Hood Canal Bridge

Un-Cruise Adventures ship the Wilderness Adventurer

Wilderness Adventurer in Hood Canal on a foggy, rainy day

When the Wilderness Adventurer headed to Hoodsport as the first stop of the Un-Cruise Adventures Washington Coastal cruise, I had hoped to have a chance to see the Hood Canal Bridge from a boat’s point of view.  It’s a pretty interesting bridge.

Hood Canal Bridge

Hood Canal Bridge looking west from the Kitsap Peninsula side

Most draw bridges lift upward to let boats pass through.  A few turn sideways to make an opening.  In a rather unique fashion, the Hood Canal bridge does neither.  It withdraws part of the bridge into itself, underneath the other layer.

I found a brief video on the state DOT site, which is definitely worth the 15 seconds or so it takes to watch it.  Unfortunately they have no embed code so the best I could do is this link:

Hood Canal bridge opens

It shows the bridge raising up and the road sliding under.

Hood Canal Bridge

Hood Canal bridge looking east from the Olympic Peninsula side

When boats go through, the first cars in line stop on the bridge.  I’ve never been close enough to the front of the line to get out and see if you could see anything when the bridge opens though.  Just close enough to see the boat approach on one side of the bridge and disappear behind the waiting cars and then emerge on the other.  You wouldn’t get to see the bridge move from the boat since it opens before the boat gets there, but could still see what the bridge looks like from water level while passing through.  It’s usually around a 20 minute wait for the cars.  When hurrying to any of the ferry docks on the other side waiting for the bridge can mean missing your intended ferry and taking a later boat.

navy sub at hood canal bridge

Navy sub USS Ohio crossing through the Hood Canal Bridge, photo courtesy of Wikipedia

When a navy submarine transits the canal, no bridge travelers see it go through.  Police guard both ends and stop all cars before they get to the bridge.  Even if you are stopped near enough to the bridge to walk to it, nobody is allowed on it or close enough to it to see anything.  For some reason the submarines always go through on the surface instead of silently slipping through in the depths of the water where nobody would ever know they were there.  Waiting for a sub to go through takes a long time. The time I got stopped for one it took at least an hour.

Funny how when a bridge is open it is closed and when it is closed it is open.  At least from the point of view of anyone traveling in a car.

While on the Wilderness Adventurer we saw a sub on the surface in the distance, probably headed to the canal since they have a base there.  From a distance is all anyone sees it though.  It had an escort of navy boats that keep curious onlookers away.

Unfortunately we passed through the Hood Canal Bridge in the middle of the night in both directions on the Wilderness Adventurer, so only the captain (or whomever was at the helm) and possibly night shift crew had an opportunity to see anything, if indeed they could see it in the dark.

The Hood Canal Bridge opened in 1961 as the world’s first floating bridge over salt water, to some controversy as to whether the design could hold up to the tides and storms sure to batter the 3rd longest bridge on the planet.

sinking bridge

hood canal bridge collapsed in a storm in 1979

Proving their worries, the western pontoons sank in a severe 1979 storm.  It took until 1982 to rebuild, a sturdier bridge this time with newer technology and stronger anchors.  The state had to open an old ferry run that had closed when the bridge first opened to keep traffic flowing for the several years it took to rebuild.  From 2003 to 2009 the eastern half got rebuilt so now the entire bridge has better technology and sturdier anchorage than the original.  Its actual name is the William A. Bugge Bridge, but if anyone called it that nobody would have a clue which bridge they meant.  Other than picturing the bridge crawling with bugs named William, the name is not likely to stick in anyone’s brain.

Posted in Un-Cruise Adventures, Washington, Wilderness Adventurer | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Memoirs of a Cruise Ship Doctor Part 2 – Crew Problems

cruise ship doctor on a shore excursion

Dr. Len Kreisler and workers at Taku lodge, Alaska

Part of a cruise ship doctor’s duties involve taking care of the ship’s crew.  Likely they need the doctor more than most passengers since they live on board for many months at a time working long hours every day.

In excerpts from the book ROLL THE DICE, PICK A DOC AND HOPE FOR THE BEST, we can read about Dr. Len Kreisler’s experiences as a cruise ship doctor from the chapter What Ship, What Cabin, and Doctor Who?  He spent four years working for a small independent cruise line called Regent Lines, which ran five 1960’s vintage ships and went bankrupt in 1995.

a lifetime of doctor memories in a book

Dr. Len Kreisler’s book

Passengers would be amazed by the contrasting living conditions of the crew.  The newer ships are much better than the older ships.  I made a crew cabin call on one of my 60’s vintage Regent ships where I walked past laundry hanging in the alleyway, bulkheads in desperate need of paint and gross overcrowding.  It looked like photos from a New York East Side tenement building in the early 1900’s.  A deckhand was recovering from Chickenpox.  Four crewmen shared a 150 square foot cabin with two bi-level bunks.

Another time, on an Alaskan run out of Vancouver, I wandered into the crew’s galley.  They were very surprised and pleased to have the doctor, in his white jacket and scrub suit, grace them with his presence.  It apparently was the first time a ship’s doctor had taken time to visit their work and living areas.  A good share of their food was ethnic.  Lots of rice and beans, deep fried everything, dried fish, high calorie staples with liberal quantities of hot sauces and spices.  I took a peek into a huge pot on a large stove.  Salmon fish heads were bubbling in some sort of vegetable stew.

“Where’s the rest of the salmon,” I asked the head chef.

“On the passenger tables, not here,” smiled the Filipino galley veteran.

The crew doesn’t starve, but they certainly don’t eat from the top of the menu.

They don’t seem to mind that.  When sailing with my son and his Filipina wife our Filipino waiter made special arrangements to serve our table a Filipino dinner from the crew galley one night as a special treat for her.  On another ship that did not serve the crew ethnic food our steward said at port stops the crew frequent Chinese restaurants where they can find food spicy enough for their liking.  Back to Dr. Len’s book.

The crew frequently worked 12 or more hours per day in 6 to 12 month segments.  They made good money in comparison to where they called home and they earned every penny of it.

A Chinese crew ran the laundry on the Regent ships.  The head man spoke passable English, but his crew spoke little to no English.  They ate in the laundry area and I never saw them mingling with the rest of the crew.  One laundry worker came for medical care for a persistent hand rash.  I shocked the heck out of them when I descended into the forward bowel of the ship to inspect their working conditions and laundering products.  Communication was difficult, but I managed to convey the message that I wanted the man with the hand rashes to wear protective gloves or be transferred to a detergent-free area in the laundry.  The head man appreciated my personal interest and unprecedented visit to the ship’s laundry.  I received free laundry service for the remainder of my cruise.

The ship ran on diesel fuel.  The engine rooms were about as close to Hollywood’s version of hell as you can get: located deep down in the ship, constantly over 100 degrees Fahrenheit with deafening sound levels.  The crew’s sound mitigating ear coverings hung unused around the work areas.

The Greek engineers sat inside an air-conditioned, remarkably quiet, windowed room from which they viewed the important areas of the engine complex.  The Indonesian and Filipino deck hands worked in the noisy, very hot, dirty, oily, hands-on areas of the engine room.  I tapped one of the men on his shoulder and pointed to the hearing protectors hanging on a nearby pole.  He smiled and shrugged.  Most of these men were hearing impaired.  I thought back to my training as a specialist in Occupational and Environmental Medicine and OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Association) standards for noise, heat and air quality.  Dream on: different lines undoubtedly had different degrees of conscience and compliance to worker’s compensation guidelines, but the Regent Line was back in the dark ages.

I certainly didn’t sign on for the money.  Maritime Medical, the company that paid my salary, gave me $200 per week plus ten percent of charges for passenger medical care.  I received no money for crew medical care.  Regent Lines did pay Maritime Medical for crew visits.  I don’t know whether they got a lump sum, per visit pay, or both.  I paid for my own airfare to and from the port, unless they called me on short-notice emergency coverage.  I paid for my wife’s airfare if she came along as well as her port charges.  We got a cabin, meals, use of the facilities, and were asked not to gamble or compete in passenger contests.

The casino concession was run by a British company.  I understand Regent was guaranteed $10,000 plus a percentage of the take for each 7-10 day cruise.  Regent couldn’t lose.

More stories from Dr. Len:

Posted in Guest Blogs, Shipboard Life | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Port Angeles Underground

 

street mural in Port Angeles

sluicing the hogback mural in Port Angeles

I always thought Seattle was unique in having raised the level of the city’s streets in the past and that the  Seattle Underground Tour was the only tour of the historic underground that once upon a time was the street level of a city.  I recently found out it was not the only city where our predecessors paid no attention to the tides and built too close to the water. Or perhaps built there before the introduction of indoor plumbing and then found the mix of indoor plumbing without sewers in a tidal area where the water is as likely to bring things back as take them out unlivable. Rebuilding farther from shore would seem like the simple thing to do, but considering at least one other city also filled in the streets and raised the level of their town perhaps moving inland was not an acceptable solution.

stairway to the underground

stairway in a shop leads under the building, which was raised on poles to match the new street level

Port Angeles started their town-raising project in January of 1914 and a series of lucky circumstances led to finishing in June of the same year rather than the projected three years later. The Farmer’s Almanac predicted that as an extremely mild winter for that era (at the time normal winters stayed frozen and snowy for several months.)  The mild weather meant working straight through the winter months, giving the project a boost right in the beginning.  Next came the completion of construction of the Elwha dam, meaning electricity came to the area.  In addition to improving the tools available to do the job, it also meant light and 24 hours a day to work on the project rather than the limited daylight hours otherwise available, and the multitude of people willing to work on the project meant they had labor enough to cover the extended work time.

underground Port Angeles

mural on the wall of space under raised building

Port Angeles pre-1914 had quite a different waterfront than it does now.  Front Street, which now sits a couple blocks away from the water’s edge, was waterfront property then.  Railroad Avenue was a train trestle built over the water.  Very few downtown buildings sat on dry land as most were built on pilings over the water.  Where a paved street now runs perpendicular to the shoreline, a creek ran then, sometimes flooding the downtown businesses.  Raw sewage went straight from buildings to the sea, but the tides did not always cooperate in taking it away.

port angeles underground

one of the original concrete forms can still be seen as a wall in the last remaining bit of underground sidewalk area

To solve this problem the streets were framed in large wooden forms running from 6 to 15 feet high depending on their location along the waterfront.  With hundreds of locals working on the project it took just a couple weeks to build the forms.  Next they filled them with concrete – bucket by bucket as cement trucks did not yet exist.  Wooden pipes and water cannons sluiced a nearby hill called the hogback, filling the streets between concrete forms with tons of mud.

apparently building too close to the sea was a common problem

original street level of a building

This project took only 6 months to build, but all that mud on land barely above the water table took years to dry.  About 6 or 7 of them.  In the meantime they built boardwalk sidewalks and streets.  Businesses had entrances on the lower levels until sidewalks were made at street level.  Eventually this was all paved over, leaving a system of tunnels at the old street level.  Some places built new entrances on the new street level much like in old Seattle.  Since most of these buildings were on pilings, many just raised the building.  Without modern machinery it took the hard labor of people jacking the buildings up inch by inch with hand cranked equipment.

historic whorehouse

the upstairs of what is now a shoe store housed a thriving brothel during prohibition

Throughout the prohibition era basements and attics made places for side businesses to flourish that had nothing to do with the street level business of a particular building.  Later rats and hippies made the abandoned underground space their home.  With such a large area accessible through the underground sidewalks and space under most buildings they had plenty of places to hide from police or exterminators.

sidewalk skylight

skylight in the sidewalk over the underground

Eventually one of the old buildings caught fire.  The fire in one building created a backdraft through the underground and a fireball that exploded through the doors of a building at the other end of the block, setting it on fire as well.  Following this event firewalls were installed throughout the underground and the free roaming days for hippies occupying the underground were gone.  I’m not sure about the rats, but we didn’t see anything indicating the presence of rats anywhere we went on our Port Angeles Heritage Tour.

under the sidewalk

from below the skylight lets in a lot of light

Later through the actions of one shortsighted mayor and three councilmen almost all of the Port Angeles underground got filled in.  The efforts of a group of locals determined to preserve the town’s history saved one small street with one original building that has a basement that once housed a boxing club opening up into the only remaining section of the once widespread underground.  The sidewalk above has skylights that let in an amazing amount of light, and while not original it was rebuilt the same fashion as the original with the wooden planking called shiplap underneath the concrete and skylights as close to the originals as restoration money would allow. The originals looked the same, but the shape of each individual square of glass let in even more light.

history made, hidden, and rediscovered

Port Angeles has history above street level as well as below, like this original painted ceiling of a movie theater above the insulation topped lower ceiling of the building’s current shop

Don the tour guide collects stories from older citizens of the town who lived through its history like the guy who watched the first plane land in town at age 6 when the wooden boardwalks still covered the streets.  He couldn’t come up with the required money for a plane ride (a week’s salary for his dad,) but his fascination with that plane led to a long and successful air force career.  He also had a story about a boy of 16 who was big for his age and the town bully.  After injuring a boy for making fun of his sister, he would have ended up in prison had the cop who ran the boxing club not taken the troubled teen under his wing.  He learned to channel his aggression into the boxing ring, and grew up to become a decorated town cop.  He also had interesting tidbits like the auto mechanic shop who bought gray coveralls for 10 cents a pair and then rented them for 10 cents a day to the sailors who came to town on leave and were neither allowed to wear or carry civilian clothes off the ship, but could not visit the sort of places sailors in port most likely want to go while in uniform.  They were paid all in $2 bills so that when the ships left town the townspeople would realize just how much money they had made from the navy’s presence and welcome them back.

historic Port Angeles

controls for showing movies in the old theater

The tour meets at the chamber of commerce and starts with a local history lesson seated comfortably upstairs in the bar next door.  At the time I took this tour all money for the tour was collected in cash.  Most parking in the town either costs money or is limited to 2 hours, but they have free 3 hour parking behind the chamber of commerce for tour participants and mall shoppers.

under the city

underside of a building jacked up on poles when the street got raised

The tour takes a stroll through several blocks of the old part of town, in and out of a variety of buildings of historical interest.  Most of these buildings have some seating, so those with limited abilities for walking long distances or standing for long periods of time do have places to rest along the way.  We saw the underside of a jacked up building, a couple basements that were the street level of original buildings from before the raising of the road, and the upstairs of what was once a movie theater that still had some of the original equipment in the tin-lined projection room, which needed the fire-proofing due to the high heat of the lights and flammability of early film.  Another upstairs once held a house of ill-repute, which had all the things people weren’t allowed during prohibition – alcohol, gambling, and prostitutes.  It also had spy holes and a warning bell so employes and patrons could escape quickly in a raid and none were ever caught.

Port Angeles Historical Tour

Don the guide telling people about the old boxing club, now a empty basement with access to the last underground sidewalk

This is a great tour and Don the guide is not only lively and interesting, but also largely responsible for saving the bit of the underground the town has left.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2014
Posted in Port City Side Trips, Washington | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Hato Caves, Curacao

cruise ship docked in Curacao

MSC Divina in Willemstad, Curacao

Outside of the Divina, of MSC  Cruises, we boarded a bus for our excursion to Hato Caves. Along the way the tour guide gave us a lesson in the history of Curacao (our local tour guide pronounced this Kure-uh-sow.) One of six Caribbean Islands that once belonged to Holland, then to the Netherlands Antilles, Curacao governs itself now. It retains ties enough with the Dutch as part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands that its citizens can travel to Europe without visas though they are not part of the European Union.  Curacao is the C of the ABC islands, (Lesser Antilles) which include Aruba and Bonaire as well as Curacao.  Aruba is also self-governed now, but Bonaire is a special municipality of the Netherlands.  These three islands lie outside of the Caribbean hurricane belt, making them safe to visit any time of year.

rock formations

limestone flow in Hato Cave

The Spainards first discovered Curacao in 1499, but as it lacked for gold or silver to mine or water for farming they did not have any large settlements there. The Dutch claimed it in 1634.  They used it as a place to obtain salt and a major slave-trading port.   A 100-year-old oil refinery remains in operation, providing jobs while it pollutes the island. Steps have been taken to modernize and reduce emissions, but in the meantime the refinery covers the cost of annual painting of a nearby building that once housed nuns and a catholic girl’s school and now functions as an old folks home.

cave rock formations

inside Hato Caves

Hato Caves sits at the top of a hill, far from sea level. Because of its height it is a warm cave rather than cold like most caves. Fans placed throughout the cave provide cool air and ventilation for visitors.  The layers of the island of Curacao are called terraces.  Most of the island’s caves are found in the second terrace, but Hato Caves, the biggest and most visitor-friendly cave on the island, is uniquely located on the third and highest terrace.

cave pool

pool in the cave

Water seeps through the limestone rock of this porous cave, filling pools that remain year round, though the water level rises in the rainy season and recedes in dry times. No plants, animals, or algae of any kind live in the water so it stays clear and odorless. Visitors once threw many coins in the pools as they passed through, but in this increasingly cashless society just a few collect there now. Our cave guide joked about installing a debit card machine for wishing well use.

Hato Cave in Curacao

The entrance to the cave is at the top of the hill behind the sign

The tour bus stopped just outside the Hato Caves area.  A pathway through a gate brought us to buildings containing restrooms and a small shop.  More paths led uphill to the steep stairway to the cave entrance.  It’s hard to imagine how historic users reached the cave or navigated through it without the paths, stairs, lights, and fans that exist today.

tourist friendly cave

pathway through the cave

The first chamber of the cave had a blackened look to the ceiling, the result of fires from users of a past era, who apparently kept their fires to that one chamber as it was the only area of the cave with fire blackened stone.  The Arawak people who once inhabited the island used the cave for shelter.  Later runaway slaves hid there.  Today small fruit bats call the cave home and sometimes dart about overhead or hang from the ceiling in groups. While we did see some bats, we did not see the cockroaches whom the guide said keep the cave floor clean of bat guano.

path through Hato Cave

lighted path through the cave

Lights placed throughout the cave shine for visitors to see, and are turned off after they leave. In lighted areas green algae clings to the walls, where in the dark the algae remains black. Light of camera flashes can also contribute to turning the algae green, as well as blinding any bats that may happen by.

cave formations

cave chamber with green algae

One chamber of the cave has a window through the ceiling and large rock formations on the floor that are neither stalactites nor stalagmites, but the remains of what once hung above, but fell a thousand years before. In this area of natural light from the ceiling, the algae on the walls grows green of its own accord, and the bats have a sort of back door to the outside.

Hato Cave in Curacao

tourists looking for a rock formation

Locals have given some of the cave’s rock formations names for things they remind them of like a donkey or the madonna and child.  The limestone in these caves originally came from coral formed under the sea eons ago.  As the water receded, the island was born and the coral turned to limestone.

inside Hato Cave

cave rock formations

While the walls of the cave remain in their natural state, and touching them is not allowed, the floor has been smoothed over into a flat pathway and railings added to keep guests within the allowed area. Some of the cave’s features show evidence of a more rapid advancement in the distant past, but currently the stalactites and stalagmites grow at an incredibly slow pace taking centuries to join together as columns.

copyright My Cruise Stories 2014
Posted in Caribbean, Divina, MSC, Ports of Call, Shore Excursions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How to Fold a Towel Person

How To Fold a Towel Person

how to fold a towel human

Lame Adventures in a towel

I hadn’t really thought about making a towel person until V of Lame Adventures mentioned in a comment that she thought I could make her in a towel.  Of course trying to make a towel sculpture of a specific person is harder than just making a random towel person.   For a specific person you need to find some characteristics of that person you can imitate in a towel. Start with a towel in the closest shade you can find to the person’s skin color.  Which is not easy as towels don’t tend to come in colors that resemble anything near human skin tones.  I do have one hand towel I found in a thrift shop that works pretty well for caucasian skin.  Luckily only the head towel color matters.  Any color works for the body towel since people wear clothes.

the human model for the towel sculpture

banner photo snagged from Lame Adventures blog

Since I am making this towel person to resemble an actual person it would be nice for anyone reading this to know what she looks like.  So I jacked her photo from the banner on her blog.

Curling ribbon or yarn would make great hair for towel people.  Curling ribbon for curly hair, which works fine if you want yellow, red, or white hair since curling ribbon is easy to find in those colors.   I could not find any in brown or black.  Yarn comes in all sorts of colors and makes great straight hair.  Of course V has to be difficult and have curly brown hair.  Sigh.  Pipe cleaners is all I could find to make dark curly hair.  These were actually called fuzzy craft sticks, but same thing.

The other distinguishing feature she has is glasses, and luckily I have some of those.  Cheap baby clothes are plentiful at thrift stores and sized about right for towel people.   I couldn’t find tiny gloves for the hands in the middle of the summer and was too cheap to buy tiny socks for the feet, which would be the obvious things to use.

Supplies Needed to Make a Towel Person

hand towel in skin tone

bath towel any color

baby clothes if desired

decorations – this is what brings the towel person to life, whatever you use for eyes, hair, hands and feet, mouth, and any other embellishments like glasses or a purse or shoes

How to Fold a Towel Person Head

folding a towel person

Make sure the ends are exactly even. This towel needs the ends adjusted before rolling because one side hangs a bit lower than the other.

Hang the hand towel from a wall hook or tuck it under your chin.  Roll both sides as tightly as you can.  Mine tend to come out a bit lopsided now.  As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I broke my left elbow inside the joint last spring.  Both the doctor and therapist had very low expectations for me, but it did heal better than either of them expected.  It will never be 100% though and there are some positions that arm can’t achieve.  It also lacks in strength and dexterity, with two of the fingers trying to function as a single unit.  So I can’t ever roll both sides evenly any more.

making a human head out of a towel

Roll towel from the top so the end gets very tight while making the entire pair of rolls as tight as possible.

With the rolls to the outside, roll from the wide end to the point.  Leave just enough towel for ears hanging out at the end and tuck the point end in between the rolls with a bit sticking out for the nose.  For more photos on the various stages of folding a towel head, see the leprechaun towel folding blog.

towel art

the ears on this head need some adjusting to even them out

towel person head

after folding and tucking things in the ears even out and look more human

Pointy ears work fine for things like cats, elves, or Vulcans, but since this is a human, shape the ears rounder by tucking ends in as needed.  Tuck in more on one side than the other if necessary to even the ears out as I had to on this one.

I have little blue jeans and a tiny sweatshirt to dress my towel human, mainly because that is what the thrift store had that did not look completely babyish.  So I’m using a light blue towel for the body.  It can be the shirt and will go with the rest of the outfit.

How to Fold a Towel Human Body

standard towel animal body

try to roll the two halves of the towel as evenly as possible

The towel person uses the standard towel animal body used in the majority of towel animals.  Lay the bath towel out flat.  From the short side roll each end to the center.

the art of folding towel sculpture origami

the tips just need to pull out enough to hold onto them in the next step

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

how to make a towel person

pull the tips so the towel pulls out the ends of the rolls and forms legs

Taking the two halves of one roll in one hand and the two halves of the other roll in the other hand, pull all four until the rolls pull out into legs (or in this case arms and legs) and the towel resembles a body.

we can't all be superman

If you don’t have the hand or arm strength to pull all four rolls at once, let one side go and use both hands on opposite ends of the same roll to pull just one side at a time

towel animal folding for wimps

it looks the same in the end whether you pulled all the legs together or one side at a time

If you lack the hand strength to pull them all at once, just get it started a bit and then pull each side separately.  I have to do it that way now since I can’t pull it all at once.

who puts pants on a towel?

not quite a person yet

When the towel body is done it is time to dress it and add the head.

how to make a towel human

the towel person could be done at this point as a little boy if I used different eyes

Finishing the Towel Person

this towel leprechaun is wearing his St Paddy's day green

The leprechaun’s clothes is the body plus belt and boots

towel Yoda

Yoda’s robe is just a towel

Dress the towel person body as desired (which could be as simple as putting it in a sitting position and draping another towel around it like a robe or using the body towel as clothing.)

Position the body as desired and add  decorations – eyes, hair, etc.

towel sculpure of a real person

Finishing touches on the lame adventures towel person included eyes, glasses, gloves, socks, and hair as well as the little jeans and sweatshirt.   She was positioned to imitate the picture.  She kind of reminds me of the old original cabbage patch dolls back when they had yarn hair.

For other towel creations please visit My Cruise Stories Towel Animal Page.

copyright My Cruise Stories 2014
Posted in Towel Animals | Tagged , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Hiking the Staircase Rapids Trail in the Olympic Rainforest

anchored in the fog and the rain

Wilderness Adventurer in Hoodsport, WA

Early on a rainy morning the Wilderness Adventurer of Un-Cruise Adventures anchored up in the fog near the tiny town of Hoodsport.  This quaint western Washington town lies quite a ways down Hood Canal, a long narrow waterway dividing the Kitsap Peninsula from the Olympic Peninsula.  Glad that I had brought raingear, I dug the little green bag out of my suitcase, pulled the raingear out, and discovered that the bag I thought held an entire rainsuit in fact had just a raincoat.

shore excusion time on the Wilderness Adventurer

passengers suit up in rain gear for a rainy rainforest hike

Luckily the ship had raingear for sale.  I joined the que in the lounge at the bow where one of the crew girls had the seat of a bench open and the raingear normally stored inside spread about the floor.  Lucky for me she had not put it away yet as there was just one person left in line.  The lady ahead of me could have bought the last pair of small rain pants, but balked at the price so I got them instead.  A bit pricey yes, but of fine quality that I much appreciated later when the hike ended and my top half had gotten wet through both the rain jacket I’d brought and the water resistant jacket I wore under it, yet my lower half stayed completely dry in the rain pants from the ship.  Rubber boots provided by the ship completed the outfit and kept my feet dry through every puddle.

how to get to shore from an anchored boat

skiff leaving the Wilderness Adventurer

Townsfolk in Hoodsport wondered about the boat anchored so near to their shore as boats that large rarely pay them a visit. Skiffs brought passengers to a nearby dock to board the waiting busses for a half hour’s drive to Staircase Rapids Trail in the Olympic Rainforest on the eastern side of the Olympic Peninsula.   Not all rainforests are tropical, this is a coastal temperate rainforest.   The western side of the peninsula also has rainforests, the small town of Forks there gaining fame through the Twilight book series.  Yet on the northern end of the peninsula, Sequim is classified as a desert, the driest place in western Washington.  As our cruise took us to the drier north, we had no more significant rain for the rest of a week predicted to rain pretty much the whole time, as it did in much of the Puget Sound area.

transportation to the trailhead

tour bus to the rainforest

The relentless rain beat down on the bus, keeping the windows steamy throughout the drive.  The hikers definitely appreciated their raingear as they poured out of the busses once they stopped. Some had come from drier climates and had no idea how wet one could get in a rainy rainforest.  With that weather though, the ship’s passengers had the forest nearly to ourselves.

coastal temperate rainforest

hiking the Staircase Rapids trail

For a two mile loop trail, half of the Wilderness Adventurer’s passengers went one direction and the other the opposite so other than crossing one another on the trail we saw only one other family along the way.

Olympic Rain Forest

a large tree next to a puddle on the trail in the rain

Rainforests can get wet, and with a combination of rain and snow meltwater from the nearby Olympic Mountains these trails had puddles to spare. Much of the Olympic Peninsula is national parkland or designated wilderness area, including this trail.

stumphouse

stump house – you don’t see trees this big any more

Second growth trees blend with huge old growth monoliths, and the occasional stump large enough to be a house – in fact trees grew so big before people cut most of the ancient forests down that early settlers in western Washington did sometimes make stumps into houses.

Here and there along the trail we had glimpses and views of the Skokomish River. In several places the trail crossed either the main river or a smaller stream. At the start of the trail we crossed the river on a lengthy bridge.

bridge on rainforest trail

big new suspension bridge high above the river

Later in the hike we crossed a brand new suspension bridge supported by massive steel beams flown in by helicopter. Remnants of the original bridge remained in the form of bits of wood and metal still attached to the monstrous boulders on either side of the river where they had used these natural building blocks once left by a glacier as supports. Not taking any chances on the new bridge washing out as the old one had, it sits very high above the river where rain is the only water that will ever reach it.

bridge made from fallen logs

log bridge

Further along the trail we crossed the complete opposite of the new modern bridge. The original bridge across one of the smaller streams washed out at some point and the replacement here was carved from fallen logs crossing the stream. It was one of the most interesting bridges I’ve ever seen.

trillium flower

trillium

We saw trillium in bloom in quite a few places along the trail, and a salmonberry bush as well. Standing near a patch of trillium I watched a raindrop hit one. The intruding raindrop slithered down the leaf, its weight forcing the leaf to point downward. Once the raindrop slipped to the forest floor the leaf shuddered and righted itself, appearing to shake on its own. Through the patch of trillium one leaf after another waved its leaves, shedding raindrops in a dance most people never notice walking through a rainy forest.

rain forests are green and full of lush vegetation

river view from the trail

Most of the wildlife stayed snugly in their homes, but we did see one very small banana slug. The good news is the bugs didn’t come out in the rain. We did not see so much as a single mosquito.  Although it does not rain all the time in a rainforest, so far every time I have taken a rainforest hike it rained, whether in Australia (yes Australia does have rainforest), Ketchikan (whose annual rainfall would make Forks seem dry by comparison), or Washington.

oyster shucking demonstration

how to shuck oysters

Back at the boat after a tasty stir-fry lunch we decided to bag the afternoon’s planned kayaking and sit in the hot tub followed by the sauna instead. Actually nobody went out for the afternoon kayking session. We weren’t the only ones who decided to wait for better weather.

 Video – How to Shuck an Oyster from Hama Hama Oysters

Our Beer Cruise activity for this day while the ship anchored off Hoodsport included a visit to the ship from Hama Hama Oysters.  They brought a variety of fresh oysters with them and had a talk about all things oyster and how to shuck them.  A beer and oyster pairing followed with different beers to taste with the different types of oysters.  Interestingly enough, the oysters were genetically the same, but differences in the location, diet, and habitat cause differences in the size and flavor of the oysters. Beers for the pairing came from American Brewing (Edmonds, WA) and Elysian Brewing (Seattle, WA).  According to the host of all things beer on the cruise, Kendall of Washington Beer Blog, the Sea Cow oyster with Elysian’s Dragonstooth Stout proved the crowd’s favorite pairing.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2012
Posted in Un-Cruise Adventures, Washington, Wilderness Adventurer | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Easy Fruit Smoothies

how to make a fruit smoothie

mango pineapple smoothie

Icy cold fruit smoothies make a great summer treat (even if they do sometimes cause brain freeze).  These smoothies are easy to make, healthy, tasty frozen treats that don’t need any ice cubes.  They can be thick, thin, or even taste like a milkshake.  All you need is frozen fruit and yogurt, some liquid and a blender.   My favorite is a mango pineapple fruit smoothie, with the banana chocolate milkshake style smoothie a close second.

making frozen fruit smoothies

pineapple, mango, and yogurt in magic bullet blender cup

 

how to make a fruit smoothie

fill to desired level with fruit juice and blend

Smoothie Ingredients

Frozen Fruit – any kind of fruit or berries frozen into pieces small enough for the blender to handle

freezing yogurt

use a pan lined with parchment paper or an ice cube tray to make frozen vanilla yogurt blobs or cubes for smoothie-making

Regular yogurt frozen into blobs or cubes of blender friendly size (coconut milk yogurt works fine for anyone with dairy issues.)  I prefer vanilla, but plain regular yogurt would work too.  Greek yogurt gives the smoothie an odd texture, so I don’t use it.  The frozen yogurt in the ice cream section at the grocery store is too much like ice cream for making smoothies.  You can use it, but then they’d be milkshakes instead of smoothies.

Liquid – fruit juice, milk (dairy or plant based,) or a combination thereof.  Some water can be added as well in some smoothies.

add liquid and blend

Frozen blueberries, strawberries, watermelon and yogurt, with apple juice ready to blend.  This one needed a bit more liquid added.

Fruit Smoothie Instructions

frozen fruit smoothie

berry smoothie

Exact quantities are not important for these smoothies.  If the blender has issues add more liquid, and if the smoothie comes out too thin add more fruit or yogurt.  Put fruit chunks, yogurt blobs, and liquid into the blender and blend it.  That’s all there is to it, very easy to make.

Fruit style smoothie:  Mango Pineapple – For my favorite mango pineapple smoothie I use nearly equal amounts of mango and pineapple and just a couple yogurt blobs.  I pile it all in the blender until they reach the height of the finished quantity I want and then pour the liquid in until it reaches the desired mark.  I usually end up adding a bit more liquid than I start out with to make things easier on the blender.  This one works out well with either mango or pineapple juice.  A combination of the two works fine too, as does using mostly juice and a bit of either cold water or milk or both.  I’ve also used orange juice for about half the juice and it tasted great that way too.   Replacing some of the juice with water cuts down on the calories when using a sweetened juice.

For any other sort of fruit smoothie just replace the mango and pineapple with the fruit(s) or berries of your choice and use a juice that goes well with them.

Berry smoothies can sometimes come out a bit tart depending on the type of berries and juice used to make them.  Adding a bit of frozen watermelon and using a sweeter juice such as apple juice makes a great way to sweeten up a berry or any other tart smoothie without added sweetener.

a smoothie that tastes like a milkshake

chocolate “milkshake” smoothie

Milkshake style smoothie – For a milkshake-like smoothie, use milk as the only liquid, extra yogurt (2-3 times as much as for a regular smoothie) and bananas as the base fruit.  I slice the bananas and then freeze the slices individually on a pan lined with parchment paper before putting them in a ziplock bag in the freezer.  I do that with all the fruits that I freeze as well as the yogurt so that each piece is separate and you can easily take as much or as little as you want out of the bag at any given time without worries of then all sticking together in a clump.

For a chocolate banana smoothie use bananas as the only fruit and add some chocolate ice cream sauce before blending.  For a fruit flavored milkshake smoothie, use partly bananas and partly fruit of the flavor you want such as strawberries, still with extra yogurt and milk as the only liquid.

making a strawberry milkshake smoothie

frozen bananas, yogurt, and strawberries – add milk and blend

making a healthier milkshake

strawberry milkshake smoothie

copyright My Cruise Stories 2014
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Memories of a Cruise Ship Doctor part 1- Getting Hired

cruise ship shore excursion

Len Kreisler MD at Taku Lodge in Alaska

Retired doctor Len Kreisler spent 4 years as a cruise ship doctor for Regent Lines in the 1990’s.  His book ROLL THE DICE PICK A DOC AND HOPE FOR THE BEST includes his shipboard experiences in a chapter called What Ship, What Cabin, and Doctor Who?

He had a pretty interesting time onboard, with more stories than fit in just one blog so this is the first excerpt from his book, with eight more blogs to come in the future chronicling the adventures of Len Kreisler MD, cruise ship doctor.

a lifetime of doctor memories in a book

Dr. Len Kreisler’s book

Part 1 – Hiring On

Not enough attention is given to medical services when people decide to travel, especially on cruise ships.  I got first hand knowledge when I became a cruise ship physician (1990-1994).  Having gown up on the East Coast, I enjoyed the pleasures of beaches and salt water.  Living in Las Vegas for over 35 years has not diminished the call of the sea.

I had just left my 18-year position as Medical Director for the Nevada Atomic Test Site and was leafing through a family practice medical journal in the library of the teaching hospital.  An ad for a ship’s physician caught my attention.  An emergency group out of Baltimore, Maryland had contracted for the medical services of the Regent Lines, under the contract name of Maritime Medical Services.

The Regent Lines had five ships of 1960’s vintage.  A Greek man had bought the ships, refitted them and contracted out many of the ship’s services, like medical and food.  The cabins were spacious, the food and entertainment was good, itineraries were interesting and prices very competitive.  The owner was apparently well trained in deficit financing; he kept the subcontractors and investors dangling while he siphoned off a good part of the cash flow.  The operation went bankrupt in 1995.

I applied for the job…after getting an enthusiastic okay from my wife.  Our children had left the nest and she relished the idea of joining me for romantic adventure in domestic and foreign ports.  After waiting several weeks for a reply, I decided to call and see if I was still being considered for a job.

A gravelly-voiced female with a distinctive asthmatic wheeze answered the phone.  After saying Maritime Medical, she went into a series of wet coughs, and paused to catch her breath.  “Oh yes, I remember your application.  Glad you called.  We happen to be looking for someone just like you.  Can you be ready to travel next week?”

I welcomed the assignment and we became good telephone buddies.  I accepted the reality of dealing with a loosely run business model.  I also encouraged my newly found Maritime Medical friend to stop smoking.  I subsequently became an aficionado of cruising….as a ship’s physician, as a passenger, and as a guest lecturer.

My observation is that, in general, medical recruiters for cruise lines prefer foreign nationals.  They work cheaper and are less problematic in the litigious arena.  Who would you sue if a problem arose and the medical supplier was an independent contractor?  An event could most likely occur in international waters or in a foreign port, with a foreign-trained, foreign-national physician.

There are usually 35 – 50 nationalities represented in the crew on a medium-sized cruise ship (1500 passengers).  There are no mandatory standards for physicians or nurses.  Ships going in and out of United States ports have to comply with safety and health regulations, but there are no required educational or competency standards for medical personnel.  Some smaller lines stay out of American ports, thus avoiding U.S. Coast Guard Inspections.  I’d encourage you to check health and safety details before planning a dream vacation confined to distant parts of the world.

Most ships are registered in places other than the United States, for economic and political/legal reasons.  So you can roll the dice, pick a cruise and hope for the best….or….you can seek answers to pertinent questions….and then hope for the best.

Travel magazines recommend third party coverage for cruise insurance because if  you insure with the cruise line and it goes bankrupt the coverage could be as worthless as the line and leave you stranded.  This happened with the Regent Line and later with the Renaissance Line.  (Added note not in the book – it’s a good idea to pay for your travel with a credit card.  Then the credit card company may recover your money in the event of a bankruptcy.  This happened to me when the airline Canada 3000 went bankrupt and my credit card company recovered the cost of a useless airline ticket.)

Always read the fine print before buying travel insurance.  For example, will your insurance cover expensive air evacuation should the need arise?  Conde’ Nast and Travel+Leisure magazines have good recommendations for insurance coverage.

(Medical evacuations do happen.  A passenger was taken by helicopter from an Alaskan cruise I was on, and one from a transatlantic before it got too far from Europe.  Another passenger had medical issues when the ship had gone to far from land for a helicopter to reach it, so it sped across the ocean arriving on the other side several hours earlier than scheduled.  Must have been serious as cruise ships use much more fuel, therefore take many more dollars to run, if they exceed a certain speed.  At one port stop the ship next to us missed its scheduled departure, which was supposed to be before ours, and still sat at the dock with an ambulance at the gangway as we pulled away on time.  Not as expensive as a helicopter evacuation, but they would still have to get home on their own.)

More Stories from Dr. Len:

Crew Problems

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Fort Casey Inn

historic house

Colonel’s House at Fort Casey – No Colonel ever actually lived at Fort Casey so the highest ranking officer lived here….unless a higher ranking officer came to visit and then he had to give up his house!

In the not-so-distant past, most civilizations situated anywhere near large bodies of water viewed their biggest threats as coming from the sea.  The invention of the airplane made many large forts built in formerly strategic locations around the world obsolete.  Now old forts often exist as monuments to history.  Behind their sometimes crumbling walls modern day tourists get a glimpse of life in a former era.

historic lighthouse

Lighthouse at Fort Casey State Park.  It no longer has a light in the tower, but people can go up there.

While the Pacific Northwest region of the USA came late as far as settlers of European descent goes, it still had population and resources enough to deem need of protection from invaders by sea before airborne threats made such forts unnecessary – but only just before.  Until the establishment of a military base in Bremerton in 1891, the Puget Sound area of western Washington was considered too remote to need much protection, though government officials discussed the possibility decades before.

lighthouse view

small gun battery viewed from the lighthouse tower

triangle of fire guarding Admiralty Inlet

map of the 3 forts making up the triangle of fire courtesy of HistoryLink.org

The late 1890’s brought about the building of three forts dubbed the Triangle of Fire placed strategically at the entrance to Admiralty Inlet to prevent enemy ships from entering Puget Sound.  All three were armed with disappearing guns, so known because of the ability to withdraw them out of sight for reloading, protecting both the guns and the soldiers.  None of these guns ever fired at enemy ships from any of the three forts, nor did any of the other large guns based there as no enemy ever approached by sea to test their powers of defense in the short time between completion of the forts and the entrance of airplanes into the battles of World War 1.

Fort Flagler on Marrowstone Island

Fort Flagler (photo by Ryan McNamee of Un-Cruise Adventures)

First of the three came Fort Flagler on Marrowstone Island, completed in 1899, but occupied prior to completion as the temporary headquarters of the harbor defense command of Puget Sound.  This fort never saw any actual battles, but was used for military training during World Wars 1 and 2 and the Korean War.  The fort was declared surplus and decommissioned in the 1950’s and became a state park in the 1960’s.  Touring this fort is one of the options offered on Un-Cruise Adventures Washington coastal cruises.

fired artillery shell

This shell sits in front of Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle under this sign

Zach Mayo rides into town in the movie Officer and a Gentleman

Richard Gere in a scene from An Officer and a Gentleman, photo courtesy of historylink.org

At Fort Worden near Port Townsend it took 200 men nearly 3 years to complete the excavation and build the massive concrete gun batteries.  The gun mounts were finished in 1901 and the fort finally activated in 1902.  It served as a training ground for soldiers in World War 1 and remained as headquarters for Harbor Defense during World War 2.  After military decommission in the 1950’s it was used as a center for diagnoses and treatment of troubled youths until 1971 when the center closed.  It became a state park in 1973.  In 1981 the fort temporarily transformed into a movie set.  It depicted a naval aviation officer candidate school for the movie An Officer and a Gentleman which filmed there.  Many locals had bit parts as extras in the movie, which also gave the area’s economy a much-needed boost.

former military base

this seaside gun turret at Fort Casey still has tracks running through it

Fort Casey on Whidbey Island completed the triangle of fire.   It started with a small temporary garrison in 1901.  The permanent garrison arrived in 1902, living in tents until their barracks got built.  Some of the fort’s buildings weren’t finished until 1903 – the same year the first of its big guns were activated and ready for testing.  The fort was used for training in World War 1 and reactivated for training during World War 2, having been put into caretaker status and used to train reserves and national guard in between the two.  Following World War 2, Fort Casey sat abandoned and neglected for a time until official deactivation in 1953.

historical gun

One of the guns on display at Fort Casey

Though the big guns never saw battle at the three forts, they did get fired for testing and training.  All were eventually dismantled.  Some shipped to Europe to do battle there during World War 1.  Others got dismantled after the war or eventually melted down to make other things.  During World War 2 some of the batteries held anti-aircraft guns.  The state acquired portions of Fort Casey including the lighthouse and gun batteries in three separate purchases between 1955 and1988 to make a state park.  During the 1960’s the state obtained a couple 10-inch diameter disappearing guns and a couple of the 3-inch diameter guns like the fort once had from a fort in the Philippines, which are now on display at Fort Casey State Park.

historic house, former officer's quarters

Duplex at Fort Casey Inn with comfy chairs on the porch.

Seattle Pacific University bought a large parcel of Fort Casey including the barracks,  most of the administrative buildings, and the high ranked officer’s housing.  This is now the university’s Camp Casey Conference Center.  Later they acquired a row of lower ranking officer’s homes, which are available for rental to the public as Fort Casey Inn.  (These houses already operated as an inn before the university bought them and continue in that use.)

inside a historic home

Living room in the duplex through a wall mirror – notice the cozy fire in the stove

The inn consists of four duplexes and one freestanding house where the doctor once lived on the base.  Antique furniture contributes to their charm.  The living rooms have what looks like an old fashioned wood stove, but with the flick of a switch they light up with a cozy gas fire.  They must have previously had actual wood stoves in the not-too-distant past because the one we stayed in had a fire poker mark burned into the otherwise in good condition carpet next to the stove.  Large porches with comfortable chairs make a pleasant place to sit and enjoy the view.  Odds are one of the many resident deer will amble by if you sit there for long.  We also watched a swarm of eagles and hawks hunt in a nearby field while a farmer’s hay making activities brought a feast of small critters to the surface.  Meanwhile a pair of barn swallows tried to make a nest on the porchlight.

beach at Fort Casey

the doorway log has branches in just the right places to frame the door in this driftwood house on the beach

From the inn guests can hike to the nearby state park to see the old gun batteries, go hiking, or spend time on the beach.  People have a habit of building large driftwood structures along the beach there.  Some look like they took a lot of time and effort to build.

campfire by the beach

It stopped raining in time to sit around the fire pit in the evening and make s’mores

I recently spent some time in Fort Casey at a family reunion over the 4th of July weekend. Taking a stroll down the beach with my sister one day we found quite an elaborate driftwood house near the state park.  While no fireworks are allowed at Camp Casey, we saw several displays across the lake from the yard in front of the Fort Casey Inn on the 4th of July.

Bambi

young fawn at Fort Casey Inn

Deer ventured into the vicinity quite often.  Upon my arrival there I saw a doe with a fawn still young enough to have spots.  Fairly brave deer, they seemed quite unaffected when my phone rang and a car drove by at the same time.  A group of bicyclists came by a bit later.  The initial emergence of bicycles with very brightly dressed riders suddenly shooting out from behind the trees spooked the deer a bit, but it was their overwhelmingly loud voices proclaiming the deer sighting to each other that sent the deer bounding off to the forest as fast as they could go.

bird stained glass

stained glass window ornament

My aunt set up a word game one day.  One of those how many words can you find in a given word games.  My cousin’s son (the youngest one there and obviously sharpest of mind) won by a landslide with over 60 words. I came in second with 52, though my mother was just one word behind at 51.  I now have a stained glass bird hanging in my kitchen window, my prize for the game and a reminder forever of a fun weekend with family.  It’s not quite the front door with stained glass window I tried to find when we first moved to our current house, but at least I have a bit of stained glass.

Here’s a smidgin of cousinology (probably not a real word) for anyone who might be interested.  Your parents’ siblings’ children are your first cousins, pretty much everyone knows that.  But what about my cousin’s son, the genius of the game?  To me, he is a first cousin once removed.  My children to him are second cousins, the children of parents who are first cousins.  My children’s children are first cousins twice removed from his mother, my first cousin, and second cousins once removed from him.  If he has a child, that child will be third cousins with my children’s children, as they would all be the children of second cousins.

With all this removing of cousins, you wouldn’t think there would be anybody left in the family, but they’re all still here.  Well all except my kids and my sister’s kids who removed themselves to far off states or in my daughter‘s case a far off country.

We did not take a cruise ship to Fort Casey Inn (unless you count the state ferry.)  We did see one go by though and one of the relatives pulled out his trusty smart phone and used a shipfinder app to see just which ship it was.  (One of Royal Caribbean’s.)  Apparently there’s an app for everything.

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The Awesome Cruise Ship Cabin

the only MSC ship based in America

MSC Divina

One day while surfing through Sky Auction.com, my husband came across an 11 day Caribbean cruise on the MSC Divina up for bid.  We didn’t know much about MSC, though we had seen the Poseia in port before on a previous cruise.  The bidding was at $401 for an inside room, and had several rooms available so rather than raising it he matched the highest bid, not truly expecting to win the cruise for that price.  When the auction ended, the notification came that we did indeed win, and for $75 could upgrade that to a balcony.  Balconies normally cost a lot more than $75 over the price of an inside room, so we jumped on that one.  Much like booking through category guarantee, we knew only what room type we would have, but not which specific room.

double size cruise ship veranda

Double length balcony

Just a couple days before setting sail we were given room number 9145, but already in the midst of traveling since we set out for Miami ahead of time flying standby we never got the chance to look up the deck plans and see where the room was located or how it compared to other rooms.  Considering the price we paid, we more or less expected all along to get their lowest category of balcony cabin, probably the smallest and worst room they had.

Imagine our surprise upon entering our cabin to find out that not only did we get a good cabin, but we got a really special one.  One of only four cabins on the Divina turned long side to the sea instead of short end because of its location at the front of the atrium.  This cabin had a double length balcony running down the long side of the room rather than the usual short end sized balcony.  The other three like it are 9146 on the opposite side of the atrium, and 8144 and 8147 on the deck below.

cruise ship cabin

living room area

Doors to the cabins normally come from a hallway into a short end of the room as well.  Since the door to this room came on one end of a long side it had the closets on one side of the doorway and bathroom on the other.  Then it had a little area with a couch and TV and the sliding door out to the veranda.

special cruise ship cabins

bedroom area

On the other side of the wall with the closet sat the bedroom area, so it was nearly divided into two rooms.  The bedroom area had a desk and another TV.  (Most rooms just get one TV.)

MSC Divina special cabin

courtyard area just outside of room 9145

Doors to cruise ship cabins usually open onto narrow hallways.  Ours opened onto a wide area where the hallway made a bend around the end of the atrium.  A glass window gave a nice view into the atrium, and at the corner sat a sculpture on a stand with an area big enough to sit on – sort of like our own little courtyard with a view!

hallway to cruise ship rooms

cabin door opens onto atrium view

We really loved this room, the best one we have ever had on any cruise ship.  The two room-like quality made it nice if one person wanted to sleep or watch TV while the other wanted to read or work on their computer.  The spacious balcony was very nice too.  We also enjoyed the atrium view whenever entering or leaving the room, though other passengers did have a tendency to trash “our” courtyard area leaving dirty dishes or even random clothing on the bench there.  The hard-working crew would come by to pick things up sooner or later though.  The dishes they normally picked up fairly quickly, while clothing sat quite some time, waiting for the rightful owner to come along and claim it I suppose.

We ran into a few people who had paid a lot more than we did for the cruise and ended up in one of the tiny balcony cabins just behind the atrium area.  If you pick a specific cabin when booking it pays to study the deck plans first.

I don’t know what the odds are of ever getting such a nice cabin again, but probably not too high.  The special ones usually get booked very early.  We sure enjoyed it while we had it though.

Posted in Divina, MSC, Shipboard Life | Tagged , , , , , , , | 20 Comments