Fishermen’s Terminal, Seattle

looking at the terminal buildings from the deck of a ship

Fishermen’s Terminal

Sometimes Plan B Works Out For The Best

We recently had the immensely enjoyable opportunity to join Un-Cruise Adventures on the first-ever sailing of their new Washington Coastal itinerary on one of their original expedition vessels, the Wilderness Adventurer.  Some passengers came for the beer-themed cruise, others for the destination.  A few chose this cruise because they had sailed on this ship before.  Most passengers flew in, but a few like us enjoyed the advantage of a local departure.

dock at Fishermen's Terminal

boarding the Wilderness Adventurer

On a typical semi-overcast off and on drizzly Seattle day, all passengers for this cruise met at the Waterfront Marriot Hotel.  Some passengers stayed there or in a nearby hotel before or after the cruise to have a longer time to tour Seattle.  Others arrived that day and dropped their luggage in the hospitality suite reserved for Un-Cruise guests while taking a few hours to explore the area.

marina view

view of Fishermen’s Terminal from top deck

The cruise left out of Un-Cruise Adventures home port, Fishermen’s Terminal, which does not have any long-term parking available.  We could have parked in a garage where people often park when taking a trip on one of the large cruise ships leaving out of Seattle, but as we have friends in the area we saved the money and parked at their house, taking a cab to the hotel since our friends were not at home that day.

celebrating the new itinerary

Captain Dan greets passengers at the dock

We joined a few people from the cruise in the hospitality room where we could help ourselves to free tea and wi-fi.   Others opted for the more comfortable furniture of the lobby, while most chose to roam around the Seattle waterfront or nearby Pike Place Market until time for the bus to the boat to arrive.

As we disembarked the bus at the dock,  we got a personal welcome from un-cruise staff and the owner, Captain Dan.

waterside fire trucks

firetrucks at Fishermen’s Terminal

Fishermen’s Terminal seems to have a lot going on.  On the way in we saw firetrucks on the water’s edge, apparently practicing with their hoses.  On the way out workers getting ready to head north with the fishing fleet floated about in the bright orange survival suits sometimes called gumby suits for their required lifesaving drill.

gumby suit training drill

training drill

On board, hors d’ oeuvres available in the lounge included tasty vegan bar cookies and bacon-wrapped figs.  Unusual as it sounds the bacon-wrapped figs tasted quite delicious.

cruise food

salmon dinner

Following the required safety talk and drill and we had social time and dinner, which included steak, salmon, or vegetarian choices.   Somewhere along the line the crew discovered we would have a delay in our departure due to a non-working gage and the need to find a replacement on a Saturday evening when most of the right sort of stores have already closed for the weekend.

craft brewery

bar at Stoup Brewing

Due to the delay, Captain Dan announced open bar on the ship, which meant drinks on the house.  Kendall Jones of Washington Beer Blog, our quick-thinking host of all things beer on this beer-themed cruise, came up with an on-the-spot plan B.  He called nearby local craft brewery Stoup Brewing to arrange a tour.  Any interested passengers got an extra impromptu brewery visit with their drinks on Un-Cruise.

At Stoup Brewery, patrons filled a row of tables near the bar, some with pizza in delivery boxes.  A stack of menus from a local pizza parlor sat on a stand near a wall for easy use by hungry guests who wished for deliveries of food.  Kendall led us past this and into the brewing area, explaining how the equipment worked as the brewer had gone home for the day before our unplanned tour.  When he finished people wandered about on their own or ordered drinks.

brewery equipment

Beer-host Kendall explains how to make beer

Diligence and hard work on the part of the Un-Cruise staff paid off as they found a gage and got it delivered that evening.  With the first planned stop of our trip not too far away at Hood Canal we woke up there the next morning as planned.  The cruise itinerary lost nothing in the delay, but instead gained an extra brewery tour.

 copyright My Cruise Stories 2014
Posted in Un-Cruise Adventures, Washington, Wilderness Adventurer | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


How To Fold a Towel Lobster with Bagus of MSC Divina

how to fold towels into a lobster

Towel Lobster

Supplies needed to make a towel lobster:

1 bath towel

1 hand towel


2 washcloths (optional)

 Towel Lobster Folding Instructions

how to make a towel lobster

fold the towel in half and fold the end of the top half down a bit

This lobster starts with the standard towel animal body – sort of.  In the video, Bagus shows a little trick for this.  He first folds the towel in half to insure both sides are even, and he also tucks a bit down on each end before rolling.  There’s nothing standard about how the body gets positioned after folding, he’s got quite a trick there.

how to fold cruise ship towel animals

roll top half of towel from the fold across the end

Start by folding the bath towel in half across the short side.  Fold over several inches across the top short edge.  Start rolling from the folded edge.  Roll until you get to the middle of the towel.

how to fold cruise ship towel animals

make the second roll the same as the first

Flip the other side out from under the roll and roll the other end the same way as the first side.

almost a standard towel animal body

pull tips out of the center of each roll

Fold the rolled towel in half, rolls to the outside.  Pull the tips out of the end of each roll.  Take both tips from one roll in one hand and both tips from the other roll in the other hand.

turning towels into animals

hold the tips of both ends of one roll in one hand and both ends of the other roll in the other hand

Pull both sides away from each other as if your hands were playing tug-o-war with the towel.

towels rolled into animal body

looks like a standard towel animal body so far

Set the body down rolled side up and pull tight.  Seems normal so far if you’ve made other towel animals, but now comes the trick.

nothing standard about this towel animal body now

lift the center of one roll and place it on top of the center of the other roll

Lift the center of on roll and place it over the top of the other roll.  Position front legs as desired.

towel animal folding instructions

drape hand towel over back legs of lobster body

Set hand towel over top of lobster.

towel art

make a series of folds in the hand towel

Make a series of fan-like folds across the short side of the hand towel down the lobster’s back.  Tuck the sides of the hand towel under the lobster and shape the tail.

towel origami

tuck the sides of the hand towel under the lobster and shape the tail as desired

Decorate with eyes.  Bagus used a glue stick, I always use double-stick tape.  Either way works to stick google eyes on.  Eyes made of paper or felt tend to stick fairly well on their own.

ever eat a blue lobster?

finished towel lobster

You could be done at this point, but I always like to embellish things, so I’ve added claws to mine.

How to Fold Towel Lobster Claws

how to fold a washcloth lobster claw

roll washcloth diagonally for lobster claw

Lay a washcloth out flat.  Starting from one corner, roll diagonally across the washcloth to the opposite corner.  Fold in half at the center of the roll and tuck into the end of one of the lobster’s front legs.  Position in claw shape.  Repeat with other washcloth and lobster leg.

washcloth lobster claw

fold rolled washcloth at center and insert into ends of towel lobster legs

The lobster would be better done in red towels, but I didn’t have any red towels, and not many colors where I have two washcloths, so mine has blue stripes.  Luckily I can make it redder on the computer to see how much more lobstery it would have looked if I’d had red towels.

changing color with computer photo editing

red(ish) looks a lot more like a lobster than blue

For instructions on how to fold all sorts of other towel animals, visit My Cruise Stories towel animal page.

 Copyright My Cruise Stores 2014
Posted in Towel Animals, MSC, Divina | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Aruba Shipwreck Snorkel

shore excursion in Aruba

Divina seen from the catamaran sail and snorkel boat

Once upon a time during World War 2 Dutch ships surrounded the German merchant ship Antilla, which came to Aruba  seeking a neutral harbor on the day Germany invaded Poland. This 397 foot long nearly new German ship crossed the Atlantic on its maiden voyage, never to return home.  When the captain of the Antilla refused to lower the gangway to allow the Dutch to board in the dark of night, the Dutch expected heavy resistance from the German crew and waited for daylight to board the enemy vessel.  The Dutch intended to confiscate the Antilla, but the delay gave the Germans time to open outside valves to flood the ship, set it on fire, and evacuate the crew to the lifeboats where they were arrested.  The Dutch got the crew, but not the ship which sank to the bottom forming an artificial reef for fish to live on and a place for divers and snorkelers of the future to visit.  The Antilla is the largest sunken ship in Aruba and one of the biggest in the entire Caribbean, exceeded only by the 600-foot passenger ships Bianca C in Grenada and Antilles near Mustique.

ship before it was a wreck

Antilla in 1939, photo courtesy Wikipedia

The tale the told on the way to the ship was quite exciting.  The Germans opened the seacocks and left the steam engines burning hot so that cold water slowly filled the ship while the captain and his accomplices evacuated before the loud KABOOM when the ship exploded and sank to the bottom of the sea.

fish on shipwreck

many small fish surround the Antilla

Researching this online looking for more details turned up a story of a ship seeking safe harbor and then not being allowed to leave for quite some time before the fateful night when the Dutch decided to board the ship. The Germans not lowering the gangway and the Dutch waiting until daylight to do anything about it gave the Germans time to flood the ship and set it ablaze as in the other version of the story, but it sank intact in 1940 rather than breaking apart in an explosion and the breakup of the ship was caused by heavy swells and first noticed in 1953.

snorkeler diving near shipwreck

a person looks tiny next to this massive shipwreck

In some versions of the story the captain and crew escape and row to shore, in others they are captured by the Dutch on the Antilla before evacuating the ship.  All versions of the story have open seacocks and the ship on fire, but beyond that they differ as to whether the ship explodes, just sinks, or the Dutch actually shoot the burning ship down.  It always ends up on the bottom of the sea though, can’t dispute that since it did sink there that day.


this ship is way too big to see the whole thing at once

Many years later Arubans bring cruise ship passengers and other visitors to their island out on snorkel excursions over the wreck. After snorkeling on a nearby reef for awhile on a wreck and reef sail and snorkel shore excursion from the MSC Divina, our catamaran named Rumba brought us to the wreck, leaving a channel between our boat and another catamaran.

big shipwreck in Aruba

at the wreck of the Antilla, you snorkel around to see different parts of the ship

“Stay between the two boats,” the captain instructed.

aruba semi-sub


With some fairly good-sized waves coming at the back of the boat and a semi-sub prowling around the wreck circling the two moored catamarans, nobody questioned that bit of advice as neither getting carried away by the current nor getting sliced up by the semi-sub’s engines sounded appealing to anyone. (A semi-sub has a barge-like top above the water and a windowed area below the water where people can stay dry while viewing things under the sea.)

sunken ship

the Antilla has lots of places for fish to hide

Looking at the waves, I decided that jumping in first and then putting the snorkel mask on in the water like at the first site would be a bad idea. Since the quickest exit point was from the far back corner a quick swim across the stern and into the area between the boats would be required. Besides the likelihood of getting taken out by the current while trying to get the mask in place, jumping in without it also would invite a mouthful of water from landing in the path of a wave. So I stopped to dip my mask and put it on after donning my fins and before jumping off the back of the boat and making a quick swim for the other side.

Antilla shipwreck in Aruba

mostly what you see of the ship doesn’t really look like a ship

The crew had suggested swimming toward the bow and letting the current take us back.  While swimming through the waves I felt ever so grateful that I have a dry snorkel each time it had no air because that meant a wave had gone over the top of the snorkel.  If I had the open tube sort of snorkel like they normally hand out to people who don’t bring their own gear on these sorts of excursions that would have been a mouthful of water each time rather than a brief break in the airflow.

fish habitat

fish and people are attracted to sunken ships

I’m an avid snorkeler, my husband is not. I stay in the water until the whistle blows. He always gets out early and does what he prefers – take pictures. Somehow a couple other people got in between us in the line to get off the boat and apparently he did not see that I had jumped in with my snorkel mask in place and did not follow suit.  He also made the mistake of putting air in the annoying snorkel vest that they usually make cruise ship passengers wear. Between the mouthful of water he got upon landing and the air-filled vest catching the current it was all he could do to just to get back to the ship, let alone swim across the stern and down the side of the ship to the bow.

sea life on sunken ship

the Antilla has lots of stuff growing on it

The sheer size of the wreck made it impossible to see the whole thing at once, but swimming over it you see quite a bit. Mostly it looked like a random metal monstrosity, but portions of it were recognizable as a former ship. The ship rested on its side and the bow still looked like a bow, with deck intact. Unlike the freshly sunken Kittiwake in Grand Cayman, this ship has had many years under the sea for things to grow on it, and so they have. Though much of it is still recognizable as metal, other parts have coral and other things firmly attached, some of them quite large.

tropical fish

swimming with the sergeant majors

Structure attracts fish and this wreck had plenty. Swimming along I found myself in the midst of a school of the little yellow striped sergeant majors common to most snorkel sites in the Caribbean.   Never shy, these curious fish seem very willing to come close and investigate the people.   Perhaps they wonder what we are, or maybe they are so used to people snorkeling over the wreck that we seem to them just like other types of fish.

It’s hard to dive down while wearing a snorkel vest even if it’s not inflated and the dry snorkel inhibits diving too, but sometimes I manage to get down a ways.  I saw a couple guys diving down just beyond most of the crowd.  I swam there to get some pictures of them and managed to dive down a bit myself.  All too soon the horn sounded time to get onboard.  In spite of the waves the majority of people had stayed out the whole time.

Aruba wreck diver

some snorkelers like to dive down under the water

On the way back to the MSC Divina the sails on the Rhumba went back up, but the engine never went off.  Perhaps they’d have sailed a bit for real if the wind was favorable, but once it started to flap the sails about as if attempting to shred them to bits they all came down and we traveled under power without even pretending to sail.

For anyone who wants to go snorkeling, the catamaran sail and snorkel excursions are a great way to get out on the water and see things. Anyone wishing to do some real sailing would likely be disappointed and probably better off looking for an excursion with sailing only.


Posted in Caribbean, Divina, MSC, Shore Excursions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Red White and Blueberry Smoothie

great frozen treat for 4th of July

red, white, and blueberry smoothie

What could be better for the fourth of July than a red, white, and blueberry smoothie?  Not the easiest smoothie to make, but it looks great for 4th of July festivities.  On other days blending all the ingredients together at once saves a lot of time and makes less dirty dishes.

berry smoothie

the layers run together more in a slightly thinner smoothie

The key to having separate layers is to make each layer as thick as possible.  You want just enough liquid for the blender to work.  Adjust the portions of liquid and solid as necessary.  If it won’t blend add a bit more liquid and if it comes out too thin add more frozen fruit or yogurt depending on the layer.  If you want the layers to run into each other a bit you can make it a little thinner, but if it is too thin it will all just run together completely and there will be no layers at all.

People can stir the layers together with their straw when they drink it if they want to.

making frozen yogurt for smoothies

freeze vanilla yogurt in blobs or ice cube trays

This smoothie uses no ice cubes, so the fruit and yogurt need to be frozen and the liquids refrigerator cold.  The yogurt that comes as frozen yogurt is more like ice cream, and regular yogurt works better for the smoothie.  Buy regular vanilla yogurt and either freeze it in an ice cube tray or line a pan with a piece of parchment paper and drop spoonfuls of yogurt in blobs to freeze.  Don’t make them too big or they will not be easy to cut or blender friendly.  Greek yogurt gives the smoothie an odd texture so I would not recommend using it.

how to make a frozen fruit smoothie

magic bullet blender

The Magic Bullet blender is ideal for this if you have one because it mixes things in small separate cups.

Red, White, and Blueberry Smoothie Recipe

3-4 large frozen strawberries, chopped into small pieces (2/3 cup chopped frozen strawberries)

1/4 cup cold red colored juice (I used cranberry)

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/3 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon cold bluish colored juice (I used blueberry pomegranate)

2/3 cup regular vanilla yogurt, frozen and chopped into small pieces (Coconut milk yogurt works for those who don’t eat dairy.)

2 tablespoons cold milk (Does not have to be cow’s milk, alternatives such as plant-based milk are fine.)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Agave or honey or your favorite sweetener if desired

For the red layer blend strawberries, red juice, and if desired sweetener to your taste.

For the blueberry layer blend blueberries, bluish juice, and if desired sweetener to your taste.

For the white layer blend yogurt, milk, and vanilla.

If you have a magic bullet so you can mix each batch in a separate cup, measure out the liquid portions into each of three cups.  Add in the blueberries and strawberries.  Let those sit in the juice while chopping the yogurt.  Set yogurt aside and don’t put it in the milk until the last minute.  The berries blend better if they sit in the juice a few minutes first, but you don’t want the yogurt to get too soft.

Make each layer as thick as your blender allows.  Add liquid or solid as needed to each layer to get the consistency right.

Pour strawberry layer into bottom of a clean glass.  All layers are too thin if they pour out freely and you don’t have to help them along with a spoon.

Spoon yogurt layer on top of strawberry layer.  This layer should pretty much totally be spooned onto the next layer and not really pour at all.  It will sink partially into the strawberry layer, but if both layers are thick enough some of it will leave a separate white layer.

Pour blueberry layer over the top of the yogurt layer, again it should be thick enough that you have to help it out with a spoon so it stays somewhat separate from the yogurt layer.

Add a straw and serve quickly before the layers start melting together.

Makes one 2-cup smoothie.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2014
Posted in recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The P and O cruise


kids on cruise ships

Hannah and friend lounging on a deck chair

My Daughter recently took a cruise with her kids on P&O, an Australian cruise line. In her blog, Mommy Adventures she wrote a review of her experiences taking a cruise with two small children. She found having a child under the age limit for the children’s program rather inconvenient. Cruise lines vary from less than a year to three years old as the starting age for children’s activities or babysitting. For information about children’s programs on a variety of cruise lines see Cruising With Kids.

Originally posted on Mommy Adventures:

“How many more days?”  Hannah asked me every morning for weeks.  She and Daniel were so excited for our cruise with Aunty Jess, as was I.  It was our last hurrah before everything change, before she has a baby.  That’s not for another 20 weeks, but cruises have surprisingly early pregnancy cut off dates.


I have been potty training Daniel vigilantly for a couple of months, but it was all in vain.  He wasn’t allowed at the kids club.  Not because he wasn’t potty trained.  Contrary to what P&O’s website says, kids who aren’t potty trained can go in the kids club.  Their parents just have to respond to the pager given out by the kids club asap to change a soiled nappy if needed.

He wasn’t allowed in the kids club because they don’t take kids who are a day under 3.  I thought that when Jess said if…

View original 2,124 more words

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Ketchikan Alaska – Dolly’s House

Dolly's House on Creek Street

Creek Street in Ketchikan, Alaska

Creek Street in Ketchikan now houses all manner of touristy shops.  In the past these houses held quite a different sort of businesses.  From the early 1900′s to 1954 the red light district of Ketchikan flourished along Creek Street.  One house still sits as it was in that era with all the furnishings intact.  People can take a tour of Dolly’s house, now known as Dolly’s House Museum.  Creek Street is an easy walk from the cruise ship docks for most people through several blocks of shops on level ground.

the sort of stuff a whore has

some of Dolly’s things

The self-guided tour starts with a bit of history about Dolly Arthur, born in 1888 as Thelma Copeland.  She left her family home in rural Idaho at age 13, living in Montana and Vancouver BC before making her way to Alaska.  By her late teens she realized she could make more money from the attention of men than she could working as a waitress.   In 1919 she wound up in Alaska, having discovered a way she could make a significant amount of money for that era.  Dolly spent her first year in Ketchikan at the Star, the only house on Creek Street actually classified as a brothel because it employed more than two women.  Then she bought her own house.

these Dollies pedal tours, not themselves

not the real Dolly

At a time when the average Ketchikan worker made $1 a day, Dolly charged each man $3 and didn’t close her door for the night until she had made $75.  She bought her house for $800 and paid it off in two weeks.  Eventually she bought other houses along Creek Street, which she rented to other working girls.  They referred to themselves as “sporting women” rather than whores, and prospered in a town with many single men and few women.  Though most Creek Street residents worked in pairs, Dolly worked alone in her own house.   Through all her working years she never got an STD.

Creek Street was referred to as the place where men and salmon went upstream to spawn.  While single men openly walked the boardwalk through the bordellos, married men used the more discreet Married Man’s Trail through the woods.  The girls knew married clients by the mud on their shoes.

inside Dolly's House

Dolly’s table and china

During prohibition Dolly made more money selling small amounts of liquor for large sums to her gentleman callers then she did through prostitution.  Authorities never caught her with alcohol.  She kept just one bottle in the house at a time and hid the rest under the dock.  In a raid she could easily discard the one bottle without losing her entire stock of moonshine.  Many of the Creek Street houses had trapdoors where they could receive alcohol deliveries under the dock in the dark of night.

the dock at Creek Street

reflections of Dolly’s House

When indoor plumbing became available she had her house done right away, with a men’s room downstairs and a full bath on the second floor.  Plumbing on Creek Street in its heyday did not include hooking up to sewers though.  Before the 1960′s everything just went out into the creek to wait for the tides to take it away.

what to do with useless condoms

Dolly’s shower curtain with decorative flowers made of silk condoms

The Dolly’s House Museum has many of Dolly’s things on display including furnishings and dishes.  Not one to let things go to waste Dolly decorated her shower curtain with roses made from silk condoms, as they were useless for other things.  The shower curtain also remains as part of the tour.

old fashioned kitchen

modern appliances – when Dolly bought them

Ketchikan eventually outlawed prostitution and Dolly’s was the last Creek Street house to close.  Dolly retired at age 72, but remained living in her house until nearly the end of her life.

Dolly's boudoir

Dolly’s office…the place she made her money

Creek Street fell into disrepair for a time, but when tourism hit the town as a major industry somebody realized the historical value of Creek Street and the attraction that the area would hold for visitors.  Many of the houses were restored or rebuilt.

a former whorehouse

Dolly’s House

While wandering about Ketchikan on our port stop there on the Holland America Westerdam, my sister and I felt it was worth the mere $5 admission to take the tour of Dolly’s House.  There are not many attractions you can see in a cruise ship port for just $5.

Westerdam in Ketchikan

Westerdam photo taken from the Married Man’s Trail

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2014
Posted in Alaska, Holland America, Port Cities, Ports of Call, Westerdam | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Wilderness Adventurer

small cruise ship

Wilderness Adventurer at anchor

Wilderness Adventurer is a small cruise ship near and dear to my heart.  I first saw this ship in dry dock four years ago sitting next to her sister ship the Wilderness Discoverer.  We took a mid-renovation tour of the Wilderness Discoverer prior to experiencing an awesome vacation on Safari Quest, then of American Safari Cruises.  Our trip on Safari Quest took a test run for the Alaskan itinerary the Wilderness Adventurer and Wilderness Discoverer would sail when they launched as InnerSea Discoveries the next year.

ship christening

Wilderness Adventurer gets christened

I visited the Wilderness Adventurer again the next spring at their home port in Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal for a double ship christening after the renovations were finished.  They had a nice ceremony with a different person giving a speech and breaking the christening bottle of champagne on each ship.

Four years later the company has grown quite a lot. They have more ships, more itineraries, and have united American Safari and InnerSea Discoveries together under the name Un-Cruise Adventures.   It’s called an un-cruise because unlike the big ships that can only go to big ports, these smaller vessels visit quaint small towns and anchor in uninhabited coves.  Off-ship activities like hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding and skiff tours don’t cost extra on these small-ship cruises.

fun on boats

Passengers on a skiff from the Wilderness Adventurer

The ship is small enough that at least some of the crew remembers your name.  Other passengers often seem like old friends even if they just met when they came on board.  Daily activities follow a flexible schedule depending on weather, wildlife sightings, and which activities passengers prefer.

Cabin on Wilderness Adventurer

View Window in Cabin

A smaller ship does mean smaller cabins, but since the ship mainly travels at night and guests spend time daily on shore or enjoying water activities the cabins are mainly just for sleeping in.  All guest cabins on the Wilderness Adventurer have view windows.

Adventure gear storage

Hallway of coat hooks

Wilderness Adventurer holds 60 guests in 30 cabins.    Hooks outside the rooms make a place to keep things like coats or rain gear handy and out of the way though the rooms do have quite a lot of storage space for people’s things.

Captain of the Wilderness Adventurer

Following dinner,Captain Ron talked about weather and the next day’s activities

Twenty-five crew members  work a variety of positions from captain and bridge officers to deckhands and expedition guides to galley crew and stewards.

Friday Harbor, San Juan Island

Wilderness Adventurer in Friday Harbor

The ship is 160 feet long and 39 feet wide.  Next to a big cruise ship it would seem small, but docked in a small-town marina it looks huge.  Wilderness Adventurer cruises at a speed of 9.5 knots.  It was built by Blount Boats in 1984 and renovated for the current owner in 2011.  Renovations included an underwater bow cam so guests can see what’s under the sea on the flat-screen TV’s in the lounge or in their cabins.

cruise ship cabin

All cabins have a flat screen TV

Once again we had an excellent adventure testing the first run of a new itinerary – this time locally around the Olympic Peninsula and San Juan Islands. In spite of a rainy start at our first stop everyone had a wonderful time.  This beer-themed cruise included tours of craft breweries and onboard tastings of local craft beers which all the beer-loving passengers enjoyed immensely.

cruise ship buffet

Buffet at lunchtime

During our cruise, breakfast and lunch were served buffet style and dinner usually in sit down and order fashion, though ordering half and half of a couple of the offered choices was quite popular among guests.  The tasty food served at each meal changed daily.

kayak launcher

get in the kayak and the crew pushes it into the water – and pulls you back up on the platform for a dry disembarkation when you return

The kayak launching dock on the back of the Wilderness Adventurer allows guests to get in and out of the kayaks in a dry area, making it quite easy for first time kayakers and a breeze for experienced paddlers as well.

craft beer

beer ready to drink at one of the onboard beer tasting events

Some passengers had done the Alaska trip on this ship previously and had such a wonderful time they returned specifically because the same ship had a new itinerary. She’s back to Alaska for the summer where other guests can visit glaciers, hike or kayak in the wilderness, and look for wildlife including whales and bears .   Come fall or next spring the Wilderness Adventurer will run the Coastal Washington itinerary again so it’s not too early to plan ahead and book this great adventure.   If you like beer, all the beer-themed activities are an added bonus on this cruise.

Posted in Un-Cruise Adventures, Wilderness Adventurer | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

How to Fold a Towel Squid

how to make a towel squid

Towel Squid

When I posted the blog about how to fold a towel pigeon, I got a comment from my son (the very same person who had said my towel crab needed more legs) saying one of the partially folded photos looked like a squid and that I should do a blog on how to make a towel squid.  So here it is, from pigeon to squid.

How to fold a towel pigeon

partly folded pigeon body resembles a squid

Supplies Needed for Towel Squid Folding

1.  Hand Towel

2. Wash Cloth

3. Eyes and any other desired embellishments

Instructions for Folding a Towel Squid

Find the center of one long edge of the hand towel.  Hang it on a hook on the wall, or if no hook is available or you just prefer to do it that way, tuck it under your chin.

getting ready to roll a towel into a squid

whether you hang the towel from a hook or tuck it under your chin, the key is to get the ends rolled tightly

Tightly roll both edges to the center.  While you want your hands near the top pointy end for birds to get that end good and tight, for the squid it is better to hold the bottom end.  You need the bottom end tight for it to hold its shape, and you don’t want the top end to curl, as it does when very tight (which is desirable for birds, but not squids.)

making a towel into a squid

hold near the lower end of the towel while rolling it for a squid

Set the rolled towel down with the rolls underneath the towel.  Fold the bottom edge up just a bit to help it hold its shape and to make the legs a tad longer.

how to fold a towel into a squid

both sides of towel rolled together, this side with the rolls goes underneath

Lay the washcloth out flat.  Start from one corner and roll until you reach the opposite corner.

towel squid folding instructions

roll the washcloth from corner to corner

Bend washcloth into a U shape and insert bent side under the folded edge of the squid body between the other two legs.

squid towel animal

bend the washcloth like a horseshoe

Now it has 4 legs instead of 2, which is still not as many as a real squid, but since this squid lies flat we will just imagine the other legs are hidden underneath where we can’t see them.  Or roll two more wash cloths and add more legs.

making washcloth legs for a towel squid

tuck the bent end of the washcloth under the squid body to add more legs

Decorate squid as desired.  I tried humanizing it by adding a nose and mouth as well as eyes, but since real squids do not have that sort of face I liked mine better with just the eyes.

decorating a squid towel animal

finished towel squid with face

My Cruise Stories has a whole series on towel animal folding with instructions for making all sorts of other towel animals.

Copyright 2014 My Cruise Stories
Posted in Towel Animals | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Aruba Sail and Snorkel

cruise ship and sailboat

Divina from the catamaran

The MSC  Divina sailed past colorful houses and a working port into Aruba on a windy December day.  We booked a sail and snorkel excursion through the ship.  It had two stops, one at a reef and the other at a wreck.

After meeting with our excursion group in the specified lounge we joined the group of passengers following the guide holding up the paddle with our tour number on it.

sail and snorkel excursion

Catamaran named Rhumba

We did not have to take a bus or shuttle.  Our group just walked across the dock to a waiting catamaran named Rumba on the other side of the pier.  Rhumba’s crew took a passenger count before leaving the dock so they would know how many people they needed on board before leaving each stop in order to insure everyone returned at the end of the journey.

tropical beach

palapas on a beach in Aruba

After pulling away from the dock the sails went up, though the rumble of the engines never quieted. We really didn’t expect it to. There isn’t usually time to actually sail on this sort of excursion, though in Saint Martin when we sailed to Tintamarre they did sail for real a short while on the way back. A fair way down the island the boat stopped relatively close to shore near a lighthouse and a beach full of palapas.

underwater photo

there’s all sorts of interesting things to see under the sea

The captain listed a number of places where passengers could exit the boat, so with snorkel gear in hand people made for the exits. Most went to the starboard side so I pretty much had the port side to myself.

school of small fish

fish like structure

With clear space and calm water around the boat, jumping in first and then putting the snorkel mask on seemed the easiest thing to do.  Heading away from the stern to snorkel away from the crowed seemed like a good idea to me, but apparently to the crew not so much.

fish in coral

broken brain coral gives fish a place to hide

Snorkeling out deeper than where the boat sat seemed off limits as they motioned me back when I started out that way.  Alongside the boat and toward shore the areas they allowed us to go had a number of places with several varieties of coral, each teeming with numerous fish. A couple long thin swordnosed fish I’ve not seen before zipped by, too high and too fast to catch with my trusty Panasonic Lumix underwater camera.

fish seen snorkeling

French angelfish

I followed three fairly large French angelfish for a bit and eventually swam over to the other side to see what everyone else was looking at. That side had less structure on the bottom, but still had some fish to see. Shortly after finding my husband in the crowd a lady said she’d seen some octopus or something like them. We went where she said and found a school of cuttlefish, which I have not seen previously while snorkeling anywhere else.

snorkeling with cuttlefish video

The boat’s horn signaled time to climb aboard. Everyone got settled in and we headed off to our next stop over a shipwreck. We did not go far, just out to deeper water. It almost seemed like a swim-over like last year’s 3-reef snorkel in the calm crystal clear waters of Cozumel would have taken less time, but sea conditions and the presence of a semi-sub probably made that impossible even if the distance had been half what it was.

cuttlefish in Aruba

school of cuttlefish

We tried scrub mask & slate cleaner and quick spit antifog the first time this trip, and my mask was the clearest it’s ever been. No fogging whatsoever. My mask stayed just as clear at the second stop as the first without adding any additional product in spite of the fact that we used them last minute on the boat with no water available to rinse as the jars instructed. We just sprayed the cleaner on and wiped it off with a towel, ridding the mask of salt spots left from last year, then did the same with the defogger. (This time I actually cleaned the salt off with fresh water once back in the cruise ship cabin.)

nautical chart of Aruba

Aruba Chart

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2014
Posted in Caribbean, Divina, MSC, Shore Excursions | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Interview with John Heald: Left Behind on a Cruise

cruise ship at the dock

Carnival Breeze in Antigua

It happens frequently.  For one reason or another passengers arrive at the dock after the posted departure time at a port stop.  The thing about cruise ships – they’re punctual.  If the schedule says the ship departs at 5pm, arriving at the dock at 5:01 means watching the ship leave without you.  Ships rarely stay in port past their departure time.  I’ve seen it happen for a medical emergency where the ship next to us had an ambulance come down the dock and remove someone.  That ship was supposed to leave before ours, but was still there when we left the dock.

if you're late on a ship's excursion they'll wait

When our Canary Island Tour arrived at the dock late they hurried everyone aboard and pulled in the gangplank

I’ve also arrived late a couple times – but as part of a shore excursion purchased on the ship.  One of them was a Canary Island Tour on the Breeze.   For that the ship will wait.  That’s one advantage of taking one of the ship’s excursions.  For the most part though that ship leaves the dock when it says it will – with or without everyone on board.  I’ve been on cruises where a few people did get left behind at one port or another more than once.

In this video John Heald says what happens after Carnival passengers miss the ship and what to do in case that person is ever you.

When our Canary Island tour got back to the dock, passengers on their balconies clapped as the crew ushered us aboard and pulled in the gangplank ready to head out to sea for a five day Atlantic crossing.  Just as the ship started to pull away the captain saw one last passenger running down the dock.  In a move unprecedented on any prior cruise I’ve sailed on he actually reversed from pulling away to returning to the dock for the straggler.  That guy got very lucky as the odds of him having to find his own way across the ocean were nearly certain at that point.  Had it not been the last port before a long ocean crossing he’d have been left behind for sure.

In this interview with the captain of the Breeze he tells why he went back to the dock for the last straggler at the final port before a transatlantic crossing.

If there is anyone out there who has been left behind that would like to share their story please contact me.   I’d love to have your story as a guest post on this blog!

Other parts of the John Heald Interview:

Carnival Breeze – Things To Do and Best Kept Secrets

Carnival Breeze – Best Places

Life on a ship and Funships 2.0

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2014
Posted in Breeze, Carnival, Ports of Call, Shipboard Life | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments