that matched my sense of humour. “When I die make me look like I was doing something cool in Barbados.” Diane was in the market for a larger beach bag and found one. 

Then we started looking for our tour. The ticket said to go on the pier. Through the terminal, On the pier. Or something like that. Not clear at all. We went back to the ship and worked our way back through the terminal until we found our group – with minutes to spare.

A short ride later we were at the beach. Chairs, umbrella, and rum punches provided. We dropped our stuff and headed out over “the white sands” to “cool off in the refreshing, crystal-clear waters.” Right. 

The sand part was okay. But it only extended some ten feet into the water and then there were rocks. Not little rocks like gravel, hard to walk on, not flat rocks, but big knobby rocks where you can get your foot caught and break your ankles. And did I mention the nice, big, strong waves?

I quickly found myself lying down in the water pulling myself forward looking for one of the wee patches of sand where you could stand. I looked back to see how Diane was doing. About the same. I called out to her and told her where the sand patches were and we finally met in the middle. We worked our way out a bit further to see if the rocks would eventually go away. They didn’t. We basically body-surfed our way back to shore muttering unkind things about whoever had decided this was a good place to be,.

I spotted a life guard and asked him what was the deal. He pointed out some yellow flags about 100 yards down the beach that marked where it was sandy all the way out. Ahh… 

 We settled back to work on our sun. It’s a bazillion below zero back home so we have to enjoy this while we’re here.

The Tiki Bar right near the beach had free wifi so I could check in on Facebook,

I met a waiter, nice guy, who brought me a special rum-based something. Really good. Had another. Way really good. Had a third. Yup. That’s it. Hold my hand and walk me back to the ship. For that moment, right then, I was done being responsible, It was all good, mon, no worries. 

Time to head back. Figured out I had left my shirt on the beach. Bought a replacement. Boarded and went to the pool deck to let it all wear off.

Once reality and I had become reacquainted, we went up to the Next Cruise office. When we were done there, we were booked on a ten night cruise leaving Fort Lauderdale February 26, 2016, cruising to Tortola BVI, St, Kitts, Martinique, Antigua, and St. Maarten. There are two outbound sea days and two return sea days. Got a good price, And now we have something to look forward to. 

My plan for the next cruise is not only to prepay the excursions, the hotels and the airfare but also the gratuities. RCI adds $12 per person per day for gratuities. This is divided up amongst all the people who make you time on board pleasant. If everything is prepaid we only need to pay for our drinks and whatever we find of interest in the ports. 

Dinner. We got a bottle of white zinfandel to share with the table. Appetizers for us were shrimp cocktail for her and clam chowder for me. Diane had the salmon. I had a pasta dish. Very good. She passed on dessert and I had warm chocolate cake ( a scoop of cake and a scoop of vanilla ice cream) and the chocolate sensation. Conversation with our table mates was, as always, fun and interesting. 

Tomorrow finds us in St. Lucia at the ungodly hour of 7:00 am. Our tour leaves at 8:30 so the alarm is set for 7. We are set to do a tour of the island including finding a waterfall, an herb garden and trying freshly roasted cashews.

The official description is: “Visit a gorgeous waterfall in the center of a St. Lucia rainforest on a scenic island drive in an open-top jeep. The route takes you through Castries onto backroads that deliver charming glimpses of rural village life on the island’s east coast. Inside the rainforest, stroll the flower and herb-filled gardens of La Tille Waterfall & Garden. Swim in the pool below. Sample hot cashews, freshly roasted over a fire, before your return to ship.” 

As always, we shall see what we shall see.

Day 6 Shortened

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:32 pm by msweet42

A leftover thought from last night. What demented person decided playing the theme music from “The Titanic” on a cruise ship was a good thing? That makes as much sense as whistling “Take this job and shove it” when meeting with your boss for your performance review.
.

I had a lot more written. It got lost.

February 22, 2015

2015 Cruise – Day Five

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 2:07 am by msweet42

If it’s Friday, this must be Bonaire. This is also the day we could sleep in. We reached port at 7:00 am. We didn’t know this because we slept in until 9:00 or so. Since there was no excursion that required our attention or anything, we did the best possible thing. Caught up on our sleep.

I got up first and went up to Deck 10 to take pictures. Somewhere it is written that you weren’t really there unless you have pictures. I have pictures of Bonaire.

Once Diane was up she raided the Windjammer for breakfast and I enjoyed a coffee. With that out of the way, we headed off the ship to see if we could find free wifi.

I was wrong about North Korea and Starbuck’s. They’re not the only ones. Bonaire doesn’t have a Starbuck’s either. Truth be told, there are a few things Bonaire doesn’t have. Sandy beaches are another thing. More about the great beach discovery later.

I asked around and heard there was free wifi “over there… just before the white building.. in the yellow one.” Bonaire has approximately 4,325 buildings. Twelve of them are not yellow. Thanks for the tip. We went over there, by the white building. Saw a sign that advertised, among other things including laundry service, free wifi. With an arrow pointing to some unseen place some indeterminate distance from the sign.

Right after that was the Bonaire Tourism Office. It was small. Everything in Bonaire was small. We went in and inquired about wifi. Success! It was available right there – for fifteen minutes. This was just fine. It gave me time to upload the blog posts, check in on Facebook, and answer a couple of quick messages from Sister Mary Ann and Daughter Dominique. If I were writing this for Cruise Critic, that would be DS Mary Ann and DD Dominique. A whole special code there.

Having accomplished our social media goals, we set out to explore a bit. A little bit. Seriously. Bonaire is a tiny island as far as cruise ports go. You can check out the whole shopping area in a brisk fifteen minute walk. We walked slower. We were killing time.

Just for the heck of it, we tried out an ATM. It asked if I wanted US dollars. I said yes. It said too bad. It didn’t want to process either my debit card or Visa. Fine. See if I care!

Diane found a nice dress for $15. These people didn’t mess around with the whole local currency prices converted to USD. Everything was priced in USD up front. Works for me. I snuck a peek in the cash register and all the change was US, too. Diane now has a great beach dress she can wear in Sea Isle City that will make people wonder where is Bonaire.

We actually found a wee tiny little beach tucked between the edge of the breakwater and a pier. Not really a sand beach but something you could walk on barefoot. We took turns taking pictures of each other standing in the water at the beach. It was too small for both of us. But it was a beach and we found it. Score one for the good guys.

There was a bar at the end of that pier with a great ocean view. We stopped by for a Coke and a Mudslide and spend a moment or two just enjoying being there.

The water in the port was the first crystal clear water I’ve seen. Bonaire’s main claim to fame is fantastic snorkelling and scuba diving in said clear water where you can chase multicoloured fish. We didn’t gear up but got to see some fascinating big blue fish foraging in the water by the dock. What can I say. We impress easily.

If you drag out your atlas or check Google Maps, it is a relatively long way from Bonaire to our next port, Grenada. Go ahead, check. I’ll wait here.

Anyway, because of the distance, we left Bonaire at 2:00 pm. As I write this, we are under way scheduled to be in Granada at 1:00 pm tomorrow.

Leaving Bonaire at 2:00 meant everyone was to be back on board by 1:30. Right. The last people I saw boarding arrived about 1:40 or so. No true Dock Runners but getting close. The boarding crew was yelling encouragement to the last few stragglers.

Diane and I finally got to see the process of releasing the lines in preparation for the ship’s departure. Clearly this has happened before. We just never were at the right place and time to see it done. Kind of cool if you like that sort of thing.

We took some sun in the afternoon. Do I detect a pattern here? Mid-afternoon, we were by the pool and participated in helping to score a Belly Flop competition. All in good fun. Besides the passengers around the pool, there were members of the ship’s crew helping with the judging. It was a lot of fun. Lots of water was splashed. Somebody won. And the Entertainment Director was thrown in the pool. What more could you ask for?

We retired to the Solarium for some quiet and a quick bite. Diane had a sandwich and cole slaw. I had a Cuban (a panini with ham, mozzarella, pickles and mustard) and some Waldorf salad. We encountered Deb and Dave, our dinner partners, and chatted with them for a while.

The thing about the Solarium is that it has a pool and hot tubs, it’s adults only so it’s very quiet but it’s enclosed so the temperature and humidity are quite high. We finally reached our limit heat-wise and moved on. I noticed several elderly passengers sound asleep scattered about the place. It crossed my mind to wonder if you died in the Solarium, how long would it take them to notice?

We prepared for dinner. I read Diane the first two blog posts while she was doing her hair. She seemed to enjoy them..

We had our full complement of diners tonight. The four couples come from very diverse backgrounds and experiences. This kind of thing either be a really good thing or can go really wrong. We are fortunate that all eight of us seem to genuinely like each other. Conversation is spirited and friendly. We just have a good time with each other.

Our Head Waiter is a woman from Romania name Claudia. Take all the stereotypes you might have about former Eastern Block women and throw them out. No, wait. Keep a lot of them. I swear she tries but she doesn’t come across as the friendliest or the most concerned person.

Case in point. Pepper shakers. One can reasonably assume that when you turn one over and shake it, pepper will come out. This does not happen for us. Our (and by Our, I mean all eight of us) experience with Royal crew members has always been when a problem is identified, it is either rectified immediately or a reasonable explanation is given. According to Claudia, the problem with the pepper shakers is the pepper is too big. End of discussion.

Seriously? I surreptitiously uncorked the bottom of one of the reluctant shakers so as to liberate the pepper so we could have some.

Her assistant waiter is Yang. This is Yang’s first cruise. He’s learning. He’s learning about being an assistant waiter and he’s learning English. This works about as well as you might guess. I give the kid credit, though. His learning curve is quick. He’s getting the hang of it. I feel sorry for him, too, a bit. Claudia is not drowning him in the milk of human kindness. But hey, if you’re an assistant waiter, you learn to deal with all kinds of people. Including less than kind Head Waiters.

Remember Yang on Grey’s Anatomy? Always quick, witty, insightful? Our Yang is not that. But he’s working his way up there.

Diane had shrimp cocktail for her appetizer and beef bourguignon with no dessert. I had a cream of cauliflower soup with buttermilk battered fried chicken. The chicken was okay, not spectacular. Diane noticed the sauce for her beef tasted remarkably like the pot roast broth we get from M&M. I had a passion fruit meringue and a chocolate bread pudding for dessert. Both were tasty.

And that was pretty much the day.

Oh, there was one heart-stopping moment. I was sorting our excursion tickets into the order of the remaining ports. I noticed that the receipt for the tickets said $XXX on Seapass. Wait a minute. I remember seeing the charge for the tickets go by on my Visa statement right after we booked them. All things being equal, I’d like to pay for them only once.

I took the receipts to Guest Services. They looked at them and agreed the way it was written it looked like I was going to be charged. They reviewed and even printed out our account and verified we were not, in fact, going to be charged again.

Nice…

And with that, we close the books on the first two ports. Four more to go starting with Grenada tomorrow afternoon. Here is the blurb for tomorrow’s adventure: “Hop aboard a colorful, uniquely decorated vehicle for a lively, commentated drive around St. George’s, the countryside and beach that emphasizes photo opportunities. Discover the capital’s mixed Anglo-French heritage as you ride past the historic marina, colonial-era churches and up to hilltop forts that deliver panoramic vistas. Venture into Grenada’s lush interior, visiting a leading distillery along the way. At the beach, enjoy free time to swim, stroll or just relax with a cool drink.”

History? Photo ops? Beach? Did someone say distillery? Hmmm… this could be fun.

We shall see what we shall see.

Next page