Sunday, May 6, 2018

Some random final thoughts in no particular order…
I have been asked a number of times if I would book the same cabin again. Although it took me a while to get used to its quirky layout and lack of closet space, “my deck” was wonderful.  I don’t think my cabin 6102 or its neighbor 6100 should be classified as “DA” cabins, however, because of the lack of space.  My cabin was slightly larger than my neighbor but had the unusable space in the “hallway” entrance. Next door had more closets but no sofa.  All that being said, I would book it again if I were to choose a “DA”. ( I have a guarantee “F” for the 2020 GWV.)

I heard one person complain that there were not enough things to do on sea days.  What I think she really meant was that there were not enough things she wanted to do.  I usually found there were more things to do than I had time for.  I was impressed by all that was available.  Here is a partial list…
·       Lectures
·       Port talks
·       Bridge lessons
·       Watercolor lessons
·       Drawing class
·       Arts and Crafts
·       Tai chi
·       Water aerobics
·       Special group meetings (such as veterans, solos, etc.)
·       Sit and Be Fit
·       Qi Gong
·       America’s Test Kitchen
·       Sit, Knit, Needlework, and more
·       Shuffleboard
·       Pitch perfect washers
·       Walk a Mile
·       Bingo
·       Computer workshops
·       Texas Hold’em Tournaments
·       Golf putting, basketball, ring toss, Bocce ball challenges
·       Religious discussions
·       Name That Tune
·       Slot tournament
·       Movies
·       And my favorite, trivia!

Comparison of HAL and Cunard
The two lines are very similar from my experience.  I enjoyed my world voyages on both.  Here is a short list of areas where there is a significant difference in the two and which one does it or does it better.
+Food (more to North American tastes)                 
+Arts and Crafts                                        
+Size of ship                                      


+Formal nights (I like them)

+Dance Floor (Queens Lounge)

+Afternoon Tea
I would gladly do another world cruise on either but HAL (and my travel agency) give better perks so my next WV is booked on HAL.

With my early booking I received pick up and return of two pieces of luggage by FedEx.  This was fantastic as wrangling three large suitcases through airports and hotels is very difficult for me.  On the way home I paid to have my third suitcase (which I checked on the plane on the way to Fort Lauderdale) and the large box I bought onboard sent home.  Two of my suitcases and the box were delivered to my house on Wednesday and the third suitcase on Thursday.  I plan on sending my luggage in the future even if it is not included as a perk.
I have only a few things left to unpack in the third suitcase.  As I unpack the many items I purchased (or made) along the way, I am reminded of the great times I had, the fascinating ports we visited, and all the interesting people I met as I sailed around the world.  Getting back to reality is hard (Where is Wayan to make my bed and dust and tidy???) but it is now time to start planning for my next cruise.  In January 2019 I will be sailing on HAL’s smallest ship, the ms Prinsendam.  We will be sailing completely around South America and will spend over a week on the Amazon and 4 days along the coast of Antarctica.  Of all the ports, I have only been to two.  There are two solo cabins on Prinsendam and I will be in one which will be something new for me.  I will be writing a blog again.  If you have automatic notifications I will make a post on here as to the address of the new blog.  Otherwise, check back here in September as I plan to start the blog over the summer.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who has read my blog.  My first blog was  designed to be a travel diary for myself (I have always kept one but find I go into more detail in the blog) and for a few friends and family who wanted to keep up with me.  It constantly amazes me that people I have never met enjoy reading my blog.  Once again, a big thanks!
For now,
Smooth sailing until next time!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Fort Lauderdale to home – April 28, 2018

I awoke a few minutes after 5 and we were just into the channel getting ready to turn and then back into our berth.  I watched for a few minutes and then went back to sleep until about 6:30.  I put away all the last minute things and then went to stand on my deck and take a few last pictures.  I then said good-bye to my room steward, Wayan.

The expedited group (those who can carry their own luggage off!) was called just before 7:30.  I decided to try and use up my last 20 minutes of internet time (and yes, it was still working ) until it was time to debark.  I was in group “Blue 1” because I was taking a HAL excursion and then transfer to the FLL airport.  It was the first group to be called after expedited at about 7:50. Since we were using the forward gangway, it was a quick ride down the elevator and off the ship.

When I arrived in the terminal it was easy to get a porter since I was one of the first off.  I ended up sharing the porter with Charles and Bea.  We all had Global Entry so all we did was hand the customs form to the officer and we were out of the terminal.  A quick right as we left the terminal and the FedEx trucks were waiting to relieve me of my three big bags and box.  Then a few steps more to get on the coach for the excursion.

Since my plane did not leave until 3:57, I decided an excursion to see some of Fort Lauderdale I had never seen was the way to kill a few hours.  I was very glad I did because the tour was much more enjoyable than sitting in the airport.  There were a few very familiar faces on the tour – Kathy and Mike (with whom I used to eat dinner), Dawn (in the knitting group and part of our yarn expedition in Singapore), Cynthia and Rob (Australians I got to know through Rodney and Marilyn – they had an 18-hour flight to Dubai then an 18-hour flight back to Australia), and Lynn (also from Australia with whom I played trivia a few times when team mates were not present).

We started by driving to the Riverwalk.  We walked through parts of it and our guide, Darren, told us about the early history of Fort Lauderdale.  Along the walk a very weird coincidence happened.  I was talking to Kathy and Mike about the blue case we had received as one of our pillow gifts.  I had left one of my locks for locking it but found it would not got through the openings on it.  I was a bit upset since it was the bag I was checking.  I know a determined thief can get into just about any bag but it makes me feel better to lock it anyway.  Mike said they had used a small lock that did fit and that maybe I could buy one in the airport.  He also mentioned that a zip tie would work but I did not have one.  We walked on and not two minutes later Mike came up and presented me with a zip tie.  He had found it as we were walking.  Talk about a strange coincidence!

After the walk we drove through parts of Fort Lauderdale and Las Olas (Spanish for “the waves”) Boulevard – known for its shops, galleries, and restaurants.  We then drove along the beach road.  It was a beautiful day and the beach was very busy.

Next was a ride on the “Jungle Queen”.  This was a 90-minute ride on a replica of an old-time paddle wheeler through the New River.  Fort Lauderdale is known as the “Venice of America” and we saw some of the homes and yachts of the “Rich and Famous” including Gloria Vanderbilt’s Johnny Weissmuller’s former home, the yacht Evel Kneivel supposedly lost in a poker game (to his accountant), Dave Thomas’ (which was inherited by his daughter Wendy after his death), Ron Howard’s yacht, and many others.  We also cruised into the harbor and turned around just after passing the Amsterdam which had not yet left for drydock.  It was a very enjoyable way to spend the morning and I might do the same thing again if I have extra time before a flight home.

Back on the bus we headed to the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport which was only a few minutes away.  There were a few stops for different airlines – mine was the second (jetBlue) – and then it continued to Miami airport.

I had not printed off a boarding pass on the ship but it was quick and easy in the airport.  It printed out my baggage label and boarding pass and I was on my way to security.  Since I have Global Entry, I have TSA pre-check and went right through – nobody was in front of me.

Since I hadn’t eaten anything and it was already after 1 pm, I needed to decide on something to eat.  I chose Steak and Shake and had a very good hamburger, fries, and a root beer.  By the time I ate slowly, reading my book, I only had about an hour left.

Loading was supposed to start at 3:22 but it was at least 10 minutes after that before boarding started.  I was in the last group (since I was at the front of the plane) and was the next to the last person on the plane.  Once we were settled in the captain made an announcement that there had been a fire in the dispatchers’ office in New York and it had to be evacuated.  He said it could be ten minutes or an hour.  Luckily, things resolved themselves and we only took off a few minutes late.  We made up time on the flight and landed at the original time.

Being near the front I was one of the first off.  As I came through the secure area my daughter and grandchildren were waiting to welcome me home.  It took a few minutes for my one small bag to appear on the carousel (it was the third one) and then we were off.

After not getting my full 8-hours of sleep for the last few nights, I was in bed before 11 pm!

Last views from my deck…

new terminal being built and crane that was lifting items onto the deck for drydock

cute card in the window of the bridge

Plywood (maybe?)

being placed on deck to protect it from the containers coming onboard

contractors coming onboard

Fort Lauderdale sightseeing…

Sandy Nininger, a local WWII hero

Las Olas Boulevard (above and below)

the beach

Ron Howard's yacht (Opie has done well!)

once the home of Rene Lacoste who was known as "the crocodile" during his
tennis days, hence the symbol on the polo shirts

on the grounds of billionaire Wayne Huizenga's estate
the gold is real 24-karat

looks a tad out of place with its neighbors
   the Stranahan House that was built as a trading post in 1901 and later remodeled as the
home of one of the first traders in the area, Frank Stranahan and his wife  
Evil Knievel's lost yacht

Aviva, the 223 foot yacht of business man, Joe Louis 
he uses it as his floating office
it is the largest yacht currently in Port Everglades

She looks familiar

goods on the Lido deck for drydock

yachts being sent to Europe for the summer season

under the 17th Street Causeway Bridge

known as "The White House" but has no ties with the presidency

the Jungle Queen

I plan to do a summary some time in the next week.

Smooth sailing until next time!

Friday, April 27, 2018

At Sea – April 27, 2018

Lots of goodbyes today.

I started with my usual juice and a roll and then to Sit and Stitch.  Some were missing (still packing) but we all took some pictures.

Morning trivia was another tie win for us with 14 out of 16.
1)How many countries border the Pacific Ocean (2 Points for getting the exact number)?
2)The discovery of which Aboriginal is considered to be the oldest Australian known?
3)What is the fastest swimming shark with speeds over 50 mph?
4)What is the dominant language spoken in Hong Kong?
5)Who lost to Ali in 1975 even though he landed 440 punches?

Packed a few more things (there seems to be no end to little odds and ends) before going to lunch.  In Arts and Crafts we made our last pair of beaded earrings.

At 3:00 we had the Crew Farewell Grand Finale.  The Queen’s Lounge was packed.  Hamish (the cruise director), Barbara (the EXC Guide) and Captain Jonathan all spoke.  Barbara is retiring in the autumn and was very emotional.  After watching a cute video (including Henk in the bathtub with his rubber ducky) many of the crew came in to a standing ovation.  (By the way, we had 637 crew on board.)

Went for my last afternoon ice cream by the pool before afternoon trivia.  We did not do as well as morning trivia but we ended as “Bridesmaids” one last time coming in second with 9 out of 17.  It was questions we had before however we did not recognize many of the questions (they must have been from port day trivias).
1)What does zeitgeist mean?
2)Who was the Robin Hood of Scotland?
3)Which Shakespeare play begins with, “Who’s there?”
4)The official languages of the U.N. are English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and ___.
5)How old was Dickens when he started working in a factory?

After many sad hugs and goodbyes (and “see you in 2020”) after trivia, I went back to pack more stuff.  Had most everything in (except what I was wearing) by 7:15 so I went to hear Jamm in the piano bar one last time. 

We had lots of wine at dinner and a good meal.  The dining room was decorated in orange since today is Koningsdag, the celebration for the birthday of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.  I had fruit, a huge (23 oz) ribeye steak, and a cherry Pavlov for dessert.

I had my 3 suitcases and box out by 10:35.  Suitcases have been dotting the hallways all day.  This is one cruise where you can put your bags out any time during the day.

I know I will not sleep well tonight (up every half hour or so to look at the clock).  I have the first disembarkation time after those who self-disembark since I am taking a Fort Lauderdale tour and airport transfer.  I will have a post for Saturday but likely will not put it up until Sunday.
some of our Sit and Stitch group

they already started taking down the lights around the Lido Pool



Captain Jonathan

crowded Queen's Lounge

a few of the great crew

orange glow in the MDR

Morning trivia…
2)Mungo Man (the Australians did not know this either)

Afternoon trivia…
1)spirit of the times (missed that one both times )
2)Rob Roy

Smooth sailing until next time!