A lovely walk around beautiful Charlottetown

It is 4:45 in the morning and I am standing on the balcony looking at a magnificent sky.  The horizon looks like it is on fire with vivid reds and black clouds hovering just above.

I quickly grabbed my camera in hopes of capturing this beautiful scene.

Unable to go back to sleep, I opened the curtains and sat next to the window to watch the night become day.

We have visited Charlottetown several times and really like this small town.  The town is walkable and offers a variety of historical sites to visit including Founders’ Hall, Beaconsfield Historic House, Confederation Centre of the Arts and Avonlea Village and a theater featuring Anne of Green Gables the Musical.

As we prepared for breakfast we heard an announcement that the ship would not arrive in Charlottetown until noon.  Evidently, the ship was back in the waters of the migrating Right whales and had to reduce speed.

We spent the morning hours watching as we made our way into port.  I was excited when I saw that the trees were finally starting to turn.  Many of the trees in the park were topped in bright yellow others red.

What a lovely, lovely day.  The sun was out and the air was a cool but comfortable 68° and we were the only ship in port. We had planned to take a bus tour around the area but it was such a nice day we decided to just walk around and revisit some of the sights we saw the last time we were here.

We revisited the Anne of Green Gables store,  St. Dunstan’s Basilica, walked down historic Great George Street and then returned to the marina.

After walking around the harbor area for a bit, we decided to stop for lunch before returning to the ship.  When we started our walk we were given a menu and coupon for Steamers Boat House floating restaurant. If you brought the menu back to the restaurant you would receive 1lb of PEI steamed mussels with the purchase of a local craft beer; that sounded good so off to Steamers we went.

When we arrived the restaurant only had a few patrons but it filled up quickly.  While we waited for our food, we ordered glasses of beer from the local brewery.  I ordered a blueberry wheat.  I thought it was fun to see blueberries resting at the bottom of my glass.  I found the beer to be very tasty and refreshing.

Randy ordered the mussels and I ordered a cheeseburger.  Randy was very happy with his mussels and I with my hamburger.  Both were very tasty.  While eating we noticed a couple looking for a place to sit.  We were at a table for four and invited them to sit with us.  We enjoyed a lovely conversation with them as we all enjoyed our meals.

As we made our way to the pier a very nice woman stopped us and asked if we would like to participate in a survey of our visit to Charlottetown.  We agreed.  In response to her questions we told her that we had been to Charlottetown three times and each time loved it and each time had done something different.

We explained that one of the things that we really loved about the town was how clean and beautiful it was.  We told her that it was obvious that the citizens of the town were proud of their historical heritage and made every effort to share their city pride all who come to visit.

I told her that I especially loved the little touches such as the ‘Adopt a Corner’ program that had been adopted by the city.  As you walk along there are little plantings on corner of the street that were created by local residents and businesses.

After spending a lovely afternoon on shore we returned to the cabin just in time to make preparations for the evening.  We had a great time this evening with our dinner companions each taking a turn sharing their experiences on shore.  Everyone had a great time

I had a simple dinner again this evening enjoying a Caesar salad and bowl of pea soup.  I was surprised the pea soup was really quite good.

We had had a very nice and relaxed day.  We returned to the cabin after dinner to enjoy sitting on the balcony until it was time to retire.

Tomorrow we dock in Sydney, Nova Scotia.




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What to do, what to do on a day at sea?

We were sleeping so hard that the only thing that could have woken us up was the sound of the shrill sound of the phone going off announcing the arrival of our breakfast.

I stepped out onto the balcony to see if we could eat breakfast outside.  There was a marked chill in the air so we decided to eat inside.  Before returning to the cabin I noticed that the sea was still for as far as I could see and a deep green color. As I lingered on the balcony all I could think was, “I do so love the sea”.

This was actually the first room service breakfast on this long cruise.  We sat eating our continental breakfast of cereal, pastries, fruit, orange juice and coffee while watching the morning news.

After we ate, we turned our attention to the Cruise Compass to see what fun events were scheduled and what we wanted to do.

What would you do if you have a day at sea?  Would you find that perfect lounge chair poolside or somewhere hidden on the ship and read a good book?  Would you spend your day playing trivia games, attending health seminars, taking dance lessons or participating in various sports activities?

The amount of activities in the Compass was dizzying.  We looked at each other and decided to find a chair in the Solarium and read.  I had just started James Patterson and David Ellis’ novel  “The Black Book”. Only a few chapters in I knew I was hooked.

There was one listing in the Compass that I could not miss; the Men’s International Belly Flop Competition.  I put my book down and made my way over to the main pool and watched what I find to be one of the funniest events on a cruise ship.

Many people believe that the larger the girth of a man’s belly, the larger the splash he will make.  Not true.  I once watched one of these competitions and the winner was a very slight man who once he hit the water there was no mistaking who the winner would be.

When I arrived poolside there was only one brave man who had volunteered.  Remember there was a chill in the air today.  The cruise director pleaded to the crowd and finally two other gentlemen stepped up.  All three men were very funny when they approached the pool’s edge but only one man actually took the competition to heart.  He won the competition with perfect fives from everyone around the pool and beyond.

I returned to the Solarium just as sea started a slow but continuous roll creating waves reaching 3 to 5’.

Tonight was formal night so we returned to the cabin to prepare for our evening of cocktails, dinner, attending the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Reception and ending our evening at the headliner show.

While making our preparations there was a knock at the door.  A lovely box of chocolates was presented to us courtesy of the Crown & Anchor society.

Once again we had a very nice time at dinner.  Our dinner companions Fred, Gayle, Sue, Larry, Cindy, Joe, MaryAnn and Craig are just a fun group to be with.

We ate quickly so we could get to the Captain’s reception.  Captain Lindberg welcomed everyone, introduced many members of his senior staff and crew and then posed for pictures.

We were first in line for pictures so we were able to make the early show.  The show this evening was a repeat of a show we attended the night before we docked in Quebec.  We loved the show then and were really looking forward to seeing it again.


Abbacadabra is a wonderful ABBA tribute band.  They sing all ABBA’s favorites including Fernando, S.O.S. Honey, Honey, Mamma Mia, Waterloo and more.  They have an amazing knack at drawing in the audience many of whom sing along with even other dancing in the aisles.

While Susan and Lesley sang the song Money, Money, Money they threw  out funny money into the audience.

The show was absolutely the perfect ending to a perfect day.  As we left we were able to catch a photo of the group outside the theater.

We returned to our cabin for a little relaxation and a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow we dock in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.



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Turnaround day at the port of Quebec City

View from our balcony of the ‘Old City’ Quebec.

Today is the third leg of a cruise on the Vision of the seas that has seen us cross the Atlantic and cruising the eastern shoreline of the US and Canada stopping in ports in Denmark, Norway, Scotland, Iceland and Canada, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec, Canada.

This, the final leg of our 40-day cruise, we will be traveling back down the Canadian and New England coastline ending in Cape Liberty, New Jersey and then fly home.

Unlike our first day in Quebec, today is starting out with a distinct chill in the air.  Turnaround day is always relaxed and quiet.  We were up early making our way down to the dining room for a relaxed breakfast then returned to our cabin until it was time meet the other consecutive cruisers to turn in our old keys and receive new ones.


We spent the rest of our morning in our cabin relaxing. Before we knew it, it was time to make our way down to the dining room for a special lunch prepared for the consecutive cruisers.

The menu included choices for the appetizer and entrees and Apple Pie a la Mode for dessert for everyone.  I chose the Insalata Caprese and Beef Stroganoff.  The salad was delicious as always, but I found the meet in the beef Stroganoff a little fatty.  The apple pie was very good.

Our Crown & Anchor ambassador had sent a lovely bottle of wine to our cabin during the last cruise and we decided to pop the cork and enjoy a glass or two while we watched truck after truck of supplies being unloaded and then loaded onto the ship.  I know it sounds funny but we both found this activity to be very interesting.

While we sat enjoying our wine a knock came on the cabin door and a very nice crew member delivered a delicious looking plate of cookies.  We sat on the balcony eating our ‘welcome aboard’ cookies talking about all the wonderful experiences we had had on the first two legs of our trip and what we would like to do on this leg and laughing a great deal at all the funny happenings on the pier.

At one point we watched as someone tried to unload a pallet from a truck and  punctured one of the boxes.  We learned later that the box contained the ingredients for the vanilla soft ice cream.  Randy was very sad indeed!

We looked at our watches and thought, “Oh my, we need to get ready to make our way up to the lounge for cocktails”.  What we totally forgot was the safety drill.  We quickly turned our attention to making our way down to our safety station.

By the time the drill was over it was time to go to dinner.  We met our new dinner companions.  Two couples were from Florida, one couple from Ohio and one couple from Southern California.  Everyone was very friendly and looking forward to the cruise.

After enjoying wine, cookies and a large lunch, we decided to order only an appetizer and salad for dinner.

This trip we decided to attend the Welcome Aboard show.  The production cast performed several song and dance routines and then turned the show over to comedian Brad Mastrangelo.

It had been a lovely and relaxed day.  We returned to our cabin for a good night’s sleep.Tomorrow is a day at sea.

Enjoyed watching the Canadian countryside roll by we slowly left port.



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Visiting the amazing “ICE! Christmas Around the World” event with my friend Genny

“Gaylord Palms ICE”

What a day, what a day, what a day!  Today my friend Genny and I are off to attend the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention center “ICE Christmas Around the World” holiday event.

Preparing for this event, I learned that the exhibits were created from two million pounds of ice hand-carved by artists from Harbin, China.  The ice sculptures in the exhibit were designed to depict scenes of holiday celebrations from around the world.

We boarded a capacity-filled tour bus to make the 1 ½ hour ride down to Orlando.  Genny and I were very excited.

Ice slide

ICE! Christmas Around the World was amazing !!!

Genny and I had bundled up with heavy jackets, gloves, and hats even so we were given a hooded winter coat to wear into the exhibit.  From the moment we entered the exhibit my eyes were opened wide with delight.  I was glad we had bundled up because a constant temperature of 9°  was needed to maintain these beautiful and creative ice sculptures.


The first room was filled with ice sculptures depicting holiday traditions in the United States, Great Britain, Mexico, Germany and Ethiopia.  I was blown away at these life-sized, and in some cases larger than life, brilliantly colored ice sculptures.

We then moved on to a room set up with ice slides.  I watched for a few moments and said to Genny, “I have to do it!”  With that I gave her my camera, climbed the stairs and found a lane and started my slide down.  “How fun,” I thought to myself as I laughed and laughed as I made my decent.

We walked through a hallway with giant ice sculptures of children from around the world.  As we walked I found myself humming the song from the It’s A Small World exhibit at Disney World.

We then came upon beautiful sculptures featuring a white dove of peace, Santa framed by a naughty list and nice list and a wonderful ice toy factory display.  As I looked at these colorful displays I could not help but think “Of course, I am on the ‘nice’ list”.  Too funny!

For me, the most beautiful and breath taking exhibit was the crystal-clear, life-size nativity scene. It was nice to see that the real meaning of the holidays was represented.  We exited into a large area with all manner of “ICE!” memorabilia and holiday decorations.

Christmas tree in atrium


We had a bit of time before the “Cirque Dreams Unwrapped” show would begin so we decided to take a walk around the hotel to see all the beautiful decorations and have a bite of lunch at one of the many restaurants around the convention center.

Beautiful decorations around the atrium and hotel

There were so many beautiful decorations to see.  Beautiful white and red poinsettias, Santa’s sleigh, a beautiful poinsettia tree, colorful garlands and wreaths and so much more.

After walking around a bit we stopped at the Wreckers Sports Bar for a quick lunch before getting into line for the Cirque show.  We explained to the bartender that we had a limited amount of time and asked if we could get out in a short time.  He smiled and said, “Just tell me what you want and it will be here in a jiffy”.  He was right.  We both ordered from the starters menu and were happy with our choices.

Stage for the “Cirque Dreams Unwrapped”

When we first passed the area where we had to line up for the Cirque show it was empty.  Now, however, it was quite long.  We hoped we would be able to get into the show.  There were seats available for purchase but we were hoping for the complimentary seating.  We waited on line hoping to get into the show, and we did.


The “Cirque Dreams Unwrapped” was just wonderful.  The set was storybook-like and very colorful.  There were high-flying trapeze acts, balancing acts, skating acts and a very funny routine with balloons and a whip.


The trapeze acts were, to say the least, exciting. There were many children in the audience making ooh and aah sounds as the aerialists rose high into the domed atrium and performed amazing feats of athleticism.

United States-red, white and blue decorations

United Kingdom–loved the tea cup and saucer decorations!


We had a little bit of time left after the show and decided to take one last look around the atrium and hotel.  We found an exhibit called the Christmas Tree Trail showcasing beautiful trees that highlighted the holiday traditions of different countries around the world.  There were trees from China, France, Japan, United States, Great Britain and Africa.

Africa—Loved the small wooden African mask decorations

The United States tree was decorated in red, white and blue.  The United Kingdom tree was decorated with tea cups and saucers.  The tree representing Africa was decorated in warm colors of brown, green and burnt orange and beautiful wooden masks.  They were all beautiful!!

The time had arrived for us to make our way out to board the tour bus for the ride back home.  Genny and I were both tired and fell into silence as the bus rolled along.  I found myself looking out the window and thinking, “What a beautiful way to start the holiday season.”

Thank you Genny for making my world a little brighter and the start of my holiday season so beautiful!




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Last day at sea a bit of a rocky ride

From the wee hours of the morning the ship has been rocking back and forth as we slowly cruised back towards the Florida coastline.  The rocking and rolling became a little stronger as the morning hours welcomed a new day with clear skies and cool air.

I looked out into a sea filled with 9′ to 10’ rolling waves and white capes as far as the eye could see.  A further indication that we were in for a rocky day was seeing the small blue bags tied to the railings in case needed for a queasy stomach and straps across the doors to the Promenade deck.

Today was the last day of our cruise and the Cruise Compass schedule was packed with activities.  However, over time, we have established our own schedule for the last day.  Our schedule includes packing, purchasing souvenir pictures, spending our complimentary coins in the casino and taking one last stroll around the ship.

However, we did have one extra activity added to our schedule for this cruise.  As one of the benefits of accumulating a certain level of nights spent on Royal Caribbean ships we have been invited to attend a special meal with an officer.

But, first things first, we are off to the Concierge Lounge for a quick continental breakfast of coffee, fresh fruit and pastries.  Then back to the cabin to do some preliminary packing.  As I packed I was glad that I had decided to bring along warm clothing for when we reach Florida.  The air was already cold and we knew it would be even colder when we arrived.

Our wonderful cabin steward was kind enough to leave each towel animal in the cabin so I decided to take a picture of my towel ‘family’ before he had to remove them.  This small gesture on his part was very much appreciated as many cabin stewards remove them each night.

Morning chores done, Doug, Sue, Randy and I made our way down to the Edelweiss Restaurant for our special luncheon.  We were seated at a table for 10 and handed our special menu.  There were a number of choices giving everyone at the table an opportunity to enjoy a meal they would like.  Other choices included shrimp cocktail, grilled blacken salmon with roasted potatoes, carrots and sauteed broccoli and lemon butter sauce, lingini pasta with truffle mushroom sauce and apple pie with vanilla ice cream for dessert.  It all sounded yummy.


I chose the garden salad, grilled New York steak with creamed smash potatoes and seasonal vegetables and the cherry chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert.  I found the steak to be a bit chewy but otherwise the lunch was tasty.

But the highlight of the lunch was meeting and enjoying a wonderful conversation with Officer Antoinette Van Dyk who is the Marine Administrative Assistant on the Rhapsody.  She was a delight.  Ms. Van Dyk shared with the group how she came to be serving on a cruise ship, her duties as marine administrative assistant, meeting her husband while serving and then was kind enough to introduce her husband to the group.

The rest of our day seemed to go by quickly and before we knew it, it was time to prepare for our last evening.  We met Doug and Sue in the lounge for cocktails then joined Sal and Anna for dinner. 

We retired early so we could make a quick exit from the ship and get underway for our drive home.

We took this cruise to ‘kick-start’ the Christmas season and I must say our decision to take a laid-back approach to this cruise definitely did just that.  The rest of our month will be as hectic as so many families encounter this time of the year.

Our first day back I will be off with my friend Genny to visit the Gaylord Palms in Orlando to attend the ICE show, a couple of days later I will co-host a neighborhood cocktail party, a few days later we will be in the car heading to Virginia to visit family for Christmas and finally, a few days after our return we will be flying off to California to visit friends.  Oh my, I am tired just writing the words!

We woke early and watched as the ship made its way into port and saw the Tampa skyline as the sun rose into the sky.



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Easy going day on the beach in Costa Maya

Oh my, the port at Costa Maya, Mexico has changed so much over the years.  Randy and I have visited here several times and loved each visit.

Costa Maya is located on the Caribbean coast of Mexico.  The cruise port at Mahahual has so many things to offer visitors.  The port area is filled with shops, a large salt water pool, fun restaurants and access to the beach.

And, just a short shuttle ride away is the small a stretch of beach with beautiful turquoise waters, restaurants offering delicious dishes and buckets of cold beer, small souvenir shops and relaxing massages.

Hanging out at the beach with Bob and Sandy in Costa Maya 2008.

The first time we visited Costa Maya in 2008 the year after the area had been hit by Hurricane Dean.  As we traveled to the small fishing village of Mahahual we were sad to see just how much damage was still visible.  We were there with our friends Bob and Sandy.  We walked down the street finally stopping at a restaurant with umbrella tables on the beach and enjoyed buckets of cold beer and nachos.

Visiting the Kuhunlich Mayan Ruins with friends 2012.

I also remember fondly a trip to Costa Maya in February 2012 with our New Beginning friends and another trip in September 2012 when we participated in a wonderful excursion to visit the Kuhunlich Mayan Ruins.  Other trips have found us taking a short ride to Overo beach for an easy going day basking in the sun.

Entrance to port area at Costa Maya, Mexico

Today we woke to beautiful blue skies and temperatures in the low 80’s.  We dressed quickly, enjoyed a lite continental breakfast then made our way down to the pier to meet Doug and Sue for a day in the sun.

This very large leopard’s head sculpture was just outiside the ticket office for the shuttle to Uvero beach. I thought it was interesting.

We walked through the port area admiring all the activities taking place, many shops offering a variety of goods finally making our way to the back of the port to purchase our $3 tickets for the short ride to Overo beach.

As I mentioned at the very beginning of this trip, we had made the decision to visit our favorite restaurant in each port-of-call.  So today, we would be stopping at the Krazy Lobster.  We found a table nestled under palm tree just steps away from the water and a beautiful view of the ship and settled in for a relaxed afternoon.

First order of business; order a bucket of beer!   After spending some time chatting and watching visitors enjoying the view we ordered lunch.  Randy and I had enjoyed the Nachos on a past visit and decided to order them once again.  And, once again, everything they were delicious.  Sue and Doug enjoyed their choices too.



During our visit, and at different times, Randy, Sue and I walked down to the water’s edge and waded in.  The edge of the beach is a little rocky but soon you are standing on soft sand.  The water was cool and refreshing.


Time to return to the ship was approaching so we made our way back to the port. We returned to our cabin to discover a plate of delicious sweet treats.  Randy and I made ourselves comfortable for a short time on the balcony enjoying the view and our sweets before preparing the evening activities.

As always, we had a wonderful time during the cocktail and dinner hour.  We learned that Sal and Anna made their way down to the beach and enjoyed wonderful and relaxing massages.  Everyone had a great day!

Tomorrow is our last day and we are at sea.



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A great day of fun, food and entertainment

I love seeing the tree each morning as I start my day!

I love opening the curtains and walking out onto the balcony and seeing the sun shining, feel a cool breeze on my face as the ship moves to another of our favorite ports-of-call.  Today we dock in Belize City, Belize.

Mayan ruins of Alta Hun 2012

Belize City has a beautiful Caribbean coastline, is home to a lush rain forest and has the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere.  On past stops here we have taken a tour of the city, visited the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha and found a restaurant that we revisit each time we return.

Start to a nice day although we would experience partly cloudy skies all day

The restaurant we return to each time we visit is called The Wet Lizard.  The restaurant is an upbeat, friendly restaurant and bar overlooking the harbor and the Belize Tourism Village.  At dinner last night we talked about having lunch there and all agreed to go along.  Sal and Anna had some things they needed to do in the morning but said they would try to meet us.

But, first things first, we met Doug and Sue for a delicious breakfast in the dining room. I had to laugh when Sue pulled a small bottle of real maple syrup from her purse.  I am so glad she did, it was delicious!

We returned to our cabin to enjoy the view from the ship until it was time to go ashore.  We met Doug and Sue and proceeded to board a tender.   The tender drops everyone off at the Belize Tourism Village and it is a short walk to the restaurant.  The Village is a collection of shops and eateries along at the harbor.

I must say the view from the restaurant had changed over the years.  We arrived at the restaurant around noon and made ourselves comfortable.  I looked around and noticed that the tables, chairs and walls were clean and all the signatures, hearts, dates, etc. had been painted over.

When we first started coming here the waitress could put several markers on the table and invite you to leave your mark.  Randy left our names and the date high up on a beam near the ceiling.  In 2009 when we brought our family there we choose a chair and everyone signed the chair.  It was so much fun.

When the waitress came over I asked her what happened.  “Over time we noticed that people were leaving obscene and objectionable words and felt it was better to stop the activity,” she replied.  I find it very sad, sad, sad that a few bad apples could take away a fun activity.

We ordered our favorite Belizean beer; Belikin.  We have always found the beer to be very tasty and refreshing.  We ordered a bowl of our favorite Wet Lizard’s Famous Salsa and chips.  I love this cucumber salsa.  I loved it so much I eventually bought the restaurant’s cookbook and now make it at home.

We had a great time just enjoying the day listening to the hub bub below and the laughter in the restaurant.  We eventually ordered.  The menu had also changed over time and after looking it over Randy and I ordered the pork sliders.  There was a little bite to these delectable sandwiches.  The accompanying slaw was also very tasty.

We eventually decided it was time to leave and made our way over to the gift shop to purchase tee shirts.

Shirts purchased we decided to take a walk down the pier before boarding the tender and returning to the ship.  There was a new restaurant at the end of our walk and a large ‘Belize’ sign just calling to us to have our picture taken.  We asked a very nice gentleman to take our picture and, he did.

We returned to the cabin and started our evening’s preparations for cocktails and dinner.  Tonight we would all be going to Giovanni’s Table for dinner.  Randy and I started with the Insalata Caprese per Due—a salad of vine ripened tomatoes and bocconcini mozzarella for two.  For the entrée we each ordered the Filetto de Manzo Alla Griglia, Patate Fritte All’Olio Agliato, Salsa Al Barolo o Burro di Gorgonzola—8 oz. grilled beef tenderloin, served with garlic fries and Gorgonzola butter.

As always, the salad and main dishes were amazingly delicious.  The steaks are always so tender. But, of course, we were not done.  We always finish our dinner with a generous helping of their famous Tiramisu.  This dessert is always so creamy and delicious.

We had a great time just talking about our day.  We spoke about our trip to the Wet Lizard and Sal and Anna talked about their adventure shopping at the village.  Everyone had a good day!

Our evening activities were as much fun as our daytime activities.  First, we made our way to the Centrum to attend the International Parade of Flags.  I love this show.  Members of the crew and ship’s staff carry the flags of their country with some members taking to the center of the floor and preforming dances from that country.  Very colorful!

Then it was off to the theater to attend the headliner show.  Tonight we were entertained by a group of men that promised, “The complete Beatles Experience”.  The Liverpool Legends did just that.

This tribute band was amazing and fun.  The entire audience enjoyed every song, singing along with some dancing in their seat and still others taking to the aisle to enjoy the music.  By the end of their set this talented and fun group was rewarded with a rousing standing ovation.

What a day!  We returned to our cabin for a little rest and relaxation before turning in.

Tomorrow we dock at Costa Maya, Mexico.



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