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Continuing on

October 9th, 2015 1 comment
BCN-DBX

BCN-DBX

As you can see – there aren’t many ports on this trip which means that there are a lot of sea days.

 

ITINERARY
DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Fri Oct 9 Barcelona, Spain 5:00pm
Sat Oct 10 At Sea
Sun Oct 11 At Sea
Mon Oct 12 Crete (Chania), Greece 8:00am 5:00pm
Tue Oct 13 At Sea
Wed Oct 14 Jerusalem / Tel Aviv (Ashdod), Israel 6:00am 5:00pm
Thu Oct 15 Suez Canal, Egypt (Cruising)
Fri Oct 16 Petra (Aqaba), Jordan 8:00am 8:00pm
Sat Oct 17 At Sea
Sun Oct 18 At Sea
Mon Oct 19 At Sea
Tue Oct 20 At Sea
Wed Oct 21 At Sea
Thu Oct 22 At Sea
Fri Oct 23 Dubai, United Arab Emirates 6:00am

That actually is a good thing as I have a lot of knitting….

Categories: Cruising, Travel Tags:

Explorer of the Seas

October 1st, 2015 Comments off

Is the ship I am boarding starting tomorrow from Southampton. Between now and then – I have my plane to LHR, the NationalExpress Bus to Southampton and three rounds to go with Barclay’s bank. I also have to figure out what I might possibly have planned since I am sure that I made arrangements to join a group at least in Gibraltar.

So –   2-9 Oct 2015

The route –

UK-ES

UK-ES

 

ITINERARY
DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Fri Oct 2 London (Southampton), England 4:30pm
Sat Oct 3 At Sea
Sun Oct 4 Vigo, Spain 10:00am 5:00pm
Mon Oct 5 Lisbon, Portugal 9:00am 5:00pm
Tue Oct 6 Cadiz, Spain 10:00am 8:00pm
Wed Oct 7 Gibraltar, UK Territory 8:00am 5:00pm
Thu Oct 8 At Sea
Fri Oct 9 Barcelona, Spain 6:00am

 

(Exhausted and still time zone whacked – it is now 1930 in the evening. I have been to Barclays. I am checked into the hotel. I found something for supper. The Wifi is free……

 

 

Categories: Cruising, Travel Tags:

Sailing into New York

September 15th, 2015 3 comments

Except for the Teardrop, before 0600

 

019A0746 019A0749 019A0759 019A0773 019A0785 019A0787 019A0790 019A0824

After watching from my balcony a short while, I made the hike up to Deck 12 and an unobstructed view. Having been to NYC a few times, I could actually recognize landmarks from Brooklyn’s bridge to Staten Island to the ferries, Manhattan Skyline, the Lady.

The bridges in San Francisco are light with golden light, more visible in the fog. Not New York, light bright and white, they shine silver in the early morning.

Categories: Cruising, Travel Tags:

Let them eat cake

September 14th, 2015 2 comments
Bringing out the Cake

Bringing out the Cake

Carefully lowering it into place

Carefully lowering it into place

Huh - looks a lot like the souvenir cruise pin

Huh – looks a lot like the souvenir cruise pin

Map – land and water – check. Route? – check…. I tried turning it “right side up” so that you could read the “Transatlantic Crossing” better but it looked really weird due to the edging on the sides.

This is our last sea day, our last day on the ship and packing day (oh, what fun….. not). What I managed to pass off on the way here has been replaced by Faroes & Icelandic Yarn requested by various individuals. Plus a couple of towels. Of course, I underestimated the amount of space taken up by two bath sheet size towels even when not overly thick and bearing a Crown/Anchor logo.

Off the plane at a reasonable time in the morning, transfer to the airport then a long wait before my flights.

I finished the shawl (minus some ends and the blocking….

all garter, all the time

all garter, all the time

and measures 180cm by 90 cm unblocked….

Categories: Cruising, Knitting, Travel Tags:

White, white

September 12th, 2015 Comments off

As far as the eye can see.

We have been inured in fog for several days now. At a time when there is massive magnetic storm activity and the solar winds are blowing and dancing, elsewhere in Northern Latitudes there have been incredible Auras in the night sky.

Us? Physically located on the globe where the possibilities are great – no chance.

To see the Northern Lights you need just a few things: clear skies, cold, dark, and appropriate solar winds.  We have had overcast skies at night (when it is dark) since leaving Oslo. Except, of course, when it was raining. Which has been just about every night since we have been at sea.

Now I understand variable temperatures related to the ocean. There is a lot of water. We are sailing on it. That means that there is water in the air. It is fall in the Northern Hemisphere. Most of the time we get clouds and rain.  I look out every night into white capped seas and sheets of fine rain and mist blowing past my balcony. The sky is a mass of clouds overhead.

I can’t give you pictures – that wonderful light show has been taking place, but well above the clouds which block my view. So if you want to see pictures – follow the Aurora Gallery Link @ SpaceWeather.com where those who have been fortunate with clear skies have been posting some incredible photos.

Instead, you can know that it was our last of five days at sea. The morning knit group again managed to take over a significant portion of Cafe Lattitudes. The passenger choir performed four songs in the Atrium in the early afternoon. And there was, again, way too much available food.

Shawl Progress

solid yarn and contrasting Zauberball
solid yarn and contrasting Zauberball
all but the final border

all but the final border

yes, short rows

yes, short rows

>

Categories: Cruising, Knitting, Travel Tags:

Got Socks

September 9th, 2015 Comments off

Yes, I do know how to knit socks. And have over the years. In fact, in 2007 there was the 52 pr sock challenge right about the time that most of us moved from the Knitlist to Ravelry. Then it was years before I got around to even thinking of knittings sock.

For a while it was the easy seduction of scarves and shawls which could be knit out of the same yarn with fancy and fun patterns. Things that someone else could see and admire. The sad reality of socks was that I had dozens of wonderful patterns, all of which disappear into the body of my shoe or sandal while the lovely top was covered by my trousers. No one ever saw my socks. I knew they were on my feet. It was my secret. The sad fact too was that the 12-16 hours put into a pair of socks had much more tangible, or at least visible, results.

I drifted back off into spinning, knitting of sweaters and vest. At the point where I moved back to Germany from the UK in Sept 2010 right before I was deploying to Afghanistan I thought again about socks. I even packed a few skeins of yarn to take along should I get the urge for handknit socks inside my boots. That winter was nasty, boot socks are boring to knit and dirt was a fact of life. I put a halt on knitting in favor of audio and paperback books.

Then I moved on to the next series of life’s adventures – mostly to do with sailing the seven seas – one cruise at a time. In port shops all over the world I discovered the fun of tourist socks. In spite of the fact that most are made in china – one can find totally fun, wild, strange socks very inexpensively. They are reminders of the places I have been. Did I mention that they are cheap? If one gets worn, lost or has a hole I have absolutely no guilt in tossing the pair. Not so with handknit socks which I tend to coddle like baby kittens.

So I can bring with socks like these on the trip –

from previous trips

from previous trips

purchase lovely angora socks in Iceland

angora and wool  and some stretch

angora and wool and some stretch

or tourist socks like these

Puffins!

Puffins!


or sales socks on the ship.

75% off and they fit right in

75% off and they fit right in

This time I brought along sockyarn, dps and a pattern I have been wanting to try. But with all these socks tempting me, I probably will stick to knitting shawls.

Categories: Cruising, Travel Tags:

Jelly

September 8th, 2015 Comments off

You have met Jelly before. Last Spring Cheré and I found him on the New Orleans to Boston leg of Serenade’s repositioning. He survived hooked to the balcony for that and the following cruise.

This time, partly because of the position of my balcony –

top row, last balcony on the left.

top row, last balcony on the left.

partly hidden behind the ladder – and tape not sticking to the door. Jelly gained a more comfortable location.

Jelly hooked to the Cabin Number and the holly to the door handle

Jelly hooked to the Cabin Number and the holly to the door handle

If you look closely –

with his cruises noted in laundry marker

with his cruises noted in laundry marker

His next cruise is already scheduled. It just won’t be with me….

Categories: Cruising, Travel Tags:

Serenading again

July 2nd, 2015 Comments off

(try two  since I didn’t have enough brains in the head to save my first draft which promptly got eaten when I had to re-log in).

It is still almost two months till I get back on a ship. 30 Aug as a matter of fact when I get to board Serenade of the Seas and sail across to Cape Liberty (my least favorite US port of all times) from Copenhagen. It is the northern route with a total of two stops and almost three full days in Iceland.

I don’t have to run a website or roll call this time. Doing both the Legend and Serenade last fall just about wiped me out. I am tracking just the Roll Calls for the Splendor in November and that is just about enough for me. But I decided to go ahead and do the transatlantic souvenir pin.  For just about everyone I have seen, the design is usually the ship on water inside a circle or oval with the ports around the outside. I convinced Maus to volunteer and she designed something different around the route we take.

Serenade on the Northern Route

Serenade on the Northern Route

and the brilliant kid ordered the ports in both the order of visit and physical location.

not bad!

 

Categories: Cruising, Travel Tags:

Back to Sea

October 22nd, 2014 Comments off

And now we start the long run to Ft Lauderdale.

Actually, I am kind of curious why the sole port on this westward journey was Vigo rather than holding off and stopping in St Maarten.  But then, I am always up for Phillipsburg.

Looking at the schedule, I am not all that impressed with the Cruise Director’s staff. There are ~5500+ passengers on this ship. The daily program is just about the same (with the addition of the sport with dedicated facilities) that you would find on any ship. Including various assorted craft activities limited to 25 participants.

Hello?

Or various dance activities accommodating a maximum of 30-40 people. Several of the lectures have been standing room only 30 minutes prior to the lecture which either reflects widespread interest in the speaker or lack of other options. No clue on how well attended Bingo or gambling events have been, but my impression is that the lack of decent large lounges is playing a role. The Schooner Bar – location for all Trivias is overwhelmed. Forget ordering anything to drink, just get there early enough (maybe an hour or two?) for a seat.

I’m glad I sprung for the balcony. It means I am lucky enough to have light, air and a comfortable place to  hang out.

Categories: Cruising, Travel Tags:

Vigo in October

October 18th, 2014 Comments off

Having been to Vigo before I wasn’t under a lot of pressure to bail off and explore the city this morning.

This was a stop on that Independence of the Seas circuit I did mid June. The city doesn’t see so many ships that they have to accommodate more than one ship at a time. There weren’t any issues with docking or the gangways. In fact, the local immigration, constabulary and merchants were more than wiling to insure that everyone who was interested in disembarking could easily get off the ship without incident, hopefully with wallet in hand.

Oasis docked in Vigo

Oasis docked in Vigo

The last time I wandered through town it was off the ship, past the new fancy shopping center and up the hill to the right into the older part of the city, exploring it for several hours.

This time I headed to the left, first getting a picture of the ship from the other side of the small boat harbor before going and looking for parks, museums, doors or anything that might prove interesting.

And so we have more doors – old, new and in between.

 

I didn’t spend as much time off ship as I initially planned, but after walking for a few hours, my stomach demanded food….

Oh, and can’t forget the knitting…….

Categories: Cruising, Knitting, Travel Tags:

C&A

October 17th, 2014 Comments off

which in this case doesn’t mean Cheap & Awful (courtesy of Maus) as standing in for the store of those initials. Crown & Anchor instead, as the loyalty club of frequent Royal Caribbean cruisers.

I know that in the past I have mentioned in the past that transatlantic crossings seem to draw the frequent cruisers like flies. Traditionally it has been a combination of good prices and a lot of cruising days. More recently, it has been more about the number of days (and route) with a little less consideration to the price as it has steadily climbed. The only bargains seem to be available at the point that airfares to get to the origin or return to home skyrocket. It still is an option if one has frequent flyer miles to burn.

The rumor was that we had way too many senior cruisers board in Rotterdam to be augmented by more than 1200 boarding in Southampton with the final count being somewhere around 2400 – more than a third of the ship. The logistical challenges alone can be interesting. Where, for example do you hold your evening cocktail hour when there are that many people eligible? Celebrity had an easy answer – cancel the 1700-1900 canapé & drinks instead giving those eligible drink coupons. It does work and I didn’t hear all that much complaining from the sheep. Apparently Royal cruisers are not as kind. Even though they now have 3 drink coupons per night built into their sea pass cards (to be used at almost every lounge) it seems that there is an expectation of munchies to accompany those drinks. I mean really, what are the possibilities of going without food on a normal cruise such that snacks with drinks make a difference?

Anyway, the solution here was to hold the evening hour (which actually runs from 1700-2030) in multiple venues. There is the Diamond Lounge on Deck 4. It might hold a couple hundred packed in like sardines in a crunch. Then there is Blaze, a bar/club type atmosphere also on Deck 4 which probably can managed upwards of 300 and still be able to walk through the club. Dazzles (Deck 8/9) is a two tiered Disco venue and finally there is the Suites Lounge which is only available for the non-suite guests during the evening hours on this sailing. It is large, open, light and echoes to the point you can’t carry on a conversation. Rather than comfortable chairs, there are cafeteria like 4-tops and chairs. I am not impressed, but then no one asked me.

After attempting to find anyone I know for the last several evenings I decided it is easier to drop in, grab munchies, relax for a short while and take off. This preserves my sanity and hearing for important things like catching on on CME and knitting.

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