Maré Natural Aquarium

Maré, New Caledonia

Explorer of the Seas in Maré

When stopping in Maré, New Caledonia, most cruise ship passengers opt to buy tickets for the shuttle to Yejele Beach. Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas promoted that shuttle quite heavily, encouraging everyone to buy tickets ahead of time so they could avoid a line at the port. The beach is on National Geographic’s list of top 5 beaches and the people we talked to who went there said it was a lovely beach and big enough not to feel as crowded as you would think when a ship unleashes over 3000 passengers after telling them there are no excursions and nowhere else to go.


flower by the roadside

We opted to skip the beach and walk to the natural aquarium which according to my pre-cruise research was somewhere between 2 and 3 kilometers down the same road that the busses take to the more distant beach. We came to shore on an early tender and though we saw busses loading we did not actually see any leave to know which way to go. We turned to the right. After passing by a market full of stalls where locals have things for sale and a bar we came to a roundabout and a seaside monument where someone had set up scooters for rent. We asked them which way to the natural aquarium and luckily one understood enough English to point to the road following the coast going in the same direction we had already headed, which was to the right when getting to the road from the dock area. New Caledonia is a French overseas territory so the people there speak French.

water access on Maré

crumbling stairway to the sea

We saw nobody else walking on our way out of town, though every now and then one of the shuttle busses passed by. We went through a bit of a town which had some homes and a police station. We took note of the crumbling stairway into the sea across from an old abandoned stone house just past the police station as a possible place to snorkel on our way back.

Maré, New Caledonia

shoreline view on the way to the natural aquarium

While there is coral all along the shoreline and pretty much anywhere looks like a great place to snorkel, Maré is a raised coral atoll and most of the shoreline along that road dropped sharply off to the sea with no way to get down to all those fantastic little coral-filled bays.

island dog

dog on Maré

An injured dog, probably a stray, came running up to us on 3 legs barking. He seemed quite friendly and had a happy expression despite holding up a leg and wounded or infected ears. We had nothing to feed him, but he followed us for awhile anyway until a local out for a walk came by going the other direction and the dog opted to follow him instead.

old stone house

abandoned house across the street from the crumbling stairway

Farther down the road two more dogs ran from a house to the roadside barking. These looked well cared for and stayed in the yard to that house so they probably lived there. They just barked, but never acted aggressively at all. We saw a different dog by the shore on the way back.

native hut on Maré

native hut

Along the way there were a lot of little burn spots on the sea side of the road where all the people living across the street from each spot appeared to burn their garbage. The other side of the road had one place with quite a large burned area, full of partially burned trees. Hard to say if it was intentional or a burn pile that got out of control. The sea side had lots of coconut trees, some papayas, and many tropical flowers in a mixture of other plants. The land side of the road had mostly homes. Some quite nice, some with a more slapped together look, and one traditional style hut.

Maré road sign

road sign

Where a road came to a T with the one we were on a sign proclaimed the direction we were going as the way to the Aquarium Naturel. It had a lot of other info on it too as to what was in each direction on that road, but nothing for the one connecting there. Continuing on we came to a corner with a guardrail covered in graffiti and followed that around the bend, continuing our journey toward the natural aquarium. We saw lots of beautiful coves with no way down the steep rock edges of the island to get into them for snorkeling. Many places had picturesque views of our ship. Eventually we found a place that looked like we could probably climb down to the water, but it was far enough from anyone or anything that if we tried that and couldn’t get back out we’d be on our own. It would be quite a long swim from there back to the crumbling stairway if that happened and nowhere in between had looked even remotely accessible so we decided it would be best to go to the spot with the stairway. That one spot was the first and only place we saw beyond the town area where getting in and out of the water even looked possible.

graveside woodcarving

grieving man carving by the grave

Somewhere along the way we came to a place that looked like a cemetery. It had a log fence, open in the middle. A bit beyond the fence a tall totem pole guarded the grave area behind a cement wall. Rather than an entire cemetery, the walled in area held just one crypt. A smaller wood carving near the totem pole depicted a very unhappy looking man holding a woman who was probably dead so we figured it must be the grave of a woman.  The plaque by the totem pole gave the name Jean Marie with a 2009 date. There was other stuff written there, but it was all in French. Nearby a new cement platform could have been another crypt under construction or possibly just the foundation for a house.

road sign

don’t turn just yet even though the sign points that way

We passed 2K and then 3K on my Garmin watch without seeing any sign of the natural aquarium. At about 3.2 K we came upon a white sign shaped like an arrow pointing to the sea. It said Aquarium Naturel on it, but the area there just had a couple picnic tables. The sign did say RM 2 which must have been the distance from there to the actual entry as another 0.2K down the road from there we came to a paved loop off to the right. This loop led to a trail into the woods. Down that trail we found the Natural Aquarium. It’s a big pool in the trees, surrounded by tall coral rock just the same as the seaside.

natural aquarium entrance

trail into the natural aquarium

We walked up to the edge and looked down into the water. Obviously used to people coming to feed them, fish gathered expectantly below. As cruise ship passengers not allowed to bring food ashore we had nothing more to give them than we had for the poor dog, which was nothing. Throwing a bit of crumbled leaves in the water got the fish all excited, mobbing it until they discovered it wasn’t actually food and swam off in disappointment.

natural aquarium

natural salt water aquarium in the woods

The aquarium is just for looking at and not for swimming in. Besides having no way into it short of jumping, which would leave no way out, swimming there is not allowed. It is worth seeing though for anyone who doesn’t mind the 7K round trip walk (or who comes via the local’s van tour offered at the port or by rented bike or scooter.) Walking there and back is quite a nice hike. The area is very scenic.

natural aquarium fish

fish in the natural aquarium

Since we came to shore early in the morning on the first tender it wasn’t too hot during our walk, which was nice because most of the way had no shade. On the way back we saw a few other passengers on their way there, probably spaced far enough apart that that each pair would get to see the natural aquarium by themselves unless someone came by a faster method while they were there. They all asked us how far it was, which ranged from nearly there for the first people we came across to a long way yet for the last ones.

snorkeling on Maré

snorkeling near the crumbling stairway

We walked faster on the way back, not stopping to take photos or investigating any possible points of entry to the sea. When we got back to the town area and the stairway it was no longer deserted as it had been on the way out. There were a few people sitting on the stairs and a local doctor came down, donned his snorkel gear, and took off out into the water while we were getting situated.

snorkeling on Maré

the sea on Maré is crystal clear

The stairs seemed embedded with quite a lot of glass so we wore the aquasox we had with us, though at that location it would have been better if we had brought fins because the best snorkeling from that spot was farther offshore and it did have a bit of a current.


refueling a helicopter

Not far from the stairway we saw military people refueling a helicopter from big metal barrels. Just a bit down the road from there near a white house with a red roof a little trail through the grass led to a place where some people had discovered rocks they could climb down all the way to the sea. On one side water crashed over the rocks in a torrent and stirred up what otherwise would have been a peaceful bay, but on the side where they could get to the sea they had a pretty sheltered little cove in which to snorkel and swim. It wouldn’t be big enough for very many people, but there were just a few of them so they had a good time.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2019
Posted in Explorer of the Seas, Pacific Ocean & Islands, Ports of Call, Royal Caribbean | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Osaka Cruise Port

Osaka cruise dock

Welcome to Osaka

Osaka, Japan

With a population of over 19 million, Osaka is Japan’s second most populous city, and one of the most populated metropolitan areas of the world. This port city has served historically as a merchant city. Signs of human habitation in the area go back to 5 or 6 centuries B.C. It is located on Osaka Bay and has a humid subtropical climate with spring the wettest and August the hottest.

Osaka, Japan

view of a canal in Osaka from the Westerdam

Osaka has many canals and bridges. Its food is renowned worldwide and their sake is sought-after as well. Osaka Castle is the main historical landmark. The castle and its park are accessible from the port by subway. Other attractions in Osaka include parks, museums, temples, shrines, theaters, shopping, and skyscrapers including the tallest building in Japan with an observation deck.

Osaka Cruise Port

aquarium and plaza in Osaka

Tempozan Plaza and Osaka Aquarium

The Tempozan Passenger Terminal in Osaka is conveniently located next to the Osaka Aquarium, Tempozan Marketplace and Giant Ferris wheel, Legoland, and a subway station. Not all places take credit cards so carry cash, but not for tips. Tipping is not generally practiced in Japan and may even be seen as rude.

toilet instructions

instructions on how to use a sit-toilet for tourists accustomed to squat toilets

Free Wi-fi is available inside the building at the cruise terminal, and also maps and information. To leave the cruse ship dock walk past the building and turn right to get to the street. The train station is just a few blocks walk straight out the road from the terminal, around a third of a mile. Shops all along the way offer food, free wifi, and trinkets.

Malls in Japan sometimes have very fancy toilets with heated seats and bidet options. The restrooms we saw were very clean and either had western style sit toilets or some stalls with sit toilets and some with squat toilets. Places that just had sit toilets also tended to have instructions on how to use them because sit toilets are just as foreign to some Asian tourists as squat toilets are to western travelers. We didn’t come to places where squat toilets were the only option until we got to China.

lego giraffe at Tempozan Plaza

lego giraffe on the plaza

There’s lots to do without even leaving the dock area with the aquarium, ferris wheel, and Legoland located right at the pier. You can buy tickets for all of those as well as tickets for a harbor cruise by the wheel. The marketplace is a small mall full of little shops sitting between the ferris wheel and aquarium. These are directly across the tour bus parking area from the ship on a plaza with outside space to walk from one attraction to another.

park at the pier in Osaka

park at the end of the pier

There’s a park near the end of the pier with a playground, trails, and a ferry dock.

Universal on the other side of a bridge

you can see Universal Studios theme park through the bridge

You can see Universal Studios amusement park across the canal from the ship. On the far side of the Aquarium there’s a dock with a shuttle boat called Captain Line that goes to Universal City Port. You can also get to Universal by subway.

Osaka, Japan

Osaka near the dock

Cruise ship shore excursion tours offered from Holland America Westerdam in Osaka when we visited there mostly went to various temples or castles.

Tempozan cruise pier

Tempozan Cruise Pier in Osaka, Japan

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2019
Posted in Holland America, Japan, Pacific Ocean & Islands, Port Cities, Ports of Call, Westerdam | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

San Diego Cruise Port

Royal Princess in San Diego

Royal Princess arrived in San Diego around 4am, though the scheduled arrival time was 7am. That gave the crew plenty of time to set up gangways on two different decks long before most of the passengers woke up. The morning started out foggy, but the day turned sunny by late morning as the fog burned off.

street in Coronado

San Diego, California is the oldest permanent European settlement on the west coast with the first Spanish mission and fort established in 1769 – 7 years before the declaration of independence. The San Diego area was under Spanish rule until it became a part of Mexico when they gained independence from Spain in 1821. It joined the USA in 1846 during the Mexican-American war. The old town area originated where Spanish soldiers built their residences below the hill on which the first fort perched. In 1867 an enterprising merchant named Alonzo Horton purchased 800 acres that he developed into the new town and by 1872 he had gotten most of the population of old town to relocate. The original old town area is now a state historic park.

sand castle on Coronado Beach

The cruise port in San Diego is in an area called the Embarcadero. Both cruise ship terminals sit near each other within the 2-mile waterfront strip that area consists of. There are quite a variety of things to do right off the ship. There was an aircraft carrier museum just a couple berths away from our ship as well as a nearby museum in an old sailing ship. A seaside path leads from there to a tourist spot called Seaport Villiage built by Disney in the 1980’s to represent a town on the sea of a century or so ago. There’s shops, restaurants, entertainment, and a marina there.

scooter rider on the waterfront walkway passing by the Seaport Village

Self-powered electric scooters of the sort people stand on are available for rent. They sit along the sidewalks sometimes in groups and sometimes where someone left a lonely one. They appeared quite popular as people of all shapes and sizes whizzed by on them.

walkway in the Seaport Village

Also within walking distance of the port there’s a firehouse museum, children’s park and museum, and a train depot. Harbor cruises are available in the port area. Seal tours leave from the nearby Seaport Village. These amphibious vehicles are called Ducks in most cities, but San Diego is home to a base for navy seals as well as a navy base.

military plane

There’s a hop-on-hop-off trolley station right near the cruise pier, which makes for an easy and convenient way to get to the touristy areas of town. You can buy tickets for it at a booth by the trolley stop for less than purchasing them in advance on the ship.

Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island

San Diego’s biggest attractions besides sunshine and beaches are Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, and Coronado Island. San Diego also has a Sea World, numerous parks, theaters, museums, and of course plenty of places to eat and to shop. Other things to see in San Diego include a variety of historical monuments. There’s an oceanfront amusement park called Belmont Park in the Mission Beach area (which has nothing to do with the horse racing track of the same name in New York), and on the opposite end of the spectrum rugged coastline with trails to natural un-touristy beaches at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve near La Jolla.

view of the navy base from the bridge to Coronado

Besides the usual attractions, San Diego also has a number of places where scenes from the movie Top Gun were filmed. The famous “Great Balls of Fire” bar scene was in a real and still existing place called Kansas City Barbecue. Banker’s Hill (West Laurel and Union Streets) of the chase scene, and a little house at 102 Pacific Street that was Charlie’s house (Kelly McGillis) in the movie are among the places most easily accessible to the public.

the Botanical Building at Balboa Park is like a giant cage full of plants

Overall there’s definitely more to do in San Diego than anyone could do within the time frame of a cruise ship port stop. There’s actually more to do just at Balboa Park alone than there is time enough to do it all in one day.

San Diego, California

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2019
Posted in Port Cities, Ports of Call, Princess, Royal Princess, USA | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Hits and Misses on Holland America Veendam

Costa Maya, Mexico

Veendam in Costa Maya

Every cruise ship has its good features and its bad features. Holland America Veendam is no different. Even among ships of the same cruise line things vary, and of course likes and dislikes are a personal thing. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and this is mine, though what I like best someone else might dislike most and vice versa.


Fresh eggs Benedict – one of my favorite cruise ship breakfasts is eggs Benedict. It’s really awesome that Holland America makes them fresh at the Lido Buffet. On their bigger ships there’s a buffet station just for that, which rarely has a line. On the Veendam the eggs Benedict station is at the center of a busy area in the buffet with a lot of other things. It’s a smaller ship and probably doesn’t have space for the individual eggs Benedict station. That’s a slight miss since it increases the possibility of having to wait in line, but having fresh eggs Benedict made to order is still a hit.

2 omlette stations – Anything that reduces the amount of time spent waiting in line is a hit with me. Having two omlette stations on the breakfast buffet means an option for anyone wishing to have an omlette for breakfast to find the shorter line. Also shorter wait times since people are not all waiting in the same line for their fresh made-to-order omlette.

cruise ship theater

balcony seats in the theater on the Veendam

Nice theater, lots of good seats – It’s always more fun to go to a show on a ship when you can find a good seat. Veendam’s theater is laid out so there is a good view from a lot of different seats there.

cruise ship launderette

self-serve passenger laundry on the Veendam

Self serve laundry – It’s always a bonus when a ship has self serve laundries available. Particularly for long cruises, but even on short cruises people sometimes need them. Some cruise lines have passenger laundries on all their ships, others on none. Holland America has them on some ships, but not all and Veendam is one of the ships that has one.

cruise ship bathtub

jetted tub in the Vista Suite

Jetted tub in the small suites as well as the large ones – Veendam is the only ship we ever booked a suite on and it was the smallest sort they had, the type that is often called a mini suite though on the Veendam they called them Vista suites. Having the jetted tub was a feature I quite appreciated.


gluten free pizza

Gluten free food on request – People used to have to make arrangements in advance of a cruise to have any gluten free food available to them. It’s nice that cruise lines now have gluten free things available without prior arrangement, and not just in the dining room. The Veendam had things like gluten free buns at the poolside grill and gluten free pizza crust at the pizzeria. They’re not on the menu, but you can get them if you ask.

cooking demonstration

America’s Test Kitchen demonstration on Holland America Veendam

Daily Movies and Cooking Demos – making more use of the space, the test kitchen theater doubled as a movie theater with movies a couple times a day when the theater wasn’t in use for cooking demos. The cooking demos were fun to watch too.

Public areas behind life boats – putting public areas behind the life boats instead of passenger cabins reduces the amount of ocean view cabins with obstructed views. Of course this is only a good thing if the ship has ocean view cabins available in other locations, which the Veendam does.

cruise ship salad bar

salad station at the Lido buffet

Salad Stations on the Buffet – The buffet had 2 salad stations with quite a variety of greens and salad toppers where people could customize meal-worthy salads.


Lanai cabin

Lanai cabin on the Veendam promenade – in daytime the outside of the glass is a mirror, but in the dark when the light is on in the room you can see inside if the curtains are open.

Rooms on promenade deck – Unfortunately the trade-off for not having rooms behind lifeboats on this ship was moving them to the promenade deck. It’s actually worse to put rooms in this area that normally has public spaces than it is having them behind life boats if the choice is one or the other. Best would be having public spaces on both those decks and the ocean view rooms elsewhere. Some of the ocean view cabins on that deck are obstructed by ship’s structure, and all the cabins there have people walking past them as they travel around the outside promenade. The promenade is normally a popular place for jogging as well as walking, but most likely due to the cabins jogging around the promenade was not allowed on the Veendam. So the people in the cabins have no privacy and everyone loses out on a good jogging spot. Makes those obstructed view cabins behind the lifeboats not look so bad after all.

Very Little self serve food on the buffet – in most areas of the Veendam’s buffet passengers have to wait for a crew person to serve them, which greatly slows the line down as each person has to wait for that one crew member to serve a whole area one person at a time rather than each person just getting what they want as they move down the line.

cruise ship casino

smoke from the casino drifts through the ship

Smoking allowed at slot machines – You would think smoking policies would be uniform across a cruise line. Our last cruise prior to the Veendam was on Holland America’s Oosterdam, which had just one smoking area outside on the back deck of the Lido where it was easily avoided. Veendam on the other hand let active slot players smoke in the casino, which meant cigarette smoke drifting through the interior of the ship.

snorkel excursion

snorkel excursion in Belize

Very slow and unorganized getting shore excursions going – You would think a relatively small cruise ship wouldn’t have too much difficulty getting passengers organized for their shore excursions since the bigger ships all seem to manage it with more people. Not so on the Veendam, which was the slowest and least-organized ship we’ve ever seen when it came to getting excursions going. Also the most crowded in the waiting area where people sat wherever they could find a spot rather than with others on the same excursion.

Veendam Vista Suite

only one of the outlets over the desk fits American plugs

Only one cabin outlet – While just one outlet in each stateroom used to be pretty much standard on all cruise ships, a lot of them now have been upgraded to at least adding in a couple USB ports, but the Veendam still has the old standard one outlet. A good reason to pack a power bar when cruising.

open space on deck

empty deck on the Veendam

Not a lot of self entertainment options – While Holland America does offer a good amount of classes, demonstrations, lectures, and other entertainment options, there’s not much for people to go do on their own if they don’t want to attend an organized event. You would think a small ship would make use of all the space they had.

cruise ship art

Veendam Atrium

Empty deck and nothing in lowest atrium level – It’s not that they haven’t any space on the Veendam to put things for people to do. There’s a whole empty outside deck. Although there’s room there for one, waterslides aren’t Holland America’s thing, but some sort of outdoor games or mini golf or something would be far more useful than a bare deck. On the previous trip I took on the Veendam they had an indoor shuffleboard game in the lower atrium area, which had room enough they could have added some more indoor games and made it a useable space rather than just somewhere to walk through. Instead of adding more, on our last Veendam cruise the indoor shuffleboard was gone and there was nothing in that space at all.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2019
Posted in Holland America, Veendam | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Maré Cruise Port

Mare, New Caledonia

Explorer of the Seas in Maré

On our transpacific cruise on Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas, we made a port stop at Mare, New Caledonia. While this looks like the word for a female horse – a mare – it is actually pronounced Mar-ray.  It’s also spelled with an accent mark over the e, Maré. Being a French overseas territory, New Caledonians speak French. Maré is the second largest of New Caledonia’s 4 Loyalty Islands. Lifou where we had our other port stop in New Caledonia is the biggest of the 4.

Yejele Beach on Mare Island

Yejele Beach – internet photo

Maré is a tender port. On the ship they said there is nothing to do there other than buy their round trip pass for the shuttle to Yejele Beach. On our cruise that pass cost $16. It’s not that that’s a huge sum of money or anything, but spending the whole day on a beach with nearly the entire amount of passengers from the biggest cruise ship we’ve been on so far just didn’t sound appealing to us no matter how nice the beach is so we didn’t go there. Walking distance to the beach from the tender port is somewhere between 5 and 20 miles depending on the source of information. It’s on National Geographic’s list of top 5 beaches. We asked some of the people from our ship who went there how they liked it and they said it was lovely and big enough that it did not feel as crowded as they thought it would coming from a ship with over 3000 passengers.

Maré, New Caledonia

old ramp

Shuttling to the beach is not actually the only option for something to do on Maré . Although most of the shoreline has no water access, there are a couple ramps near the tender dock that lead to the water. One looks more like an old abandoned boat ramp then anything currently in use, but you never know.

Maré, New Caledonia

newer ramp

The other is bigger, wider, and has a lot easier access out of the rocks which make it look far more likely to be currently in use as a boat launching ramp, though nobody went anywhere near it while we were there.

Mare, New Caledonia

singers by the tender pier

Exiting the tender we saw locals in a little shelter singing, with a donation jar out front. Beyond them a sign pointed the way to the shuttles and market.

Maré beach bar

bar near the tender pier in Maré

Yes, there is something there besides the beach, a market right near the tender pier. Also a bar.

Maré, New Caledonia

Maré market stalls

Although we were told there would be no tours on the island, it appears some locals have gotten enterprising enough to try and earn a bit of money when cruise ships come to town.

Maré tours

tours available in Maré

There was a little booth set up where locals offered several different van tours around the island for varying times, prices, and sites to see. They had one for $25 that would take people to the natural aquarium, a village, and a beach. We didn’t take the tour so I have no idea if that is the same beach where the shuttles go or a different one.

monument on Maré

monument in a roundabout

The road to the right out of the port area leads to a monument in the center of a roundabout and a memorial by the sea. The one by the sea commemorates people aboard a ship at the time it sailed away from the island never to be seen again. It’s pretty much a giant white square with names.

scooters for rent

scooters and things for rent

Near this monument one of the locals had scooters set up for people to rent. Their sign said they also rented cars and bicycles.

tiny town on Mare

it’s a tiny town

Continuing along the road next to the sea for half a kilometer or so brings people into a tiny town, which has some houses and a police station. Maré is a raised coral atoll with steep drops through craggy coral rocks to the sea along much of the shoreline.

Maré, New Caledonia

some people hike the road into town while others found water access in the rocks

There are coral reefs all along the shore so anywhere you can get down to the water in natural areas is good for snorkeling. There’s not a whole lot of places where you can access the water, but if you hike down the road a bit there are a few.

Mare, New Caledonia

swimming hole or snorkeling area close to the port

At about half a kilometer from the port area by the little town there is a place where we found some people who had climbed down the rocks into the sea to swim and snorkel. It’s at the spot where there’s a little pathway through the grass across the street from the driveway to a white house with a red roof. The people we saw there said the snorkeling was pretty good at that spot.

stairway to the sea

stairway to the sea

Not far from there, just past the police station and across from an old abandoned stone house, a crumbling concrete stairway leads to the sea in a small inlet through the coral rock. We used that entrance as a way to get to the water and go snorkeling. On the way in we met the local doctor donning his snorkel gear, and on the way out a passenger coming in from having swam a bit of a distance away from shore where he said the snorkeling was fantastic – even better than Jinek Bay on Lifou. We went out beyond the inlet, but stayed behind the rocks that sheltered the cove. We saw quite a lot of coral and fish, but did not see anything rivaling Jinek Bay so apparently we did not go out far enough to find the prime spot. Across the street some locals had coconuts for sale set up with straws for people to drink the coconut water inside.


cemetery with one grave

If you walk farther down the road eventually there is a place that looks like a cemetery, but has just one crypt with another platform under construction. Beyond that at about 3.4 kilometers from the port area a natural aquarium sits in the trees just off the road. The walls are too steep to get in and out of it, but it is beautiful to see and the fish swim right up to the edge expecting food from people who stand there looking down. If you don’t mind a bit of a hike it’s worth seeing. The hike there has a lot of nice views of the shoreline.

dog in Maré

we saw several dogs wandering near the road in Maré

Back on the ship we talked to a passenger who had walked all the way to the beach with a friend. He thought it was about 12K. The walk took them 2 ½ hours and they said there wasn’t much to see along the way beyond the natural aquarium. From the beach they were able to take the shuttle back for $5.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2019
Posted in Explorer of the Seas, Pacific Ocean & Islands, Ports of Call, Royal Caribbean | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring Shimizu

port in Shimizu

view of the Westerdam from the Ferris wheel in Shimizu

We had just a short amount of time to spend onshore in our port stop in Shimizu, Japan. Holland America Westerdam had a brief port stop there mainly for the views of Mount Fuji, which can be seen from the ship on clear days. Weather during our port stop was warm and partly cloudy. Not cloudy enough to obscure the mountain though, so we were graced with views of Mount Fuji.

Mt Fuji in Shimizu, Japan

view of Mt. Fuji from the Ferris wheel

The ship had a few excursions available and the port provided a free shuttle to the nearest train station. The dock is right in town so there are also things to see within walking distance of the ship. We’d had a couple port stops in Japan and not seen any traditional Japanese architecture yet so finding some sort of shrine or temple was our goal for this port.

Shimizu temple

temple in Shimizu

One of the ship’s shore specialists said there were a couple small local shrines near the shuttle stop and suggested downloading an app called which works when you have no access to cell coverage or wifi. Of course wifi on the ship is not conducive to downloading, but we already had google maps and used that instead. The port advisor’s app was in English, but we ran into a passenger who downloaded it in Japan and everything came up in Japanese on their phone.

Shimizu phone booth

No, we’re not in England. This is Shimizu, Japan

The port had quite a few little canvas booths with things for sale as well as an information booth and for those who needed cell coverage and have plans not providing affordable coverage in foreign countries they even had sim card rentals. Not far from the port we saw an old British style red phone booth. We rarely ever see phone booths in America any more, at least not where we live, but we saw several of the red ones in Japan.

shrine in Shimizu

this shrine or temple was not on the map

The person we talked to in the information booth did not have a map to the shrines near the shuttle stop that the ship’s shore advisor mentioned, but they did have one to several local shrines within walking distance of the ship, which was even better since walking straight from the ship means no worries about shuttle schedules.

statue at Japanese shrine

statue at the unmapped shrine

The map was not all that clear and the first shrine we found was neither on the paper map nor listed on google maps. We turned on the road the paper map indicated for the red shrine and just happened to see something that looked old and wooden at the end of a very narrow alley.

graveyard in Japan

small bit of a large graveyard at the brown shrine

We walked toward it and found some sort of unpainted church or temple with several structures built in old Japanese style and a graveyard with some pretty impressive statuary. This graveyard was large and associated with the temple, but we saw other random graveyards around the town that were much smaller – just a little plot between homes or other buildings. Their gravestones tend to be large and fancy.

red shrine in Japan

red shrine with fox (Kitsune) statue

Using google maps we then found the red shrine indicated on the paper map. It had a row of arches leading to it, lots of statues and pagodas, and an open view into the main building. This was probably the best of the shrines we found. It had a name in English on one of its signs which said Minowa Inari Shrine.

yellow temple in Shimizu

yellow temple

A couple other people from the ship came by while we were there, the first of quite a few passengers or crew we ran into around town. They had just come from a temple which was where we went next. This one was larger and yellow and did not have its name in English posted anywhere. It did have some sort of little shop with a poster in the window showing all of the ships coming to that port and when they were scheduled to be there, maybe 6 or 8 total for the year so it’s not an often visited port.

temple in Shimizu

Can we or can we not pass through this doorway?

We could take pictures on the outside of this one, and there was an open door with a pathway leading into some other structures, but when passing through this door a little Japanese lady who spoke no English seemed to be saying we were not to go there, though she may have meant it wasn’t open yet or not to take pictures since she somewhat alternated between gestures that seemed to indicate go away and those that seemed more welcoming. Not knowing what she actually wanted we just went back out the door and ventured no farther into the temple grounds. On the opposite side of the driveway from the buildings next to some bushes in front of a graveyard it had a row of what we thought were Buddha statues wearing pink bibs. Those were not the only  statues in bibs we saw in Japan. The most common color for them is red, which is apparently a color closely associated with several Shinto and Buddhist deities in Japan.

statues in bibs

statues in bibs at the temple

The most commonly found statues in bibs are actually called Ojizo-sama and are the guardians of children who died before their parents. Parents sometimes put bibs on them in hopes of gaining protection for their children in the other world. The next most often statue decorated with bibs or other red adornments is the Kitsune or fox where it is the color red rather than the bib itself that is of importance. According to old folklore red is the color of expelling demons and illness and a Kitsune usually means the shrine is dedicated to Inari, the god of rice, agriculture, general prosperity, and in older times was also the patron saint of swordsmiths and merchants. The Kitsune is the messenger for Inari and must not bring illness so the harvest is bountiful.

Shimizu Ferris wheel

Ferris wheel in Shimizu

A lot of the ports in Japan have giant ferris wheels. We’d gone on the one in Yokohama the previous day and decided to try out the one in this port as well. You get great views of the area from the top of those giant ferris wheels. You don’t need a map to find them either. They tower above most of what’s around them so you just walk toward where you see them from the ship. The one in Shimizu was even closer to the port than the one in Yokohama.

kids rides in Japan

Thomas the Tank Engine is one of the small children’s rides near the Ferris wheel

This one was right next to the water. The one in Yokohama was bigger and surrounded by roller coasters. It also cost a bit more. The one in Shimizu was surrounded by tiny rides for tiny kids. These giant wheels move continuously at a very slow speed so people get in and out on the move. You go around once, which on this one takes 13 minutes. Definitely not a thrill ride, it’s all about the view. We could see Mount Fuji and the ship, but in opposite directions so we could take photos are of one or the other, but not both together. We also saw some swans at the edge of the shore, but they were gone when we got off the ride. From the top a trail was visible heading off parallel to shore, but not on the shoreline.

vending macnines in Japan

Japan loves vending machines

The ferris wheel was next to a plaza full of little shops and restaurants and both seemed to have something to do with a local soccer team as the mascot was both on the wheel and in the name of the plaza. We found a shop in there that sold all sorts of international things from Australian TimTam cookies to Canadian maple leaf cookies, and all sorts of wines and other things from around the world. Most of the shops (at least on the lower level where we went) seemed to be all about food whether ready to eat or packaged.

squat toilet in Japan

this is what a squat toilet looks like

The restroom there had both western style and squat toilet options. All the restrooms we saw at the Japanese ports we went to either had western style toilets or both. Most had some sort of instructions on how to use the western toilets, which in Japan often had heated seats.

trail in Shimizu

walking and biking trail

After looking around the shops a bit we decided to try out the trail we had seen from the ferris wheel. It had separate paths for bikes or walking and a sign saying it went 8k to Miho-No-Matsubara, which is a pine grove and a world heritage site where people go for the views of Mount Fuji. We were just in this port for a few hours and while we might have had time enough left to walk the 8k there, if we did so we would not have time enough to get back to the ship before it left port so we just walked a short distance down the trail and then turned back. In some areas it had separate trails for bikes and pedestrians.

mini machinery

miniature construction equipment

Walking around Shimizu is quite interesting even when not in the vicinity of shrines or other sites because it really gives a good view into how average people there live. The roads are quite narrow, as are the available parking spots at most homes, which explains the preference for small cars and tiny trucks or vans that are no bigger than small cars. Even the construction machinery is miniature. As with anywhere some houses are nicer than others, though none of these had much yard space and whether apartments or single family homes they were all right next to their neighbors. The lots are very small so houses tend to have 2 or 3 stories. Some have a bit of greenery around them and a couple had fake dogs. Apparently Japanese people like fake things as we saw a lot of fake food in the little shopping malls. In Yokohama there was a small shop with nothing but fake food, which even included light switch plates that looked like toast with butter or jelly.

canal in Shimizu

canal with painted wall

Like most of the other ports we visited in Japan, this one had random vending machines sitting outside along the streets. Most of them sell drinks, but some have ice cream or other things.


bird on a post in the canal

A bridge passed over a canal where one side was lined with houses and the other a cement wall painted with murals. Birds sat on a row of posts in the water next to the wall.

house in Shimizu

one of the nicer looking houses

Some of the homes are quite cute. Some look brand new, others have seen better days, and a few even had touches of the old traditional Japanese architecture. We ran into a local at one of the ports who said that in Japan people were accustomed to not needing to lock doors, and that if you left something sitting out on a busy sidewalk all day it would still be there when you came back because people never bother other people’s homes or take their things. Sadly he also said that was starting to change now due to immigration.

soccer wall

soccer wall

On the way back we walked down a street that had a wall made to look as if a soccer balls were in different stages of passing through it. The sidewalk in that area had all sorts of different footprints in the paving.

old Japanese building

there’s a bit of old-style architecture mixed in with more modern buildings around town

More Blogs About Japan

Hakodate Cruise Port
Exploring Hakodate
Yokohama Cruise Port
Exploring Yokahama
Shimizu Cruise Port

Shimuzu, Japan

port area in Shimizu

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2019
Posted in Holland America, Japan, Port Cities, Ports of Call, Westerdam | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Fold a Towel Owl

Towel Owl

The Towel Owl is a My Cruise Stories original towel animal. It’s cute, stands on its own, and not too hard to make.

Supplies Needed to make a Towel Owl

1 bath towel

2 hand towels

eyes and feet

1 rubber band

How to Fold a Towel Owl Head

fold over both short ends of the hand towel to make it square

Fold the short ends of one hand towel over evenly on both sides to make a square.

fold the towel in half diagonally making a triangle

Fold the towel half diagonally making a triangle with the previous folds to the inside.

roll from the long side until there is just enough point left for a beak

Roll the long edge of the triangle toward the point until the pointy end is the right length for a beak.

fold rolled head in half with the roll to the outside

Fold in half with the roll on the outside. Secure the two sides of the roll together under the head with a rubber band.

How to Fold a Towel Owl Back, Wings, and Tail

fold bath towel in half crosswise making a square

Fold in half crosswise making the towel relatively square.

fold the corners into the center making a diamond shape

Fold all 4 corners into the center to make a diamond shape.

fold towel in half to make a triangle

Fold towel in half across what would be the long side if the towel wasn’t folded, making a triangle.

How to Fold a Towel Owl Front

fold 1/3 of a hand towel over, then fold the remaining unfolded third over that

Fold 1/3 of a hand towel across the short side. Then fold the remaining unfolded third over the folded part making a rectangle. This towel can either be the same or a different color or pattern than the other two towels. I chose one with a similar color, but different pattern.

lay the folded hand towel over the head bits like a blanket

Lay center of the folded end of the towel over the long bits of the head piece. At this point it kind of like you are tucking the owl head into bed under a blanket.

wrap the towel around the extra bits below the head

Wrap both ends around the head piece and fold under any bits that stick out beyond the back so you can’t see them from the front.

Finishing the Towel Owl

lay the body at the center of the long side of the wings with the head above the towel

Set the head and body onto wing piece with the head at the center of the long edge. The top of the body front will be on the towel with the head sticking out beyond the wing towel.

finished towel owl

Fold the wings over the sides of the body and stand bird up with the bottom bit of the triangle sticking out behind it for the tail. Arrange wings tail, beak, and bottom of stomach as desired. It looks more owly if you shape the bottom of the stomach into 2 little legs. Add decorations such as paper, felt, or googly eyes and pipe cleaner, paper, or felt feet. This owl has pipe cleaner feet. Yellow eyes with black pupils would look the most realistic for an owl since that is what a lot of real owls have, but the closest I had in googly eyes was white with yellow pupils.

For instructions on how to fold other towel animals see My Cruise Stories Towel Animal Page.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2019
Posted in Towel Animals | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Aquarium Bar in Cozumel


Veendam in Cozumel

Cozumel is full of little beach bars near the cruise ports. Most ships also offer a wide variety of shore excursions both on the island and on the mainland. When we stopped there on Holland America Veendam we walked around the area of town nearby the port for a bit and then took a taxi out to the Aquarium Bar. Taxi fare to the individual bars varies by distance from the port to the bar, but it doesn’t cost much to get to any of them. Once there most of them have some sort of cover charge to get in, which normally includes use of whatever facilities that place has once you are there. Most have something to do, whether it is water toys, kayaks, or snorkel equipment. It depends on which bar you go to what they have and what costs extra. Some have all-inclusive options that will even cover food and drinks and others don’t.

Aquarium Bar in Cozumel

sea view from across the pool and through the bar at the Aquarium Bar

Several of the bars on the sign at the taxi stand are listed as good places for snorkeling. The taxi drivers always recommend Sky Reef, where we went on a previous visit. That particular bar had no cover charge then. Wanting to try a different place this time, we opted to go to the Aquarium Bar. This one had an assortment of blow-up water toys anchored in shallow water not too far out from the sandy beach. A string of floats marked the end of the safe area where boats can’t go and they said the best snorkeling was out near the floats. For a place called Aquarium Bar the amount of coral was disappointingly sparse and a lot of what was there was either damaged or not looking too healthy. Fish tend to hang where the coral is so not much coral means less fish. For the best snorkeling in Cozumel you really do need to go on some sort of boat tour that takes you to out to the good reefs.

Cozumel beach bar

boats often speed past the beach at the Aquarium Bar

Sea life likes structure and there wasn’t a whole lot of it near the Aquarium Bar. Out beyond the buoys there was probably a lot better snorkeling because a lot of dive boats stopped out there. Boats also went speeding by just past that string of floats at high enough speeds that their wakes came crashing over the seawall when they got to shore, so it’s really not a safe area to snorkel in if you haven’t got a boat to protect you from the boats going by. Which explains the need to stay behind the floats.

under the sea

fish at the Aquarium Bar

There were more large sized fish at the Aquarium Bar than in most places near shore, just not too much coral or the smaller fish that hang out in it. Closer to the shoreline than where the boats usually go, but beyond the area protected by floats there was a sort of cove with more structure, but I did not see anyone go beyond the floats to snorkel there. The area may have had sharp rocks and coral too close to the surface to swim over. Or it could have been some sort of protected area closed to people.

snorkeling at the Aquarium Bar

there were some bits of structure with sea life

Cozumel is known for its crystal clear water. Water near shore at the Aquarium Bar was quite murky the day we were there. While the sea itself was calm on that day every wake from the many passing boats churned up the sand leaving visibility to the bottom through the water near shore at zero even though it wasn’t more than a foot or two deep. In contrast, we could walk out onto the balcony on our ship and look all the way to the bottom of the sea since there were no passing boats churning up sand at the dock.

undersea photo

coral or seaweed?

Away from shore at the Aquarium Bar out closer to the floats where the wakes weren’t crashing ashore disturbing all the sand the visibility was much clearer. The bottom was easy to see even though the water was deeper. It was never very deep though. Most of the bottom was sand or sea grass, though it did have ups, downs, and holes like the sand was possibly covering a dead reef. In some places baby corals were making an attempt to grow and there were a few nice big ones. Definitely more fish than coral though. The Aquarium Bar is a good place to see some big fish, but not a good place to see coral or multitudes of fish. Big fish is relative to the size of the average little near shore reef fish, not in comparison to giant fish people catch when fishing offshore, although I have occasionally seen some very large manta rays while beach snorkeling.


pelican fishing in the surf

They had plenty of beach chairs. After snorkeling we found a comfortable spot to relax and watch the boats go by. A pelican came along and decided to dive for fish right in front of us, which is always fun to watch.

Aquarium Bar in Cozumel

beach chairs at the Aquarium Bar

Overall the Aquarium Bar was a nice little beach bar for people who like quieter places away from the crowds, but for better snorkeling I’d recommend Chankanaab Park or even Sky Reef if you can’t get offshore.


a bottomfish at the Aquarium Bar

More Blogs About Cozumel

Cozumel Cruise Ports
Cozumel, Mexico
Atlantis Submarine
Cave Snorkeling
Chankanaab Park
Palancar Reef Snorkel
Playa Mia Beach Bar
Sky Reef Beach Bar
Tulum Mayan Ruins

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2019
Posted in Caribbean, Holland America, Mexico, Ports of Call, Veendam | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cruise Ship Cabins on Royal Princess

Royal Princess

Royal Princess in San Diego

Cabin categories are pretty much the same from ship to ship. Except when they’re not. Most ships have inside cabins, oceanview cabins, balcony cabins, and suites. Of course there are usually further divisions within some or all of those categories, but those 4 basic cabin types can normally be found on all major cruise ships. Royal Princess on the other hand is missing an entire cabin category. There are no oceanview passenger cabins anywhere on the ship. None. While most ships have a deck or two of oceanview cabins below the public decks, on Royal Princess there are only crew decks under the public areas. A lot of ships also have some obstructed view oceanview cabins behind the lifeboats, but Royal Princess has none of those either. So options there are limited to inside, balcony, suite, and the sub categories thereof. Cabins on this ship sleep 2-4 people.

typical closet in Royal Princess staterooms

Closets on Princess ships tend to be open rather than having doors, and more spacious than what a lot of other lines provide.

self-serve passenger laundry

Princess ships have nice big self-serve passenger laundries which is quite nice, especially when taking a long cruise, or a cruise as one part of a longer vacation. Wheelchair Accessible cabins are available in different categories and come equipped with full wheelchair-turning space, a roll-in shower equipped with grab bars and a fold-down bench seat, an easy access closet and accessible writing desk. Accessible cabins are usually the largest cabins available in any given category.

interior cabin (photo courtesy of Princess cruises)

As with any cruise ship, interior cabins are the smallest and lowest priced. These range from 158-162 square feet. Even in the inside cabins amenities include a small refrigerator as well as standard items like a hairdryer, safe, and TV.

cabin A203, interior with bunk

Some rooms are equipped with drop-down bunks and will sleep up to 4 people.

Standard Balcony cabin with beds set as 1 (photo courtesy of Princess cruises)

Standard balcony cabins are 214-222 square feet in size (including the balcony) and feature floor to ceiling windows at the sliding door to the balcony on the ocean side of the room. Balconies have 2 chairs and a table.

cabin A111, standard balcony with beds set separately. This was our cabin, and it did not have the extra table and chair shown in the photo from Princess of the same cabin category

Regardless of cabin category, all staterooms have the standard 2 beds that can be set together as a queen size bed or apart as twin beds depending on if guests want one bed or two.

balcony cabin A111 with 1 bunk down

Rooms with drop down bunks do not get any extra furniture on the balcony. There’s a chair at the desk so we brought that outside if we all wanted to sit out there. There is no other inside seating other than the beds. At least in our cabin there wasn’t, though the photo from Princess shows a second chair with a small table.

cabin A201 deluxe balcony

Deluxe Balcony rooms are 233-279 square feet including the balcony, and add a sofa bed to the room’s furnishings. So for the increased cost over a standard balcony cabin you get somewhere else to sit as well as the extra square footage. The list also includes upgraded amenities, which I would hope means separate shampoo and conditioner because in the standard balcony cabin we had it was the nasty all in one sort. I can’t say what the upgrades actually are though since I did not stay in that cabin. The gym showers also had the crappy all-in-one shampoo and conditioner.

cabin A205 mini suite

Mini Suites are styled like an extra-large balcony cabin. These have about 323 square feet including the balcony, and the bathroom includes a bathtub rather than just a shower. It also has a massaging showerhead, and the balconies have an ottoman as well as chairs -some of these balconies have 4 chairs. The sitting area in these rooms includes a coffee table. Some mini-suites book as club class. Those rooms are in prime locations and include some suite amenities like the princess luxury bed, priority embarkation and disembarkation, and special dining privileges. For a larger pricetag than the regular mini-suite of course.

suite (photo courtesy of Princess cruises)

Suites come in either premium at about 554 square feet and located at the bow end corners of various decks, or the slightly pricier penthouse ranging from 440-682 feet depending on location in the ship with the larger ones at the stern corners of various decks and the smaller ones toward the rear of deck 14. Square footage includes the balcony. Balcony furniture includes 4 chairs as well as an ottoman and 2 loungers.

Suite Bathroom (photo courtesy of Princess cruises)

The bathroom has a shower separate from the tub. Other additional perks beyond what the mini-suites offer include priority tender disembarkation at tender ports, complimentary laundry service, complimentary dinner in a specialty restaurant on boarding day, and priority reservations for specialty dining and shore excursions.

Princess Luxury Bed in Suites (photo courtesy of Princess cruises)

This ship has lots of good options for staterooms as long as you’re not looking for oceanview (my usual preferred category because they are bigger than interior and have a view, at a price less than what you pay for a balcony cabin.)

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2019





Posted in Princess, Royal Princess | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Décor on Explorer of the Seas

cruise ship decor

looking down the front atrium from above the metal sculpture

For anyone new to sailing on Royal Caribbean, Explorer of the Seas definitely stands out above the average cruise ship. The most notable difference is found at the center of the interior of the ship. Standard cruise ships tend to have an atrium or other large open area somewhere near the center. It may run anywhere from a few decks high to all the way up to the top of the ship, sometimes adorned by glass elevators. Explorer of the Seas has two of these many deck high atriums, one each at the front and back stairway/elevator bay areas. These are topped by enormous metal sculptures dangling several decks down from the top. Each of these atriums also has one or two glass elevators on the atrium side as well as regular elevators on the outer side of the hallway where the elevators stop.

Explorer of the Seas

a city inside a cruise ship – Royal Promenade view from the back atrium

What really sets this ship apart from the average cruise ship is what you find in between these two atriums. It’s not just the atriums that rise up wide open for a number of decks, but also the section in between. Both ends have viewing areas where people can sit and watch the activity below. This whole central area is called the centrum. Decks 4 and 5 have public spaces running from atrium to atrium. Deck 5 is called the Royal Promenade. It resembles a city street with shops and a pub and café.  Completing the city look, apartments rise high above the street. Or at least it has the appearance of apartment buildings. It’s actually several decks worth of inside cabins with promenade views. The atriums on both ends are open beyond deck 10, which is the top level of promenade view cabins. These make great rooms for people watchers who don’t mind a bit of noise.

cruise ship decor

Africa display case

Hallways in passenger cabin areas have pictures from different parts of the world. Most deck also have little cases here and there with displays of historical artifacts from the theme style of that deck. From Australia to Asia to Africa, different decks displayed different artworks. Spanish style also graced one deck, and the suite deck had displays from North America – mostly the old west in the USA.

cruise ship hot tub

hot tub in the solarium

The solarium area and the whirlpool in the gym are done in old Greek or Roman style with columns surrounding the pools. The solarium also has flooring that represents old historic tiles and statues that fit in with the other décor.

ship model

model of one of Royal Caribbean’s other ships

There’s lots of artwork throughout the ship. It’s got the required (or so it seems since nearly all cruise ships have them) odd or ugly statues along with all sorts of other artwork displays. There are ship models both of ships from Royal Caribbean’s fleet and of ancient sailing ships.

ship bar on a ship

Schooner Bar

There’s even a bar called the Schooner Bar decorated in a sailing ship theme.

cruise ship stairway art

stairway art

There are 2 stairways at each atrium area, one on the port and one on the starboard side of the ship. There’s also elevator bays on each side. The stairways each have a different art theme.

cruise ship stairway art

stairway art commemorating stars – and not the sort in the sky

A forward stairway has a walkway of stars theme with pictures and paintings either of or done by music or film stars, and some musical instruments. One of the back stairways has a beaches and tides theme, but the artwork there is pretty abstract so you have to read the sign to know the theme.

odd cruise ship sculptures

if the sea is rough enough these sculptures dance

The deck 4 side entrances to the theater have some wire type metal people sculptures that move a bit with the motion of the ship.

cruise ship art

it may not touch the sea, but it could be called a sea wall

Metal artwork can also be found in other places too like an outside covered area near the ping-pong tables where metal whales and other sea life adorn a curved wall.

moai painting

hallway art – this picture always reminded me of sailing past Easter Island

Our ocean view cabin was down a short quiet peaceful dead-end hallway on deck 2 that went to just 15 rooms. We didn’t have any of the fancy cases of artifacts that the upper decks had, but there was a painting of one of the moai heads of Easter Island. We were nearly at the end of the hallway so almost nobody ever walked past our room.


I can’t help but see light blue horse butts with white tails in this tile pattern

They were probably supposed to be flowers or something, but the pattern in the tiles by the bathroom sink in the cabin always looked like a row of horses’ hind ends to me. (And yes, I meant to spell it that way. Plural is horses, possessive is horse’s, and plural possessive is horses’.) I could also see the white bits as the ends of Q-tips though.

door sign magnet

a cruise line smart enough to use a magnet for their clean/don’t disturb door sign

Speaking of cabins, this one had something I’ve long thought all cruise ships should have – the sign you put on your door for cabin cleaning or do not disturb is a magnet rather than a paper that hangs on the knob where it can easily fall off or get turned the wrong way. Even older ships that don’t have magnetic cabin walls generally have magnetic doors.

cruise ship decpr

looks like it ought to be a globe, but it isn’t

All the restaurants, bars, and lounges each had their own individual décor. The Viking Crown Lounge, which has forward view windows overlooking the pool deck, has glass balls on poles that kind of look like they would be globes, but they’re not. Abstract art I guess, except these were actually pretty where a lot of abstract art just looks weird.

cruise ship atrium

back atrium from deck 4

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2019
Posted in Explorer of the Seas, Royal Caribbean | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments