British Isles

Come and join us on a 12 day adventure across the pond!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

 August 9, 2017





The plan for today was a simple one. We set off, and after stopping to enjoy the local lizards were directed to a taxi to “city center”. What a joke! Nothing like I remembered 17 years ago so we started walking as surely there was a place where the people and shops were and the submarine! We walked 2 miles (thank god for prednisone as yesterday I could not walk 2 blocks.) Beautiful by the water- and we arrived at a shopping center and “yaucht” port. 10 am and completely empty! A ghost town! We found a taxi and he told us only some ships come in there and its basically closed otherwise. The cruise ships make or break these communities! The stop was at “crown point cruise terminal” which had about 10 cruise line owned shops and that was it! What a disappointment. The submarine is no longer in buisness as is the case with many things here. Reminded me of St Croux when we were there a few years ago- if the cruise ships leave- the place becomes worthless. Boom towns! Pretty sad.

We head back and tina rests given I kept her up with my cough all night. I work. We hit the stone chairs this afternoon and are now enjoying the sail away on the balcony- it is beautiful outside in the shade.

Tomorrow is St Marteen- hoping for better luck! Was there 5 years ago- hopefully has not changed.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

August 7 2017 San Juan


Four main courses

Beach- JW in distance


Today was made of two parts. The first was a sea day until 3pm then we hit port and had a port day. A very fun day. Lucky for me this American territory accepts my physicians perscriptions and last weeks travel partner is my physician! First thing this morning I text Steve for all my asthma meds once again- I had used them all! Lucky Walgreens sits in front of the ship so I am set once again. Prednisone my arch enemy may save my trip! inhalers and cough medicine lets hope let me sleep finally!

We spend two hours at the hot stone chairs where I finally get some great sleep. The angle of the warm chairs and the calming effect of music and the sea put me out. We eat lunch and go to the front of the ship in the “relaxation room” (I remember from my cruise with Mom and George in Nov 2014) we watch as we enter the port. It is a beautiful view! The mighty fortress guards the harbor and the water splashes against the great wall. The tiny colorful houses next too the fort glisten in the sunlight. 

We head first to life saving meds at Wallgreens and learn how to Uber. Many strick rules here! Ride to Ben and Jerrys where I remember a great beach to eat ice cream was only $6. We enjoy ice cream and I tell Tina stories of David and I getting caught in the rain on the beach and eating there every single morning. She endures my stories. We then head for a bathroom and Tina wants to check out the casino. I did not remember it being much and discourage here but she drags me in. Low and behold its a diamond! $2 tables!! I have not seen those in years! In addition they have my very favorite game High Card Flush. For $2 even Tina can play. We play for a hour and loose just a bit and have to return too the ship. We cant Uber from there so the cab costs $15 for the same exact trip! Yes Karla and George I believe you now.

I take more life saving medicine and we head to the Asian Restaurant for half off. Tina convinced me once I found out it was not raw fish! Tina officially is eating more than me! We have 6 appetizers, including double crab rangoon which is to die for. We then have 4 main courses. No desert for me by Tina wolfs down desert too.  She is now trying to exercise it off as I sit and right and prepare to try to sleep tonight. 

A great day of special memories and awesome new ones with my youngest. Im reminded of how lucky I am to have had time here with the love of my life and my best friend and mom- now my baby. Life is an adventure! 


Tomorrow is St Thomas- hoping to find an underwater submarine!
August 7- Sea Day

Formal night

Cant decide- have both!
video


We sleep in until 8 this morning- today is a sea day- LOVE them. I go to the buffet and catch a great breakfast- then head to my favorite part of the ship. Hot stone chairs in a mediation room overlooking the ocean. My definition of paradise! $99 for the week- that is where I will be alot! Also have some amazing different types of showers in there- heaven on earth.

We meet for some Ginger Pear Ice Tea in the atrium- WOW is it awesome. Brewed at our table and poured over ice- this will be a constant treat! We are trying to decide about the specialty restraints and they tempt us with a display and description. The price is high- given my cold we will wait and see.
I decide to get some writing done this afternoon and focus on the chapter for our textbook. Love writing at sea- so easy to think! Feels good to check in at work and move my brain just a little toward home.

On the way to dinner we discover it is formal night- oops! Tina heads back to change clothes. We get some photos taken. Dinner is amazing- we could not decide so each have 2 main courses. Steak and scampi for Tina, Steak and portabella mushroom with goat cheese for me. Our waiter got a discount for the specialty restaurants for us so tomorrow we go Asian Fusion and see what happens. Hoping I can start feeling better for the steak house later in the week.

After dinner Tina heads to a movie and I enjoy playing cards- broke even- good thing. There is a really fun looking new poker game on board but you need more than 1 person to play it- they stuck it off to the side and thus no one sees it to know when people are there- hoping at some point I can try it. At 11 we meet at the “Silent disco party” which involved people wearing glow in dark headphones. So funny as the crowd dances to no sound and begins shouting.


San Juan tomorrow. Our plan is simple- taxi to a beach I know for Ben and Jerrys, the castle and Walgreens for medicine. We dont arrive until 3pm so we have a relaxing morning!

Monday, August 7, 2017

August 6, Cruise 2: Eastern Caribbean- Mother Daughter. Vacation following the vacation.

This week was Tina’s vacation week and its destination passed many phases. We had originally planned to meet in Venice until I considered a new job and were so serious I canceled the Venice, only to be convinced to stay at MU. So then Tina and I had to make new plans- and last minute at that. We found an amazing deal on Celebrity on our favorite ship the Equinox! We have a balcony at the back of the ship, shipboard credit, unlimited Internet, and full beverage package. A deal we could not refuse and we did not care where it went. We may not get off much but we will surely relax- and that is our goal.

Going from one cruise line immediately onto another cannot help but lead to comparison. Admittedly my new line (Celebrity) is my favorite so I am biased however, thought I would share.

Princess vs. Celebrity

Food quality- Celebrity is twice as good!
Food choice in dining room- Again Celebrity has twice as many choices
Service- overall- Princess has this one- help was everywhere- we got tired each morning of so many people asking to help us.
Ship decor- Love the Celebrity atrium!
Dining room decor- Again Celebrity has 2 floors with high ceilings and music- Princess on two separate floors- low ceilings and cant say I ever heard music.
Ice cream: Celebrity has 10 choices all made on ship- plus soft serve- Princess has soft serve
Tea: Celebrity has 2 pages of loose teas- Princess had 5 different tea bags to choose from
Casino: Princess has more choice- and more bets in Texas Hold Me- but fewer fun activities
Entertainment: Beatles will be hard to beat but Celebrity has educational lectures
Specialty Restaurant- Princess $29; Celebrity $50 (3 for 109) but better menu

Sunday, August 6, 2017

August 5 Disembarkation and final thoughts

private back of ship adult only pool- 
outdoor movies- in rain and cold!



I have not said much about the ship. This cruise was intense with 10 stops in 12 days so no nightlife as I left the casino at 10 each night and we were out preparing for the next day. Princess ships have the kitchen in the middle- making going from one end to another interesting. There were parts we did not explore- something new for me.  Overall it was quite nice. The back had this great pool area that was adults only- very private and we enjoyed sitting back there and watching us sail away. Two floors up were hot tubs but it was just too cold to use them. The activities were normal, perhaps Ive cruised to much to enjoy many anymore (I think this is 56). Here are my highlights and disappointments

Highlights
1. Room location at back under buffet and near adult pool was perfect
2. Lily was great roommate and travel buddy- tolerant of this awful cough I got a couple days ago and so much fun watching her treasure shop! I shall never look at a charity shop the same. I am thankful for our chance encounter 17 years ago!
3. Steve and Susan were so much fun, great to see Steve relax, we had lovely dinners.
4. Edinburgh was my favorite stop without question. Steves birthday was also fun- Belfast lunch and special dinner on board.
5.  Buckingham Palace was a new adventure
6. Casino- many games although not many drawings etc. Let it Ride, Baccurat, Texas Hold Em, Black Jack, and 3 card poker- quite a selection. I also only spent $300 in 12 days- a great investment. Leaving money for next cruise!
7.
8. Beverage package- great deal on Princess for my sodas etc only $8 a day paid for itself
9. A s always a sense of history- of heritage and of appreciation for all things English and American. Enjoy their monarchy but glad they have it, so glad for our food and ice!
10. Now my 6th and soon to be 7th cruise without David, he would be proud I continue. It is of course bittersweet but I have found I can do it and have enjoyed many cruising companions.

Disappointments

1. Food- Princess does not offer much variety and it can only be called average-
2. Weather- not the cruise for those who like warm and sun
3. No French souvenirs for Ollie and Parker! We did not find one shop and I did not find one thing for him and I saved the whole time hoping to get them French things! Hoping something special comes on next cruise.
4. Cold- Steve and I both caught it- not fun last 3 days- especially at night. Hoping sun will cure on next cruise- will pick up a mask so as not to give too Tina in our room! Hoping Lilly does not catch it!
5. Tragic news from Becky making me miss her and Justin and just want to wrap them in mothers arms and fill their sad hearts with love. A reminder life is short- tell people you love them!

I disembark apprehensive because I could not check into my flight and there was no sign of it on the BA website. Tina helped me with back up plans in case a mistake was made- I worried all morning. Got to the airport to discover my flight cancelled but I had enough time too make a direct flight to Miami instead. Ill stay tonight in Miami with Tina instead of Chicago alone- better deal! Excited about cruise 2!!



August 4 2017 LeHarve







LeHarve serves as the port to Paris although Paris is 3 hours by bus away. Lilly chooses too travel and see a quick glimpse of the city, eat at the Eiffel tower, and visit the Louvre. She misses dinner so Steve Susan and I join her as she devours a much heartier meal than we had. She enjoys the countryside and reports seeing two red deer, one lying injured in a field. They pass through several little towns and she is able too enjoy the ride.  She of course does not have enough time but is glad she did it. She returns with stories of two blind people who are on the tour. We try to find something that blind people could have gotten from the tour- we fail to find anything. I wish I could ask! She also reports two falls, one without injury one with. An older gent fell down the stairs at the museum, injuring his arm and bleeding. Lucky they found bandages which he refused to let his wife put on but did let Lily. His pride obviously hurt.  THe story reminds me of 2005 when we were there with the girls and David hit is leg on some marble and bled like mad. Lucky at that time Becky had a “femine” product to absorb the blood until we could find bandaids outside the museum. What a laugh we had! We all discuss the future challenge of cruising as the population ages and so many people do not see their frailty. Europe is not very handicap accessible. Its cobblestone streets are charming but they are dangerous, slick, and impossible for wheelchairs. There is no ADA, few elevators, and no real consideration for those of limited mobility.

While Lily went to Paris, Steve Susan and I choose to explore this little port. It is the beginning of the River Seine. Completely destroyed by the Allies to prevent the Germans from using it in WWII it has a sad history. 5,000 civilians died and tens of thousands were left homeless. Thus most buildings were redone in 1940s and are boring concrete and sad looking. What a terrible time for artchecture- so different from the glory years of the past. There are four great things here. First, a very modern library that looks like a volcano. We stop here for information and find 4 walking trails and some information. Secondly, a cute indoor market, very clean with all the typical European produce laid out so beautifully. We may have more choice but theirs is certainly much nicer to look at. Naturally, the meat market has a pig displayed, but I find un-feathered (naked) chickens with claws and necks twisted around and heads still on. Not too appetizing. Third is a beautiful Catholic church which is a memorial to the sad event. It does not look like much from the outside but inside you see thousands of beautiful simple colorful stain glass window pains- a jewel. I’m certain when the sun shines (and of course it does not today) it is magnificent. We sit and listen to quiet beautiful music and reflect on the meaning behind starting anew, and the resilience of the people. Finally, we go to the Museum of modern art. Its standing collection is one of envy for any US art museum with Monet and Renior and more impressionists. The special exhibit is a unique one of Peire and Giles, two artists that use photography and paint. To say it was explicit is to simplify, yet children are there with no questions. Im not sure many of these would be shown in US. 

We stop for an amazing lunch that turns out too have been ranked #10 of 300 by trip advisor. No english- all french menu. Susan knew enough to identify fish so they order a fish stew that is huge. I figure out the words BBQ sauce and augratin potatoes and take a chance. I get finely sliced tender beef that is amazing. We head back on the 30 minute walk to the ship and pack.