Princess of the Kayak

expedition cruise

Wilderness Adventurer from the kayak

On an Un-Cruise voyage the main activities offered at any stop often include kayaking.  Once the Wilderness Adventurer anchors up, crew members lower the kayak launcher down to water level and line kayaks up in the slots.  Not just any kayaks, these are all top of the line Necky kayaks.  Passengers can climb into the kayak on a totally dry platform and once inside the crew pushes the small craft out into the water.  When finished passengers paddle back to the platform where the crew pulls their boat onto the kayak dock and they can get out with solid ground on either side.  Very easy to get in and out and no possibility of capsizing the kayak while doing so.  They also have stand-up paddle boards available for any guests who wish to use them.

necky kayaks

Necky kayaks ready and waiting

Just 6 weeks before our cruise while running with my dog she noticed the neighbor dog outside of his fence and suddenly lunged in front of me, launching me into the air where I went flying over her back before landing on the paved road.  The dog was not only uninjured by this event, but completely oblivious to the fact that while in the air I put out my hand to break the fall and ended up with my arm broken inside the elbow joint.  A rare sort of break my orthopedist said he had seen only 3 of in a 30 year career – and he was a bone specialist.  Because the break was in the joint rather than a solid unmoving part of the bone he never put a cast on it.  In the beginning it had a tightly wrapped splint, which allowed no movement at all.  About 4 weeks after the break I started physical therapy.  The first session mainly consisted of the therapist showing me ways to cope without much use of that arm since at that time unwrapping the splint caused me major dizzyness on the verge of passing out and neither she nor the doctor had very high hopes for me.  She wrapped it more loosely than the doctor though, and the slight bit of movement that allowed made it possible to remove the splint and still stay vertical the next week.  Just before the cruise the splint came off for good, but both the doctor and therapist forbade any kayak paddling when I mentioned the upcoming trip.

how to use a kayak launcher

passengers getting into kayaks

Without the splint screaming out I’m injured to anyone who saw me, my arm looked perfectly normal to the unknowing onlooker.  It doesn’t bend or straighten completely or have full range of motion, but other people can’t see any of that.  While getting on and off skiffs I kept the arm tucked in front of me and didn’t allow the well-meaning crew to take hold of my left arm or hand to assist in transferring from one boat to another as it was still in a very fragile state at that time.

how to foolproof a kayak

crew pushes the kayak out into the water

Because of my arm for the most part we opted for hikes in the places we visited, but we wanted to get out in a kayak at least once.  We would have gone on a guided paddle tour, but were told we would never keep up with the group with just one person paddling and the other one dead weight in the boat.  Just sitting there looking lazy is not my style, but I had no choice.  A bag of rocks would have been as useful as me – maybe more so since it might make a good anchor.  Paddling around on your own near the ship is an option for kayakers so we did that.  Unknowing other passengers had a tendency to hang over the ship’s railing yelling “you forgot your paddle” as we went by, probably thinking they were being funny.

kayaks on the paddle

kayaks filled with people who can actually paddle them

Maybe that is a small taste of what it feels like to be a princess.  Just sit there and try to look regal (something I would fail miserably at I’m afraid) while someone else does all the work.  Except people would be too busy trying to get a glimpse or a photo of a princess to say anything about her not paddling – and probably wouldn’t expect her to anyway.   I guess I should have tried to perfect the parade wave so when anyone said something about my lack of a paddle I could just smile and wave with my good arm like I was passing by in a float rather than floating past.  At least the one arm would have gotten some exercise that way.

returning to the kayak launcher

crew pulling the kayak back on board

We (or should I say he) paddled off to the shore of a nearby island.  Often times when we’ve kayaked before I’d paddle while he took videos.  I’ve rarely been the non-paddler before even for short periods and never for the whole ride so it felt a bit awkward just sitting there doing nothing other than taking a few pictures while he did all the work.

paddleboards in the San Juan Islands

John goes paddleboarding

I rather liked the quiet near the island and would have liked to stay awhile, but he spied someone on a paddle board near the ship and off we went.  When you haven’t got a paddle you have no say in where you go….wait a minute a real princess could tell her lackey to paddle her wherever she wanted.  “No you can’t go on a paddle board, just paddle me around out here” might work for a princess, but for me it would not have gone over too well.

kayaking in the San Juan Islands

kayaks on a guided paddle tour

Later in the trip the ship spent a stormy night sheltering near a state park at Stuart Island.  The morning brought sunshine and to take advantage of our unscheduled location the crew offered several water activities – kayaks, skiff tours or paddle boards.  John took the opportunity to go out on a group paddle tour with a guide and other passengers from the ship while I stayed on the boat and had a wonderfully luxurious massage from the onboard masseuse and some hot tub time.   Now that sounds like a princessy thing to do!  Cheapskate that I am I’ve never spent money on a massage before, but now that I’ve tried it I highly recommend pampering yourself with a nice massage on your next cruise.  It’s a real bargain on the Wilderness Adventurer compared to massage prices on the big ships.  You get a whole hour with the massage tailored to your needs or desires.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
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How To Fold a Towel Squirrel

How To Make A Towel Squirrel

how to fold towel animals

Towel Squirrel

Supplies Needed to Fold a Towel Squirrel

Two Washcloths

One Handtowel

One Pipecleaner


How to Fold a Washcloth Squirrel Head

For a video on how to fold the squirrel head, view the washcloth mouse because the mouse is used as the squirrel’s head.

using a washcloth mouse for a towel squirrel head

washcloth folded on the diagonal with the first corner folded to the center

Lay washcloth flat.  Fold in half diagonally.  Fold one corner to center of folded edge, followed by opposite corner.

washcloth art

fold straight edge over once

Fold over long edge.

how to fold a washcloth mouse

pull tips of the corners out from under the folded edge

Fold washcloth in half. Bring tips of each of the corners out from under the folded edge for ears.

washcloth origami

the squirrel works well with a thick washcloth

Fold top part down flush with sides.

how to fold a washcloth into a mouse

use your fingers to shape the head and eye sockets

Secure with rubber band.  Shape ears, face, and eye spaces as desired.  Add eyes.  If you don’t have googly eyes you can make eyes from felt or paper.

How to Make a Towel Squirrel Body

The squirrel takes the standard towel animal body, only made with a hand towel instead of the usual bath towel.

towel origami

roll both ends of short side to middle

Lay the hand towel out flat.  Roll both ends from the short side to the center.

towel art

rolled towel folded in half with tips pulled out at end of each roll

Fold rolled towel in half with rolls on the outside.  Pull the tip out of the center of each roll.

small towel folding

pull with both hands (I don’t actually pull with the foot, it just held things in place for the photo while the other hand is on the camera)

Hold tips from both ends of one roll in one hand and both ends of the other roll in the other hand and pull all of them at once until rolls pull out into the four legs of an animal body.

How to Fold a Washcloth Squirrel Tail

washcloth animal folding

lay pipe cleaner diagonally across center of washcloth from one corner

Fold squirrel tail from a washcloth.  Put a pipe cleaner on washcloth diagonally over one corner.

washcloth art

fold one side of washcloth over pipe cleaner triangularly from the corner where the pipe cleaner is

Fold one side of the washcloth triangularly over the pipe cleaner.

making a washcloth squirrel tail

fold the other side of the washcloth across the first fold

Fold other side and then fold again.

towel art

fold tail over a third time

Assembling the Towel Squirrel

how to put a towel animal together

tuck washcloth head between leg rolls on body towel

Put the head between the rolls of the body.

making towel animals

sit the squirrel up and position legs so they hold up the head, then tuck wide end of tail into lower fold at back of body

Bring squirrel into sitting position.  Tuck wide end of tail into lower fold at back of body.  Use the pipe cleaner to hold the tail up and make an arch to shape it into squirrel tail.  If you really want to get creative you could add things like whiskers or claws.

towel animal folding directions

finished towel squirrel

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

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015


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Bottom Dwellers

cruise ship at the dock

Carnival Splendor in Dominica

In all my cruises on the big ships before the Splendor I had never had a cabin below deck 6. Sometimes we had balconies, sometimes inside rooms, but never an outside room with a window (or porthole).  Like most cruise ship passengers we looked down on the rooms on the lower floors as something less desirable.  In the interest of saving money, this time we tried something different on Carnival Splendor, an oceanview room on deck 1 with 4 people.

This cabin had quite a bit of space and even with 4 we never felt crowded. It had a bed near the window, but with space between the bed and window to walk over to the window and look out.  It had another bed a nightstand away, both beds parallel with the short end of the room.  A small table sat next to the second bed.  On the other side of the table parallel to the long side of the wall it had a bed which would be a couch if there were less people in the room, and above that a bunk that drops down from the ceiling.

cruise ship cabin sleeps 4

Room 1234

The opposite wall to those beds had a desk/dresser with mirrors above it, an undercounter stool in the middle, drawers, the mini-bar (which we had cleaned out to use as a fridge) and a cupboard and a couple shelves. There was also a chair next to the bed.  The entrance into the cabin consisted of a little hallway with 3 closets, one with 4 shelves and 2 with hangers sitting opposite the bathroom door.

inside cruise ship cabin

room 1234

We had a good amount of space between the bunks and the desk so everyone could get around the cabin without running into anyone else. We always bring extra hangers as there are never enough with just 2 of us so we knew for sure we would need more with 4. Everyone had somewhere to put their clothes with all the different places the room had to put things. The nightstands also had little cupboards in them and we found space enough under the beds for all the suitcases even though one of them had the couch back under it since we were using that as a bed. The couch bed also had drawers underneath of it for more storage space.

power bar

bring your own outlets

Besides extra hangers we always bring a power strip. Cruise ship cabins often have just one outlet which is definitely not enough for two people, let alone four.  You don’t need a place to plug in the hairdryer though.  The ship provides a hairdryer that resides in a drawer where it has a permanent cord.

organizing a cruise ship cabin

papers magneted to the wall around the door to a connecting cabin

Four people in a room does mean a lot of stuff, but we helped keep the room neater by using magnets to keep anything paper we wanted to hang onto on the wall. (Walls and doors in cruise ship cabins are magnetic.) This kept things like excursion tickets and the daily Fun Times handy and easy to find as well as preventing them from cluttering up the counters. Magnets also come in handy to keep the key cards on the wall next to the door where they can easily be grabbed on the way out.

cruise ship closet

closet 1 of 3 (the other two had bars to hang things)

Sometimes everyone needed to get ready at once. Rather than each person waiting for the bathroom to change clothes, which can take awhile with 4 people, one person could make their own little dressing room area by opening a closet door and changing on the other side of it in the little hallway space between the closet and bathroom by the door into the room.  Occasionally someone needed the bathroom while somebody else was in the shower, but a handy public bathroom two decks up solved that problem.

furniture in a cruise ship cabin

the nightstands had some storage space

I wasn’t sure how I would like being below all the other decks where passengers go, underneath the public areas even, but found out that I liked the bottom of the ship quite well. Well OK not the actual bottom, but the bottom for passengers. It’s nice to look out the window and have the water fairly close rather than decks and decks away. We could watch people come and go in port as our room was near the gangway and usually on the dock side. When we wanted to get on or off the ship in port the exit was just one deck away, making it easy to avoid the crowd at the elevator.

We ate at the Black Pearl on deck 3, so dinner was just 2 decks up, as well as the main theater. Of course the Lido, which means buffet, pools, and waterslide were many decks up, but the other public passenger areas on decks 3, 4, and 5 were quite close. Deck 1 just had an ironing room, but deck 2 had a full launderette, though it did take quarters rather than the sail and sign card used to operate the washers and dryers on most ships. They have plans in the works for updating the washing machines and dryers on the Splendor to the ones that take cards though.  Until they do if you have quarters you have a advantage because you can get a washing machine while other passengers are off looking for quarters.

Another advantage for bottom dwellers besides the fact that lower in the ship means cheaper rooms is that the lower they are the less you feel the motion of the ship which comes in handy for walking around on days when the sea is rougher as well as for people with motion sickness issues.

cruise ship cabin window

even the window could be used as extra storage space

Windows mainly are found in rooms too low for balconies, and are a great compromise between comfort and price. Oceanview cabins are often larger than inside rooms and also have natural light and a view, yet cost significantly less than balcony rooms. I would certainly stay in a lower level room again on a future cruise. I definitely prefer a window room over an inside cabin, and though a balcony is nice the window comes at a better price.  I have booked several cruises after returning from this one, all in lower level rooms.

Perhaps thinking of low level rooms as second class or less desirable stems from the poor people staying in steerage down below while rich passengers had suites above in old time ships, but that mindset rather makes those rooms one of the best kept secrets in cruising since it’s actually really nice down below. Even with inside rooms the same size room on a higher deck has a higher category listing and therefore higher price. If booking an inside cabin to save money you’ll save more the lower in the ship you go and odds are the room itself is the same whatever deck it’s on.

cruise ship deck plan

Splendor Riviera Deck 1

Check the deck plans before booking any cruise ship cabin. I always look for what is above and below my cabin, trying to avoid rooming above or below public areas or anything that may be noisy during the night.   Booking deck 1 you take your chances on what’s below, but whatever was under us never made any noise so we got lucky.  Deck plans also show the few odd rooms that are bigger or smaller than others in their category, or if booking a balcony room the ones that have extra balcony space.

Sometimes you can save money by booking a category guarantee.  With the category guarantee you take what room you get, but it didn’t cost as much and upgrades are more likely as you are guaranteed a room of at least the category booked, but it can go higher.

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Gluten Free Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce – Dairy Free Too

Since I’ve started cruising frequently I’ve rather developed a fondness for bread pudding.  It’s the sort of old-fashioned homestyle dessert I’d never really given a thought to until I started noticing it regularly on the ships.  While fancy versions like Bitter & Blanc sometimes make an appearance in single serve bowls in the dining room, buffets often have more homey versions in serve yourself vats with warm pots of sauce on the side.

With two gluten (and dairy) free sisters and a gluten free sister-in-law as well, I end up doing quite a bit of gluten free cooking, often experimenting with turning regular recipes into a gluten free variety.  Some experiments definitely work better than others.  Ingredient proportions often need adjustments from regular recipes to get sauces to thicken or batters to set.

This recipe tastes just like regular bread pudding.  Except that most recipes for bread pudding with vanilla sauce call for raisins.  I don’t like cooked raisins so I tried other options instead.  Chocolate chips work great if you can find some safe for the diets of whoever you are cooking for.  Craisins are another option and of course there’s the traditional raisins.  Use what you like that works with your diet.  Or don’t add anything, that works too.  Bread pudding tastes just fine on its own with no add-ins.

If either gluten or dairy is not a problem for you feel free to use regular bread or milk and butter or try this recipe.  You can use any bread you like to make bread pudding.  I’ve even used cupcakes from a failed gluten free pumpkin cupcake experiment for the bread – and they made way better bread pudding than they did cupcakes.  (If using something sweet for the bread use a lot less sugar in the pudding.)

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

Gluten Free Dairy Free Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce

Gluten Free Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce

Gluten Free Dairy Free Bread Pudding Ingredients

5 eggs

1/4 cup granulated white sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional regardless of add-in or lack thereof,  recommended to omit if using chocolate chips)

2 cups almond or other non-dairy milk (regular milk is fine if dairy is not an issue)

3 tablespoons non-dairy butter substitute, melted (butter is fine if dairy is not an issue)

10 slices gluten-free bread, cut into cubes (If using regular bread use 8 or 9 depending on the size because regular bread loaves are almost always bigger than gluten free.)  White or sourdough bread lets the pudding flavor come through more than the bread flavor.

1 cup chocolate chips or craisins or raisins or blueberries or whatever you like if you want an add-in

Gluten Free Dairy Free Bread Pudding Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (190 degrees C).  Grease a large casserole dish or 2-quart baking pan.

Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl with whisk.  Stir in sugars, cinnamon and almond milk.  Slowly pour in melted butter substitute while briskly whisking.  Stir in bread cubes until coated and then stir in add-in of choice until distributed throughout bread cubes.

Pour bread mixture into prepared pan.  Bake 1 hour at 375 degrees.  Check at half an hour and if the bread looks like it is getting too brown (or for moister pudding) cover for remainder of baking time.  Serve warm with warm Vanilla Sauce.

Gluten Free Dairy Free Vanilla Sauce Ingredients

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1  1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (more or less is fine depending on how thick or thin you like your sauce.)

1 egg  (If making a smaller portion of the pudding you can cut the sauce recipe down to half and still add the egg, any less just leave the egg out and the sauce still comes out fine.)

1 1/4 cups almond milk (regular milk if dairy is not an issue)

2 tablespoons non-dairy butter substitute (or butter)

1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Gluten Free Dairy Free Vanilla Sauce Directions

Whisk brown sugar, egg, almond milk, and cornstarch together in heavy saucepan.  Add butter substitute.  Cook over medium heat whisking constantly until butter substitute melts and blends with other ingredients and sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla until well blended.  Serve warm over warm bread pudding.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
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Carnival Australia Dining Room Dinner Menus

cruise ship in Tasmania

Legend in Hobart

The daily dining room dinner menus on Carnival Australia have some of the same things served on ships from Carnival America, but they have their differences as well.  Starting with the wording – in America entree means the main meal, but in Australia entree means appetizer.  As on Carnival America, there is always a lighter healthier option and a vegetarian option.  We sailed on the Legend, but odds are these Australian menus also apply to the Spirit, which sails from Australia year-round.

cruise ship children's menu

Carnival Australia Kid’s Menu

We took a 7 day cruise to Tasmania, which had a Mexican/Caribbean dress night with a Mexican fiesta menu.  Since there’s a separate Caribbean menu I’m guessing the longer cruises have a specific Caribbean night.

Each night the menu has the every night side that never changes and the today side which is different each day.  There’s also a children’s menu with things like hot dogs, chicken nuggets and peanut butter sandwiches.  Children’s meals tend to come with chips and cookies, but you can ask the waiter to have those left off.  The steamed vegetables on the kid’s menu looked so good when my grandkids had them every day that one day I ordered them for my entree.  Yes adults can order off the kids menu, and kids can also order off the adult menu.  Either way the portions are often too big.  My 3-year-old grandson quite enjoyed salmon from the everyday side of the adult menu.

enough for several small children

steamed vegetables from the kid’s menu

Sometimes the main-dish pasta will say also available as an entree.  If you want it for the main, but their usual portions are too large for you, you can ask for it as a main in the entree size.  You can have a lot of extra things if you ask, like a plate of sliced lemons for the water, a glass of milk, or even faster service.

One of the daily desserts is always free of sugar or sugar substitutes and sugar free ice cream is available upon request.

Dinner Menus

mmmm, melting cake

Carnival’s signature dessert – chocolate melting cake

Every Day Menu

entree: diced fresh melons with citrus and mint; fried vegetable spring rolls; market salad; caesar salad

main: grilled salmon fillet; spice wrapped grilled 200 grams flat iron steak; pan-seared chicken schnitzel; guinness mince (chuck steak) mushroom and cheese pie

For a $25 surcharge the daily menu also had main dish offerings from the pay-extra Nouveau restaurant – great seafood and premium aged beef; steamed whole main lobster; surf and turf (filet mignon and lobster tail;) grilled filet mignon; prime new york sirloin steak 400 grams    (This was the only lobster offered this cruise.  Apparently lobster is too expensive in Australia to serve to the masses on formal night like they do in America.)

dessert: warm chocolate melting cake; fresh tropical fruit plate; ice cream; sorbet; assorted cheeses

Daily Menus

Menus from Our Cruise

entree - or in America appetizer

diced fresh melons with citrus and mint

Day 1

entree: tropical fruits; marinated salmon and candied tomato; fried prawns; heart of iceberg lettuce; tom kha gai (thai chicken soup;) gazpacho andalouse

main: grilled mahi mahi fillet; linguini with italian sausage, capsicums and mushrooms; cantonese sweet and sour prawns; chicken a la grecque; irish stew; mutter paneer with red onion kulcha (indian vegetarian dish)

dessert: vanilla creme brulee, black forest gateau, orange cake

chocolate heart cake

valentine cake

Day 2

entree: prawn cocktail; carpaccio of fresh pear and citrus segments; prawns and redfish ceviche; minestrone milanese; roasted pumpkin soup

main: spaghetti carbonara; fresh from sydney’s fish market; grilled jumbo prawns; teriyaki glazed pork steak; roast beef au jus; aloo shimla mirch, khlumb matar dahi wale, rajmah raseela (potatoes and vegetables in yogurt sauce served with rice)

dessert: special heart shaped chocolate valentine cake (because it was valentine’s day)

Indian food

spinach paneer kofta, sag fondue, kathal aloo ki sabzi    (I didn’t like this one much, but my daughter loved the Indian dish she had on an earlier night of the cruise.)

Day 3

entree: chicken satay with peanut sauce; wild mushroom arancini; hand picked spring mix and cherry tomatoes; pumpkin and tomato bisque; asparagus vichyssiose

main: lasagne bolognese; chinese e fu noodle soup; turkey roast; pan roasted pangasius fillet on gazpacho juice; beef stroganoff; spinach paneer kofta, sag fondue, kathal aloo ki sabzi (spinach and cheese balls with jackfruit and potato stew)

dessert: chocolate raspberry and vanilla cream cake, old fashioned apple pie, pumpkin pie

enchiladas not made by Mexicans

these enchiladas look a bit strange, but tasted quite good

Day 4 – Mexican Fiesta Night

entree: baja taquito; grilled prawns glazed with tequilla; queso fundido; watermelon and rocket salad; chopped salad; sopa de lima (chicken soup;) beefy chilli

main: pescado a la talla (fish;) dos enchiladas; guava glazed bbq ribs; alambre de carne (steak skewers;) chilli rellenos

dessert: salted caramel tres leches cake; orange cream eclair; chocolate chipotle pudding (the chocolate chipotle pudding is excellent)


amaretto cake, yum

Day 5

entree: deepfried mozzarella sticks; prawn cocktail; prosciutto ruffles; diced australian navel oranges and greek olives; chestnut veloute (soup;) iced butternut squash and green mango soup

main: fetuccini with sauteed prawns; turkey tikka; chicken chow mein; sugar glazed pork loin with apples and prunes; roast crusted lamb rack; karari gobhi (cauliflower)

dessert: amaretto cake; baked alaska; baked cheesecake

very good sorbet

pineapple sorbet tastes good any day of the cruise

Day 6

entree: thai beef salad; fire roasted chicken in sesame dressing; coconut prawns; spring mix and cherry tomato salad; thai prawn soup; iced watermelon soup

main: teriyaki salmon; pappardelle alla forestale (egg noodles in cream sauce with mushrooms;) turkey piccata; chinese broccoli and crispy pork; roast beef with yorkshire pudding; achari bhindi (vegetarian okra dish)

dessert: variations of strawberries (upsidedown strawberry cake, strawberry sorbet, strawberry and mascarpone cream;) tiramisu; tropical fruit lasagne

chicken pasta

grilled chicken breast

 Day 7

entree: prawn cocktail; grilled portabello mushroom and handpicked mesclun lettuce; escargots; rocket, mint and vegetable salad; white bean soup; iced melon soup

main: grilled chicken breast; grilled filet of mahi mahi; panko crusted jumbo prawns; pork belly and egg noodle soup; guinness braised lamb leg; vegetable jalfrezi, palak paneer bhurji, chana dal masala, pilaf rice (stewed potatoes, vegetables, homemade cheese)

dessert: grand mariner souffle'; cappuccino pie; apple pie

cruise ships have awesome desserts

grand marnier souffle with orange vanilla sauce, mmmm

Samples of Menus For Longer Cruises

fish dish

pescado a la talla from Mexican fiesta night

Caribbean Beach Night Menu

entree: stuffed roasted red capsicums (bell peppers;) sugar cane jerked chicken wings; coconut prawns; chicken soup with yucca, taro root and jamaican dumplings; black bean soup; heart of iceberg lettuce with tropical fruit

main: fish fillet escabeche; jerked pork roast; guava marinated grilled chicken breast; west indian lamb curry; caribbean pasta with shredded beef; dhalpourie roti (vegetable stew)

something different

pork belly soup from day 7


entree: green-lip mussels florentine; baked stuffed white mushrooms; baby prawn cocktail; parma ham and pear chutney; seafood chowder; chilled essence of fennel

main: penne marinara; lemongrass steamed fish fillet; chicken tangine; roast prime rib with au jus; grilled centre-cut pork chop; onion tart with japanese eggplants

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
Posted in Australia, Carnival, Cruise Food, Legend, Shipboard Life | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Memories of a Cruise Ship Doctor Part 7 – Drunk and Disorderly

old cruise ship

Regents Ship

Serving as a cruise ship doctor with Regent Lines for four years gave Len Kreisler, MD enough stories for a chapter 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 Hotel Manager asked me to come down to his office for a meeting with the ship’s Security Officer.

An unmarried couple, traveling together, had been drinking quite heavily.  The man was 10 to 15 years older than his traveling companion.  The alcohol unleashed his mean streak.  Neighbors complained of noise and suspected violence.  The Security Officer took the battered, inebriated woman to a vacant lounge area.  The couple had been noisy and disruptive from the beginning of the cruise, and it was getting progressively worse.  The Security Officer was now concerned about serious harm to the woman.  I suggested they keep the man in his cabin and bring the woman down to medical.  I offered to sedate the man if he balked at confinement to his cabin.

The lady was in her late 50’s and very drunk.  Her clothes looked like she’d been sleeping in them for several days.  Her nylon stockings were full of tears, hair disheveled and she smelled like leftover saloon yuck.  I came up with the following plan.

I offered to have the nurse clean her up and get her into an infirmary bed.  I’d start an intravenous (she certainly needed fluids) and I’d periodically add enough valium to keep her sleepy for the rest of the voyage.  I planned to let her wake up 4-5 hours before docking in New York.  I suggested telling her male companion, if he asked, that she was resting in a private cabin…doctor’s orders.  Both ship’s officers were concerned about their liability.  I promised to cover everything in the medical record; i.e. document that we’d taken the necessary action to protect these two patients from harming each other, as well as ensuring the health and safety of other passengers.

We docked in New York at midnight, 12 hours late due to a boiler issue that also severely limited the availability of hot water.  No one was allowed to leave the ship until clearance early the next morning except for a severely ill probable cancer patient who was whisked to a waiting ambulance on the deserted dock in the dead of night.  New York City police stood guard on the pier.

I stopped the intravenous and valium on my sleeping beauty patient and sent her back to her beau around 2:00 AM.  She looked ten years younger and radiant as she left the ship around 10:00 AM that morning; hand in hand with her sobered sugar daddy.  They could have passed as poster people for a senior honeymoon cruise….lovers without a care in the world.  He paid the $1200 medical bill in cash.

The nurse and I each got 10% of the $1200.  I thanked the nurse for her help and she thanked me for helping her make the most money she’d ever made on a 10-day cruise.  We earned it.  (This trip started in a storm with about 120 calls for nausea and vomiting and only got worse from there.  People tripping and falling at the lifeboat drill, a heart attack death, a fainting man, the dehydrated probable cancer patient, and finally the drunk abuser.)

cruise ship medical center

door to the medical center on a modern ship

On one of my recent cruises, for the last couple days of the trip one cabin had a security guard posted outside the door 24 hours a day.  The guards wouldn’t say why they were there, but it could have been a situation similar to the one above.   Or someone under house arrest perhaps.  Obviously they did not want that person to leave the room and did not trust them to stay in there on their own. The ships do have a brig so if anybody really did something awful they do have a place to put them.

More stories from Dr. Len:

Getting Hired

Crew Problems

The “Seasick” Passenger

Chasing Supplies

Dead End

Lights Out

Posted in Guest Blogs, Shipboard Life | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Deception Pass

anchored near Deception Pass

Wilderness Adventurer at Deception Pass

On an Un-Cruise Adventures Washington Coastal Cruise, the Wilderness Adventurer sailed under the Deception Pass Bridge into a peaceful cove.  Currents at Deception Pass can get a bit wild, so the captain had to time the coming and going under the bridge according to the tides and currents.  The bridge was built in the 1930’s and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.  Repainting the bridge in later decades cost more than building it did originally.

boating near Deception Pass

Heading toward the Deception Pass Bridge

Following a tasty breakfast on board anchored not far from the bridge, passengers grouped for the morning’s activities. Choices included a guided kayaking trip, an all-day hike in the forest, a morning jaunt on a forest trail, or a short nature walk on a paved path. We picked the medium-length hike, labeled as the Hoypus Forest Jaunt.

arriving at Deception Pass State Park

On a dry beach landing you go straight from boat to beach without getting wet feet

We landed on a beach at Hoypus Point in Deception Pass State Park. Quite the perfect spot for a landing as a couple stairs led from the beach to the trail.

random stairs

stairs from the beach to the trail

Someone from a drier state commented on how they couldn’t believe how green everything is in Western Washington. That’s what plentiful rainfall will do.  It’s not that far in miles from the Olympic rainforest where we hiked in a downpour the other day to Deception pass, but the difference in annual rainfall is distant.  There are a lot of microclimates on and near the Olympic Peninsula.  Where Hoodsport gets around 70-90 inches of rain, the much drier Deception Pass area on Whidbey Island only gets about 20-26, which is about half the amount of rain Seattle gets each year.

traihead sign

Trail Sign

We hiked a loop around a forest trail. This area still has some massive old growth trees, which is defined as anything older than 200 years.  Even old growth trees here don’t grow as big as in some other places because the islands are mainly rock.

old growth tree

old growth trees are not as big here as in some places

Stinging nettles lined both sides of the trail at the start of the hike, which definitely encourages people to stay on the trail to avoid getting stung. Further into the forest ferns and huckleberry bushes dominated the underbrush.   It’s nice that ferns often grow near nettles because fern juice can ease the itching of an accidental nettle sting.  The trees mainly consisted of douglas fir, spruce, and hemlock.  They are all evergreens, but have differences in the bark and needles.

it's not really cabbage

skunk cabbage

Eventually our trail joined up with the paved path to take us back to the beach. Little daisies grew alongside the path and in wetter areas we found skunk cabbage.   Not all flowers smell sweet and skunk cabbage is aptly named.  It mainly grows in swampy areas, but here was in a drainage ditch. The paved path ran along the water’s edge and in places offered a nice view of the bridge between the trees.

hiking at Deception Pass

hiking through the woods on the Hoypus Trail

The paved path is actually an access road for park personnel. A truck came down the path and stopped before the narrower trail leading to the beach where we landed. A fisheries guy with rubber boots and a fish net walked along the beach parallel to the trail. When we arrived at the beach we saw him at the water’s edge dipping his net.

Deception Pass Bridge

view of the bridge from the trail

A few curious people wandered down and found out he was a fish counter from the state fisheries department. Lots of tiny pink salmon fry bunched up near the gravelly beach there. They hatch in a nearby river and make their way into the salt water. Then they hang out near the beach for a few weeks to grow and mature before heading out to sea. They stay in the shallows because the things that want to eat them need a bit deeper water. One of the reasons natural growth areas with trees to shade the shallow water is so important to the survival of native fish runs.

banana slug

banana slugs are native to the area

Deception Pass State Park is a very popular place, but it also sprawls out over 134 acres, mainly on Whidbey Island.  It has a campground, picnic area, and 38 miles of hiking trails.  We did not see many other park visitors on the trail we took so it seemed remote.  Deception Pass was named by early explorers who initially thought they had found a bay by a peninsula rather than a pass by an island.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
Posted in Shore Excursions, Un-Cruise Adventures, Washington, Wilderness Adventurer | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

How To Fold a Washcloth Mouse

How To Make a Washcloth Mouse

folding washcloth animals

Washcloth Mouse

Supplies Needed to Fold a Washcloth Mouse



Decorations (whiskers, tail)

How To Fold a Washcloth Mouse

how to make a washcloth mouse

fold washcloth in half diagonally

Lay washcloth flat.  Fold in half diagonally.

washcloth origami

fold corners across straight edge

Fold one corner to center of folded edge, followed by opposite corner.

washcloth art

fold straight edge over once

Fold over long edge.

washcloth animal folding instructions

fold washcloth into equal halves.

Fold washcloth in half with previous folds on the outside.

how to fold a washcloth mouse

pull tips of the corners out from under the folded edge

Bring tips of each of the corners out from under the folded edge for ears.

towel animal folding instructions

hold mouse at center fold to keep it together while shaping ears

Shape the corner tips into ears.

washcloth origami

the mouse would work better with a thinner washcloth

Fold top part down flush with sides.

how to fold a washcloth into a mouse

use your fingers to shape the head and eye sockets

Secure with rubber band.  Shape ears, face, and eye spaces as desired.

towel mouse

finished washcloth mouse with pipecleaner tail

Add eyes.  If desired decorate with nose, whiskers and/or tail.

how to fold towel animals

Towel Squirrel

You can also use this mouse as the head to make a towel squirrel.

If you would like to know how to fold other towel animals, please visit My Cruise Stories Towel Animal Page.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
Posted in Towel Animals | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

sugared bread croutons are optional

chocolate chip bread pudding topped with toasted croutons and vanilla sauce

One of the most popular recipes on my blog is Carnival Cruise’s Bitter & Blanc Brioche Bread Pudding.  While no doubt it is delicious, it is also difficult and time consuming to make.  This is my own recipe for Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding, which if made with a white bread (especially if you can find brioche) it tastes a lot like the bitter and blanc.  This recipe is very easy to make.  Brioche is not readily available where I live so I use sourdough and it comes out quite nice.  Top with the optional croutons to make it more like the bitter and blanc if desired.  If you want to make gluten and dairy free bread pudding, try this recipe.

add sauce before serving

Black and White bread pudding

This recipe stands up well on its own and doesn’t have to taste anything like the bitter and blanc in order to taste good.  By using half white bread and half dark bread I’ve made a variation I call Black and White bread pudding.  For that I used sourdough and sweet dark bread, but any good white and dark breads would work.  Use good bread when making bread pudding because the pudding is only as good as the bread used to make it.

I use the bigger dark chocolate chips called dark chocolate morsels, but you could also use regular sized dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Serve bread pudding warm topped with warm vanilla sauce.

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding Ingredients

3 eggs

big chocolate chips

dark chocolate morsels

2  1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1  1/4 cups milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

6 slices bread, cubed

3/4 cup dark chocolate morsels

 Bread Pudding Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).  Grease casserole dish or baking pan.

Beat eggs with whisk in mixing bowl.  Stir in sugars and milk.  Slowly pour in melted butter while whisking constantly.  Stir bread cubes in with spoon until thoroughly coated with egg mixture.  Stir in chocolate morsels and pour into prepared pan.  Bake 50-60 minutes in 375 degree oven.  Serve warm with vanilla sauce.  If using optional croutons, top with croutons before adding the vanilla sauce.  Makes 6-8 servings.


Vanilla Sauce

Vanilla Sauce Ingredients

2/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla

 Vanilla Sauce Directions

Whisk milk, sugar, cornstarch and egg together in saucepan.  Cook over medium heat whisking constantly until sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Serve warm over warm bread pudding.

Optional Croutons

bread pudding with sugared croutons

top the bread pudding with the croutons before adding vanilla sauce

To make the optional toasted bread croutons, cut bread into desired crouton size pieces.  Roll each crouton in sugar and spread them out on a pan.  Bake at 250 degrees (F) for 25 minutes or until bread is dry, turning once.  Broil until toasted lightly then flip over and broil other side.  Top individual servings of bread pudding with a few croutons before adding the vanilla sauce.


Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
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Beer Guzzling Pigs of St. Croix

US Virgin Islands

Carnival Splendor in St. Croix

When the Carnival Splendor stopped at St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, we took one of the random taxi tours often available near cruise ship piers.  This tour had a stop at a bar with a very unique attraction.  On a narrow country road winding uphill through the rainforest, our driver pulled over at a small unassuming local bar with a sign that said Mt. Pellier Hut Domino Club.  Here, he said, they had pigs that guzzle beer.  Only it was too early in the day and they had no pigs available to perform at the time.  The guide mentioned the possibility of stopping back by later.

gecko in St. Croix

gecko on the sign in front of the bar

He proceeded to take us on a tour around the island.  After visiting a number of places we stopped at a rum distillery, which costs $7 to get in and includes a couple of drinks. Nobody in the van seemed particularly interested in the distillery tour so our guide offered to take anyone who did not wish to participate back to the ship while the others went on the tour. John, Tina, Justin, and I were the only ones who did not get right back in the van.  When informed that Justin (who is 12) could not take the tour he went back with the folks. The 3 of us stayed not because we cared about the distillery tour, but because we really wanted to see pigs drink beer.  We hoped he would take us back to the first stop once he returned from dropping the rest of the people off back at the ship.

home of the beer guzzling pigs

Mt Pellier Hut bar sign

The driver left and we paid for the distillery tour which we thought we would take while waiting for our driver to return.  After collecting the money they said a tour had just started and it would be awhile before the next one began.  They said people sometimes just collect their drinks and opt out of the tour.   You could not, however, have drinks while waiting for the tour because you could not go on the tour after having drinks.

Cruzan Rum on St. Croix

waiting area at the rum factory

As more time passed we all decided we were not going to have enough time left to see the pigs if we took the distillery tour.  Since we would rather see the pigs than take the tour we got our drinks (mine virgin) and waited for the guide to return.  The next tour started just a few minutes before he got back so had we gone we probably would not have gotten to see the beer drinking pigs.  As soon as he got back we piled back in the van and took the long way back to the ship via the little bar in the rainforest.

pig wants a beer

A pig waits for a beer while the bar girl tells Tina what to do

It cost $1 to watch, $2 for a beer for the pigs, and $3 to take a video. We paid our dollars and each bought a beer for the pigs.  John paid the extra $3 to video. A bartender, or possibly the owner of the place, led us across the parking lot to an enclosure on the other side with 4 stalls.  3 stalls held one pig each, though one was a small potbellied pig to short to perform. The other two stood up on their hind legs with their front legs on the wall when offered a beer.

pig with a can of beer

pig drinking beer

They take an unopened can right out of a person’s hand and open it with their teeth, chugging it and chomping the can as they go. When done they spit out an empty flattened can. When asked how the meat tastes, the lady said the pigs are pets and they don’t eat them. The pig show is well worth the low price even if the beer is of the non-alcoholic sort.

Even though we took the scenic route back to see the pigs our guide got us back to the ship with plenty of time to spare for browsing through the shopping booths and taking photos of the ship from various places on shore.  Frederikstad had a number of little booths set up along the waterfront across the street from permanent stores.

Frederikstad St. Croix

shopping in Frederiksted

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
Posted in Caribbean, Carnival, Ports of Call, Shore Excursions, Splendor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments