Cabins on the Wilderness Adventurer

small ship cruises

Wilderness Adventurer

Passenger cabins on the Wilderness Adventurer serve their purpose well – mainly a place to sleep, wash up, and store your things. They aren’t big, but they also aren’t intended to be where passengers spend their cruise.  The expedition vessel mainly travels at night and during the day anchors or docks somewhere while the passengers hike, kayak, or explore. During the times passengers spend on board in the daytime activities like meals, cocktail hour, or presentations of one sort or another occupy some time and there’s plenty of places to sit in the public areas of the ship if it does happen to travel during the day.  It also has a hot tub on the top deck.

cruise ship cabin

Navigator Cabin

Wilderness Discoverer has three cabin options, all of which have windows with views to the outside.  The Navigator cabins on the main deck cost the least and have about 77 square feet of space.  Trailblazer and Pathfinder cabins on the observation deck have about 90 square feet each.  The main difference between the two is inside entry on the Trailblazer cabins and outside entry on the Pathfinder.

finding extra storage on a cruise

even the hallway has storage – especially nice for wet coats and boots

The rooms have a lot of storage space. The beds have quite a bit of open space underneath for luggage. Each room has a large set of wooden shelves for storage and a cabinet next to the bed.  Rooms with inside entry also have handy coat hooks and space for boots in the hallway just outside the cabin door.

cabins on small cruise ship

Trailblazer cabin

All rooms come equipped with binoculars and aluminum water bottles for the passenger’s use during their adventures throughout the cruise.  They also have water glasses and a hair dryer.

Pathfinder cabin

Pathfinder room with outside entry. This one has a window seat.

The outside entry rooms just got remodeled this year with all-new wood and carpeting.

no room for a sink in the shoilet

sink in the cabin next to the mirrored bathroom door

Bathrooms are very utilitarian, sometimes called the shoilet.  Sinks sit outside the bathroom door.  Inside has just space for the toilet with the area in front of it doubling as the shower. The sink has a soap dispenser on the countertop and the shower has shampoo and bath gel in a dispenser hanging on the wall.

cruise ship cabin storage

plenty of room for passenger’s things on these shelves

Each room has a flatscreen TV hanging over the bed. One channel displays the menus and activities of the day, one has GPS mapping so you can see where the ship is, and one plays daily wildlife movies. There’s also a bowcam channel to show what is under the sea, but the bowcam wasn’t working on our trip. One of the crew said it had met an iceberg and gotten knocked out of place to where it just shows the inside of its housing, but was slated for repair after our cruise.

view window in cruise ship cabin

Fishermen’s Terminal through the cabin window

To view cabins on other ships, click the links below:

Breeze    Divina    Liberty    Pearl    Splendor    Westerdam

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
Posted in Shipboard Life, Un-Cruise Adventures, Wilderness Adventurer | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Memories of a Cruise Ship Doctor Part 6 – Lights Out

old cruise ship

Regents Ship

Dr. Len Kreisler spent 4 years as a cruise ship doctor for Regent Lines before they went bankrupt in 1995.  His experiences are chronicled in the chapter What Ship, What Cabin and Doctor Who? in his book ROLL THE DICE, PICK A DOC AND HOPE FOR THE BEST.  This story is an excerpt from that chapter.

a lifetime of doctor memories in a book

Dr. Len Kreisler’s book

The beeper went off.  I went to a phone and called a number manned by Jamaican cabin attendants.

“Docteur, Docteur, day need ya at da aft elevator on deck 6.”

I waved for the nurse to follow me, and proceeded to deck 6.  The elevator in question was the size of a telephone booth.  An elderly gentleman had gotten in (it could comfortably hold only one person) and had passed out.   He couldn’t fall to the floor because of the tight space, so his unconscious body lay erect against the elevator door.  When the door opened, he fell forward and hit the floor with his face…still unconscious. His face showed signs of the impact with bruising and swelling, but he was breathing normally, had good color and a steady pulse.  I asked the nurse to get our scoop stretcher.  Guess what?  The funeral people in St. Thomas never returned our stretcher (I doubt it was an oversight.)  I remembered the old rusty stretcher we had pulled out of the cooler before putting in the deceased wrapped into our relatively new clinic stretcher.  We found the rusty relic, wrapped it in blankets to hide the shabby metal, and got our man to medical.  His vital signs were remarkably stable.  We located his wife; a 60-ish lady, definitely 20 years younger than her husband.  She looked at the peacefully resting man with the bruised face and calmly said:

“He does this quite often.  He gets some kind of irregular heart rhythm that causes him to pass out.  He should come around shortly.”

The man opened his eyes and looked around without moving his head, or other body parts.  I asked if he was hurting anywhere?

He calmly replied “No,” but didn’t move.

The nurse helped me sit him up.  He smiled at his wife and prepared to get off the table.  I gave him a careful examination and went over the signs and symptoms of head trauma he and his wife should monitor, before allowing him to leave.  We documented everything and marveled at the resiliency of the human body.

hospital room on a cruise ship

Hospital beds in one room of the medical center on Carnival Splendor – probably nicer than anything the Regent ships Dr. Len worked on had.

On the Carnival Splendor we were told that a ship can leave the dock without the captain as there are other people on board that can drive the boat.  It can not however go anywhere without a doctor on board.

More stories from Dr. Len:

Getting Hired

Crew Problems

The “Seasick” Passenger

Chasing Supplies

Dead End

Posted in Guest Blogs, Shipboard Life | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Maple Bacon Muffins

bacon, bacon, bacon -- oh and maple too

Maple Bacon Muffins

When my son and grandson came to visit, we said anybody who wants a choice about what they eat can come grocery shopping and if they don’t care they can stay home.  Everybody came.  While wandering down the grocery aisle talking about breakfast options my son half kiddingly said “What about maple bacon muffins?”

I actually thought that sounded pretty good.  I already had some maple syrup at home so we made sure to get a package of bacon (we used turkey bacon, but you could make this with real bacon instead.)  Using a plain muffin recipe from an old cookbook as a basic guide, I adapted it to suit our plans.  We tried them one day for breakfast and liked them so well we made them one more time before they left to try a slight alternation to the recipe which made them even better.

mmm bacon

Maple Bacon Muffins

Maple Bacon Muffins


1 egg

2/3 cup milk

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup melted butter

2 cups flour

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 slices of bacon, cooked and broken into pieces

If bacon wasn’t cooked ahead of time, cook bacon before starting muffins.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line muffin pan with cupcake papers.  Beat egg in mixing bowl (Not necessary to use a mixer, a fork works fine.)  Add milk, syrup, and melted butter and mix.

Add all dry ingredients.  When measuring the flour, spoon it lightly into the cup.  Hold spoon above cup and wiggle it a bit while flour freely falls so it doesn’t get packed down in the cup (which would make the muffins too heavy.)  Scrape any excess flour off the top of the cup before adding it to the batter.  Break any lumps in the brown sugar before stirring batter.  Stir batter lightly with spoon.  Add the bacon pieces when the dry ingredients are about halfway mixed in.  Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Lumpy batter is OK.  DO NOT overstir.  Having a bit of flour not quite mixed is much better than stirring too much.  Overstirred muffins don’t rise properly.

Divide batter among muffin cups, about 3/4 full each.  Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Makes 12 deliciously decadent muffins.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
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Panama Canal Tour

cruise ship in Panama

Divina docked in Cristobol, Panama

Taking a cruise through the Panama Canal is definitely on the bucket list, but since we haven’t done that yet we did the next best thing.  The itinerary for our Caribbean cruise on the MSC Divina included a port stop at Cristobal on the Caribbean end of the Panama Canal.  We picked a canal cruise for our shore excursion at that port.


view of Panama from the Divina

Our excursion started with a bus ride to the Pacific side of the canal.  It’s amazing how much you can learn on shore excursions, some of it completely unrelated to the excursion itself.  Our guide on this trip spent the way over on the bus talking about Captain Morgan.  Ever hear of Captain Morgan Rum?  Yeah, that Captain Morgan.

pirates love their rum

yo ho ho and a bottle of Captain Morgan rum

After making a name for himself in the world of pirates, Captain Morgan led a crew of 10 ships to successful attacks on the riches of Panama not once, but twice.  Initially pirates or privateers such as Morgan had the support of England when attacking Spanish ships or holdings.  When the two countries signed a peace treaty they lost Englands’s support, but had assistance from the governor of Jamaica.

waiting ships

ships outside of the Panama Canal

Eventually he was arrested and returned to England, but rather than getting executed he ended up getting knighted and returning to Jamaica as Lieutenant Governor.  He lived in the once large and prosperous city of Port Royal, most of which (including the graveyard where he was buried) sank under the sea in a 1692 earthquake shortly after his death.

boat docked in the Panama Canal

canal tour ferry

When our bus ride/history lesson ended, we boarded a boat in a harbor on the Pacific end of the canal.  We found good seats on the top deck by the rail, poised for picture-taking during our transit of the canal, which included lunch on the boat.  It was a misty, cloudy sort of day for the most part, but it didn’t rain.

major highway linking the north and south American continents

Bridge of the Americas

At one point when we got up to take pictures a stubborn German women and her husband sat down in our seats.  They tried to claim nobody was sitting there in spite of the fact that we had left water bottles by our chairs.  The husband seemed a bit shamed by all the surrounding people telling them they should move, but the wife stubbornly stayed in place until she finally realized we were not going to cower off and sit somewhere else.  She finally left grumbling something about how if you got up from your seat in Germany it was fair game for anyone else to take.  And people think Americans are rude!

Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal

the boat entered Miraflores locks with low water level

Our tour progressed down the canal to Miraflores Locks, which has 2 chambers.  Boats enter the first chamber through the open back gate.

Panama Canal locks

the water churns and bubbles as it rises

The gate shuts and then the water rises in bubbles from the floor of the locks until it reaches the level of the water on the exit side.

Miraflores Locks

ready for the gate to open

The front gate opens for boats to leave.  The boat then makes a short transit to the next chamber, which raises it up to the level of Miraflores Lake, where the ships then pass through.

locks viewing building at Panama Canal

people in this building watch boats pass through the locks – some no doubt passengers from our ship on their shore excursion

Along the way we passed under the Bridge of the Americas and the Centennial Bridge.  These two bridges are both on the Pacific side of the canal, which is where our tour went.

bridge over Panama Canal

Centennial Bridge

The USA built the Bridge of the Americas, completed in 1962.  To alleviate overcrowding of that bridge Panama commissioned a German company to build the Centennial Bridge which opened in 2004.

Pedro Miguel Locks, Panama Canal

each lock had two lanes and Pedro Miguel Locks had a spot where we could see through the wall to the other lane

Pedro Miguel locks has just one chamber, raising us up to the level of the Gaillard Cut, where the lock builders had to cut a channel through the mountain.  It’s also called the Culebra Cut.

inside the locks at the Panama Canal

Pedro Miguel Locks

We passed the continental divide, noted by a marker on the shore somewhere in the cut.

the hardest part of the canal to build

cuts through solid rock near the continental divide

Our journey stopped at the Gamboa Division Dredging Pier around the middle of the canal just past where the river flows into the canal.  We did not pass through  Gatan Lake or Gatan Locks.

dredging the Panama Canal

a dredge at work keeping the canal clear

We passed by construction of the new larger lock, which when finished will allow ships as large as the Divina to sail through the locks.  It is expected to open in 2016.  The cruise ships that pass through now are limited to those small enough to fit in the locks.  Holland America makes all their ships no wider or longer than what fits within the chambers of the locks, but many other cruise lines have ships far to big.

Chagres River

train bridge across the Chagres River in the Panama Canal

A railroad track parallels the canal across the Isthmus of Panama.  While some container ships pass through the locks, others unload their cargo which then crosses by train and loads onto another ship on the other side.  There is a considerable charge to ships passing through the canal.  When the USA controlled the locks they barely broke even (The USA preferring as always to tax the average citizen to the poorhouse while plunging the country deeply into debt over making any profits from the nation’s assets.)  Now that Panama runs the canal, they make a considerable profit from it.  So it can cost less to send the cargo across by rail instead of sending the ship through the canal.  Passengers can also ride the rails along the canal, which would be a fun excursion to do.

Who was driving this boat?

beached boat at the side of the canal

France started the canal in 1881, but stopped construction due to engineering problems and a high mortality rate of their workers due to disease.  The US took over in 1904 and finished the canal in 1914.  It is considered one of the wonders of the modern world.

boat in the Panama Canal

a ship waits its turn to pass through the narrows

Our busses met us at the Gamboa Dredging Division Pier.  They have to dredge the canal on a regular basis to keep it from filling in or getting too shallow in places to pass.  At the time of our tour traffic went one way in the morning and the other in the afternoon through the narrows of the cut.  Ships lined up along the sides of the canal waiting for their turn to go.

dock near the middle of the Panama Canal

approaching the Gamboa Dredging Division Pier

Back on the bus we passed a prison, which the guide said was home to their most famous prisoner and former dictator, Manuel Noriega.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
chart of Panama Canal

panama canal

Panama Canal chart courtesy of SSQQ Travel


Posted in Caribbean, Divina, MSC, Ports of Call, Shore Excursions | Tagged , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

How to Make a Towel Unicorn

How To Fold A Towel Unicorn

free towel animal folding directions

Towel Unicorn

Supplies Needed to Make a Towel Unicorn

1 White Bath Towel

1 White Hand Towel

1 White Wash Cloth

2 Gold Pipe Cleaners (AKA chenille stems or fuzzy craft sticks)

2 eyes

How to Fold a Towel Unicorn Body

The towel unicorn uses a standard towel animal body made from a bath towel.  Start by laying the white bath towel out flat.

free towel animal folding instructions

roll both sides of the bath towel to the center from the short ends

Roll each end to the center from the short side.

towel art

fold the rolled towel in half with rolls to the outside and pull the tips out of the center of each roll

Fold rolled towel in half, rolls to the outside.  Pull tips out of the center of each roll.

towel origami

take both ends of one roll in one hand, both ends of the other roll in the other hand, and pull

Take the tip ends of both sides of one roll in one hand, and the tip ends of both sides of the other roll in the other hand.

towel sculpture

finished towel animal body

Pull all of them at once until you have pulled legs out of the roll and the towel looks like a  body with four legs.  If you lack the hand strength to pull the whole thing at once, pull it as far as you can, then set it down and take one end of a roll with one hand and the end of the other end other roll on the same half (longways) of the body with the other hand and pull just one side of the body.   Repeat with the other side.

How to Fold a Towel Unicorn Head

towel heads are the hard part of most towel animals

fold hand towel in half widthwise

Fold the hand towel in half across the center the short way.

folding towels into animals

Fold towel over at the open end

Fold the edges of the open end over a couple inches.

free towel animal folding instructions

one corner folded

folding towels into animals like on a cruise ship or hotel

both corners folded into triangles

From the center of the 2-inch fold, fold each corner over in triangle fashion.

how to make cruise ship towel animals

fold the point down under the towel

unicorns are real

the point is folded down and the long straight edge folded up

Fold the point down and the long edge up.

how to fold a towel into a unicorn

fold the corners down into little triangles on both ends of the long bit that just got folded up

Fold over the corners of the long edge into little triangles.

animal towel folding

you can roll one side at a time or roll both sides at once, whichever works for you

crap, it's blurry

both sides rolled to the middle

Tightly roll both sides of the head to the middle.

step by step towel animal folding with photos

put a rubber band around the head near the straighter end

Put a rubber band around the head near the straighter edge.

it looks like a head now

fold the edge over the rubber band and shape the ears and the nose

Fold the end of the towel over the rubber band and shape ears from the bits that stick up out the middle.  Shape the other end as desired for the nose.

How to Make a Pipe Cleaner Unicorn Horn

how to make a unicorn horn

set two gold colored pipe cleaners perpendicular to each other

Set two pipe cleaners perpendicular to one another.

looks like an x now

fold each pipe cleaner in half over the other one so they hook together in the middle

Fold both in half over each other so they are hooked over one another.

golden unicorn horn

twist the pipe cleaners around each other to make a horn

Twist from the folded ends until the twisted part is the length you want the horn to be.

unicorn horn ready for attachment

when the horn part is the desired length, use the leftover ends to hook the horn to the rubber band on the unicorn head

Lift up the edge of the towel folded over the rubber band and intertwine the ends of the pipe cleaners into the rubber band.

unicorn with a horn

unicorn head with horn attached

Fold the edge back over the rubber band so all that shows is the horn.  (Or just make the horn ahead of time and put it on the rubber band while you are making the head.)

How to Fold a Washcloth Unicorn Tail

folding a washcloth into a unicorn tail

fold on the diagonal leaving a boarder on the edges

Lay white washcloth out flat.  Fold one corner over diagonally, leaving a boarder of an inch or two unfolded.

how to fold a washcloth into a unicorn tail

turn over so fold is on underside or just fold it down to start with

Turn washcloth over so folded part is underneath.

how to fold washcloth animal tails

roll diagonally from the center of the washcloth

washcloth animals

keep rolling from the end where you started until you roll the whole washcloth into a cone

From the center of the folded end, roll entire washcloth in one continuous roll so that it has a small tight end and an open sweeping end.

conehead, I mean cone tail

cone-shaped finished tail

Finishing the Towel Unicorn

making towel animals

position the body – horses lay down with all their legs on the same side so unicorns would too

Position the unicorn’s body as desired.  Insert the tail on one end and set the head on the other.  Decorate with eyes.  Felt or paper eyes will usually stick to the towel on their own, but googly eyes need double stick tape to hold them on.

better than cruise ship towel animals

finished towel unicorn

For more towel animal folding instructions visit My Cruise Stories Towel Animal Page.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
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Victoria Harbour Ferries

harbor ferry

Victoria Harbour Ferries Gorge Tour

When in Victoria and looking for something a bit different to do, the Harbour Ferries offer a variety of on-the-water options, and also serve as transportation for visiting places near the landing docks.  The harbour ferries have a base dock at the waterfront across the street from the famous Empress Hotel.

Victoria harbor ferry

harbour tour ferry

Tours include the inner harbour (it’s Canada, harbor has a u in it), the gorge cruise, or a combo ticket to take both tours.  They also offer water taxi service, with prices varying on how far people want to go or the option of a hop-on, hop-off pass to ride the water taxi around and see Victoria’s waterfront areas at will from shore as well as from the water.  To visit more distant stops they also have harbour ferry service to places farther than the water taxis venture.

red brick door

wall from old fort

Tours start from the ferry base conveniently located in the inner harbour.  The gorge cruise passes through the inner harbor on the way to the gorge, pointing out historic sites such as the red door in a brick wall which once led to storage for the first fort in Victoria.   The fort once rose above the wall where businesses now stand near the two oldest buildings in town, a former bank and jail -conveniently located right next to each other where the sheriff could easily take anyone caught robbing the bank the short distance to the jail.

historic buildings

old bank and jail

The ferry proceeds under the historic blue bridge.  At least for now.  The captain sadly stated that the bridge is slated for demolition in spite of its historic value and the fact that with the heavy counterweight it takes just a very small amount of power for a very small motor to raise and lower it.

Victoria's blue bridge

historic blue bridge

The narrow Gorge Waterway continues for some distance past spacious homes where Victoria’s elite once lived, the oldest working shipyard around, and a restaurant with views of recycling in action at Vancouver Island’s car recycling center.  Like many historic homes near water, houses in the area did not initially have sewers.  With an out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude, the waterway became the dumping ground for just about everything.

family of seals

harbor seals hanging out by the shipyard

Swimming marathons and other historic water-based activities ended when the water became too polluted for safe swimming.  In recent years clean-up activity began.  It started with private people in boats pulling junk up from the bottom.  Eventually the city of Victoria joined in the clean-up effort.  The Gorge Waterway once again has clean water for swimmers (including harbor seals) to enjoy.

RV Park on the gorge

you have to reserve a spot a year in advance to camp in this park on the Gorge Waterway

Very rare for Canada’s British Columbia province, where shorelines are crown land, permanent private docks line the Gorge Waterway, grandfathered in as the private homes there had them before the shoreline laws existed.

expensive housing

houseboats in Victoria’s inner harbor

The harbour tour started much the same as the gorge tour, passing seaplane docks and the brick wall with the red door.  It turned before going under the bridge and stayed in the more populated inner harbour area, viewing acres of expensive condos and rows of houseboats.  It stopped at places like Fisherman’s Wharf where people could get off and catch another ferry later if they wanted to spend some time there.


seaplane getting ready for takeoff

Without leaving the boat, the harbour tour takes about 45 minutes.  The gorge tour takes an hour, and when doing both on a combo ticket there may be a wait in between if the next boat is not at the dock when the first one arrives, or if it is already full.  The inner harbour has plenty of things to fill a possible wait time with a number of food stands and craft booths, and sometimes live entertainment.

alien mayor

our tour guide said this was the mayor of Victoria hanging out on his boat

 copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
Posted in Canada, Day Trips, Port Cities | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Cruise Ship Cabins on Carnival Splendor

cruise ship

Carnival Splendor

Accommodations on Carnival Splendor

Like all cruise major cruise ships, Carnival Splendor has a range of passenger cabins to choose from depending on how much space people want vs. how much they want to pay.  Some passengers choose small interior cabins to save money while others would rather pay more for a bigger cabin with a private balcony or a spacious suite.  Officially they are called staterooms, but most cruise ship guests refer to their room on the ship as a cabin.

People who are sensitive to cigarette smoke may want to avoid booking deck 6, particularly midship where smoke from the casino on deck 5 sometimes wafts up the stairwell.  Aft rooms above a couple of the deck 5 lounges where smoking is allowed could be problematic as well.  Smoking is no longer allowed on balconies and other than the casino, the Cool Lounge, and the Red Carpet Nightclub it is only allowed outside on decks 10 and 11 starboard.

cruise ship shower

standard shower with shampoo and bath gel

All cabins have shampoo and shower gel dispensers in the shower and bars of soap and a few product samples in a bowl on the counter.  What is in the sample bowls changes over time so the only things you can really count on having are the shampoo, shower gel, and soap.  Be sure to bring everything else you will need for the cruise.

cruise ship hallway art

The hallways around the guest rooms have paintings of people that look to be from the 1930’s or so

If you want to decorate your cabin or door, or just want to keep paperwork organized, it’s good to know that cruise ship cabins are magnetic.  The walls, door, and ceiling are all magnetic.  We used magnets to keep our sail and sign cards handy on the wall next to the door so we didn’t have to look for them when we wanted to leave the room.

Inside Cabins

inside stateroom

standard interior cabin

If you want to save money, book low.  An inside cabin on deck 1 may be the exact same size as an inside cabin on deck 9, but lower decks are in lower categories so it costs less.  Not all cabins in the same category are the same size though.  It pays to check the deck plans before booking not only to find the best staterooms in a particular category, but also to see if anything noisy that you want to avoid is above or below the room you want to book.  It’s also nice to room in the same area of the ship as the places you go to most.  Stairs and elevators are handy for the ups and downs, but it is a long walk from bow to stern.  Or pick a room far away from the things you like so you get more exercise.   If you have the option to choose category guarantee rather than a specific room you pay less, but take the room assigned to you which will be at least the category you selected, possibly higher depending on what rooms other people booked.

how to find cheap rooms with a view on a cruise ship

Staterooms at the bow of the ship on decks 6, 7, & 9 book as interior, but have windows.

Interior rooms are always at the low end of the price scale, but if you look carefully you can find rooms with a view that book as interior.  They won’t be in the lowest category of interior rooms, but will cost less than one listed as ocean view.  On the Splendor there are a few rooms with portholes on decks 1 and 2 and a row of rooms with windows across the bow on decks 6, 7, and 9 that book as interior rooms.  We spent a week in a cabin at the center of the bow on deck 7 where the panoramic view more than made up for the lack of space even if it could only be seen when standing due to the front wall of the outside deck blocking the lower half of the window.

too close for comfort

not much space in the interior room with drop down bunks

If you just have two people cruising on a budget, an interior room is a great way to save money.  When staying in an interior cabin I tend to put the TV on the bow cam channel and use it like an electronic window.  For the most part the interior rooms are the smallest cabins on the ship so if you have more than two people in a room they can become quite crowded.  The interior cabin with drop down bunks has very little room to move around so unless you plan to do nothing but sleep in your cabin or just can’t afford the cruise any other way, with 3 or 4 people you would be much more comfortable in the more spacious ocean view cabin.

Ocean View Cabins

couch bed and drop down bunk make room for 4 passengers in ocean view stateroom

Ocean View cabin sleeps 4 comfortably

People tend to look down on cabins on low decks as inferior.  We stayed in an ocean view cabin on deck 1 with 4 people in the room on an 8 day cruise and loved it.  The ocean view cabin had quite a lot of space with a drop down bunk over a couch that converted to a bed.  We never felt crowded.  From deck 1 it is just 1 deck down to the gangway at port stops and just 2 decks up to the dining room at mealtimes so it is easy to avoid elevators at their most crowded times and just take the stairs.  The room had a good sized window with a nice close-up view of the water.  When the sea got a bit rough the lower deck had noticeably less movement than those higher up.

Balcony Cabins

cruise ship cabin decorations

Decorated Balcony Cabin – when cruising for special occasions you can arrange to have the cabin decorated prior to boarding

Balcony staterooms normally have a significant price jump from ocean view.  You get a great view and your own small outdoor space with a balcony cabin.  They also tend to have significantly more interior space than the typical inside room.  Most cruise ship passengers are quite comfortable in a balcony room.  For even more extra space without going up to suite price there are some staterooms with extended balconies and some premium balcony rooms.  The outer ends of the aft extended balconies on the stern can be seen from higher decks, so keep that in mind if you don’t want other passengers looking down on your balcony.  Then again the bridge crew can see down the rows of balconies along the sides of the ship from their docking wings so those aren’t entirely unobserved either.

if balconies are your thing you'll want this one

wrap-around balcony on stern corner cabin 6450

If you want a really fantastic balcony, there are corner cabins at the stern on decks 6, 7,  & 8 with wrap-around balconies.  In some places you can book one of those and the room next door which has a double balcony as adjoining cabins and have an even bigger balcony with the partition between the two removed.

adjoining cabins

door into small alcove with separate doors to corner and next door cabins


cruise ship suite bathroom

Ocean Suite bathroom has double sinks

For those who want more luxury in a spacious cabin that has amenities like a dressing area, walk-in closet, and jetted tub, the ship has several categories of suites available ranging from the smallest junior suites to ocean suites to the largest of all, the grand suites.  Of course the price increases with each jump in category.  Suites come with added perks like VIP check-in.

you definitely get what you pay for on a cruise ship

Ocean Suite

sweet suite

Grand Suite

suite balcony

the balcony on the grand suite has fancy furniture

Spa Cabins

the cabin for people who are really into spas

Spa Balcony Cabin

At the high end of each category we find the Spa cabins.  These cost more because in addition to being on a very high deck, they come with extra perks.

spa products cost a lot if you buy them

spa products come with the spa room

Each spa cabin has a number of little bottles of spa products on the counter, which are replenished throughout the cruise.  If you go to buy these products at the spa they are quite pricey.  Spa cabins also have different bathrobes and towels from the other cabins.  These cabins are mainly for spa enthusiasts since they also come with priority spa appointments and (in my opinion the best thing about them) free access to the mineral pool and thermal suite, which includes the heated ceramic chairs.

bliss, pure and simple

If you’ve never tried a heated ceramic chair, you have no idea what you are missing. Pure Bliss.

People who enjoy spas would love these cabins, but those who are not really into spas may not find the rooms worth the extra money.  If you’ve never sat on a heated ceramic chair, take the free spa tour on your next boarding day and try one out!

Wheelchair Accessible Cabins

disabled accessible cruise ship cabin

view into accessible room from bathroom shows low set hook on bathroom door

Wheelchair accessible cabins are often larger than other cabins in the same category to allow space for a wheelchair to move about the cabin.

disabled accomodations

shower in wheelchair accessible stateroom

They also include things like grab bars, shower seats, and accessible height furnishings and accessories.

disabled accessible cruise ship cabin

wheelchair accessible rooms have wider doors – and note the low placement of the mailbox

At just over three feet, the doors into wheelchair accessible staterooms are significantly wider than those into regular cabins which are under two feet wide.

handicapped rooms have lots of extra clothesline space

double clotheslines – and longer too since the shower is bigger

Showers in the wheelchair accessible units are larger than normal and minus the lip to the shower stall found in regular cabins.  One of the best features of these showers is the clotheslines.  While normal cabins have small showers and one short clothesline, the accessible cabins have a much longer clothesline since the shower is bigger, plus it has one at the normal height and another lower down where a sitting person can reach it, giving about quadruple the space to hang things like wet swimming suits.

To view cabins on other ships click the links below:

Breeze   Divina   Liberty   Pearl   Westerdam Wilderness Adventurer

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
Posted in Carnival, Shipboard Life, Splendor | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Port Townsend

Port Townsend,WA

Wilderness Adventurer in Port Townsend

At the northern tip of the eastern end of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula sits a quaint little town called Port Townsend. Victorian architecture dominates the waterfront district, on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.  Nearby Fort Worden, now a state park, is also on the register.  Port Townsend is the county seat and only incorporated city in Jefferson County.

ferry from Port Townsend

Ferry leaving Port Townsend to go to Keystone on Whidbey Island

In the late 1800’s Port Townsend was a busy seaport.  The town rose quickly in anticipation of the coming railroad connecting Port Townsend to Tacoma.  Then a depression hit and the railroad lines never made it that far.  Many people left the town.  Construction of nearby Fort Worden near the turn of the century, and in the 1920’s of a paper mill on the outskirts of town kept the town alive.  The paper mill is still active and one of the area’s largest employers.   The area where an earlier fort built to protect settlers once sat now operates as Old Fort Townsend State Park with trails, camping, and marine access.

historic building in Port Townsend

Victorian Building

Many artists call the area home and show their work in local galleries.  Town festivals help attract tourists, a major boost to the local economy.  The 1982 hit movie An Officer and a Gentleman filmed in Port Townsend and mainly at Fort Worden, temporarily bringing money and jobs to town.  Although the movie depicted Lynette and Paula working on the other side of Puget Sound their workplace was actually filmed at the paper mill in Port Townsend.

historic building

old building in Port Townsend

We visited Port Townsend on our Un-Cruise Adventures Washington Coastal cruise.  Our beer-themed cruise started the visit there with a tour of the Port Townsend Brewing Company.  Following the brewery tour (complete with beer tastings for the beer lovers in the crowd) a skiff from the Wilderness Adventurer brought us back to the boat, docked in the center of town.  From there we walked down the dock into the town full of interesting old Victorian buildings.  Many of Port Townsend’s assortment of galleries small shops in the old buildings were an easy walk from where the boat docked in the historic district.  It also has a great eatery called The Public House Grill in amongst the shops on Water Street, the main street through that part of the town.

small ship cruise

big dock for big boats

As we left Port Townsend we saw a navy sub in the distance escorted by Navy ships on its way back to Hood Canal.  From a distance is all anyone sees these subs as they make their way to the bridge on the water’s surface.  Their escort keeps ships far away.  Some very unhappy drivers face a long delay at either end of the Hood Canal Bridge whenever a sub goes through on its way to or from the base at Bangor.

Port Townsend and surrounding area

area map from Tides Inn (The motel in An Officer and a Gentleman)

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2014
Posted in Port Cities, Un-Cruise Adventures, Washington, Wilderness Adventurer | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Memories of a Cruise Ship Doctor Part 5 – Dead End

Regents Cruise Ship

Regents Ship

In his book ROLL THE DICE, PICK A DOC AND HOPE FOR THE BEST, Len Kreisler MD included a chapter about his four years working as a cruise ship doctor for Regent Lines called What Ship, What Cabin, and Doctor Who?  This is an excerpt from that chapter.

a lifetime of doctor memories in a book

Dr. Len Kreisler’s book

The nurse and I received an emergency call from the main dining room.  As we entered the crowded room we spotted the group we were looking for in a far corner.  A very large man lay motionless on the floor while a passenger attempted resuscitation.  Observers offered opinions and advice.  One very intoxicated female stood by shouting.

“Get up you $*/ *?  ^ &!%(#, I’m not flying home by myself.”

It so happened this was the man’s second wife, married to the brother of a well known comedian.  The nurse became quite annoyed by the crowd blocking access to the patient.  I could see the patient was cyanotic with no signs of life. I advised the nurse to call for a stretcher and a few strong attendants to help us remove the man to the infirmary.  The stretcher arrived with four muscular Jamaicans.  We quickly loaded and left.

The deceased was in his seventies, but looked ninety.  He was loaded with all kinds of jewelry and a Rolex watch.  His shirt was unbuttoned to his mid-chest.  He looked like a stereotyped Las Vegas high roller commonly seen in the Rat Pack years.  He was 6 foot 4 inches and at least 75 pounds overweight.  He smelled of vomit, cigarettes, cigars and liquor.  There wasn’t much doubt he died of a heart attack.

The intoxicated wife arrived shortly after we managed to get him and the stretcher onto the examining table.  He was too heavy to lift off the stretcher.  She circled the body a few times before asking if she could give him one last farewell kiss.  Who could refuse such a tender request?  She then proceeded to remove all his jewelry (we noted the event into his written record with itemized articles.)

The captain told me the one-body cooler was on the top deck (10 flights above us).  He had turned it on before coming down to medical.  It would take at least two hours to cool down.  What would we have done if we had gotten another body?  Put it in the food lockers…in body bags of course.

The new widow left with the hotel manager.  We wrapped two sheets around the body and secured them with canvas straps.  He was too big for a body bag.  The nurse and I left for the hotel manager’s office.  I tried to answer the widow’s irrelevant questions as they placed a call to the deceased’s son.  The widow grabbed the phone as soon as contact was made.

“Your dad finally bought the farm.  Doc says he didn’t suffer.  Now listen, I don’t want (she rattled off a list of names) at the funeral.  Here Doc, he wants to talk to you.”  She handed me the phone.

The first question to me was “Is she drunk again?”

He informed me that his dad had two previous heart attacks.  He was a diabetic, overweight, hypertensive, heavy smoker and drinker and determined to do it his way…right to the end.  We gave him the protocol for having the body flown back and he thanked us for our efforts.  The nurse and I never got paid and decided not to pursue it.

Almost 4 hours had passed since our patient’s demise.  It was after midnight.  We had to move the body to the cooler.  The nurse offered four Jamaican cabin attendants $5 each to act as stretcher-bearers.  The easiest and most direct route was heading for the nearest opening to the back deck and up the outside stairs.  The hotel manager insisted on a set of inside tortuous stairs reasoning that his route was least likely to encounter passengers.  I wondered how many senior citizens wander around the outside decks after midnight.  He outranked me so up the inside we went.

The Jamaicans struggled with the heavy load on the narrow, winding stairways.  After negotiating two levels they stopped to assess a strong fecal odor permeating the stairwell.  The body, with all the food and liquor inside, had been lying around four hours at room temperature.  Fermentation was creating gas, bloating and odors.  The Jamaicans looked at each other wondering who passed gas.  They all denied it.

“Not me maaan!” was the emphatic refrain.

As if on cue the corpse burped fluid which produced a gurgling sound and a wet stain on the sheet in the vicinity of the mouth.  The four men dropped the stretcher and pulled back in horror.

“Da maaan is arguing wid da devil,” exclaimed one of the Jamaicans.

Only two could be coaxed back…by offering an additional $10 each.  The nurse and I each took a corner of the stretcher.  We finally made it to the cooler and called it a night.

We arrived around 8:00 AM.  The funeral people were waiting at the dock.  The staff captain prepared to use the side arm designed for the specific purpose of swinging the stretcher and body clear of the top deck and lowering it directly onto the dock.  The hotel manager once again intervened, saying that it might attract unwanted passenger attention.  He directed the body again be taken through the inside staircases.  At that point I grabbed the nurse’s arm and left the scene.  I heard later someone had removed the straps securing the body to the stretcher.  The body rolled off the stretcher at least once before making it to the dock.

More stories from Dr. Len:

On a recent cruise we walked past a door marked “Morgue” on a behind the scenes tour on the last day of the cruise.  No cameras were allowed on the tour so I don’t have a photo, but thankfully this morgue was much better located down in the bowels of the ship where only crew is normally allowed.  Rumor had it a passenger had died at the last port stop so as we walked by staring at the heavy metal door we couldn’t help but wonder if the morgue was occupied.
Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
Posted in Guest Blogs, Shipboard Life | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Decor on the MSC Divina Cruise Ship

Divina Décor

MSC Divina cruise ship

Divina in Curacao

Italian actress Sophia Loren, godmother of the MSC fleet, inspired the décor aboard the MSC Diva Divina.  The color scheme throughout most of the ship is burgundy and silver, often with sparkles.

MSC swarovski crystal stairs

golden swarovski crystal stairs in the yacht club

In the high class private area called the MSC Yacht Club, accessible for yacht club suite guests only and defined by MSC as a ship within a ship, silver accents give way to gold, particularly on the spectacular Swarovski crystal stairway – though personally I prefer the atrium’s crystal stairway in silver to the yacht club’s gold.  The silver color sets of the sparkle of the crystal more stunningly in my opinion.

cruise ship suite

Sophia Loren Suite

The largest and most expensive suite on the ship, named the Sophia Loren suite, was designed by the actress herself.  It has separate living and bedroom areas with burgundy colored furniture and black & white photos of her hanging on the walls.

lighting makes all the difference

decorating with lights

Glitzy without being gaudy, the ship decor makes use of lots of mirrors, lights, sparkles, and silver color to bring about its glamorous appearance and a hint of luxury in the public areas.

red carpet treatment

walk the red carpet into the spa

Some public areas sport red carpets so passengers can experience a walk-down-the-red-carpet star feeling.

MSC Divina Atrium

atrium on the Divina

The atrium towers several decks high.  Two flights of swarovski crystal stairs sparkle and shine their way up the two lowest decks of the atrium.  Each stair cost $3000 euros and the ship has 100 of them total including the gold ones in the MSC Yacht Club area.

lots of places to sit

little nook seating area

All around the ship passengers can find lots of little nooks where people can sit and relax or gather together with friends.

small tops on large bottoms was the theme of these statues

odd statue of misproportioned woman

The ship did seem to have quite a number of odd statues.  At least I found them odd.  Misshapen representations of women with skinny upper halves and extremely large legs and derrieres in a variety of poses or doing various activities.  It also had a few painted masks, but other than these strange items the rest of the ship looked quite lovely.

why the masks?


Many old black and white photos placed about the ship show a variety of famous people, most of them visiting Italy around the 1950’s and 60’s – the heyday of Sophia Loren’s movie era, though she has appeared in more recent films such as Grumpier Old Men.

multi-use area

Piazza Del Dodge

The ship had some multi-use spaces like the Piazza Del Dodge, decorated with a clouds and stars ceiling and old world café look with numerous cute little tables.  This area had gelato and sweets for sale.  It sometimes had watch or jewelry sales, demonstrations, or activities and was also used as a muster station.

cruise ship mural

painted mural

Some hallways, like those leading to the Piazza del Dodge, had painted murals.

smoothie bar

the spa smoothie bar used colorful fruit as both decorations and smoothie promotions (and they made good smoothies too)

Each bar, lounge, or restaurant area in the ship had its own unique décor, different from every other bar or restaurant or the other areas of the ship.  The crew diligently kept everything clean and shiny.

multi-purpose room

black and white lounge

For general information about the Divina including dining room dress codes click here.

For information about Cabins on the Divina click here.

Read about a special balcony cabin here.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
Posted in Divina, MSC, Shipboard Life | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments