Monthly Archives: April 2013

5 STARS

I am now a 5 star Mariner….

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The End

Holland America Line
In 1871 Holland America began its history headquartered in Rotterdam and providing service to America. The line was the principal carrier of immigrants from Europe to the United States until well after the turn of the century carrying 850,000 to new lives in the New World. In 1895 the company offered its first vacation cruise from New York. In the 1970’s HAL suspended its transatlantic service and sold its cargo shipping division. In 1989 HAL became a wholly owned subdivision of the Carnival Corporation, the largest cruise company in the world.

Mariner Society
The Mariner Society reception was interrupted by claps and calls from Cruise Critic members as one by one, our members received recognition for their days at sea.

Linda, Byron, Sandy, Jill, John, Diana, Jackie, and I sat at one of the center tables for the Mariner Society Reception. We toasted each other, reminisced, and generally promised each other that we would not be forgotten.

Shipboard Life
Saw the matinee with Helen… a winner! The Impossible tells the story of the tsunami which hit Thailand and the struggle of one family to survive. A feel good movie!

Sandy, David, and I sat through the Entertainers of the Showroom at Sea third presentation of Amore. The three of us saw almost every show of the voyage.

Reminisces
The “Call of the Rotterdam” …. cough, cough, cough. This cough was present throughout the voyage… and still could be heard on the bus to Heathrow!

Kisses on both cheeks from my favorite Cruise Director, Glenn. And hopes that we travel again on the same ship.

Crying while saying goodbye… knowing that we will never see some of our friends again.

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Lisbon the second time around

Lisbon
The capital of Portugal is located on a string of hills and is filled with wide boulevards and gorgeous buildings.

Diana, Jackie, Sandy, and I set out on our own tour with a specific agenda in mind. We took taxis from one site to another. The total day’s cost pp was 10 euros; this included taxis, admissions, and refreshments (beer or champagne).

First stop was the Design and Fashion Museum (MuDe), Rua Augusta 24, admission free. This museum was founded in 2009 by Francisco Capelo. It occupies the interior of a stripped down Beaux Arts building and features 20th century product design and fashion. Furniture by Eames, couture by Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent are a part of the exhibitions.

Next stop was to view the lacy ironwork covered Santa Justa Elevador built by a student of Gustave Eiffel.

A taxi took us out to our second museum, the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, admission 2 euros for seniors. Gulbenkian was an Armenian who came to Portugal in 1942. He had accumulated great wealth and was an exceptionally discerning collector. In 1969, the museum opened which houses 6000 pieces of his collection.

Our final stop was a sidewalk cafe for refreshments, i.e. beer for me, champagne for others.

Shipboard Life
Don’t waste your time with the movie Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law. As Helen commented, “Tolstoy will be rolling in his grave.” It was done artsy style. A complete waste of period costumes, acting, and time.

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Cadiz, Spain

Cadiz
In 1100 B.C., the Phoenicians founded their trading post on a peninsula jutting out into the bay. Later it became a prominent Roman port. This is just a sample of the history of Cadiz. At one time, it was my favorite port in Spain. Unfortunately the economy’s downturn effected Cadiz for the worse.

The weather was cold and rainy (where have I seen this before?). Undaunted, Jeff, Joyce, Mike, Sue, Sandy, and I set off in foul weather gear for a five hour jaunt through the shops of the old town with appropriate stops for coffee (and wifi) and beer (and wifi). A new record for shopping was set: no purchases!

Shipboard Life
A standing ovation for pianist Naki Ataman lasted several minutes. Ataman is truly a gifted pianist. He played a tribute to the music of the 20th century accompanied by two of the HALcats.

While sitting at the piano bar listening to a performance by Barry of Boston, I was surprised by a kiss on the cheek from Cruise Director Glen Coen. Glen is a very personable, accomplished director. He knows passengers by name and seems to have the ability to be in several places at once.

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Eastern Mediterranean

Alicante, Spain
Located in the Valencia region of Spain, Alicante is a pleasant seaside town with a charming promenade lining the beach. The Castle of St. Barbara tops the hill behind the beach.

Walked the promenade with Jeff, Joyce, Mike, and Sue. Had paella and beer for lunch. My share of the bill was 20 euros. Then went shopping and purchased two pairs of shoes. Weather was delightful. All in all, a pretty good day.

Almeria, Spain
Located in the Andalusia region, Almeria contains the Alcazaba castle which dominates the landscape.

Diana and I, each carting a box to be shipped home, set off for the post office. It seemed the box gained weight the longer I carried it. We finally found a taxi and loaded the boxes. A friendly postal employee and I managed to communicate even though we didn’t speak a common language. 58.43 euros later and my box weighing 4.5 kilos and containing my prized Chinese dragon head is on its way home to Ponte Vedra, Florida, USA. Diana and I gleefully walked around town with a weight (literally and figuratively) off our shoulders.

Tangier, Morocco
Tangier was first known as a Phoenician trading post. It offers the mysticism of the Arab world and the cosmopolitan appeal of a Mediterranean resort.

Sue organized a tour for 27 using Tangier Private Guide (www.tangierprivateguide.com) with Aziz Benami as our guide. The cost was $39 US pp for a full day tour including lunch. Although the day was rainy and cold (what else is new?), it was a great day full of fun with friends.

We did a walking tour of the Kasbah and the Medina, the oldest and most exotic part of the city. We drove through the wealthy area with palaces and villas. In the driving rain, we visited Cape Spartel which is the exact point where the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean meet. In the pouring rain, we visited the Caves of Hercules which date from the Neolithic area.

Returning to the city, we were treated to a two hour banquet of Moroccan delicacies. It was a fitting end to our voyage filled with cruise critic tours.

Oh, and I bought a Moroccan Berber carpet which is being shipped to my home!

Shipboard Life
I have heard Paul Fredericks sing on other voyages and he never fails to entertain. An original member of the band who recorded Winchester Cathedral, he sang songs the audience appreciated.

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The Mediterranean Sea

Piraeus, port for Athens
Although I wasn’t feeling well and had exhibited symptoms which I ignored, I joined 7 others on a day long tour of coastal Greece (67 euros for tour, 5 euros for lunch, and 3 euros for admissions). We visited the Marathon Lake Dam. We toured Marathon, the site of a decisive 490 BC battle when the 9,000 man Greek army defeated a Persian army three times its size. A runner sent to Athens to proclaim the victory collapsed and died after the long run. The event was immortalized as the Olympic race. We visited the Tumulus of the Athenians, a mound which covered the 192 men who died aft the resounding Greek victory over the Persians in 490 BC. Finally we visited the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion. Built on the craggy seaside cliff,the white temple figures prominently in Greek mythology and history.

Missed the rest of the Med
Messina, Sicily – Naples, Italy – Civitavecchia and Rome, Italy: All were not to be!

After returning from the Athens tour, I admitted that it was time to visit the Medical Center. Diagnosis: gastrointestinal illness and a UTI.
Prescription: Quarantined!

Shipboard
Alesia and Massimo are Incanto. They enchant the audience with sensual, breathless acrobatics while spell binding music and magical backgrounds provide the ambiance. Don’t miss them!

Released from quarantine in time for Sunrise service in the Crow’s Nest on Easter morn, the seas were dark, roiling, and very rough. We sang seated. The morning Easter church service was full.

Well and heading for Spain!

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