Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Anniversary Cruise, Part V: At Sea, Port Canaveral,

Saturday and Sunday, Oct 7 and 8: At Sea

 We left Boston at 5 pm and for two days were on the ocean. Indeed sea legs and the second night was the worst as we experienced 35 mph winds. This was not my idea of rockin’ and rollin’. Residual from Phillip?  One thing is clear, we will not sail across the ocean.

 People were walking aboard with canes, support systems, wheel chairs and one gentleman while trying to carry a plate, slipped and fell. All rushed to his side.

 I could not imagine what my grandparents endured while bravely crossing the Atlantic Ocean in the early 1900’s and in the squalor of ships during that time. 

4-5 pm was happy hour aboard ship each day and 50% discount on a small measured amount of wine in your glass_ $5. What a deal. We decided to purchase a bottle of wine for the next several days: Murphy Goode, a California Merlot $15 bottle of wine on sale on board for only $40 plus tax = $50. Methinks the 4-5 was the better deal. 

It’s been two days, and now at 5 am and calm sailing, we could see the distant shoreline.

Sunsets have been spectacular! and I love the color of the ocean. 

Monday, Oct 9, Port Canaveral, Florida (10-8pm)

Finally! warmer temperatures, a beautiful sunny day, the gorgeous ocean water and the coast of Florida. 

 We docked at Port Canaveral and toured the JFK Space Center. This is the first time we took a bus_ absolutely necessary. Our driver said privatization (Bezos Blue Origin and Boeing and the Artemis missions) had really allowed this to boom.  And the area is funded as well with the admission of $70 per person.

You can buy your own Space suit

 One of the theaters showed films of the first successful launch and as it launched, our seats vibrated!

uncanny as the seats vibrated

 At 8:42 pm that evening, SpaceX was targeted to launch and with great anticipation we had the best view seated on top of the Lido deck waiting. It was scrubbed! How spectacular that would have been. We see launches often from our back yard, but nothing like it would have been that evening. (Due to the bus ride only walked 3 miles today.)

Ocean water is so crystal clear (a light cerulean blue in places), and the water aboard the ship comes from the ocean and is desalinated onboard. BUT having said that, we had to buy our water for our cabin room, six large bottles for $30, purchased twice. Dining room water is free and since we are water drinkers, we drank our fill there. I don't know why, but the water coming from the faucet in our room had a chlorinated smell whereas the dining area water did not.

 We met some wonderful people along the way: an older gentleman named Ben (who taught at Ohio St) and wife Eileen, Don from Wyoming who would peek across the barrier when we were on the deck; Debbie and Randy from Sacramento and who we partnered with on occasion. We could always find Debbie at the ice cream station following dinner. (wink wink)  

 Whenever one of my son’s travels, he might wear a WVU t-shirt (his undergraduate degree) as it is a  conversation starter. So I wore one for a couple days. We were walking from the Lido Market outside to the deck and suddenly I hear Where are you from?!!!  I turned to my right and this guy is wearing a WVU cap. We all laughed out loud and then chatted for a while. 

 Tuesday, October 10, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, debark 7 am

 And we were ready. The kitchen opened at 6 for breakfast and we were there and ordered our normal omelet which is made according to one’s specification. We had packed our luggage the night before, so all we had to do was collect it from the cabin, take the elevator to level 2 and stand in line.

The only disappointment of the cruise was the lack of fall color, and a few other things like having to buy our own drinking water for the room. Overall, it was a great! Beautiful sunsets and sunrises, oceanscapes, crystal clear air, the sound of silence, yet the music and rhythm of the ocean water… 

The taxi from the ship to the airport was 2 miles ($25). The driver barely spoke English, was polite and appeared to be Haitian. We were dropped at the shuttle, then rode to the parking garage. Parking fee: $165. As we exited the shuttle, an illegal asleep on the bench. Face, neck, arms were all covered in tattoos. MS 13?

  While aboard I was called Ma-Dawm so often I can still hear it.

 The traffic from the Ft Lauderdale airport was horrific! Thankfully we were not headed south to catch a plane as multiple police cars with flashing emergency lights had traffic stopped for miles heading south. Once we approached Palm Beach, it was smoother “sailing” from there.

 My husband planned the entire trip and it was wonderful! And we both agree that the best thing of every trip is getting home!

 Holland America’s Zuiderdam: the ship accommodates 1970 passengers and nearly 800 crew members from 42 countries. They have been taught well, as everyone, well nearly everyone, had a constant smile and was willing to be accommodative. Our two cabin fellas: Made (Mah day) was from Bali and Yunan assisted  him.  They still had 6 months left of their 9 month contracts.

 Each passenger is charged $16 per day for tips for the journey ($32 per day), but in a few instances we gave extra to some, especially Made and Yunan and a tip each day to the young man who brought morning coffee to our room.

Each day: Tai chi, pickle ball, bridge, poker, jewelry auction, bingo, Mahjong, painting, cornhole, ping pong, Mass is celebrated_ the gym, swimming pool, hot tub_ never without something to do if you choose.

Changes have been made aboard these ships: when we first sailed, the Pinnacle Grill with some fine dining that had been offered as an option, was now a premium restaurant, so if you sailed a number of times then it was available to you. Canaletto Italian restaurant is a separate charge. And the lower level dining room is now basically casual dining_ people dressed in shorts, tank tops, clearly no need for the dress I brought in this beautiful space, and the food is no different than on the Lido Market. The myriad of Lido food options  range from main dishes such as beef, pork, fish and served with vegetables, casseroles...; sushi,  salads, Asian cuisine, Middle Eastern type stews with spices I enjoy (i.e. Cumin); breads, fruits... and the list goes on. My choice was to eat similarly as being home, good protein 

We feel blessed that we made this voyage, but I believe our ocean sailing days are over_ land lover I am.

The ship was headed to Africa from Ft. Lauderdale. That voyage I cannot imagine. 

If you missed  Part I

Part II

Part III

Pat IV

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Anniversary Cruise, Part IV: Portland, ME, Boston, MA

Thursday, Oct 5, Portland, Maine (11:30.9pm) 

We were happy to be headed to Portland, Maine where customs would be coming aboard to verify each passenger entering the US again.

 Sitting in the breakfast dining area looking out at the foggy morning, a little Van Morrison was softly playing and a feeling of nostalgia.

 Following our verification and despite the overworked and tired limbs, we walked another 4 miles or so in the old historic city with undulating sidewalks and streets of aged pavers, . A few men were spotted about, covered with a blanket, lying next to the sidewalks and with signs asking for donations.

We finally had internet again and were happy we had dodged tropical storm Philip. Boston, here we come but not looking forward to the two days following at sea. 

Friday, Oct 6, BOSTON (7-5pm)

 We docked and in full view of the planes taking off and landing.

Freedom Trail and Walking Tour

We have been looking forward to this! So much history: the American Revolution and the people and places involved in all of that: Paul Revere, John Adams, Patrick Henry, … all that history in one place!

Here is a video worth watching

A total 6.3 miles today, and a part of that was the 2.5 mile red brick lined walking trail through Boston that was well worth that effort.

 Tonight, performance on world stage Evolution Motown. They were excellent. Here is a video I found on Youtube. Granted, the band was not there, only the 4 vocalists.


This is Franklin's parents burial site


Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense here

Boston Massacre 


the Market (some boxes "China")



this is our fall foliage?

Old Ironsides

and a cab ride back to the ship via the Ugandan gentleman driver

Whooped from all the walking but so happy we were able to experience all of this American history.

Anniversary Cruise, Part III: Sydney and Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Tuesday, Oct 3, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada (8am.4pm)

 As we approached we could see large stockpiles of metallurgical coal, most likely for making coke and steel...

 and then what is said to be the world’s largest violin as we docked. Today was somewhat similar to yesterday as shopping was the highlight with purveyors inside a large building selling their knitwear, crafts, goods… that which was not of interest. We did our part by purchasing a bottle of water. I think you reach a certain age where the purchase of another’s craft is not needed in one’s home. Our memories are enough to remind us of wonderful days.

 We walked the little town of Sydney and again fell upon an old church taking collections and donations but no longer in much use_ St. George Anglican Church.

 So far nothing in the way of foliage, and local residence stated that the warmth had delayed the color change. I’m sure we will see the color soon. Another 4 miles walked and the appearance was as if we could have been in any small town in America.


Wednesday, Oct 4, Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada (8am.4pm)

Fascinating to experience the ship's capabilities, the side thrusters that allow the docking of the ship and without any aid of a tug boat. The ship is brought parallel to the dock and upon departure, again a push sideways away from the deck.

 Today, we were anchored and parallel to the industrial section. Halifax, announced as a world class Canadian city, shop, surf and pub crawling, all in one day, wow … and we rallied hard to decide what to do in this beautiful 64 F day, but the decision was made: return to the ship’s library and find another book, go back to our deck and read. Besides, our… well… my legs needed a rest.

We had internet and texts from our family indicating hurricane Phillip was heading our way, but when we checked Ventusky, fortunately it appeared we would be south of it.

 The entire time in Nova Scotia, the skies were bright and clear and the air so fresh. Tomorrow we would be back in the good ole United States of America. 

Much todo about… March of 2020, a federal ban on most cruise ships entering Canada effectively killed Halifax’s cruise season and undoubtedly took a great toll on the entire economy of Nova Scotia. Only since 2022, last year, the ships returned. We cannot imagine how these small town economies survive without the tourism.