First to recap - the cruise was wonderful. We'd been a bit concerned as the fall can be rainy in the caribbean but we had great weather. Enjoyed the Doubletree Suites at Gallery One (thank you Hotwire) in Fort Lauderdale which was across from a Publix store so we picked up some wine to enjoy on the trip. We did have a wet evening as we headed out to Chima, the Brazilian steak house, which by the way was fantastic! Embarkation day was grey but we made sure to catch the shuttle from the hotel over to cruise port early to enjoy the Westerdam. Five or six ships leaving that day as Fort Lauderdale is the third busiest cruise port in the world, so not unexpected. Stateroom 4130 was large with a generous balcony on the port side and it is worth the extra $100 for the week to have a balcony in the tropics. The staff were great (as usual) with 60% being Indonesian while 35% were Filipino. Great room steward and dining room waiter (who was going home in two weeks to meet his newborn son and was very excited at finding himself a dad) - this was the first time the shore captain and myself had seated dining for the late setting. He apparently must've agreed to this when booking the trip (as it was he who made the arrangements) and was not impressed to find this was the case on the first evening, but was unable to blame anyone else for it. It turned out to be a very compatible table of six with a couple from Ohio - a lawyer and dental hygienist and another from New Jersey - a podiatrist and pharmacist who we spent a fair bit of time with. We enjoyed three wine tastings on board with a very down to
earth sommelier who said "good wine is what you like" and learned more from his very matter of fact talks than in all previously. We caught two shows, one with wonderful blues singer / band and another of a magician/comedian and visited the jazz lounge one evening. Enjoyed the speciality restaurant (The Pinnacle) with the New Jersey couple and had a great meal at the Italian restaurant (The Canaletto) where the Capt. and his wife ate as well, but since I eat supper with the captain every night, it takes a lot to impress me. In discussion over supper we decided that there were cutbacks, and apparently the same comments from those who had cruised with Princess. Certainly not terrible, but likely a result of trying to keep the prices down. I can't say that I noticed this with Norwegian in the spring though. Sea days are always nice and we had two of those to enjoy our own personal wine on the balcony - could've done without the clouds of marijuana smoke from the balcony above and the deaf 80 yr old nudists on the next balcony over but…..it was a cultural experience. Managed to finish The Virgin Cure (set in 19th century NY and an excellent read) then Five Days at Memorial (which is about the flooding during hurricane Katrina and although excellent, it is very disturbing) and then Kitchen Confidential (which will never allow you to look at a chef the same way again). Turks and Caicos were beautiful and we booked a great snorkel tour off the beach out to several reefs. Capt. Scraper knew NS well - he had two children in the Halifax area and his ex had lived in Grand Turk until the kids were four or five.
Fantastic snorkelling with large schools of fish, crystal clear water and the boat to ourselves. It was warm, friendly and fun - what is not to like? San Juan, Puerto Rico was very historic but quite developed. We took the free hop on and off trolley up to El Morro (the castle) and wandered our way back through the city. Great architecture, Spanish being spoken and lots of photo ops. We made it back to
the ship and a little rest on the balcony before the only brief shower of the cruise happened. Although we had intended to snorkel in St Maarten, the seas were too high and so we instead went body surfing at Dawn Beach, which turned out to be great fun. Our table mates from supper joined us (surprise) and so we had a great visit, lunch, caught some rays and shared a taxi back to the ship then shopped at the cruise port on the return. It was a good day to escape Phillipsburg as the Dutch royal couple were in the city and with all the crowds and security it was frantic. Wonderful spot to return to from the looks. The final stop on the eastern caribbean itinerary was Half Moon Cay which is on Eleuthera, one of the Bahamas. Too rough again for snorkelling but we enjoyed a beach morning (shared with passengers from the Ryndam which had just repositioned from Athens on a 36 day cruise ahhh) and then back by tender to the ship. A weekend in Fort Lauderdale where we enjoyed the very swishy boutique hotel, The Pillars, on the inter coastal waterway (thank you again Hotwire) and two wonderful suppers - one at an Italian restaurant on Los Olas called Timpanos http://timpanochophouse.net - VERY highly recommend it, and the always wonderful Greek Islands Taverna of course. Uneventful flight home via Newark, stop at the teacher daughter's to pick up the electrician daughter who had arrived from out west a few days previously and a windy, rainy drive home.
|schools of grunts|
|El Morro, San Juan, PR|
I spent the first day home working on my powerpoint presentation for the library talk. I did a Midweek Break session on Nunavut. Took my fans with me as two friends and the visiting daughter came along and were joined by about 15 community members. The cable cameraman arrived and so it will be rebroadcast. The talk was well received and everyone should have their fifteen minutes of fame. Afterwards we headed to a new eatery and enjoyed lunch - it's called Bread and Olives http://www.breadandolives.ca where we enjoyed ourselves "four girls having fun" as a senior stated making his way out the door. A Frenchy shop on the way and we headed home.
Last week the boy captain's new lobster boat (bubba's very first boat of his own) was put in the water just five days ahead of the lobster season opening. The first day has already been delayed five days more so lots of time for the last minute details. He was pretty pumped when I dropped his sister off to take the maiden voyage around to the fish plant. He was being very mature about his decisions and I was proud of him - told his sisters it was his university graduation, as it's all he's ever wanted to do since he was a little boy. When we were discussing his grown up behaviour, the captain who takes the shore captain's boat said "well it was bound to happen sooner or later". Everything seems to be working well and he is in the final preparation stage now.
On Friday as we readied to go out the door for a road trip, I climbed out of the shower and put on what I thought was Body Shop lotion on my arms and legs. It was really sticky and hard to rub in and I was thinking 'I usually like Body Shop but this stuff is crap' when I checked the label and found it was……..body wash. sigh. Had to rinse my arms and legs off again. I had a final physio appointment to check my shoulder and am pleased to report I have been kicked out as it is completely unimpinged (if that is even a word) now. We started off with a Frenchy shop and errands in town then off to the appointment. The visiting daughter got to be a tourist in Lunenburg and we followed up with a late lunch at The Knot pub before a final Frenchys instalment and a stop for beverages and ingredients. A long but pleasant day.
Saturday the sisters made their way around town as the second one ran a 5 km race in just over 25 minutes, they had lunch, went to a craft show, ran errands and generally enjoyed themselves. We had company over for a supper of moose meat chill, biscuits and bread with apple crisp and mincemeat pie as dessert choices. Good friends and conversation made for a fun evening, which had been meant to be the last social event before lobstering of course. The only slip up was when the life partner was speaking of a Christmas party and when answering whether I'd be available to go said "she's working" which stopped me in my tracks when I heard that four letter word. I quickly clarified that traveling to Atlanta with my buddy is not anything close to work. Sunday began with eggs benedict for the girls, then a turkey dinner for them, their brother and his girlfriend before the teacher daughter headed back to the city.
Had a nice email with an attachment from the nurse daughter of her RN license history. Made me think of how tickled her grandmother would be to receive such news. She continues to make her new grad way and except for calling her father late at night asking what her boyfriend's cell phone number was (he being in the same town and time zone mind you - as she wanted him to bring her cell phone which she'd forgotten at home) is doing well. She will of course be working her first Christmas. Plans are for the two western daughters to get together over the holidays and I must confess to being a tad bit jealous when hearing of plans for Banff over New Years. I will see whoever isn't working on January 2nd when I fly back through on my way to work.
Soon time to pack for Atlanta. I think a southern girls week will set things up just fine for the holidays. So, off to work on a little Santa's elf project now before it gets too late.