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Blazerboy

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  1. We have one booked for September that is looking iffy. Northern Europe. But if we are able to fly and not be quarantined for 14 days, we may still do the land portion, and extend it. Time will tell.🤞
  2. Original plan: to write a fun distracting travel blog to keep my sanity Reality: I think this blog has "jumped the shark." Nonetheless, I will soldier on through my last post, as today is "disembarkation," and I predict we will be off the ship, home and unpacked in the blink of an eye. Yesterday, Chef Andre ran out of Banana bread, and reports from the recycling plant are that my Chocolate Coconut Banana Bread has nary a crumb remaining. So it was back to bagels this morning with my coffee. Ed was dutiful in his delivery...last day, and seeking good tips I'm sure! We decided to skip the trip ashore, as we could see everything we needed to see from the stateroom window: turkeys, wildflowers and deer. I took another cooking class, this time making a recipe of Chef Andre's made famous when he worked for Doubletree Inn and Suites. Chocolate Chip Cookies. If Captain Ed doesn't give them away, we should have enough to get us off the ship and through Customs. I'll just have to pack them in with the rose bushes... A lunch on the deck of salad and grilled cheese again...starting to get into a rut. But the effect on the waistline has been positive. While I'm not ready for a Speedo (was I ever?) I no longer fear the 10 lbs. everyone says they gain on a cruise. Or, apparently, in isolation. We went to a wine tasting seminar in the late afternoon that included white wine, red wine and champagne. After a glass of bubbly, I was busy sampling the reds, and not paying attention to Ed. Somehow he managed to get one leg of his chair caught the carpet while pushing back, and ended up falling backwards with the chair on top of him. It took two crew members to right him, but he said he was fine. I shushed him and whispered "free cruise," but he ignored me. He was cut off. We wobbled to dinner at the "Lawn Club Grille" and had Prawn, Scallop, Chicken and Steak Kabobs- best meal of the cruise! Paired with a few bottles of wine, and we were flying high again. Perhaps too "high" judging by the three bottles of water needed to rehydrate... The after dinner entertainment, besides regaling everyone with Ed's "chair dance," was Captain Ed's Gala farewell, but, unlike most Captains, I think he indulged, too. ( Lucky we didn't run aground!) In fact, all the crew were there, Ed, Eddy, Eduardo, Edmundo, Andre 1, and Andre 2. Tips were appropriately handed out, and apparently I have a new nickname: "Bastardo Cheapo." Not sure how that translates, but I was so touched by their outpouring of affection...they even raised their fist in some sort of salute to me. Well, not their whole fist, just one finger... What with all my success being revered by the crew, I thought it a good time to say good night and go to the cabin for one last night of sleep. Oddly, Ed seemed have shortsheeted the bed. What a vacation! One for the history books.... as I think we all hope it won't ever be repeated... Andrew
  3. If you have champagne, he'll be right over! Hope you both are safe and well. Andrew
  4. Vacation Day 7 Cruise Day 6 Original Plan: St. Croix Reality: Nothin' Atoll. Well, here we are at another one of these little-known islands in the Caribbean. "Turkeys, wildflowers and deer" translates roughly to "Lather, rinse, repeat." Although we did go to a beautiful nature preserve...well, an arboretum of sorts...actually, a garden centre. O.k., it was a plant store. It was as though the floodgates had opened, and all of humanity had decended on this place. They all must have been tired of hunting for souvenirs at the local Piggly Wiggly, too. We bought tree roses, and will decorate our cabin door with the rose blooms for the rest of the cruise. What? You don't decorate your stateroom doors? So fun to see what everyone brings with them to do this. If the roses survive, we'll plant them back home, likely unleashing the modern version of the Medfly, but we must have our beauty! Some doors are very elaborate, some simple...like the cabin next to us...X's of "Caution! Do Not Enter!!" tape along with some biohazard signs. Hmm...modern day cruising attracts all types. I'm guessing they really like TV hospital and crime dramas...THAT must be it. They never leave their cabin, and get room service for every meal. Sorry not to get to know them. I must admit that, at this point in a cruise, with only a day or two left, that my mind wanders back to real life. Almost felt like I did 5 hours of work, but I must have been hallucinating again...I NEVER do work on vacation, right? 🙄 Took a tour through the photo gallery to laugh at the bad pictures that fellow cruisers didn't pick up. The two old queens from the Friends of Dorothy party didn't buy any of theirs, so I thought it a kindness to throw their photos in the discard pile. The photographer asked if we didn't like the photos of us... I asked for his name for the comment card. Food continues to be good, if a little hearty. Grilled Cheese and Tomato sandwiches, potato salad and non-fat ice cream...We're on a diet, doncha' know! For dinner, we had simple salads, saving room for the cheese cart. - a cheddar that made me squint and pucker, it was so dry, and paired with a lovely Sauvignon Blanc. Age old question: if it's a screw top, do we have to pay corkage? Twistage? Unscrewage? The show tonight was a musical and dance homage to the great circuses of the world. We didn't stay for much of it, but I hear it ended when the fat lady sang. She also had a beard, but maybe she was just in isolation too long. Tomorrow is the last day, but unlike most cruises, I don't think we'll have to spend much time packing. Ed says he's going on a laundry strike, so maybe we'll just leave everything where it is. We've packed on a few pounds this week. Maybe the circus performers need new tents... Planning out who to tip for this lovely cruise. Chef Andre and Waiter Andre are definites, but Ed, Eddy, Edmund, Edumudo, et al may need to really prove themselves...I have had to tolerate SO much from them. One more day to prove yourselves, gents! With that off to bed and ready for a short day in Barbados/Punto Loco before the cruise ends. Any wild guesses as to what we'll see ashore? Night all, Andrew
  5. Vacation Day 6 Cruise Day 5 Original plan: Day at Sea Reality: Is there a difference between being at sea versus being out to lunch? Because it feels like there isn't... Somehow, even with a day at sea, we managed to see wild deer, wild turkeys and wildflowers...I am assuming that I'm just hallucinating while doing my laps on the deck above the pool. They seemed so real... Meh, sanity is overrated. The view off the stern of the ship is spectacular- enjoying it with a glass of wine as I type. The seas are a leafy shade of green at the moment, and the seagulls appear to have turned into Robins and Bluejays, but still pretty. Or am I hallucinating again? Maybe too much wine? When we were in port yesterday, and they were carting off the recycling, I glanced at the couple one verandah over, and they gave me a dirty look, as though all the wine bottles rattling into the scow were my fault!!! I'm- hic- sure that's not the case. But boy do those bottles make a lot of noise. 😳 First thing this morning, Steward Ed took advantage of a guest pastry chef being on board, so we had banana bread instead of bagels this morning. When I tell you it tastes just like home, I mean it! Almost as if I baked it myself. I was going to sit out on the front deck to enjoy the ocean views and read a book, but those leafy green waves have dumped some strange greenish yellow dust everywhere, and I was sneezing so much, you'd think I was in a hayfield. Maybe I'm allergic to salt water...🙄 So indoor activities it was. Said pastry chef, Andre the Magnificent ( when it's your fantasy blog, then YOU can make up the names!!!) was giving a baking class, so I signed up. I felt a feal affinity for this guy...so handsome, so talented...so modest (most likely because he got his haircut by the same spa personnel). We cooked as a team....or as one, really, and produced a loaf of banana bread, this one with chicolate chips and coconut. But I turned around, and it dissapeared. Devastated, I went in search of an explanation. Later, I ran into Captain Ed, and he admitted to stealing it to bribe the next garbage scow because of all the extra recycling the ship was offloading at the next port. I looked at him with pure innocence, and asked if this was a heavier drinking crowd than usual? The next activity was in the computer lab for an 'Intro to Zoom for dummies" I spent hours trying to get it right, but decided it felt too much like being at work, and, as I was no dummy, (Ed might disagree) closed the laptop, and went in search of lunch instead. Besides, Ed was likely to flash everyone on my Zoom call- hard to get him to wear pants these days... Lunch was prepared on deck. I chose Rotisserie Chicken Salad on Pita Bread with Hawaiian Sea Salt and Avocado, followed by Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches. The buffet chef is really showing his talent! Bet HIS name is Andre, too. Next, a nap with the gentle breezes flowing in from the balcony door, and the gentle rocking and rolling of the bed...uhm...wait a minute, smooth seas, the Captain said? I woke up to discover the motion was just Ed tossing and turning...and snoring! (In case you hadn't figured it out, we are a couple now, but I still make him do his steward/pool butler/assistant waiter duties. Keeps him humble.) Remind me to spike his Cosmo with an allergy pill. Dressed in our finest pj's we went for cocktail hour at Michael's Club/The Retreat for suite guests. The Captain's Club Host turmed us away, not because we were in a regular cabin, but because he said the pj's looked like we'd been wearing them all week. Well, I never! (I obviously need to use some of my Elite Cruiser coupons to get Ed to do some laundry...) We moved on to the more hospitible "Kitchen Bar," and were served without incident. And then on to dinner. I thought we were going to have the usual Lobster and Filet, but the assistant waiter just sat down across the table from me with a bowl of ice cream, and said when I asked about dinner "It's late, why bother?" I swear, he is determined to get a negative comment card. So with that, we decided not to dance the night away, but head to bed early so that we were ready for the last port day. Originally to be St. Croix, I hear it's been replaced with Nothin' Atoll. Until tomorrow, Andrew
  6. Vacation Day 5 Cruise Day 4 Original Plan: Grenada Reality: literally Nada. Another fun-filled day on our imaginary cruise, and I realize I haven't reviewed many of the ship's amenities, so here it goes: Pool deck: The deck itself is nice, and we are enjoying the lack of bad pool bands. In fact, the canned music on the whole ship is much more our taste, thanks in part to the ship apparently using my Amazon Prime account for any and all selections...hope the other passengers don't mind! And, most importantly, no chair hogs! Pool butler Ed is always asleep on the job, though, so fruity cocktails and mudslides are impossible to get. The pool itself is tiny- about the size of an old wine barrel... Casino: not really our thing, but I think Ed misses it. He keeps on having dreams about gambling when we're asleep next to eachother, and I have to wake him to remind him in VERY firm tones that he is NOT sliding his stateroom card down the card reader of a slot machine! OUCH! Specialty restaurants: seems like the food it all of the same quality, whether we dine in the main dining room, the "buffet," or one of the other venues. We're doing Chef's Table tonight, where you help prepare your own meal, and then are served paired wines with each course. ...sounds SO different and UNIQUE compared to every other night...🙄 Evening shows: we tend to skip these, as they are virtually all the same, night after night. There was supposed to be a ventriloquist and his dummy, but the ventriloquist was reportedly felled by norovirus, leaving Ed alone on the stage... BA DUM DUM...(hey, it's been 45 days of isolation! We're getting a little snarky!) Bars and bar service: the bars are well-stocked, and plenty is available, but unless you scream "Hey, Ed," you don't get much in the way of service. But he really seems to mean it when he says "help yourself!" The onboard shops are filled with knickknacks, room after room - full of travel books and tchotchkes from around the world. Ed said we can't buy anything though, saying "where are we going to put it when we get home?" He has a point, so we'll leave everything right where it is. Maybe dust them a little... The other passengers: really, the space ratio per passenger has exceeded anything we've seen in past cruises, so we haven't gotten to know our fellow passengers well. They seem to keep their distance. Although someone in the stateroom nextdoor must have a CPAP machine or something. Running all the time, and sounds just like a weed wacker!! Today on the ship: So our trip ashore to Porto de Nada included the same deer, wild turkeys and wild flowers, along with the same shops- never EVER thought I'd miss "Diamonds International." Tonight is the Captain's Gala, so we're going to go. They always come up with unusual themes, and we are not always equipped because we don't tend to pack "everything but the kitchen sink." (Oddly, available to us if we need it). Tonight, however, everyone on the ship is abuzz with excitement because the Captain announced that it was a.... ...wait for it... .. "Masked Ball." And with that, even YOU can tell I'm getting punchy, so I'll sign off. Andrew
  7. Vacation Day 4 Cruise Day 3 Original Plan: Tortola Reality: Puerto Casa Nuestros Good morning, campers! ( I know you've all been waiting patiently for the next installment. How sad that THIS is the highlight of your day!😉) Cruise day three, we sailed into our next port. If you've ever sailed in the Caribbean before, you've probably heard someone complain that it's hard to tell the difference between the island ports. I have a feeling it was never moreso than on this cruise. Steward Ed managed to get me coffee and a bagel on time today, and even scored a pumpernickel one with a corn crust. I guess because I told him that he'd done well, he took it as an invitation, and sat right down, and had one with me. The nerve!!! The help are just getting too familiar. But he's sorta' cute, so I'll let it slide. But I may have a word with the purser... Off the ship and on our way to explore Beautiful Puerto Casa Nuestros. Remember what I said about all ports looking the same? Well THAT is true. Ashore we saw wild turkeys, deer and wildflowers. I swear they look just like the ones we saw yesterday. We decided to forgo any shopping, as we expected to find a (very) similar assortment of items in the shops. For those who we've promised a trinket, salt water taffy from the airport will have to do... We were hot and tired from our tour, so returned to the ship. The pool butler, coincidentally also named Ed, was busy cleaning the decks and deck chairs, so no lying out for me. I decided to try a spa treatment instead. I'd needed a haircut for 45 or so days, and thought I'd take a chance. Big mistake. Huge! I wanted a little off the top and sides, but have instead ended up with a weird combination of a buzz cut, an 80's New Wave cut, and a combo mullet/mohawk in the back. Not pretty. I complained at guest relations, and they were very unhelpful...even said that it looked like I'd done this to myself! Seeing that bringing out my inner "Karen" was getting me nowhere, I hightailed it back to the stateroom, determined to both complain to Richard Fain when I got off the cruise, and to petition the Captain to find an Island with a "Supercuts" on it. Oh, the small things you miss when away from home... Ed was cleaning the stateroom, but stopped and gasped when he saw what they'd done, and very kindly offered to deal with the mullet/mohawk portion so I could show myself at the Captain's Club Senior Officer's Party at night. So, before dinner, we headed off to the cocktail party. I literally did not see a soul that I knew...it was as if they all faded into the upholstery. Officers were hard to spot as well. A nice wine was offered, but paired with Chips and Salsa? More cost cutting I see. No canapes or hot hors d'oeuvres. Very disappointing. I hope they do better at the Captain's Gala! Speaking of upholstery, I really like the decor of the ship. Almost as though I picked everything out myself! So tasteful, so elegant. Why, it's as though they copied me down to the last detail. Even my coffee mug this morning had little Welsh Corgis painted on it! The ship ventilation could use some work, as no matter whats being prepared in the galley, the smell is noticeable everywhere. At the moment, it smells like Banana Bread, so that's not so bad...unless the Sous Chef, Edmundo, lets it cook too long. Has been know to happen... Onto dinner in the dining room. As feared, noone else ever showed up to join us, so we had appetizers, salad and wine. It's true what they say about putting on a few pounds on a cruise, so we're rationing our intake...although it's not like they'll run out, right? Our Waiter and Assistant Waiter feel like family after just a few days, and seem to know our tastes and desires almost as soon as we do! If you EVER take this cruise, you absolutely must ask to have Andre and Eddie as your servers! The sommelier, also, surprise, surprise, named Ed, is a little stingy with the wine sometimes, commenting that we've already gone through a bottle, and it would be wasteful to open another. Not like he's paying for it, is it??? Well, another day of the cruise done. Tomorrow's port was supposed to be the Port of Granada, but I think they have shortened the name to Porto de Nada. Abientot, Andrew
  8. Vacation Day 3 Cruise Day 2 Original Plan: Dominica. Reality: Port Cheznous. The second day of the cruise has been nearly perfect, with just a few niggling complaints- it hasn't ruined the cruise, or anything, but certainly not like cruising in the good old days. Our trip ashore was nice- easiest disembarking ever...of course, it wasn't a tender port...we hiked through the local trails outside of Port Cheznous, and saw wild flowers, deer, and wild turkeys. The local roads were empty, so we walked into the local village to see about souvenirs. Unfortunately, all the shops were closed- must be some local holiday. The two stores open just had essential items, so slim pickings for local crafts, although we were tempted by large packages of locally made impinted 2 ply paper on rolls. The locals said it was a rarity, and even they were buying all they could. We decided that it would be difficult to pack, so left empty handed, except for some chocolate made by a local woman with the unfortunate name of S. Nickers. I only mention the chocolate, as our room Steward, Ed, totally forgot the chocolates on our pillows. Good thing he remembered the coffee and bagel this morning! His tip may have suffered otherwise...it will DEFINITELY be on my comment card if things don't improve. We were back on board for lunch, and opted to have a chicken pasta casserole for lunch. Now, don't get me wrong...it was tasty- but more on the level of Olive Garden (or Costco prepared foods) than on a luxury cruise. That, and we've noticed they are cutting corners...it tasted remarkably like last night's Poulet Alfredo, just served differently. I guess they really do reuse anything they can. With the afternoon before us, we decided to try one of the onboard activities. I opted for the lesson in Napkin Folding...envisioning impressing my friends at home with my entertaining prowess at my next candlelight supper! It turned out that I also learned how to fold: towels, sheets, both flat and fitted, and assorted socks and underwear. Hoping that means Ed will be making up our stateroom with fresh sheets, at least. We were gifted a bottle of Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc and decided to have it on the verandah before our nap. They were nice and didn't charge us corkage, although Ed brought out red wine glasses...I should remember that, as a room steward, his knowledge of wine is limited. Comment two for the card!!. After a restful nap, we decided to dress up in our formal wear for the evening's activities. No t-shirts and sweatpants for us, no sir! Polo shirts and athleisure's fanciest trou!! We stopped by the "Friends of Dorothy" cocktail party, but it was a bust...only two old queens were there, both unshaven, in bad sportswear...oh, wait, that was a mirror. After a light dinner in the "main diningroom," (where we noticed that the silver wasn't polished) we decided to walk out on the decks. Apparently it's a tradition on this cruise line for everyone to stand on decks and howl at 8:00 p.m. Cruisers are weird people, but what are you going to do? As we watched the lights on shores of Port Cheznous fade into the distance, we decided to get more rest- we know that tomorrow's port, Puerto Casa Nuestro, is supposed to exceed today's port experience, and we want to be well rested! Oh, and did I mention the movie tonight was "Groundhog Day?" We feel like we've seen it 40 or so times in a row, so skipped it for an early night. Until tomorrow's report, Andrew
  9. Vacation: Day 2 Original Plan: boarding a cruise in San Juan. Reality is overrated, so we're taking the cruise in our heads. (If you've ever read a cruise review...) First day report. Embarkation day: we magically woke up in our stateroom, with all of our clothes unpacked. And we didn't even spring for a butler! What a breeze compared to other trips. Because most restaurants are closed on embarkation day, we wandered up to the buffet. No staff in sight, so we helped ourselves to coffee and a bagel. I'll have to train the "cabin steward" (I'm not sure, but I think his name is Ed) to bring this to me every morning in our cabin. We decided to check out shore excursions for the trip, and found out that all excursions are free, but mostly limited to "Explore the port on your own!" Our stateroom is nice and large, and a good sized bathroom. Plenty of closet space, too. We don't even have to put our luggage under the bed. First night out of port is always casual dress, so we don't need to get dressed up. And tonight's welcome aboard show is titled "The best of Broadway on Netflix," so I think we'll skip it. The few passengers we've seen are a little standoffish- they don't even smile at you when you pass them. At least, I don't think they do...hard to tell with the masks. Unlike past cruises, the ship's officers are nowhere to be seen. We sprang for the "Unlimited Beverage Package" and they seem to have a nice selection of California wines on board. And a "Make your own" Martini Bar!!! Other ship amenities: the pool is closed, and there's no gym, but they do have a free self-serve laundromat, which is a nice touch- we'll be able to save our on-board credit for souvenirs! We checked out our table in the main dining room- a table for eight, but the Maitre d' tells us that there's no one else assigned to dine with us...we might try a specialty restaurant instead...I hear good things about "The Porch" as a venue. Same food, but you get to eat in the fresh air. Internet quality seems really good, and we got that "unlimited" as a perk, too, because our frequent cruiser status on this ship. The ship is a little still...must still be at the dock, as I cannot feel the motion of the waves. The captain did say he expects calm seas for the duration of the cruise. More to report tomorrow when we hit our first port. We're excited as we've chosen a shore excursion called "The trails and parks of the East Bay," which is sure to be fun...supposedly we get to see lots of local flora and fauna! That's it for Day 2. More tomorrow...
  10. Vacation, Day One: Original Plan: having dinner in Puerto Rico. Reality: A bottle of J Sparkling Wine in isolation...
  11. All, I've writing over on FB about the cruise that I should have boarded yesterday, and a few people asked me to post here as well. Hope it bring a laugh or two...
  12. We enjoyed LPC, and went twice on the last cruise- they have two different menus. But I have to agree that it would either be at a significant discount, or travelling with new cruisers that would get me to go back. I felt the same way about Qsine, though. Disco Shrimp isn't so novel the 3rd or 4th time. I liked Silk Harvest well enough. Bo5 was o.k. We go to Tuscan mostly for the variety from other Specialties, but it's just o.k.. The only one we consistently opt for is Murano. Sushi on 5 is also good, but one of us isn't a fan of seafood, so there's only so many beef sliders and so much tempura he's willing to eat. I think that many of these are intended as a one-and-done. If the new cruiser is the holy grail, they are hoping that he/she will go for two nights in Specialty, a few ship's shore excursions, two spa treatments, a photo package and some shopping on board, and maybe the new cruiser might not have a drinks package. THAT CRUISER the target of all this. They certainly don't get that out of me any longer. For Specialty restaurants, we are likely using up OBC. I get one manicure per cruise usually, also OBC, I have either the drinks package or use Elite Happy Hour, I never buy photos- I have thousands of ships photos from the early years, and we rarely do a ship's excursion. A sale t-shirt is a rare purchase. But I'm sure glad they have all these ways of making money...keeps my cruise fares from rising too much! We who cruise often are fortunate enough to become a little tired of their offerings. But loyalty is only so valuable, given our spending habits. Oh, and the next concept for Cellar Masters should be to combine it with a tapas bar!!! Now THERE I could see dropping some serious coin...for the first few cruises, anyway.😉 Andrew
  13. Well, I really liked the personally engraved drinking glasses...and the caviar and Dom Perignon service at 6:00 every evening. 🍾🥃🥂 The personal secretary to type up my cruise musing was only so-so...she could only type 70 words per minute, and my creative genius needs a much quicker response. 🤔 I found the tuck-in service from the Captain a little creepy, though. For me, perhaps because it was Captain Kate...still in her costume. Send one of the tall Greeks next time, and I might change my mind. 😁 The golf cart for getting from one end of the ship to the other was nice. But I was never really able to get going very fast in the Ski-doo in the spa pool. Sad.🙄 The free convertible upon arrival home was a nice touch...but why so chintzy? A Mercedes? Like having to travel steerage. I gave it to the upstairs maid.😎 As I'm quadruple Zenith, I think the program needs work.😉
  14. It's $10. per day plus automatic gratuity, so plan on $12.00 per day to upgrade. We do it every time. We are always in the Martini Bar before dinner, and also like the World Bar. We also ask for Belevedere, Woodford Reserve, etc., which are included in the upgrade. As mentioned above, the choice of wines with dinner is also improved, so for us, it makes sense.
  15. I think you've hit on my main point- the living area feels much nicer in the CS. I was one who thought I'd never like an inside cabin feel of the CS bedroom, but it turns out we really liked the dark for a restful sleep. Not the type to use the verandah hot tub, so that perk is out, and, in fact, we don't often use the verandah for anything but standing and viewing, so width wasn't an issue. The position for movement is better in the CS- more midship, and if the ship is rolling, less movement in the bedroom of the CS than the RS. The one thing I will give to the RS is the convenience of the walk-in shower. Like you, the high step in for CS or even SS isn't an issue, being tall, but I also can stand up straight and hit my head on the ceiling. Not a deal breaker, but I noticed it. In all, it's an academic point, as we mostly travel in verandahs, but living the Suite life is pretty nice- Michael's Club and Luninae were great perks. Andrew
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