2011 Cruise - Amazon River

November 27, 2011 - Off to Ft. Lauderdale

Here we go! Awoke at 3:00 (way too early) and Vintage Limousine arrived at 3:30. A bit foggy as we left, but it cleared a bit as we got towards Sacramento. Quick check-in, thanks to First Class flying status, and only a short line in security. Matt got to go through the new body scan machines. He will be sending his x-ray to his doctor (saves time and money).
We had an hour and a half layover in Houston, which went fast, and were in Fort Lauderdale shortly after 5 where the temperature is 77 degrees. Caught a taxi to the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty Six for the evening. We have already decided NOT to use the bus transfer to the pier tomorrow but, instead, take a taxi over.
We ate dinner at "Grill 66", part of the Hotel Complex. Very nice food. I had a Filet Mignon and Matt had Shrimp and Scallop Brochette. We ate outside, which is along the marina. Next to us was the Yacht "Triumphant Lady", which is owned by Judge Judy. It is HUGE. She rents it out for $150,000 a week. It is up for sale for 18 million.
Back to the room to watch "Amazing Race" and call it a night.

November 28, 2011 - Boarding the Ship

We got up at 8:30 and had the complimentary buffet breakfast at the hotel (provided by the cruise line, as was the hotel room). We packed up and headed to the ship shortly after 11, arriving at the port at 11:30. We went through security very quickly and were seated to wait for the check-in until 12:00. We were in the second group to board, and went directly to the pool grill for lunch. I had a cuban sandwich with fries and Matt had spicy (well...more bbq than spicy) chicken wings with a plate of catfish. We walked around the ship until 2:45, when our cabin was ready. It was then time for the mad hour and a half of unpacking and ironing a few shirts that did not fair as well as others in the suitcase. We are 2 doors down and across the hall from the laundry room which has 2 sets of washers/dryers and one ironing board.
4:15 brought the mandatory boat drill. All of the ship goes to the theater. It seats just about everyone with just a few in the overflow in the lounge. We heard the speech from the Captain, then had to put on our lifejackets, then head outside to where our lifeboats would be. There are only 6 lifeboats. 4 hold 150, 2 hold 50. If there were an actual emergency, there would be a mass of people tripping over each other getting to the theater.
One gentleman got ill being out in the sun and had to go in and sit on the staircase, which held the rest of us up from going back inside until he could be put in a wheelchair and moved out of the way.
Back to the room to put the life vests away and back outside for the sail away party. We were to have pulled away from the dock at 5, but did not leave until 5:45.
We went back to the room to shower and get ready for dinner in the Compass Rose, the main dining room. Quite a nice dinner. Matt's main course was scallops, and mine was lamb chops, both of our courses featured in Prime 7, the specialty restaurant. This year, they have added 2 items from Prime 7 to the Compass Rose menu. A nice addition.
After dinner, we checked out the casino and then headed back to the room to call it a night. We have to move our clocks ahead one hour tonight, making us 4 hours ahead of West Coast time.

November 29, 2011 - At Sea

Awoke at 8:00 to find the ship rocking, rolling and bobbing a bit more than I like. I took a bonine pill. It is 72 degrees out with 87 percent humidity. We have gone 218 nautical miles and have 792 to go before getting to St. Barts. The cabin is a bit warm, as the air conditioning does not seem to be able to keep up.
We had breakfast at La Veranda, the buffet. They did not allow outside eating as it was too windy. They also had the walking deck (11) closed due to winds.
After breakfast, we ended up sleeping again until the Captain's noon message.
We had a light lunch at La Veranda and then I spent a few hours tanning by the pool, as Matt relaxed in the room.
When I returned, there was an invitation for us to join Florian, the food and beverage manager who I have been on several cruises with, at dinner tomorrow night, which is the Captain's Reception/Dinner night.
There was the usual "Block Party" at 5:45, where you come out of your cabin with an empty wine glass and meet your neighbors as the crew pours wine and serves finger food. There is a couple on our floor that are from Morada and know many people that we know, including Ort Lofthus and his family.
At the end of the Block Party, the air conditioning was finally turned on on our floor. There had been some problems, and it had been getting a bit warm in the room.
Dinner was in Compass Rose. I had steak and Matt had the Lamb Chops.
We spent some time in the casino losing money before the evening's show, starring Brandi Chapman, who spent a lot of her career in Branson working for Roy Clark. She had a very nice show.
A few more minutes in the casino before calling it a night.

November 30, 2011 - At Sea

Awoke at 8:00 with the temperature being 79 degrees and 69 percent humidity.
We had breakfast in the Compass Rose, which consists of the same things offered at La Veranda, with a menu service instead of buffet. Doubt we will do it again as it is a much slower meal.
Back to the room where Janice, our stewardess, was still making up the room, so we went out to the pool deck to sit until she was done.
I went out to sun by the pool at 11:00 and stayed until 2:00, when Matt came out and we had lunch together by the pool.
The captain announced that we have gone 750 nautical miles (at noon) and had 350 to go before St. Barts. He expects us to drop anchor right around 9AM.
We walked around the ship for a bit and then spent most of the afternoon in the room going through the itinerary and looking at an atlas.
Got ready for the Captain's Reception, which began at 6:00. While there, we met up with Brandi Chapman, the featured performer last night. She chatted with us awhile and then we learned that she would be at our table for dinner. We had a great meal and wonderful conversation with her, Florian (Food and Beverage Mgr.) and another couple.
Brandi joined us for the evening's show, "Just Swing" with the Jean Ann Ryan Singers and Dancers, featuring Denys Petrenko and Caroline Warwick-Oliver, the two acrobatic specialty team. They did quite well, the rest of the show was just so-so.
After the show we went to the casino to give our nightly donation, then it was to bed at 11:30.

December 1, 2011 - St. Barts

Awoke at 8:00. It was 81 degrees out with 68 per cent humidity. We had a quick breakfast in La Veranda and got ready for today's excursion. Here is the description:

Depart the pier aboard your catamaran for the cruise to the Bay of Colombier. Upon arrival, you can swim in the crystal-clear waters and explore the beach. Your captain and hostess will also inform you about the local marine life. During your cruise, you will be served a light snack and an open-bar featuring sodas, beer, juice and homemade rum punch.

It was as described. The ride to the bay was about 20 minutes via sailboat type catamaran. We tied to a buoy and had time to snorkel. Matt stayed onboard while I went in. Water was nice (near 80).
After getting back to the pier, we took a walk along the waterfront, up a steep hill to Fort Oscar, which I thought was on outlook. It was the Police station. Fort Karl is the overlook and is at the other end of a long street. We walked over there, then up the staircase. The fort is long gone and there are only a few stones left. The stairway up to the fort is long and the steps are each a different height and length. It offered a great view of one of the beaches and the ocean around the island.
We walked back through town, looking at a few shops. Things here are very expensive. One couple had a club sandwich and a soda each that came to a total of $50.
We then boarded the tender back to the ship, had hot dogs by the pool and then went back to the room.
Dinner in the Compass Rose tonight was good (herb encrusted lamb), but was a bit slow in service. Seems everyone arrived there as the restaurant opened and they had a hard time keeping up.
We enjoyed Brandi Chapman's second show, then a few minutes at the casino before heading to the cabin.

December 2, 2011 - St. Lucia

Once again, we woke up at 8:00. It was again 81 degrees, but humidity was up to 82 percent. We pulled into the dock at Castries, we could see the Azamara "Journey" and the Silversea "Cloud" already in port. They got the bad side of the port, and we got the side which the town was on. From their side, you either walked around the U-shaped bay or took a taxi. We had direct access.
We ate breakfast and got ready for the 10:00 departure of our excursion, which ended up being delayed 15 minutes. Not bad, but there were the complainers.
Our tour was 7 hours long and began by boarding a catamaran at the pier and set sail for a quick pass of Marigot Bay and then to Anse Cochon for a quick 30 minute swim/snorkel, around more of the island to see the Pitons (the 2 large volcanic caps that make this area famous) before ending this part of the excursion in Soufriere.
We boarded small vans (with all of us packed into every seat available). We drove to Sulpher Springs to see them (and yes, it smells of sulphur), then it was time for a 2:00 lunch at a historic estate that was never explained to us. They had coleslaw, a tuna salad, pasta, rice, beans, Caribbean chicken, a fish dish of some sort, a green banana dish that nobody seemed to like, with carrot cake for desert.
Then it was off to the Diamond Botanical Gardens and waterfall. Our guide pointed out every plant, which got old, then when we got to the waterfall, he gave us about 2 minutes for photos before heading back out. We then went back to the town of Soufriere to finally board larger (if you call it that) busses. At least it was more air conditioned. We took it back to the pier (a 2 hour adventure) stopping to see the town from a view point on top of the hill. The entire town of Soufriere is in a crater. The city streets are VERY narrow with gutter drop-offs on each side. The streets are barely wide enough for 2 cars. We noticed that there were no motorcycles anywhere on the island, just cars and vans.  We drove through the fishing village of Anse la Raye, before getting back to the pier at 5:00, just as it was starting to rain.
Back on the ship, dinner in Compass Rose then breaking even, for once,  in the casino.
I went back to the cabin and Matt went to the show, which was Erik Bryan, the production lead singer. Matt said that he sang both opera and Broadway songs. He was good, but picks songs that are not in his range.

December 3, 2011 - Tobago

Awoke at 6:30 with 78 degrees and 81 per cent humidity. Had breakfast served in the cabin before our 8:00 excursion. We were delayed by a half hour due to a "small strike issue with the taxi/bus drivers" that seemed to get settled pretty quickly. Several of the water based excursions were cancelled because of the high waves and "lack of visibilty", which we did not notice. We were delayed about 45 minutes. Being that we had to be back on board ship at 11:30, a 4 hour tour of Tobago would turn out to be 2 1/2 hours. We were put on a small 20 person bus, which was not air conditioned. Well...they said it was, but it did not seem to help.
We began by driving away from the port to Fort James, then on to the Mystery Tombstone, Fort King George, a drive through the portico of a hotel, a small shopping stop, then back to the bus. The country seemed to be pretty much on the poor side. Right next to the pier were a lot of homes of squatters. They were made out of corrugated metal, very small and "built" back-to-back.
Even though there was not a lot to see, the guides were very proud of their country.
The day was overcast and only had a few showers at the beginning of our tour. It did become pretty humid as the morning went on.
Back to the ship in time for the 11:30 boarding, then up to La Veranda for lunch. The ship left port right at noon, still very overcast, with dark clouds.
I posted photos and Matt decided to take a nap. I headed out to the pool, but by then, it had started to rain, so I spent time walking around the ship and chatting with other passengers.
A lot of passengers wondered why we had a stop in Tobago, as there is not a lot to see or do, and many who went out on their own were surrounded by sellers and people wanting to take them out in taxis.
We went to the 6:00 cocktail party/show for Gold, Platinum and Titanium Seven Seas Society Members. That is determined by how many days you have spent on a Regent ship. Gold is over 75, Platinum over 200, and Titanium over 400. Although Matt still qualifies as Silver, he receives Gold status by being with me. The show was a singing trio from Rio and a dance couple doing samba numbers.
Then it was off to dinner in Compass Rose and the casino.
Clocks turn ahead for us tonight, so we will be 5 hours ahead of West Coast time.

December 4, 2011 - Sea Day

This is one of those days where there is not a lot to report. We got up at 8:30 and had breakfast...it was Sunday "Champagne and Caviar"... and we had neither. It was 84 degrees and 64 per cent humidity and finally sunny.
I went out to the pool deck for some tanning, while Matt did laundry. We met up at 12:30 for lunch in La Veranda, then I went back out in the sun and Matt began reading a book.
We met up again at 3:00 to play for an hour at the casino, before going back to the room to rest a bit before dinner.
One of the new additions to the Navigator is covers on top of the lounge chair cushions. (see pool photos from Nov. 30th. I understand why they use them, as they go through less towels, but the covers are not changed during the day or after each person's use, which I don't thrill on.
Ate at the Compass Rose, played a bit of Three Card Poker and then went to the theater to see comedian/classical guitarist Bob Posch. He told some great jokes and performed 3 songs.
We decided to call it an early evening.

December 5, 2011 - Sea Day

Another sea day. I like them because they are relaxing and I get sun time. Matt is never too thrilled by them.
We awoke at 8 and had breakfast once again at La Veranda, but this time outside on the back deck.
We received an e-mail from Janet and Phil (who I have been on several cruises with and who will be joining us for a few hours aboard our ship when we are in Manaus), who have been kind enough to tell us about our future ports. They are on Holland America one day ahead of us. They went to Devil's Island, which will we will get to on the 14th. They talked about a hotel guest who was feeding bananas to the monkeys on the island and now Matt is very excited to take part.
I went out to tan and Matt sat by the pool reading his book. One of the first things that we noticed was that the pool was a greenish/brown color from the water we had taken from the ocean. The ocean water is beginning to get brown from the water of the Amazon.
We met up for lunch..."Tex/Mex"...and then back to our places until mid-afternoon when Matt took a nap and I walked around the ship.
We knew we wanted to see the production show tonight "Cirque Navigator", but had already had 8:30 dinner reservations at the nice "Prime 7" restaurant. We talked to the maitre d last night who told us to arrive at 8 and there would probably be a table for us. We did...and there wasn't. We were sent to the lounge to wait and finally got seated at 8:35. We rushed, and I mean rushed, through dinner and made it just in time for the show.
It is a good show with lots of aerial flying, which is amazing that they can even do in the small showroom. The show really makes no sense, even though they tell you the plot of a land where there is a bad crow and another character who can kill it. The crow never appears after that. You expect that there would be a battle in there somewhere. There is also a "Riverdance" sequence in there that just does not seem to fit. They also sing "Gravity' from "Wicked" and there is no flying during that song, which really needs to be there at that time. I mean the song IS all about defying gravity.
The acrobatic couple do a very nice job, and the older audience loved the show.
We gambled after the show and finally came out even. That was nice for a change.
When we got back to the room, we each had the certificate for crossing the equator. That will probably come overnight and there will be the equator crossing ceremony tomorrow night before dinner.
The ocean water is now a muddy brown color, as we are beginning to enter the Amazon River.
At midnight, it is still 82 degrees outside.

December 6, 2011 - Macapa and in the Amazon River

We entered the Amazon River overnight and I awoke at 7:30 as we were anchoring in Macapa for a technical stop. That means that we were not allowed off the ship. I went back to bed and we awoke at 8:30 and went to La Veranda for breakfast. Most of the breakfast food is the same daily, just one main entree is different should you care to order it. The rest of the items are buffet.
I went up to the top deck to lay in the sun and Matt finished his novel and began a book that he needs to read for school.
We met up for lunch and were joined by Nancy and Tom  for a "South American Stews Buffet" by the pool deck. Needless to say, I had a hot dog with fries.
I went back to tanning and Matt to reading.
As we are going down the Amazon, several young men come out to the ship either in their motorized or paddle boats. No one is sure if they are waving or wanting someone to throw things overboard to them.
The river is several miles wide and looks, so far, much like the Delta, but with very muddy waters.
Exotic bugs are beginning to show up onboard, so I am trying to get photos of a few of them.
At 6, it was time for the Equator Crossing Party by the pool as the "pollywogs" on the ship (those who have never crossed the equator by sea) become "shellbacks". King Neptune and his Queen show up and a few of the crew members who have never crossed the equator before are slimmed with colored egg whites as they represent the passengers who have not crossed. Then each passenger who is becoming a shellback lines up and kisses a fish.
We had a nice dinner at Compass Rose, then joined Rita and Sonny at the 3 card poker table for a few hours of fun.

December 7, 2011 - Santarem, Brazil

Awoke at 8:30 to listen to Terry Breen talk about the "Meeting of the Waters" as we were coming into Santarem. This is where the muddy waters of the Amazon meet clear waters and each is at a different temperature. They do not mix.
As our tour did not begin until 12:30, we had breakfast in La Veranda, then went out to see what the sellers had in their handicraft booths on the pier. There were about a dozen vendors selling their wares. We are not allowed to bring any of the piranhas back on the ship, and should someone buy anything made of wood or leather, they have to leave it when boarding to get sprayed for bugs or infestation, and then it would be brought to your cabin later.
As we got underway, it was 84 degrees, going for a high of 93, with 76 per cent humidity.
We went on the "Forest Nature Walk". As described:

 You'll take a 40-minute drive from the pier toward the Santarém-Cuiaba Highway, the only road that connects this part of the Amazon with other points in Brazil. The highway climbs to an elevation of 518 feet, which is considered a "high altitude" level in the otherwise flat region of the Amazon. From here, your bus will enter a rugged roadway leading to the forest of Santa Lucia. Along the way, you can observe the different stages of "slash and burn" agriculture, and its effect on the forest. At Bosque Santa Lucia, your guide will choose one of more than three miles of forest trails for a pleasant nature walk. This forest contains more than 400 different species of regional trees, some of which have been labeled for easy identification.

Yep, the roadway was bumpy and the bus was not air-conditioned. Our guide, Ed, described most every tree we saw. We did more standing than walking, and the mosquitoes were finding us. Good thing we used the spray. We were glad to get back on the bus and even more, back to the ship.
We had a quick snack on the pool deck before going back to the room. Matt began doing laundry as the machines were empty.
Dinner in Compass Rose, then up to the casino. Matt got a straight flush on three card poker for a $200 payoff, which helped us come back a bit.

December 8, 2011 - Boca Da Valeria, Brazil

We turned the clocks back one hour last night, putting us, once again, 4 hours ahead of the West Coast.
We awoke at 7:30, just as we were dropping anchor in Boca Da Valeria, "mouth of the water", where only 175 people live.
After breakfast in La Veranda, we boarded the tender. There were several locals in rowboats right up against the side of the tender who were either trying to sell their wares or trying to get us to take photos of them with their sloths or birds.
Once we tendered over, all of the area children, and there were a ton of them, all lined up and tried to grab your hand in an attempt to be your "guide" through town. If they do guide you, they expect a dollar. The rest of the town either has animals (sloths, birds, caimans, snakes, etc) or are dressed up in Indian-like costumes all in hopes of you taking their photo...once again, for a dollar. When they are paid, they run the money to the adult females that are scattered around. However, there are very few adults to be seen.  Most of the adult males are standing around with oars in their hands, willing to take you for a one hour canoe ride on the river for five dollars.
All of the buildings are on stilts or on hills. I did notice that most of the houses do have satellite, so they are making enough money off of the visitors to pay for that. The entire main walk though the town is about a quarter mile, with a few paths that lead off here and there with other houses along those. We took one and Matt was followed by a man with an oar who, by default, became our guide...whether we wanted him or not. He was happy to point out "Bamboo" and "Birds" to Matt. I just went ahead and tried to ignore him. Matt finally paid him two dollars, just to make him go away.
As we came back into town, which does have a "bar" (think elevated hut with drinks available) and 2 toilets, I kept feeling poking on my back. I finally realized that it was the kids in town pointing at the Mickey Mouses on my shirt.
We learned that the crew of our ship had taken up a collection amongst themselves of used shirts and other clothing to take over to give to the townspeople.
We were back onboard the ship at 10:00 and I laid out while Matt continued his book. We had lunch with Nancy and Tom on the pool deck (Subway sandwich buffet day), watched an ice carving demonstration, more sun tanning, then to the casino (broke even) and then back to the cabin.
We love some of the scenery along the Amazon, which is quite wide...up to several miles wide.
Dinner was in Compass Rose. Although I tried the "sweet pea gnocchi", I had to trade it in for the Turkey dinner with "orange flavored whipped potatoes". There are a few odd items on the menu each night. Not sure where the executive chef is coming up with this.
One other thing that has changed with this cruise. On all the other cruises I have taken, each night not in a port had an entertainer or a production show. This cruise, we have already had 4 "Popcorn Movie" nights. I think Regent is cutting back on their entertainment budget.
Back to the casino for a few hands of cards and pulls of slots, then off to bed at 9.

December 9, 2011 - Manaus, Brazil

Awoke at 7:00 to watch our first crossing of the "Meeting of the Waters" and to listen to the commentary by Terry Breen.
The "Meeting of the Waters" occurs about 8 miles from Manaus when the "white" Solimoes Rivers meets the "black" Rio Negro. This phenomenon is due to the differences in temperature, speed and water density of the two rivers. The Rio Negro flows at near 1.2 mph and 84 degrees, while the Rio Solimoes flows about 3.7 mph at 72 degrees.
We had breakfast in Compass Rose while the ship docked in Manaus at 9:00.
Holland America's ship was already in port as they arrived the night before and will be leaving in the afternoon. Janet and Phil, who are on that ship (and have been on several cruises with me), came over to our ship. I had to meet them downstairs and brought them up to our cabin. We chatted for awhile and then had lunch together in La Veranda. It was great to be able to see them.
Matt and I had to leave them at 1:00 to go to the pier for our excursion. They stayed in our cabin to get some internet work done before going back over to their ship.
Our excursion was nice, although VERY long. We first went by riverboat on the Rio Negro and then switched over to a motorized canoe to cruise Lake January and vie the giant water lilies. There was only one small group of them, but they were quite large. We also saw all of the temporary "homes" that are built on stilts. We then went back to landing/restaurant/shop to switch back to the riverboat and go back out to see the Meeting of the Waters. Our guide talked non-stop, which became annoying. It was a 45 minute ride out to see the waters (which we saw in the morning) and another 45 minutes back to the pier. We did not get back until near 5:00.
We had dinner in Compass Rose, then went out by the pool deck to see  "Frutos Do Pagode", a local band brought onboard for the evening. Not the greatest. I was very tired and not in a social mood, so we stayed on the top deck, not going down to the pool deck.
As the casino was closed (as they do when in any port), we called it a night.

December 10, 2011 - Manaus, Brazil

Day two in Manaus started with Breakfast in La Veranda, then off on our excursion, "Highlights of Manaus". Thank goodness it was on an air conditioned bus, because it was very hot and humid out. Traffic was heavy to say the least. It took about 5 minutes to go one block in the busy downtown area. Our 3 hour tour turned out to be 4. We had three stops. First was the Military Zoo. Not a lot of animals, but a nice assortment of what could be seen in Brazil.
Next was the beautiful Theatro Amazonas...the Opera House. We went inside to learn a bit about it, viewing from the main floor, the first balcony and then on to the ballroom.
Our third stop was the un-air conditioned Indian Museum where no photos could be taken.
It was back to the terminal, where we spent a few minutes, then out to the street to look at the shopping for another 5 minutes. The sidewalks are full of people, so it just got a bit crowded for us, and they did tell us that it was not the safest place to be. It certainly is not the cleanest. It was then back to the ship to have lunch.
I tanned a bit and Matt watched 2 movies in the room.
Dinner and gambling (where Matt received two straight flushes for a total of $400..we are beginning to catch up a bit) and then off to bed.

December 11, 2011 - Parintins, Brazil

I awoke at 7:30 and went out to the pool deck to have a bowl of cereal and some fruit for breakfast, then spent an hour and a half in the sun. Matt got up just before 10. We had an early lunch, as the ship was anchoring off of Parintins at 11:00. We went ashore at noon and walked around the town a bit. Being a Sunday and after 12:00, almost all the shops were closed and the streets very quiet.
At 1:30, we went into the city's Convention Center to watch the "Boi Bumba" show. It was put on by the younger people in the town and is quite the production. It is a show based on a legend of a resurrected bull. That part is hard to figure out, but the costumes and the showmanship were great. It ran a little over an hour. It is a small version of the three day event that takes place on the last weekend of June. That event is the second largest annual festival in Brazil (next to Carnival in Rio de Janeiro).
After the show, we walked around the city some more, bought a soft drink and made our way back to the tender.
We were back on the ship at 5, had dinner in Compass Rose, gambled a bit and called it a night.
Clocks go forward one hour tonight, so we are back to 5 hours ahead of West Coast time.

December 12, 2011 - At Sea

Sea Day! Up at 8:30 and to breakfast. I went out in the sun and Matt did several loads of laundry. We met up for lunch by the pool, then I did a bit more sunning and Matt watched a movie.
We went to the Regent Society Party given for those who have been on Regent before. It was very nice.
Off to dinner, the show "Viva La Vida" and gambling. A restful day!
We are halfway back out of the Amazon River, expected to hit the Atlantic Ocean around 10AM tomorrow.

December 13, 2011 - At Sea

We crossed back over the equator at about 1:00AM, and out of the Amazon around 10:00AM.
I awoke at 7:30 and went out to the pool deck to have a light breakfast. Matt awoke around 9:30 and we both went to Terry Breen's10:00 lecture on Devil's Island, which we will be at tomorrow. We will actually be on the island of "Ile Royale", one of the 3 islands of French Guiana that were used for the prison system of France.
After her lecture, I went to get some tanning done, while Matt finished his laundry. We met up for the "Pasta and Pizza" lunch on the pool deck.
I then went back to tanning and Matt took a nap. The ship began to rock and roll a bit more and more as the afternoon wore on.
We had dinner with Duane and Judy. They are from Alaska and a very nice couple.
A bit of gambling after dinner, then off to bed.

December 14, 2011 - Devil's Island

We got up at 7:30 and the ship anchored near Devil's Island at 8:00. It is 81 degrees with
79 percent humidity. There are 3 islands that make up the "Iles du Salut". The island we are visiting is "Ile Royale", which held most of the prisoners from France. Those who were political prisoners were sent to the actual "Devil's Island". Escape from these islands, even though they are only 10 miles off the coast of French Guiana, was almost impossible. First there is the tide with terrible undertow and then there were the sharks that the guards fed regularly to keep them around.
The island of Ile Royale is only 70 acres. We walked around the outer path first and then climbed the hill to all of the buildings. Cells, accommodations for guard's families, lighthouse, doctor's house, church, school, Superintendent's house and many more.
There are quite a few animals on the island, but we did not see any monkeys (so Matt was a bit disappointed).
We had one rain shower about 15 minutes after arriving on the island, but it passed quickly.
I stayed on the island until 12:00 and Matt stayed until about 3:00. It was very hot and very humid by afternoon.
We pulled up anchor a half hour early (at 4:30) with another sea day ahead of us.
Dinner in Compass Rose and, of course gambling before bedtime.
We turn our clocks back one hour to put us 4 hours ahead of West Coast time again.

December 15, 2011 - At Sea

This is our last sea day for a week, as we begin going island to island back to back.
Woke up this morning at 8 and went to breakfast only to find that the entire ship has now been decorated for Christmas. You forget that it is the Christmas season when there are no TV ads to watch or newspaper ads to see, no Christmas music playing and 85+ degree temperatures.
After breakfast, I did the normal sea day tanning thing and Matt went to a lecture on future cruises.
We met up for a bit as Matt did lunch. I am holding off, knowing there is a big dinner ahead at the Prime 7 restaurant.
We went to play slots for a bit, but that money went quickly, so I went back out in the sun and Matt took a bath.
Before dinner, there was a special pre-dinner "Christmas Show" put on by the production team along with the Cruise Director and his wife. It was 40 minutes long.
Dinner in "Prime 7" and it was quite good. I had the filet mignon and Matt had steak and crab legs.
After dinner, it was the usual hour in the casino, then bedtime for me, while Matt stayed up until 1:00 talking with crew and other passengers.

December 16, 2011 - Barbados

We awoke at 7:15, just as the ship was docking in Bridgetown, the capitol of Barbados. There are 3 other ships here: Caribbean Princess, Ventura (P&O Lines) and the AIDA Luna. The Luna was in Tobago on December 3 when we were there.
We ate in La Veranda, then came back to the room to get ready for our excursion, "Luxury 4X4 Safari".
The jeep held 10 people in the back and they were quite nice seats. We were joined by Duane and Judy on our jeep, which made it fun.
As described:

Boarding your Land Rover at the pier, you'll depart in convoy, heading first to the parish of St. George where you will be able to view the renowned Gun Hill Signal Station. As you pass this historical site, look for the statue of a lion that was carved from a single piece of stone by Captain Henry Wilkinson in 1868.
Proceeding to St. Joseph, you'll next venture into Joe's River Forest. Winding along its tree-lined paths, admire rows of fichus, white woods, cabbage palms, mahogany and bearded fig trees. Home to a host of wildlife, this tropical rainforest covers 85 acres of hills, gullies and plains.

At Bathsheba you will stop briefly to delight in striking vistas of rugged hillsides and pounding surf. Then, re-board your vehicle for the drive to Cattlewash Hill where you will enjoy a refreshing beverage as you look out over Barbados' lovely countryside.
From here, you'll journey through quaint villages and be treated to some spectacular views while making your way back to the port. Your route also travels through the upscale area of the famous West Coast, home to many five-star hotels and resorts.

At the stop in Bathsheba, there was a man who had a monkey. You could get your photo taken with the monkey (for a price), and since Matt did not get to see any monkeys on Devil's Island, we decided to go ahead and get a photo here (see photo page).
We arrived back at the pier at 12:00, had a quick lunch in La Veranda, then went out again for a walk to downtown Barbados, which is only about 10 minutes away. The main street was crowded, but walking along the waterside was not. We looked at some of the stores at the Pelican Craft Center, but most of the items here look like the same ones at the other Caribbean islands
We returned an hour and a half later and I went out to the pool while Matt took a shuttle to "The Boatyard", a resort to use their beach for the afternoon.
Before dinner, there was a singer and a steel drum player by the pool.
Dinner in Compass Rose where we watched as the ship went out of port at 8:00.
Quick stop at the casino before calling it an early night.

December 17, 2011 - Roseau, Dominica

We awoke at 7:15 with the temperature being 78 and only 56 percent humidity. What a difference that makes. We docked in Roseau just before 8, as we were finishing a small breakfast in La Veranda. Neither of us wanted to eat a lot before our snorkel.
We met in the theater at 8:45 and boarded the catamaran shortly after 9. We went along the coast to the area with "Champagne Bubbles"...bubbles coming up from the volcano that the island is. We snorkeled for 30-40 minutes, but because the wind was up, the sea was a bit rough and the waters kind of murky. My stomach was bothering me a bit, so I went back on the catamaran a few minutes early. From there we went around the cove for a few more minutes of snorkeling before landing ashore in the town of Soufriere. Matt went ashore to take a few photos while I laid out on the webbing on the front of the catamaran. We then headed back to the ship, made a quick trip up to the room to drop off our backpacks, then it was back out to the pier for our "Whale and Dolphin Watch". The seas were still rough and not a whale or dolphin to be seen or heard during our 2 1/2 hour tour.
Back to the ship at 3:30 and the ship left port at 4. I fell asleep on a lounge chair on the upper deck while Matt watched TV in the room.
Dinner tonight was great food and conversation in Compass Rose with Christopher and Erin from  Destinations Services.
After dinner, a bit of gambling then off to bed.

December 18, 2011 - Road Town, Tortola

Road Town is the Capitol of the British Virgin Islands.
We awoke at 7:15 with an expected anchoring at 9:00, and our excursion to begin moments after. We had our normal light breakfast in La Veranda, then went to the theater at 8:45 to get our tender tickets. Jamie, the Cruise Director, came on the speaker system to tell us that another ship was just ahead of us (at the pier) and the pilot boat was helping it, then would come over to us as we anchor. There would be a 45 minute delay. It was 72 degrees out, 62 per cent humidity and overcast with a bit of a drizzle.
We boarded the tender at 9:45 and went over to the island an aboard the Catamaran. It was a very nice cruise over to our 2 snorkeling locations. The first was at a beach. It had a small pier with tons of fish swimming around and under it. There was also a small reef to one side that was quite nice too. Our second stop was a sheltered reef that was very pretty. We had about 40 minutes of snorkel time at each stop.
It was back to the pier at 2:00. We then walked around the market area of the pier and there was nothing that we had not seen at other island stops.
Back to the tender and the ship and a quick lunch in La Veranda. Both of us took a late afternoon nap, as the ship departed at 5:00.
A nice dinner in Compass Rose followed by the usual stop at the casino before bedtime. Matt stayed up and chatted with guests until 2:00.

December 19, 2011 - Samana and Cayo Levantado

We slept in until 8:30 and had lunch in La Veranda before our 10:00 meeting time in the Theater. There were 2 things happening today....the excursions, and going over to Cayo Levantado (a little island in Samana Bay) to spend the day on the beach and have a BBQ lunch.
Those going on excursions are taken off the ship by locals, those going to Cayo Levantado go by ship tender.
We were picked up by the locals and went to the town of Samana to get aboard our catamaran. It is 78 degrees with 71 percent humidity. On the way over, you notice all of the cocoanut and palm trees on the island. We made our way to our first stop, Punta Lirio Beach. Our guide, Wellington, told us all about the different plants and trees that produce the fruit that the locals live off of. We then were offered all types of fruit along with fruit punch. There was one local on the island selling items that the local children put together, and paintings that he did.
We next went to Cayo Faola for snorkeling. It was pretty rough water, which was also a bit cooler than our previous stops. Some of the passengers did not even get in. The water was a bit murky and there were not a lot of fish, although we saw a lot of starfish on the bottom of the ocean.
We then made our way over to Cayo Levantado for lunch and suntanning on the beach. This island is set up for tourists and cruise ships, with several coming over each day. They have a large area set up with lounge chairs and a BBQ area. We were given wrist bands upon arrival, which allowed us to have the BBQ and free drinks. They had hotdogs, hamburgers, BBQ chicken, kabobs and salads available. It is quite a nice island. There was also an area that had several vendors selling "local" ware that looks pretty much the same as what is offered on other islands, except these guys are a bit more aggressive when you get near their stand. Makes you want to find the quickest escape.
We stayed for 2 hours, then tendered back to the ship where Matt started laundry and I tanned on the upper deck.
We rested a bit before dinner, the "On Broadway" show and time in the casino.

December 20, 2011 - Grand Turk

Our last port of call is Grand Turk. We awoke at 8:30 (after the ship docked at 8). We were docked next to the "Nieuw Amsterdam" from Holland America. It carries 2,100 passengers, but sure looks like it carries more. It is LONG!!
Someday when our ship grows up, it might become that. I would never go one one that big.
It is a beautiful day. 77 degrees and 50 percent humidity.
We had breakfast and got ready for our "Coral Reef" excursion. We got off the ship and went to the pier. This whole area was set up by Carnival Cruise Lines and is quite a big complex with high end shopping, large swimming pool and nice beaches.
We boarded our vessel and, because of waves, headed in a different direction than was scheduled. Our first stop was at a reef with a 5,000 foot drop off. The views were quite clear and one of the crew carried a bottle with fish food and attracted a large amount of fish in our area. Made photo taking quite easy.
Our second stop was at a shallower reef. Not as many fish, but still a nice snorkeling site.
On our way back to the ship, we spotted a whale blowing water. We went in it's direction and got quite close to see it breach. Matt caught a great shot of it's tail (see photo page).
We went back to the pier complex and walked around for awhile before heading back to the ship for lunch and relaxation.
It was a formal night which began with the Captains Farewell Cocktail Party and "Krew Kapers", a farewell show put on by the Crew. It is a fun 45 minute show featuring some of their local dances.
A nice dinner in Compass Rose was followed by gambling and an early bedtime.
In our room, we found our luggage tags, immigration forms and comment cards. That indicates that the cruise is coming to an end.

December 21, 2011 - Sea Day

I awoke at 8:30 and had breakfast, then went sunning on the deck. Matt slept in and we met up for lunch. Afterwards, I began packing while Matt watched TV. I then went out on the deck again while Matt packed. I picked up our passports at the reception desk. The activity on the ship (after lunch) went very quiet. I think everyone is packing.
We watched TV until dinner time, then went gambling, back to the room to do last minute packing as bags had to be out at 11:00.

December 22, 2011 - Homeward Bound

After cruising 6,683 Nautical Miles, our ship docked back at Fort Lauderdale at 7:00AM. We awoke at 7:15 and got ourselves ready for the trip home. It was breakfast at 8, then off the ship at 8:45 to the airport. Our 11:42 flight was posted as "Delayed", but only ended up being 12 minutes late. Because of the weather, the pilot thought it would be a longer flight, as the FAA was routing the planes around storms. That would have made it almost impossible to make the connection from Houston to SF. We ended up back on the right route and to Houston on time. When we got to the departure gate, they were just starting to board the plane, so there was no waiting at the airport there. We were back in SF just after 5:00, and in our limo by 5:30. With traffic, we got home at 7:45 and I unpacked as Matt went to get the babies. They were back home by 9:00 and baths for all took place.
It was a great trip. Over all too fast.



March 29, 2010

It was time to start thinking about 2011 and I had already made the decision NOT to do another Panama Crossing. Oceania Cruise Lines (which is also owned by the same company as Regent) sent a brochure over the weekend and included was this 24 day Bahamas/Amazon River Cruise. I have never been to any of the ports other than Nassau.

A call to Candi Deem at Travel Leaders in South Dakota, and all is in the planning. Even though I have to take a step down in cabin size (to 216 sq. feet from 301) and go back to paying for internet by the minute and paying for shore excursions, the cruise looks very exciting to me.

Of course, if anyone wants to take the Yellow Fever shots in my place, I would be more than happy to let you.

May 26, 2010

On the last day of the Panama Cruise, I visited Lynn, the Cruise Consultant onboard and told her that I was going on the Oceania Cruise in March 2011, but did not like the idea of a smaller cabin, the non-inclusive nature of the ship, etc. She mentioned that the Regent Navigator would be doing the exact same cruise in November 2011, but it was not yet listed, nor ready for booking. She printed out the itinerary. When I got home, I called Candi to let her know that I wanted to book the Navigator (once available) and then cancel the Oceania Cruise.

October 25, 2010

Regent has announced Cruises through April 2012, so I called Candi at Travel Leaders and booked Cabin 1119 for the Amazon Cruise. This is an "A" Category cabin with Butler Service. It is on the highest deck that have cabins, right under the Reception Area of the Spa.

May 20, 2011

Booked the airline flights to and from Fort Lauderdale for the cruise. We will be flying out of Sacramento and returning to San Francisco.

June 1, 2011

180 days to the cruise, and it is time to pick the excursions we want to go on. All except for 3 ports, where excursions have not been posted yet.

September 8, 2011

We went to the County Health Department to get our Yellow Fever Shots. Although we had an appointment (not just a taking a number when getting there), we waited over an hour to be seen. All the people who got numbers went before us. They forgot they had appointment people. Oh well...so much for the County.

September 14, 2011

Received an e-mail from Regent that our snorkeling excursion in Grand Turk has been cancelled. In fact, all water excursions have been cancelled. We had to pick a new one and chose a 4X4 Off-Road Adventure. Hopefully, they will get water based excursions back on the schedule in the near future.

September 17, 2011

Picked up our Malaria pills. We begin taking them a few days before getting into the Amazon and continue for a week after.

September 19, 2011

Filled out all of our Brazil Visa form information and sent it off to the company that Regent uses to process them. There was a bit of scanning/copying of information that had to be done, plus photo taking (as they needed a new photo of each of us).

November 8, 2011

Received our Visas back from Brazilian Consulate and documents from Regent. All that is left is final clothes shopping and, of course, packing.