Thursday, June 9, 2011

Another Cruise Saga

Today --I begin my third cruise in as many months, destination Caribbean. I woke without external help around 7, and pushed up the heat and slowly surfed my favorite sites. The weather is setting out to be atrocious, and weather delays are going to be widespread. With M**, LIRR and a cab as my means, I should be OK, but air travel is going to be horrible due to wind, rain and in some places, snow.

Time now is 1120am. I am aboard the train to take me to NYC. . Wrote a PM to A** who is aboard an NCL ship in Hawaii. Called the tour outfit in UK and hung up after the third time of getting put on hold. And lastly, I reached S** who talked me thru the outbound checklist of her own, tickets, passport etc. She is in the midst of a gale, and it is raining in my place as well, but not particularly hard. Pump rigged however.

As it turned out, I called W** and asked if they would like to take me all the way to the pier, but they would not, so back to plan a, just to the rr sta in Ronkonkoma. Car safely locked in garage and not running up parking charges or subject to vandalism, theft or other damage. No planes to worry about, and it is a good thing too, because there are nationwide delays all over the country, and it would be easy to miss a connection today…wind, rain, and in some parts of the country, heavy snow.

M** came with an umbrella and was most attentive to my needs. The first ATM at the bank did not work, so he got on a line of cars and the second one, at the drive thru, did, but I had to get out of the car to use it, and this time I got rather soaked It was a routine and pleasant ride to the rr sta, and I found myself in a jam packed ticket office because the eastbound train to Greenport was cancelled and the room was full of people waiting for a bus to take them there, typical bus riding Greenporters.

I am wearing my standard dress up outfit, cashmere blazer and turtleneck and dress slacks and wingtips but I need the yellow parka over top and it looks strange. 40 min wait for the train to leave, but was aboard for maybe ten of that. A fair more number of people than I remembered are with suitcases, and I got both of mine overhead without problem and got a forward facing seat portside. All I need to do now is catch a cab.

Well it is now 1800 and I am comfortably settled into my cabin 90**, which is twice the size of the one on the NCL Sea and nearly as big as the one on the Ecstasy. The color tv has a digital gps and clock built in and I have the heat quite a bit up after being on deck to watch a tug pull the fuel barge away, the pushback, the statue of liberty and the Verrazano narrows bridge go by.

In NYC, I used the bathroom in the Penn sta, took the escalator up the stairs and walked basically right into a waiting cab. The rain had quit. It was a seven and a half buck ride to the pier, and I was deposited right in front of the porters. Minutes later I found myself in conversation with a pleasant Chinese man from the Bronx who ended up in the cabin immediately beside mine. Like me, he had complained bitterly about Tortola, but unlike me, he complained to the cruise company and got no satisfaction. Perhaps he will fly with me to Tortola. The lines moved quite rapidly and within a half hour I was aboard.. In fact from out my front door to inside my cabin was just under four hours.

The lifeboat drill was conducted without benefit of going outdoors. The girl who had our sign J10 was American and works in the show. The views of downtown NYC as the sun set were quite gorgeous. The empire state bldg is red and green currently. Parts of NJ with the sun setting behind it looked more like Istanbul than Hoboken.

I fell into a long conversation with another worker, named something like A**, college degree and working as a waitress, missing two successive Christmases. I offered to show her my pix of Poland. Instead of the mobbed barbeque, I went upstairs to a smaller hamburger place and got one which was again, midway between those on the Ecstasy and those on the Sea. With a few French fries and a few cookies, that’s about all I’ve eaten, or want to eat. My suitcase made it to my room quite schnellish – and many of the announcements are being made in German as we have 150 aboard, tucked into the breezy cold places to enjoy the good views.

I have not found a water fountain yet, but I did find a ‘water station’ on the 7th deck which will do. There is a show at 2130 tonight, but again, I am prolly gonna be too tired to bother. I made a quick stop at the Pursers Desk (five on duty) to ask about the internet, but they had no info on it The tv has lat, long, time, dist to go, distance traveled, sunrise and sunset times etc. I am slowly unpacking and will be done with that by tomorrow for sure, and it will not have to be done again for ten more days. I like the Dawn a LOT better than the NCL Sea, and the crew once again has a lot of Europeans in it, including some pretty ones.

When I was settling in my cabin and unpacking, a phone call came from the head concierge. She asked me if I was the Mr B** who wrote to C***, and I said “Not necessarily. Is that a problem?”. Quite the opposite, she was gonna send some things up to my cabin and invited me to the Captains Cocktail party tomorrow night.

That email seems to have been a pretty good idea all together. I went down to see her and she is a big fearsome looking Austrian.. The cabin steward came by to introduce himself and take away a stowed bed, and I basically blew him off as I was trying to remember how to get the ten pix from d**’s camera memory card onto the hard drive. It took awhile, but I have started a new folder Barbados and have saved some but not all of the pix I took as we backed out of the pier and headed out under the Verrazano narrows bridge.

The movement of the ship is quite noticeable tonight (8PM) but I don’t know whether that is sea conditions or being on the 9th deck up. As I say, the stateroom is about double the size of the one on the sea, and while a window would be nice, a balcony nicer, I am quite pleased with what I paid and what I got. While standing on line, there were about four different prices quoted for what we each paid. The outfit I use seems to have had the best prices.

I think the cabin is going to be a quiet one,. The doors seem much solider than on the Sea, where I could hear everyone going by. At not much after 2000, I closed my eyes, asked the steward in the hall where the light switch was (under the tv) and listened to Mario Lanza singing ‘be my love” and wondered how I could instantly remember his name and know all the words to a sing I haven’t heard for probably 40 years. I expected to wake up around 4AM and perhaps go to the gym.

Well, when I woke it was just after 2200, to my surprise. I put on a sweatshirt and dungarees and went topside to see what I could see of the waves which are up to 12feet high and definitely rocking this ship which is nearly a thousand feet long. The way the forward railings are fixed, you really can’t see much. They have plastic splash shields up and I think, like some other ships, the forward bow area is crew only.

I was also hungry however, and secondary reason for being out was eating, and I found a midnight buffet in the rear dining room, which is similar to the ones on the last two ships, only this one was closing down shortly and I barely made it in for some hamburg with cheese, a hotdog, some fruit, French fries and three oatmeal raisin cookies and sev. glasses of water. When I got back to my room I had an invitation to a VIP cocktail party with the captain for tomorrow eve and the letter saying I had an internet package and to go see R** in the internet café, which is on the same deck as my cabin. So -- life is good again!

I love the moving map display with time, temp, water temp, seas, distance traveled, distance to go, eta, temps in all the pools, plus a moving map display which shows us off the south coast of NJ, with course 140 and speed 21.3 knots. And it looks super accurate as well, and tomorrow, for the first time since the Norwegian Sea, I’m going to try to set the seconds on the $10 watch I got aboard it.

The shops and casino on this ship are huge. The casino looks to be half again as big as the Ecstasy. Thanks d** and c** v for a nice glow. I even put my three dollar bottle of water into the room refrig so I can fill it in the future at the spots I have found to do so.

This is NOT the one I flew on the year before.


Anonymous said...

The photo was taken before we left the berth, and shows part of the Intrepid museum and British Air Concorde G-BOAD. It flew into JFK airport in October 2003, and was barged over to its present location.

Fijufic said...

Fin - Thanks. I needed a vacation story. I read it yesterday and read it again today. The details are amazing.


Anonymous said...

Glad you like it. There are ten more days to come. I swear, I'll try to tighten up the editing.