Olympic National Park

The dark green areas are Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park covers a significant portion of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. Most of the park is in the center of the north end of the peninsula, but there is also a strip along the coast. The park covers 1442 square miles, or about a million acres.

winter view from Hurricane Ridge

The park includes a variety of ecosystems from glacier topped mountain peaks to temperate forest down to beaches and rugged coastline. There is a lot of old growth forest within the park. Near the coast there are rainforests. Some places in the coastal area receive over 100 inches of rain annually. Quite a contrast to Sequim on the other side of the Olympic Mountains near the north end of the peninsula, which is the driest place in western Washington. Sitting in the rainshadow of the mountains it receives only about 16 inches of annual rain.

logs pile up in winter storms

Rialto Beach, La Push WA

To protect the wildlife dogs are not allowed in much of the park, though they are allowed in some of the lodgings and on a small list of trails. Trails in ONP that allow dogs are Peabody Creek at the ONP Visitor Center on the road to Hurricane Ridge in Port Angeles (not to be confused with the Port Angeles Visitor Center on the waterfront), Rialto Beach, Kalaloch area beach between Hoh and Quinault reservations, Spruce Railroad Trail at Lake Crescent, Madison Falls Trail (Elwha), and July Creek Loop at Lake Quinault.

Piper in a log at Rialto Beach

The park’s website says passes are required to enter the park, which can be purchased online or in person at the park’s visitor centers or park entrance stations when open and staffed. Not all areas of the park require passes or payments. There were no gates, lines to get in, people checking for passes, or places to buy one at Rialto Beach, Madison Falls, Lake Crescent, or Spruce Railroad trail when I went to those places, but there were at Hurricane Ridge and Hoh Rain Forest.

Kalaloch on the coast

The park covers much of the center of the Olympic Peninsula, a lot of which is mountains. There are entrances in various places around the outskirts of the park, some of which have campgrounds or other lodgings, and some that are day use only. Another strip of the park runs along the coast. Information can be found for Olympic National Park on the US National Park website.

coastal temperate rainforest

hiking the Staircase Rapids trail

Since the park covers such a vast area and has a number of different places within the park to visit, each with its own unique characteristics, it is best to know where in the park you want to go before arriving there. While it’s not the sort of place one would usually consider as a cruise ship destination, we once visited the staircase area of the park as a shore excursion from Hoodsport in Hood Canal on a small-ship cruise with UnCruise Adventures.

the lighter green surrounding the park is Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest surrounds much of Olympic National Park, extending the forested lands, but with sometimes differing rules. While dogs are only allowed on a handful of trails and in some lodgings in the park, they are allowed on all of the trails in the National Forest. It adds an additional 633,600 acres of protected forest to the foothills of the Olympic Mountain range. Speaking of the Olympic Mountains, most people have heard of Mount Olympus in Greece, but there is also a Mount Olympus in Washington State’s Olympic Mountains. It is the tallest mountain in the Olympic National Park at 7,980 feet high. The Olympic Mountains are not volcanos. Washington’s volcanos are in the Cascade range on the mainland, not on the Olympic Peninsula. There are 5 volcanos in Washington’s Cascades – Mt. St. Helens which blew up dramatically in 1980, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak, and Mt. Adams.

Olympic National Forest

Some areas of the Olympic National Forest require permits or passes so it’s a good idea to check out their website and find out if anything is required in an area where you want to go before going there. There are a lot of trails within the forest. Some trails have fees and others are free to use. Parts of the forest are within five designated wilderness areas. Some of the trails run through the wilderness areas. There are 20 campgrounds and 3 rental cabins available within the national forest.

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Burj Khalifa

Construction on the Burj Khalifa started 2004, completed in 2009, and the building had an official launch ceremony in January of 2010. As the tallest building in the world at 2722 feet to the tip it beats Shanghai Tower’s 2073 feet by 649 feet. We went up Shanghai Tower when we disembarked the Holland America Westerdam there on a cruise from Vancouver to Shanghai. It was the world’s second tallest building at the time, but has recently been passed by Malasia’s Merdeka 118 in Kuala Lumpur at 2227 feet. We visited the Burj Kalifa after disembarking MSC Lirica in Dubai from a cruise that started in Trieste, Italy.

daytime view from the Burj Khalifa

As the tallest man-made structure in the world it holds a number of world records – tallest building, tallest free-standing structure, most stories (163), highest occupied floor, highest outdoor observation deck, elevator with longest travel distance, and tallest service elevator. The Burj Khalifa is currently still hanging onto its title as the tallest building in the world. There is one planned to be taller under construction in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia called the Jeddah Tower with a proposed height of 3281 feet (one kilometer). The completion date for this tower is unknown.

night view of Dubai from the Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa houses the Armani Hotel and residences as well as 900 luxury apartments. Staying in the Armani Hotel doesn’t get you very high up the tower though since it starts at the bottom and has rooms on the 1st to 8th floors. There are also some hotel rooms on the 38th and 39th floors so the highest level with hotel rooms is on the 39th floor.

fountain at the Burj Khalifa

The 144 Armani residences are 1-2 bedroom suites from level 9-16 with fountain views. Both the Armani Hotel and residences were designed by Giorgio Armani. The other residential tower runs from the 19th to 108th stories. Residences there range from studios to 1-4 bedroom apartments to a 5 bedroom penthouse.

looking up from a balcony on the Burj Khalifa

Visiting the Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa is at the Dubai Mall. Ticket counters and meeting points for tours are in the mall. There’s also luggage storage right by that ticket counter as well as elsewhere in the mall. It’s not cheap to go up the tower, but it’s the things you don’t do that you regret and it would cost a whole lot more to go back there again and do it later if you skip it for the price and then go home wishing you had done it. The regular tickets take you to levels 124 and 125. For an extra charge you can get the premium ticket up to Sky Level on the 148th floor (555 meters). It’s well worth the money to spend the extra for the premium ticket, though it’s still not the top of the tower.

daytime views of the Burj Khalifa

The highest the public can get is by booking a meal at a lounge on levels 152-154. It’s 585 meters at the top level of the lounge with an outdoor terrace at 575 meters, so still not all the way to the top of this 163-story building. The lounge offers 3 options with afternoon high tea, dinner at sundown, or evening cocktails.

looking down on the fountain show

What’s up higher than the lounge and why can’t people go all the way to the top? Levels 160-163 are for mechanical purposes. Levels 156-159 are used for communication and broadcast. Other than the lounge the uppermost levels are corporate suites mainly used by private companies.

night view of a balcony at the Burj Khalifa

The regular At the Top ticket to levels 124 & 125 gives you an hour and a half to stay in the tower. The premium one isn’t timed and with it you can go up anywhere from an hour before to an hour after the booked time.

sunset view of Burj Al Arab from Burj Khalifa

Sunset is the most popular time so for sunset visits it’s recommended to book in advance as there is a limit to the amount of people allowed up in the tower at any given time.

sky level had little niches with fancy things

Sometimes there can be quite a line to get up the tower. Whether you have the premium ticket or just the one that goes to the 124th & 125th floors, all visitors start out in the same elevators. With the sky level ticket to floor 148 you get a VIP sticker and get to bypass the line of people with a basic ticket waiting for the elevator going up. The first elevator takes just 1 minute to go 124 floors, the fastest elevator in the world. For premium ticket holders, from that floor you board another elevator which goes up the remaining 24 floors in 15 seconds.

sky level in the Burj Khalifa

As people leave the elevator on the 148th floor they step into a fancy lounge and are offered tiny cups of tea and little sweets, which included dates, macaroons, and other cookies during our visit. There’s several chairs next to a view window and some couches in an inner room open to the view window.

the outdoor balconies had very tall glass walls

Hallways lead to other view windows, and a walk through the little gift shop leads to an outdoor balcony where there are slits between the glass panels big enough to fit a phone or small camera through in order to take photos that are not done through glass.

sunset over Dubai

We were originally told that we could stay on that level for half an hour and then proceed down to levels 124 and 125 where we could stay as long as we liked. Once we were up there they said we could stay longer so we stayed long enough to get some sunset photos before going down to the next level while there was still some color in the sky.

sky level view table with free refreshments

Up on level 148 once you stop wandering around and sit in the chairs by the window with little tables, or the couches in the inner room, which also have tables, the guys working there come around offering coffee or tea. When they deliver it they sometimes bring a little plate of the sweets along as well. You can have as much as you like and it is all included in the ticket, no extra charge. Once you go down to the lower levels snacks and drinks cost money, and once you’ve gone down you can’t go back up.

swinging pod chairs

Level 125 has view windows pretty much all the way around, some swinging pod chairs, and a video floor you can walk around on that simulates looking down to the ground through a glass floor.

virtual fountain view through the video floor

it looks and sounds like the floor has cracked, but the cracks are as fake as the view

Periodically the video floor makes loud cracking sounds and gives the appearance of cracking glass. There’s also a gift shop and a virtual reality climb the spire experience on that floor. This floor had wings painted on a window where people pose for photos between the wings making it look like they are theirs.

wings over Dubai

All of the levels have some telescope things with a big video screen where you can choose actual camera or night or day views, and little labels pop up to tell you what you are looking at. All the ones on level 148 worked fine, but some of the ones on the lower floors had issues when we were there.

stairway between levels 124 and 125

There’s a stairway from level 125 down to level 124, which has an outdoor balcony bigger than the one on level 148. It has the same spacing between glass panels for unobstructed photos. It also has a gift shop and like the other levels photographers who want to take your photo so they can try to sell the pictures to you when you go back down. There’s a snack shack there too, and wings painted on windows for more soaring over Dubai photos.

fountain show at night

Back on ground level you exit through … you guessed it – yet another gift shop. Like just about all attractions everywhere this one exits through a gift shop. It also has hallways leading back to Dubai Mall that have various interesting displays about the Burj Khalifa. When in Dubai it’s definitely worth making a trip to the top. While looking out the window up there I couldn’t help but hear the line from a song that goes “I’m on the top of the world looking down on creation” in my head.

foggy day view from the Burj Khalifa

Unfortunately it was something of a foggy day when we were up there, though it could have been worse. Rain was dumping in buckets that morning before we left the ship, and in the Uber from the port to the mall we were driving through roads that looked more like rivers. It doesn’t rain often in Dubai so they don’t have drainage in their infrastructure to handle it. It rained some our first day there as well. The rain cleared off and the sun came out before the morning was over, but the fog only cleared enough for tower views of the immediate area rather than the distant views the tower would offer on a clearer day. We didn’t have the option of waiting for better weather though since we had a flight out late that night. Even with the limited view we could see a lot and were very glad we splurged the extra money for the premium ticket.

fountain view looking down from the Burj Khalifa while the fountain is off

There’s a parklike area next to the mall and in front of the Burj Kalifa. A good section of it is filled with water and a fountain. There are fountain shows periodically throughout the day.

light show on the Burj Khalifa

After dark the Burj Kalifa puts on a light show just before the fountain show, and the fountain has lights too.

fountain show at the Burj Khalifa

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Food on Symphony of the Seas

Symphony of the Seas in St. Martin

Food on Symphony of the Seas

As is customary on cruise ships, the main dining room and the buffet are the major food sources on the Symphony of the Seas, but far from the only ones. There are also many smaller eateries around the ship, some of which cost extra, and others that don’t.

pork chop dinner

The main dining room had good food and a staff that would go overboard to try and please their guests. We had all our dinners in the dining room. When you have special dietary needs dinners for the dining room are ordered the night before so they can be tailored to suit your diet. Mostly it ends up as meat, vegetables, and a potato. Unlike some ships which just leave off the sauce entirely, Symphony did make gluten and dairy free sauces. The waitstaff often work other venues during other meals, and if they see any of their special needs clients they do everything in their power to accommodate those needs in other venues as well.

dairy free desserts often came with meringue instead of whipped cream

On this ship they would take pre-orders for dining room breakfast or lunch as well, but we preferred the freedom of eating those meals when we felt like it rather than at a set time. The dining room is only open a short time for those meals, so we had them elsewhere. Cruise ships often offer set time dining at the same time and table nightly, and a more flexible dining option where you can show up anytime during the open hours and get seated where space is available. The flexible time works great for people who order straight off the menu, but for anyone with special dietary needs, dinners are best accommodated at the set time dining where you have the same waitstaff every day.

this flourless chocolate cake showed up with our desserts every night whether we ordered it or not

My sisters and I all have gluten and dairy issues of various degrees and they did a great job with tasty adaptations of the menu and sometimes custom desserts. Apparently a flourless chocolate cake is their standard gluten free dessert as they brought a plate of that every night whether we ordered it or not. It was quite tasty, but very rich. If they could make whatever we each had ordered we got one piece of the cake in addition. If there was something they couldn’t make gluten and dairy free the person who ordered it got the flourless chocolate cake instead. Generally the desserts they make onboard could be adapted while the ready-made ones could not.

the photo does not do this delicious Grand Marnier Soufflé justice

The chef even made a delicious gluten and dairy free version of the grand Marnier soufflé. He made up the recipe for it just for us. It was quite a long wait for dessert that night as it took longer to cook than he anticipated since the regular version has a shorter cooking time, but it was so good it was well worth the wait.

The buffet sometimes had pink or white dragon fruit at breakfast.

Before sailing we weren’t sure what they buffet would be like with covid, but it was pretty much what I anticipated it would be. The buffet on Symphony of the Seas, called the Windjammer, was open, but nothing was self-serve for guests unless it was already portioned out so you touched nothing but the dish it was on. Anything served in larger containers had to be dished out to individual people’s plates by someone on the crew so that no passengers touched the serving utensil. One station of the buffet contained a variety of gluten free entrees, and at breakfast the station serving pancakes and waffles and things could make gluten free pancakes or toast on request, though getting them did require a wait since they are not pre-made and ready to serve like the regular stuff.

Johnny Rockets burger joint on the boardwalk

Other food venues around the ship are Wonderland, Park Cafe, Johnny Rockets, Dog House, Jamie’s Italian, Cafe Promenade, Starbucks, Sorrentos, Vitality Cafe, Izumi, Sugar Beach, El Loco Fresh, 150 Central Park, Chops Grille, Hooked Seafood, Solarium Bistro, and the coastal kitchen which is only for people in suites. People can also order room service. Some room service breakfast items are free (though a tip should be given at delivery.) Most of the room service menu costs extra.

Jamie’s Italian at Central Park

Premium eateries – in other words the ones you pay extra for – include Wonderland, which serves imaginative cuisine, Johnny Rockets burgers (which does serve free breakfast), Jamie’s Italian and Starbucks. Izumi Hibachi & Sushi serves Japanese cuisine. The Vitality Cafe, which is at the spa, has some free items, but juices and smoothies cost extra. Sugar Beach is just what it sounds like – a candy store. 150 Central Park has upscale locally sourced dinners while Chops Grill is more of a classic steakhouse. Hooked Seafood serves fresh New England style seafood. So a good portion of the restaurants onboard do cost extra. We did not visit any of those. Some of them require reservations.

Cafe Promenade on the Royal Promenade

Places that are included in the cruise fare besides the dining room and buffet include the Park Cafe which is open at breakfast and lunch with deli style food. We peeked in one morning, but they had nothing gluten-free so we didn’t stay. The Dog House is of course hot dogs, and open at lunch and dinner (if you eat dinner early enough anyway.) Cafe Promenade is the 24-hour eatery, which had sandwiches and desserts. It always had a few gluten free items. Sorrentos has pizza ready to go, but if they don’t have what you want out and ready they can make it on request. They will also make gluten free pizza on request. El Loco Fresh has Mexican food and was our favorite lunch spot. We tried to check out the Solarium Bistro, but never came by when it was open. The website says it serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Must either be short open hours or it just wasn’t open that cruise since there were only about a third of the number of passengers the ship holds on board. Though listed as a free eatery, their menu does include some pay-extra items.

El Loco Fresh on the pool deck

Besides all the eateries, there’s also free soft ice cream, which was practically right next to El Loco Fresh so we walked past it sometimes. Because nothing was self-serve with covid, 0ne poor crew member had to stand by the formerly self-serve ice cream station to make cones for anyone who happened by wanting one. Occasionally a line formed giving him something to do, but most times we walked by there he was all alone and probably very bored. He did not have any lactose free or non-dairy options so we never had anything there.

lobster dinner on formal night

It would be hard to go hungry on a cruise ship with all the different food choices available, and this ship certainly had more places than average. Of course it’s a far bigger ship than average so it has room for a greater variety of places.

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Posted in Royal Caribbean, Shipboard Life, Symphony of the Seas | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Le Petit Chef

Qsine on Celebrity Constellation

When we sailed on the Infinity, Celebrity’s Qsine Restaurant had an expansive menu of all sorts of crazy foods. Now on our more recent sailing with Celebrity on the Constellation, they still have a premium restaurant called Qsine, but other than the name and orange and white color scheme, it’s not the same place at all. Now Qsine has become dinner (or lunch) and a show featuring Le Petit Chef, a little animated chef who prepares food right on your plate at the table. Lunch in this restaurant is a real bargain. Often the premium restaurants on cruise ships offer lunch at a reduced price from dinner, but the menu is not the same. In this one you still get the reduced price at lunch, but with the same menu as dinner.

table setting for La Petit Chef at Qsine

Things on the table are set just so, as they need to be in the right place for the show. What looks like a plain white plate lights up around the edge when the show is about to start. The projectors are in the ceiling above, one for each plate, so the tables and chairs in this restaurant have to remain in the same place for it to work.

When that white light rings the plate if you blink or move your head or eyes a bit you see rainbow rings for a brief moment instead of white. Once they show starts that light goes away and the whole table becomes a movie screen.

menu for Le Petit Chef

There are 4 courses to the meal. The menu has a main menu option for each course and on the back of the menu there’s one other option for each course. The main menu option is the one that it will show the tiny little chef guy preparing, but whatever you actually ordered is what you will get served. They can adjust your meal for special needs like gluten or dairy free.

Le Petit Chef making soup

The first course is soup. Bouillabaisse is what the tiny little cartoon chef guy makes, but you can opt for French onion instead. To make the soup, he catches a variety of sea creatures and throws them on your plate. An octopus much bigger than him creeps its tentacles up onto the plate, but ends up losing a couple of them into the soup.

the actual bouillabaisse soup

Once the show is over, actual soup is served.

the tiny cartoon chef bronco-busting a lobster

The second course is lobster. The little chef throws a fish on the plate, which attracts a lobster much bigger than he is. It doesn’t stay on the plate, but he ropes it, and after it goes back in the water, he comes out bronco busting on the lobster, which eventually after somewhat of a struggle ends up on the plate. The alternative for this course is sea bass.

real lobster is served once the lobster portion of the show ends

Every course in the meal was quite tasty, including the lobster.

La Petite Chef cooking steak on a plate

For the main course the plate turns into a grill. The chef barbecues a steak on it and harvests some potatoes and a carrot as well as sawing down a broccoli tree to go with it. Using a gas can to light the grill doesn’t turn out well for the tiny chef at the end of the course, but then end of preparing each course never turns out well for him.

chicken from the other menu on the back

The actual food is not eaten directly off the plate that sits on the table for the show. It comes to the table on other dishes. Neither of us ordered steak so I have a photo of the alternative instead, which is chicken.

the little chef emerging from a tiny igloo

On the last course he comes out of an igloo and rolls a snowball to make ice cream. When he gets a bit farther from the igloo he’s towing two sleds full of things he uses to dress up the ice cream snowball with sauce and whipped cream and stuff. At the end he lights up a firework on top, melts his little igloo, and ends up in freshly melted water where there once was snow.

sundae

The show ends with tabletop fireworks – and of course getting served a real sundae unless you chose sorbet instead.

mango sorbet sundae

The sorbet was mango on the day we went there. It normally just comes with a strawberry, but if you ask they’ll top it with sauce and nuts to make a sundae.

tabletop fireworks

This was both the most fun and the most time-consuming meal we had onboard as it took a bit over an hour to complete. The food was also very tasty and well prepared. For a very different dining experience from anything else on land or at sea, it’s definitely the place to go if you are sailing on a Celebrity ship that offers it.

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Halloween Decorations

decoration on the deck at a bnb in Stoddard, New Hampshire

Traveling to the northeast in October, we saw some pretty fancy Halloween decoration displays in a few places along the way.

decorations by the golf course at Jay Peak Resort

It’s always fun to travel near holidays when there’s extra things to see at the places where we stay.

decorations in a garden

Jay Peak had little displays in various places around the resort.

skeleton buggy in a roadside yard in Vermont

Some people go all out with their yard decorations.

sign on the fence of a very decorated yard

You don’t always have to travel far to find people who love the holidays.

pumpkin people

witches

There’s a nearby yard decorated elaborately every Halloween too.

skeleton crew

That’s not the only Halloween yard around. Another one has some bike-riding skeletons.

bike riding skeletons

Happy Halloween!

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Posted in Randoms, USA | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Fall Colors of the Northeast

several colors all on one tree

I’d always heard about the fall colors of the northeastern USA and thought there isn’t really anything so special about that. After all, there are deciduous trees in the northwest too. They turn colors in the fall. Then there’s the rest of the world. The USA isn’t the only country on the planet with trees that lose their leaves in the wintertime.

fall colors

I can’t say anything about the rest of the world, not having been everywhere in the fall, but after having been to the northeast during the fall I have finally seen just why the leaves there leave such an impression on people.

the trees are as orange as the tractors

It’s not just that there are trees that turn yellow, orange, or red. We have those in the northwest too.

red trees

What we don’t have are native trees that turn such bright shades of red or such a vibrant orange.

hills full of colorful trees

That’s not the only thing though. While there are evergreen trees in the northeast, there are also entire hillsides with nothing but deciduous trees showing off their brilliant colors uninterrupted by patches of green, where our hillsides are often dots of color between the greenery.

colorful trees by a ski lift in Vermont

It was also surprising just how rural Vermont and New Hampshire are. For tiny little states near to highly populated areas, these two states have a lot of countryside. Narrow winding roads, sometimes even dirt or gravel rather than paved run for miles through forest or farmland, passing through towns so small they may not even have a gas station or grocery store.

church ahead near the road

The towns do all seem to have what look like old churches, but in New Hampshire many of them were labeled as the town hall. Once we got to Vermont most of the churches were still churches. The towns we passed through in Vermont were also more likely to have a gas station than the ones in New Hampshire. In some New Hampshire towns the old church was just about the only thing in the whole town.

Cornish-Windsor Bridge

We did take a bit of a detour route from Boston, Mass on the way to Jay Peak, Vermont via a 2-night stay in Stoddard, New Hampshire and a route that took us over the Cornish – Windsor covered bridge between New Hampshire and Vermont.

Hutchins Bridge

On the way back we took a side trip to Montgomery, Vermont to go covered bridge hunting in a town that has 7 of them. The route google maps gave us from there to Boston included about 15 miles on a gravel road between Montgomery and the highway. Portions of that gravel road had bright yellow-leaved trees forming an archway over the road for quite long stretches.

view of Jay Peak Resort from one of its ski runs

Hiking up the hillside through the colorful trees at Jay Peak resort offered lovely views both in close-ups of all the different colors of leaves and views of brightly colored hillsides rambling off in the distance as far as the eye could see. From up on the top of the peak (which is accessible by a cable-car tram as well as on foot) the views were even more impressive.

looking down on colorful trees from the tram at Jay Peak

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Snorkeling in Saint Thomas

Symphony of the Seas in Saint Thomas

Browsing the shore excursions pre-cruise, I found a snorkel excursion from St. Thomas that went to nearby Saint John. Having been to Saint Thomas previously, but never to Saint John this one sounded promising, especially since I have heard good things about Saint John and the snorkeling there. It’s supposed to have some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. I did book that excursion, but unfortunately it was not to be.

underwater snorkel selfie

Sometime before the cruise started, I received a notice saying that excursion had been cancelled. My sisters were quite looking forward to it as one had never been snorkeling and the other not for a very long time. It’s one of my favorite things to do so I’m always up for snorkeling. Knowing there’s not much near the dock at St. Thomas I found a different snorkel excursion as a substitute. This one went to a place called Christmas Cove and mentioned the possibility of seeing turtles and rays.

Crown Bay port in St. Thomas

At the port in Saint Thomas nothing looked familiar. The bow of Symphony of the Seas sat nearly on the shore and there was no room on our side of the dock for any more ships. The skyride was nowhere in sight. My other visits to Saint Thomas had been at the Havensite dock and I did not know there was another. Apparently Royal Caribbean’s giant ships like Symphony of the Seas are too big for the main dock and they dock at Crown Bay. This dock could hold two ships, one on each side rather than the 3 in a row at the more familiar Havensite dock. We were the only ship there on our visit. Judging by the name and things posted at the port this appeared to be Royal Caribbean’s private dock.

The port had all the usual cruise port shops, which looked much newer than the shopping area I remembered from the other dock. It’s a couple miles to town, but people can take a taxi. The little cove was full of the same sort of seaweed we’d seen streaking along the sea near the ship for the past few days, only there it was lapping the shore. Having booked the excursion late in the game since we were originally scheduled for a different one, we ended up on the second run near the end of our port time. Given a choice I’d have picked the earlier time, but there was no choice offered when we booked. The earlier time was probably already full.

small corals in Christmas Cove

We just stayed onboard until time to meet for our excursion rather than getting off earlier to explore. There’s just shops there anyway and the snorkel excursion was already enough time for me to spend in the sun. I was happy to see that the blurbs on their website about St. Thomas excursions mentioned that only UV blocking swimsuits or reef safe sunscreen would be allowed to protect the coral. Caribbean coral needs all the protection it can get as coral worldwide is in trouble with Caribbean coral already 80% gone. Along with warmer oceans, pollution, overfishing, human caused breakage, and storms, chemical sunscreens also damage the coral and kill their larvae. It just takes the equivalent of one drop in an Olympic sized pool to cause harm so imagine how much devastation many bodies covered in chemical sunscreen brings. Unfortunately nothing was mentioned about it on the ship nor posted in the port, nor mentioned on the excursion. While we waited for the boat some people slathered themselves in chemical poison without repercussion, probably without knowing they were contributing to the demise of the coral they were so excited to go see.

sea life in Christmas Cove

Unlike when we took a tour with Trilogy in Hawaii, who had a large container of reef-safe sunscreen available to all and insisted nobody use any that wasn’t, the crew of this excursion didn’t even mention it.

Linda on the snorkel boat

The original waiting area by the dock had no shade so us and a few other early arrivals waited nearby where there was some until we were sent over to a place closer to where the boat docked. At least that spot had a tree, though after more and more people arrived it didn’t make shade enough for everyone. Boarding was by whoever got to the boat first and we were lucky to get on just in time to get the last shady places to sit. The center of the boat had a covered area, but the bow and stern were both open to the sun so the people who ended up out there had no shade at all.

on the snorkel boat some people got shady seats and others did not

From where we sat we could see one guy out in the sun at the stern getting redder and redder and sweating up a storm looking like he was about to have a heat stroke, but he managed to survive the whole thing without one. He did not have a hat, but really could have used one. Since I was on doxycycline to keep from getting Lyme disease from a tick bite I got in Vermont just before this trip, and doxycycline makes you extremely sensitive to the sun, I had to be very careful about sun exposure that trip. The full body UV blocking swimsuit I got just before the trip and some good reef-safe sunscreen made things like snorkeling possible for me that otherwise wouldn’t have been while on that antibiotic, but even with those I still had to stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Barbara and I got the last center inside seats, and Linda got one across the aisle on the edge

On the way to Christmas Cove the crew handed out snorkel gear and explained how to use it. I have my own, but did have to take my nemesis, the snorkel vest, from them as those are required on cruise ship excursions. They just had the standard open snorkel that can get water in it, which you then have to blow out. Mine is a dry snorkel that keeps the water out, which is much nicer unless you want to dive when it then acts like a float making diving even a short distance under the surface very difficult to do. Not that diving with a snorkel vest works either because even if you don’t put any air in it there’s always some residual air from a previous user that just won’t squeeze out.

Barbara in Christmas Cove

I’ve always found warm salt water to be quite buoyant and far harder to get under than to stay on top of, but my sisters said that might just be me. One in particular said she drops like a rock and wasn’t comfortable out in the water until she got a pool noodle to help her keep afloat. The other was happy to put air into her snorkel vest. A bit too much at the start as she had to let some out to get her face in the water. I really don’t know why I’m naturally buoyant in warm salt water and they’re not. It isn’t about weight. I weigh about the same as one of them and I never noticed any difference in buoyancy between now and back when I was about 30 pounds heavier. It’s not about the level of fitness because that has not affected my buoyancy over the years either. Maybe it’s a tension thing. I’ve always found snorkeling quite relaxing, where they thought it was a pretty good workout.

sea life in Christmas Cove

People had the option of jumping over the side of the boat or taking the stairs to the water, of which the boat had two sets at the stern. Nobody jumped. Everyone waited their turn for the stairs. We were ready at the start, but then they said you can’t walk across the deck in the flippers so after taking those off and then having to put them back on when we got to the back we ended up in the second group, though just barely. While waiting around near the boat for everyone else to get in I saw a large stingray down at the bottom in the sea grass. Barbara saw it too, but Linda was having equipment issues and went back to the boat. We were lucky that it took awhile for the rest of the people to get in since that gave us a chance to see the stingray and it was the only one we saw.

staghorn coral

Finally everyone but Linda was in the water. They led us closer to shore where there was rocky structure for fish to hide in and some coral. I tried to stay with Barbara, which isn’t always easy when snorkeling, but we managed to stay near enough to find each other whenever we got separated. Most of the coral was fairly small, but there were some pretty good sized patches of staghorn coral. Unfortunately a lot of it was broken. I don’t know if that was from a hurricane or human caused damage. There were quite a few small brain corals and I saw one fan coral and a bunch of tubelike structures I didn’t recognize. They had warned of fire coral, though when I saw that before in Belize it was much larger than those tube things so they may have been either young, a different kind, or some entirely different sort of creature. Fire coral looks like coral, but is actually not coral at all, but rather something related to jellyfish – and it stings. Like actual coral there are different types of fire coral so some of what looked like unfamiliar coral species could have been the fire coral. Everything that looked like coral was small and near the bottom so not where anybody would accidently touch it.

spiny black sea urchins

There were lots of black spiny sea urchins, some of them quite large. The bigger fish tended to mostly hide under the rock ledge, but would come out sometimes. Smaller fish stayed in sight more. I did not see the abundance of striped sergeant majors that are usually present in large schools when snorkeling in tropical places.

big rock that the top stuck out above the water

Before swimming back to the boat Barbara and I swam over to some rocks sticking out of the water and there was a lot of life near them. Sealife likes structure. I hadn’t realized Linda had ever made it out there, but on the way back Barbara pointed her out on her pool noodle, so apparently she was aware that Linda had gotten back off the boat and gone snorkeling after all.

When we got almost to the boat the current was strong enough that Barbara mentioned having a hard time getting there. Pushing her toward the ladder did the trick. I wasn’t having any problems and was able to get us both there. Could be that the current was catching her air-filled snorkel vest and pushing her away, where mine was empty. Linda was not with us, but she made it to the ladder on her own.

fish near the rock ledge

I always enjoy snorkeling, but it is definitely more fun when there is more to see and quite sad that more is not done to protect what little coral the Caribbean has left. This site did have some coral and sealife, but not nearly as much as expected in a snorkel site, and no turtles while we were there. As is often done on snorkel excursions in the Caribbean, on the way back to the port the crew served rum punch. They also had a selection of other rum drinks as well as the water and soda they had available on the way there.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2022
Posted in Caribbean, Ports of Call, Royal Caribbean, Shore Excursions, Symphony of the Seas | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Bonaire Island Tour

Constellation in Bonaire

After returning from a great snorkel excursion on Bonaire, we had time to change into dry things, put our wet stuff out on the balcony of our cabin on Celebrity Constellation, and head back out to see something of the island. The stand advertising taxi tours that had been at the cruise port in Kralendijk earlier was gone, but there were still a few vans and cars parked waiting to give tours. The price there was quite reasonable, just $25 per person for a 2 hour tour of which you can choose the north or south part of the island. If you start the tour early enough you could do both, but we only had time for one or the other in order to make it back before all aboard. We took the south tour. We had a great driver named Martha who told us about all sorts of things on the island. We’ve done a lot of impromptu van tours in various places, and this was one of the best. Quality of these tours often depends on the driver even if they all do go to the same places.

the salt farm leaves a box of salt crystals at the gate for people to take

The capital city of Bonaire is Kralendijk. which is where cruise ships dock. Bonaire is the B of the ABC islands – Aruba and Curacao are the other two. All three sit outside of the Caribbean’s hurricane alley. Bonaire is a special municipality of the Netherlands, and a part of that country. The island’s original Arawak inhabitants were deported by Spaniards in the early 1500’s to work as slaves in copper mines on Hispaniola. Bonaire was colonized by the Spanish in the 1500’s and conquered by the Dutch in the 1600’s. Like our driver Martha, most of the current population are a mixture of Dutch and African descent. The climate is generally warm and dry, but also humid and windy.

beach in Bonaire

Our island tour started with a drive alongside the ocean, passing a lot of beaches. Some of them had people near the shore either returning from a dive or getting ready to go out for one. Bonaire is very popular for diving and snorkeling. Soon we came upon salt flats. Martha said Columbus came to the island looking for gold and found salt. There are 2 natural canals and 2 manmade ones that go into the area of the salt mines. The water comes in green due to the good bacteria that live in it. As water evaporates it turns to pink. The first areas we passed were pink, later there were green ones.

salt flats in Bonaire

Like so many places around the Caribbean, slaves were brought to the island from Africa. While most islands used them in sugarcane plantations, on Bonaire it was to harvest the salt. Now it is all done by machines. Something similar to a combine. Once the salt flats are dried the salt gets mounded up into hills and then loaded on ships.

salt pile and machinery

There were some giant salt hills far behind a gate, and a box of salt out in front of it that people could help themselves to. Martha had a giant crystal, far bigger than the chunks in the box, which are more like rocks than what people expect to see as salt. Those chunks can be ground up and used though, completely organic sea salt.

salt loading bridge and blue obelisk

There’s pipelines and a bridge now, a whole mechanized system for loading the salt on boats for export. No more slave labor, but there are still 4 obelisks in different colors marking where ships of old could wait to be loaded with salt.

seahorse (internet photo)

Martha said that divers like to go under the salt bridge because they find seahorses living there. She did not say if they were any close enough to the surface for snorkelers to see them.

slave huts

The slaves originally lived in a village called Rincon far across the island and had a 7-hour walk to and from the salt mines every day until tiny little coral huts were built for them to stay in during the work week, where they then walked back to the far away village on weekends. There is a set of slave huts beside the sea, and just down the road some replicas.

replica slave hut and red obelisk

Other than the color the replicas and originals look much the same. They’re about as spacious as a tent intended for 2-4 people, but slept 8-10, which would have meant packing them in like sardines. It’s hard to understand how anyone could treat another person that way, but that’s far from the worst slaves had to endure. The huts have no doors or windows, just open spaces where doors and windows should be. The hut roofs are not high enough for anyone taller than a small child to stand up inside.

lighthouse

Not far past the slave huts we stopped briefly at a lone lighthouse on the beach.

flamingos

A bit farther down the road we saw a small flock of flamingos in a shallow pond. There was a much larger flock in the distance, too far away to look like anything but a sea of pink. We saw a few more flamingos here and there along the way, but not a large flock. There are over 10,000 of them living in the Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary, but tourists are not allowed there.

kiteboarders

Besides snorkeling and diving, other popular sports on Bonaire include kiteboarding and windsurfing. Along one stretch of the beach the sky was sprinkled with brightly colored kites. So many it looked like it must be hard to keep them from tangling up in one another, but the people out there know what they are doing. Martha said they were really farther apart than they appeared. Sometimes one would come in close to shore. Some of them jumped up out of the water quite high, which was fun to watch.

windsurfers

In a different area there were some little resorts and a crowded parking lot where people go to learn, practice, or just have fun windsurfing. That area was full of sails from the windsurfers, who apparently start learning as young as 4 on miniature boards. Lessons can also be found on the island for kitesurfing.

feral donkey

Besides flamingos the island also has many wild donkeys, left over from the days when they were used to haul salt to the waiting ships. There’s over 700 of them at a donkey sanctuary, and others that roam free around the island. People can go into the donkey sanctuary for a fee when it is open. We came across one standing by the roadside. Though she was a wild donkey, she was not afraid of people. Quite the opposite, she stood quietly for photos, let us pet her, and was quite disappointed that we didn’t have any treats for her. Martha said people often bring them carrots or apples.

cactus fences are popular in Bonaire to keep out feral donkeys

Fences made from many live cacti growing in a row are quite popular on the island to keep the wild donkeys out.

the goats made a run for it

Some goats behind a fence in somebody’s yard ran away when we got out of the van to take their picture so the domestic goats were much shyer than a wild donkey.

view through the door of a slave hut

After our tour we got back to the ship with plenty of time to spare before all-aboard time. When cruising you always want to be back on time because unless you are on a cruise ship excursion when it is time to go the ship is not going to wait for stragglers to come back.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2022
Posted in Caribbean, Celebrity, Constellation, Port Cities, Ports of Call | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Global Village in Dubai

the entrance to Global Village

Our 3-week cruise on MSC Lirica started in Italy and ended in Dubai. We spent a night on the ship before disembarkation so we had more time to explore than is available in the average port stop. This is an especially good thing if you want to see Global Village as it is a ways out of town and doesn’t open until 4pm.

antique cars

Global Village is not near any of the other tourist attractions of Dubai. It’s not actually close to anything. Even the main attractions of Dubai sit quite a distance from one another as Dubai is huge, though they are not so far away as Global Village. It doesn’t cost much to get into Global Village (about $4 each when we were there) so the main cost is in transportation to get there and back.

pavilions on the main walkway

Global Village is something like a combination of a souk on steroids and a theme park. The majority of people you see around the tourist sites of Dubai are from elsewhere, either tourists just visiting or workers from other countries. Not so at Global Village. There we saw more locals than tourists.

Korea pavilion

The women are usually all in black. They wear an abaya which is something like a robe or long dress along with a head scarf (hijab). Some add a niqab which covers their entire face except the eyes. They don’t all walk behind their husbands though. We saw some walking side by side and some even walking ahead. There were also lots of groups of just women. At the entrance there are several ticket windows for ladies only. All of the ticket sellers in the ladies’ line were women, and most of the others as well. The men usually wear white robes, called a dishdasha among other names. Their headdress, which may be white or other colors is a keffiyeh or shemagh consisting of a square scarf tied with a cord.

Bosnia pavilion

Like Oman, men in Dubai are allowed up to 4 wives, though wives are expensive so mainly only the wealthy have more than one. It’s not just living expenses. They have to pay the father for their bride. We did see families there with one man and several women. Also some with nannies along to help with the children. The children often wore western style clothing even when the mothers had nothing visible but their eyes. The nannies tended not to be locals and also wore western style clothing, setting them apart from the wives in a family group. In some family groups some women wore niqabs while others did not.

inside the Bosnia pavilion

As the 4pm opening time approaches lines begin to build outside Global Village. As soon as it opens people pour in in droves. We got there about 10 minutes after opening and they were pouring in nonstop. Many locals and some tourists too.

replicas of Burj Khalifa and a pagoda just inside of Global Village

The entrance itself is very Arabian in appearance. The first walkway beyond the entrance is lined with buildings with representations of things from all over the world on the outside. Just the other side of the entry there’s a (much shorter) replica of the Burj Khalifa, which is still the world’s tallest building (for now) and located in a different area of Dubai.

Has the colosseum eaten the Leaning Tower of Pizza … I mean Pisa?

Nearby buildings portray the Roman colosseum with the leaning tower of Pisa jutting out of it, and the Eiffel Tower with the opera house of Sydney Australia next door. The Statue of Liberty is on the outside of one of the buildings lining the initial walkway, and there’s an Asian pagoda across the way.

Taj Mahal at Global Village

A very white building on the corner is reminiscent of the Taj Mahal.

bridge across the waterway between pavilions

Around a corner beyond the main entry a very wide walkway with a water feature down the center is surrounded by facades from different countries around the world.

inside the Iran pavilion

Behind each facade are lots of little shops selling things from that country. One country’s shops might be full of mainly honey and dates while another is mostly clothes.

Iran pavilion

One side of the main walkway has large facades mainly representing countries of the middle east, most of which each have their own Pavilion.

Africa pavilion

On the other side there are some different countries with the most colorful being one pavilion for all of Africa. The entrances to the Africa pavilion had actual Africans dressed in their traditional clothing to greet people on the way in. The ones we saw spoke English to us, but they probably speak Arabic too.

Syria and other pavilions at Global Village

Not all countries of the middle east are in that one main grouping. Some are on different walkways, like Syria.

Japan pavilion

Global Village covers quite a lot of territory, which is probably why it is so far from town since it had to be somewhere with enough space to spread out over many acres. It takes a lot of space to shop around the world all in one location.

inside the Africa pavilion

Iran of course has Persian rugs, and Africa all sorts of unique items. All of the countries of the Americas both north and south were lumped together in one pavilion, as was most of  Europe, probably because there are less products from there that would appeal to the people of Dubai. China of course had a large complex because wherever you live it seems like just about everything is made in China.

free samples

Interspersed between and among the shops are lots of little eateries and small food booths.  In one spot there was even a guy with a fancy teapot passing out free little cups of tea. There was also one with coffee samples in another location.

teapot snack shack

Most of the snack shacks are typical little rectangular boxes, but not all. Some of the snack shacks had unique shapes like a teapot or a boat.

waterfront marketplace

Fountains and waterways ran down the middle of the main walkway, and there was a section that had floating shops in little boats.

rides

There was also a carnival area with rides, and several places offering shows. Definitely a place worth seeing even if it is a bit of a distance to get there.

fountain

In between some of the pavilions there’s a wide-open space where people had picnics on the grass. Near one end we saw a large fountain with horse sculptures. After dark the fountain had a light display of ever-changing colors.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not next to a replica of the Sydney Opera House a

There was so much to see it Global Village that we mostly just skimmed the surface taking photos from the outside. We did go into some of the pavilions, but not all and did not venture into the area with amusement park rides.

Americas pavilion

If you’re ever in Dubai and have time to go there, Global Village is definitely worth seeing. It’s the sort of place you could spend all day there and not see it all – except that it’s not open all day so that’s not even an option.

boat snack shack on the waterway between pavilions

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2022
Posted in Lirica, Middle East, MSC, Port Cities, Ports of Call | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Westerdam Hits and Misses

Holland America Westerdam

Westerdam in Hakodate, Japan

Every cruise and every ship has its high points and low points. There are always some things you really love and some things you could do without. Of course which things are hits and which are misses depend entirely on each person’s individual tastes. One person’s absolute favorite thing may be the thing someone else hates most. So it’s a good thing cruise ships have all sorts of options. These are entirely my opinions of the things I liked and didn’t particularly care for on our Vancouver to Shanghai cruise on Holland America Westerdam.

Hits

Westerdam back deck

smoking shelter on the back deck

One of my absolute favorite things about the Westerdam was their new smoking rules. On previous trips they had a smoking side on the promenade deck, which is not good for anyone trying to get some exercise walking or jogging around it. I was quite happy to see that the Westerdam has joined her sister ship, the Oosterdam, in having the only smoking area onboard outside at the back of the lido deck. It’s not where you have to walk through it to get anywhere else, and being at the back the ship sails out of the smoke when in motion. It is next to a pool, but the ship has another pool so that area can be avoided completely by anyone not wanting to breathe in tobacco smoke. There is a shelter there for people to sit under.

Westerdam in Juneau

Westerdam promenade deck

Without smoking the outside area of the promenade deck is a great place for exercising. The Westerdam has the awesome sort of promenade deck that circles around the entire ship. It’s a very popular place for passengers to walk and jog. Most of it is shaded by lifeboats or higher decks so there is a bit of shelter from sun or rain, which is much nicer than the top deck jogging tracks some ships have. The Westerdam even has several drinking fountains spaced around the promenade deck for the people who walk or run there.

Holland America’s Navigator app puts the daily schedule literally at your fingertips with all of the ships daily events and activities conveniently available in your phone or other mobile device along with with free chat, menus, the ability to book things like shore excursions, specialty dining, or spa appointments. It’s also the portal to paid internet.

cruise ships have lots of artwork

Holland America flower painting

Refurbishments to the ship replaced anything that may have began to look worn keeping the ship from looking old. In spite of a major makeover they did keep some touches of the original décor like Dutch flower paintings and scenes of the old world.

Most cabins on the Westerdam have bathtubs rather than just a shower, which means even if you just use the shower you still get a longer clothesline. Inside cabins just have showers, but on a lot of ships only suites get tubs so a lot more people get them here.

pork ossobucco

this was one of my favorite meals on the Westerdam

For the most part the food on this cruise was very good.

There were lots of different options for daily activities including some itinerary related guest lecturers.

towel alligator

giant alligator in the towel animal zoo

At the nighttime cabin cleaning the steward left chocolates and a towel animal. One morning the lido deck was covered in towel animals.

Crow's Nest Lounge on the Westerdam

Crow’s Nest Lounge

The bridge crew often made announcements of where to look when there was something worth seeing like whales off the starboard bow. There was also a great indoor viewing area in the crow’s nest lounge with floor to ceiling windows all across the front of the ship.

On the second half of a back-to-back cruise, which Holland America calls a Collector’s Voyage, they did not make the people who were already onboard attend the safety drill, just the ones who embarked that day. At the end of the first half they had a special luncheon that all the people staying for the next voyage were invited to, and the first night of the second half little plates of homemade chocolates were delivered to all the Collector’s Voyage people.

cruise ship pool

the main pool area has a sliding dome so it can be indoor or outdoor

The ship has a sliding dome over the center portion of the Lido so on cold days or in bad weather the main pool and surrounding area can be indoors.

Misses

old and new centerpieces to the Westerdam's atrium

Westerdam’s old and new atrium centerpeices

The new modern minimalist type décor replaced the beautiful old crystal sailing ship that used to hang in the atrium with an ugly swirly thing. The new décor makes the ship seem quite plain and far less grand than it was originally and a lot of the new furniture is very uncomfortable, including the seating in the theater.

theater on the Westerdam

the new theater furniture was quite uncomfortable

While the Navigator app is a great idea, and very useful when it functions properly, some parts of it didn’t work. The menus were always at least a day behind so we could only see what we had already eaten and not the current night’s dinner choices.

Older ships like the Westerdam tend to have continuous airflow into the cabins. You can adjust the temperature, but can’t turn it off. The ceiling vent is in the center of the cabin so continuous airflow means nonstop noise day and night. It’s not that noticable in the daytime, but definitely annoying when trying to sleep at night.

doing laundry on a cruise ship

view of laundry lines from above

The ship has no self serve guest laundries. We were on a 28-day voyage and sending clothes out for the crew to wash is expensive. So that meant a lot of hand washing in the cabin’s bathroom sink. Good thing we had a bathtub because besides a longer built-in clothesline, that also means more space for tying up additional clotheslines.

While the main cabin has continuous airflow, there is none in the bathroom. Besides fogging the mirror and steaming up the room when anyone showers, if you handwash any clothes you have to keep the bathroom door open to get anything dry. Even if you don’t do laundry and just hang a swimming suit it dries a lot faster with the bathroom door open.

cruise ship spa chairs

heated ceramic chairs in the Westerdam’s thermal suite

One of the heated ceramic chairs in the spa’s thermal suite did not work. This meant only 5 of everyone who bought the thermal package’s favorite loungers were available unless someone used the cold one – which defeats the purpose of having it heated. It was out of order for the entire cruise.

The paid internet did not always work. Holland America’s free onboard site is the only page it would open some days which does not help a bit for things like checking email – which is important for people like us who have someone at home running our business while we’re away who is not familiar with it and may have questions. Once we got out to sea even though there were less days left in the voyage the price for upgrading to their fastest internet went up. Their categories were one that allowed for social media sites only, one that would go to websites and emails and things and one that allowed streaming. Cruise ship internet is always notoriously slow, but I thought it rather dirty of them to jack up the upgrade price as soon as they got far enough out for it to slow down considerably, expecting people to pay a higher price for less days of coverage. Not a way to inspire satisfaction among their guests, that’s for sure. Then again since people we talked to who had the streaming upgrade said theirs didn’t work any better for emails or anything than ours did maybe it just saved us some money.

It was very very cold inside the ship. In warm climate cruises they always crank up the air conditioning so you need a sweater inside, but on this cold weather cruise when you would expect heat instead of air conditioning it was even colder than usual throughout most of the ship.

cruise ship dining room

dining room

On the last evening after serving dinner, but before bringing out dessert they have a little presentation to acknowledge the behind-the-scenes people – which would be fine except that a bunch of the guests in the dining room take their dirty napkins and start swinging them around in the air flinging off whatever might be on them be that bits of food debris or germs. Considering that unsanitary behavior among passengers it would be best to do the introductions before serving any food while the napkins are still clean. (This cruise was taken pre-covid so that may have changed now that people are more conscious of trying not to spread disease among passengers. At least I hope so.)

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2022
Posted in Holland America, Shipboard Life, Westerdam | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments