Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cruising the Bahamas

sunsets and sunrises help set the mood on a cruise ship
At sea, sunrises and sunsets are part of each day, not hiding behind trees or buildings.

Dawn is creeping in. I purposely left the blinds open as my early morning call, although it’s only about 7. I slept well. The movements of the ship aided in that.

Getting up I go out on the balcony and watch the dawn. We’re facing away from the sunrise, but that doesn’t matter, as it’s mostly cloudy. The air temperature is just a little cool. With the ship moving at 18-20 knots, the wind is stiff, but the balcony shelters me.

I see no ships and no birds. The islands of the Bahamas are scattered around us, but at the moment I see no land. Probably later.

Watching the waves has a meditative effect. Looking out away from the ship, they’re just moving endlessly away from us. Looking down the side of the ship, I see the effect the bow breaking through those waves causes, throwing spray and creating a cross hatched pattern of waves.

It’s peaceful.  
POSTED BY dan h AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Monday, January 05, 2009

Holland America Shore Excursions

Half Moon Cay - relaxing day on the beach
On the Beach Half Moon Cay

Shore excursions are a way to experience another part of the world. What makes each place different: the people…the scenery…nature? Will it be possible to get a feeling for what it was like with very few people? How has island history changed that? Can anybody make a living in paradise?

It’s time to browse the Holland American shore excursions options on their website. I quickly realize that a tight time schedule allows for only one major excursion in each port. That’s ok. The rest of the time can be spent wandering around and exploring. Sometimes chance meetings with a “local” person bring a deeper understanding of other cultures and places.

Each port has activities that are grouped around topics. We can get in or on the water by snorkeling, diving, kayaking or sailing, and of course there’s beach time. Variations on glass bottom boats and submarines are also options. Some of the historical tours also look promising. Adventuring through a rainforest on a zip line would definitely be memorable. Friends have told me of their parasailing adventure and I find myself toying with doing that.  

Shopping usually attracts us only for gathering Christmas presents or replacing a t shirt. From what I hear it can be a big deal for a lot of people as they look for unusual things to bring home. Liquor prices are low and with duty free limits coming back into the US, it’s a deal.

POSTED BY dan h AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
shore excursions, Caribbean
Saturday, January 03, 2009

Holland America Eurodam Cruise to the Caribbean

Eurodam photo - image of sun on ship
Anchored at Half Moon Cay Bahamas

We’re getting ready to go on our first cruise and there are so many little things I never thought of.

Early dining around 6 or late dining around 8:15. That one is easy since we usually eat later anyway. Sitting at a table for 12 or a cozy 2? This is also easy since we like to hear other’s stories.

Ocean view or an inside cabin? We’ll splurge and take the ocean view, particularly since Lindie is a bit claustrophobic.

I have a strong tendency to orient myself in new places. That has started as I browse through the Hal Eurodam deck plan. Some of the restaurants, the main stage and swimming pools attract my attention. I see where the fitness rooms are. Then I start noticing that the Eurodam cabin plans don’t show many inside cabins. That’s interesting. They’ve come up with a business model that makes a few thousand dollars extra per cruise. Smart thinking.

POSTED BY dan h AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Eurodam, caribbean, deck plan
Sunday, December 14, 2008

Work on a Cruise Ship

The people, mostly men, on the crew are incredibly hard workers. The room stewards get up about 6:00 in the morning and work all day. They may get breaks, but they work until 9:00 or 10:00 at night, 7 days a week for 10 months.
On HAL, the crew is primarily from Indonesian and the Philippines. The two cultures work well together on the ship and their friendliness is a delight. It is doubly amazing since they are away from their families for so long and work such long hours. (And we think we have it tough!)
I’ve gotten to know a couple of the crew with a little more than a passing “how are you today”. "Lucky" is a room steward. Very personable and friendly. His towel animal creations were fun to find.
“Burt” Reynolds hands out trays/dishes at the buffet for breakfast and lunch.  He is familiar enough with the United States that he can sing a song about several states, including Texas. I taught him “Deep in the Heart of Texas” and wrote down the two verses I remember. At least once he was working the evening meal as well.
I don’t know his name but there was a gentleman who works the front desk whose whole face lights up when he smiles. I was watching him for a few minutes and commented to him about what a nice smile he had…he replied with that wonderful smile again. Two nights ago and I still think back on it.
The captain works 3 months and then is off three months.  I don't remember about the Environmental Officer. It seems the higher your ranking, the shorter the work term.
Since most of the crew are not American citizens, once every 3-4 months they have to meet with US Immigration Services.  That happened on the day we disembarked.  I think it is pretty quick/easy but it adds to their tasks for the day as they have about 4-5 hours to clean the rooms and get them ready for the next set of passengers.
POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cruise to Bahamas - Half Moon Cay

While St. Johns was Dan's favorite place (and it was wonderful), Half Moon Cay (pronounced "key") was mine.  This privately owned island in the Bahamas was paradise.
The water was a bright, clear turquoise and the sand white.  There was a great band (they even played Stevie Wonder's Sir Duke for me) and a barbeque.  The weather was perfect although Dan thought the water was a bit too cool (low 70's).
Parasailing, swimming, sand castles, snorkeling, feeding sting rays, bicycling, kayaking, bus ride, hiking...almost anything your heart desires.
Only about 35 people live on this small island.  Most of the staff commute from a larger island (Eleutheria), an hour and a half commute each way.  What a commute though!
It really felt like a holiday.  Only one shop and about a half dozen booths so it was more laid back than the cities we have been to. 
POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

St John

Arriving at St John we meet outside the National Park building. I am a little worried that the hike will be too strenuous for me. The guide reassures me that there is only a slightly steep section at the beginning of the trail. Total walk is less than a mile and a half. I think I can do that. There are some little kids, so that will keep things moving slowly.

What a lovely walk it turns out to be. Along the way we stop a number of times to look at the plants and trees. A beautiful frangipani caterpillar takes our attention for awhile as everyone trades out to get a good look. Through the trees the beautiful Caribbean is visible with islands in the distance. Our guide does a nice job pointing things out to us and answering our questions.

At Honeymoon Cove another group is arriving on sailboats to go snorkeling. We just strip down to bathing suits and get wet. Very refreshing and relaxing. Before long it is time to walk the short distance to where our ride takes us back to the ferry.

POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

St Thomas

The guide on the ferry recommends eating at a seafood restaurant in Frenchtown. It turns out his directions and where we end up may not have matched. Anyway we have a delicious seafood lunch at Hook, Line & Sinker – and it is in Frenchtown. We’re away from the tourists, so it’s a quiet area. Outside is a small marina, two iguanas are sunning themselves, and a seaplane takes off.

The waitress gives us directions to the shopping district. It looks further than I want to walk, but I make it with the help of an ice cream cone.

Only a couple of stores are of interest to us. One makes jewelry from a black coral. Fortunately they need permits to collect it and can only get pieces that are broken off and dead. The designs are intricate, mainly because they have to glue pieces together to make them large enough to work with. Some of them are very simple designs and a few of them are stunning.

At the other store we buy three bottles of rum for $22.50. Turns out it is the same brand and cost as the ship, just different flavors. Oh well. At least we take a taxi back to the ship.

POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

US Virgin Islands

The lights of San Juan fade behind us as we sail into the night, headed for St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Waking in the morning we’re there, heading into West Gregerie Channel and Crown Bay to the dock. Surprisingly I find out that it’s only about 75 miles from San Juan. We must have stopped or circled slowly all night. I find sleeping on a boat with gentle waves to be so relaxing. Too much and seasick symptoms start showing up, but last night, oh wow – I slept great.

The plan today is to go on an eco hike and a swim on St. John Island. After breakfast we head out, go out on the dock and find the ferry. The weather is quite pleasant with a light breeze and it’s mostly sunny, probably around 80. The waves are low so it doesn’t bother me.

Islands pass on either side of us. They are heavily treed, or at least quite green, and dotted with a lot of houses. The guide points out the homes of Michael Jordan, Madonna, Alan Alda, Michael Jackson, and Tim Duncan.

Two of the islands are for sale. It’s a package deal – only $12 million – and it includes a resort where people spend $12,000 per night to stay there!

POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

St Thomas 2

Tonight we ran into Dick and Marion Stevens for dinner. Marion is Dan’s second cousin who we met in Tampa a few weeks ago. We had run into them a few times but never could figure out when to meet for a meal. Turned out we were all going to dinner at the same place so it worked out great. Food was very good tonight. Stuffed.

Now the interesting thing is you can get pretty much the same food in Lido which is a buffet as the Rembrandt but I like the Rembrandt more. There is no cost for the meal at either but you get served at the Rembrandt instead of going through the line and the food seems slightly fresher, made to order instead of being made up a few minutes in advance.

Afterwards, we went to listen to comedian Jim Labriola. Very funny guy. Laughed a lot.

Been a long day. Tomorrow I have another acupuncture session and also a session with a personal coach who is going to go over Pilates with me for strength and posture. Since I live in an RV, I need a program that doesn’t require a lot of equipment or a membership in a gym. We choose places to live which don’t have gyms when we can and there certainly isn’t room for a lot of equipment. Pilates sounds like a good option. Keep you posted.

POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Puerto Rico-Land at last!

I woke up in the middle of the night and could tell that we had docked at Puerto Rico. The ship was still. Yesterday was a little rocky.
This morning we went on a 5 hour tour of the rain forest. I don’t know how the driver can drive so well and talk on a hand held microphone at the same time. Turns out he had practice as a New York City cabbie. The rain forest was interesting and I’m glad we did the tour, but I did feel a little rushed. This was especially so at the first stop where we didn’t have time to see the 12 minute movie in English because the Spanish version was running. Tough to do both in a 20 minute stop.
Took a fairly easy hike in the rain forest. No rain today although they have about 240 inches a year. Rain lasts an average of 22 minutes so it comes down heavy. The guide kept naming trees that weren’t indigenous but then he later said something like 200+ plants/trees are indigenous.
On the way back to the ship I saw an iguana on a wire (telephone or power?) just like you would see a bird sitting. We were on a fast road so we were gone in a flash and I don’t think anyone else saw it. It was incredible to see.
We had angels watching over us 3 times. The first, was when we went on the hike in the rain forest, our guide didn’t go, but there was another guide who went with his group. We tend to tag along with others, so we llisten and he pointed out the nests for the endangered native parrot.
Then later, we were looking for somewhere to eat and a man with his wife/child said the non-tourist place was a few streets away. He grew up in Puerto Rico and lives in Napa, Florida now. He didn’t have any accent and was with the family so it felt safe although I have to say he wore us out walking up a steep hill. Food was good. I had a Puerto Rico tamale which is a little softer than the ones I am used to and Dan had a chicken creole. Finished it up with fried sweet plantains and coconut flan. Very yummy.
The last angel was when we were walking around and started down a road. Just before we went under a bridge, a man on the far side of the bridge said not to come there, that it was a “hood”. Another man a few minutes later said it was an area
POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Monday, November 24, 2008

An unexpected day at sea

First of all, I don’t recommend the late dining if you have to get up early the next morning. Even though I ate lightly, it was hard to be comfortable laying down shortly afterwards. In the end, I slept very well. Did I say the mattress is very comfortable? 
We arose before 6:30 to get ready, have breakfast and disembark at Grand Turk. After breakfast we found out that the winds were too high and we were not going to dock at all today. We are awaiting the final word on that but it doesn’t look promising. It is overcast and the wind doesn’t seem all that bad…at least the waves don’t look high. But it isn’t worth risking it.
So if that is the case, a quiet day will be nice. I’ll probably get another acupuncture treatment, read, maybe swim or go to the exercise area. We’ll see. I heard one person grumble about being stuck on the boat another day but it will be fine with me. I may get something to lessen the queasiness. Fortunately it isn’t really bad but it is fairly persistent.
POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Monday, November 24, 2008

An Extra Day At Sea

I seldom (read that never) have a day in which I haven't planned what to do in advance.  I may not always do it, but I have at least some plans.  So it was unique to suddenly find ourselves with an extra day at sea.  Lots of choices on what to do:  classes, spa, gym, read, play games, eat, talk to people, explore the ship, eat, write my blog, and did I mention you can eat?  (Fortunately I didn't pig out.)
It was a nice relaxing day at sea except for the wave activity. I got some pills for sea sickness, and they helped a little but, mostly, they made me sleepy.
I went to a talk on back and posture at the fitness center and decided to have a personal trainer help me with exercises I can do in the RV. Those of you who don’t know me, don’t know that we live in a fifth wheel full time. Usually we aren’t anywhere we can go to a gym to work out. Personal training will be Thursday.
The acupuncture helped my leg some, so I went again this afternoon. I will go again later in the week. Even though I hadn’t bought a package of 3 sessions up front, Rebecca gave me the discount. It is appreciated. 
Other than that, I mostly read/dozed/sat in the hot tub. the relaxing day was a welcome relief. Most people felt the same way and weren’t upset about the travel changes. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was the first time the captain had ever had to cancel a port because of weather in almost 30 years. 
Well, I say it wasn’t anyone’s fault but Kim took credit. She ate dinner with us and a number of others this evening. She says every cruise she goes on, something happens. Last year, one of the engines quit and they had to cancel some ports as a result. She is planning that cruise again and will just do the things they missed last year. Very good sport about it…what else can you do anyway?!
I ran into the environmental officer for the ship today. HAL has a very progressive recycling program. The trash cans in the rooms even have a “paper only” section and there are bins around the ship for batteries, paper, plastic, and cans.  He agreed to talk with Dan later in the week and we are going to see if we can get a
POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Sunday, November 23, 2008

All day at sea

Well, I did better than I was afraid of but not as well as I would like with the rolling motion. I did sleep well, once I got to sleep…but that’s my MO, having trouble getting to sllep.
I’ve been wearing the wristbands and they seem to help some. Not a big problem but I'm a little queasy, especially when I go to eat. Dan likes to eat at the tables next to the windows and the view. I do better not looking out and eating something bland, like a roll, early on.
An acupuncture treatment today is for a long term problem I have had with my leg. Rebecca is very professional and compassionate. She showed me a better way to wear the wrist bands, 4 fingers above the rist - not three like the package says. She also pointed out a place to rub on my legl for the queasiness. Helps psychologically at least.
I then went to a cooking show, a shopping show, and a show about diamonds and other gems. The cooking show was fun. Chef Phil is very entertaining. I came away empty on the shopping since I am not interested in spending any extra money.
We had planned to do a lot of shore excursions but decided to kick back the pace and cancel the canopy adventure. Apprehension and cost won out over adventure. Decided to put the money into the acupuncture and relax rather than the usual go, go, go of our lives.
Oh, I won a fun shirt. It is a white tshirt with a black outline picture on it. When exposed to the sun, the colors show up. I was sitting on the front row and the guy said to stand up and show you wanted it. Everyone stood up but I wiggled my bottom and he saw me. Surprised I did that "butt" it was fun.
We went to Canelettom the Italian restaurant for dinner. There is no extra charge for it. The food was good, but the service was extremely slow, even though they weren’t busy. Maybe that is the style of the restaurant but it took about 20 minutes or more to place our orders.
Wait staff not as warm as the ones at the other places we have been the last day or so.
And strangely, they brought cotton candy for after dinner, before dessert! Cotton Candy? Go figure.
OK, early day tomorrow.
POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Saturday, November 22, 2008

Our first cruise is underway!

We are underway! I had a few minutes of anxiety, not so much motion sickness as claustrophobia. But I put on my sea sickness wristbands and breathed deep and I am doing better. Still a little anxious.
Actually, the life boat drill was a challenge too. I was behind a tall lady (I'm less than 5 feet tall), and with the vest so close around my short neck, it was not only uncomfortable but I felt closed in again. I asked the tall lady if she would change places and it didn’t matter to her. I kept my vest loose and when it was over, we let everyone else go back to their rooms before we went.
OK, so much for anxiety. Now for the excitement and enjoyment!
The ship is much bigger than I had imagined. Almost 1000 feet long. They upgraded us to a stateroom with a veranda, which is nice. It might have happened because this is our first cruise with HAL. The ship is brand new and everything is in terrific shape. I am surprised that maintenance, especially painting, is already being done.
I’m impressed with the staff. They seem genuinely interested and friendly. On this line, most everyone is Indonesian or Phillipino, although it seems that crewmembers are from all over the world. 
We ate lunch with Herta. I hope I spelled her name correctly. She is a retired cruise ship RN and has sailed almost 100 days on Holland America alone. She does about 2 cruises a year. Her experience is that HAL staff is sincerely interested in making the cruise a pleasure, much more so than other lines. Being our first cruise, I don’t know, but I do know that they seem that way.
Sitting in a public area after lunch, the ship chaplain, a priest, stopped and chatted. He normally works in Ft. Lauderdale with sailors from around the world, but is cruising “on duty” for 2 weeks. His perspectives are very interesting. 
Most of his time is spent with the crew. They are usually away from home and family for 8-10 months at a time. Many are very poor and HAL just had a fundraiser a few days ago to raise money to help with illness or family emergencies.
I’ve frankly been leery of cruises before because of the excess I&rsq
POSTED BY lindie hunt AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Friday, July 18, 2008

Wobbly Legs

Here I am walking off the ship onto home soil. It feels solid compared to the gentle occasional rock from the ship for the past 7 days. Subconsciously I am mimicking everyone else walking off with luggage. Our gait is the same and we are all rocking in a synchronized wave. Looking around I see others that had far too good a time the previous night. Seeing the entire cruise ship’s occupants have that same appearance is quite amusing.
Glancing back at the ship, the huge size momentarily disorients me.  It was home for seven days and while there I definitely got some excellent exercise walking from one end to the other. Now standing in its shadow I feel its residual power in my muscles.
Now it’s off in a taxi back to our hotel, across the bridge and I look back, seeing the boat getting smaller and smaller. Its mass got less and less apparent, and my muscles’ memory as well as my own slowly fading.
POSTED BY audrey b AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Sunday, July 13, 2008

Road Town - Port in Tortola

The British Virgin Islands! Here we are at Road Town, the capital, on the island of Tortola. Instead of going on any tours, we grab a taxi and head for the J.R. O’Neal Botanic Park. It’s time for an afternoon stroll to see the native plants of Tortola.
What would a tropical isle be without hibiscus, bougainvillea and palms. I’m surprised to see cactus as well…organ pipe…Turk’s Cap…prickly pear. My favorite flowers today are the Bird of Paradise. As I look off to my left, I hear a noise behind me and turn quickly. The movement of the birds and the shape of the flowers momentarily blend in my mind as the flowers become living birds. Such beauty!
After strolling through the gardens, our hunger catches up to us. Off we go for a delightful evening of food and music at The Dove Restaurant and Wine Bar. It’s in a lovely 1912 Gingerbread house with lots of antiques and a jazz bar, just down the street from the ferry dock. I order the prawns seasoned with vanilla. Out of this world! I thought nothing could top that when the chocolate soufflé comes out, and all this with lovely jazz music. A delightful day in paradise.
POSTED BY audrey b AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Parasailing - The Ultimate Ocean View

Last port – Nassau, Bahamas. This time we choose to explore on our own and decide to go parasailing. 
It’s off the beaten path of the cruise-set-up adventures and we grab a taxi to a local beach.
Boarding a speedboat with another group from New Jersey, I’m struck by their sense of calm. The parasailing guys pick up on it too and are enjoying amplifying their fears. Then with their gear on, off they went.  It was only a few moments up in the air, but the disposition change it caused them was remarkable. They came down, goofily grinning ear to ear, unable to really speak.
Now my sister and I are strapped in with the giant sail inflated behind us. The rope is let out and we start going up. Such a steady, smooth ascent. Reaching maximum altitude, there’s a different perspective of the ocean below. The blue is so vibrant and varied that it is overwhelming. The boat loops to take us to the other end of the beach. We wobble slightly in the turn and then I look up from the sea below and out to the horizon. The curvature of the earth is evident against a beautiful azure sky. It’s a humbling and empowering experience, and by far the most beautiful panorama to behold.
POSTED BY audrey b AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Thursday, July 03, 2008

Snorkeling with Stingrays without getting Stung

Snorkeling in the Caribbean with stingrays is comfortable and safe as well as rewarding. On the boat ride to Gibbs Cay, the crew gives me my gear and gives me instruction. It sounds easy. Once there and donning my gear, I’m quickly in the water, floating, my face looking down on what looks like an extraterrestrial world.
The tropical fish are so colorful and foreign that they don’t look real, that is until they flee my splashing hands. The coral is a beautiful maze upon which my shadow is cast, intriguing curious marine life swim out of their cavities.
I see stingrays. They merely glide past me, their slithery bodies’ edge tickling my legs and searching for food. The guide has some fish to feed them and is showing me how. I place a piece of fish in my palm with my fingers and thumb curled over it. Only a bit of fish pokes out of my hand. The guide holds a stingray in place and it sucks at my hand with such intensity, it comes as a shock. Weird but not discouraging. Doing it again, the stingray eats the fish like he was a puppy getting a treat.
POSTED BY audrey b AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Saturday, June 28, 2008

Water Horses

My horse’s name is Samson – he’s a tall, dark handsome type, gentle and easily maneuvered. Our guide leads us up a rocky hill and around some sand dunes. The beach is below us. It’s been so long since I rode a horse - a living, opinionated animal. This horse certainly knows what it’s doing. I can daydream and look around, while both of us share control. It’s a very liberating experience.
This is just the first part of our riding experience. Part two is changing into water saddles. This is a glorified, slightly padded way of riding bareback. What a new experience! Making our way back to beach, I feel every one of Samson’s steps. It is definitely less comfortable, but not painful. Racing into the water, the horses get to about as deep as their backs. My legs are almost completely submerged, I feel lighter on the horse’s back, and the fact that they are running at full speed becomes a desirable situation. We’re sweeping through the water, and the only thing I could do besides hang on for dear life is to smile. It’s like a roller coaster, except there are no obnoxious colors and cartoons to distract. An all natural thrill ride. I won’t forget this easily.
POSTED BY audrey b AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Monday, June 23, 2008

Grand Turks Island

Our shore excursion choice is the Grand Turk Indigenous Horse Shelter on, of course, Grand Turk Island. It’s a short drive from the pier. 
Along the way is Governor’s Beach. It’s mostly secluded, with white sand and crystal clear water. I can see snorkelers in the water – oh, it looks so pretty out there.
Then it’s on through Cockburn Town, the capital of the Turks & Caicos Islands. The Turks & Caicos National Museum has a display called the Molasses Reef Shipwreck. It’s the oldest known shipwreck in the western hemisphere and dates to about 1513.  
There are also natural salinas, which at one time supplied British North America with about one-sixth of their salt needs. It’s a process where sea water is allowed to flow into shallow ponds. Then after about 90 days the water has evaporated and the crystallized salt is left. It was raked up, packed into 40 pound sacks and shipped out. All of this has been commercially abandoned, but a small part of the Salinas, canals and ruined windmills has been renovated.
This is such a pretty island and we're almost to the horse shelter.
POSTED BY audrey b AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

An Affair to Remember: Cruise Ships at Night

Being on the cruise ship has revived my adolescent obsession with that old Cary Grant movie, An Affair to Remember, a dramatic, romantic love story set into motion by a meeting at sea. Being onboard for the first time at night, it is easy to understand the romance caused by a ship at sea. It is a very old-world way of travel. It inspires old-world romances with the heroes and heroines of a past time.
Walking out on the top deck for the first time at night was a very humbling experience. There was a darkness that was overwhelming yet light. The ocean was completely surrounding, and its sounds and smells filled the air. The scent of the ocean is different away from land. It is a fresh aroma, intensified by a light breeze. There is not even a hint of the stagnant life smelled at the beach. It is a scent of pure salt water. The gentle waves, as opposed to harsh beach breaker waves, provide a rhythmic background to walking around the ship. The light was softer at night, the activity was lighter at night, and the mood was simply more relaxed.
Although Cary Grant didn’t walk up the stairs to sweep me off my feet, despite my watching and waiting, the power of the night onboard was still felt. I took only a twenty minute walk on deck, but it was perhaps my favorite twenty minutes on board.
POSTED BY audrey b AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sunny Day at Sea

I decided to just sit and relax by the pool on our second full day. There were no stops to be made and no distractions like at home. I grabbed a book, a towel, and my sunglasses and headed up to the pool.
First of all, all worries about body image in a bathing suit were banished; there were plenty of unembarrassed people there of ALL body types. There was enough of a range, that I quickly found my place and felt good about myself.
Second of all, it turns out I wasn't paying attention to the sun. On the way back to the room, I began to feel a heat burning at my skin. On entering the room, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I wasn’t exactly tomato red, but crimson was definitely part of my new sunburn look. To be sure of my predicament, I adjusted my swimsuit strap to reveal a whiteness that was startling in its surroundings. It started to hurt.
Bed was early that night. Fortunately, the family size container of aloe was in stock at the ship’s convenience store. I coated myself so much, I’m afraid there is permanent green stain in the shape of my body on the sheets. Fortunately, the coolness of the cotton and the coldness of my morning shower has alleviated the situation. However, the desire for a base tan and the need for SPF 1000 has become all too real.
POSTED BY audrey b AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
Monday, May 19, 2008

Eastern Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call

I like to travel. Never been on a cruise before – this is my first. Work was nuts yesterday. Getting off late, arriving late and fortunately the ship leaves at 5PM, so I was able to sleep in this morning. My sister is with me on this trip. It’s been a long time since we’ve spent this much time together. I’m looking forward to that too.
It’s a seven day eastern Caribbean cruise. Should be a nice cruise port schedule. We left the Ft. Lauderdale Cruise Port earlier this evening. Now we cruise to Grand Turk Island in the Turks & Caicos. Then on to Road Town, Tortola British Virgin Islands, further south to St Thomas Virgin Islands, swinging back up to Half Moon Cay Bahamas and back to home port. We have two days at sea. There’ll be plenty of time to sightsee with time to rest, relax and enjoy the ship and new friends.
Cruising is certainly a different way to travel. Someone else is driving. I can go for a swim, nap or find a cooking class, all while we’re moving somewhere else. A surprise for me is that I’ve let go of all the rush of everyday life. No cell phone, no computer for the next seven days – I’ve unhooked from those tethers. What bliss!
POSTED BY audrey b AT   12:00:00 AM   PERMALINK
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It’s not a dream; it is a Holland America Alaska Cruise!

No one knows Alaska like Holland America Line. Premium service and comfort has been perfected. Tradition is evident everywhere, from classic teak deck chairs to friendly stewards offering hot chocolate - complimentary, of course. Every stateroom is larger than most other cruise lines and offers stylish appointments such as the custom-designed Mariner's Dream bed.    Get the most from Alaska by enjoying a verandah stateroom or suite, which are more spacious than any other ships in our class. Dining on a Holland America ship is a delight to experience with detail to quality and service that is top notch. Enjoy the elegance of the main dining room, the Pinnacle Grill or a quick bite by the pool or room service.


Every day on board brings a wealth of activities and enrichment programs to showcase Alaska at its best. Learn new ways to prepare seafood in the Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food & Wine magazine. Keep in touch with your work or loved ones in the Explorations Cafe, powered by The New York Times. Relax in the Crow's Nest and enjoy panoramic views. 

What makes Holland America Line a step above?
  • Every cruise in Glacier Bay National Park will feature ranger commentary from the bridge and an informative presentation. A Hunan Totem speaker will talk about their ancestral ties to the land.
  • A ranger from Wrangell-St. Elias National Park will provide bridge commentary for every visit to the mammoth Hubbard Glacier. Tinged natives will showcase their culture during visits to Yakutat Bay.
  • Seattle departures will host a pre-cruise presentation by a ranger about thonal parks of the Inside Passage.
  • Land tours offering several choices to fit your time and to see the most of Alaska.
  • Comfortable domed rail cars and coaches making travel enjoyable to some of most desirable destinations in Alaska.

Be sure to bring your binoculars along to view the many different wildlife experiences up close.




Denise Belisle Stone
Denise Belisle Stone
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