May 1, 2013 Going Home!

May 1, 2013  Going Home!

I am sad to say that we had our last breakfast in the dining room before gathering our belongings and heading home. After disembarking the ship later than expected we found that the luggage was not arranged as orderly as usual. Typically the luggage is neatly arranged in color-coded sections so it is easy to find and be on your way. However, with all the luggage the crew had to deal with after a world cruise, some bags were where they should be and others were nowhere to be found. Kent and I headed out in different directions checking row after row of bags in a huge room of bags, afraid that we might miss our flight if we could not find our bags. At last our bags were found and we were on our way to customs, then checking our bags with Federal Express for the trip home, before getting a cab to the airport. Our trip home was a long and indirect one, as we had to fly to Newark from Ft. Lauderdale before catching a flight to San Diego. I am not that good with my geography but I don’t believe that Newark is on the way to San Diego from Ft. Lauderdale. All is well that ends well. We made our flights on time, arriving home by early evening, ready to get back to normal.

As a summary, it was an incredible opportunity and I am grateful that we had the opportunity to experience it at least once in our lifetimes… far! The places we saw and the people we met were extraordinary and I would do it all over again. If and when? one never knows.

If you have been following our adventures, please know that we are home safe and hope to catch up with you in the near future.

April 30, 2013 Sea Day

April 30th, 2013  Sea Day

This morning we attended the disembarkation talk and crew farewell. This is when the cruise director tells you everything you need to know about disembarking the vessel, custom forms to complete, when to place your bags outside your cabin door and more. The crew had created a video with everyone who works on the ship, waving goodbye from their work places around the ship and then most of the 650- crew members fill the stage to say good bye in person. Champagne was served and many tears were shed as reality sunk in that our Grand World Voyage was drawing to a close.   Mark was particularly affected!  Several of our older lady friends were sniffeling while others just drank Champagne.  Even some of the boys were also sad and we made promises to stay in touch with many!

The hallways began to fill with luggage bags early in the day as the crew wanted to get a head start on the reported 10,000 pieces of luggage onboard that needed to be taken down stairs and loaded into large cages so they could easily be moved off the ship with a forklift the next morning. Bags appeared and disappeared from the hallways all-day and late into the night.

Our friend, Jenn, treated us to one last lunch in the Pinnacle Grill specialty restaurant onboard to thank us for our friendship and for helping her to hold it together when she wanted to leave the ship during the first month or so. She was anxious to get home and get back to normal life, but also happy that she had stayed until the end of the cruise. We reminisced about the places we had been and the fun we all had together. It was a great lunch.

The afternoon was filled with packing and readying ourselves to return home tomorrow. We are sad to have the trip come to an end but at the same time realize that it is not possible to stay on the ship forever. Everyone deals with saying goodbye differently, so we shared a few laughs with some and a few hugs with others. Kent stopped by several tables to say goodbye to some of his favorites and went to do emails.  Later, Heidi (and Constatine) stopped Mark and asked if Kent’s cold was better and gave Mark one of their cards, along with an invitation to visit them in Greece soon.  Would love that! Most passengers, however, retired to their cabins early for a good night’s sleep before a long day of travel tomorrow.

April 29, 2013 Sea Day

April 29, 2013  Sea Day

Grand Buffet

Grand Buffet

Grand Buffet

Grand Buffet

Grand Buffet

Grand Buffet

Grand Buffet

Grand Buffet

Both Kent and I are suffering from colds we picked up a few days ago. We spent a large portion of the day in our cabin resting in with hope that it will subside by the time we head home.

The executive chef Ed Sayomac and his team created a grand feast for lunch on this day. A large area of the dining room was converted into a vast buffet to rival that of any hotel in the world. Every item of food was beautifully presented, including sushi, roast turkey, lamb chops, shrimp, seafood, lobster, roast beef, an extraordinary array of desserts and more. Guests were invited to view and photograph the amazing buffet for one hour prior to the serving of the buffet. Once the buffet was opened, the guests filled their plates high and wide as if they had never eaten before. Before long the entire buffet was no more.  Mark pushed aside a couple of the older people as they cut into the line.  He hates that!

The afternoon included another guest talent show, which we once again found out is very little. Most of the participants of the show were guests who had performed in the last talent show, but there were a couple of new talents as we say. There was a woman who had been on America’s Got Talent and does a variety of bird whistles. Not what I call your usual or ordinary talent. Also performing at this show was a gentleman dressed up in a red dress, blonde wig and black boots performing a Nancy Sinatra number, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin.’” Not Pretty, but the best of all!

This night was our final formal night and grand farewell dinner.  Tonight we invited Phillip Huber, the marionette artist, to have dinner at our table.  We enjoyed talking more personally with him about his life, work and passion.

The Unexpected Surfer Boys performed the best of the Beach Boys music in the Queens Lounge. They are a group of four young Americans from New York City who also do a Frankie Valle musical program. They harmonized very well together and are also as cute as a button.

As we awaited the concert, Heidi and Constatine, German and Greek couple, who usually sit near us at the shows, said “Hello” and Heidi asked if she could take Kent’s picture, as he has always reminded her of Yves St. Laurent (of course he does).  She asked Kent to pose with Jeri (see March 29) who was eventually selected to join the boys on stage for a couple of songs.  After her fear of falling subsided, she seemed to enjoy the attention.  I guess Heidi knows YSL who designs for her while they are in their Paris home.  They have one in Palm Beach, NYC, and Athens, too!

April 28, 2013 Sea Day

April 28, 2013  Sea Day

Phillip Huber presented a behind the strings talk on his spectacular marionette puppets. He brought out all eighteen of the puppets he presented in his two shows and demonstrated how several of them were constructed and how they operate. He played a short video of how he got started in the business at an early age. He got his first hand puppet at three, moving up to string puppets and then starting work as a professional puppet show entertainer and marionette maker when he was only fifteen.

People just loved seeing all of the marionettes again and getting a chance to see them up-close. They are exquisitely crafted and have many details that are not visible when they were performing on the stage.

The afternoon included the Palm Court Cabaret, presented by our cruise director Bruce and friends. Bruce is a very accomplished musician and performed a variety of piano pieces. One of our librarians, Emily, was a theater major and sang a song with Bruce at the piano. Debbie Bacon from the piano bar did a duet with him and another of the ships performers played the guitar while Bruce played the piano. It was a wonderful afternoon concert.

The evening’s entertainment was a refreshing group of entertainers called Graffiti Classics. Four young string musicians who also sang and danced to a wide variety of musical numbers, all the while, not taking themselves to seriously. They were excellent musicians, but everything they did had a sense of whimsy and fun to it.

April 27, 2013 Castries, St. Lucia

April 27, 2013  Castries, St. Lucia

Public Square 400 Year Old Tree

Public Square 400 Year Old Tree


Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Interior of the Cathedral

Interior of the Cathedral

Lying between Martinique and St. Vincent, St. Lucia is another peak in the Windward chain, with slopes that soar from the sea to a central mountain spine crested by Morne Gimie at a height of 3, 117 feet. 27 miles in length and 14 miles across, St. Lucia has an active volcano called La Soufriere, which is a bubbling, sulphurous mass with the distinction of being the “only drive-in volcano in the world”. The population of 145,000, are of mostly African descent and more than a third live in the sprawling northwest coast capital of Castries. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy and 70% of the island’s earnings come from the export of bananas. There are 2,000 banana farmers on St. Lucia, and on market day, the children regularly play truant, just to help their parents carry the crop to the processing plant. The trademark of the island is its twin peaks known as Gros Piton and Petit Piton. These two spikes of lava over 2,500 feet high have been a sailor’s landmark for hundreds of years.

We did not have a tour scheduled so we walked about twenty minutes into the town of Castries to have a look around. In the peak of the season, the town receives as many as four cruise ships a day, so it is well equipped for the shopping tourist. Several large market halls surround the port with one souvenir stand after the next. The items being sold ranged from spices, jewelry, clothing, shells, woodcarvings, to refrigerator magnets. None of the merchandise looked to be of particular quality, but rather an abundance of mass-produced merchandise.

We visited the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1897 and located next to the main public square named after Derek Wolcott, who was a local poet and Nobel laureate. The church is a beautiful wood constructed church with intricate hand painted ceiling and walls. On this particular day, there were a large number of children attending bible study, dressed in uniforms and singing hymns and reading bible verses. Outside the church in the square is a gorgeous 400-year old Samaan (rain) tree.

We wandered the hot and humid streets of town poking our heads into several shops to check out the merchandise and observe the locals doing their Saturday shopping. We stopped for a coffee at a local coffee and pastry shop in a small indoor mall where we used the Internet.

We found the locals to not be very friendly, and with nothing of interest to explore in town, we headed back to the ship. Onboard the ship, we were treated to a local entertainment group called the Lime Diamond Steel Orchestra. They played a variety of different types of music on a variety of steel drums. They were excellent musicians, playing for an hour without a piece of music.

Late afternoon, we had our last sail away party as we headed home towards Ft. Lauderdale. It was now difficult to pretend that this extraordinary adventure was quickly coming to an end and soon we would be back home dealing with the reality of everyday life.

The evening’s entertainer was a gentleman from Las Vegas by the name of Doug Starks who calls himself Mr. Entertainment. He sang a variety of music and told jokes; unfortunately his act was a bit flat.

April 26, 2013 Sea Day

April 26, 2013  Sea Day

This was a very quiet sea day, allowing us to rest as we had both been fighting colds, coughing and sneezing uncontrollably. We must have picked it up from a fellow guest, as many guest have been coughing and sneezing all over the ship. There were a couple of lectures on fabrics of Latin America and digital photography but nothing that we were particularly interested in.

We shared lunch with our friend Maureen, who is the arts and crafts teacher onboard and lives in the Bay area near San Francisco.  We hope to see here when we are in the Bay area in September.

The evening’s entertainment was a singer by the name of Lorraine Brown who had a beautiful voice, lots of energy and a good sense of humor.