Friday, September 30, 2016

Our Nine Night Cruise to New England and Canada

It was time for another cruise.  How I love cruises!  But arriving at the cruise site is always traumatic. As you may or may not know, I am terrified of flying even though I have done it for most of my life.  I also promised the Lord that if he let me survive until I retired, that I would keep my little, flat feet on the ground.  I tried, but then for most cruises I have to end up flying. However, this time in light of passengers abusing flight attendants, trying to open plane doors while in flight, passengers threatening to bring down planes, etc. I decided that it was train time.

Friends took us to our grubby train/bus station well before midnight. Our train was scheduled to arrive and to leave at 11:59. The train/bus station is the gathering site of the homeless and those who hang out.  We walked between them clutching our purses and trying to hang onto our luggage. Before we got inside the station my suitcases began falling off of each other time and time again. I was loaded down with a medium size suitcase, a small one on top of it, my handbag and a large over  the shoulder bag. I certainly learned my lesson this time! One large suitcase would have sufficed!

Our first crisis - or my first out of body experience.  About ten minutes before we arrived in Newark, NJ, Dee asks, "Where do we get off?"
Me:  In Newark.
Her:  Newark?! (She sounds alarmed. Eyes wide)
Me: Newark, New Jersey.  Where did you think the train was going?
Her:  Jersey City.  (Now where did that come from??)
She's looking at me as if I'm insane.  Maybe I am.  I clearly am on the verge of becoming so.
We overnighted at a hotel and boarded our ship the next afternoon.

Ah, the ship, The Anthem of the Seas, one of the largest in the fleet.  Our cabin was on the 10th floor (of 16 floors!). There was a chapel (no priest); the North Star, a huge ball at the top of the ship that holds about 10 people that lifts you high, high over the ship and out over the ocean! I wanted to go on it, but people who suffer from vertigo were advised not to get on it.
There were five complimentary main restaurants (four of which are available to all passengers)
Other smaller complimentary dining venues include:[5][36]
  • The Café @ Two70° — Made-to-order sandwiches and salads, similar to the Park Café on other Royal Caribbean ships (breakfast, lunch, and dinner).

  • Café Promenade — Sandwiches and pastries (breakfast, lunch, and dinner).

  • SeaPlex Dog House — Hot dogs and sausages, similar to the Boardwalk Dog House on other Royal Caribbean ships (lunch and dinner).

  • Devinely Decadence at Solarium Bistro — Spa cuisine (breakfast, lunch and dinner).

  • Sorrentos Pizza (lunch and dinner)

  • Windjammer Marketplace — Complimentary buffet (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Includes a new The Grill area, which is open 24-hours and features all-day breakfast, cheese steak sandwichesrotisserie chicken, and other food items.

There are several smaller dining concepts that are available to passengers for an additional fee:
  • Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver (lunch and dinner).
  • Michael's Genuine Pub — À la carte gastropub from chef Michael Schwartz (lunch and dinner).
  • Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine (dinner only)
  • Prime Table @ Chop’s Grille (dinner only)[41]
  • Chops Grille — Steakhouse (dinner only).
  • Izumi Japanese Cuisine — À la carte sushi and Japanese food (lunch and dinner).
  • Johnny Rockets — À la carte location of the restaurant chain (lunch and dinner).

There are a total of 2,090 staterooms: 1,570 balcony staterooms, 147 ocean-view staterooms, and 373 inside staterooms. Of those staterooms, 34 are wheelchair accessible and 28 are studio staterooms for single travelers (including 12 studio staterooms with balconies).The ship carries 5000 passengers and a crew of over 2,000. It is a city unto itself! 

Day 2 - Totally relaxing!  Slept late.  No time for a late breakfast.  We dash to the 5th floor to attend an 11 a.m. event for "top tier" passengers.  That's us! I am a Diamond Member and Dee is an Emerald. And after pushing our way through tons of people out shopping, we arrive at the theatre to find the date on our invitations is incorrect. Grr! It is scheduled for Day 7 and not Day 2. Thanks, I think! I dug my tired and sleepy body out of  bed for fear I'd miss something.  Show me the casino!

Day 3 - We arrived in Boston.  Met one of my special priest friends for lunch. Our friend came to the terminal.  After hugs we took a taxi to a wonderful seafood restaurant overlooking the water. Delightful! Weather was great, in mid 70s. I learned that the Archdiocese of Boston is paying for one of its priests to reside at the Paracletes in St. Louis. I wondered why they won't pay for another priest just out of prison, elderly, sick with cancer, no funds and living in a shelter AFTER the Archdiocese failed in its attempt to keep him in prison as a civil detainee. I understand they are paying for the other priest because he threatened to commit suicide and the Archdiocese did not want that made public. One priest Dee spoke to at the Archdiocese yelled at her that this ill priest "is no longer a priest!" According to Canon Law the mark of Ordination cannot be erased.  One would think a priest would know that, no? Where oh where is the justice and mercy that Pope Francis speaks of? Certainly not in the heart of the Archbishop of Boston, Sean Cardinal O'Malley, who has been appointed to several Boards at the Vatican.  Ah, if the Holy Father only knew.

Day 4 Portland, ME - talked to Samantha on the phone. She is a childhood friend of my Godson, Pornchai Maximilian. She was on the road heading to her sister's for a family reunion.  She asked if we were at Bar Harbor or Portland. I said, "Isn't Bar Harbor a suburb of Portland?"  She said, "No, they are about 2 hrs. apart."  I said, "Then I have no idea where we are!"  So much for geography classes in grade school! Wish we could have met.  Someway we will.  Dee and I strolled around and I bought a couple of magnets. Streets very hilly! Yikes!

Later this afternoon an attendant arrived with a tray of chocolate covered strawberries compliments of the ship line. Nice!  Our room has a "virtual balcony." It is a wall that shows what is going on outside of our room.  It's like having a room with a balcony. We close the curtain at night when it's pitch black outside. Interesting innovation.

No main dining room. We circulate with the same dinner companions, Faith and Malcolm from Scotland who are hilarious!
Day 1 - ate at "Chic" shrimp as entree, delish!
Day 2 - ate at "Le Grande", dress is formal - ah, escargots! Ummm! Dee and I were in heaven, not so our dinner companions.
Day 3 - ate at "Silk", Pan Asian cuisine. I had Pad Thai with shrimp and chicken..
Day 4 - ate at "American Icon Grill - nothing memorable
Day 5 - We started all over again with the "Chic."  Had a wonderful lobster!
Day6 -  Back at "Chic" and they had nothing I wanted. The waiter wanted me to be happy and asked what did I want that was not on the menu. I asked if I could have lobster which we had the  night before.  He brought me lobster. Ummm!

Day 5 - Bar Harbor - uphill all the way! Damn! Tendered into town. And then the walking began. Too exhausting! Spent about 1 hr. in town, did a little shopping and back on the tender to ship.

Day 6 - St. John - Bay of Fundy - Disembarked around 11:30 along with the other 5000 passengers! After seeing the steep uphill streets, we decided to take a tour bus. Walked back to ship to get on a tour bus. The Pink bus said we could get one at 1pm. It was now 12:15.  We had walked blocks on a tiny sidewalk bumping into people with baby strollers, walkers, electric wheelchairs, etc. We went back to the terminal for a bus. A volunteer working there told us to take a city bus which would give us a good tour of the city. It was due within minutes. the 12:30 bus was leaving by the time we walked back to the site.  The 12:45 bus was filled. The 1:00 bus never came.  We stood until 1:30 and slowly made our way back to the ship.  We left tons of people standing there waiting for the city bus. One man called the bus company and was told the next bus would come at 2:30!  No taxis came by. The little city was overwhelmed. Good grief! The volunteer later told us that 4 ships would be in dock at the same time within days.  Oh, I sure feel sorry for those passengers! I crawled back to the ship.

Day 7 - Halifax, Nova Scotia -  I haven't recovered from St. John. Leg muscles still tired. Can barely make it to the casino.  Our cabin is about 2 - 3 blocks from an elevator! Groan...!  From the Windjammer on the 14th floor there is a great view of a lighthouse on a tiny island across from the ship.  It is said the island used to hold a prison. There are two tiny houses on the island. Would love to explore there.
Nova Scotia

Read a lot today. Sat in Library and watched yachts floating by as well as people on their ski boats. From the library there was a great view around the corner of Spectre's Cabaret doing a dress rehearsal.  Wow! Can't wait to see the show! We saw "We Will Rock You" in the theatre and "The Gift."  Terrific shows! We had to reserve our seats. Guess they did not want to risk 5000 passengers going at the same time! There was entertainment every night, at the nightclubs, the theatre, and lots of dancing.  We usually sought the comfort of the casino and we were quite lucky!

One night we had our usual winning seats and a woman came by and whispered to us, "I hear they are going to tattoo your names on those seats!"  We had a good laugh.  Much later, around midnight, a man came around the corner for the umpteenth time to see if we were still there.  We were.  He said, "Do you all sleep in here at night?" Before I could reply Dee said, "It's none of your damned business!"  He was chagrined, apologized and said he was only joking. I was tickled to death!

We had to overnight at a hotel in New Jersey before getting our train the next morning. As we sat in the hotel lobby waiting for our room to be available Dee says, "This must be a black neighborhood."
Me:  Why?
Her:  There are only black people here.
Me:  Are you insane?  Look around  And why would neighborhood people check into a hotel in their neighborhood?

 She just looked blank! She looked around and said all she saw were black people. I then had to point out the whites and Orientals in the lobby!  She exhausts me with that nonsense. She always thinks she's the only white woman in a crowd and she never is! She doesn't notice when I'm the only black in a crowd of whites. Truth be told: I don't notice either.  It's been that way all of my life!

It was a good cruise - as they always are.  Thanks to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines! Love 'em! It's always like going home! And we were awarded a free cruise plus guest for each of us! Icing on the cake!