Monday, March 5, 2012

Cruise 2, Fun stuff, Big news!

While last cruise was very exciting, this one was a little less so. It began with a stop at Half Moon Cay. Since we didn’t get off the ship last time, we were looking forward to enjoying the incredible blue water and soaking up a little extra vitamin D in the sunshine. No such luck. Since the Niew Amsterdam was in port with us and we were still recovering from stupid Code Red, all crew was required to stay aboard the vessel so as not to infect the Niew A. Begrudgingly we spent our day on the pool deck and even more begrudgingly ate in the PO for two more days before the GI had cleared the ship completely.

The next day we docked in Grand Turk. Ron and I bolted off the ship and made a beeline for Margaritaville where we devoured a huge plate of nachos and a cheeseburger. I know that neither of us should be eating such crap, but given that the last week and a half we were subjected to pure grossness for meals, we gave ourselves a pass on this one meal. Later on we walked down to Jacks Shack, played in the water, met a brown lab named Cooper; the new addition to the Jack’s Shack pooches (Remember Topher the goldendoodle from our Eurodam season?), and relaxed under the umbrellas with Shane (our cruise director) and his wife Renee (the event manager). That night we were informed that we were finally back to our normal dining routine and we were never so excited to eat in the Lido!
Ron @ Jack's Shack

Samana, Dominican Republic was our next port of call and I was back on duty as a tour escort for the catamaran snorkeling excursion. Early in the morning I helped escort guests to their tours and then later I hopped on a tender with my charges for the day and we all boarded a nice new catamaran for a few hours. I love, love, love catamarans and was about as happy as I could be when I was able to perch up front on the nets and feel the wind in my face as we skipped over the ocean to a reef a few nautical miles away. Most of the guests jumped in the water to snorkel but I preferred to just dangle my feet over the side, munch on some fresh coconut pieces and watch. I saw the jellyfish these people were swimming with and thought better of comingling with the poisonous little buggers. I prefer to stay toxin-free thankyouverymuch. After a short stop on a secluded beach, we sailed back to the dock, took a tender back and re-embarked the ship. Samana is very poor but from the ocean you would never guess that. It’s beautiful and lush and green and looks about as peaceful as can be. I almost hate to go ashore next time we’re there so as not to shatter the illusion!

One sea day and then we arrived in Bonaire. Ron had IPM so I just took a short walk downtown to get gelato, went for a stroll in the sun, and scouted out these super cute necklaces made by a local artist to bring back for Susie & Jen. I think I’m going to need to pick up a couple extra for me too!

In Curacao the following day I was assigned to another tour. The See and Sea tour combines a bus ride around town and a semi-submarine ride off the coast. The bus tour was fairly uneventful, though I did get a few shots of Willemstad and the ship from the Queen Juliana Bridge. 

View from the Bridge
The semi-sub was pretty much a nightmare for me. We were shuffled into a small space under the deck of a tiny boat and seated two by two in one long row. Of course I was stuck right in the middle. I am not a fan of enclosed spaces nor am I particularly fond of being so close to so many strangers with no known means of escape. I lasted less than 5 minutes before I excused myself to the upper level of the boat for some fresh air. I missed out on the views of tons of tropical fish, but I’m pretty OK with that. I hope I won’t be escorting similar tours in the future. That is not for me! On the upside, the boat launched from the Curacao Hilton, and I think I may have found my next vacation destination. It looks like the most perfect place to relax and spend a week enjoying the beach and pools and water sports offered there. If you’re looking into a vacation, definitely check it out. Wonderful little gem!
The Hilton - It doesn't look all that special, but it is!

There’s never much to say about Aruba unless we actually get out of the cruise ship area and do something… which has yet to happen. I have high hopes for the cruise after next that we will finally go on a little Aruban adventure. Or at the very least, I hope I can escort a tour so I can get a taste of the island. I hear it’s a ton of fun. It remains to be seen. All we did this past cruise is venture out to Starbucks to find some free internet and get back in connection with the real world. There is a funny story that goes along with this little adventure…but you’ll have to get it from us in person. I don’t think it’s blog material. But it is a good story so remind us when you see or talk to us next. On the way back we thought about stopping at the Paddock to get lunch off the ship, but both of our stomachs were acting up that day and let’s face it, we’re cheap and lunch on the ship is free. But we did stop in a shop to pick up a post card for Rosie’s son’s school project. He is going to be getting a TON of cool postcards from Felix the rabbit (via The Morrissette’s) between now and the end of May!

All aboard for two sea days in a row and we’re back to Fort Lauderdale. We had planned on escorting an excursion to the everglades but five guests came down with GI symptoms in one hour on Sunday and Ron has to stay on to super-san the theater – again! I could still escort the excursion by myself but ShoreEx kindly let me off the hook so that Ron can accompany me next cruise. I’m actually sort of relieved because I have like 400 errands I need to run today during our only day in the US so I welcomed the opportunity to relax at Panera and write this blog and then head off to stock up on groceries and other stuff.

So, two cruises in, we’re really enjoying the Noordam. I think it’s the prettiest ship we’ve been on so far. The people are very nice and laid back, although it seems like most people tend to keep to themselves on this ship. Ron makes friends easily and quickly bonded with the guys on his team, but being the strong introvert that I am, I have had a much harder time getting to know people. While I’m enjoying this opportunity, I have been really homesick and missing my relationships in California and Pennsylvania. This has given way to lots of time spent in the gym, running on deck 3, and ruminating about this part of life. It strikes me how easily The Noordam has become home. It’s interesting how familiar everything is and how things like sitting out on the deck in the evenings, or watching flying fish out the window during lunch is just so commonplace now. Everything feels so natural. It’s kind of weird. We’re incredibly blessed.

And finally, we have some news to share: We’ve been given our next ship assignment already! Assuming nothing changes in our lives between now and then, on August 10th we will be back on the Eurodam. We’ll be joining the ship in Amsterdam and visiting several places in Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; Berlin, Germany; Saint Petersburg, Russia; Tallinn, Estonia; Stockholm, Sweden; Shetland Islands, Scotland; Reykajavik, Iceland; Prince Christian Sund; Llivileq, Greendland; and then crossing over to Canada where we will tour St. John’s, Newfoundland; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia; Saguenay and Baie-Comeau, Qubec; and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. (Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I lost it when I found out we’d be in PEI every week. I’ve had a life long obsession with Anne of Green Gables and have wanted to visit the setting of my beloved series for as long as I can remember. I’m elated… so say the least!)  During the fall foliage tour (which includes the Canada destinations) we will also be stopping in NYC, New York; Newport, Rhode Island; Gloucester and Boston, Massachusetts; and Bar Harbor, Maine. From there we will sail down the east coast and arrive back in Fort Lauderdale where we will experience 2010 all over again with week long cruises to Grand Turk, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and Half Moon Cay and then we should be home before Christmas. We’re absolutely thrilled to have such an amazing itinerary lined up and look forward to all these new places.

That’s it for now folks! See you next Fort Lauderdale!

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