SO LONG AMERICA
Sailing away from Ft Lauderdale
And so begins the next adventure. The day before our arrival in Ft Lauderdale we were told that we would not be able to off load any luggage in the United States. This came as quite a surprise since we had just finished packing eight pieces of luggage. It had something to do with Homeland Security or us being in transit or whatever! We still had to pass through Immigrations and Customs but our luggage couldn’t. It didn’t make much sense to us but the only option left for us was to ship it all from our first port of Bermuda. Since that is a much more expensive proposition we decided that we better spend our next two sea days paring down. So we donated extra clothes and books and stuff to the crew and tossed out lots of worn garments and we were able to get down to five bags.
As a result, we didn’t have time to leave the ship that day in Ft Lauderdale as we began our repacking process. Also we had 20 new guests boarding and a party to host that night. Eleven hours after arriving in the U.S. we were heading out across the
STEWART, KEVIN & BILL
"Days of Our Lives" Dr Craig Wesley
Pond. We knew most of our new passengers from previous cruises, so we were looking forward to sharing some good times on our ocean passage.
We had balmy weather up to Bermuda and it was even warm enough to have dinners outside on the aft deck. We spent our morning in Hamilton getting our bags shipped by Luggage Free. First we were inspected by Bermudian Immigrations and grilled as to the contents of our bags and then we went through Customs and they scrutinized everything we had. But eventually it all got taken care of and we sent the stuff on its way to California. I must relearn the art of traveling lightly.
The evening we left Bermuda we invited Vic and Mary from Kansas, and Bill and Stewart from NYC and Kevin Spirtas from stage and screen to dine under the stars. Kevin was the doctor on “Days of Our Lives” for many years and now he is very active on Broadway. We met him last year on the world cruise. Kevin is a charming and friendly guy and we really enjoy hanging out with him. It was a laugh filled evening and we heard many insider
show biz stories. As we were finishing up dinner we noticed that the moon had moved from the aft of the ship to the front of the ship. That could only mean one thing…we were going back to Bermuda. A short time later Captain Patruno announced that due to a medical emergency we had to return to Hamilton. Four hours later the patient was transferred to a Pilot Boat and then we made another u-turn heading east to Europe. My sister Judy asked why Dr Craig Wesley wasn't called to assist the patient.
With five more sea days there was time to learn more of the ancient Chinese game of Mah Jongg. Betty and Mary Ann are ardent players and were most generous in sharing their knowledge of the game. We also had some interesting guest speakers. David Aguilar is an excellent astronomer and a crowd favorite. His multi-media presentations really are exciting and his star-gazing events in the middle of the ocean are awe-inspiring.
We docked in Funchal, Madeira on a picture perfect spring day. This gorgeous hunk of volcanic rock called the “Floating Garden” or “Island of Eternal Spring” lived up to its names. The purple
BOBBY & MARY ANN
Blowing Rock, NC
jacaranda trees were still in bloom as were the orange flame trees. Madeira has the highest sea cliffs in Europe and is best known for its wine. Thomas Jefferson had a big collection of Madeira wine. Funchal is recovering from a devastating flash flood which occurred two years ago and there were still signs of the damage. However the old town looks fantastic with it painted doors and sidewalk eateries. We even found a Chinese restaurant amongst the more traditional Portuguese cafes.
We arrived in Casablanca on a hazy morning. This is the only port in Africa that we will be visiting on this trip. After all the beauty of Madeira, it was somewhat of a surprise to arrive in the not so pretty container port in the midst of a small sand storm. Casablanca is the largest commercial port in North Africa. Not all ports are created equal and especially when surrounded by containers, cranes and trucks all of which combine to make quite a racket. This is my “port noise complaint.”
We took the shuttle into town. Since there is a huge subway construction project going on in downtown Casablanca, it was pretty difficult just to
get around. There are few accommodations for pedestrians which made crossing the wide boulevards quite a challenge. We got to the Medina with its bevy of small shops filled with trinkets and spices and fresh fruit. There is no Rick’s Café since “Casablanca” was filmed in Arizona. No Bogie or Bergman in sight just shrouded women and rug merchants. As we cruised out of port we passed by one of the largest mosques in the world. Its towering minaret could be seen from miles away as we headed north to the “Gib” and on to Spain.
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