Transatlantic Cruise

September/October 2004

Travelog by Jim & BettyAnn

Day 1 Monday, September 20, 2004 - London

Thistle Tower HotelTower Bridge We arrived in London on Monday morning, and transferred from the airport to the Thistle Tower Hotel. The flight time was ten hours including the two-hour link from Phoenix to Atlanta. The time went by quickly as we slept away a lot of the trip through eight time zones. There were free movies of course, and they fed us pretty well.

After arriving at the hotel, we inquired about the tube system so we could do a dry run via subway to the London Eye. We had made reservations long before leaving the US, and we wouldn't want to be late for the in the morning. The hotel was very nice, and we had a good view of the Tower Bridge, as well as the Thames River from our window.

The subway trip was fun, and it turned out to be quite easy to get around London using this means of transportation. We had Lasagna and Chili for supper at a pub near the Eye, in the area of the Parliament Building (Big Ben) before returning to our hotel.

Day 2 Tuesday, September 21th, 2004 - London

We were up early this morning to start our only full day in London. We had reservations for the London Eye, followed by a river cruise on the Thames River. Breakfast was an energy bar, after which we went to the Tube (subway) station and purchased an all day pass.

This was a very stairy up and down walking trip over the tower bridge roadway, then down and around the castle like structure known as the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are displayed. The entrance to the underground was about three quarters of a mile from the entrance to our hotel, next to the Tower Bridge. Because the round trip taken yesterday cost about $16.00, we purchased an all day ticket today for only $1.60 more. The subway system in London is well kept up, with a mix of new and old trains. As with all subways around the world, it's much quicker than surface transportation, and not to complicated once you get the gist of it. Once in the system, the trip to the London Eye took about ten minutes.

From the tube, it was a short walk over the bridge at the Parliament Building, then a quick left along the bank of the Thames River, to the London Eye. During the bridge walk there were many photo opportunities to capture Big Ben, and the clock tower, as well as the gigantic Parliament Building. Then, of course, the Double Decker busses that London is so famous for are all over the place just waiting for photographers.

The London Eye We arrived at the London Eye as they opened at 11:00 AM, and as our reservations were made a few days ago over the Internet, we had no trouble picking up our tickets. The Eye is sponsored by British Airways, and the ride is called a flight, complete with airline type security. When we booked on the Internet, we also booked a river cruise, which is taken from the dock that is part of the eye complex. We were happy that we had the foresight to do this, and would recommend it to anyone planning a trip there.

The London Eye is quite a sight, and the largest Farris wheel type ride in the world from what I'm told. It is made up of thirty-three pods that accommodate about 12 or 14 people. There is plenty of room to move around, and the Plexiglas enclosure makes taking photos a no briner. The flight is about 45 minutes, and the highest point is 145 feet in the air.

River Cruise The trip was much nicer than I expected, once under way it was a very smooth ride. During the duration of the ride there was plenty of time to photograph all of London, or not. It was also a nice sunny day in London, which seems to be unusual for this time of year.

The river trip left directly after the Eye flight, and this also was nicer than we expected. Having a nice day was a big part of it. The river boat went upstream a bit to take in the Parliament building, then made a turn, and went downstream just past the Tower Bridge. I was able to get a good shot of our hotel from the center of the river. The return trip was against the wind, so was breezy, back to the London Eye dock. The trip was narrated the entire time.

After the tours we returned to our home Tube station, and crossed the Tower Bridge to find a pub that served fish and chips. It's been difficult because there was some sort of supply problem concerning the fish throughout London. We located the pub, and had a fabulous meal, and a pint of beer. After lunch we returned to the hotel to re-group a bit, and put a set of camera batteries on charge. We also took this opportunity to take a two-hour nap, after which we planed to go to the Hard Rock Café.

We were becoming weary of all the stairs every time we went to the subway station, so we explored and found an alternate route that was relatively flat. Rather than going under the major intersections we used the cross walks instead. To travel to the Hard Rock Café we needed to transfer trains, and use another line. This was sort of fun, and although we've done it in other locations, was a new adventure here. When we exited the Tube, it turned out to be a rather long walk to the Hard Rock Café, but it was good exercise, and the evening was cool. Bettyann purchased a shirt, and I had a beer. That was the extent of our adventure at the Hard Rock Café.

After returning to the hotel we mostly rested, and had cheese and crackers that we purchased at a local grocery store, and this was our supper. Sometimes things have a way of going wrong, and unfortunately one of those things happened to Bettyann. For no apparent reason, one of her lower front teeth broke off. This was unfortunate, but as there was no accompanying toothache it's something she'll just have to accept until we are able to return to our home dentist. Thus our day in London ended on a sour note, but other than that our day was very nice.

Day 3 Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - Embark, Dover England

Because we didn't want to run out for breakfast, we picked up some rolls and fruit at the store on the way home last night. This worked out well as we're light breakfast folk when we travel anyway. We needed to pack, and have our luggage outside the door by 7:00AM for the transfer to Dover, which we did. Sadly the ship was running late due to weather, so our departure from the Thistle Tower Hotel was delayed until checkout time at 11:00AM. If the ship is further delayed, we may be living in a bus at Dover for awhile.

SS Norwegian Dream As it turned out, the ship was at Dover, disembarking passengers. We've been placed in the terminal to wait out the cleaning of the ship. The trip to Dover was uneventful, and I slept most of the way. Poor Bettyann, it seems to be one thing after another, now she's ill.

Well we finally made it on board after a three-hour wait. The motorized gangplank malfunctioned, and we had to use a stairway type gangplank set at a 45% angle. Bettyann's, condition is worsening and she needed assistance to get aboard.

After unpacking we went to the Sports Buffet on the 12th deck. I was somewhat disappointed, the food was okay but the service and food presentation fell short of Royal Caribbean. I had prime rib, and Bettyann had meat loaf.

The show was entertaining, as a limited variety show, but was more of an orientation for the ship, and the upcoming entertainment events. Bettyann was too ill to attend. All in all the events lined up for us are exciting and we should not be lacking for things to keep us busy.

Day 4 Thursday, September 23, 2004 - France

Today is our day trip to Paris where we will take the river cruise with lunch. It's a 2-1/2 hour drive to Paris, and back again, making this an eleven-hour day. Because of Bettyann's bout with poor health, I would like to have canceled our excursion to Paris today, but Bettyann thought we should make the trip anyway.

Coffee and rolls were retrieved from the Sports Buffet restaurant about 5:30 AM, and we are now about ready to go for breakfast at the same restaurant. We will decide on our course of action at the breakfast table. For breakfast we had eggs, bacon, and ham. We decided to make the trip to Paris after all.

One of many Arches in Paris The trip turned out to be really great after all. Statue of LibertyWe started out from the cruise ship, which was located in Normandy Province. The route was through the industrial section of Normandy, and then on to the main highway to Paris some 250 Kilometers away. The trip was narrated with a lot of the history of the area.

Our arrival in Paris took us to the Arc de Triumph, on down the Avenue des Champs Elysees to the Place de La Concorde, in central Paris. We toured the historical downtown area, and saw many of the shopping areas that we frequented on our last trip. We saw the Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame, and of course the Eiffel Tower before being taken to the dock to board our river cruise. I was able to take several nice pictures despite being on a bus. On the last trip, all the photos were taken with conventional film, and are put away somewhere safe. The Statue of Liberty was on tour the last time we were in Paris, so it was a treat to see it this time.

The Riverboat on the Seine River was completely enclosed, and a seven-course lunch was served while we traveled up and down the Seine River. We spent the day with Jack & Gail Schabow, who was our tax accountant in Phoenix until he retired a few years ago, so had a lively conversation throughout lunch. After lunch we had some free time, so took the opportunity to shop some souvenirs, and stroll aroundJack & Marcy the base of the Eiffel Tower and take more photographs.

The return trip was uneventful, and I slept most of the way. When we returned to the SS Norwegian Dream we unpacked our day bag, and rested before the show. In the meanwhile Jack called and suggested we join them and Warren and Joan at the Four Seasons Restaurant for dinner, then catch the later show. This seemed like a good idea, so we went for it. Warren & Joan

Dining in the Four Seasons took almost two hours. It was a sit down five or six course dinner depending on what you had ordered. We barely made it to the show, which was an excellent comedian by the name of David Naster. He's also doing s seminar tomorrow called "You Just Have to Laugh", which we plan to attend as well.

Bettyann held up well considering her recent health problems, her hands and legs are swelling up, and she has joint pain consistent with arthritis symptoms. This all started after our running around in London. There seems to be a reaction of some sort to her medication. We plan to see the ships doctor tomorrow morning to see if anything might be done to relieve her discomfort.

With a full day behind us, all that was left to do was retire for the night.

Day 5 Friday, September 24, 2004 - At Sea

Today started early as Bettyann woke up in pain. After getting her meds sorted out, she was able to go back to sleep. I stayed up and edited photos taken the day before, and logging some of yesterday's activities. After awhile it was time for Bettyann to begin to get ready to see the doctor, during this time I took a nap for a little less than an hour.

Our visit to the doctor was pleasant enough, and the doctor was very nice, and seemed much more knowledgeable about asthmatic medication problems than I expected. He ordered an adjustment of her current dosage to counteract the swelling, and joint pain that she was experiencing. So now we shall wait and see.

We went for a late breakfast buffet at the Four Seasons, and had assorted breakfast fare. Because of our early up problems, we decided to return to out stateroom to nap for a while.

The seminar by David Naster was wonderful, and we enjoyed it so much that we purchased a CD made at a previous seminar. This way all of our friends and relatives can enjoy the wisdom and humor of this excellent entertainer.

Ray & Teresa from the United Kingdom We went to dinner at the Terraces restaurant, this was the first time for this one and it's another nice place to eat. Guess we just got off on the wrong foot by starting out at the Sports Bar Buffet. At dinner we met Raymond and Teresa from the UK. They live about 100 miles North of London.

Dinner was a shirt and tie affair this evening, so we dressed in a suit and evening gown. Everyone was looking spiffy. For dinner this evening Bettyann had some sort of fish, along with caviar and fish parfait as an appetizer. And I had lobster which I found a bit dry, but good none the less. Bettyann claimed she didn't see the lobster on the menu, so I graciously shared mine with her. The meal again consisted of far too many courses.

Dinner was followed by the Captains Champaign Party, which consisted of a couple glasses of Champaign and an introduction to the ships officers. There was a bit of talk about the future of the cruise line, and an extended weather report, including the current location of active hurricanes.

This was followed immediately by the evening show, after which the four of us parted company. The show this evening was a fiddler by the name of Professor Watson, the violin music sure put me to sleep in a hurry. However the rest of our little group enjoyed the show immensely. We caught the tail end of a presentation about opera, which seemed very interesting (opera puts me to sleep too), so we may attend future installments, as a little music appreciation certainly wouldn't do me any harm.

After returning to the Stateroom, we watched a movie that Laurie loaned us titled Hush, with Jessica Lane, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Day 6 Saturday, September 25, 2004 - La Coruna, Spain

Another glorious morning and we are in port at La Coruna, Spain. Bettyann is feeling a little better today, and is going to sleep in today per doctors orders. I went to the Four Seasons for breakfast and had an omelet for the first time on this trip. After eating I went to the Sports Bar buffet and got some coffee and hot chocolate for the room. Sweet rolls were brought back for Bettyann.

Ancient Lighthouse Tower on LisbonAfter our coffee and hot chocolate we started to get ready for our excursion to shore. We had made arrangements for a motor tour of the city a few days ago.

Bettyann is feeling better today, but we'll stick to the level one excursions until she's had a full recovery. It appears that the medication adjustment has worked, and she's enjoying the activities aboard much more now.

The trip into La Coruna, Spain was only 2-1/2 hours, but very comprehensive. We passed the area sometimes referred to as Crystal City due to the glass enclosed balconies along the oceanfront. Then on along the costal promenade which surrounds the La Coruna coast line (one of Europe's largest), we passed the castle of San Anton, and the lighthouse known as the Tower of Hercules at the tip of the peninsula. This is the most important landmark of the city, and dates back to before 200 AD.

We went on to, Mount San Pedro, the highest point overlooking the tiled roofs of this quaint city, and busy harbor. The panoramic view provided excellent photographs. We were again blessed with a beautiful day. As we returned to the ship, we stopped in the shopping center near the harbor of La Coruna, and did our souvenir shopping.

As ours was the late version of the tour, we returned just in time for a late lunch at the pizza kitchen. We each had a small plate of spaghetti, then returned to our stateroom for a short nap.

The show this evening was a fabulous singer with a beautiful tenor voice, who's name was Willy Allenby. We wanted to purchase a CD, but he had sold out a few engagements ago. He'll be leaving the ship in Lisbon for yet another cruise ship performance. He's from Northern England, and studied music in London. CD's can be purchased through his web site at

We had dinner in the Four Seasons because it was late by the time the show ended, and because the Terraces closed a full half hour earlier than the Four Seasons. We both had salmon for dinner this evening, and again dinner was a major multi-course affair. By that time it was quite late so we retired to our stateroom for the evening.

Day 7 Sunday, September 26, 2004 - Lisbon, Portugal

Up at seven or so, clocks were set back one hour last night so we're back on London Standard Time (eight hours ahead of AZ). Went to the Sports Bar for coffee right away, then finished photo editing, and journaling before Bettyann and I went up for breakfast. Bettyann had an omelet this morning, and I decided on a waffle.

We attended shipboard church services this morning, and it was very nice. The message this week was biased on the story of the rich man who ignored the poor man, Lazerith. We are reminded to be more compassionate and helpful towards those less fortunate than ourselves. The person officiating at the non-denominational service this morning was a Deacon for the Catholic Church, currently vacationing with us.

Bettyann discovered the shops this morning, or rather the rest of them, which she had overlooked earlier. She's checking them out as I write. Which reminds me, I need to go to the moneychanger and convert my remaining English pounds, to European Union euros, before heading into Lisbon, Portugal this morning. Speaking of which, I can see the Portugal coast out the window. We're scheduled to pull into port in about an hour.

Our tour today, which is our last scheduled tour by the way, took us to the districts of Cascais, Sintra, and Queluz in Lisbon. This European port city is very large, and abounds with parks, monuments, churches and castles. As we arrived on a Sunday, almost everything was closed except the large outdoor market (like a farmers market), and the tourist shops in the tourist areas of course. Palace near LisbonWe passed the market but didn't stop, which is probably a good thing or Bettyann would likely have done her weekly grocery shopping. wouldn't customs have fun with that? Lisbon RestrauntOur docking berth was actually on the River Tagus, and to reach it we went under the suspension bridge that reached across the river. This bridge is similar to the golden gate bridge, because it was built by the same firm, around the same time. I'm not sure how many peaks the Golden Gate has, but this bridge had two.

The main attraction of our tour today was the Palace in Queluz, with its beautiful gardens, shaped shrubbery, monuments, and promenades. The Palace was gigantic, with dated furnishings dating back to the 17th century and beyond. There were several opportunities to take photos of the gardens, as well as the inside. Flash wasn't allowed inside, so some of the photos leave quite a bit to be desired as the interior of the palace was dark.

Then we went on to the seaside resort villages of Cascais, and Sintra. We made a shopping stop in Sintra, and did some souvenir shopping as well as purchases for our home. We were held up because of a parade, it seems that this parade takes place in Sintra every twenty-five years on this date. Guess we just hit it lucky.

As a result we returned to the ship a bit late, and missed a show that we wanted to see. Instead, we went to yet another seven-course dinner and Bettyann had veal liver, and I had the Cornish Hen. We both had a shrimp appetizer. Not much has been mentioned about the deserts, which is fine. We'll just say that the deserts are out of this world. After dinner we returned to the stateroom and watched Field of Dreams, with Kevin Costner. This movie was a Fathers Day gift from our daughter. We retired later than we usually do.

Day 8 - Monday, September 27, 2004 - At Sea

We slept in today, a first for us. But considering no naptime yesterday, and the late evening, we probably needed the sleep. Bettyann has completely recovered from her earlier problems. The medication adjustment that the ships doctor ordered sure did the trick. His fifty-dollar fee was probably one of the better bargains that we've encountered.

As we missed breakfast this morning, we went to lunch at the Four Seasons and Bettyann had a Rueben sandwich, and a burrito was the fare for yours truly.

We are at sea all day today, tomorrow will mark our last port of call before heading across the Atlantic to play "Dodge the Hurricane".

Jesse F. Weir - Opera Without FearWe went to a seminar called "Opera without Fear". Mr. Jesse F. Weir put on this talk, which we found very interesting. He has some very fascinating stories about the early participants of opera, which was started in the 1600's in Venice, by the way. His talks include beautiful snippets from different operas, which he explains during the course of the presentation. We missed the first seminar. This one was the second, and we hope to attend as many of his presentations that we can, if not all.

Four Seasons Restaurant Our travel agent arranged for a cocktail party tonight that was for all the people in the group participating in the cruise from the Phoenix area. I took a lot of pictures, but didn't recognize anyone except people that we already have met. It was very nice, and we'll have to remember to send them a thank you note when we get back. My knee gave me a bit of a problem, so now it's a little sore. Hopefully it will stop bothering me tomorrow.

After the party we went with some friends to dinner at the Four Seasons Restaurant. I think I'm getting my fill of these multi-course meals. There are some that eat all of their meals as sit down's because they feel that's what they paid for, and I guess there right. We enjoy breaking it up with a buffet occasionally, and snacks at other times. It's even nice to skip a meal once in awhile, and it certainly wouldn't hurt our waistline.

Then on to the show, Which was the first major production put on by The Jean Ann Ryan Company called "Rock this Town". The show was filled with a lot of energy, dancing, singing, and gymnastics. Everyone enjoyed it, and I would like to see more shows like this one. After the show we returned to our stateroom because it was a little late, and we will arrive in Medira, Portugal at 7:00 AM (11:00 PM in AZ) in the morning.

Day 9 - Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - Madeira, Portugal

Rise and shine early this morning as we enter the port of Madeira, Portugal under cover of darkness. That's to bad, because it's almost impossible to take any meaningful pictures of our arrival. No tours have been set up for this stop, so we'll just wing it. In the meanwhile, we will just relax, and nap until its time for breakfast.

After breakfast, when the shops have opened, we'll go ashore, and find a taxi to travel downtown for our sightseeing and shopping experience. I don't imagine we will be buying much as I think we've bought everything that we want already. But then, Bettyann may be of another opinion. Madeira Cable Car Ride

It was a lovely day on the island of Madeira, we spent the day in the city of Funchal. Guess that would make for a rather long address, as you would need the street address, city, and island, with Portugal added to the end. We didn't take a tour today, but rather we self directed ourselves.

A taxi was shared with another couple for the short trip downtown, and we were left off at the main market. The buildings were old, and very picturesque. The main market area was housed in a large building which could have been multi-purpose. However it was pretty much dedicated to the farmers market type of occupancy. The meat and fish markets were interesting, as most meats were fresh, with little, or no, refrigeration. The fish market particularly smelled like a place where fresh fish was sold.

Madeira SidewalkAmbling through the cobble stone, and in many cases tiled, streets among the quaint stores we were able to find more lovely things to purchase. Guess I just have to abandon the foolish idea that it's possible to visit a foreign port without buying anything. In fact, Bettyann was able to find a lovely pair of 19ct gold earrings that she fancied. Naturally I purchased them for possibly a Christmas gift for her.

Madeira Island is famous for there Madeira wine which comes in four flavors, dry, not so dry, sort of sweet and sweet. Of the four, we both decided that the sweet was the one that we liked the best. It's not a really sticky sweet wine like Mogen David grape wines are, but semi-sweet and very tasty.

One of the local activities here is sliding down the mountain in a wicker sled. Oh, Ya, if you live on an island, what else would you do all day, We didn't have the time available to try this exciting ride; conversely there was a cable car trip to the top of the mountain, which we did take. Many of our most striking photographs were taken from the cable car.

I priced Internet service while here, and found it to be .90 euros (about $1.17) for 15 minuets. This is quite reasonable as most email activity can be done in less time than that. The cost aboard ship is $.75/minuite after a $3.95 one time setup fee. The local beer here is also excellent, at .80 euros for about a 12 oz bottle in the local bars, or up to 3.50 euros in the tourist bars and restaurants.

Deck Party Of course, all good things come to an end. We had to be back aboard by 5:30 PM because we were sailing for Miami at 6:00 PM.

We had a light dinner in the Sports lounge, and then went to the magic show in the show lounge. The show was okay, but not really great. We had a long day, and I had a hard time staying awake during the show. After a short nap it was time for the deck party.

The party, which was a Caribbean theme, began with a buffet of fruit and deserts. There was entertainment by the ships staff (the music was recorded), and dancing. The staff conducted dance lessons, and there were contests. The contests were biased mainly around seeing who could make the biggest fool of themselves. Then "Presto", it was way past bedtime and we retired for the evening.

Day 10 - Wednesday September 29, 2004 - At Sea

Another glorious morning, and a rather late 8AM up for us. We went to the buffet at the Four Seasons today and met two couples. One couple was from Virginia, and the other was from Crusea, an island near Aruba in the Caribbean. At Sea Bettyann abandoned me to go to an amber jewelry lesson, then a hair lesson. Don't laugh, we've got five days of this kids. She even hit the tail end of a bingo game. There's a movie playing this afternoon, so we'll have a light lunch, then go see "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet.

Uggh, I hope that you won't ever tell anyone that I actually sat all the way through such a lousy movie. It has to be the poorest excuse for a motion picture that I've run across lately. I'm sure happy that I didn't actually pay to see "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". The staff here must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel on this one. I would never have thought Jim Carrey would become involved in such a poor excuse for entertainment. After "that" movie, it was time for Crumpets and Tea up in the Sports Lounge, then a nice short nap, before dinner.

We met Jack & Gail and Warren & Joan at the Terraces for dinner at 7:00 PM. We both had a Greek dish based around shrimp. It was six or seven courses again, and we stuck mostly with Greek appetizers, and salads and soups. Everything was again delicious, and served exquisitely, and took two hours. We all joined up again for the 9:30 PM show in the show lounge.

Tonight's show was a ventriloquist called a Man and a Duck. It was a great comical show and we all enjoyed it after the movie let down. Tomorrow's show will again be the musical troupe that we enjoyed so much the other day.

After the show, we went to the Sports Lounge for a coffee, and ran into Jack & Gail yet again, so we were able to talk for a while before heading down to our stateroom.

Day 11 - Thursday, November 30, 2004 - At Sea

It seems like the morning buffet in the Four Seasons has become our favorite place for breakfast. It takes a lot less time to dine than the sit down meals in other restaurants. A large breakfast was consumed, along with oceans of coffee.

Shopping was on the agenda for today, but then that's almost an everyday activity regardless if we're in port or not. The ship has a nice little shopping mall up on deck 10 aft. Bettyann purchased a couple of gift items. Speaking of gifting, it has always been my practice to try to bring back a small memento for friends and co-workers. I've always felt this was a harmless gesture, and fun to do. This fun practice has gotten out of hand over our last two trips, and has almost caused some hard feelings. So it's a practice that I've reluctantly decided to discontinue.

We skipped lunch, and I spent the time reading in one of the lounges while Bettyann attended a hairstyling seminar next door. The seminar gave her a few ideas, which she may, or may, not incorporate with her hairdresser when she returns home.

A nice hot Cup of Coffee We attended the third session of "Opera without Fear" conducted by Jesse at 2:00 PM. Again we found it interesting, but I have my doubts that it's going to make an opera lover out of me. The music snippets that he plays during the course of his presentations are familiar selections, and provide pleasant listening.

Following the Opera presentation, the magician, Zoltan, returned to the stage to share an hour of card tricks with us. He explained many of the tricks that he preformed to the audience. Of course he had DVDs for sale showing the inside track of even more card tricks. I don't think that a magic card trick show would be my strong suit.

After all of this fun, we probably should have come back for a nap, but did we? Nooo. BettyAnn at PoolsideBettyann changed into a suit and went up on deck to work on her tan. As I could care less about a tan, and the associated skin cancer, I returned to the fantasyland in my novel. After about a bit, we did indeed take a short nap. But not before having a little snack at one of the many sneaky snack setups on board.

The show tonight was the second major production put on by The Jean Ann Ryan Company. It was an excellent musical dance, and acrobatic extravaganza titled "Sea Legs at Sea". Marcy & JohnThe young dancers had an unbelievable amount of energy and stamina. The show was an exercise in nonstop physical exertion that ran for a full hour. Everyone in the troupe could not only sing during strenuous dance routines, but could do so without any signs of shortness of breath. The only non-singer seemed to be the male Olympic Gymnast, who bounced about like a ping-pong ball. The costume changes were fast and furious as well. And this was only the early show. They did it all over again for the late show after only an hours rest.

We had a late dinner at the Terrace Restaurant where we enjoyed Veal for Bettyann, and a nice stake for yours truly. We met Marcy & John from Philadelphia during dinner, this was the second time that we had been seated with them. They have a large family, like eight children and a bunch of Grandkids. They practice the Catholic religion, and enjoy Pilgrimages and visiting churches and basilicas while on vacation. Marcy has a knack for remembering the birthdays of all her family; in fact she had five to send out before leaving on this cruise.

After dinner we started to watch "The Coroner". A movie we brought with us, but were to tired to finish it. We can pick it up again at chapter 19 tomorrow evening. So, finally, off to bed.

Day 12 - Friday, October 1, 2004 - At Sea

Today we restricted ourselves to continental breakfast with jam and rolls at the Four Seasons. It was probably a poor choice as far as carbohydrates are concerned, but the sheer bulk of food was a lot less.

The knee that I injured last Monday has turned into a major problem, preventing me from participating in any walking, or active sports. This problem is expected to clear it's self up in about three weeks. The morning was spent reading and lying around on deck. There was an ice carving demonstration, which Bettyann watched, but I missed because I was attending to other matters elsewhere.

The Pool BarWe had lunch at the poolside Bar-B-Q on deck and both of us had Bratwurst and fresh fruit. I stayed out on the open deck to long, and once back in the air conditioning contracted a chill. This was the catalyst for a tailspin into a cold, just what I needed so close to the end of the cruise. Now I can't walk, but my nose runs, isn't that a fine how do you do.

After a nice hot shower, and a little nap we went to hear all about Russian Opera. This installment of "Opera without Fear" was held in the show lounge. It was somewhat interesting, but not exactly a showstopper. The next session is about the Russian composer Tchaikovsky, now that should be a rip snort'n session! Hay wot?

We went to dinner with Jack & Gail at the Four Seasons. This is the larger of the two sit down Restaurants, and is easier for Gail to manipulate her electric scooter. The menu was European this evening and we both had chicken fingers with orange sauce. It was really very good.

The show tonight was a singing act staring Steve De Pass, "Americas singing Poet". He specialized in adlib songs about subjects shouted out by the audience. His voice was somewhat like Jimmy Duranty's singing voice. The live performance was followed by a late movie titled The Alamo (new version), which was really one of the better movies we've seen aboard. Turn back the clock one hour, then off to bed for us.

Day 13 - Saturday, October 2, 2004 - At Sea

We went to the buffet line, for French toast, juice and coffee. Breakfast was at the Four Seasons, as this seems to have become our custom. With my cold in full swing now, lots of juice was in order this morning. Afterwards we went for a daily activities schedule so we could plan our day.

We attended an early morning lecture titled "Spain in America and the Caribbean" put on by Alexander Simon. It was more of a history lesson, which I'm sure was of interest to interested parties. This didn't include me, and I kept falling asleep. No small part of which was no doubt caused by my cold. After the lecture I thought I would nap, while Bettyann made an exchange at the shops, and did a little sun bathing. I'll be joining her for lunch at the BBQ at poolside on deck 11 around 12:30 PM.

Bar-B-Q On DeckThe BBQ was nice, and we ate lite today, well sort of. Bettyann had fruit, but I had a hamburger. We've certainly had great weather for this cruise; everyone was out on deck partaking of the sun. Bettyann got quite a bit of sun in the last two days, so at least she will look like she's returning from vacation.

Bettyann went to an art auction, but being a wonderful person, didn't buy anything. All of our walls are full, so any new pictures would either have to displace existing ones, or be stored in the garage. The art available aboard is good quality, and there are several great pieces. We both took a nap in the afternoon.

We had dinner at the Italian restaurant, however the menu was not Italian this evening. Just our luck to finally make it over their, and its one of the three nights that Italian isn't served. Any away I had a steak dinner and Bettyann had rack of lamb, with mint jelly. Tonight the entertainment is a flutist, so we're not sure if we will go or not, we may just stay here and read our books, or watch a movie.

As it turned out we did attend the show, and the musician was very talented indeed. Her show lasted about an hour, and was a high energy presentation.

After the show, we went to bed. I had a bad night, it seems my cold has moved to my chest and causing difficulty in breathing.

Day 14 - Sunday, October 3, 2004 - At Sea

This was like a day that didn't exist. I just wasn't with the program today, although I attended a presentation of "Opera without Fear". Given my current state of health, I was unable to appreciate it. I spent most of my time alone in the stateroom reading "Protocol" by April Christofferson. I was sooo happy to Finnish "Violets are Blue", the one about vampires. It took me a vacation, a trip to California, and a cruise to complete it. All the meals we attended would find us at a table for two, so I would lessen exposing others to this damn cold, which didn't get any better today by the way. On the good side of things, my knee is much better, or at least I'm not dwelling on it now that I have a diversion.

Officers Q&A PanelThere was a Q&A session with the ships Captain, Hotel Manager, and Chief Engineer. We found out such things as waste is stored and pumped out in port. Leftover food is ground up and made into pellets and fed to the fish. Water is purified or desalted using reverse osmoses. The ship has two propellers driven by four engines using a common reducing gear arrangement. There are two 6-cylinder, and two 4-cylinder engines. A 6-cylinder engine for this ship costs 1.5 million dollars, and a like amount for installation. The autopilot is manually set, as opposed to being slaved to one of the four GPS receivers

Chocolet BuffetThere was a Chocolate Buffet this afternoon at both the Sports Bar, and in the Four Seasons restaurant. Everything in the buffet was made of chocolate or was a chocolate-based desert. There were ice carvings on display, and the ice carvings were great as well.

We went to the late show after a supper of soup and coffee. Sorry I was much to miserable to pay much attention to what Bettyann had.

At sea in the Atlantic OceanThe show tonight was a stand-up comic by the name of Carl Wolfson. He was as good as any of the comics we've seen on this trip, and gave a wonderful one-hour presentation. Bettyann saw the first show as well, while I was trying to get some sleep, so she got to see it twice. I sure hate it when I'm under the weather.

Speaking of the weather, it been just beautiful the whole trip. I'm told that this is unusual for trans Atlantic voyages. We haven't seen as much as a Rain squall.

I took a couple of non-alcoholic hot toddy's, and retired.

Day 15 - Monday, October 4, 2004 - At Sea

Another restless night, but feeling a little better this morning. All I had for breakfast was juice and coffee, but Bettyann had a full breakfast. I returned to the stateroom and slept most of the day.

Bettyann attended "Opera Without Fear", of which there are two sessions today. The subject is still Russian Composers. She also went to a History series "1492, Settlements of America via the Caribbean". These sessions are really interesting and it's unfortunate that I missed two of them.

Mardigras Deck Party Bettyann also did a little shopping today, but we have almost everything that we could possibly want from the stores aboard. They keep putting things on sale though, and it's tough for a shopper to pass up a sale.

I got up in the afternoon feeling much better, and we attended the second opera lecture together. After the lecture, we met our friends for dinner at the four seasons. Bettyann and I had the same thing tonight, which was a pork chop prepared French style. This again was a five or six course dinner at which I mostly picked at the food, but did eat a fair amount.

The show tonight was "Gravity Defying Comedy" by Jody Reynolds. The show was a good variety type of show. He was an accomplished unicyclist, did a little magic, a lot of juggling, and was a funny comedian.

After the show, there was a Mardi-Gras deck party at the poolside, deck 11, Mid-ship. This featured the ships show band, and a singer, Bobby Reynolds. And of course there was more food. The weather has really cooperated for these outside activities; it was a nice clear night for dancing under the stares. Finally about 1 AM we called it quits and went to bed. The party blasted on until about 2:30 AM.

Day 16 - Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - At Sea

After sleeping in 'til almost 8:00 AM, we went for breakfast at the Four Seasons. We finished just in time for the disembarkment lecture.

The lecture was at 10:00 AM, and covered immigration procedures that would take place when we disembarked at Cap Canaveral, as well as the customs procedures we would encounter at Miami. The information was useful, but confusing because there was so much to remember. It's a good thing it was televised, and played back over our stateroom TV continually.

Bettyann spent the rest of the morning sun bathing, while I read my book in the Sports bar where coffee was continuously on tap. Being on the deck 12, aft it provided a grand view of the empty Atlantic Ocean

About half past eleven, the deck crew, and food service, got together and prepared a BBQ on deck 11 at pool side. I think this is an everyday event, although we have only had lunch their the past few days.

There were several art auctions during the cruise. I guess it's sort of like bingo, and the casino, a real cash cow. Today they were offering free Champaign, and a lithograph for attending. So Bettyann went, and I joined her as well this time. At least until the talent show started, at which point I couldn't pry her away.

Captains Cocktail party The cruise guest amateur talent show on Norwegian Cruise Lines comes with a twist. The best of the lot wins a prize of course, but then is entered into the competition for a professional entertainment contract with NCL. The five amateur acts presented by the guest participants were of excellent quality.

Following the show, we re-united and got ready for the Captains Cocktail party. It started at 6:30 PM, and lasted for about an hour. There was dancing to the NCL show band, and the Captain made the rounds to say hello and pose with guests for pictures.

Dinner with friends at the Four Seasons was very enjoyable. A person could get into the habit of six course meals rather easily. Jack & Joan, and Warren & Gail have been pretty much regular dinner companions, except when I was down with my cold. We finished just in time for the show.

The third, and last show by the Jean Ann Ryan Company, was done tonight. It seems that each show is better than the last one. These productions are high energy dance extravaganzas. We really enjoyed the show, after which we retired to our staterooms for a good nighs sleep in preparation for the Kennedy Space Center tomorrow.

Day 17 - Wednesday, October 6, 2004 - Cape Canaveral

Well, guess what? We hit our first rainy day since leaving Portugal. Wouldn't you know it would be at our first US Port, Cape Canaveral?

Shuttle Launch PadBreakfast was a sit down (no buffet today) and we both had eggs over easy. The waiter told us that it was because we were in port. My cold was better so we again shared a table this morning. Believe me, it takes as long as a sit down dinner. It seems to take forever to get a couple eggs. When they finally came, they were very good, and the long wait gave us a chance to talk with our table mates, and exchange tall tails. Naturally breakfast included rolls, Danish, juices, coffee, hot chocolate, cereal (hot and cold), hash browns, French toast, waffles, etc (if we wanted it). None the less, we both prefer the buffet for breakfast

Things were delayed a little coming into port, so we need not have concerned ourselves at breakfast. Immigration, once it got under way, went quite smoothly. US Citizens went through positions set up in the Show Lounge. Everything went very smoothly, probably in no small part because everyone was pretty much cleared to be on an ocean going ship in the first place.

Kennedy Space center was a gigantic complex with several launch sites, and large buildings. The assembly building, where the shuttle is combined with boosters was damaged by storms this season, and will take until 2005 to be launch ready again.

Rockets We took a bus tour to the launch pad for the shuttle, and past most of the larger buildings on the complex. Back at the Atlas Space Center Museum there was a full size Atlas rocket display, and a space capsule on display. Outside was a mock-up of the space shuttle, although the booster rockets on display were the real McCoy.

An I-Max theater presentation was included in the tour. Actually there were two I-Max theaters back to back. The movie showed launches, space walks, satellite repairs, Lunar landing, and Armstrong's walk on the moon.

Pictures of the rockets used for space exploration can never relate the massive size of the hardware. Space Shuttle ExplorerYou almost have to be standing next to one to realize the almost impossible tasks required to bring a launch to completion. The engineering, fabrication, testing, launching, and recovery require a special breed of super optimist.

During all of this we were able to see an alligator or two, as well as an American Bald Eagle. There seem to be an abundance of vultures their as well, to keep things tidy.

Upon our return to the ship we went to tea in the Sports Bar. This being on Deck 12 made cell phone reception passable. This location apparently is not Verizon's strong suite. Bettyann was able to make a dental appointment about the tooth she broke in London. Once that was done we returned to our stateroom to begin packing as the entire luggage needed to be put out by 11:00 PM in preparation for our departure in Miami in the morning.

We broke to have dinner with our friends, which seemed to take an extra long time this evening. We had hoped to make the show, which was a variety performance put on by many of the headliners we had seen during the cruise. Unfortunately we needed to Finnish packing, so had to forgo the last show.

Having finished packing and putting the bags out for pick-up, we retired for the day, as we cruised to Miami during the night.

Day 18 - Thursday, October 7, 2004 - Miami

Miami Skyline The arrival in Miami was also rainy, and we arrived before day break. As our flight was rather early, we were in one of the first lots to clear customs and board the bus for the airport. Of course when dealing with bureaucratic prima donna's, things slow down considerably.

We did make our plane though, but as luck would have it, there was an oil leak which delayed us an hour in Miami. In the end it didn't make much difference because almost the whole plane was connecting to Phoenix out of Atlanta. The connecting flight waited, rather than fly 80% empty. By driving a little faster, we landed in Phoenix almost on time.

Thus ends a really great vacation.