2014 Mediterranean Cruise Log
April 29, 2013
We have decided to book another cruise even before taking the 2013 cruise. This one will be a 44 day cruise (3 legs) from Rome to Miami in November/December 2014. (See itinerary page for ports of call). This cruise will be on the Regent Mariner, the first Regent ship I cruised on and like the best. I was also able to get my first choice of cabins. I am very happy with what I was able to get.
Thanks again to Candi Deem at Travel Leaders for her work in getting it all taken care of in less than an hour.
May 9, 2013
Regent has cancelled all Oct - Dec cruises. They are going to reschedule things. We'll see if they will still be doing the Rome to Miami cruise.
May 14, 2013
cruise has changed a bit. It now starts in October instead of November and
begins in Venice instead of Rome. We have decided to go ahead and book.
Hopefully we will get the same cabin.
January 25, 2014
The cruise excursions became bookable at 9:00PM tonight and we made our reservations. Last week, Matt called Regent and got the 81 page list (and description) of all of the available excursions and we both went through it and marked our favorites, then matched them up to come up with what we will be doing. All excursions were available without any "wait listings".
June 25, 2014
Restaurant reservations have become available and we were able to get all 6 nights (3 nights in each of the "specialty" restaurants) that we wanted at the times we wanted. Now all we have to wait for is the flight schedule.
July 10, 2014
Today was flight schedule day. On our flight to Venice, Regent had us booked out of San Francisco, going to Chicago, then to Dusseldorf, then on to Venice. With a lot of help from our travel agent Brenda Pierson of Travel Leaders in South Dakota, we got our deviation to go on Swiss Air from San Francisco to Zurich, then a quick one hour jump to Venice.
On our return from Miami to San Francisco, Regent had us on Delta Airlines with a stop in Atlanta leaving Miami at 3:15 and getting home at 10 PM. We got that changed to American Airlines out of Miami at 12:15, through Dallas and home at 5:25 PM.
August 19, 2014
Travel documents have arrived from Brenda. We are now set to travel.
September 19/20, 2014 - Flight to Venice
After a busy day of finishing up chores and getting ready, Eric from Vintage Limousine drove into the driveway at 1:30. We were off on our adventure by 1:45 and arrived at San Francisco International Airport at 3:40. Traffic was light. Check-in at SwissAir began at 4:10 and we were first in the Business Class line. Matt did have a bit of trouble as the handle on his suitcase would not go down. He went to a bench for a bit and came back with it down. Check-in went quickly and we were told that boarding would begin at 6:55. Next we were off to the TSA checkpoint. Because we are traveling Business Class, we were able to get into the priority line and made it through quickly. We checked out the United Airlines Club before heading back out to dinner in the terminal.
There are only 4 places to eat in the International Terminal (after the security checkpoint), so we decided on Tomokazu. Matt had a sushi platter and I had a teriyaki steak rice plate.
Then it was back to the United Club to wait the hour and a half before boarding.
It was quick boarding, as they use many jetways to load the plane. We were in row 11 and it was a very nice trip. They first served dinner, with an entree choice of: Beef tenderloin (which Matt had), chicken breast (which I had) or Swiss macaroni gratin.
We both watched a movie before getting a bit of sleep, then it was time for breakfast and the landing in Zurich.
We made our way to the SwissAir Business lounge to wait for our quick flight to Venice, which was delayed about 10 minutes.
A nice salmon mousse and pistachio cream cupcake were served.
Our luggage was delayed getting from the plane to the terminal for a half hour for some unknown reason, but once we got it, we were met by a Regent representative who got us our water taxi and rode with us to the Hotel Excelsior and made sure we got checked in ok.
We called down for an iron and ironing board and they are not available at this hotel (you have to use their laundry service), so we will be out and about the next 3 days with slightly wrinkled clothes. We'll see how well Matt does with this.
A quick walk around the hotel before shower and bed.
September 21, 2014 - Venice
We slept in until 8:30 and went down to the first floor for a buffet breakfast, which turned out to be ok, except for the runny scrambled eggs.
We caught the free 10:00 boat shuttle from the hotel to St.
Mark's Square, which takes about 20 minutes to get to. Having the free shuttle
is a nice perk. It leaves every hour on the hour between 9AM and 11PM and
returns on the half hour.
We walked over the the Correr Museum to pick up our museum passes that we had pre-ordered online. This way, we were able to skip all lines. We then went through that museum, which connects to the Archaeological Museum and the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana. This took us about an hour and a half to get through.
We then went to the Doge's Palace, which includes many large halls, the "Bridge of Sighs" and the prison. Quite impressive. When we were done touring the museum, we had a pannini at the museum cafe.
Following lunch, we decided to follow a "City Walk" that I had downloaded before we left. Trying to follow the lines on the downloaded map (some which did not tell us what the street name it was)...and also using the other 2 maps we had was quite challenging, but Matt did a good job finding our way around. Only a few times did things go wrong, but easily corrected. I have no sense of direction and am glad I did not have to navigate. We did a loop from St. Mark's. It took us about 3 1/2 hours...and we did not kill each other!
At 5:00, we took a gondola ride down the canals and out into the Grand Canal and back. It was supposed to be a 30 minute ride, but ended up being a 20 minute one. Cost of the ride was 80 Euros ($102).
We had a choice to make: catch the 5:30 ride back to the Hotel or wait for the 7:30 one, as they do take a break for dinner. We decided on the 5:30 ride and opted to have dinner at the Hotel. So, it was a quick run to get from the gondola end point to the pier where the Hotel Shuttle was. We made it with a few minutes to spare.
Dinner was very nice. We both had the duck breast.
September 22, 2014 - Venice - Day 2
Woke up at 8:00 to a beautiful sunny day. Had breakfast at the hotel buffet before catching the 10:00 shuttle to Venice.
Matt realized he forgot the memory card for his camera, so I gave him mine and put him in charge of all the photos for the day. He does quite a nice job anyway. He took 173 photos, about average for him.
I should mention that there are no motorized vehicles on the island of Venice. There are cars and motorbikes on the island of Lido, where our hotel is located.
When we arrived, we bought a one day Vaperetto pass. The Vaperetto is the public water bus. One day ticket: 20 Euros ($25)
We took a round trip from St. Mark's Square through the Grand Canal. The loop takes just over an hour, with 15 stops. There are a lot of Vaperettos on the Canal. The main routes have a Vaperetto that stops about every 20 minutes, so you can do easy on/off if you want. After the loop we changed from the #2 Route to the #1 Route which stops right at the Rezzonico Palace, which features 18th century Venetian paintings. It was included in our 2 day museum pass. We had lunch at the museum cafe.
We then decided to walk about 10 minutes to the "House of Carlo Goldini" a famous poet and playwright. It is home of his marionette collection, also part of our museum pass options.
From there, we walked another 5 minutes to the Basilica S. Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari, a beautiful cathedral. It cost 3 Euro to enter.
We did not get lost today during our walks. However, they do need to create a map that has all the street names on them. We have 3 different maps to work from, and none of them do the job completely by themselves. Just too many side streets and alleys to work with...but then you notice that everyone is carrying a map or has their nose in one.
After the cathedral, it was back to the Vaperetto to St. Mark's Square, where we purchased a sandwich, chips and soda to bring back with us to the hotel for dinner. We then caught the 4:30 shuttle back.
We rested a bit in the room, and around 7:00 went outside, oceanfront, to eat. There was a thunderstorm going on just to the south of us with lightning jumping horizontally from cloud to cloud...VERY often. Not like anything at home. Just as we ended eating, it began to rain with heavy large drops. We made it back inside the hotel before getting very wet.
Next up was packing the suitcases, ready for the 7AM luggage pickup.
As our evening ended, the lightning was almost non-stop and the rain was coming down quite hard, with hail the size of marbles. Matt decided to open the windows of the room to close the wooden shutters. Hail came flying into the room and some even hit me...and I was 12 feet away from the window.
Tomorrow is supposed to be another nice day.
September 23, 2014 - Venice - Embarkation
I awoke at 6:30 to put the luggage out in the hallway for pickup and went back to sleep until 8:00 when we got up and had breakfast at the hotel. We went back to the room until the 10:00 checkout time.
On Sunday, we had asked for the first boat to the ship, which was at 10:50. The hotel used water taxis (10 per taxi) to transport us from the hotel to San Basilio pier, which took just over a half hour.
At the pier, we were checked through a Passport check before boarding the ship. Once aboard, a glass of champagne was given to us and we were directed to the Theater to check in and get our room key. Then it was up to the 11th deck (Pool Deck) and had lunch before walking around the ship a bit and waiting for the 2:30 announcement that our room was ready.
Once we got to our suite, we did not yet have our luggage, so we took some photos of the suite and checked to make sure our preferred sodas were in the refrigerator...and they were. There was also a box of candy and cruise credit from Brenda, our travel agent (thank you!), plus the credit from American Express. Matt seems to already know how he is going to spend it.
The doorbell rang and Zahid, our butler came in. He said that he recognized the Bishofberger name, as he was our butler for our Caribbean Cruise 2 years ago. We know we will be taken care of.
The phone rang and it was Lynn Madsen, the Cruise Consultant, who has been on a few cruises we have been on. She just wanted to say hi and let us know that a dinner with her was in the future.
We started unpacking, which I can do pretty quickly, and then Katlyn, our stewardess, came in and introduced herself. She will be with us the whole trip, whereas Zahid will be leaving us in 10 days.
I pulled out 4 shirts and a pair of slacks and rand down to iron them and sent the rest of the shirts, pants and suits out for free laundry/pressing.
Safety drill was at 5:15 and lasted until close to 6:00. I had a few minutes to take a shower and go up on deck to watch Venice go by for the last time. Matt stayed in the room and finished his unpacking, loading up his bags of laundry and changing. We had 7 bags of laundry to send out. Hey...it's free...and we don't have to iron any of it.
By then it was 7:15 and time for dinner in the Compass Rose (the main dining room) for dinner, followed by a few minutes in the casino before returning to the room. There was an invitation from Lynn for dinner tomorrow night.
September 24, 2014 - Ravenna, Italy
The ship docked at the village of Porto Cosini, about 12 kilometers from Ravenna at 7:00. We had breakfast served in our room as we get ready for our 8:30 excursion: "World Heritage Ferrara" described here:
Explore the Renaissance gem of Ferrara, a city so architecturally and historically important that it has been deemed a World Heritage Site.
Depart from the pier and as you drive in a northwesterly direction, the Italian countryside soon reveals its charms. Fertile farmland, earthen colors and a keen sense of history prevail throughout the Po Valley. The past is especially revered in Ferrara, a planned Renaissance city whose layout influenced urban design for centuries.
Ferrara’s network of broad, straight, parallel streets were plotted around the city’s lavish churches and palaces, the most impressive of which you’ll see during your guided walking tour. The largest monument from the medieval period is the city cathedral, a Romanesque-Gothic masterpiece containing important artwork such as bronze statues of saints and paintings from the Ferrara school.
Among the finest palaces is the Palazzo dei Diamanti or “Diamond Palace,” whose façade is adorned with thousands of pointed marbled blocks carved to represent diamonds. Inside lies the acclaimed National Gallery of Ferrara. You’ll also enjoy a grand view of the imposing Estense Castle in the center of town, a medieval fortress complete with a moat, drawbridges and four towers.
While walking through the Jewish Ghetto, be sure to read the historical markers that tell the story of the community, a version of which was retold in the book “The Garden of Finzi-Continis” and the Academy Award-winning 1971 film of the same name. Finally, you’ll have free time to explore a bit on your own before driving back to the pier.
The tour was in a bit different order, but all was covered quite well. Marco was our guide and did a great job. It should be noted that the Diamond Palace has 8,500 cut stones, the most of any building in the world. You can see one wall of it in the photo page.
Most of the town has cobblestone streets. Even in the "new" part of the city, where they duplicated the looks. The residents mostly ride bicycles. They are all over the place and you really have to be careful when walking around. If you are not paying attention, you get close to getting run over.
The main castle has scaffolding and covers over the towers. It has been that way for a few years, following an earthquake here. Not much work seems to be going on with them though.
Both on our way there and back, Matt and I both noted that if we took a picture of the Po Valley countryside and took a picture of the Delta area at home, you would have a hard time telling one from the other.
Of interest to me was the buildings on the waterways that all have nets hanging out over the water. These are lowered to catch eel in the rivers, and a few at the pier where the ship is docked.
We got back to the ship at 2:00 and had lunch at the pool grill. I had the Cuban Sandwich, which I like very much. Then it was back to the room to download and organize the photos.
All of our clothes that we sent down to the laundry (including our suits) arrived at 5:45, too late to attend the Captain's Reception. We have 2 more chances on this cruise.
We had dinner with Lynn Madsen and John and Charlotte Lummis before watching "Backstage Pass", the Broadway Production show. It was very similar to last years' show but with songs from "Kinky Boots" and "Cinderella" in it.
From there we went to the casino for a bit before returning to our cabin where we found our gifts for this cruise, a Regent jacket and hat for each of us and a tote bag to share.
September 25, 2014 - Split, Croatia
It was a 7:30 docking, breakfast in the room and ready for our 9:00 excursion "Historic Split & Salona", which looks promising (especially since Matt loves the ruins):
This delightful tour gives you an opportunity to step back in time and take a walk through the fascinating ancient city of Salona, as well as familiarizing you with present-day Split.
Your tour begins with a scenic drive to the ancient city of Salona, or Solin. At the time of its greatest prosperity during the 3rd and 4th centuries, Salona had approximately 40,000 inhabitants and the town of Split did not even exist yet. Considered Croatia's most important excavation site from Roman times, archaeologists have excavated remains of temples, amphitheaters, early Christian churches, burial grounds, and baths.
Following your time at Salona, you'll re-board your coach and travel back to Split. The city today is the product of 17 centuries of building, with the new and the old harmoniously blending together. At the core of this sprawling city lies the palace that Emperor Diocletian built at the turn of the 4th century. What had begun as an imperial residence and fortified camp is today an intriguing warren of cobblestone streets where pre-Romanesque churches live alongside Gothic chapels, history-filled museums, contemporary art galleries, restaurants and charming cafés.
Upon arrival in the city, your guided walking tour will begin with a visit to the well-preserved palace cellars, which offer a unique insight as to how the palace once operated. You will also visit the Cathedral of St. Duje, the patron saint of the city. The cathedral is built on the remains of an ancient shrine that is thought to be the oldest of its kind in the world. An additional visit is planned to the charming Temple of Jupiter, followed by exterior visits to other notable landmarks within the city.
Before being transferred back to the ship, you will be afforded free time to further explore on your own or browse for souvenirs in the colorful open market, the largest on the coast.
The archaeological site was very interesting, although we did not get enough time to walk down to the coliseum, which both Matt and I wish there was time to do. Interesting to note that this city was destroyed in the 6th and 7th Centuries and some things still exist in pretty good shape. Matt was bitten on the fingers in a few places by mosquitoes and is having a hard time getting his ring off. Hopefully the swelling will go down. Not sure if it is the swelling or the itching that get to him first.
The Palace, which was built on top of an old Greek city, was again, very interesting to visit. Because of time, we missed the appearance of the Emperor by a few minutes, but that was ok. It was more of a 5 minute tourist show.
As mentioned, we were given some free time before meeting the bus, but we decided just to walk back to the ship and have lunch, which we ate in La Veranda. Forgot about the pizza bar that they have here. That is only available on the Mariner and the Voyager.
After lunch, ran a few chores for Janet, who along with Phil, will be joining us in Lisbon on Oct. 13. We weren't sure if they would be able to join us, as Phil has just undergone shoulder surgery....but they got the OK!!!!
Picked up some ice cream (shame on me!) and sat out on the balcony for a bit.
Then it was time to go through the day's photographs and get things ready to post.
At 3:45, it began to rain, so we pulled the deck furniture back out to keep the pads dry. It was a quick rain, so all is fine,
We were told last night by Lorraine, our Cruise Director, that instead of leaving at 7:00PM, we would be leaving port at 5:00PM because "Mother Nature has a trick up her sleeve". What that meant, we have no idea. We left port just after 6:00PM and we have been told that tomorrow night instead of leaving Dubrovnik at Midnight, we will be leaving at 6:00.
Our tour tomorrow has been changed from 4 hours to 5 hours (good news), and that we will start the excursion will begin at 8:00AM instead of 9:00AM (bad news...means an early wakeup).
At 6:00 tonight it was the "Block Party", which I really like. You go out into the hallway with an empty wine glass and meet with your neighbors while the staff serves wine and finger snacks. We met some very nice people and several wanted to see our suite (being the corner suite with the large balcony), so the party continued in our suite until 7:00. We even had Zahid bring in another bottle of wine to serve.
It was up to La Veranda, which at night becomes "Sette Mari", an Italian venue. As there were not any tables for 2 left, we joined the Mathews who were on tour with us today, and behind us at the Sette Mari door. We had the most wonderful conversation on a variety of topics. We are so lucky to meet some very nice guests on this leg of the cruise.
After dinner we went up to the casino and actually did quite well, bringing us ahead for the trip. Let's see if this can continue.
Coming back to the room, we found a very nice orchid plant on the table. Matt had remembered reading about "upgraded flowers" in the ships brochure, and all we had were a few cut flowers in a vase on the coffee table. He contacted Brenda at the travel agency and she was kind enough to contact Regent about it...and here they are. Matt is quite pleased. It does add to the room.
September 26, 2014 - Dubrovnik, Croatia
Word came after posting last night, that our schedule will be changing a bit. Regent has decided to cancel the Kotor, Senegal that was scheduled in October (due to the Ebola panic). Our new schedule for those days:
Oct. 17 - Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain - Arrive 8AM (we overnight here now)
Oct. 18 - Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain - Depart 6PM
Oct. 19 - Lanzarote, Canary Islands - 8 AM - 6PM
Oct. 20 - At Sea
Oct. 21 - At Sea
Oct. 22 - At Sea
We now have to do a bit of excursion re-booking and dinner reservation changing that we have to do onboard. It is too late for us to make the changes online.
On with today....
We wern't sure if we were going to be at the dock or out anchored, but we were lucky and docked, along with 2 other ships.
It was an EARLY wake up (6:30) to get ready for today's 8:00 excursion, "Dubrovnik Riviera":
Romantic charm, homemade cuisine and exquisite scenery will make your entire visit a very memorable and highly enjoyable experience. Those who seek paradise on earth, George Bernard Shaw once wrote, "should come to Dubrovnik." Today he might add that Dubrovnik is the place for all those who wish to renew themselves and their faith in human nature.
After a photo stop, enjoy a pleasant drive along the Zupa Dubrovacka Riviera towards the town of Cavtat. The drive takes you through picturesque villages of the green and fertile Konavle Valley. En route to Cavtat, you'll be treated to a light snack of traditional favorites at a local restaurant. Then it's on to the enchanting seaside resort of Cavtat. Once a prosperous Greek and Roman colony, it is now more relaxed and quite charming, making it a preferred destination for the area's many yachtsmen. Enjoy walking along the beautiful seafront promenade, browsing in the shops, and enjoying the view from a seaside café.
A picturesque drive then takes you to the Old Mill Ljuta before returning you to the heart of Dubrovnik, the main street known as the Stradun.. Here you will have the opportunity to walk through the old town with your experienced guide and enjoy the beauty of this town before returning to the ship.
What a nice quiet tour this was. Our guide, Moro, was a very relaxed tour guide. The countryside here is beautiful. We did have a strong wind as we started the tour, but it died down by 10:00 and was sunny and warm.
In the city of Cavat (pronounced Suh-vat), we walked along the waterfront, then found a pharmacy to get Matt some anti-itching gel.
The only change to the itinerary above is that we had our snack of a sandwich with olives and pickles at the Old Mill. It was a very nice stop and we chatted with 2 Cathy and Karen from Toronto during our snack.
In the "Old City", our guide took us from the bus to the fountain in the middle of the city and gave us about an hour of free time to explore the shops, churches and vendors throughout. As I always have an eye out to buy some type of handmade item that we see the artist doing, we found a gentleman who was painting small watercolors of the city and although he had many on display, we ended up buying the one he had just finished (See photo page). So we now have 2 from Venice and this one.
Back to the ship at 1:20 and a quick hotdog for me and a salad from Matt before I went out to the balcony to enjoy the large lounge.
When we got back to the room, there were 2 gold plaques (magnetic) attached to our front door. I have posted a photo of one, but it has our name, then "Grand Voyage", "Venice to Miami", "October 23, 2014 - November 3, 2014". We were told that there are 55 passengers doing the full 3 legs that together make up the "Grand Voyage".
Matt called Regent to try to add an excursion for the added day in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain on October 18th, but they could not do it. We have to try to do it onboard later tonight when the Destinations Desk opens. He also tried to have them move one of our specialty dinner nights, and again, we have to do that onboard too. We will have to see if they can. We have found that as it is on a future leg of the cruise, they don't have the information from the front office aboard yet, so it is a matter of neither place being able to help you.
Speaking of "Grand Voyage", we have been invited to a special cocktail party/meet and greet tonight put on by Regent that is only for the passengers doing the full Voyage.
At 3:30, we got an update from our Captain. Due to high winds at sea, we are going to stay here in Dubrovnik overnight and will leave at 4:00PM tomorrow. They are offering a few tours tomorrow, but they go where we were today, so tomorrow will be a "Intentional Sea Day" for us.
We will go to Kotor, Montenegro on Sunday and then to Corfu (as scheduled) on Tuesday...but it does mean that our regular stop in Durres, Albania is out. I was hoping to stop there because our tour included the sky tower and Kinostudio, the Albanian Movie Studio.
Our butler brought us our daily canapes and I decided to give him the job of moving our October 19th dinner to the 20th or 21st.
At 6:30 we attended the special
gathering for the 55 Grand Voyage guests. It was held in the Stars Lounge with
drinks and finger food. We both were the youngest there. Nice gathering.
So far, we have come 408 nautical miles with 967 to go.
September 27, 2014 - Dubrovnik, Croatia - Day 2 - Our "Sea Day"
It was nice to sleep in this morning. Awoke at 8:30 and went up to La Veranda for breakfast (buffet).
As they are re-varnishing and painting our balcony, I went out to the pool deck to listen to music and relax in the sun.
Matt came up with paperwork: the disembarkation page for those leaving the ship in Rome (which we don't have to worry about) and the Rome tour page. They will be offering 2 tours for those who are going on to Lisbon. One is a bus ride to Rome where they drop you off (no mention of where) with a pick-up 3 hours later to go back to the ship. The other is the ride to Rome, an hour and a half Panoramic Ride followed by an hour and a half in People's Square and the bus ride back to the ship. We opted for the second.
Matt has also talked to the Concierge and our Butler to get some more flowers added in our cabin. With the desk, side table, dining table, 2 side tables and a coffee table, there are a lot of places that would look nice with a bit of color.
They did bring in 5 HUGE THICK coffee table books which we unboxed and placed under the coffee table on the shelf.
The morning went by quickly and it was already time for lunch, which we had by the pool. I got one of their Pannini Breads, added the BBQ steak and had a steak sandwich. Matt was very good and had a salad. We ran into several couples who went back to Old Town Dubrovnik (there was a free shuttle bus from the ship every half hour). They said that the streets were even more crowded than yesterday. Most said that they just turned around and came back on the next shuttle.
We decided to run down to the gym to check on our weight. I am still sitting at 162. Matt won't say...but I can tell he has not gained any weight either.
I went back out by the pool for a little more sun time while Matt worked on the computer.
I then checked out how long it would take us to walk from The People's Square to Vatican City in Rome and if we could make it in the hour and a half of free time that we have. It takes a half hour each way, so if we go at a good clip and take photos quickly, we think we can do it. I went down to the computer room to print out walking directions (with photos of each street to turn on). Nothing like planning 6 days ahead.
The ship left port just before 4:00. Our next port, Kotor, is only 50 nautical miles away and we are not scheduled to arrive there until 8:00AM. Something has to give. It should only take 4-5 hours to get there. (Added at 10:30PM-- We are doing circles in the sea to waste time, and going at a slow 8-9 knots. The ship gets a rattle going at the slower speeds).
Our dinner this evening was in "Prime 7", the steakhouse. Reservations are required here as there is limited seating, but there is no cover charge. What a nice meal. I had the Filet Mignon with twice baked potato and string beans with bacon and onion. Matt had a combo of lobster and crab legs. Can't wait the other 5 visits we have there between now and January.
We decided to skip the production show "Dancing In the Streets" ("a celebration of American music from Motown to Memphis"). We need to spread the shows out between the 6 total legs that we will be doing. Instead, we went to the casino and called it a fairly early evening as our tour begins at 8:15 tomorrow.
We noticed that one of our dining room chairs has gone missing. Not sure if they have taken it out for repair or if we need to put up a "Missing Chair" poster.
September 28, 2014 - Kotor, Montenegro
The ship arrived in port at 7:00, the same time as breakfast in the room.
Our 4 hour, 8:15AM tour "Historic Kotor & Budva" is described:
Begin with a scenic drive to Budva, considered one of the oldest settlements in the Balkans. The legend, confirmed by Greek mythology, says that Budva was established by Cadmo, the son of the Phoenician King Agenon. He was expelled from Thebes and arrived by an ox-drawn cart in this area where he founded the settlement of Budva. The charming old town of Budva lies on a small island that was linked to the mainland by a sandbar and in time, turned into a peninsula. It is surrounded by ramparts originating from the 15th century, including a medieval fortification system with city gates, defense walls and towers. Inside the walls, you will find a combination of narrow streets and quaint squares filled with valuable monuments of different Mediterranean cultures that marked the town's development. Today, Budva is a center of tourism and a delightful city that is home to theater, festivals and celebrations. Enjoy free time on your own before traveling back to Kotor.
Arriving in Kotor, you will be given a guided tour of the city and allowed free time to do some shopping or explore on your own before returning to the ship.
So now all of the medieval towns are all beginning to look alike. The history is interesting though. In Budva, after the tour, we were given some free time, so we walked a few streets and found an outdoor market. There were also a lot of outdoor evening nightclubs. Looked very interesting. We bailed a bit early on the Kotor tour and came back to the ship for lunch. Our guide was spending a bit too much time in each of the buildings that we visited.
Back at the ship we had lunch in La Veranda before I went out to tan for an hour while Matt watched a movie. I got some work done on the computer, and it was quickly 4:45 and time for the ship to leave port and for us to get ready for the "Seven Seas Society Party" (for guests who have been on Regent cruises 75 nights or more). I will be at around 190 by the end of both of these cruises.
The captain came on the speaker to tell us that we will finally know we are on a ship tonight. We have not been rocking and rolling at all since we started and he said it will be light swells tonight.
The event was very nice and we found out how many passengers were in each of the Society level:
Bronze (7-20 nights): 95
They did point out one gentleman in the audience that is on his 1,073rd night
Afterwards we had dinner with Destination Services Manager Iria Sponholz, Alex (who also works in Destination Services), and the Sneed's. Another evening of very nice conversations about cruising the world.
Then it was off to the casino (not a good night) and then to the room where we now turn the clocks ahead for one day while in Greece.
September 29, 2014 - Corfu, Greece
If we were supposed to have waves last night, I certainly did not feel any.
Awoke at 7:15 with a planned 8:45 excursion "Achilleion Palace, Perama & Corfu":
Departing from the port, your coach follows the road leading out of town. Soon you are in the lush Corfiot countryside. Kerkyra is the most verdant of all the Greek Islands and this becomes at once apparent as you are driven through orange, lemon, cypress and olive groves interspersed with vineyards and fields carpeted with beautiful wild flowers, like a garden in paradise which has been decorated by the Gods themselves.
Approximately 20 minutes later you reach the old traditional village of Gastouri and enter the Achilleion Palace, built by the Empress Elisabeth "Sissy" of Austria in 1891 (she died in1898), and later owned by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. You visit the rooms in the palace, as well as its beautiful gardens offering a spectacular view over the Ionian Sea. The gardens, full of exotic trees and flowers which the empress brought with her from her trips around the world, are adorned with classical statues, as she was very fond of ancient Greek history and mythology. The main Terrace of the Muses, decorated with statues of the Nine Greek Muses and the imposing figures of Achilles Victorious and Achilles Dying, are some of the most interesting.
Leaving Achilleion Palace, your coach takes you to Corfu Town passing by the coastal resort of Perama, from where you will enjoy some excellent views of the Convent of Vlacherna and picturesque Mouse Island. Seize this photo-stop opportunity to test your camera skills on this view - the most photographed location on the island.
Once in the Old Quarter of Corfu, the coaches drop you off in front of the 14th-century Old Venetian Fortress, (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), opposite the central Esplanade Square. While your coach waits for your return, your guide takes you on a beautiful walking tour of the historic center of the Old Town.
Walking around in the maze of narrow winding cobbled streets known as kandounia, you visit some of the most elegant quarters of this Venetian-built town, which competes with Naples, Florence and Venice in terms of beauty, style, character and charm.
Walking along the old cricket grounds you will see the Royal Palace of St. George & St. Michael, an imposing building built entirely of yellow Maltese stone by the first British Commissioner of the island. View the spectacular arcades of the Liston Piazza, a down-sized replica of the Rue de Rivoli of Paris, built by the French in the 19th century before heading into the heart of the old town. You visit the 300-year-old Church of Saint Spiridon with its priceless collection of icons and gifts offered to the patron saint of the island, explore the old flea-market, pass by the old Town Hall and then find yourself in the busy shopping district, where you will have some free time for shopping.
The tour was ok, but there were 3 ships in port and it seems that everyone was doing the same tour at the same time. The palace was overrun with people. It made it hard to enjoy and we had to skip 3 rooms due to time constraints. It would seem that they would run some tours backwards and visit the town first, then the palace.
The town was very much like Dubrovnik and Kotor (without the fortress wall).
Once back onboard, we enjoyed the special Greek lunch at the pool deck. As it was warm (79 degrees) outside, it was another great day to tan by the pool. We have been SO lucky with the weather. Matt went to the cabin to watch another movie (as he is not a "sun" person.
Our sail away was at 4:00. As there was nothing appealing to either of us on the Compass Rose menu (which we can see on our suite TV), we decided to go up to La Veranda (Sette Mari) for Italian dinner. We arrived right at 6:30 and by 6:45 the entire restaurant was full and they had to turn away passengers. For dinner, they only use half of the restaurant and is first come, first served situation.
After dinner we donated to the Casino before the big production show "Cirque Rock N Roll". I have to say that the older audience just loved it, but I have to be honest...it was the worst of all of the Regent Cirque shows that I have seen. The first half hour is all Michael Jackson music (King of Pop, not Rock and Roll). The lead female singer does a very nice job, the lead male singer has no personality and is just an ok singer. The dancers don't shine here. The guest swing dancers from a Las Vegas show are out of their element when not doing ballroom, and there is not any ballroom done here. However, the highlight are the specialty flyers. They do an AMAZING job, and 4 numbers during the show. There is a pole dance number and the pole is hardly used other than to swing around. Let's just say that I will not be going back to any of 5 repeat performances that we have a chance to see of this production. Many in the current cast will be leaving the ship on Friday as their 6 month contract is up. We understand the lead male singer is one who is staying.
Clocks go back one hour tonight, so we get that extra hour of sleep which we will need as we have a LONG excursion tomorrow. More on that in the next post.
September 30, 2014 -Taormina (Sicily), Italy
Awoke at 7:30 to breakfast in the room before our 7 1/2 hour tour: "Taormina & Mount Etna". This is a tour that we paid for, because we wanted to see both the town and the mountain, and it does include lunch. The ship is anchored off the town of Naxon (4 miles from Taormina) and we will be tendering to shore in Naxon before we start the excursion:
Embrace Sicily's unique beauty and pristine natural terrain during this full-day visit to Taormina and Mount Etna.
Depart the pier for the drive along the coastal road en route to Taormina, one of the Mediterranean's most complete Medieval towns. Perched on the side of a hill overlooking the sea, the town has a delightful character. The buildings in the town center are unchanged, and have retained their picturesque character, many with window boxes overflowing with brightly-colored flowers, and some now used as interesting shops. Upon arrival, your walking tour will begin with a brief exterior visit to the famous 15th-century Palazzo Corvaia. This building, indicative of the architectural style of the period, is adorned with classic double windows.
Next, a visit will be made to the impressive Greek Theater, known for its stunning location. This Roman-style theater was reconstructed in the 2nd century AD. It is in excellent condition, and has marvelous acoustics that are still appreciated in contemporary performances of classical plays. Before leaving town, some free time will be made available to explore the many shops and cafes that line Corso Umberto, Taormina's main street.
Continuine on, you will proceed for a visit to Mount Etna. With slopes that soar more than 10,813 feet above sea level, Mount Etna is Europe's largest active volcano. After traveling on the highway, you will join the scenic road that winds around the slopes of the mountain. Along the way, you will pass by the town of Giarre, the villages of Santa Venerina and Zafferana, and several orchards, vineyards and woods. Your route takes you across the remnants of past and recent eruptions, and you'll be able to see the streams of solidified lava cascading down from the top of the mountain. Following lunch in a local restaurant at Mount Etna, a visit will be made to the 6,400-foot Silvestri Craters before reboarding your bus for the return drive to the pier.
The tender to Nexon was very smooth and we were quickly on our way to Old Taormina. Once there, the busses parked in level one of a parking lot and we had to take an elevator to level 7. There were A LOT of busses there, but our tour guide was very aggressive and got us into one of the three elevators very quickly. He gave us a short tour of the town, then walked us up to the Greek Theater. He left us there and gave us 50 minutes to get back to the fountain in the town square. The timing worked out quite well.
From there we loaded back on the bus and we were taken to a lunch about half way up Mount Etna. We had a salad (lettuce and goat cheese), an eggplant pasta ("Pasta Norma" which was really good), a vegetable pasta and a desert. It was a nice lunch, but I don't think it was worth the extra we paid for this special excursion.
From there, it was up to the 6,400 foot level to walk around one of the Mount Etna Craters. Most of the people on our tour felt that it looked like a moonscape.
Back on the bus and the one hour ride back to the pier, tender and ship. We were back aboard at 5:30 and the ship lifted anchor at 5:45.
This was the "Captains Farewell" night (as we are anchored until late tomorrow night and Thursday is packing night for those leaving us. It was also "Crew Kapers" show before dinner. We passed on both, as we will see them on our last leg, so instead we went right to dinner at 6:30 while the restaurant was empty.
Casino donation followed and then back to the room, bypassing the "Film Flashback" production show.
One quick story: As we were getting off the tender (in the Ionian Sea) and just starting our bus ride, a lady asked "How far above sea level are we?" The guide kind of ignored her question.
October 1, 2014 - Sorrento (Pompeii), Italy
It was up early again with the ship anchoring in Sorrento. Once again, breakfast in the room before our 8:15, 4 1/2 hour tour of "Ancient Pompeii", a tour that both of us were looking forward to:
Depart the pier for the transfer via mini-bus to the main square of Sorrento. From here, you will board a coach for the drive along the Sorrrento coast, past the Bay of Naples and on to the remarkable ruins of Pompeii at the foot of Mount Vesuvius.
Pompeii is considered to be the world's finest example of an ancient Roman town. Upon arrival, you will see the huge forum and great temples, and have an opportunity to peer inside homes and shops suspended in time by the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
Leaving Pompeii, you will return to the coast along the lovely panoramic road that passes by the seaside resorts of Castellamare and Sorrento as you make your way back to the pier.
I must say that our bus driver was a bit aggressive, but then you have to be to get around here. The streets were crowded and there were a lot of scooters and motorcycles zipping in and out down the center of the street.
We had an hour ride to Pompeii and once we arrived we went right into the city. Our guide was very good and tried to get us onto some back streets to see the sites. The city was amazing to look at. We were both surprised at how well the frescos were preserved. You would think that both with the ash covering the city for years, and now being out in the elements that they would be completely gone. Our guide kept reminding us that the city was covered in ash, not lava.
Our tour was just over 2 hours long, then the hour long bus ride back to the pier, then the tender to the ship. We got back at 2:00, so the tour was just over 5 1/2 hours.
We had a late lunch (Cuban Sandwich with fries) at the Pool Grill, the only place to eat at that hour, before going back to the room. I decided to lay out for a half hour, while Matt went to talk to the Concierge about some special things he wants for our cabin on the last leg (Lisbon to Miami), as we will be hosting 2 dinners.
Dinner was promptly at 6:30 in the main dining room. We then realized that because we were still anchored, the casino does not open until 9:30, so we could have waited a bit before eating.
The ship's boutique was quite crowded. Everyone trying to spend their shipboard credit before they depart on Friday morning.
We donated once again at the casino before retiring for the night.
October 2, 2014 - Amalfi/Positano, Italy
Awoke at 7:15 to the sound of the anchor being dropped. Looked out onto the deck and, although it is warm, it is sprinkling. At least we finally have a short excursion today.
The driving distance between Sorrento (where we were yesterday) and Almalfi is about 50 minutes. The captain went way out to sea and back to make it a 10 hour ride here. I think he did that to be able to have the stores and casino open. He does like to leave a bit early and arrive a bit early. Not one to waste time.
Today's excursion is: "Emerald Grotto":
Cruising to the grotto reveals a perspective of the Amalfi coast that simply can't be duplicated on land. The scenery is absolutely spectacular, a perfect prelude to the astonishing sights in the famed Emerald Grotto, known locally as the Grotta dello Smeraldo. While thousands of years old, the grotto wasn't discovered until 1932. It stretches 100 feet high and 200 feet wide and is adorned with numerous stalactites and stalagmites. But the most fascinating aspect of the cavern is an underwater entrance that creates an eerie, luminescent emerald glow within.
We took the short tender ride to the pier, then transferred to a small boat to get to the grotto, then into 20 person paddle boat for the 10 minute ride in a circle around the inside of the grotto. It was very pretty.
Then it was back to the small boat and to the pier, where our guide took us on a small walking tour of the town. We bailed after seeing the church and went back to the ship to have lunch.
After lunch, I went out onto our balcony to enjoy the sun and listen to a podcast, while Matt washed his jeans and worked on our walking route while in Rome tomorrow.
At 5:30, when Zahid brought in the canape's, he gave us great news. He will be remaining our butler for the remainder of our cruise. He was scheduled to move to other cabins beginning tomorrow. Matt wrote a note in his comment card that he really did not want to Zahid moved. Maybe that is what did it. Anyway, we are VERY happy. He really does know our schedule and needs.
Dinner was in "Signatures", the French specialty restaurant. There were a few too many seafood choices, so I had to settle for a crab salad and beef consommé. For the main course, I chose veal and Matt picked the beef. We ended up trading, as we each liked what the other had. We will probably skip that restaurant on the next leg.
After dinner it was to the casino and we won back a lot of the money we have donated. Things may be looking up there.
Early night with an early excursion in the morning.
October 3, 2014 - Civitavecchia/Rome, Italy
It was about 4:45 in the morning that the ship slowed down to where things began shaking. Then the noise of docking and the container doors opening. Made it tough to get back to sleep. As this is a changeover day, everyone has to get off of the ship in the morning. We are lucky that enough people are staying through to the next leg that they are offering us excursions. So... we got up at 6:45 to have breakfast and get ready to tour Rome.
Here is a description of the 6 hour "Panoramic Rome" (Panoramic on this ship means Bus Tour):
Drive to Rome (1:30), Panoramic drive through Rome (1:30), Enjoy free time in People’s Square (1:30), Drive back to Pier (1:30)
It was a very nice tour, driving by many of the sites of Rome. Although it was tough to get photos from the bus, we tried our best. Matt sat on one side of the bus, I was on the other. They dropped us off at People's Square and Matt and I took off quickly to get to St. Peter's Square. Google maps worked nicely and instead of 25 minutes to get there, we did it in 20. That gave us a few minutes to take pictures. We were quite surprised that there were not more people in the square. It made it easy to walk around. There was, however, a long line to get into the Basilica.
We were then off and running a different route and got back to the People's Square with 15 minutes to spare. We stopped into a little deli to get a soda and split a sandwich.
We were back on the bus and onto the ship right at 3:00. We had a quick bite to eat before getting back to the room. The 2 orchids that Matt ordered to be delivered arrived. Makes the room look much nicer.
Boat drill was at 5:15. Two down one more to go on this cruise. We followed that with dinner in Compass Rose, coming out even at the casino and making it another early evening.
Frank Del Rio, the chairman and CEO of Prestige, the company that currently owns Regent and Oceania Cruise ships is aboard for this leg of the cruise.
October 4, 2014 - Florence/Pisa - Italy
Up again at 6:45 for our longest excursion of the cruise, "Florence and Pisa". It is a 10 1/2 hour tour. We are docked at the town of Livorno, so just the drive to get to Florence is 2 1/2 hours.
The drive from Livorno passes through classic Tuscan countryside, a wonderful introduction to the beauty that awaits you in Florence. Upon arrival, you will enjoy a guided walking tour of the historical center, which has been deemed a pedestrian zone. Visit the magnificent complex of the Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiore, the famed Duomo, which lords over Florence. A treasure-trove of priceless masterpieces adorns the building, including sculptures by Donatello and Giotto's tour de force, the Campanile, or bell tower. You will also have time to view the Gothic Old Palace with its ornate courtyard and view the stately Ponte Vecchio, the only bridge in Florence to avoid destruction during WWII, when the Nazis retreated from Italy. After free time for lunch on your own, you will continue to Pisa for a self-guided tour around the Campo dei Miracoli, or Field of Miracles, which contains an assemblage of some of the world's finest architectural treasures. The magnificent Romanesque Campanile, better known as the Leaning Tower, was begun in 1173 by Bonanno Pisano and wasn't finished for nearly 200 years. It began to tilt as soon as the third level was completed because the settling sub-soil was unable to withstand the tower's weight. The nearby Baptistry, the largest of its kind in Italy, is known for its unusual acoustics, which you can test by singing from the middle of the floor.
It was a long day, but did not seem overly exhausting. We left at 8:30 and arrived in Florence at 10:30. It was an hour and a half walking tour to the main sites of the city with a local tour guide, then two and a half hours of free time. We shared a pizza at an outdoor restaurant and then walked back to the Duomo. There was not enough time to climb to the top, as they had it closed for a bit and the line was getting long.
Back on the bus for the ride to Pisa, where we arrived at 4:30 and had a hour to visit the site. The time worked out just perfectly. Back on the bus for the ride back to the pier, with a 6:30 arrival.
As we came through the terminal, they had glasses of champagne and warm hand towels. As we came out of the terminal, the ship's jazz band was playing and many of the ship's crew were lined up on each side of the red carpet clapping their hands to the music and welcoming us back "home". We found that they do this for the people on the LONG excursions...and 7 of the 11 excursions of the day were over 9 hours long.
We decided to have dinner in our suite. The Captain's Welcome Reception (where he introduces the senior staff and officers followed at 9:30, then guest artist Rachel Russel, a soprano, performed. We stayed for two songs before going to the casino for a half hour before calling it a night.
October 5, 2014 - Monte Carlo, Monaco
I have never been on a cruise where the ship does not rock. I know we are still lucky in this way. It just does not seem that we are aboard a ship. We have also been very lucky with the weather. Yesterday, it was sunny in Florence with a light breeze that made things very comfortable.
Today, we are anchored off the coast of Monte Carlo. Up at 6:30 to get ready for a 7:45 excursion, "Eze and Monaco":
Discover the historic beauty of the French Riviera during a picturesque visit to the Medieval village of Eze, and the Principality of Monaco.
Depart the pier for the drive by coach to the scenic Medieval village of Eze, built on a rocky promontory overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Eze features the ruins of a 12th-century, fortified castle perched on a rocky peak, and offers scenic views and photo opportunities. The castle grounds are home to the renowned Jardin Exotique, and offer excellent panoramic views of the coast. Upon arrival in Eze, you will visit the quaint cobblestone streets filled with craftsmen's boutiques.
Next, you will re-board the coach and continue on for a visit to the Principality of Monaco; the smallest country in the world after Vatican City. Upon arrival, you will take a stroll through the narrow streets of the Old Town. Next, you will visit the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where the Princes and Princesses of Monaco are interred, and then proceed to the Palace Square for an exterior view at Prince Rainier's magnificent residence. Dependent upon the time of your visit, you may witness the changing of the guards at the Palace.
It was about a 10 minute tender to Monte Carlo where we boarded the bus. The first thing we saw was the street where the Grand Prix is run. We saw the lines on the street where the cars line up and the starting line. Then it was up to the town of Eze. The tour was more of a promotion for the two hotels that take up quite a lot of the space of the city. It did sprinkle a bit while we were there, but cleared up quickly.
The old town of Monaco was pretty, but we had a bit too much free time in the square as we had to wait an hour for the changing of the guards. We did see the Princesses' residenences on our walk.
Back to the ship for lunch at the pool deck,. When we arrived at our cabin there was an invitation to dinner this evening from Executive Concierge Giampaolo Savonitti, but we had to decline as we have dinner reservations at Prime 7.
It was then time to go out on our balcony to get some sun. That was fine for about a half hour as it started to cloud up and sprinkle again. We had the neatest rainbow. We could see it out the back of our suite. It began and ended in the water not far from the ship (see photo page).
6:00 brought the Block Party where we met all of the neighbors who are at the back of the ship. Dinner, as I mentioned, was at Prime 7. While we were eating, we noticed that the ship is finally starting to rock. The Captain mentioned earlier that we may have some high winds and a bit of rocking tonight.
We finished the evening early with a quick visit to the Casino, and came back to the cabin to find a choice of 3 excursions to take during the changeover in Lisbon. We already have one scheduled on the first day we are there, so we picked a visit to Old Lisbon as our choice.
October 6, 2014 - Barcelona, Spain
I awoke at 8:00 and had breakfast in La Veranda, as Matt had decided that he needed to sleep in today. We docked in Barcelona at 9:15. We have the first spot, right next to the bridge. I can see the towers with the gondolas and a ferris wheel right out the balcony. Matt got up at 9:45.
Excursions today start at 11:15 and ours was scheduled for 12:15. I had made the final decision last night to make today a "Sea Day" for myself. Just too many days of excursions all in a row. Matt, however, will be going and providing the photos for the day. His tour is "Gaudi's Barcellona with Colonial Guell:
Spanish architect Antonio Gaudí left his mark on Barcelona with unrivaled
passion and imagination, as you'll see on this tour to three of his most
After our lunch on the pool deck, Matt left for the excursion while I went up to the top deck (one above the pool deck) and found a lounge chair of my liking. The sun was just peeking out of the clouds, but as soon as I got settled, it started to sprinkle. Down at the pool level, the crew began pulling all of the lounge covers off. I went back to the cabin for about 10 minutes and the sprinkles stopped, so it was back out. I stayed out until 2:30. I tried to download a podcast, but the internet speed on the ship will not let me. It gets disappointing.
I went down to the gym and weighed myself. Looks like I need to cut back on the eating a bit. Not happy with the current weight, but it is hard to turn down all the good food that is available all day.
I went up to the Observation Lounge while Matt prepared for dinner, which we had at La Veranda. Then it was back to the room, as the Casino does not open until 9:30, which is also the time that the show with guest singer Rachel Russel begins.
I made the trip to the casino and Matt watched the show.
October 7, 2014 - Valencia, Spain
Awoke at 7:30 to the rattle of the ship coming into port. Matt was up at 8:00 with breakfast being served in the suite.
Today's excursion began at 9:15..."L'Oceanofrafic", but there were some changes and additions to the excursion from how it was described:
Depart from the port of Valencia and enjoy a panoramic overview of the city by coach before heading to the recently built City of the Arts and Science. The complex includes the Science Museum Principe Felipe, the Hemisphere, and the largest aquarium in Europe, L'Oceanogràfic.
L'Oceanogràfic is an underwater voyage that invites you to view a collection of the most representative flora and fauna in the world's oceans. It truely is an immersion to the depth of all the oceans of the world, from the Arctic Ocean to the Antarctic, passing through the temperate and tropical latitudes of the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. There are islands with Marine Lions, and a Dolphinarium, with several daily shows that you will have access to.
You will visit the interesting wetlands exhibition, and open-air exhibit that shows two coastal wetlands which are typical of temperate and tropical zones: the marsh and the mangrove swamp.
You will continue with the 'Temperate and Tropical Seas Exhibition', in an extraordinary building that combines indoor exhibits on the lower level with outdoor exhibits on the upper level. It includes marine turtles, kelp forests, 'The Japanese Izu Peninsula Exhibit', an exhibition of seals called 'The Passage', and 'The Aquarium of the Senses'. Finally, the 'Mediterranean Exhibition ' is located in a spherical roof building which has almost 7,400 specimens.
We first went to the Science Center/Opera House/IMAX theater complex for a look at the architecture, then to the Aquarium, and then a visit to the old part of Valencia. It was a 5 hour tour. The aquarium is beautiful. Spread over several buildings. As the tour guide gave us the option of going with him, or going on our own, we decided for the latter and found that most of the exhibits we visited were empty. It was quite nice to be the only ones with the sea life.
Back at the ship at 2:30 where we had lunch by the pool. I then tried to find faster internet speed in the terminal, but it was slower than the ship. I went up to the top deck for some sun while Matt rested in the room.
At 5:00, it was the "Gold, Platinum & Titanium" reception in the Observation Lounge, 6:30 dinner, then the casino.
Matt was tired, so we made it an early evening.
October 8, 2014 -Cartagena, Spain
Once again, the slowing of the ship woke me up at 6:30. Still dark out, but when I went out on the balcony, it was clear, 70 degrees, the stars were out, and a cricket on the balcony above ours was having a great time chirping away.
We have traveled 885 nautical miles so far on this leg with 650 to go.
Matt was up at 7:00 and we were off for our 4 1/2 hour, 8:15 adventure: "Elche Exploration":
The picturesque city of Elche is full of diversity, from its modern bustling
city center, to its surrounding tranquil nature and beauty. A popular tourist
attraction amongst Spaniards, the city boasts more than a million palm trees and
has been declared the biggest palm tree grove in Europe. In the year 2000,
Elche's palm tree grove was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and its
palms can be seen across Spain in the Palm Sunday parades at Easter time. Today,
they remain the town's main industry.
This was a very relaxing tour. Not a lot to see at the Municipal Park. At Santa Maria Church, we learned about the Play of Elche, which is entirely sung. It takes 2 days to perform, 8 hours each day. It is all about the Assumption of Mary and includes the lowering of a performer (an 8 year old boy singing the part of an angel) from the dome of the church. The private garden was very beautiful and well kept. The highlight is the 8 armed "Imperial Palm", where 8 "arms" have grown from the trunk of the tree. Each weighing a ton. Each arm is now held up with metal rings. The great part of this excursion is that there were only 13 of us. Made things move quickly and never felt crowded or being pushed while trying to take photos.
Back to the ship at 1:30 with a nice lunch (Greek buffet) at the pool deck. I got some sun, Matt got some rest. We decided to skip the 6:00 "Seven Seas Society Cocktail Party. 7:00 brought dinner with Lorraine Weimerskrich, the Cruise Director and two other couples who are longtime Regent Cruisers.
By the time we finished dinner, it was time to call it a night.
October 9, 2014 - Malaga, Spain
The ship woke me up at 7:00 and Matt got up at 7:30. Our 8:45, 4 1/2 hour excursion today is to "Mijas Village".
Discover the natural beauty and historic sites of Malaga during this picturesque visit to a traditional Andalusian village.
Starting off from the pier, you will head toward Mijas. This picturesque village is situated a few hundred feet above sea level, and offers spectacular views and photo opportunities across the bay to Marbella. On a clear day, you can see all the way across the Mediterranean to the northern coast of Africa. With its many tightly-packed, whitewashed houses and colorful geraniums hanging from wrought-iron balconies, Mijas remains one of the few traditional old-style Andalusian villages.
Upon arrival in Mijas, you will proceed to the Town Hall to begin your walking tour. Nearby, you will find the stop for the donkey taxi, which in years past was the only means of transport in Mijas. Your walk continues on to the Santuario de la Virgen de las Cuevas, or Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Caves, where the Statue of the Virgin and her treasures are kept. Here, you will learn how the Virgin was dressed for special occasions, including the Easter and Rocio Processions. Next, you will walk to the Plaza de Toros bullfighting ring, built in 1920, and one of the most unusual in Spain due to its rectangular shape.
Lastly, you will enjoy an aperitif in a typical taverna located at Mijas' central square before rejoining your coach for the return drive to the Port of Malaga.
Good and bad on this excursion. The bad was our tour guide. While on the bus, she was determined to hold the microphone up to her mouth and she just distorted the entire time. Nobody could understand anything she was saying. Several people tried to tell her to pull the mic away a bit, but she would not do it, and later just blamed the sound system on the bus.
The town of Mijas itself was quite pretty. As described, it was all white with lots of flowers, donkeys and horses. The donkeys are the symbol of the town and they offer rides, either on the donkey or in a cart.
Our guide gave a half hour walking tour (was supposed to be an hour) and then 2 hours of free time (way too much). On the way back, distortion again.
Back to the ship at 1:30 and lunch in La Veranda before I did an hour and a half of sun and Matt finished watching a movie before he went to talk to the concierge about our next leg. He wants to make sure some things are taken care of.
Tonight was "Seven Seas Mariner's Grand Mediterranean Pool Deck BBQ" which began at 7:00. They closed the pool deck at 3:00 to prepare for the event. All of the other dinner venues were closed tonight, making sure that everyone attends.
October 10, 2014 - Gibraltar, UK
Once again the ship coming into port woke me up at 6:30. Matt got to sleep in until 8:30 when we went up to La Veranda for breakfast. We could hear thunder in the distance, so we hope that our tour will not be cancelled. We then played a game of Rummikub while our cabin was being cleaned. Of course Matt won because I have never played before and got all the wrong tiles. However, I won the second game that was played after lunch.
We are docked about a mile from the town center, and our tour for the day is not until 1:45. We have a nice view of the Rock of Gibraltar from our balcony.
Our excursion is called "Upper Rock Walking":
Discover the Rock of Gibraltar during a tour to its pinnacle via cable car.
Depart the pier via mini-bus for a drive to the cable car
station. Upon arrival, you will board a cable car for the 10-minute ride to the
peak, and enjoy spectacular vistas along the way. Once there, your guide will
take you on a pleasant walk to the photo stop area, from where you can admire
all of Catalan Bay.
Your mini-bus will then pick you up for a sightseeing tour and drive to the Upper Galleries. Along the way, you will pass by Princess Caroline's Battery, then stop at the Upper Galleries to view the Windsor Gallery and St. George's Hall. Following your visit, you will return to the old town, passing the Tower of Homage, and the Moorish Castle of Gibraltar. Your guide will give you the option to stay in town after the tour, or return to the ship.
This was one of the best tours I have taken...not just because of the monkeys, but the cave was also amazing. The main chamber is so large that they can hold concerts inside. Because we were a group of 20 and a large van/small bus, the tour moved at a nice pace.
One of the funny things here is the airport. The main 4 lane road (with walkways) leading out of Gibralter and into Spain runs right through the middle of the runway. 10 minutes before a plane lands, they close the road, make sure all of the pedestrians are cleared and then run a security vehicle through the area to make sure nothing has been thrown on the runway. Our guide drove us on this road across the runway up to the border of Spain just because we commented on how odd this all was.
We were back at 5:00, and relaxed before dinner. One thing I did have to do before dinner was to try to get tickets to see Angela Lansbury in "Blithe Spirit" in San Francisco in January. Tickets went on sale at 10:00AM California time (7:00PM ship time) and I was able to log in and get 4th row tickets to the date we wanted. We are very excited to be able to see Angela perform.
I was also able to order what we wanted for lunch and dinner on our 2 flights from Miami to San Francisco on November 3rd. Nice feature that American Airlines provides for First Class passengers.
It was then off to dinner. Matt went to see the Cirque show again, this time with the new cast and I went back to the room to get some computer work done.
October 11, 2014 - Cadiz, Spain
The ship came into port at about 6:30. We got up at 7:45 with breakfast in the room. The weather forecast called for thundershowers and there were clouds in the sky, so we opted to cancel the 3 hour walking tour around Cadiz and decided to walk the town on our own. Matt got a map from the Destinations Desk and we marked out where the tour would have taken us.
We took off at 9:00 in the opposite direction of the tour. The rain never came and it was quite a nice walk, although it was just a tad humid. I wore jeans because one of the stops was the Cathedral and we were not sure if we were going to want to go inside. As it turned out, it was closed. Our walk took an hour instead of three. At that hour of the morning, and being a Saturday, many of the stores were closed and we had the streets all to ourselves. The town market and the flower market were both open and we spent a bit of time checking them out, but we can't buy food or live flowers to bring on the ship.
We watched the Cunard "Queen Victoria" ship come into port. That thing makes our ship look like a tiny boat. Where we hold 700 passengers, it has just over 2,000. I am SO glad we don't do cruises on ships that big.
We got back aboard and had time to play a few rounds of Rummikub (I won both games) and then it was off to lunch out on the back of the ship. I then went to the pool area to listen to a podcast while Matt watched another movie in the cabin.
The "all aboard" time was originally 5:30, but last night was moved to 4:15 because a storm is moving in and the Captain wants to get to Lisbon as soon as possible. 4:15 rolled around and we did not move. Soon, the Captain came on the speaker and said we were waiting for 2 women to get back. A few minutes later, they called their names and room number and asked them to call Reception. The Captain honked the horn twice. Still waiting at the pier. They finally showed up at 5:35. We took off very quickly. We were surprised that they waited, but we knew that the ship has their passport and that they could not get to Lisbon without them.
The Captain told us that he wants to be in port by 8:00AM. We were originally scheduled to arrive in Lisbon at Noon. He quickly had us up to full speed (19 knots), one of the first times that he has been anywhere near this speed. I must say that he is one who does like to arrive early and leave early if he can.
After dinner at the Compass Rose, we went to the casino and won back a bit of our money. The ship is rocking a bit tonight as promised and it has been raining off and on. We skipped the comedian's second performance.
We were able to change our Prime 7 reservations for the next leg from an evening that went from a sea night to a port night (because of the change of the Dakar port). We now have it on a sea night. Much better.
Tonight we move our clocks back an hour, making it 8 hours time change from that at home.
October 12, 2014 - Lisbon, Portugal - Day 1
The night got REAL rough with the ship moving every direction, things moving off of tables and the shower door opening and closing. I was awake/asleep from 2:30 until we awoke at 8:00. It was raining quite heavily.
We had breakfast in La Veranda and then came back to the room to watch the ship dock. It was quite an ordeal as we were tugboated (is that a word?) to the pier. That process took just over an hour.
The rain let up at about 9:45, then started again. As our excursion was not until 12:15, it became a "we just have to wait to see what the weather does".
We wasted time in our cabin and up in the Observation Lounge and tried to weigh ourselves at the Spa, but the scale gives us different readings every time we step on it. We gave up and went to the "Seafood Extravaganza" at 11:00 served at the pool deck and taken into La Veranda to eat, as it was still sprinkling. Being the seafood lover that I am, I opted for a hot dog and a slice of pizza.
Our tour today was "Medieval Obidos":
After a 1-hour scenic ride through the Portuguese countryside, guests will feel like they have traveled back in time as the tour arrives at the medieval town of Obidos.
The origins of this quaint, little castle town, rising majestically above the beautiful gaeiras vineyards, are obscured in history, however, may date as far back as 308 BC. It was conquered by the Portuguese in 1148. 150 years later, King Diniz made the town his wedding gift to his young bride, while he was passing through, because she had admired the ramparts twining "like a ribbon around a bouquet of shining white houses." From then on, Obidos was the wedding gift given to all of Portugal's queens.
The walking tour begins by exploring the most picturesque streets and visit the 17th-century parish church of Santa Maria, whose interior has a magnificent decoration of the famous blue and white tiles. From Pillory Square, your guide will explain how you can continue exploring the narrow lanes lined with smart shops that lead the way up to the castle (now converted into a Pousada), or explore the old lookout path on top of the wall encircling the city.
Free time in Obidos offers an excellent opportunity to do some great craft-shopping or relax in one of the charming outdoor cafés while enjoying the local ambience. Reboarding the coach, you will return to Lisbon by first passing through Lisbon's main streets and avenues before reaching the highway, in conclusion, the pier.
This was a very nice tour. Again, only about 17 passengers. We had just enough time to visit the town and do some shopping. It did sprinkle a bit while we were there, but not bad enough to ruin the day. We also enjoyed "Ginja", a cherry brandy served in a small edible chocolate cup.
We got back to the ship at 5 with dinner at 6:30 and then the "Film Flashback" show (a show set to movie tunes). This whole round of shows from Jean Ann Ryan are not up to par. The singers are fair to poor, the dancers all out of sync, the new "ballroom dancers" look like they have been dancing for a year. The 8 - 12 year old kids on "Dance Moms" TV show do much better. The only shining point are the flyers.
131 people will be going on to Miami, the rest get off in the morning.
October 13, 2014 - Lisbon, Portugal - Day 2
Awoke at 7:45AM with 8:00 breakfast and 9:00 tour "Unforgettable Old Lisbon":
Drive from the pier towards Alfama (20 minutes) and start a walking tour of the old District (40 minutes). Visit the Cathedral Se (25 minutes). Continue on to Ajuda Palace (35 minutes) and visit (1 hour 10 minutes). Return to the pier (20 minutes)
Our guide decided to do the tour in reverse and it worked out quite well as there were no people at the Ajuda Palace when we arrived, and several busses all jammed to get in when we left. It was a very pretty palace inside, but not so much on the outside with windows ready to fall out and paint badly needed.
As we only had 20 on the tour, it was again a nice day. Cloudy, and just a sprinkle or two...nothing that slowed us down.
We were back on the ship at 12:30, had lunch amongst the newly arriving passengers, then went back to the cabin to find that the flowers that Matt had ordered were not what he asked for. He went to the concierge and was talked to kind of rudely. Not what Regent would want representing them. He told Matt that they did not discuss things that Matt specifically asked for (and showed him). We shall see how this resolves itself. We know we can go to the Hotel Manager next.
We hung out in the cabin until the 5:15 Lifeboat Drill. Thankfully we did not have to go out on the wet decks at the end of the drill. That made the drill a bit shorter.
Phil and Janet (who have been on a few cruises that I have taken) made it aboard and came up to see us before all 4 of us went to Compass Rose for dinner. It is SO nice to have them on the ship and to get caught up in person.
After dinner, Matt and I went up to the casino and ran into Sunny and Rita who were on our Amazon Cruise. They have since married each other and are still a kick to talk with. After a bit of table game playing with them, I went over to the $1 video poker machine and hit a straight flush for $250. That was enough for me, so I went back to the room. Matt came back with $600 in his hands. He did very well at the 3 card poker table.
The ship is back to rocking. The Captain told us during the Drill that the storm front would be following us all the way through to Sunday. That will not make it a fun time.
Really hoping for decent weather Wednesday as we have a fun excursion planned.
BTW...we have 5,529 Nautical Miles to go to get to Miami.
October 14, 2014 - Sea Day
Our first true sea day and it was a rocky one. Not as bad as going into Lisbon, but we still rocked all night and morning.
I awoke at 7:15 to get ready for my 8:00 hair appointment. Irena did a very nice job. Matt had his cut right after mine.
Matt then wrote a letter to the Hotel Manager while I sat on the balcony. It is still overcast, but nice being out.
After lunch on the pool deck, I went to the casino and won $100. Matt took a nap in the room.
Tonight was the Captain's Reception and we followed that with dinner with Lily and her husband in Compass Rose, a bit of evening gambling, then back to the room.
A very nice relaxing sea day.
October 15, 2014 - Funchal, Maderia, Portugal
The island hopping begins today. We arrived in Funchal at 7:15 with breakfast in the room in preparation for our fun excursion, "Monte Village and Botanical Garden":
This remarkably diverse excursion presents the many facets of Funchal through cable car and toboggan rides and leisurely tours of a botanical garden and embroidery factory.
Depart from the pier for a short drive to a seaside cable car station, where you'll enjoy a ride of about 15 minutes to the hilltop village of Monte. You'll soar over the Old Town, along a rugged ravine and on to the summit, where Funchal stretches out before you. Take in the panoramic views and then tour Monte Church, built in 1818 on the site of a former chapel.
The descent from Monte is particularly memorable as it's via a wicker toboggan, a ride Ernest Hemingway once described as a "most exhilarating experience." Powered by two men who use their rubber-soled boots as brakes, the toboggans are pushed downhill along the winding streets at a brisk, yet safe pace. It's a 10-minute ride, but seems much faster.
Then you'll drive to Madeira Botanical Gardens, one of the island's most serene destinations. Opened in 1960, the gardens soon gained a reputation for its indigenous plants, trees from as far away as the lower Himalayas, and rare water-storing succulents. It's a wonderful oasis and fine prelude to the final stop at an embroidery factory that produces more than 200 handmade items such as linens and clothing. The embroiderers follow traditional production techniques that haven't changed in nearly 100 years. Afterwards, you'll return to the pier.
It was a fund day. A beautiful ride in the cable car up the hill and a FUN ride in the wicker toboggan on the way down. I remember seeing the basket ride in the film "Windjammer" in Cinemascope. The embroidery factory could have been deleted. There are no workers there anymore, so it was just a 45 minute shopping stop. We opted to walk to the town market during that time and join the group back at the bus.
We arrived back at the ship at 1:30 and found 2 more floral arrangements in the room. The concierge called last night and said that he could get 2 more for us today. Matt asked "at our expense?" and he said "yes". So Matt told him "No" and that he had arranged a meeting with the Hotel Manager for today at 5:00. So now the flowers show up and we are wondering about expense.
We went upstairs and had the BBQ lunch (ribs are real good...when they make them) at the pool and then relaxed the rest of the afternoon.
Matt had his meeting with the Hotel
Manager and was told that the new flowers were compliments of the ship. So,
things have now worked out and we are now living in a botanical garden. Not
enough tables for the 3 orchids, 4 floral arrangements and the
Dinner tonight was in the Compass Rose. Not the best dinner choices. Several passengers have felt the same.
Gambling followed and we did just fine.
October 16, 2014 - Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Hey!!...the ship did not make noises as we came into port this morning, so I slept through to 7:15, with a 7:30 breakfast.
We went down to pick up Phil and Janet at 8:15, as they joined us for today's 4 1/2 hour excursion:
Behold pristine Caldera de Taburiente, a massive depression rimmed by soaring rock walls that is the stellar attraction in the island's lush national park.
Your tour begins with a scenic drive inland to La Cumbrecita, an elevated viewing area in the southeastern side of the Caldera de Taburiente. The caldera is the world's largest erosion crater, and unlike most calderas was sculpted by water erosion rather than a volcanic eruption. It was here in the 15th century that the invading Spaniards finally defeated the indigenous Guanches people. From La Cumbrecita, you'll gaze upon steep wooded gorges and rocky crags before venturing on a short hike around the caldera.
At the National Park of the Taburiente Caldera visitor center, you'll learn about the area's history, geology, flora and fauna. Although nearly 100 plant species have been found in the caldera, most of the park is blanketed in forests of Canary Island pine trees. You may also catch sight of Gallot's lizards, Barbary sheep, and birds such as the red-billed chough.
Following a snack of Canarian appetizers at a local restaurant, you'll next drive to La Conception lookout for a different view of the island. It serves as a wonderful prelude to visiting the Holy Virgin of Snow church in Las Nieves. One of the oldest churches on the island, it contains a remarkable altarpiece made of Mexican silver, several 16th-century Flemish sculptures and the namesake terracotta figure of the Virgin Mary. Afterwards, you'll return to the pier where your tour concludes.
A quiet tour, with nothing special. We did purchase a pepper spread from the "restaurant", which was not a restaurant.
Arriving back to the ship at 1:15, we had lunch at La Veranda before I went up to the top deck to tan and Matt got the cabin ready for the dinner we are hosting tonight (with Phil and Janet).
The dinner was wonderful. Great guests, great food, great conversation. Who could ask for more. The dinner took 3 hours and was served course-by-course by Zahid.
We went to the casino for a bit after dinner to let room service take care of things for the evening.
October 17 - Santa Cruz de Tenerife - Day 1
Another early day. Got up at 6:45 to get ready for the 8:15, 4 1/2 hour excursion "Gardens of the Valley":
Discover the peace, tranquility and abundant color of the exotic plant life in
the Canary Islands. Departing from the pier, you'll pass along the highway to
Puerto del la Cruz to visit the Jardin Botanico, a botanical garden that was
founded in 1788 by the royal decree of Charles III of Spain.
We got back to the ship at 1:00 with lunch at La Veranda and then I came back to relax on the balcony while Matt took the shuttle to town to do some shopping. He returned after an hour after remembering that this is part of Spain and that the stores close from 1:00 to 4:00. He then went up and found Janet by the pool and chatted with her.
Dinner at Compass Rose, then back to the room where we watched a movie.
October 18 - Santa Cruz de Tenerife - Day 2
It was up at 7:15 for our 8:45, 4 1/2 hour excursion "Village of Taganana" with Phil and Janet joining us:
Travel into the spectacular mountains of northeastern Tenerife and revel in the beauty of its historic villages.
Depart from the pier and drive along the dramatic coastline toward the village of San Andres and up into the wilds of the Anaga Mountains, which were formed by a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. Much of the rugged landscape is untouched by development and boasts a rich botanical wealth. You will stop briefly to take in the panoramic views at one of the highest points here and then proceed along the winding mountain road to Taganana, one of Tenerife's oldest villages.
Hidden away in a small valley by the sea, remote Taganana has preserved its traditions, architecture and way of life over the centuries. One of its greatest treasures is the Nuestra Señora de las Nieves (Our Lady of the Snows) church, one of the oldest on the island. Be sure to note the revered 16th-century triptych inside. Then, for a taste of the region's gustatory pleasures, sample locally produced wine, goat cheese and bread at a traditional restaurant.
Heading inland, you will travel through the Anaga Massif, an ecologically important area known for its sheer cliffs, laurel forests, and bio-diversity. At lofty Pico del Inglés, you will have incredible views north and south. Before long, you will arrive in San Cristóbal de La Laguna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The streets in this highly valued historic city center have hardly changed since the 16th century. Hundreds of historic buildings have been preserved and the city exudes culture, giving it a distinct character.
Following your time in San Cristóbal de La Laguna, you will rejoin your coach and travel back to the pier where your tour concludes.
It seems that EVERYTHING is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Our tour guide was not the best. He repeated everything 3 times. It was excruciating to listen to him. All I could think was "Make him stop!". We stopped at a "yellow beach" on the way. I could not figure out the reason. The beach is not natural. They cart in the sand. We stopped at a second beach on the way for photos. It looked like a beach in Big Sur. I could not figure out a reason for that stop either. We did not visit Taganana itself, but rather stopped at an overlook, then at a restaurant up the hill from the city. It was then onto La Laguna where we visited the "Church of Jesus Christ" and had 20 minutes to visit the open market. At least Matt was able to find 2 belts that he had been looking for. It was then back to the ship. Not the most exciting day.
We got back at 1:15, ate out on the pool deck then I went out on our balcony while Matt watched a movie.
We were once again joined by Phil and Janet at the Gold/Platinum/Titanium Society Cocktail Party. It featured two numbers by the Jean Ann Ryan Company and a song by Cruise Director Lorraine.
Dinner at Compass Rose and a visit to the casino rounded out the evening.
October 19 - Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain
Up again at 7:15 for the longest excursion of this leg, the 8:45, 8 hour "Grand Tour of Lanzarote":
Spend the day exploring Lanzarote's lunar-like countryside, formed centuries ago by now extinct volcanoes that left grottoes, craters and mountains in their wake.
Your full-day excursion begins with a drive due west across the volcanically formed island of Lanzarote. Arriving at your first stop, the National Park of Timanfaya, you'll explore its fascinating, otherworldly terrain, where just a few feet below the surface temperatures approach 1,000ºF. Rarely will you ever see countryside so beautifully desolate.
Amazingly, plants can grow here in this volcanic landscape, even grape vines. At the nearby Bodega La Geria, you'll see white Malvasia grapes flourishing in the center of the many craters dug out of the black volcanic soil. It's a strange sight; one you'll gain an even greater appreciation for once you taste the winery's excellent vintages, which typically have lemony tones and tropical scents.
Next, it's on to a local restaurant where you'll be treated to a lunch of traditional Canarian cuisine. Afterwards, you'll re-board your coach and drive to Mirador del Rio. Once used as a lookout for pirates and then as an artillery base in the late 19th century, the mountaintop area was redesigned for sightseeing in 1973. The views from here are simply stunning and clearly showcase the peculiarities of Lanzarote's terrain.
Before returning to the pier, you'll make a final stop at Jameos Del Agua, a series of underground grottoes formed by volcanic activity 3,000 years ago. A ""jameo"" is a cave created when a volcanic tunnel collapses, and these are quite unusual. While here, you may also see some blind albino crabs scurrying about, a crustacean that's been depicted in cave drawings by a local artist.
This was a very nice tour. When we arrived at Timanfaya, they took a shovel and dug down about a foot and handed us the small red lava rocks. It almost burned your hands. Then they poured water down a pipe in the ground. It almost immediately came back up as steam. The guide told us that it only happens in this one area. We then went on a 20 minute bus ride though the terrain. Like nothing else I have seen.
The vineyard was also interesting. As there is no rain on this island, they must build a lava rock semi-circle wall around each vine that is placed at the bottom of a pit of lava sand. The humid air from the sea is trapped by the rock wall and the "water" goes down the lava sand to the vine's roots.
The lunch we had was very good. Goat cheese appetizer, beef main course and a bread pudding desert. It was at the restaurant at the Monumento al Campesino.
We were back to the ship right at 5:00 and decided to order dinner from room service. Then it was off to the casino where I did ok and Matt...well, not so much. He headed off to see "Dancing in the Streets" production show while I went back to the cabin.
October 20 - Sea Day #1
We awoke at 8:15 and went to breakfast in La Veranda followed by a stroll around the ship while the cabin was made up.
Matt spent the morning writing some e-mails while I worked on the computer and straightened up the desk area.
Lunch was in La Veranda followed by Matt watching a movie and I up on the top deck tanning. Janet joined me for a nice conversation. I followed that with a bit of gambling and then it was time for dinner.
The seas are a bit rough. It is what the Captain calls a "slow swell", so we go side to side slowly. I think it makes us more queasy than faster movements. I am wearing my sea bands. They seem to help.
Dinner in "Sette Mari" at La Veranda followed by casino in which we both did well.
Clocks go back one hour tonight.
As I post this at 11:00PM, we had a "Code Mike"...someone hurt (our second of the cruise) at 10:15 in the theater. That was when the show let out. It seems that the ship has gained speed. We were traveling at an easy 9 knots all day, and we are now at 16. We have also changed direction from South to North, heading back to the Canary Islands. I have that feeling that someone is in need of help and we are heading to meet a Coast Guard type boat coming our way. I will keep you updated tomorrow.
October 21 - Sea Day #2
Awoke at 7:30. 8:00 brought a message from the Captain. We are going to Grand Canary Island and dropping off "patients" (plural) and that we would be there in about an hour.
At 9:30, we were at Las Palmas (a different one than the one that is not Santa Cruz de la Palma that we were at on Thursday.)
It seemed that everyone on the ship was on the port side looking down and watching what was going on.
The funny part was that there were a lot of Taxis lined up and once we docked and they found out that we were only there for emergency purposes, they all took off.
There was an ambulance there waiting. We tied up at the dock and the ramp went out. Several suitcases were offloaded. First off the ship was a lady on a gurney, followed by a man in a wheelchair. They left in the ambulance. Their partners left in a taxi.
The ambulance returned and more luggage came off the ship. 2 more people in wheelchairs came off the ship with their partners. Once again the ambulance took off and we were back underway.
We had a galley tour right after that, so we had to wait to hear what really happened last night. The galley tour was an "American Express" tour that was supposed to have included a "special lunch" that never occured. Janet was with us and after the tour, was going to the front desk to find out what the deal is.
The Captain came on the speaker for his noon report to inform us that the 4 passengers were offloaded (we knew that) and that we were going to be skipping our next port, Cape Verde (scheduled for the 23rd) because he could not make it there in time for our scheduled docking. Instead, we will be going directly to Barbados and arrive on the 28th as scheduled. That means 8 sea days in a row. That is going to be too much for Matt. I need to prepare myself.
At lunch, we were next to a table full of ladies. It reminded me of the song "Here's to the Ladies Who Lunch". The were filled with gossip about what had happened. It came down to 2 broken legs and 2 heart attacks. We have also heard a broken ankle, so not sure we will ever find out what REALLY happened.
We got news that we will not be able to keep any of our luggage aboard between cruises. We were hoping that they could keep one of each of ours as we do not need suits, etc at home for those 2 1/2 weeks. Oh well, looks like we have to carry everything off and back on.
I went out to the pool deck to listen to an audible book and Matt went to the gym to work out a bit, then I went down to the casino and won a bit of money. We both went down to play Bingo at 5:00. Neither of us won. They play 4 games with "jackpots" of around $100. The last game is a blackout game where the jackpot grows. It is up to $600. By then it was time to get ready for dinner which was at "Prime 7" with Phil and Janet. Always an enjoyable time with them.
We followed that with the normal night at the casino, where Matt did just fine and I came out even.
October 22 - Sea Day #3
We awoke at 8:00 and once again had breakfast in La Veranda. I went out by the pool to listen to more of my audio books while Matt started reading his book by Joan Rivers.
We met up for lunch. We took an umbrella table by the pool (a table for 5). While we were sitting there, the wind came up and the umbrella at a table near us rose up a bit and back down. The audio techs were by the pool setting up the singing duo and they ran over and tightened the wing nut in the umbrella stand. We were joined at lunch by Phil and Janet, Rita and 2 of her friends. While we were eating, our umbrella rose up and out of the table and dropped. Nobody was hurt, but it sure scared us and the people at the table next to us. The waiters came over and put the other table umbrellas down. As I see it, Regent made 2 mistakes here. 1. They did not tighten the wing nuts on all the tables (I know the umbrellas have been out of hand before from other cruises. 2. Staff was more concerned about taking down the umbrellas around us than they were in the well being of the people at our table and the next. It took them a bit of time to ask if everyone was ok. They also did not offer Rita free cleaning of her outfit that received a bit of lunch from the table.
After lunch, I continued my audio book while Matt watched a movie. I came back to the room and read online about Santa Cruz de Tenerife (which we left at 6:00PM on Saturday. The article read:
Local media say five people have died after two and a half hours
of heavy rain on the islands of Tenerife and La Gomera.
Guess we left just in time.
I went down to the casino and came out $75 ahead and Matt went to play Bingo. No win there.
Dinner in Compass Rose. Not sure how my Chicken Kiev could have a solid center, but it did.
We went to the casino after and both donated our money.
October 23 - Sea Day #4
I think we are falling into a routine. We awoke at 8:00 and once again had breakfast in La Veranda. I went out by the pool to listen to more of my audio books while Matt watched a movie.
The captain came on the speakers at 11:15 and started with "As many of you may have noticed".. I immediately thought that since I can't see a TV by the pool, that the little arrow on our course had changed and that we were heading off to shore somewhere. He continued..."that we have no fresh water on the ship"....hmmm..."the ship has plenty of water"...WHAT?..."but we have no fresh water in the cabins as there is a break in one of the pipes"...OH! OK..."we should have it fixed in an hour to an hour and a half".
We met up for lunch at La Veranda, and my usual afternoon by the pool with Matt watching another movie. I then went and lost money at the casino and then we both went to play Bingo. I was one number away from on the last game for about 5 calls of numbers. It just would not come up. Oh well. We'll try again.
Dinner was in Compass Rose followed by casino where we lost a bit.
We found out that there will be a refresher Life Boat Drill tomorrow morning (Oh Joy!!) and that we will be having a "Country Fair Day"...probably on Sunday. We like those.
October 24 - Sea Day #5
Started the morning at 8:00 and breakfast in the Compass Rose. This is our first time in there for breakfast ever. It is very good, but does take a bit of time. Matt had the French Toast, which is done with the thick Texas Raisin Bread. I had the French Toast.
As we were to have the Life Boat Drill at 10:15, I decided to just go out on our balcony and do the 2 Sudoku puzzles in the USA today while Matt was working on his computer.
At least at the Life Boat Drill we did not have to go out on the deck. This is our 4th drill of the cruise. I think we have it down.
After the drill, we only had 45 minutes before lunch, so I went back out on the balcony to do the crossword puzzle.
The "just before lunch" announcement by the Captain told us that we are now just past the halfway point in our Atlantic Crossing. At least now if there is a major "accident" on the ship, we won't be turning back.
Speaking of accidents, we cornered Lorraine, the Cruise Director, and asked her what were the actual "code mikes" of the 4 passengers who got off the ship. They were:
#1: Broken Ankle
#2: Fractured Hip
#3: Broken Rib
#4: General Discomfort, Decided to leave the ship "Just in Case"
We had lunch at noon with Fred and Pat. It was a very nice leisurely 2 hours in the Compass Rose. Once again, the first time in all of our cruises that we have had lunch there. I do remember that I did have a lunch there when I was on the ship alone and my friend Gary came aboard while we were docked in San Diego and he had lunch there with me.
After lunch, I went up to the pool deck to tan and Matt went up there to do some computer work, then he went to the room to start watching a movie.
We went to play Bingo again. Still no luck, but the "snowball jackpot" is above $1,200 and still climbing.
Dinner was in Compass Rose, followed by the usual gambling.
The clocks go back another hour tonight, making us only 5 hours ahead of home.
October 25 - Sea Day #6
With the time change, we were up at 7:30 with breakfast on the back deck of La Veranda. We then went to the Observation Lounge to wait for the room to be ready, which it was not by 9:00, so I went out to the pool deck to tan and Matt to work on his computer at the Stars Lounge.
We met up for the BBQ lunch at the pool deck.
I went up to the top deck to tan for another hour while Matt visited with other passengers at our lunch table.
I then went to the casino and came back $75 richer. Matt went to play Bingo and he won the first game, but had to share the prize with another passenger. He came back with $37.
We then had dinner with Iria and Alessandro again in Compass Rose. We were joined by Mike and Katherine and we had the most fun! What a great dinner.
Back to the casino to donate.
We turn the clocks back again tonight (4 hours from home time) and will do it again tomorrow night to get us to East Coast time. We will have to do it one last time on Sunday the 2nd with Daylight Saving Time.
October 26 - Sea Day #7
Even though we turned back the clock, we slept in until 8:15 and had breakfast in La Veranda. The air is getting a bit humid as we move more South.
I went to the top deck to tan and Matt worked with his computer. Right before lunch, we went back to our room to find that the air conditioning was not working and that the humidity level in the room had gone from 54% to 77% (we have a weather station in the cabin). The mirrors and tabletops were all fogging and even the ceiling was getting moist. Even one of the alarms in the room was starting to go off. We called the front desk and decided to go to lunch.
We ate outside of La Veranda as there was a breeze out there. After lunch, I went back up on the top deck and Matt went back to the cabin (which had been fixed).
The "Sound City Duo" played again for the 3rd lunch hour in a row. They play/sing the SAME songs every day. It is getting old and they are going to do it again tomorrow.
I went to the casino at 2:00 just to play video poker and did not win. By then, it was time for the Country Fair where each department sets up a booth with a game to play and you can win a ticket for a raffle. We enjoyed watching it, but did not play any of the games. That finished up around 4:00.
Matt went to Bingo at 5:00. No win.
Phil and Janet joined us for dinner at Signatures. Another enjoyable dinner with friends.
We then went to the casino and did ok.
October 27 - Sea Day #8
With the time change (we are finally on East Coast time), we were up at 6:30 and out to breakfast at 7:30. It had rained overnight and the decks were still wet. To allow the stewardess to clean the room, we went up to the pool deck under the eaves and sat. Matt wrote a letter on his computer. The crew was out putting towels on the lounges and cushions on the large ones. It then began to rain again. All the cushions had to come off, and the lounges were getting soaked. By lunchtime, we were in the middle of a downpour. We had lunch in La Veranda, which was quite crowded.
The rain/showers kept up all afternoon and Matt watched 2 movies while I went to the casino and broke even. Everyone is in the mood to get off the ship tomorrow, however, looks like it is going to be on the rainy side there too.
Dinner in Compass Rose followed by a productive night in the casino.
October 28 - Bridgetown, Barbados
I was up at 5:30, Matt at 6:30 and then the ship changed speeds at 7:00, which began vibrating the room.
Breakfast arrived at 8:00 and we relaxed in the room until 9:30 when we picked up Janet and Phil for our "Best of Barbados" tour:
Your tour begins with a scenic drive from the port to Orchid World. Enjoy a visit to the "garden with a difference" where you will be surrounded by a spectacular array of treasures. View the spectacular grounds, where thousands of orchids are grown in shaded houses and outside on freestanding palisades. Continue to the Gun Hill Signal Station, the finest of a series of signal stations, which provides a magnificent and captivating view of the entire island. These stations sighted ships approaching Barbados and signaled to each other in warning of the approaching vessel. Next, visit the Sunbury House, which possesses one of the country's superior collections of antiques. Experience a living monument to plantation life of a bygone era, carefully restored and lovingly cherished by its owners for the enjoyment of generations to come. After your visit, return to the port and re-board the ship.
It was not the most fun excursion for me. We went backwards starting at the Sunbury House which was just a walkthrough of an old 2 story home. Half way through, they stopped the tour and had us go outside for a demonstration. It was how to make rum drinks. It was put on by their staff who were having trying to be funny. For me, it was just annoying. We were all under a big tree in plastic chairs and half way through the demonstrations, it began to rain. We were all told to pick up our chairs (remember, these are not the youngest of people that we are with) and go sit under a covered area. More rum drinks. After that, it was back in the house where only about half of the people finished the tour.
We were then off to "Orchid World" where we were guided through by our own tour guide, not someone from there. Really no time to stop and look at any of the orchids. She was showing off more of the trees and bushes.
Up to Gun Hill for 15 minutes before heading back to the ship.
Once we got back to the terminal, Matt and I walked briskly to town to check out a florist store to get a few fresh flowers for the cabin. They were out of everything, so we walked back to the ship and went up to grab a quick snack before heading to our cabin.
I received a call from Brandi Chapman, a guest singer who just got aboard today and with whom we have been on cruises with before. We asked her to join us in our cabin at 7:00 for a casual dinner. How great to get caught up!!!
After dinner, it was off to the casino where I played video poker and hit my first Royal Flush ever! $4,000. YAY!!!!
As a follow-up on an earlier post:
October 29 - St. John's, Antigua
I was up at 7:30, Matt at 8:00. Breakfast, this morning, was in La Veranda.
The ship docked in Antigua at 8:30
It began to rain at about 9:30 and it was a pretty heavy steady
rain, so we decided to cancel our 3 1/2 hour, 10:30 tour,
Leave the port in a custom built Jeep and prepare yourself for an off-road
adventure that leads you to the southwestern side of the island. Here, you will
have the chance to discover some of the most magnificent locations that other
tour coaches don't have access to. Continue your drive through quaint Buckley's
Village overlooking the picturesque valley of Body Pond. Travel off-road through
the Body Pond area and see the rare plant life. Travel through Fig Tree Drive
and discover the fragile ecosystem of the tropical mangrove plant. Then stop at
a beach along the southern coast, for a refreshing dip in the Caribbean Sea.
We instead went up to the Observation Lounge and worked on the computers until 11:00. By this time the rain had stopped, so we decided to go take a walk through the town. The part nearest the ship was very touristy with all of the same shops you find at many ports. Just outside that area, there were quite a few local restaurants and banks. Nothing of interest, so we were back on the ship at 11:30.
We had lunch in La Veranda, then went back out to town so that I could download another podcast. That took half an hour.
Back aboard and I went to lay out in the partial sun and Matt napped.
We had dinner in the Compass Rose, donated to the casino and then went to see Brandi, who once again, put on a great show.
October 30 - Gustavia, St. Bart's
Not sure if it is the ship or the Captain, but at 6:00AM the ship started to bump and grind like we were having an earthquake. This seems to happen every day about an hour before we dock or drop anchor. It sure wakes us up.
So....we were up very early before breakfast (at 7:00) in our room and our 8:30, 2 hour excursion, Blue Cat on the Blue Sea:
Explore the undersea beauty of the Caribbean during this snorkeling adventure in the crystal-clear waters of St. Barts.
Depart the pier aboard your catamaran for the ride to Les Petits Saints, a small rock southwest of Gustavia. En route, you will be outfitted with your snorkeling equipment.
Upon arrival, the captain and crew will provide you with your safety instructions, show you the snorkeling area and point out the restricted area you will not be permitted to enter. Afterward, you will enter the crystal-clear blue waters for approximately 1 hour of snorkeling. Your guides will provide you with assistance in the water, and throughout the tour.
During your tour, you will be served sweets and snacks that include peanuts, chips, French sausage and swiss cheese. Soda, beer and homemade rum punch will also be served.
Following your snorkeling session, you will be returned to the pier in Gustavia. Upon arrival, opt to return to the ship, or do some shopping and island exploration.
We received a notice a few days ago that the "Blue Cat" would not be available, but the "Scoobi Cat" would. It only holds 14 people, so they had to do 3 different excursions (2 hours apart) during the day instead of the one. We were still able to get the early cruise/snorkel time, as did Janet.
At 7:30, the Captain came on the speakers to tell us that the swells are too high to safely tender us ashore, so we will not be anchoring in Gustavia. Instead, we will head to San Juan with our regular arrival time in the morning.
We went to the Observation Lounge while our room was cleaned, then I went to the casino. It was raining off and on most of the morning.
We had lunch (BBQ Ribs Day) at the pool deck. In the afternoon, the rain had cleared and I went to the pool deck to sun while Matt joined Janet for a movie in the Constellation Theater.
Matt went to play Bingo while I went out on the balcony and watched the ocean. The Captain did a "test" of the ship at 5:00 where he shut down the engines and tested all the thrusters. This is all in preparation of the ship going to the United States and having an inspection by the US Coast Guard.
Dinner was in Compass Rose followed by donations at the casino.
October 31 - San Juan, Puerto Rico
Awoke at 7:00 with a 7:30 breakfast in the room. We waited until 8:30 for our visit with Customs and Immigration, since we are now in the United States. It was a quick walk through the theater where we were given our Passports back, looked at by an Immigration Officer, then walking back out.
We waited in our room until our 10:40, 4 hour tour: "San Juan City and Art Museum":
Drive from the pier to the San Juan Art Museum and visit for approx. one hour. Continue to San Cristobal Fort and explore the fort on your own. Drive for an overview of the Old City, stopping at Plaza de Armas for an hour of free time. Reboard the bus and transfer back to the pier.
We met our van at the pier and went directly to the Art Museum which had art for art's sake, not collectable art. Some of it was a bit on the weird side, some of it just video "art". There was a quick downpour on our way from the museum to the fort, including thunder and lightning. We arrived for our visit of the fort, but it was still raining and 10 of the 20 of us decided not to walk around for an hour in the rain. Our driver left the 10 and took the rest of us on the overview of the city. He then took us to the Plaza and since it was just drizzling at that point, we decided to walk the 3 minutes back to the ship from the Plaza.
We were back aboard at about 1:30 and went to La Veranda for lunch as they were still open for a half hour.
After lunch we both worked on our computers and updated many items as our phones work here with no roaming/overseas fees and therefore, the internet speeds were at 4G instead of the "barely anything" speed of the ship's internet.
Matt took a nap around 4:00.
Dinner at Compass Rose was followed by a bit of gambling.
I could not stay up for the 10:30 Halloween Party. but Matt did go.
November 1 - Sea Day
How quickly we fall back into the sea day schedule...up at 8:00, breakfast in La Veranda, then to the Observation Lounge to get caught up on the computer while the room is being made up.
I went out to the pool deck and Matt started packing.
We met up for lunch in La Veranda and then I went back to the pool deck where the Regent Orchestra was playing Jazz. Finally something different rather than the duo. Matt went back to the room to watch a movie and when I got back, I started packing my stuff.
Dinner this evening (formal night) was to be with Phil and Janet and Staff Engineer Emil Slavchev and First Engineer Georgi Patrunchev in the Compass Rose. We picked up Phil and Janet on our way to the restaurant and we waited 10 minutes at the table for the Engineers. They did not show and we were told that they were attending to an emergency. So, the four of us had dinner without them. We found out at the end of the dinner that they were handling an issue with the "grey water" on the ship.
Casino time followed and we came out ahead by the end of the evening. The video poker machines were dealing 4 of a kinds.
November 2 - Sea Day
Although we did not change our clocks back one hour (for daylight saving time), my phone did, and therefore, I did not get up until 8:30.
We had breakfast in La Veranda, then it was out to the pool for tanning while Matt took care of things in the cabin, including having some of the orchids delivered to rooms of passengers we have met who are continuing their cruise through to Los Angeles.
Lunch came quickly followed by more time by the pool and some gambling. Matt watched a movie.
A bit more packing before dinner with Brandi at Compass Rose, followed by a bit more gambling and then the final packing before putting our bags out for the evening.
We turn our clocks back tonight to match East Coast time.
November 3 - Miami/Home
We awoke at 6:30 and had breakfast in the room at 7:00. (We are hoping to get Zahid as our butler on the next cruise).
Out of the room at 7:45 and waited in the theater until our "color" was called, which was at 8:15. There was a short delay due to the dock workers taking a bit longer in getting our bags to the terminal.
We were through the customs and onto the bus to the Miami airport quickly. Once at the airport, there was a special check-in area outside that only busses have access to. That made checking bags VERY quick.
Our flight from Miami to Dallas was very nice and comfortable. Our flight from Dallas to San Francisco was delayed 15 minutes due to a problem in the ceiling of the plane. That plane was OLD! Not the most comfortable (even in first class). However, we made it to San Francisco by 5:40 and got our bags, caught the limo and we were home at 8:40.
Matt went to get the dogs. Boy were they happy to see us!
Now starts the unpacking/repacking for the next trip and getting the yard back in order. Things are a bit overgrown.