Saturday, February 28, 2009

Day 16 Cartagena, Columbia

This morning we docked early in Cartagena, Columbia. Very industrial dock area. We understand that it is a taxi ride to town.

After falling on my face last night, we have decided to not go ashore. I could certainly use some cough meds. But, we don't want to risk having any problem while off the ship. Jill surveyed the damage this morning. I have a swollen lip, rug burns on my lip, nose, chin and forehead. My left eye (the white of the eye) is red. And, she says I have a bit of a black right eye. It looks like I've been beat up. But, I feel a little better than I look. My neck is a bit stiff and, of course, I still have the rough cough. However, we will be headed to trivia soon.

So-so at morning trivia. Played Match Game this afternoon - we won.

News flash from our English tablemates from last cruise segment. "Our eventful life continues, when we landed at Heathrow, we were instructed to stay in our seats, and in burst 6 armed police (unusual in the UK, as you may know!!). They went to the back of the plane and returned with a male passenger in handcuffs, hey ho!!!" They sure do seem to have things happen to them.

Well...I had another incident mid-day today. Luckily, I was laying on the sofa in our cabin. I emailed my docs. Just heard back from Dr Mason Goodman (pulmonary doc) and he said there is a thing called "cough syncope" where some can may response to heavy coughing by passing out. He said that, as long as all else remains stable, I should simply see Dr Einhorn when I get back to Indy. I already have an appt for CT scan and status review just a few days after our return.

Panama tomorrow. Sending this early while I have service.

Day 15 at sea

Well...trouble sleeping last night. But...that makes for a day of many naps. I had a real nice nap on the verandah while Jill was at the casino. Jill seems to have slept pretty well. Started with breakfast - so...let's talk about food.

Breakfast in the cabin for Jill has been Special K with milk, a plain donut and either hot chocolate or tea. My breakfast has been a mixture of omelet/scrambled eggs/poached eggs/hard boiled eggs with corned beef hash/sometimes bacon, hash browns and danish/toast. I have grapefruit juice and, sometimes tea. Every few days I switch up and get oatmeal with raisins.

Armando delivers breakfast at 8:30 very promptly every day. We have breakfast in our cabin to avoid the noise, crowds and other stuff in the dining rooms. Sure is nice to relax with breakfast in our cabins. Our verandah is just a bit small for breakfast. But, our table is next to the verandah door.

Next each morning is trivia at 9:30. The time consistency on this ship is nice because we can plan around the time. Again, we did so-so today. But, we have better partners this cruise - so, we are a little more competitive.

After a short time to relax, we head to lunch. We have eaten every lunch in the Seaside Cafe - which include the buffet and several specialty areas. They have special stations for sandwiches, pizza, salads, pasta and Asian plus a carving station. I usually go to one of the specialty stations. Jill splits things up a little more. Sometimes she will make a salad and, then, get meat from the sandwich station. Or, she will get a roll and get meat from the carving station for a sandwich.

After lunch, there is typically trivia or tribond mid-afternoon. We have been doing really well at tribond with our new partners. They also have a battle-of-the-sexes trivia and, usually, pictionary. We don't participate in those very often.

At breaks between games and meals, we typically just relax in our cabin. Jill reads and I play games on my blackberry (or write my daily updates).

Around 4:00, Armando brings afternoon tea - with various snacks, cookies, cakes, etc. Around 5:00, he brings a small plate of canape's. Jill doesn't eat these since they are mostly salmon mousse, caviar, ham-wrapped asparagus and such things.

Around 5:30, we go to listen to either the A Capella group or the dance band - depending upon who is performing. We get to listen for about 1/2 hour before our 6:00 dinner seating. Dinner is usual cruise ship dinner food.

Now...for the slots update (for Barbara), Jill won again today - obviously. Playing a penny machine, she won $256.50!! She is up something like $700+ so far. She has been going to the casino a couple times each day for the last few days.

After dinner, we went to watch MetroPark. Strange event tonight. I passed out in my chair while watching. Metro Park singing. Of course, we were in the front row and I flopped right on my face right in front. Quite a bit of rug burn on my face. It was a real show stopper.

However, given the experience of one of our tablemates last week, I told them I was fine and sat for a while. They had a bunch of people show up in the Cova Cafe but I told them I didn't need to be taken away. I'm waiting to see if they try to bill me anyway. When Janet passed out last week, they gave her IV saline and basically observed her for two hours - and charged them $1,000 for the medical care.

So...we're back in our cabin and plan to just relax for the rest of the evening.

Cartagena, Columbia tomorrow. Don't know if we'll be getting off. We'll see.
We have been there and have seen their historic sites.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day 14 at sea

Well...I guess I'll start today's update with a health report since I haven't commented about that lately. Jill has been doing very well...until last night. At dinner, she started to feel a little funky and went to the cabin. She rested/ slept and I got her some tea later - around 9:45. She says that she slept pretty well and she was feeling quite a bit better this morning. She ate her usual breakfast and we headed off for trivia. She doesn't know if she, perhaps ate something with too much salt or something. But...she is better today.

I have also been doing reasonably well. My feet continue to bother me and walking from one end of the ship to the other wears me out. Unfortunately, the dining room is at one end and the shows are at the other end - so, it difficult to avoid the walking. I just grin and bear it. I have developed a more significant cough during the past few days - very deep and pretty heavy cough. I didn't think to bring cough meds with me since the cough hasn't bothered me too much for a while. We plan to look for something at one of the ports.

Now for the better news. JACKPOT!! Jill won a 1,000 quarter jackpot this morning. She sure can be lucky at the slots.

And, we tied for first in tribond. Lost the tie-breaker; but, who cares. We don't need more Celebrity pens. Was nice to get 20 of 20 questions.

I went to see Leatherheads in the cinema this afternoon. Pretty good movie. Nothing else really new. Good pianist for entertainment tonight.

Another day at sea tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Day 13 - Grand Cayman

Well...another slow day. Today, we anchored at Grand Cayman. But, we decided to stay onboard. We have been here at least 6 or 7 times. Our favorite activity is swimming with the stingrays. Since we can't do that, we figured we would just relax.

Middle of the road on trivia this morning. But...we finally won Tribond this afternoon. We were beginning to think we would be shut out.

I went to see a movie, 88 Minutes, this afternoon while Jill relaxed, read and napped in the cabin. Pretty good suspense thriller.

Tonight, we see the hypnotist again. His act was very funny last cruise. So, we are going to see him again tonight.

I'm going to send this update a little early. We have two days at sea next and my email service has been spotty when we have been at sea.

Day 12 at sea

Well...forgot to do an update last night. Guess that's because it was pretty much an uneventful day. I did go to the cinema to see Fool's Gold. Otherwise, just another typicall day at sea without anything unusual happening.

After breakfast, we played trivia. Once again, and later in the afternoon, we finished in the middle of the pack. We relaxed and napped quite a bit in our cabin. Watched MetroPark before dinner; but, didn't go to the show since it was a repeat from last cruise.

That's about it. We anchor in Grand Cayman tomorrow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Day 1 second segment

Today, we arrived in Ft Lauderdale for the end of the first cruise. Sure was nice to avoid the disembarkation process for now. We had to meet at 10:15 - all back to back passengers - about 40 of us. Briefly got off to go through customs. Then, reboarded and returned to our cabin.

What a zoo at lunch - the Seaside Cafe was packed with all the new passengers. We quickly made our way back to our cabin and relaxed.

Our tablemates for this cruise are couples from Palo Alto, CA, and Crest Hill, IL (corner of Renwick and Weber Rd). Nice opening night chat. So far...not as bizarre as our last group; but, should be pleasant.

Watched the A Capella group - MetroPark - and called it a night. Day at sea tomorrow.

Day 10 at sea

Another uneventful day at sea. So...I have attached a few pics.

First is the couple from England - John and Janet. Luckily, she was feeling much better tonight. As you can see, they look just like a couple with so many bizarre stories.

Next are Alister and Carol - from Scotland. Tomorrow is their 15th wedding anniversary - which they will spend traveling back to Scotland.

Finally, we have thoroughly enjoyed listening to the A Capella group - MetroPark.

Tomorrow, we dock in the early morning. We must go up to the Seaside Cafe since we can't have it in our cabin. However, as others go through the disembarkation process, we get to relax. Unfortunately, we are required to meet at 10:15 to go through customs. Then, we reboard and begin the new cruise process all over.

Well...the first segment has been very good. We had great dinner tablemates, good food, wonderful staff taking care of us and enjoyable entertainment. We can only hope that the second segment is as good.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Day 9 at sea

This is what I really like about cruising! Totally nothing required but to sit back and relax. I am really getting much too accustomed to these breakfasts delivered to our cabin. Afternoon tea delivered to our cabin. Hor' dourves delivered to our cabin.

We do have to leave our cabin to get lunch at the Seaside Cafe and for dinner in the San Marcos dining room. But, we surely aren't lacking opportunities to eat and snack. For the first time on a while, I think I am probably gaining a few pounds on a cruise. much for food. We did so-so at morning trivia. However, we tied for first in tribond - lost the tie-breaker. I forgot to note that we "won" tribond yesterday - of course, we were the only team yesterday!

Other than that, we really just laid around all day. Jill got in some more reading. I found a new game for my blackberry - so I wasted time playing.

Tonight was a formal night - baked Alaska, waiters parading and singing and all that stuff. Unfortunately, our tablemate Janet (from England) apparently became ill today. She passed out right after lunch and spent time in the infirmary. John came to dinner alone and he scooted out very quickly afterward.

That's about it. Tomorrow is another sea day before we dock in Ft Lauderdale on Monday. We will be staying aboard for the next cruise.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Day 8 St Maarten

Another somewhat relaxing day. We spent the morning just eating breakfast, playing trivia, napping, playing tribond and eating lunch. After lunch, we went ashore to St Maarten. Jill wanted to visit Ballerina Jewelry.

She has a diamond tennis bracelet that needed resizing and didn't have it with her on St Thomas. Since she made a nice purchase at that store, they gave her a note instructing the St Maarten store to do the resizing at no charge. But, we hadn't expected that it would take 2 1/2 hours. So...we had to leave it with them and return later. As it turned out, they needed to remove 6 links and they made those links into a pendant for her. Quite nice. So, now her bracelet fits and she has a new pendant.

Entertainment tonight was a comedian. I think we have seen him before. He was pretty funny.

Healthwise, we are both doing pretty well. Jill has been watching her diet very well and hasn't been bothered at all during the cruise. My feet have been bothering quite a bit. But, I managed to walk quite a bit today. I have had a rough cough most of the cruise. Of course, I forgot to bring cough meds. At least the cough hasn't been keeping me awake. Both of us have slept pretty well most nights.

Day at sea tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day 7 St Lucia

We decided to make this a relaxing day. So...we didn't bother to get off the ship. Did the usual trivia. Otherwise, we just relaxed. In the afternoon, I got a massage and Jill got a facial. That was about it today.

Our tablemates, Carol & Alister, however, had quite an adventure. Their excursion was to be a sail on a catameran to see the Pitons - two hills that are famous in St Lucia. Apparently, their sail was uneventful going. However, the ride was a little rougher returning. Alister said there was a man in the front of the catameran who was dunked in the water and then up in the air 10 feet and then back into the water. Apparently, this happened many times. Would have been quite a ride. Glad we chose to relax.

Nothing else new. We head for St Maarten tomorrow.

Day 6 Barbados

Very nice day today in Barbados. Usual start with a nice breakfast delivered to our cabin by Armando. He is turning out to be an excellent butler. He notices little things - like that Jill was scraping the sweet frosting from her donut and he started bringing a plain donut. He delivers our breakfast at the requested time like clockwork.

Jill hadn't slept too well last night. So...we came back to the cabin after trivia and we both took a nap until a quick lunch before our excursion. Today was one of the only days we pr e-booked an excursion - a 4X4 & green monkeys tour.

We boarded a bright yellow tour vehicle - a 4X4 pickup converted with 10 seats in the back. We were slightly tight but it was OK. The tour began with a 45 minute ride/tour through mostly developed/city parts of Barbados on our way to the wildlife preserve. We saw a rum factory, the resort where Tiger Woods was married and various examples of types of housing - both expensive and high-end. We saw lots of churches.

Upon reaching the wildlife preserve, we began a walking tour with a guide. Attached are a few pics of some of the animals we saw. Most simply roamed free on the grounds of the preserve. They fed the animals at one point - which, of course, brought lots more deer and monkeys to the feeding area.

Inside a building, they also had iguanas, a 50 foot python, rabbits and many species of tropical birds - mainly parrots, macaws and other smaller similar birds. All in all, it was a very worthwhile place to visit.

After the wildlife preserve, the island tour continued. We saw a few more historical sites. When visiting what is supposed to be the "most photographed" beach area on the island, the skies opened and literally poured cats and dogs. One of the kids in our group headed to the beach anyway and came back soaked to the skin. But that didn't stop us - we moved on with the tour. When the rain let up, we were treated to a beautiful full rainbow.

Next, we headed to a sugar cane plantation. Little did we know what was in store for us. The driver started innocently by telling about the machinery used to harvest the sugar cane. He pointed out the neighboring sugar cane processing plant.

Then...we were off on the sugar cane field ride of our lives. Like a bat out of @!*# we flew down small paths in the fields. The paths were flooded with rainwater - almost as if delivered especially for our benefit. Potholes and gullies filled our path. Luckily, we wore seat belts. The younger boys literally flew 8 inches off their seats as we bounced threw parts of the field. Obviously, the boys loved it. Smooth surface was nowhere to be found until we reach blacktop. But...then...we were off-road once again. My goodness what a ride!

After that, the remainder of the ride back to the ship was pretty tame. We had survived what turned out to be much more exciting than we had anticipated.

What else can I say? We ate and watched the entertainment. Tonight's entertainment was a comedy hypnotist. Once again we were surprised. He turned in a quite funny show using a few passengers as his helpers/volunteers.

So...that's it - a very good day in Barbados.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day 5 St Kitts

Today started out sunny and hot. Usual breakfast and trivia. Then, we headed onto the island of St Kits. This is the one island during the cruise that we have not visited before.

We started by walking through the shopping which is immediately off the ship. Very typical island stuff (t-shirts and various souvenirs) and lots of jewelry. Since we already got lots of jewelry and a couple watches, we weren't very interested.

Instead, we decided to go with one of the locals who was hawking island tours. He offered a 2 1/2 full island tour by somewhat air conditioned van. We were with two German couples from our ship and a Canadian couple from another ship. While not the best tour we have ever had, it was interesting.

One oddity was a couple trees filled with egrets. Don't know why so many congregated on just a couple trees. Didn't see egrets anywhere else on the island. I have attached a few photos of other highlights of the island.

After the tour, lunch, a little rest, afternoon trivia and off to dinner. Usual conversation at dinner about the island and what everyone did. No new news regarding bizarre stuff. Apparently, a guy named Haji Zarab Gul is the person who "kidnapped" John. Still don't know that whole story. John did tell a story about an Afghan wedding that lasted 8 days - 3 of which he attended.

Great evening entertainment tonight. And, to bed for us.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Day 4 St Thomas

This morning we docked in St Thomas. We were in no rush because we didn't have a planned excursion. So...after breakfast, we headed to morning trivia. We continued our habit of finishing in the middle.

After trivia, we headed out and got a taxi to downtown. Once there, we easily located the two primary stores we wanted to shop - Ballerina Jewelry and Boolchands. And boy oh boy, did we make good contribitions to the economy. At Ballerina, Jill found three pendants that she liked - two blue sapphire pieces and one rainbow sapphire piece.

At Boolchamps, I bought a memory card for my blackberry & camera. Eventually, we both bought watches. Neither of us was really looking for a watch; but, the prices were excellent. It was obvious that sales must be hurting in St Thomas. Deals were very good and the stores were obviously anxious to sell products.

After shopping, lunch on the ship and another mediocre trivia. Nothing really interesting at dinner tonight. Pretty decent comedian at the show.

That's about it. St Kitts tomorrow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Day 3

Well...nice lazy day at sea today. Breakfast in the cabin. Tribond at 9AM and morning trivia at 9:30. Again, we were just so-so. Lunch in the Seaside Cafe and lazy afternoon - napping, reading and I have been playing games on by blackberry.

Armando brought tea a little earlier than yesterday - we were mid-shower and dressing for dinner. Grabbed our robes and had a very casual tea time. Normal stuff on the tea cart - Armando recommended a specific cookie and it turned out to be excellent.

Regarding our dinner tablemates, Carol and Alaster are from Scotland. He is the manager of a black-faced sheep farm. She arranges mystery shopping to help retailers ensure service quality. They have 3 kids - a girl/10 and 2 boys/12 &16. The 16 year old is managing the farm while they are gone.

Janet and John are from north of London. She is a retired nursery school teacher. Don't know yet what he does; but, he is a big-time Beatles fan. Once again, we lucked out with very good people at our table for dinner.

The ship has more than 600 passengers from Canada and almost 300 from England/Scotland. With around 1200 from the US, there are almost as many international passengers as there are US passengers. It makes for a nice, diverse group. We've seen 2 crew members from our Sept cruise and 1 from our May Alaska cruise - our Asst Maitre' de, one of the activity staff and the Activity Manager. at dinner tonight, we learned that our tablemates, John and Janet, have had some really bizarre experiences. First, their neighbor murdered his wife (by stabbing) in their driveway on their car. (Barbara - Maybe you can search the news for a murder on something like Silver or Silverlake Inn.) John was "kidnapped" by the Taliban in Pakistan. And, John was apparently on the plane when the President of the Phillipines was assassinated. Don't recall exactly; but, his name was Akino - or spelled something like that. Anyway, more as we hear the stories. So far, I'm trying to figure out if their life has really been so bizarre or if he is just a good storyteller!!

Listened to MetroPark (the A Capella group) again tonight. The ship's cast put on a decent show of Broadway songs.

We dock at St Thomas tomorrow.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Day 2 more

Jill won $200. The girl certainly has luck at the slots!!!

Day 2

Day at sea today. Very nice breakfast in our cabin. Finished in the middle of the pack at morning trivia.

Afternoon consisted of our usual cruise activities - lunch, nap and afternoon trivia (a special Valentines edition today). Typical lunch. Nice nap. And middle of the pack again in trivia. Than, back to the cabin to get ready for a formal dinner tonight.

Fancy dinner tonight. Formal day for Valentines. Pretty good steak. Cherries jubilee for dessert. Listened to the A Capella group again after dinner. Good entertainment again.

Jill went to the casino. Will report on her winnings tomorrow.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Day 1

Boarding was very easy. Lines weren't too bad and our cabin was available right away. We settled in a little, met our cabin steward, met our butler and grabbed a little lunch. Now...we just wait for our luggage. (Actually, luggage came pretty early - which was nice.)

Well...we did our lifeboat drill - always so much fun. And, saw a guy on the crew who was on a ship with us before - maybe Alaska. Our butler, Armondo, brought us our first afternoon canapies - smoked salmon mousse, melon/ham and some kind of cheese. As usual, Jill plans to wait for tea.

About 4:45 and we are setting sail. Leaving the port will take a bit of time. Very busy. Two Princess ships (Coral and Grand) in port as well as the HAL Maasdam and a couple smaller ships that I didn't identify.

We have early dinner seating and have a table for 6. One couple is from Scotland and the other from England - I didn't catch what city. Very nice group for dinners. Watched a 4-piece Polish band (complete with accordion) and the A Capella group after dinner. (One member of the A Capella group was on our Alaska cruise last May.)

When we got back to the cabin, this butler is really on the ball. He already brought us more water and set up the table for breakfast. Might stay up for the 10PM variety show since we have a sea day tomorrow.

So...that's Day 1.

We begin

Yesterday we began our vacation with a flight to Ft Lauderdale. This was the first time we saw the new terminal in Indy. Pretty nice. Things were pretty uneventful. Small plane - so it was a little tight. Landed on time and our luggage was all already waiting for us when we got to baggage claim. Got to our hotel quuickly - Renaissance/Marriott. Cute little French bakery very close - we had a nice lunch. Then...of course, nap time. Nothing really interesting close for dinner since we wanted something within easy walking distance. Went to Bravo. The menu was quite different from home. But...they let us split a pasta and that was about right for us. Back to the hotel - watched a little TV - and, retired for the night.

Went back to the French bakery for breakfast. Good once more. Now...we are just biding our time until pickup to head to the ship. The hotel offers a shuttle service - so, we decided to try it rather than a taxi.

Next up...we board the ship.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Doc visit

Well...I saw Dr Forkin yesterday. Basically, nothing really new. She wanted to follow up on some thing related to my normal non-cancer meds. We also discussed the neuropathy in my feet. She gave me a med to try for a while. If it doesn't help, she has other ideas that we will discuss after my trip. We leave Thursday for a "warm up" cruise in the Caribbean. Can't wait. I am absolutely sick of the snow. Happily, most of the snow is now melted since we have had temps in the 50s during the past few days. was a pain in the butt for a while. I imagine that next will be my usual posts during the cruise.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mom C's 80th bday

Just got back today from a weekend in Joliet. On Saturday, we had a group of 18 for a birthday dinner for Jill's mom - her 80th birthday is next Tuesday. It was a good food trip for us. Portillo's hot dogs on Friday night. Merichka's poorboy sandwich for lunch Saturday. Traverso's for the birthday dinner.