Tag: cruise

A day at sea

Written at about 9:55 PM local time

We were at sea all day today. I was up early because I figured it would be very crowded on deck and I was right. I had breakfast before 8 AM and by the time I got out on deck at around 8:30 AM, there was no room on the pool deck and I had to find a deck chair on the next level up. I spent about 3 hours sitting out in the sun (applying 15 SPF sunscreen every 45 minutes). It was very windy and even cloudy at times, and it was very crowded. And noisy.

I went to the buffet for lunch (and had Monte Cristo sandwiches, which I love) and then decided to try The Sanctuary. This is a place at the front of the ship on a high deck that is for relaxation. It costs $10 for a half day but I was happy to pay. I was given a very plush, comfortable chair in which to recline, as well as water to drink. The Sanctuary was shielded from the wind and it is a designated quiet area so there’s no music playing and everyone in the area is quiet. (There is a limited capacity and they don’t book it beyond the limit.) You can order from the bar, as well as order a variety of food that are brought to you. There are special towels. They even bring around cool towels with which you can wipe your skin to cool yourself down. I was at the Sanctuary until nearly 4 PM, when I had to get ready for my 4th and final massage.

My final massage was with Dunja again and although I thought the last massage she gave me was the best I ever had, she outdid herself on this one. She used these hot stones and pulled out all of the stops. And when it was all over, she once again remarked on what good physical condition I was in–again, just some knots in my calf muscles. She gave me a hug at the end and wished me well. I gave her a very big tip.

I wasn’t that hungry for dinner tonight, and in fact, I was downright tired. Sitting in the sun all day, doing nothing, can do that I suppose. During dinner we passed through the Strait of Misina, with Sicily to the south and the rest of Italy to the north. I had a crab appetizer that included two types of caviar–and it was the first time I ever tried that particular delicacy. The caviar was salty and the salmon caviar burst open in your mouth which was a little disconcerting. For the main course, I had beef Wellington, and for dessert, of course, the chocolate mousse. It was the last formal night this evening, so we were all dressed up, and after dinner, we sat for some formal pictures once again. Then, even though it was only 8 PM, I decided to call it an early night.

I came back to my cabin and packed up. I found out that my debarkation time will be between 9 and 9:30 AM on Monday; Mom and Dad’s will be half an hour later. That’s perfect since the car from the hotel will be picking us up at about 10 AM. I am now just about completely packed.

Nervously, with a fair amount of trepidation, I went to the purser’s desk to get a copy of my bill. I hadn’t looked at the bill at all yet and I was a bit nervous to see how bad the damage was. Turns out it wasn’t too bad. In fact, when all is said and done, for the cruise portion of my vacation, I came under budget by $318. For those interested in the breakdown:

Category   Budgeted    Actual     Difference
--------   --------    ------     ----------
Bar            $600      $371           $229
Massage        $500      $636          -$136
Tours          $500      $341           $159
Tips           $120      $120             $0
Misc.          $350      $284            $66
========   ========    ======     ==========
Totals       $2,070    $1,752           $318

Tomorrow, we are in Naples, and Jen, Jason, Mom and I are taking a hiking tour of Vesuvius and Pompei. It’s an all-day tour and I’m looking forward to it. Tomorrow night is the last night on the ship and then Monday, we debark in Civitaveccia, near Rome. I have some notes about this cruise, and cruising in general that I will post Monday or Tuesday evening. In the meantime, look for a description of our adventures in Pompei and Naples tomorrow night.

For a relaxing time, make it Santorini time

Written at about 7:30 AM local time on July 14

We were told by numerous people, crew and passenger alike, that Santorini was the most beautiful of all of the Greek islands we visited–and certainly the most unique. I, for one, was not disappointed. We were warned that there would be large crowds and long lines so I decided to get to the island as early as I could. Mom, Dad, Jen and Jason all had an organized tour of the island and their tour departed at 7:15 AM. I left for the island 15 minutes later, at about 7:30 AM.

Visiting Santornini

All Rhodes lead to Rome

Written at about 7:45 PM local time

As you may have guessed, we were in Rhodes, Greece today. We got in very early in the morning and when I woke up, sometime around 8 AM, people were already getting off the ship to go into the city.

Rhodes, like Dubrovnik, is a walled city. Because of some miscommunications, I went in by myself this morning, thinking that Mom and Dad, and Jen and Jason had already gone. I eventually met up with them briefly once inside the city. Although a walled city, Rhodes is very different from Dubrovnik in the style of the buildings and roads and alleyways. In fact, the city reminded me much more of Venice without the canals. I wandered about the tourist area for a while, taking pictures, and then I found my way into the non-tourist area which I thought was even better and from which I got some better pictures.

My plan was to spend only a few hours wandering around Rhodes, and then head back to the ship and lay out by the pool for the rest of the day, reading my book on the history of London. I was back on the ship and poolside by 10:45 AM. I found a lounge chair right beside the pool, aligned perfectly with the sun. there I stayed for the next six hours. During that time, I swam laps in the pool twice, ate two hot dogs, drank several large Sprites, and 3 Dos Equis. At one point, in a three hour span, I managed to read an entire 12 pages of my book. I guess it’s hard for me to read sitting beside the pool.

Jen and Jason joined me around 2:30 and Mom came by a little later. At 4:30, I finally decided to call it quits because I wanted to shower (I was greasy from all of the sunscreen) and nap for a while before dinner.

As you might guess, no matter how much sunscreen I used, I still managed to overdo it. My arms, neck and legs are actually very dark. My chest is as red as a lobster, and in fact I just applied a gallon of aloe with lidocane which doesn’t seem to help much, but which smells pretty awful.

I did manage to nap for an hour or so before dinner. Dinner tonight was the “Princess Dinner” which is what I think they use as filler on those nights that they don’t have a special dinner planned. Don’t get me wrong, the food was good, but it was nothing special. There was tuna sashimi on the appetizer menu, and both Jason and I ordered it, but we were disappointed because it was actually cooked. I ordered the fetuccini alfredo because I wanted some high energy food and that was very tasty. In fact, it came served in a “bowl” of baked parmesan cheese. And for dessert, you guessed it: the chocolate mousse.

So tonight we’re playing another Texas Hold ‘Em poker game, but for no money this time. Then at 10 PM, we’re heading to the Skywalker lounge for the 80s retro hour.

We are in Santorini tomorrow and everyone we’ve talked to had said it’s the best island stop on the trip. I’ll give you my opinion tomorrow.

Dinner at the Crown Grill

Written at 8:21 AM local time, July 12

Last night, Jen, Jason and I had dinner reservations at the Emerald Princess’s other specialty restaurant, the Crown Grill. The Crown Grill is known for it’s steak and its lobster, but since we had already had lobster (and discovered it was prepared the same way at all places on the ship) we opted for the steak instead.

Our reservations were for 8 PM, we were seated right away and proceeded to have a leisurely dinner that lasted nearly three hours. I think we all got a little silly too, probably from our drinks–certainly I did. After my massage yesterday evening, I went straight to one of the pools, ordered a hot dog and a Dos Equis and ate and drank quickly. Add to that the fact that I had the biggest margarita I’ve ever seen in my life at dinner, to say nothing of the glass of red wine and you will get an idea of why we were a little silly. But it was a lot of fun.

I started with the black tiger prawn and papava salpicon, with mustard seen aioli. The soups also looked good so I had for my soup dish the “black and blue” onion soup. This was like a French onion soup, but was called “black and blue” because of the Jack Daniels and Roquefort cheese in the soup. For my main course, I had the 8 ounce filet mignon, medium rare. It was served in a wine sauce with butter on top. (Jason, more daring than I, had the 22 ounce Porterhouse and managed to eat the whole thing, too!) We had several side dishes, which we shared, including garlic and herb French fries, grilled asparagus, creamed spinach, and sauteed, wild mushrooms. And if that wasn’t enough, I had a delicious dessert: a molten Dutch chocolate fudge obsession served with double chocolate ice cream.

When we finally left the restaurant (quite giddy and making rather crude jokes amongst ourselves) it was nearly 11 PM. I decided to make it an early night last night. Jen and Jason wandered off and I headed up to my stateroom.

We’re in Rhodes, Greece this morning and I am going to do a little site-seeing today. This stop represents the easternmost point in our trip, as well as the farthest east I have ever been.

The woman with a thousand hands

Written at about 11:30 PM local time

I had my third massage of my trip this afternoon and it was by far the best massage I’ve had in my life. The woman who did it was really, really good at what she did and made the whole thing completely relaxing. Once again, the 50 minute massage flew by but this time I was really able to relax and enjoy it. I had done chest and back strength training yesterday so asked her to concentrate on my lower back, which she did. But she also worked some kind of magic on the palms of my hands, to say nothing of my knee joints.

When the massage was all over, she told me that my body was in “excellent condition” (her words, not mine). Of course, this did for my ego what her hands did for my body, and whether she meant it or not, there was an extra spring in my step for the rest of the day.

And the good news is that she is scheduled to give me my fourth and final massage on Saturday afternoon.

Jen, Jason and I went to the Crown Grill for dinner tonight, and it was outstanding, but you’ll have to wait for tomorrow for descriptions as I am planning on calling it an early night tonight.

A journey to Miletus

Written at 7:17 PM local time, while sitting out on the deck

Every gal in Constantinople
Lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople
So if you’ve a date in Constantinople
She’ll be waiting in Istanbul

–They Might Be Giants

Last night’s dinner was a Greek & Turkish dinner. I started with the Aegean Cocktail Shrimp, and followed that with a Caesar salad. For the main course, I had some kind of chicken dish, served in a sauce very much like a Marsala sauce, and served with rice, spinach, and broccoli. Dessert was the really big news last night. Dad has been craving Key Lime pie all week, and even though it wasn’t on the menu tonight, our table captain prepared an entire pie for him. Of course, there was enough for the whole table, and though I’m not a big fan of key lime pie, I had to try it. Dad ate two slices and took a third with him. The waiting staff also brought out a big piece of chocolate cake for Mom and Dad for their anniversary, candle and all. Then was the main dessert. I chose the baklava, which I thought was quite good, and very sweet. And, of course, I had the chocolate mousse as well. This time I didn’t even have to ask for it. Our waitress, Viola, knew to bring it out to me.

Texas Hold ‘Em Poker and a Tour of Miletus

Mykonos: A day at the beach

Posted at 3:50 PM local time

I got a good night’s sleep last night, except for the dream that I was shot in the back by a drug dealer. Aside from that, however, I slept very well and I slept in until 9 AM and decided to forgo breakfast. Instead, Jen, Jason and I headed up to Mom and Dad’s suite to wish them a Happy 40th Anniversary! Jen, Jason and Mom had champagne; I opted out.

We were planning on trying to go to one of the nude beaches on Mykonos, mainly because we were curious. Mom and Dad wanted to go with us so we altered our plans and decided on the main family beach instead. We got off the ship and took a shuttle bus to the downtown area. From there, we walked through town, taking lots of pictures and getting slightly lost before we found the southern bus stop. We purchased round-trip bus tickets and caught the bus to the south side of the island where there was a large beach.

We walked onto the beach and were directed to some very comfortable beach lounge chairs in front of one of the many hotel/restaurants. We needed 5 of the beach chairs and they were 5 Euros each, but we paid for them and it was very relaxing. There were umbrellas and you could adjust how much sun you got. Plus, the water was an incredible shade of turquoise near the shore, and gradually grew darker the farther out you looked. It was an amazing view. We spent about 2 hours on the beach and I spent most of the time in the sun, listening to Dark Side of the Moon and Animal. I did swim in the Mediterranean, however. The water was not as warm as in Hawaii, but it was still pretty warm, especially once you were in. The sand in the water was soft and smooth and dropped off rapidly. I swam out about 100 meters or so, and the water was probably 4 meters deep at that point. I estimate I spent 15 minutes swimming in the water. It was salty, but not so much that you couldn’t open your eyes. In fact, I could see quite clearly under water.

I did notice three women sunbathing nude on the beach, even though it was a family beach. There were also some teenagers nearby who saw them too, and who couldn’t repress their delight. I’m ashamed to say that I was delighted as well, although I managed to suppress it better than the teens.

For lunch, we went to one of the beach-side restaurants. I had the souvlaki (pork) and it was pretty good, only a little dry. We got a fairly significant discount at the restaurant for having rented the beach chairs, and Jen and Jason happily picked up the check as an anniversary present for Mom and Dad.

From there, we took the bus back to the town and wandered around a bit, looking for windmills, which I eventually found. In doing so, I lost the rest of the family, but since I knew we were all heading back to the ship eventually, I headed back to the ship on my own. Once back on the ship, I showered (ahh!) and came right down to the Wheelhouse lounge to post this entry for all of my faithful readers.

Dinner tonight with the folks, and champagne with dessert in celebration of their 40th anniversary. Then I think we may play Texas hold ’em poker in one of the bars, just the five of us. (Incidentally, Mom won $500+ in the casino last night). $20 buy in, winner takes $80, runner up gets their money back. It should be fun.

We are in Kousadasis, Turkey, tomorrow and I have an all-day tour to the ruins of Miletus and Didyma. When I get back from that, I have my third massage and then Jen, Jason and I are having dinner at the specialty steak house.

Until tomorrow…

A quick “live” post

Just a quick note to say hello to everyone. It’s just after midnight on July 10 and we are somewhere between Athens and Mykonos. I apologize for not posting over the last 2 days, but we were having problems picking up the satellite signal. That appears to have been corrected and the blog is now up-to-date. Those of you reading on your friends pages will have to check my blog directly as the last several posts are back-dated.

We are in Mykonos tomorrow, then Turkey, then Santorini, Rhodes, a day at sea and then Naples. Still six full days of the cruise left and then a day and a half in Rome before I head to London.

Miss you all. Keep the comments coming; I will reply as best as I can.

Lobsters while leaving Athens

Written at about 8:52 PM July 9

We all met up for dinner in our main dining room at 6:15 PM. We were told that tonight, lobster would be on the menu, and sure enough it was. Even though I had lobster last night, when lobster is on the menu, I simply can’t pass it up. But I was not as gluttonous as I was over the last several meals. I ordered the lobster tails (which were delicious, and which were served with rice, cauliflower, and broccoli), and also ordered a plate of hummus to share with the table. It was a very pleasant dinner. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before but our table is on starboard side of the ship, right next to a window, which gave us a great view of our departure from Athens. We’re heading to Mykonos tomorrow. For dessert, I had a brownie and, of course, the chocolate mousse.

Since then, I’ve been here in the Wheelhouse lounge writing up the last two blog entries (which total more than 2,000 words!) We are having some satellite reception problems, so I’m not sure when they will get posted, but I will post them as soon as I can.

A day in Athens

Written at about 8 PM on July 9

Wow! Today was an incredible day. I have read about ancient Greece and Greek history so much and today there was some payoff. Athens and Sparta are the two big cities you always read about (and arch enemies at that) and today I got to spend the day in the former. I purchased 3 shore excursions as part of this cruise, and today was my first: “A Walking Tour of Ancient Athens”.

My day in Athens

First and second dinners

Posted at about 5:30 PM local time, on July 9

Tonight, we had dinner reservations at one of the two specialty restaurants on the ship, Sabatini’s. These restaurants charge a cover charge, but otherwise, the food is included as part of the cruise. I made the reservations for 9:30 PM because I thought that it would be nice to have a late dinner.

Having done that, and having completed the vow renewal ceremony for Mom and Dad, I decided that I wanted to go to our regular seating at dinner as well, which is at 6:15 PM. At first I don’t think anyone else was planning on going, but everyone ended up going after I decided to do it. I stuck to three courses for First dinner, which turned out to be a good thing. For my appetizer, I had a mushroom torte with truffle oil. For dinner, I had a salmon steak. And for dessert, of course, I had the chocolate mousse.

When I finished dinner it was just after 7 PM and I decided I needed to relax. I grabbed my laptop, went to the Wheelhouse lounge, and played Solitaire for an hour or two, listening to the live music, which I thought was very good. Then it was time to get ready for dinner at Sabatini’s.

We arrived on scheduled and were seated and they explained to us how it works. We pick our main courses, and then they basically bring us everything else on the menu to try. In essence, it is a 10 or 11 course meal. I know some of you enjoy the descriptions of the food here. If you don’t, you’ll want to skip to the bottom. Here is what I had and keep in mind this is just 3 hours after eating first dinner. I was at my most gluttonous.

Read all about the gluttony