Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

If This is Wednesday, We’re in Monte Carlo

Celebrity's Newest Ship - The EdgeTRAVEL THERE: GOING TO THE EDGE WITH CELEBRITY

To say Bill’s choice won would not be exactly correct.  We talked though all the options and in the end, it made the most sense.  It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but looking at the ship and the itinerary, I certainly didn’t lose.  And there had been no arguments.  Not even differences of opinion, just a realization that given our options, Celebrity’s Edge was the choice for us.

Horses Before Carts

When we decided to cruise on The Edge, the ship didn’t even exist.  Oh, they were in the process of building it, but we were taking a leap of faith.  On Saturday, March 24, 2018 I sent an email to my travel agent, Sandra Rubio of CTC travel that we’d chosen The Edge’s June 15, 2019 cruise, out of Rome.  The ship would have her maiden voyage in December 2018.  I thought the next step would be the red tape involved with setting up an official “group” with Celebrity.  That meant a selection of rooms would be set aside for us and I’d have some time to recruit people to fill up the rooms.  It might even mean that we’d get a free room ourselves, but even if we didn’t there were a lot of other perks with being a group.

Only that’s not what happened.  Someone at Celebrity made an executive decision.  There would be no “groups” on The Edge – at least not during our cruise.  So, no free room for us or room discounts for our fellow travelers or any of the other perks that come with having a group would ever be ours.  It was just a case of, “We’re going, do you want to join us.”  I wasn’t surprised.  I wouldn’t know what to do if things ever just went my way.

Then I got an email from Jim Bagley.  Jim is the husband of my friend Melanie.  She was my roommate at SFA and we’ve stayed close friends all these years.  Oh, we’re not the talk-to-you-every-day type of close friends.  I don’t have any of those, because I’m not that sort of person.  Even my bestie and I go days without so much as a text.  With Melanie, there have been years where our only correspondence has been Christmas cards.  However, get us together and you’d think we’d been connected at the hip since birth.  Jim and Melanie had booked their cabin.

I have to admit.  Bill and I were still wringing our hands over the loss of our group.  Was Celebrity still the best choice?  Would the Viking cruise be a better deal for us?  Jim’s email defined our dilemma and tightened our focus.  Were we going on The Edge or not?  We took another look at The Edge brochure and called Sandra to book our own cabin. We were going on a cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary.

That Was Then, This Is Now

I promise to share every single detail along the way with you.  If you’ve been following this blog for long, you know I won’t be able to resist it.  However, today I’m in Monte Carlo.  Yesterday, was our Vow Renewal Ceremony.  This morning we’ll be able to take it slow.  It’s a long day at this port of call, but we plan to sleep late and enjoy a sit-down breakfast.  Perhaps we’ll lounge by the pool or stroll around onshore.  At 4 PM we’re joining the CEO of Celebrity Cruises for a Wine Tasting at the Monte Carlo Yacht Club.  (Yeah, I know.  I’m still pinching myself.)  Then we’ll take a special after-hours tour of the Prince’s Palace.  After the tour, some brave souls will be dining with her up on the Magic Carpet, but alas, I can’t imagine enjoying an open air dinner up in the air.  I can’t even endure a wimpy zipline at a Texas roadside attraction.

Next week, I’ll be back home. I’ll pick up this tale up with the giddy moment we got our cabin confirmation and share a few of the disasters we’ve suffered on our way to The Anniversary Cruise.  Please join me.  We’re gonna have fun!

Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

The Twenty-Fifth

The Trip of a Lifetime?

TRAVEL THERE: PLANNING A VACATION TO REMEMBER

I have a very pleasant difficulty.  I’ve had so many wonderful vacations that “the trip of a lifetime” barely has any meaning for me.  Each has been a “trip of a lifetime” in one way or another.  It began with my mom.  That lady knew how to plan a vacation.  I will never forget the American Heritage tour we took that included Washington D.C., Monticello, Mount Vernon, Williamsburg and Lincoln landmarks.  Before I met Bill I had a remarkable trip to England, a visit to Paris and a wonderful tour of Bavaria.  Since Bill came along we have had one memorable trip after another, both in the United States and abroad. Hawaii? Yes!  Caribbean? Yes!  Europe? Yes!  I never thought I’d see the Pyramids and now I have been twice.  So what were we supposed to do to mark a special milestone?

An Anniversary Cruise?

Letting go of the backyard vow renewal ceremony, surrounded by friends and family and solemnized by my pastor, was tough, but it wasn’t just my anniversary, it was Bill’s too.  So I started recreating my vision.  Exchanging the Phoenician for a Back East ramble and my two decade diamond for a pond-side home had both been good decisions.  Third time is the charm, right?

Bill and I daydreamed about the possibilities on our patio as summer became fall.  We’d always wanted to cruise the Mediterranean, but the cost had always scared us away.  We began to understand this splurge was the perfect choice for our Anniversary Cruise, but the Mediterranean is a big place.  What ports of call, what cruise line and which ship would we chose.  We had time, but it was a big decision.

As the year rolled to an end, I realized my favorite travel agency would be having their annual travel show in January.  Since one of the important things about this cruise would be the people who went with us, I spent several days sending out emails to all my friends and family explaining what we were planning, hoping they’d join us on the adventure.  Unfortunately, we were in no position to treat our friends and family to this cruise, so not only would they have to find the time to join us, they’d also need to find the funds.  Our responses ranged from, “Gee, we appreciate you thinking of us, but no,” to “Try and stop me from coming.”  In the middle were a whole lot of maybes.  There were also many, many unanswered emails.  Welcome to the Third Millennial!

My very own travel library

Days of Discovery

On a bright January day, bestie, hubby and I took in CTC’s annual travel show.  I got several bags full of dreams, but my husband only saw one ship.  I did my due diligence, unaware that Bill had already decided what we were going to do.  At that point, he didn’t realize it either.

I was torn between two choices.  I’d always dreamed of enjoying the luxury of an all suite ship, but since our Danube Waltz adventure on the Viking Tor, I’d been craving one of their ocean cruises.  Bill suggested I take a look at the new ship Celebrity was building, the Edge, and he was also interested in a Sailing Yacht Cruise.  I spent a long afternoon in Sandra Rubio’s office as she explored the various choices we were considering.  Then I spent days comparing the prices of the various cruises with the experiences we’d enjoy.

A few things were clear.  Te price of the all-suite luxury cruises would prohibit most of the other people from joining us.  The Sailing Yachts would offer us an amazing ceremony, but the ship we were most interested in would be getting an overhaul in 2019.  Taking the Viking cruise would mean no possibility of my grandnieces and nephews joining us.  The Edge was interesting and would accommodate the kids, but it was at the bottom of my list.

I’ve already let the cat out of the bag, Bill’s choice won the day – but did he choose the Yacht experience or the Edge?  Come back next week!  I’ll spill the beans!

Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

The Next Adventure

TRAVEL THERE: BIG PLANS FOR A BIG DAY

A few years back a friend of mine was getting married and finding a venue stumped her.  I suggested she use my backyard.  She never really took my suggestion seriously, but I began to see how my favorite view would be the perfect spot for a celebration.  Her wedding came and went, but I was never able to eradicate the idea of a celebration in my backyard.  I began to float an idea with my husband – what if we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a vow renewal ceremony by our pond?

Anniversaries We Have and Yet, Have Not, Celebrated

Our wedding anniversary is a special day to us.  Bill doesn’t get very excited about Christmas, birthdays or Valentines, but our anniversary is something he likes to mark.  In our early years, we used to say we were going to spend our 10th wedding anniversary at the Phoenician in Arizona.  We’d visited the resort on some previous trips to the area and we loved fantasizing about splurging on a special celebration there, but it never happened.

When our 10th Anniversary rolled around, our nephew was graduating from Wharton (along with Ivanka Trump).  Bill’s brother had passed away not long before and we felt helping our nephew celebrate his important milestone took precedence over the Phoenician.  Believe me, it was no sacrifice.  We used Philadelphia as the starting point for an amazing tour.  I saw the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Longwood Gardens, Winterthur, Mohonk Mountain House, Springwood, Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks, 1000 Islands and Niagara Falls.  The whole trip was filled with moments I will never forget.

For our 20th Anniversary I started making noise about replacing the diamond in my engagement ring.  Bill had surprised me with his proposal – like really surprised me.  He’d never so much as asked me my favorite shape of diamond!  At the time, he’d said the ring was just a placeholder and I could pick out what I wanted, but what I wanted was what he picked out for me.  After twenty years, though, I thought I might be due an upgrade – such as a carat for each decade.

To Bill’s credit, he took me shopping and he was willing to spend the obscene amount of money necessary to put a two carat rock into my wedding set.  Only my practical little soul could not countenance it.  I got my ring polished and we built our home on the pond instead.  Of course, the house cost a whole lot more than the new diamond would have, but look at what we got.  Our 20th wedding present was ourselves was the architectural plans for Falcons View Pass.  We moved in not long before our 21st.

Hofburg’s Silver Museum, from our Vienna visit on the Danube Waltz cruise

Looking to Twenty-Five

Though we always mark our anniversary in a special way, we don’t always do it on the special day.  Take the Danube Waltz in 2016.  It marked Anniversary 22, but it was about a month early.  Oregon marked number 18, but it several weeks later.  For number 23, we went to Egypt, but about a month before.  That’s when I started thinking about number 25.

Floating an idea with Bill is a bit of a challenge.  He’s always listens to me, but that doesn’t always mean he hears me.  I’d venture to say I’d been talking about a backyard vow renewal for six months before he figured out I was seriously considering it.  I had the whole thing sketched out in my mind.  When he finally asked me to explain it to him in full, I was on the edge of tears.  Only my vision didn’t resonate with him.

“How about a cruise,” he suggested.  Well, we love cruising and we’ve been on several, but the fact we’d already been on several was what caused my hesitation.  I wanted something very special to mark this milestone.  What’s more, I didn’t want to mark it alone.  Part of what had propelled my vision of the backyard ceremony had been the loss of so many of my loved ones.  So many of the important people who had celebrated our wedding were no longer here to testify to our commitment.  Some people who loomed large in the video of the day are either no longer a part of our lives at all or they have moved to the peripheral edges of our existence.  What’s more, there are those who are very, very special now, that I didn’t even know back then.

What did we decide to do?  Come back next week and find out.

Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

Our Last Day of Cruising

TRAVEL HERE: A DAY AT SEA

For me, travel is usually about going somewhere.  I’m interested in seeing wonderful things and doing things I’ve never done before.  But this cruise was a little different.  It was supposed to be about relaxing and indulgence.  Maybe that’s why I resented the poor food quality.  Our last day really was a day devoted to relaxation and we had a good time.  Join us as we enjoy the ship.

AM Less Than Routine

I started the day in the gym and then returned to the room, so Bill could join me for our sit-down breakfast in the dining room.  That was an event!

The focus of the day was on chocolate, so I ordered the chocolate pancakes, but was delivered plain old buttermilk pancakes.  I’m usually the last person in the world to send something back, but I didn’t want to waste calories on just any pancake.  If I’m being bad, then I wanted to be exactly the bad I have chosen, not the bad someone else chooses for me.  However, that was merely a blip on the screen of the morning event.

As part of the chocolate extravaganza they were calling breakfast, a waitress came by with a tray of chocolate shakes.  That’s not usually a part of my breakfast, but I thought I’d try one.  Before I could take my first sip, there was a huge clatter.  The tray and most of the glasses were on the floor and many of the glasses shattered.  Infinitely worse was that most of the shakes ended up all over the man at the head of the table.

I would like to give big kudos to this guy.  I would have jumped up and screamed.  This man didn’t make a peep.  He merely stood up, wiped away as much as he could and then walked away to change.  WOW!  When he came back, he took his seat and finished his breakfast – also without a peep. More WOW!

His wife was a little more chatty.  While he was away we learned this was the first “real” vacation they had ever taken.  Always before they’d used their vacation to do good works.  She didn’t indicate whether their trips had been humanitarian and/or faith-based, but it doesn’t matter.  How amazing for them to give of themselves in that way!  What’s sad was that this cruise had not allowed them to enjoy themselves the way it should have.  She didn’t complain about the food or the mediocre quality of the entertainment.  She only said they’d had a lot of trouble and only that morning they’d finally been moved to another cabin.  (She didn’t say why and when asked she didn’t want to discuss it, but I’m thinking bedbugs or mold.  What do you think?)

The Balance of the Day

So, after our exciting breakfast, Bill wanted to give the rock-climbing wall a shot.  He’d loved rappelling when we were on Norwegian, but this boat only had the climbing wall.  Still, Bill suited up and gave it a try.  He made it pretty high up the wall, higher than anyone else did while we were there, but didn’t get to the top.  I pointed out that he’d chosen the toughest part of the wall to climb – it actually leaned outwards, but he couldn’t be convinced to give it another try.

Next up was some pool time, but we didn’t want to fight the constant noise and party next to the main pool.  Instead, we found our way to the Solarium pool and did a little relaxing.  I’m not a big swimmer, but I did enjoy some time in the hot tub.  Then I did a little poolside lounging.

At lunch we had the pleasant opportunity to reconnect with the nice lady we’d enjoyed at the first breakfast and this time she was with her husband.  We enjoyed their company so much that we were the very last people left in the dining room.

Then it was time to get our bags repacked.  We’d have to put the big bag out before bedtime.  When that was done, I washed my hair and spent some time relaxing, while Bill battled the stock market.

The final show may have been the worst entertainment of all.  This was a tribute to Broadway, but I’m not sure how much honor it showed to that wonderful institution.  They did the opening prologue to Cabaret, but opened the curtain on songs from Chicago.  I found that disconcerting, but not as bad as using the lyrics from famous Broadway songs with mediocre melodies.  They weren’t even bad arrangements of Broadway tunes, just a totally different song with the famous and familiar words.  It was also the production with the worst prop-dropping and zigzaggedy, uneven lines.  What a disappointment.

I don’t have to tell you that dinner was mediocre or breakfast downright bad.  The disembarkation went pretty smoothly, but we did seem to be in the line with all the troubled documentation.  (Why hadn’t that been caught embarking, rather than at the end of the cruise?)  Soon we were on our way home and were we ever glad to be heading back.  Usually there’s a little regret, but not this time.  We just wanted off that boat and back into our home!

As I write this final blog about this cruise it’s early March.  The previous week I had finished up with the posts about Egypt and they will take you into August, but right this minute I can’t guess what I’ll be writing about for my Monday blogs.  We’ll just have to see what kind of adventures I will get into.

 

 

ART, Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Performing Arts, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

We Won the Love & Marriage Game Show

TRAVEL THERE: ONE OF LIFE’S MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENTS

On Tuesday night when we saw the Perfect Couple Game Show, they mentioned they would be having a Newlywed-type Q&A game on the following evening. Bill suggested we should try out for it and I thought he was crazy, especially after I had seen what they put the Perfect Couples through.  They mentioned the game again at the Elton John Tribute show and Bill was even more adamant about participating.  I thought there was no way they’d choose a couple of oldsters like us, so I didn’t worry too much.

Killing Time 

We mentioned Bill’s desire to be in the game show at dinner time and our table mates promised to cheer us on if we did indeed end up as contestants.  We had some time to kill before the show once dinner was over, so we took the opportunity to visit some of the places on board that we hadn’t yet seen. 

One of the biggest disappointments was the Viking Crown Bar.  The Bar was the highest venue on the ship and was reported to have the best views.  The specialty sushi restaurant was up there and  I also saw they had late night disco action up there.  It was a beautiful bar and the view was amazing, but there was virtually no one up there enjoying it.  We can’t say whether the disco party heated the place up or not, because by then we were always in bed.

Reporting for Duty

After a little more strolling, it was time to get to the Masquerade Theater so we’d be considered as one of the contestant couples.  Some of the couples who were interested in this game show had been contestants in the Perfect Couple Game the night before.

The Love & Marriage Game had a twist.  One couple was a pair of newlyweds honeymooning on the boat.  Another couple was chosen because they had been married longer than anyone else in the theater.  There was stiff competition to fill that middle spot.

Bill and I stood in a line up of prospective couples and they had all the couples give one other a big kiss to demonstrate how much in love we still were.  Bill wrapped his arms around me and laid one on me.  To make it more fun I wrapped a leg around him.  The crowd went wild and we were chosen to be the middle couple.

The actual game was exactly like the Newlywed Show.  First they took the guys backstage and asked the women the questions.  When they brought the guys back out, Bill and I got every question right. Then they sent the women backstage and asked the guys the questions, but whereas the ladies’ questions had been pretty tame, they heated it up for the guys questions.  We missed one that time – something about what feature the guys had been attracted to when they first saw us.  I answered, “My butt,” because that’s what Bill has told me for years.  He’d been a little bashful about answering so specifically and had said it was my whole body.

Then they asked a question which was not something I really wanted to talk about on a stage, in a theater full of people, so I’m certainly not going to discuss it in print, but we got it right.  They made a big hoopla about us winning, but when they brought out our gifts, the other couples got the same thing, so there hadn’t been a real prize for revealing our deep dark secrets.  However, we were certainly celebrities on the ship for the rest of the cruise.

Then as we were about to leave the stage, they wanted our room number so they could deliver a DVD of the event to our cabin.  Oh, no!  I realized they had recorded the game and there was no end to the people who might watch it.  Then they said they’d be showing it on the on board information channel.  They did, because I watched- and no I won’t be posting the video!

One day left!  Come back next week and see how we spent our last day at sea.

 

Architecture, ART, Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Performing Arts, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Yucatan Adventure

TRAVEL HERE: DISCOVER THE YUCATAN & THE MAYAN WORLD

No time for working out or a sit-down breakfasts today.  Our shore excursion met on the pier at 9:15, so we grabbed breakfast in the Windjammer Buffet and disembarked.

Progresso, Mexico

I love cruising and one of my favorite moments is stepping off the boat at a port of call.  Progresso was not new to us.  We’d been there several years ago on a Carnival cruise, but that was before I started blogging.  On that trip we visited the Dzibilchaltun ruins, which I highly recommend.  This time we were taking a tour called “Discover the Yucatan & the Mayan World”.  It was a sort of compromise somewhere in between going all the way to Chichen Itza and spending the day on the beach.

The city of Progresso is developing their port and I’m pretty sure the cute little market at the end of the pier was not there last time.  We didn’t see anything that tempted us to pull out our wallets, but it was a nice commercial enterprise and it gave us something to do while we waited for our tour to be called.

How do you spell relief?

On the Bus

Once everyone on the tour had been accounted for, our guide led us to our bus for the day.  For the most part it was in good condition, but I could tell it had been in service for awhile.  Our guide had a shtick about his name.  He complained that all of us tourists didn’t know how to properly roll the “R” in Carlos, so he’d prefer it if we called him The Big Chihuahua or Uncle Chewy.

Our first stop was Xcampo.  (Well, actually the roadside restroom before you got to Xcampo.)  Xcampo was a temple complex, like Chichen Itza or Dzibilxhaltun, but on a much smaller scale.  The visit was not very long, but long enough to wander around and climb on the pyramids.

And speaking of climbing the pyramids, we learned that the steps of the pyramid were so steep to be sure that no one could turn their back on the god and walk down.  They’d have to crawl down to do honor to the god.  In addition, That’s the reason the door to their huts were so low – to remind people to bow and do honor to the home’s inhabitants.

On to Dzemul

Dzemul was a small town primarily occupied by descendants of the Mayans.  Our first stop in the town was an architecturally correct replica of a Mayan home.  When the bus arrived our hostess was nowhere in sight.  We sat there a few moments as the guide tried to decide what to do about her absense.  Just about the time he decided we’d go to the next stop, up comes this darling little lady on the orange human-powered vehicle you see in the picture gallery.  These were the most popular vehicles in town and came in a wide variety of colors and themes.

As Uncle Chewy explained the details of Mayan home-building, our hostess went out back, stoked up a fire and made us some tortillas.  They were good!

The next stop was the local Catholic church with a long history.  There we were greeted by this beautiful woman in her traditional hand-made dress.  Just so you don’t miss it, that’s cross-stitch and it covers the dress.  Can you imagine how long it took to make it?

We were enchanted by this lady.  She exuded pride and self-confidence.  She and some associates performed some folk dances for us and one performed with a tray of water-filled glasses.  The the tray of dancer in the picture got a little off balance and dribbled water on her as she danced.  She was such a pro that it didn’t even cause her to blink.  She completed the dance without ever touching the tray and behaved as if the water dripping on her was just part of the act.  The dancers on the ship could take lessons from her.

Inside the church we were treated to a little history. Bill was amazed to learn that they used to make church doors so large in order for people on horseback to ride in, without having to get of their horse, in times of emergency.

Cultural orientation completed it was time to go to the beach.  Come back next week and join us there.  In the meantime, enjoy these pictures of Dzemul.

ART, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Performing Arts, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

Formal Night on Vision of the Seas

TRAVEL THERE: PUTTING ON THE RITZ

I love dressing for dinner.  It’s not required on most cruises anymore.  They discourage you from wearing flip flops and tank tops, but pretty much anything else goes.  Even on formal night dressing up is optional, but I dress up every evening and on formal night I pull out the stops.   

Free Champagne!

The Captain’s Greeting

I can only imagine how much the captain hates formal night.  He has to get all dressed up, spend an hour or so shaking hands and taking pictures with skads of people he has no interest in and then he has to get up and make a big welcoming speech.  It was probably fun the first hundred or so time, but he does this week after week after week!  He probably realizes that most of the people are just there to get the free champagne.

Then after he makes his speech he has to introduce his management staff and let them make their own speeches.  How would you like to take the top management out of your organization to entertain a crowd that just wants free champagne?  Yeah, who’s running the boat – right?  It was almost impossible to hear what they said, but as long as the trays of champagne wandered around the room, they had an audience.

Happy Birthday, Anniversary and Everything Else

Since this cruise was to celebrate Bill’s birthday, our travel agent asked which evening we’d like commemorate the occasion.  I chose Formal Night.  Bill’s birthday wasn’t the only celebration at the table.  The Youth Pastor and his wife also got feted for their anniversary.

Our table mates were a blast, so we were grateful for the delightful company.  The food continued in it’s mediocrity.  This was the night of the lousy lobster bisque and I followed it up with a steak.  Nothing to write home about.  One more meal down.

Another Show, Another Disappointment

For formal night the entertainment was Boogie Woogie Wonderland, which was supposed to highlight the music of the seventies.  They were a little loose about hitting their target.  The seventies were my boogie woogie wonderland, but I have no idea what inspired some of the costumes they wore.

The songs they chose to highlight were among some of my favorites, but the voices just weren’t up to the challenge of the music.  Overall, it was an entertaining show, but it just came up short in the quality department.

Awkward!

To top off our night, after the show we headed to the Some Enchanted Evening Lounge for The Perfect Couple Game Show.  We were expecting a “Newlyweds Game” knock-off, but instead got the Embarrassment Olympics.

When we arrived Adult Karaoke was still going on.  There was a group of drunken bridesmaids dominating the room whether they were on stage or not.  I was glad when the spectacle was over.

Instead of a Q&A of martial habits, The Perfect Couple was a series of party games designed to embarrass people who were unwitting enough to volunteer to be contestants.  Why pay entertainers when you can get passengers to entertain everyone with karaoke and awkward feats of skill.  We made it through a few rounds, but when they started with tennis balls in men’s jeans, we decided it was time for bed.

Come back next week for sure, because we arrive in the Yucatan and enjoy a marvelous shore excursion.o

Architecture, ART, Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Cruising the Nile Like a Queen

TRAVEL THERE: THE PHARAOH’S DINNER CRUISE

Moksen, my nephew Bassem’s new father-in-law, invited us to be his guest on an early Nile Dinner Cruise.  He’d enjoyed our hospitality on a visit to the States and was eager to return the favor.  He returned the favor in spades!

An Early Arrival

Since we’d allowed plenty of time to visit the monastery during our trip from Alex to Cairo, we were early to the cruise.  Izzat entertained us a little by driving us around the elegant neighborhood near the dock of the boat, but that didn’t take very long and we really didn’t have time for anything else.  Hence we arrived at the boat long before anyone else – and what a boat!

I’m telling you Cleopatra would have been thrilled to take a cruise on this boat.  The photos really don’t do it justice, but the boat was covered in gilded pharaonic decorations.  The waiters wore the same garb as Cleo’s servants would have worn.  All that was missing was getting fanned by ostrich plumes and I have a feeling if I’d asked for it, they would have been able to comply with my wishes.

An Excellent Meal

If you remember any of the details about my nephew’s wedding and reception, then you know that no expense was spared.  This dinner cruise was similar – the best of the best. 

While we waited for our party, I checked out the restroom facilities and they were much improved over our roadside stop.  Then we wandered around the boat checking out every elegant detail.

Before long Moksen and his lovely wife Shahira, first on the left side, were coming aboard and the party started.  It was a huge, delicious meal and I was thrilled to be with my family once again.  

Once we’d eaten our fill (and a little bit more) we all wandered outside to enjoy the view from the decks.  Our hosts had invited us to the early cruise – about 2:30 – and this allowed us to see Cairo in all it’s daytime glory.  I’m sure the evening experience is romantic, but I would not have traded our daytime views for anything.

I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to enjoy this amazing trip.  It seems as if every time I travel I say, “This was the trip of a lifetime,” but each time it seems true.  From family tours of historic American sites when I was a child to wandering through the English countryside in my twenties to the Danube Cruise I took in 2016, they are all singular experiences many people never get the opportunity to enjoy.  This trip was no different.  Each day was an absolute wonder.  It has taken over a year to share it with you, but it is finally drawing to a close.  Only one more full day to share and then we’ll have to see what our next adventure will be.

Enjoy and come back tomorrow for our return to the Fairmont.  The second time around was a little more problematic that our original stay!

 

ART, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Shopping, TRAVEL

Our First Day at Sea

Photo Won at the Art Auction

TRAVEL THERE: ENJOYING THE BOAT

There she is!  Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas.  On our day at sea, we explored many of her charms and suffered a few of her deficiencies.  Come along and see how it went.

Up & At ‘Em

First up, the gym!  I’m an early riser, so I take advantage of it to get in an hour on a stationary bike.  The gym on Vision of the Seas is nice, but quite small.  On this morning, pretty much every spot on the equipment was filled.

I got my hour in and headed back to the room via the the buffet.  I filled up my soda cup, got Bill some ice water and picked up a few pastries in case Mr. Bill was ravenous.

More Like Eggs Benedict Arnold

Breaking Our Fast

We enjoy the luxury of sit down service and convivial company, so we returned to the Aquarius Dining Room for our morning repast.  There is no assigned seating, so you get the luck of the draw in table mates. The luck of the draw in food was pretty marginal, especially their sorry excuse for Eggs Benedict.

We ended up at a table with a bunch of round dancers, who were nice, but only interested in their dancing, so we were relieved when a mother and her daughter arrived.  After a little chatting we discovered they’d been caught in all the flooding from Harvey and it was interesting to hear about their experiences.  They became our new cruise buddies and we enjoyed seeing them several other times during the week.

We went back to the room so Bill could wrangle with his computer and the market.  I took a shower and got ready for the day, in part by perusing the Cruise Compass and picking out the good stuff, like the Art Auction

My Free Gift

Champagne Art Auction

One of my favorite things at sea are the Park West art auctions. How can you lose if you’re spending your morning looking at art and hearing tidbits about artists and the art world, while you sip free champagne?  I’m probably not ever going to be bidding, but it’s relaxing, fun and interesting.  Bill doesn’t exactly feel the same way.  He’ll attend, probably more for the champagne than the art, but he sits there, giving me a running commentary on the dangers of buying art at sea, just in case I get the urge to lift my bidding card.

Were I to actually bid on something, it would be because I thought it was a pretty picture and I’d enjoy looking at it.  Occasionally I’ll say something complimentary about a painting and Bill reacts as if I’m considering purchasing a fake Mona Lisa and he demands to know which wall we’d hang it on.  It sort of takes the fun out of the dreaming, but I just shake my head in amusement and have another sip of champagne.

Beyond the champagne, there’s always a free gift of art.  This time a 7×7 seriolithograph by Yuval Wolfson.  If I had any space on our walls, I could frame it and hang it.  Instead it will end up in my scrapbook.  There was an extra bonus this time which will also find its way to my scrapbook.  To hold the audience’s attention, they also have drawings for Royal Caribbean chotkies, like t-shirts and water bottles.  To my amazement I won one of the drawings and I got two lovely 8×10 photos of the ship – one of which is shown above – and which will kick off my scrapbook of this adventure.

Winding Up the Day and Gearing Up for the Night

The auction lasted past the sit down lunch, so we were forced to go back to the Windjammer for a buffet lunch.  It was marginally better than the Embarkation Buffet, but that’s not saying much.

Usually we would have explored more of the boat, but on this trip, Bill had to keep an eye on the market, so we went back to our room.  I really can’t complain about the relaxation.  The room was comfortable, the sea was just outside our window and after catching up on my travel journal I did a little reading.

Come back next week and I’ll tell you about formal night.

Accommodations, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, TRAVEL

While I Was Sleeping

TRAVEL HERE: VOOM DID NOT ZOOM

My first day at sea was ending, but Bill was unfortunately just getting started.  Not the best way to spend a cruise.

The Trading Day

Many people think that folks who trade stocks are sitting at their computers all day long, buying and selling, and there are traders who do that, but that’s not Bill.  He only makes a few trades a day, if any, at very specific times, mostly at the opening of the market.  What he does the rest of the day is research, testing systems and writing code.  In fact it’s what he does when the markets are closed that is the most important.

At the end of the day, when he knows whether it’s been a good day or a bad day, then Bill has to get ready for the next morning.  His systems will tell him whether there are any potential trades coming up, but he has to decide to whether to execute them or not.  He also has to be sure there is plenty of money in the accounts to make his purchases and he has to be very careful about his orders.  A careless click on the computer or the wrong wording in the order could cost him thousands.

Trading on the Boat

So, as I changed into my pajamas, Bill was firing up the computer to get ready for his morning trades.  Even sitting at his desk at home, this can take hours, according to what’s happening in the market.  On this particular Monday, the market had been taking a nosedive since the Friday before and Bill had both of his hands tied behind his back.  All he had was a laptop and a bad internet connection.  Usually he has multiple computers streaming information onto two huge screens and a rocket-face internet connection which he pays a premium for.

While our cabin was plenty big for sleeping, relaxing, grooming and changing clothes, it did not offer Bill  a perfect work space.  There was a desk-like area for putting on make-up, but it was not ideal for his purposes.  He was hyper-aware that he was just a few feet away from his sleeping wife, so he was trying to keep his movements and noises to a minimum.  He also had very poor internet connection and was suffering from the speed of the computer and the small screen.

Electricity everywhere and not a plug to plug into!

Somewhere in the wee hours of the morning he decided he might have more luck with all of it out in the public areas.  He’d find a comfy chair somewhere near an electrical outlet, prop his laptop on his lap and finish up his work.  What he found was that comfy chairs were easy to come by, but electrical outlets were not.  He tried a little bit of everything, but as soon as he would find something that might work, one of the other twelve people wandering around the ship after the bars closed would come sit next to him and do something distracting – like argue with their girlfriend or clip their toenails or listen to music so loudly that even though they were using headphones, Bill could hear it.

Eventually, he was able to discern there were no trades that had to made in the morning, but that was only half the battle.  He needed desperately to do some more research, but it just wasn’t going to happen.  He crawled in bed for an hour or two, but no sleep was to be had.

Come back next week for our day at sea.