A Travellerspoint blog

Day Thirty - Sea Day Off Baja California

Thursday, 24 September 2015

The first of two sea days to our next port. Overcast sky, sea mist/haze and nothing to focus the camera on. So I'll be digging into some images from previous places rather than artificially constructing collages of the ship's internals. Pretty much the same as previous images from past cruises. Hope you don't mind.

Today marks the start of the last cruise leg and there is a change in the feel of the crowd aboard. They appear to be more willing to enter into conversation.

The on-board programme has also taken a change for the better. There are scheduled 'enrichment' lectures and more 'long term' activities to fill in the other 'sea days' as we head for Fort Lauderdale.

The first lecture, by Bruce Vancil was titled "the History of Ocean Liners". His presentation was interesting and very informative as he covered about 150 years of ocean liner history. He had excellent images of historically famous ships. These ships were developed to provide fast and comfortable transportation primarily between Europe and America. They were typified by maintaining tight schedules and speed of crossing was a primary consideration. Their demise was signalled when more people flew these TransAtlantic routes than sailed them. Many of the more recent famous ships now serve as museums and even hotel/convention centres.

The alternate lecture stream is a series of 'Destination Lectures' presented by Bill Keene. His presentation is both informative and very professional. His talks being vastly superior to those aboard the Ruby Princess cruise around South America earlier this year.

Tonight is a formal night and I'll need at least an hour to get into my 'monkey suit'. I haven't worn it often enough for the buttons to easily slip in and out of the holes. The fancy studs are particularly difficult.

Late yesterday one of the couples from our original 'Land Tour' group offered me a book to read. "Fire and Fury" 'the allied bombing of Germany 1942 - 1945' by Randall Hansen. It is a detailed factual review of official records, personal letters and interviews with survivors or their descendants. Certainly an interesting topic and it has captured my interest. So the Kindle is taking a rest and I'm learning to handle a 'hard copy' again.

For those of you expecting a reply to your emails, sorry it is unlikely to happen. There is an 'issue' between my 'client' program on the laptop and the server at Google. Something to do with security which I don't have the facility to try and resolve. At best I can use the web interface at Gmail to provide short replies but don't expect lengthy or well constructed responses.

After dinner in the dining room we went up to the Horizon Court where the young pastry chef has promised a special dessert. The cheesecake was excellent and looked beautiful. He'd kept a significant slice for me. He serves those calorie-free sweets every lunch time and evening. For some reason he thinks I need to enticed over to see his wares.

After indulging we came down to the Universal Lounge where we enjoyed the antics of Don Bryan the ventriloquist and his side-kick 'Noseworthy'. It is amazing what those two get away with. Tonight the Canadians came in for an unfair attack, very funny though. The clocks go forward an hour as we sail in a general Easterly direction.

Today's image is from a few days ago when the sun was setting in San Francisco. You can view the image by following this link to my main album.

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 22:12 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Day Twenty Nine - Los Angeles

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Before I forget to mention it the repair job on Jenny's bag was done in less than six hours. The repair so neat it is impossible to distinguish it from the original. A marvellous service and totally free.

Back to this morning. Ship's arrival coincided with the sunrise so I was able to witness the docking and the sunrise after an early breakfast. The port is incredibly busy with dozens of container berths each serviced by a multitude of cranes.

The terminal building is one of the most spacious we've experienced and the massive roof is clad in 'solar panels' (Photovoltaic Arrays). The carpark is extensive and the facility appears to handle the simultaneous arrival of the Coral and the Crown.

Armed with the appropriate "Transit Passenger" passes we easily slipped ashore and visited the USS Iowa, a WWII battleship, one of four such vessels built. Retired and re-commissioned a number of times the ship has been modernised and new weapons systems added. In its heart it is a huge lump of steel with few creature comforts but massive fire-power. In final retirement she graces the LA Waterfront and is the main attraction. Maintained by volunteers she provides a unique insight to the workplace of the WWII sailor.

Returned to the ship for lunch and afterwards the movie in the theatre. "Run All Night" is an action packed show with lots of gun-fights, dead bodies all around and some difficulty try to decide who were the good guys. It certainly kept one awake.

With an expected 15:15 departure we spent some time on the open deck looking for that final photo opportunity. We suspect that one or more of the shore excursions were delayed because we didn't start to manoeuvre out of the birth until 16:30. With that out of the way it was time for an early dinner and a vigil on Deck 7 Starboard to watch the sun set behind Catalina Island.

Not particularly interested in a repeat of the 'Welcome Aboard Show' so spent the time reviewing our booked Shore Excursions and worked on these words as well as sorting through many photos of today. Selected a sunrise shot which looks OK. You can view the image by following this link to my main album.

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 05:40 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day Twenty Eight - At Sea

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

I know it sounds like a broken record but the sky was overcast and general fog/haze obscured the the horizon. We are sailing at a sedate 13 knots on a calm sea. Nothing much happening today so we went along to the culinary demonstration again to watch a repeat of the antics with the Executive Chef and the Maitre d'Hotel. There is obviously a bit of ad lib so it wasn't quite the same as last week's show.

After lunch there was a Veterans gathering in the Wheelhouse Bar. I rarely bother to attend these as the conversation is invariably dominated by one or two old sailors. It was a bit like that but there was a reasonable diversity in ages and experiences. I was the only Australian and had difficulty relating to some of the places these people had served. One of them spent six months under the polar icecap during the cold war.

Exchanged cards with a retired US Navy anaesthetist from North Carolina. I had met him before while waiting for the ship to depart in Vancouver.
Following on from the fiasco in Seattle it looks like there has been a change of procedure for the 'In Transit' passengers when we get to Los Angles tomorrow. Additionally there is a constantly repeating video message by the Cruise Director on Channel 42 of the stateroom TV. We can only hope that it works. Looks like a nice day to be going ashore.

For a number of passengers tonight is the final night of the cruise and this means as special 'last night' dessert in the dining rooms. We elected to eat in the Horizon Court and selected early seating in the Theatre. Tonight's show was "What A Swell Party" and presented the singers and dancers in many elegant outfits from the "Thoroughly Modern Milly" era. The Theatre was packed with some people standing and sitting in the stairway.

Didn't use the camera today. I selected a number of shots from yesterday's outing and created a collage, view the collage by following this link to my main album.

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 21:09 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day Twenty Seven - San Francisco

Monday, 21 September 2015

Up early this morning to be on deck when we pass under the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco. The sky was clear but at 06:00 it was still very dark and the bridge was not as strongly illuminated as I'd expected. Managed some blurred snaps but nothing much of photographic merit. Stayed out on Deck 15 as we manoeuvred alongside our berth. It is indeed a beautiful city.

Our shore excursion today started with a stop at the viewing point at the North end of the Golden Gate Bridge. There were incredible views across San Francisco Bay and back towards the city. Our 'bus' on this tour was far removed from the basic tour bus and could best be described as a luxury mini-van. Total capacity just 30 people in very comfortable seats.

Our next destination was Muir Woods a National Monument. It consists of a remote canyon which contains one of very few original stands of Californian Coastal Redwoods. 'Closely related to the Gian Sequoia it grows taller but less girth. The prime example is 379 feet tall, aged about 2000 years and a diameter of 22 feet. The hour long walk through these and lesser giants brings me to review my significance compared to these giants of the plant world. A thought provoking and almost spiritual experience.

Next stop on our tour was the waterfront village of Sausalito where we found many food outlets including a fabulous ice-cream outlet. The serves were generous, the flavours endless and their sign offering 'free' ice-creams for serving US Military most patriotic. The recognition shown by many US citizens and organisations to their Military and their Veterans is quite surprising to us. I may have commented on this phenomena in the past, it still amazes me.

Back on our bus we were thankful of the air-conditioned cool. Temperatures at noon were in the high twenties Centigrade. Returning to the ship we dropped some of our gear and headed out to Pier 39.

It was an interesting walk from Pier 27, where we were docked, along a wide footpath with all manner of people and traffic passing by. Pier 39 appears to have expanded since we were there in 2001, it was certainly crowded. The Californian Sea Lions on the docks appeared more numerous that what we remembered. Indulged a little, in the form of a Strawberry Crepe with Cream and made our way back to the ship again.

A strap on Jenny's backpack/handbag gave way and she approached Rhoderic who immediately promised to have her bag repaired by the ship's upholsterer. Get this - it is on the basis of no cost, no guarantee and no responsibility if it fails. Certainly beats having to throw it out and buy a new one. Will let you know how it turns out.

With no less than 200 images today, I had difficulty selecting one for today's image. Finally selected one from the early morning passing under the Golden Gate Bridge, view the image by following this link to my main album.

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 21:35 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day Twenty Six - Sea Day

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Stepped out onto Deck 15 at 06:00 and wasn't surprised that it was still dark. A sharp blasts on the ship's horn explained the fussy appearance of all the fixtures. We were sailing through dense fog and the foghorn need to be sounded every three minutes. Couldn't hear it in our cabin but certainly rattled the earwax when outside on the top deck. Needless to say there was no evident sunrise.

Met up with Jenny for breakfast and afterwards sat outside the Wheelhouse Bar and read. Nothing of interest this morning and decided to stay on Deck 7. Made our way to the Bayou Café where they we serving traditional British Pub Food. We've indulged in their 'Fish and Chips' on past cruises and this offering fully lived up to expectations.

Indulged in a little philosophical discussion with a fellow passenger about the group dynamics and the structure of the cruise. What I had assumed to be a single 22 day cruise is being treated as two segments and many of the people who boarded in Vancouver will be getting off in Los Angeles. With these short term horizons there is little incentive to strike up acquaintances. The other dynamic is group travellers, there are a number of significantly large groups travelling together and by their collective presence tend to dominate a venue.

Rod, our cabin steward, also pointed out that members of one of those groups like to sleep late. This helps to explain some story we've heard that a group of people were caught out in Seattle. The rule was that ALL passengers HAD to go ashore by 09:30 to clear immigration. Late sleepers would assume that they could quickly go ashore and then return for breakfast. NOT SO !! They had failed to read the fine print which stated that NO ONE was allowed back on the ship until AFTER everyone was cleared. Due to unexplained delays in immigration processing the final passenger was not cleared until 11:45. So anyone who was unprepared for an enforced stay ashore would be a little upset.

Regardless of who was at fault I believe it has left a decidedly negative vibe aboard the ship. We were out on the Boeing Tour which had problems of its own but at least we weren't sitting around in the cruise terminal for hours.

We went to the screening of Cinderella, same story but what a magnificent production. Cate Blanchett played the part of the evil stepmother and almost stole the show. Cinderella played by Lily James was just gorgeous and wore her gowns like she was born to the role. Great way to while away a couple of hours.

Formal Night and no excuse so we got dressed up. Rather than rush to dinner we decided to do the Captain's Circle thing at 19:00 and dine afterwards. Dinner was very nice but our table was under an A/C duct which blasted us with cold air. The meal was fine and the service certainly adequate but we are drifting more and more to the casual dinning in the Horizon Court.

Port of San Francisco tomorrow and we have a shore excursion booked. Hope to be on deck when we pass under the famous bridge.

Today was short of photographic opportunities so a shot of the ocean after the sun broke through is a feeble excuse, view the image by following this link to my main album.

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 21:03 Archived in USA Comments (1)

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