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Pre-Cruise - Original Posting
It did not take me long to decide to do another cruise in 2008. The 26 day 2006 Hawaii/Tahiti Cruise was wonderful. Last year, the 16 day Panama Cruise was great, but a bit short.
So, this year, I have decided to do a back-to-back cruise of the East Coast/Bermuda with the Panama Cruise. This time, I hope to visit Cartagena (that was missed last year due to an evacuation of a passenger), plus I am looking forward to the addition of Chiapas and San Diego.
A call to Candi Deem at Abbott Travel (in Aberdeen, SD) and the cruise was booked, along with the cabin I wanted…1072. This cabin is one that has a shower (no tub) in the bathroom, which I love. Candi has booked all of my cruises and does an amazing job.
March 21 Update
With the cruise now 28 days away, I was able to make restaurant reservations. On April 22nd (52nd Birthday), I will be dining at Signatures, the Cordon Bleu Restaurant.
April 3 Update
Cruise and airline documents have arrived, so all is set !!!!
April 18 - Fort Lauderdale
It has been a very long night into day. As I was getting ready to leave home, I went on the Continental web page and found out that the flight was already moved from 12:15AM to 12:45AM. That gave me an hour layover in Houston, which is ok. I was just praying that they would not make it any later.
The stretch limo arrived at 9:30 and we got to the airport at 10:15. The airport departure boards said that the plane was back to a 12:15 departure, but at 11:45, the status changed to 12:49. We actually left at 12:45 and arrived in Houston at 6:00AM. That gave me just over an hour to go from what was originally gate E11 to E21...but wouldn't you know, they changed it to gate C29, so it was a brisk walk to the far end of terminal C.
We got out of the terminal area at the scheduled 7:20AM time, but did not leave the ground until 8AM. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at 11AM, just 20 minutes later than scheduled.
It was off to the ship terminal via taxi and arrived at 11:20. As usual, there were already several passengers in the waiting area. We were allowed onboard the ship at noon...cheeseburger and fries at the pool deck and to the room at 1:30. Bags did not arrive to the room until 3:30 and then the mad dash to the laundry room to iron 11 shirts. The tux and suit made it without a wrinkle.
The boat drill was held at 4:00, then it was up to the pool deck for the Bon Voyage Toast and 5:00 departure.
It was there that I ran into Francesca, one of the production show dancers that I met 2 years ago on the Hawaii/Tahiti cruise. We got caught up and she introduced me to many of the other performers, the cruise director, the assistant cruise director and the social hostess. Now there are a lot of people that I will get to know, although I have already met some very nice passengers.
The cabin is great and the ship is still well maintained. Tonight's entertainment is Chris Contillo, a young classical pianist. I will skip his show and see who is still working in the casino.
At 7:00, went to dinner and had: fruit cocktail, spinach salad, spaghetti, kahula coffee sorbet, chicken breast stuffed with avocado and French camembert wrapped in bacon (one slice was served on top of a grilled tomato, one slice on an artichoke heart and the third slice on asparagus). When it got time for desert (New York Cheese Cake with raspberry sauce), I was asked to join a table that included my next door neighbor. We chatted until 9PM.
At 9:30, I did go to the casino. Many of the dealers and managers are the same, so it was nice to visit with all of them.
I was in bed by 10:30 for tomorrow's visit to Port Canaveral.
April 19 -Port Canaveral
Awoke at 7:00AM and went down to the "coffee area" to have orange juice and fruit.
The ship docked in Port Canaveral at 8:00AM and the tour to the Kennedy Space Center began at 8:30.
The center sits on 104,000 acres, although only a small amount is used for the actual space program. Most of the property is a wildlife preserve.
We took a bus tour of the center which included close-up views of the famous Assembly Building. It is the 3rd largest building in the world (in the amount of space it has in it.) We also got to drive up close to Launch Pad 39A, which all Apollo Moon Missions and current Space Shuttle Missions are launched from.
From there, we went to the Visitor Complex and viewed the Apollo 8 Control Room mock-up, which uses all the original control panels. We also viewed a 3-D IMAX film on the Space Shuttle. We then had free time, so I visited the Early Space Exploration Exhibit, walked through the "Rocket Garden" (where old rockets are on display), saw the Shuttle "Explorer" and the "New Millennium" exhibit. There is a lot more at the Center to see if one had the time.
It was back onboard the bus at 3:00, and back on the ship at 4:00.
Went to lay out by the pool for a half hour (76 degrees outside today), then it was time to get ready for the evening's activities. Tonight is formal night and things got started at 5:45 with a "block party" where everyone comes out of their room with a wine glass. Wine and finger food is served as you get to know your "neighbors". At 6:15, it was to the theater for the Captains Reception, then to dinner. Tonight I had fruit cocktail, citrus and avocado salad, penne pasta, champagne sorbet, beef Wellington and a chocolate trilogy for desert.
At 9:45 it was time for the production show "Broadway in Concert". A very nice show. There are all new shows this year on the ship and the ships band plays along with the singers instead of the orchestra all being on a soundtrack. It adds a lot to the show.
Then it was off to the casino for a half hour of play before calling it an evening.
April 20 -Savannah
Awoke at 7:30 with the sight of Savannah going by the balcony door. We were not scheduled to dock until 9:30. We went right past the city and continued through the port area. I finally figured out that we were headed to a turn basin and would turn around and go back to the main part of the city, headed in the right direction for departure at 11:00PM.
Had breakfast and we were indeed in port at 9:30. I took a quick walk through the area near the port. I have been to Savannah before (Setness tours), so I knew where I was headed.
Took pictures of the "waving girl" at the entrance to the port, and some of the Historic District, which is a 2 1/2 mile area and is built around many small town squares (small parks). River Street runs along the riverfront and has 9 blocks of shopping and dining. To get to the Historic District, you must climb stairs to the "street level". I walked the entire length of River Street's shopping area and stopped in a few shops to see what they had.
I was back onboard by noon, ready for lunch and relaxing time by the pool. It was 86 degrees today. I met up with Nanette, her mother Pat and sister Chris. They were all onboard for the Hawaii/Tahiti cruise, so it was nice to see friendly faces and to get caught up.
I had a wonderful dinner with Heather Clancy, the lead female singer onboard (and boy...can she sing). I had artichoke bottoms, Caesar salad, pasta primavera, wiener schnitzel, cocoa-chocolate cups filled with mascarpone and vanilla cream.
The ship left port at 11:00PM.
April 21 - Charleston
We arrived in Charleston and docked at 7:30AM and were able to disembark at 8:30AM. As I had been here before (again, thank you Setness Tours), it was very easy to get around town and take pictures this time around.
Charleston has 180 churches and over 2,000 historic homes. The historic district is just across the street from the terminal, so there is very easy access. I walked much of the historic district and "The Market", which is a 5 block flea market that features women making "sweet grass baskets". I walked through the market a few times and then around the historic district for awhile.
In 1989, Hurricane Hugo damaged 3/4 of the homes in the Historic District and causing over $2.8 billion in damage.
I had a great Chicken sandwich for lunch at the pool grill, then sat by the pool and worked on some Sudoku puzzles and listened to the first part of Alan Alda's biography on my iPod. It was in the upper 80's and sunny until about 3PM when the clouds rolled in. I did get a little red on the face. Have to put on a little more sun block tomorrow.
I had dinner with a single older female passenger and another couple. Dinner tonight was: Orange segments with leeches, Crispy iceberg lettuce with Parma Ham, Pear Liqueur sherbet, Grilled Sirloin Steak and Apple Strudel.
Attended the show "Harmony" put on by the Production team. They did great job of singing and dancing (when they danced), but I felt that the production "wow" factor was missing on this one.
After the show there was a sail-away get-together on the pool deck, then it was down to the casino to end the evening.
April 22 - Sea Day
Decided to sleep in until 8 this morning. Went up to the Observation Lounge for a light breakfast, then down to the Coffee area to write this. Met up with my "next door neighbors" there and we chatted for an hour. I have a single lady on one side of my cabin and an empty cabin on the other side. This is the 3rd cruise where I have had at least one cabin next to me empty. There are just over 500 people on this cruise.
I received a couple of notes on my door this morning. First was that the "walking tour" in Norfolk has been cancelled due to lack of interest. I guess I will just get out and walk the town on my own.
There was also an invitation to join Francesca and Michael Milton(Production Staff) for my Birthday Dinner. I have cancelled my dinner in Signatures (the specialty restaurant) and have re-booked that for the last formal evening (28th).
It is a overcast and a bit windy today, so not sure if we will get into "pool" weather. Will have to wait and see.
There was a game of "Wheel Of Fortune" played in one of the lounges at 11:15. I am not big on these group games, but without the sun, I figured I might as well go do something. I was put with 3 women into a team. We ended up coming in 2nd. There are no prizes in these games, but winners do get tokens that can be redeemed for brand name trinkets at the end of the cruise.
By noon, "the weather started getting rough, the mighty ship was tossed..." Yep...rough seas. I grabbed a quick cheeseburger at the pool grill and then headed to the room to take a Dramamine. I also picked up the movie "Zodiac", which I watched a part of before dozing off for a half hour.
As the casino opened at 3:00, I decided to make an afternoon contribution. I thought they would be nice enough to let me win on my Birthday. They said "maybe later tonight might be better". I did get $15 ahead on the slots, but am in no way ahead of the game yet.
Met a young man (Dana) who was working at the computer table. He is on his honeymoon cruise with his best friend, as his fiancé broke up with him a short time ago and he had already paid for the trip. He is studying economics at college and is doing homework via computer back to his school in Nebraska.
Came back to the room to find a slice of Birthday cake and 2 glasses of champagne. A nice gesture (as usual) from the ship. This came with a card from the Captain of the Ship.
7:00 rolled around quickly and it was time to meet Francesca and Michael for dinner. I had met Francesca on the Hawaii/Tahiti cruise and have kept in touch with her via e-mail ever since, so has been great to visit with her again. We had cocktails in the Observation Lounge and then dinner in La Veranda, which I have never eaten in before. It has more of an Italian flavor with an antipasto buffet and menu dining which includes soups, salads and pastas. I only made it through the antipasto before having to stop. The ship was swaying enough and the room was very warm, so I began to sweat and felt it was a good move not to eat anymore. I had club soda and felt much better. I stayed through dinner and we had a great conversation. They also gave me a nice Birthday Card and Coffee Mug. They had to go do host duties at the showroom, so we said our goodnights at 9:30.
I headed to the Casino and won back a bit of what I have been depositing.
April 23- Norfolk, Virginia
Woke up at 5:30 to the sound of the foghorn of the ship and looked out to the balcony. Yep, we are in fog. We were due into port at 8:00AM, but because of the fog, we did not pull in until 9:00. During that wait, I went up to La Veranda to have breakfast. I usually do not eat here, as it is a buffet breakfast. I grabbed a few pieces of fruit, grabbed some bacon and hash and went to the omelet station and had them make up a ham and cheese omelet. I then headed up to the Observation Lounge to watch us pull into port. We are docked right next to the USS Wisconsin, which is docked here and it available for tours.
Back to the room to wait for the "all ashore" announcement which came at 9:45, so it was time to go explore the city on my own.
First stop was the Mac Arthur Memorial. I saw the line of ship busses there, so decided not to go in. Instead it was over to St. Paul's Episcopal Church. It is one of the main sites of the city. It is Pre-Revolutionary War. It was severely damaged during the British Bombardment on January 1, 1776. In fact, one of the cannonballs is still stuck in the building.
I then walked by the Freemason Street Baptist Church on my way to the Norfolk History Museum. It was built in 1794 by William Willoughby and on the site before that was a Masonic Lodge that gave Freemason Street its name. There is a two block area on this road that has beautiful old homes that have been converted to condos.
It was on to the Norfolk/Southern Railroad Museum, but it is in a business building and is only about 20 feet long and 20 feet wide. It houses photos on the walls and a few displays of hats, gloves and dishware used on the Railway system. Really not much here compared to the Sacramento Museum.
This gave me enough time to visit the USS Wisconsin, built in 1943. he ship was decommissioned in 1991 after serving in WWII, Korean War and the Gulf War.
I then came back onboard for a late lunch and then had a nice chat with Peter Grey Terhune, the producer of the Production Shows on the ship. I followed that with a few hours of tanning time.
The ship left port at 6:00, with the captain doing one of his famous 180 degree turns in the channel. Because this ship has "pods", it can turn on its' own axis.
I ended the evening with an elegant dinner with Francesca and Handre (the Assistant Cruise Director) followed by my donation at the casino.
Tonight, we turn our clocks ahead one hour, so will be 4 hours ahead of California time, as we head to Bermuda.
April 24 - Sea Day
I think that sea days are my favorite days. It is a very relaxed pace to do what you want or not want to do.
I got up at 8, had a quick breakfast in the Observation Lounge, then went to the Coffee Corner and chatted with a fellow passenger for just over an hour. Went back to the room and finished watching "Zodiac", which is a slow moving film. By that time it was time for lunch and a few hours of laying out by the pool. We did have a mostly sunny day, but there was a strong wind, which made things even cooler. The outside temperature was about 70. They had emptied the pool due to the rocking of the ship, but someone got the great idea of filling it. Once it reached about half full, the water began to bang against one end of the pool, shooting water 15 feet in the air. The wind then caught it and everyone on the starboard side (including me) received a free shower. It amazed me how quickly we could all pack up and head to the port side. They emptied the pool once again.
By mid-afternoon the shade was creeping across our side of the deck, so I went to the casino for an hour and came out a bit ahead.
Tonight was the "Seven Seas Society " (past passengers) cocktail party before dinner. We were told that 420 passengers on this cruise have been on at least one other Regent cruise. That is just over 75% of the passengers. If you took all of the days traveled by each repeat passenger, it would add up to over 96 years of cruising.
The party was followed by dinner, which was one of the best I have had in the 3 cruises. There was asparagus with citrus appetizer, French onion soup, a nice lettuce salad, pasta, sorbet, a wonderful rack of lamb and warm chocolate soufflé with raspberry sauce.
I went back to the room before tonight's show to find a note on my door. The Hamilton, Bermuda Trolley Tour has been cancelled. It seems that the only trolley in town is broken down and unavailable.
The show was Heather Clancy who showed off her opera voice and was very funny in telling the stories of the operas from which the arias come from. She has a tremendous voice.
After the show, it was back to the casino where I came out a bit ahead again. The casino will be closed the next two days while we are in port in Bermuda.
April 25 - Bermuda
I awoke at 6AM to get an early start on the laundry. The rest of the ship does not seem to awaken until about 9:00. With laundry and ironing done by 8, it was time for breakfast and to create the new separated pages on this website.
I had a conversation with the Cruise Consultant, Daniel Mason, to make the suggestion that Regent create more cruises that begin and end on the West Coast. The Consultant agreed that it should be done and will be putting that into his report. (I will keep my fingers crossed for 2010 cruises).
We arrived in Bermuda at noon, as scheduled. It looks to be a VERY clean and well maintained city, with freshly painted buildings (See photo page). We are docked right at "Front Street", which is the main boulevard and shopping area. Larger ships would not be able to get this close to the downtown area. It is directly across the street.
We were cleared to go ashore at 12:25.
Bermuda is a cluster of over 150 small islands which total about 21 square miles in area. Only about 20 of the islands are inhabited.
I took a nice walk around part of the city with stops at several stores and then up the hill to Sessions House and the Cathedral. Walking up the hill is almost like a mini version of San Francisco. The people who live here are very nice and happy to help with directions or answer questions.
It was back onboard for an hour of sunning before getting ready for dinner.
I was asked to join Jack and his family. Jack is a 3 year old, who is traveling with his parents and one set of grandparents. He is well behaved and very polite...and loves the pizza they serve to him for dinner. I looked at the children's menu and it is not bad in itself. His parents told me that the mac and cheese is very good and something I should order, just to taste it.
The show this evening was a ballroom production show and was excellent. They have a championship ballroom dance couple in the show, which makes it special. The rest of the cast was very good. One of the best shows of this cruise.
After the show, I joined Heather and one of the theater control room staff for a nice conversation in the Horizon Lounge. The stage band had moved from the theater to the lounge and they were playing "big band" music. Only a few couples on the dance floor, but a nice crowd listening to the music and chatting. We stayed until 12:30, when it was time to call it a day.
April 26 - Bermuda
It is day 2 in Bermuda. A bit cloudy this morning and there is a forecast of possible showers...but the temperature should remain around 68.
I awoke at 8 and grabbed a quick breakfast in the coffee corner before ironing a few things. It is a lazy day onboard, so I am treating it more like a sea day.
Just before 11, the Voyager (the sister ship to this one) arrived in port. There was a "entrance ceremony" with each ship blowing it's horn with the other. Our ship had 3 fire hoses shooting over the side of our ship creating rainbows. The captain of the Voyager rotated his ship 180 degrees, pushed closer to us, then backed into the dock directly behind us. There is a photo of the Voyager on the photo page.
I grabbed a quick cheeseburger at the pool grill before heading over to visit the Voyager. I got no more than 3-4 steps out onto the street when I remembered that I had not put my photo ID in my pocket. We need both our ship identification and picture ID to get onboard. I turned around, got back inline with those getting on the Mariner and went up to the Customs man and he was nice enough to let me through. I lucked out. So, back to the room, grabbed my ID and went to the Voyager. I tried to find Louise Ross. She was the Social Hostess on my last cruise. She had just stepped off the ship to do some shopping. I left her a note, knowing she will be coming over to the Mariner late this afternoon. Walking through the Voyager, I formed the opinion that I like our ship just a bit better. I think it is more in the flow of the layout of the ship.
I made my way back to the Mariner and ran into Louise as I was getting onboard. We were able to chat for a short period of time before she had to get back to the Voyager. I then spent an hour or so by the pool before the clouds started rolling in. I stopped by the computer area and chatted with Theresa Luff, who runs that area. She was on the Mariner last year also. She told me that Bermuda is a bit expensive. She went out to dinner last night at an English Pub and had a Yorkshire pudding dinner. The place was not fancy...just mid-range. Her meal (without any drinks) was $79.
I went back to my cabin and sat out on the balcony to type this. It is SO nice just to be able to sit back, look out over the Bermuda Islands and relax, watching the little sailboats and the ferry's coming in and out of the harbor.
The crew still takes very good care of the ship. While we have been in port, as in most, they are hosing down the lower part of the ship, or painting it. Right now there is a small motorized rowboat with 2 people in it (on the water side of the ship) with very long paint poles, painting from the waterline to about 18 feet above that. The same is happening with the Voyager. They are constantly cleaning and maintaining every part of the ship.
I had a very nice dinner in the Compass Rose Restaurant that included a great chocolate desert.
I visited with a few passengers after dinner and then spent the rest of the evening watching the movie "Music and Lyrics"
April 27 - Bermuda
Today is our last half day in Bermuda. I awoke at 7:30 and had a nice breakfast before leaving the ship for a 9:00 tour. This was of the Crystal Caves. They were discovered in 1905, when two boys, Carl Gibbons and Edgar Hollis were playing cricket when their ball disappeared. They went back to their house, got a rope and a lantern and went down the hole the ball dropped through and discovered what is now known as the Crystal Caves. Since then, a stairway (81 steps) has been added and a floating pontoon pathway span a large 55 feet deep azure blue underground lake. Formations on the bottom are clearly visible, which were most likely created some million years ago before the water covered them. It is quite a beautiful site. (By the way...they never did find their cricket ball)
We were taken there in taxi's (5 to a taxi van) and I got to ride in the front seat. It is odd to be in a vehicle where the driver is on the right hand side. Our driver was born and raised in Bermuda and drove us around showing us all of the homes (most in the 5-10 million dollar range). They are mostly owned by American corporations who use them for their vacationing management. Even the Gallo's have a home here. We also went by some beautiful beaches (with pink sand), several golf courses, the botanical garden and aquarium.
We were back on the ship by 11:30, just in time for the noon BBQ on the pool deck. This was followed by an "ice cream sail away" at 1:00.
By then, it was time for a few hours of tanning before donating back a bit to the casino.
Dinner was spent with John Barron (the cruise director), Handre (the assistant cruise director) and 4 lovely ladies (3 whom I gamble with...Bamby and Sue). We ended up chatting for 2 1/2 hours, then met up again in the casino and played until midnight.
We gain back an hour of time tonight...putting us back to 3 hours ahead of California time.
April 28 - Sea Day
Another sea day, and it was not the most exciting, but was very relaxing. As Nadine would say: "I don't know what I did, but I did an awful lot of it". I awoke at 7:30 and lounged around until 8. Went to La Veranda for an omelet breakfast, then to the coffee area to read USA Today and get caught up on the news. A few of the passengers found me and we chatted for awhile before I headed to the pool deck for some sun. That lasted until about 11:30 when things started getting pretty cloudy. Although today was "world food" day at the pool deck, I decided to have a cheeseburger (not a big surprise).
I went back to the room for a bit and saw that things were getting bright out on the balcony, so it was back to the pool deck for most of the afternoon. I am now listening to a history of Walt Disney as my audio book. I did have one passenger come up to me and ask if I was a crew member and I told her "no". She then asked is I was undercover security and I told her "no" and then asked why she thought I was. She stated that I seemed to know everyone on the ship and that they knew me, so she figured that I could not be a passenger.
I also went up to the trombone player in the band (Henry Wojtusik). He is also a very good singer and I wanted to tell him so. He asked where I was from and was surprised that he knew where Lodi was. Turns out he went to UOP to study music.
The casino was open, so I dropped in at 3:30 and went away even. By then it was time for dinner. Tonight is the final formal night. I had dinner in Signatures, the french restaurant. I ordered the vegetable appetizer, asparagus soup, steak diane and a wonderful chocolate trilogy for desert.
After dinner, I went to the casino. Bamby and Sue have made up a sign that says "Reserved for Bill" that they place in front of the seat I usually sit in at the poker table. Anyone who comes to the table looks at it and wonders why I have my own sign. The casino now stores it away at the table for use each night.
April 29 - Bahamas
Awoke at 7:30 and watched a bit of CNN until 8. A quick breakfast and e-mail check in the Coffee Area. I walked around the ship waiting for my room to be made up and went up to the pool deck to be hit by the humidity.
I went back to the room and changed into the swimsuit and joined the many others who were out sunning by 10. The ship had a "sandwich day" at the pool deck, so I made up a grilled chicken sandwich. By the time we had finished, we were pulling into Nassau.
Upon leaving the terminal building, you are hit with the poverty that is in the downtown area. Paradise Island is privately owned, and that is where the Paradise Island Resort and Casino is located. I was here 20 some-odd years ago with Candi Benning (Deem) and it was a small casino that was owned by Merv Griffin. You can get there (from Downtown Nassau) by taxi, water taxi or by walking some 30 minutes. I decided to go over in a water taxi, which costs $3 one way.
It is a 10 minute ride over and along the way, they point out
several of the exclusive homes owned by Nicholas Cage and others. The resort
area is a bit over the top. It is very much like a Vegas casino with a shopping
area that includes the likes of Gucci. The casino section itself is not very
large. More on the size of Jackson or Thunder Valley. Same machines, same
On the outside of the casino on the way from the water taxi drop off area to the casino is an outdoor shopping district made up of small buildings. It is almost like walking through a small fishing village, but with name brand pubs and shops.
After spending an hour at the resort, I decided to go back to the ship via taxi. Our driver knows the backroads (as there is a lot of traffic), but it is through the "bad part" of town. A few burnt out cars, empty buildings, etc. The taxi ride back was $5.
Once back to downtown Nassau, I walked down to the Marketplace where the locals sell their wares. Most are baskets that they have needlepointed in a design. There are 8 or so aisles, each VERY long and VERY narrow. You only go as fast as the person in front of you and the further you get in, the more humid and hot it gets. The sellers are sitting next to their stall (blocking part of the aisle) and are constantly talking to you. "Can I help you", "Do you like anything". All you want to do is push the people in front of you and get out of there.
It was back onboard the ship at 3:45. The ship sailed at 6.
I had dinner with Dee and Donna who were on the Hawaii/Tahiti trip, then it was off to the casino for another night of Texas Hold 'Em Bonus Poker.
The ship is VERY quiet this evening as everyone has their luggage in the hallway and are calling it an early night.
April 30 - Fort Lauderdale
Awoke at 6 to do laundry (it is a good day and time to do it, as everyone else is disembarking this morning). There are 44 passengers who will stay onboard and continue through the Panama Canal. We were already inside the port and getting ready to dock. The captain is about one hour ahead of time. Went back down to the laundry room at 7 to move clothes from washer to dryer, then went down to the coffee area for breakfast. A lot of passengers are already out and about getting breakfast and getting ready to go.
Passengers started disembarking around 8:45 and the 20 of us who are doing back-to-back cruises went off the ship at 10:00 and were back on by 10:30. It was nice having the whole ship to ourselves. I grabbed lunch at 11:30 and at noon, the next batch of guests began arriving on the ship. There will be 583 on this segment...but the rooms are 97% booked, which means there are quite a few singles. I must say that it looks like the age of this segment is skewing much higher.
It also looks like there will be 2 empty rooms to one side of me, and one to the other. Should be a quiet cruise.
We have changed ship captains and we now have Capt. Romeo, who was the captain the last time through the Panama Canal.
The Bon Voyage Sail Away party was held at 3:45 and we were underway at 4:00 for 2 days at sea on our way to Cartagena, Columbia.
The menu for dinner tonight was a repeat of the first dinner from the first segment. As I sat down, I noticed 2 different tables with familiar faces. Both couples were on the Hawaii/Tahiti trip. We caught up with each other for a few minutes before dinner was served.
The evening ended with a performance of "Harmony" and an hour in the casino.
May 1 - Sea Day
Ahhhhh....another sea day!!
Awoke at 7:30, got caught up on the news and went down to the coffee area to have breakfast and to meet with a few passengers. I have found a couple from the Panama crossing last year.
It is a mix of sun and clouds and about 77 degrees...and not too humid. By 10:30 the pool deck was mostly filled. The buffet lunch on the deck today was BBQ fish, so I opted for the chicken sandwich (and the chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips and chocolate sauce was not bad either), then back out to the sun until 2. Boy these sea days are rough.
It looks like there are only 2 children on this leg. Both are running around with walkie talkies playing hide and go seek. Not as disciplined as the ones from before...but they only seem to be out during the afternoons.
I took a walk down to the computer area and helped Theresa help a passenger with her laptop. We got things up and running for her in quick order. She was very happy to get her computer running.
We have been following the northern coast of Cuba for most of the day and the captain said that we will be making the turn between Cuba and Haiti (towards Jamaica) around midnight.
There was another "block party" tonight to get to know your neighbors. I have now found out that I don't have neighbors for 4 rooms one way and 3 the other. They are keeping the rooms open for the performers who will be moving into them once we reach San Diego. That is when a new team of singers/dancers arrive on board to begin rehearsals as they take over after the ship gets to Alaska.
I had dinner once again with Heather. For some reason our service was VERY slow. We had a wonderful time laughing and making fun of being ignored by the wine stewards, etc. We just watched the candle wax melt and started marking the candlestick as to when the next course of the meal would arrive.
I then went up to the casino for a few hours. Came out a few dollars ahead, but still have some catching up to do.
May 2 - Sea Day
We gained an hour overnight, so are 2 hours ahead of California time. If I remember right, we do some weird time changing on this cruise a bit later.
One story to share from last night. At the Captain's Reception, I was standing in the theater next to Mike and Heather. They do not have to wear their nametags on formal nights. As passengers walked by Mike would say, "I'm Mike, I am one of your dancers", Heather would say "I'm Heather, I am one of your singers.", and I would then say "I'm Bill, I'm one of your passengers". It got us talking with a few passengers.
Because of the time change, I awoke at 6 and walked over to the balcony doors and opened the drapes. The sun was beaming in and you could feel the heat. Not that the outdoor temperature was hot, but the sun is getting intense.
I answered a few e-mails and decided to go down to the coffee area for breakfast. (I have added 2 photos of the coffee area to the photo page).
By 10:00, it was time to head out to the pool before the day became too warm. I ended up there for about 3 1/2 hours, but that also included time for their BBQ lunch. I had the chicken, and it was quite good.
An invitation was hanging on my door when I returned. I will be having dinner Monday night with Elsa McLean, the social hostess and Handre Potgieter, the Asst. Cruise Director. They have scheduled it for 7PM, just as we go through the 2nd set of locks in the Panama Canal. We will be in La Veranda, which is on the 11th deck.
A nice dinner tonight in the Compass Rose before going to the casino and then calling it a night.
May 3 - Cartagena (Cart-ah-hey-nah), Columbia, South America
Looks like I will finally get to see South America. Awoke at 6:30 and had breakfast.
Terry Breen, our onboard lecturer has taken to the microphone and is telling us about Cartagena as we pull into port.
We arrived in
port at 8AM and my tour of the Convents and Churches began a bit late (9:00).
It is on the warm side and VERY muggy. There were 9 of us on this tour and were taken by van to the Old City of Cartegena. There are 1 million people in this area. We drove though a very poor
part of town to get there. We drove by Fort San Fillipe de Verajas before
visiting the restored Clarissan nunnery that now serves as the Hotel Santa
Clara, along with the San Diego Monastery and Art Institute of Cartagena. From
here, we walked to Santo Toribio's Church, built in the beginning of the 18th
century. As we were walking, we were constantly bombarded by street
vendors selling T-Shirts, pictures, sunglasses, CD's...and others who were dressed
up and wanted you to take their photos (for a price). We saw the façade of the Teatro Heredia, formerly the monastery's chapel, then a visit to the
recently-restored Santo Domingo's Monastery, and the Church of Santo Doming oconstructed
circa 1570 A.D. The Church of Santo Domingo was the first church to
be built in Cartagena.
Next, we went to the Inquisition Palace, and viewed its torture chambers. This Palace was built in 1610 and still houses some of the torture devices (see photo page). Next stop was the Cathedral of Cartegena, then to San Pedro Claver's Sanctuary to visit its monastery and church, where the remains of the saint are displayed.
We were back on the ship just before the 12:30 "All Aboard". After a great BBQ Hot Dog with fries and ice cream for desert, it was time to lay out by the pool. We were to have pulled out of port at 1:00, but the Captain wanted to take on more fuel, so we left closer to 2.
I chatted with a few passengers I had not seen before (from Florida), and after a bit, headed to the casino for an hour of play.
It was then time for dinner and the casino before calling it an early night, as the Panama Locks come early.
May 4 - Panama Canal Crossing
Awoke this morning at 6:00 and we were heading towards the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal. Went to the top deck to watch us do the locks and became very popular as I passed my laptop around to everyone in the Observation Lounge to show them the live camera feed from the Canal. I became known as either the "computer guy" or the "Mickey Mouse guy" and several of the passengers gave me their e-mail addresses so I could send them the capture shots of our crossing.
One of the passengers I had a chance to meet is Myles Martel. In doing an internet search, I found that he was President Reagan's personal debate advisor.
We began the process right around 7AM and finished the set of locks at 8:45, then into Gatun Lake.
As we were floating through the lake, I took some time to lay out by the pool, then have lunch, then we had a downpour at 12:30 that lasted all of 15 minutes.
We went under the Centennial Bridge at 1:15PM. This marks the Continental Divide. It was then time for the locks on the Miraflores side, which took about an hour and a half to go through. Nanette had invited me to watch this part of the crossing from their suite, which is at the very front of the ship. We then passed Panama City, which is much larger than I would have thought. Because we passed the city late at night last year, I did not get to see it. I was surprised by all of the highrises.
As the internet has been off all afternoon/evening, I was only able to watch us via web cam going through the first set of locks and missed the bridge and Miraflores locks.
I spent a bit of the late afternoon in the casino before another nice dinner in the Compass Rose. Very nice roast duck and a great chocolate-banana cake.
I went to the "Broadway In Concert" show in the theater. It is the last time that this cast will be performing it together. Most of them will be getting off the ship in San Francisco. They did one of the best performances that I have seen. They really gave it their all and it showed....especially songs from "Wicked" and "Rent".
Went to the casino for an hour after the show, then back to the room.
We turn the clocks back another hour tonight (I am still sure we will move it forward in a few nights), so we are now only 1 hour ahead of California time.
May 5 - At Sea
As we turned the clocks back last night, I awoke at 5:30 and decided to do a load of laundry. So, it was back and forth to the laundry room to move clothes from the washer to the dryer, then do the ironing. Being towards the rear of the ship, this is a bit of a walk. Not sure if I like being at the back of the ship or front. On all the cruises, I have been near the elevators/staircases. I do know that I prefer the shower only rooms, as compared to the shower/tub combinations.
I decided to eat breakfast in La Veranda, having fruit, hash, bacon and an omelet.
By mid-morning, it was time to enjoy the day by the pool. Even though it is Cinco de Mayo, they had Italian food (including pizza).
Chatted with John Barron, the cruise director and Heather, the lead singer for awhile before going to the computer room, where the internet was up and running for a few minutes and I could upload yesterday's log. Then the internet connection crashed again. By mid-afternoon, the internet was available in the suites, but still not working in the computer room.
I was a wise-acre this morning: Everyone on the cruise sees me walking around with the computer, and after sharing the Panama Crossing web cam views with the computer yesterday, everyone has been asking "Is the Internet working?" Today, in the coffee area a lady saw me working on my computer and she asked me: "Is your computer working?" I answered: "yes". She then said: "I though the internet was down". I said: "Yes it is". She then asked: "But your computer is working?" and I said: "yes". I then explained to her that I was typing my daily log and that did not require me to be online. Falls into the "ask what you mean" category.
At 5:30, a school of dolphin played in our wake for about 3 minutes. Tried to get a photo, but they were too quick.
I met up with Elsa, our Social Hostess in the Observation Lounge for pre-dinner drinks, then we walked over to La Veranda and joined Handre for a very nice dinner and chat. They are wonderful people.
After dinner, I went to the casino and finally did quite well.
May 6 - Puntarenas (Poont-ah-ray-nus), Costa Rica
Before I begin today's log, I should mention a comment made at dinner with Elsa and Handre last night. Elsa asked if I had ever considered doing one of the longer cruises (ie: the 100+ day world cruise). I told her that it is in the back of my head for some future date. She said that I should do it, because I am "the perfect passenger". It was a nice compliment.
Awoke at 6:30 as we were coming into port in Costa Rica. I was here last year, so have seen the sites. After breakfast, I went off the ship for a short walk down the pier and to the "flea market". Once again, it was mostly mass marketed items, but I did find the lady who sells the carved vases that she does herself and purchased 2 of them.
I returned to the ship and went out to the pool area for a bit of tanning and lunch. It was another "intense sun" day with a bit of humidity, so I did not stay in the sun too long.
Came back to the room and took a nap before dinner and the "Jazz Legends" show, which featured the singers and each member of the 9 piece orchestra in a solo. It was a very enjoyable program.
Off to the casino where they seemed to be able to take most of my nights worth of money in an hour....so I left the table and headed to bed.
Tonight, we turn the clocks forward an hour (told you that was going to happen), so we will now, once again, be 2 hours ahead of California time.
May 7 - Sea Day
Woke up at 7:30 and went down to the Coffee Corner for breakfast. Everyone got into a discussion about what time it was. Some had changed their watches, others had not. It was funny to hear everyone try to figure out what time zone we were in. It was "we have gone back two hours, forward one hour...so where are we?"
Being a sea day, I was out by the pool at around 10:30, had lunch, took in a bit more sun, then went on a tour of the crew area. The tour was given by Maria Vourdoba, the Human Resources Manager (and the only crew member of Greek decent). We went through the kitchen, bakery, food storage area, crew bar, crew mess, officers mess and ended up in the laundry room for champagne and finger food.
As we entered the laundry room, I told Nannette and her family (jokingly) to be on the lookout for the 2 pair of black pants that I sent down for pressing today. To our surprise, there they were hanging on the end of one of the racks with my room number on them (see photo page). I asked Alex, the head laundry person if he wanted me to carry them up to my room. He said no.
At the end of the tour, I went back to my room and there they were hanging inside the front door.
Got ready for the Seven Seas Society Social. There are over 75% repeat passengers with a total traveling time of just over 60 years.
I had dinner with Bob and his wife, an older couple who were on the Hawaii/Tahiti trip. Bob used to sell large electric motors and his territory was the entire west coast. "In the Day", he sold motors to Gallo to help them automate their business.
After dinner, it was off to watch Heather's Opera show. Even better than the first time.
Then it was off to the casino (broke even tonight), then down to the Horizon lounge where I spent a few hours chatting with the singers and dancers.
May 8 - Puerto Chiapas, Mexico
Awoke at 7 as we were pulling into Puerto Chiapas. It is a port, not a city. Chiapas is a state in Mexico and is next to Guatamala. This is only the 2nd time that this ship has been to this port. The pier itself is brand new. As we pulled in, we were serenaded by the locals. I was telling passengers that they could just see "money floating into their city". Right outside the ship is a small shopping "hut" called The Palapa, a swimming pool (with no chairs) and a restaurant of sorts. This is all set up just for cruise ships. The nearest town is a 40 minute drive from the pier, so I will be getting off the ship only to look at what they have for sale, see a bit of the entertainment they have set up, then come right back onto the ship.
The process of getting off the ship, looking at what they had in the Palapa and getting back on the ship took all of 10-15 minutes. They did have dancers in a step-down pit that kept dancing most of the day. With the humidity both inside and outside, I don't see how they could keep it up.
I decided to hang out by the pool where there was a small breeze, but more importantly, I could jump in and out of the pool (salt water) to keep cool.
While by the pool, an emergency call went out by the Safety Officer, the ships horn blew 4 times and the crew was off and running. The crew that happened to be out by the pool next to the Palapa (off the ship) came running back onboard. Found out later that there was a fire in the galley, as popcorn oil caught fire. The "all clear" call went out a few minutes later.
We left Puerto Chiapas at 6PM. As there have only been a few cruise ships visiting this port, many from the city turned out to wave goodbye to us. The wooden xylophone players and the dancers performed as we were pulling away.
Dinner was in the Compass Rose, then some time in the casino before going to the Mariner Lounge and visiting with a few of the singers and dancers as well as the cruise director until late in the evening.
May 9 - Huatulco (Who-ah-TOOL-ko), Mexico
Awoke at 6:30 and decided to do a load of laundry, which was done and ironed by 8. Down for breakfast and by 9, we were docked in Huatulco. As I have been here before, I only wanted to get a nice picture of the church and to walk around a little. It was VERY humid, so it became a quick walk, and I was back onboard the ship by 10:30. This is one of the cities where, if you are out on your own, many of the "vendors" come up to you to see if you want a taxi, personal tour or product. It is hard to avoid them and makes you want to get back onboard the ship quickly.
I did my usual tanning and lunch, then relaxed in my cabin for a bit.
We left Huatulco at 5, heading to Acapulco tomorrow.
I had another great dinner with Heather (she stood me up for lunch yesterday, so made it up tonight). I then went up to the casino to give them my donation, then it was to the Horizon lounge to listen to the jazz band.
There have been several evenings when sitting at dinner that you forget you are on a ship and think you are just at a nice restaurant...until you look out the windows and see the water splashing a few feet down. Same happens when you are in your cabin at night with the drapes pulled. Without the rocking of the ship, you would think that you were at home in your own room.
Another quiet, but very enjoyable day.
May 10 - Acapulco
Ok...someone needs to turn the humidifier off. This area really makes you appreciate the "dry heat" of the valley.
Awoke at 7 and had the usual breakfast in the Coffee Corner. We arrived in Acapulco at 9, and I decided to take a walk across the street and up the hill to the Fort of San Diego/Museum.
Walking out of the ship terminal, you are bombarded by the men who come up to you and say "taxi?", "where do you want to go?", "want to see town?" and even "Mexican Women". It is worse here than any other port. It got to the point where you just want to be left alone and hope that you can make it to where you are going without them following you all the way.
I walked up to the fort and took a walk around it (looking at the art sculptures), but not wanting to pay to go into the museum, I then came back to the ship (wet from the humidity), having to walk through the lines of "taxi?", etc again. I was very glad to be back onboard.
Of course, the rest of the late morning/early afternoon was spent by the pool, visiting with other passengers and having a nice leisurely lunch.
With the 3 blasts of the ships horn, we were out of port at 4PM.
Tonight's dinner was with Daniel Mason, the Cruise Consultant for the ship. He books future cruises that passengers may want to take. We just ended up chatting and closed the restaurant down at 9:45.
Then it was up to the casino where they took my money quickly and I was out of there.
The rest of the evening was spent in the Stars Nightclub visiting with other passengers.
May 11 - Sea Day
Nice to have another Sea Day. We turned back the clocks last night, so we are now one hour ahead of California time. I got up at 7:30 and went to La Veranda for breakfast. Not many people up yet. La Veranda is offering everyone champagne as they walk in (for Mother's Day).
There were a few dolphins having some fun towards the rear of the ship this morning....always fun to watch.
Went up to my room and had an invitation on the door. I have made the big time. I have been invited to the Captain's table on the last formal night of the cruise. The captain only does 3 of those per cruise, so I feel very honored.
"CODE BLUE"!! Yep...our first one of the cruise. Someone slipped in La Veranda and had to be taken out in a wheel chair. A nice Mother's Day for her, I'm sure. At least we did not have to veer off course or get a helicopter...but there is still time for that.
As usual, spent a bit of time by the pool, had a great BBQ lunch with a few of the entertainers and band members (including Henry, the trombone player who graduated from UOP).
Did my "sea day" afternoon deposit at the casino, then fell asleep for an hour in the chair on my balcony as the ocean drifted by.
Got ready for dinner and went back to the Horizon Lounge to catch one of the entertainers on the ship this week, Keith England. He is not that great. He had a full show in the theater last night, and I heard nothing but bad reviews. However, he was given a 2nd chance in the lounge and still was not great, but I ran into Heather and she asked me to dinner.
Afterwards, it was back to the casino for another round of Texas Hold 'Em, and back to the Mariner Lounge to catch the orchestra and to chat with a few of the crew members. I really enjoy spending this time with them.
May 12- Cabo San Lucas
Woke up at 7AM, just in time to have my teeth rattled by the ship. It was doing a good shimmy as we were anchoring off of Cabo. Anchor was set and the first tender was off at 7:30, guests were able to go ashore at 8. As I have been here before, and there was nothing new that I needed or wanted, I decided to stay aboard. This allowed me to get the last load of laundry done and then to enjoy the morning by the pool. It was a warm day, with the temperature near 95.
We stayed anchored until 2PM. The captain came on the speakers to tell us we were on our way, and that we may hit a bit of wind tomorrow night. As we pulled out of Cabo, the skies started to cloud up and the winds picked up. (I thought he said tomorrow night). At least the humidity has dropped...and it is getting quite cool.
Went to the casino for a bit and came out ahead (still have a way to go to come out ahead overall).
After that, it was off to the Horizon Lounge to hear Handre play piano and sing. He is an amazing composer. He is hoping to have a CD of his music available by the end of the year.
I had dinner by myself tonight, but after dinner, I walked over to a few tables of guests I know and asked them "Is there anything else I can get for you?". They know the stories of me being mistaken for a crew member.
After dinner, it was back to the casino where I once again came out ahead. Finally a nice casino day.
Went back to the room early. I am a bit tired. We turn back the clocks for the final time overnight, so we will be on California time as we head up the west coast of Mexico tomorrow.
May 13 - Sea Day
Ok...now that the humidity is gone, we need to turn up the heat. Once we rounded the corner of the West Coast, things have been on the chilly side. Although the sun is out today, there is a chilling wind that has kept everyone off the pool deck. There is an "American BBQ" up there for lunch, but I have a feeling, most will get the grilled items then head inside La Veranda and eat there. Those of us who enjoy being in the sun are hoping that the wind dies down a bit by afternoon so that we can enjoy it.
Today, I looked at my internet account (which is free because I have been on Regent cruises for over 25 days), and if this were not part of the benefits I receive, I would have a bill of over $1,300. Another reason to love Regent.
The BBQ was very good, especially the chicken and ribs. As thought, it was WAY too windy for anyone to be on the pool deck.
I spent the afternoon in the casino and doing some cleanup of my cabin in preparation for packing.
Dinner at the Captain's Table was very nice. I was escorted by Elsa, the Social Hostess. There were 10 others at the table. Although the couple next to me did nothing but complain about their "World Tour" on the sister ship Voyager (they changed over from Voyager to Mariner in Ft. Lauderdale to get back to the West Coast) it was still a nice evening. Elsa even apologized to me for having to sit next to them. We had 3 birthday people at the table, so there was a birthday cake presented to one of the ladies (85), then the cake was taken away and served to us.
Back up to the casino where I played for 2 hours and came out exactly even. Good entertainment.
May 14 - San Diego
Awoke at 7:30 and had breakfast and watched the ship dock in San Diego. I am meeting up with Gary McGuire today. He will be coming aboard the ship and having lunch.
They began customs check at 9:30 and were finished somewhere around at 10:30. I met Gary at the dock and we had to walk around the dock area until 11:30 until the ship was cleared for guests.
We spent the day touring the ship, having lunch in the Compass Rose, spending time by the pool and then sitting on my balcony watching the airplanes take off and land at San Diego Airport.
Gary left the ship at 5:15 and we were off at 6. The captain came on the speakers and told us that we might hit a bit of wind again tonight, but tomorrow "should not be terrible".
I had dinner with Handre in the Compass Rose and then it was off to the theater to see the last show of this production team "Ballroom Bravo". They did a spectacular job. When the show ended, the cast were each given a glass of champagne and a toast was made to all.
After the show, I spent a half hour in the casino, then I found part of the cast and we spent a few hours visiting.
Another nice day!!
May 15 - Sea Day
Awoke at 7:30 and went down to breakfast. At 9, came back up to the room and began packing (that really lets you know that your cruise is coming to an end). My housekeeper came in and asked if I needed help packing. I told her no, but she just stood there and watched. She only has 4 rooms to take care of this cruise, so is looking for things to do while some of the other passengers are sleeping in.
It is a slightly overcast and windy day, so all of the "tanners" are hovering around the pool waiting for it to warm up a bit.
At noon, an International BBQ was held at the pool deck. Quite a nice meal.
After that, I did get in an hour or so of sun, but it was still quite cool. By late afternoon, the winds began to die down and things began to get a bit warmer. I decided to sit out on my balcony for awhile.
On my door was a nice "thank you/goodbye" card from Elsa, the Social Hostess. A very nice touch !!
Dinner tonight was with Heather, Cody and Steven (Associate Producer of the Production Shows) and we chatted until 10.
Bags had to be outside the door at 11PM.
We should be going under the Golden Gate Bridge at about 7AM and we will dock around 8. Should be able to get off the ship between 9 and 9:30.
May 16 - San Francisco
Awoke at 6 and got ready to go out on the deck to watch us go under the Golden Gate Bridge, which took place at about 6:30. They did play "I Left My Heart In San Francisco", which is always very nice to hear as the City comes into view.
We were docked at 7:30 and the waiting game starts as everyone waits for their "group color" to be called to disembark....but first the ship must be cleared and the luggage unloaded into the terminal.
"Blue" was called at 9:40, grabbed my bags and the car was waiting. Home by 11:30, then grocery shopping, then I picked up Corky.
It was a wonderful cruise. I look forward to my next (provided I can find one either in or out of the west coast).