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Published: November 12th 2015
As we arose this morning to allow the early morning light to enter our cabin, we could see something that we haven’t seen for almost one week: Land! How those intrepid ancient mariners must have felt to have seen a sight such as the Bahamas looming on the horizon. The dull sky was becoming bluer by the minute. Clouds loomed off in the distance; but, here we appeared to be entering paradise. The deep blue and greenish aqua of the seas close to shore were accented impeccably by narrow slivers of white sandy beaches and the green that crowned them. Leaning out over the rail I could see that I was not the only one peering to get a glimpse of Nassau as we approached its waterways. Already impressive resorts could be seen ashore. Sharon instantly identified Atlantis. We were docked next to the Carnival Valor, and I recognized the Panamanian flag flapping in the wind off its stern just across from our cabin window. Beyond was a tug that had escorted a Majesty of the Seas ship to its berth, and it was flying the Bahamian flag. Flags I would not have recognized except for the Mega Trivia that we’d played twice on this cruise. I searched out the Eggs Benedict station and got two for myself with the real pan-fried potatoes. Sharon was sticking with the waffles and had gotten some potatoes as well. After eating by the Lido Deck pool, we went up one flight to the Observation Deck (by elevator of course since it was waiting there for us with its doors open). I decided to get a large Frosty Mint Mocha in the Explorations Café, not having had anything to drink with breakfast. I had needed one hand to carry my Eggs Benedict plate and one to carry my plate of pecan croissants and that just left no way to bring a glass of juice or ice water out to the pool area. Sharon got the Sudoku sheets and a table by the window. I joined her and we commenced the first game. It was close, if you asked Sharon; but, I still finished the Easy game first. We both thought that one was perhaps too easy. The second was tough (but not that tough). I finished well ahead of Sharon (if you asked me); but, she claims to have finished on my heels.
There wasn’t any particular tour that Sharon felt that she just had to do today. And the only one that really sounded like any fun at all to me was the Atlantis tour where you can use the water park. That adventure might be fun, with a group to enjoy the park with, but not so much to go by yourself. So Sharon and I have just morphed into that old couple that just lounges around the ship on a port day. I was bemused thinking of that woman the other night who was getting bored of Sea Days, you remember the one: Didn’t like the food, didn’t like the entertainment, didn’t like the board games, felt there was nothing to do while at sea… Sharon and I felt worn thin trying to juggle everything during this past six days at sea from trivia to bingo to lectures squeezing in dining and finding time to spend in the casino and other activities such as learning about magic tricks, playing “Majority Rules” or “Mega Trivia”, boning up on flags of the world. Our Trivia Teammate Stewart played a couple hours of bridge every day. Sharon had her daily masses, rosaries and readings to do. Jim was reading two or more books per day and his wife Lucia was an avid reader as well. I was rising well before dawn every morning in order to write the blog, which inevitably would be edited by Sharon and be synched to pictures we’d taken if it was a port day. We were looking forward to this port day in the Bahamas to relax and catch our breath before packing and returning to the West Coast tomorrow after we reach Florida. Our schedule for the rest of the day is have lunch (probably at The Dive-In), join our team one last time for Team Trivia at 3:30 PM, start packing, Dine at the Pinnacle Grille at 6:30 PM and finish packing. We decided to take Holland America up on their “Airport Direct Transfer of Luggage” for $20 per person. We both think that that is the best thing since sliced bread after our experience using it for the first time in Alaska last spring.
I again went with the Dive-In Chicken sandwich (The Back Flip). Today all of the pagers seem to be working again. I brought Sharon’s plain burger, fries, ice cream and cookies back to the cabin for her. It took me a while to get everything; and, it was about time for me to head up for our final Team Trivia Challenge. Sharon showed up and our group was complete. “What Broadway blockbuster took its lyrics from the poetry of T.S. Elliot?” Stewart and Vanne both knew this was “Cats”. This was followed by “What rock star’s 1971 death was kept from the media for 6 days?” Again, Stewart knew that this was Brian Jones. Well, that may have been; but, the answer Mike was looking for was Jim Morrison. Now, an ‘easy’ question: “What continent is the only home black swans are native to?” I say it’s easy because there can only be seven possible answers, and you can start crossing some of them off! We chose “Asia”. What can I say, the actual answer did start with an “A”! Still need help? “Australia!” Mike then cited, “Berkshire, Cheshire, Victoria, Poland and China are all types of what?” We went with “chickens”. Lucia exclaimed, “Enough with the chickens, already.” I think she may be lektorophobic (hey, I’ve learned a new word from yesterday). And next came one of the many reasons why you need British people on your team: “What were the two sister ships of the Titanic?” And Stewart instantly listed off Lusitania and Mauretania. Unfortunately, Mike was looking for Olympic and Britannic. However, they came up with the location where Charles and Di were wed: St. Paul’s. We were two for six; but, would have been zero for six without them! Yesterday’s questions had started out difficult (for us anyway) as well and then gotten easier. When Mike asked “Who was the Acropolis dedicated to?” I realized, Gee, I know this one. I was just there. Remember the battle between Poseidon and Athena… not to mention the name of the town where the Acropolis is… Athens. Well, I guess we all knew that one. “Which sport uses a ball made from the root of the Tibetan willow?” We were pretty proud of coming up with croquet. We’d have been even prouder if we’d come up with polo. Well, actually, Vanne did come up with “polo” but didn’t use her ‘power of the pen’ to jot down that answer. “What fruit is known as ‘the alligator pear’?” I’d never heard this one, but this turns out to me another “avocado” question. Vanne knew this! Sharon knew what instrument Earl Scruggs is associated with. The Banjo. After kidding about all of the “group of animal” questions, Jim instantly knew what a group of owls was: a parliament of owls! There was a lot of discussion about who was the Lord Chancellor who had lost his head to Henry VIII because of his unwillingness to give him absolute support. Stewart was saying “It’s a Thomas”… Now just to decide, Becket or Moore? He suggested Thomas Moore. Stewart was leaning that way but not sure. Vanne used her power of the pen and our answer was Thomas Moore (and we got the point). The bonus question: “What is the world’s largest natural monolith?” Stewart knew this as well, he was agitated at first, knowing that he knew the answer but was having trouble articulating it; but, then he came up with “Ayres Rock” in Australia. We’d done well, but come in tied with others for second again.
When we were talking after the game, Stewart and Vanne had said that they had had an epiphany when one of their close friends had dropped dead suddenly in his early fifties. It hit them hard and they resolved that they would start travelling. They said that they booked their first cruise that weekend and have been going out and seeing the world ever since. They live in Florida during the winter and this is their cross-Atlantic crossing to spend the winter in the warmth of this southern state, returning to Europe in the spring. We said our good byes. We’d already gotten their email addresses and Sharon promised to send them links to the blog.
On the way back to the cabin I checked with Sharon and noted that all we had left for the day was to pack our bags and go to the Pinnacle Grille for dinner. She could think of nothing else… I wonder if Sharon’s sister Erin sees where this is going! Our cabin stewards had helped get our suitcases out from under our bed and placed them on top for us to pack. We were packing, moving things around, the ship had departed and the Captain had said he was trying to get in early to Fort Lauderdale. Nassau had seemed to us unpleasantly humid, both when we stepped out on to the balcony, and again when we’d walk by the pool on the Lido deck. We found ourselves seeking the shelter of the interior air conditioned areas. The Lido roof was now completely open, and had been since the previous day approaching the Bahamas. When we’d left the Azores, the roof had been completely closed. Each of the days following they seemed to open the roof just a tad further, usually prior to the Captain’s noon-time announcement of location, weather, sea depth, sea conditions and usually a brief history or sea sailing lesson. It wasn’t dissimilar to attending mass each day, with three readings and a homily. So, Erin, now that I’ve used the “M” word in a sentence, do you see where this is going? We were mostly packed, Sharon was using some of the remaining minutes on her internet package, and we were waiting for it to be time to go to dinner. It was approaching 5 PM when Sharon realized that we’d forgotten to go to Sunday mass; and, we hadn’t gone to the Vigil mass the day before!
We didn’t dress up as much as we would have for the Pinacle because, in my case, the suits and dress shirts are the first things that I pack. Walking around the ship, it seemed almost vacant. There were a couple people in the casino, but for the most part, dealers were at their stations with nobody to play with. We were about half an hour early for our 6:30 PM reservation and we waited a bit in an adjacent lounge. We were the only ones there in a bar area that is normally packed. The classical musician pair weren’t playing the piano and violin today, as they have on previous days to a packed room. We finally went over to check the menu. Sharon’s teeth had become a problem the last day of the cruise, and she was certain that steak was not in her future tonight. They do have chicken, and she hoped that she could be satisfied with that and some mashed potatoes. Even the baby carrots would be too difficult for her to manage. So Sharon got to watch me eat. First the jumbo shrimp cocktail, with cocktail sauce on the side and a tureen of extra raw horse radish. I use the whole dish of horseradish; but, still could not manage the full potency I was seeking. I know that when I’ve done this in the US, both on Alaskan and New England cruises, I have no trouble getting that cocktail sauce up to snuff. It must be something about European horseradish. I had the lobster bisque, which is always good, no matter where you get it in the Pinnacle. And I had the crab cakes. I don’t think watching me eat all of this food bothered Sharon as much as watching me eat the bread, which she sorely misses. The Pinnacle bread is excellent, freshly made, and in a wide variety from seeded crisps to crunchy white bread and flavorful dark rolls. I went with the mushroom ravioli dish which I’ve never had before; but, which I’ll certainly have again. And our Pinnacle meal wouldn’t be complete without my chocolate lava cake and Sharon’s Baked Alaska. She struggled with the bits of chocolate in her dish from the Very Berry Jerry Garcia Ice Cream.
We finished in time for Sharon to go to the 8 PM show where they were reprising performances by The Piano Brothers and also the ladies quartet (which had not been so well received). I decided to go back to the cabin and finish packing and call it a night. I readied the bags with their tags for the Luggage Direct Service we’d requested. Sharon thought that she might get a copy of the Piano Brothers CD for her piano teacher Penny but will have to seek one online. She seemed to confirm what the others had said of the women singers. She said that she was certain that they could all sing; and, that they probably could sing pretty well by themselves… they seemed to have good strong voices. They just couldn’t sing with each other! She then headed to the casino for the last chance on her machine and got another $40 out of it before she had to cash in her winnings.
In the morning I awoke early and there was an impressive sunrise materializing. I unpacked the camera and wanted to get the perfect picture. But I couldn’t see anything when I tried to get the zoom to move out… everything seemed fuzzy and out of focus. It didn’t take long to realize that the lens had fogged up. I tried a number of things, but there was no way to keep the lens from fogging up, it was that warm and humid outside compared to the cabin. Memo: we’re never moving to Florida.
We grabbed a quick bite in the Lido for breakfast. Our Yellow-1 group for Luggage Direct to the Fort Lauderdale Airport was the first group called by Andy the Show Host over the PA. I guessed correctly that the Cruise Director Mike would be saying good bye to us as we disembarked. And I was right, along with White Magic and some others in the entertainment group that Mike heads. We were a little miffed that they routed us in a loop back on Deck to, through the Northern Lights lounge and to the other side of the ship because they’d cordoned off the center elevator section. But we were moving nicely, we didn’t need to hassle with finding our luggage in the groups of bags neatly arranged in the disembarkation baggage collection hall. We went right to the customs line, zipped through passport control, and headed out to the bus at the end for our ride to the airport. We’d been warned that “Fort Lauderdale is ‘another world’. They do things at their own pace. They do things other places don’t do. So be prepared to wait… Take a breath… Be patient!” With the recent downing of the Russian airliner, I was worried some, what that might mean. I am thinking that those following us and were later to disembark might bear the brunt of what Fort Lauderdale can do; but, with the luggage direct service, getting off the ship has never been easier. It wasn’t long before we were on our way to the airport. And we were PSA-prechecked so even the airport was easy. So easy that we had now several hours to wait for our jet to Cincinnati. As it turns out, this was to also be the same plane that we would then fly on to LA. It was sad to leave the Zuiderdam; which, over the course of 19 days had indeed come to feel like home! I came to not notice so much that you can’t rely on the elevators to tell you what day it is. And they finally did get some of that bath gel that I prefer; albeit, only for the last two days. And I’ll have to get used to not checking when Trivia is to organize my day. And they really needed to add that New York Pizza outlet to the rear of every ship, that so spoiled me from even considering trying one of those pre-cooked slices from the Lido buffet, that are never cooked the way you want them. It’s hard to accept that this massive vacation that had loomed in our future for almost two years, and had always seemed like this incredible unattainable milestone, is now passed. So now I guess it’s on to that next incredible milestone… moving into our new home. Only this one is now just one month away… Not even that. Life is full of milestones… I’m just saying. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the blog as much as we enjoyed living it! And we’ll be reboarding the Zuiderdam in about 2 months to take my mother on her 85th
birthday cruise so life is good.
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