St. Thomas

Mike and I didn’t really have any plans for this port as we had been a number of times, but P&L offered to introduce us to their favorite beach here, Coki and we accepted. We spent a great morning there enjoying the beautiful water (that’s Mike waving in the picture below) some chickens and the shade of a tree…oh, and a pina colada or two!

Sea Days. 

The first three days of this cruise were at sea. We enjoyed getting a kick start in our relaxation with them. Sleeping late, walks on the promenade deck trying to also kick start our exercise routine (which has become non existent since the prep a year ago for the river cruise), lunch and afternoon nap quickly became our routine!

We were pleased with our stateroom.  It was an inside handicapped assessable which we booked and had NCL clearly note we would give it up if anyone needed it.  Apparently they didn’t so we ended up with this extra large room. 

While we missed having a balcony, the extra space, full darkness for naps more than made up for it and since we were just two floor below the Great Outdoors, we had easy access to a very large balcony. 

G&D beat us aboard so they had made dinner reservations for the first few nights. Once we discovered the surprize of P&L, we quickly increased them for the first night (they had other commitments for the rest of the first few nights-that’s what happens when you cruise 10+times a year I guess!)

I don’t have any pictures from that first dinner- we were too busy laughing and having a good time, but we did meet Maraliza from South Africa (who is chatting up Doug and Mike in the picture above)who managed leBistro who made us feel truly welcome and was such fun that we ended up canceling reservations at other locales to eat there three times total. 

Surfice it to say that our vacation was off to a good start!

Almost back. 

Onboard internet didn’t allow for live blogging but I will be posting a bit about our trip which was much fun (and no hospital visits!) but for now we aren’t quite to the dock but we are back to NYC. 

San Juan

We are sitting at Barrachina, in the courtyard where pinacoladas were invented having one or more with Barbara along with lunch. 

Mike and I shared plantains stuffed with a Shrimp as an app (that is one of the two pictured we got below) and Barbara tried the grouper fingers.  

For lunch, Barbara got the seafood mofungo and Mike and I split (thankfully) the mofungo with skirt steak. All were very tasty!

Sailaway Surprise

I am writing this on Friday (4/21) while lounging on a deck chair in the promenade after a day just like the last three…breakfast, walking to jump start out much needed exercise program, lunch, reading (what some call napping) and then dressing for dinner. So relaxing not having emails and phone calls! Oh yeah and the drink program which was included in our cruise fare is nice too. We are trying cocktails I normally wouldn’t. The view from my chair is lovely, blue water as far as the eye can see, the lulling sound of waves against the ship and the ship’s wake…hmmm, maybe time for more napping!
But before I do, let’s recap sailaway and the big big surprise that will likely make this one of our most memorable cruises. 

As you saw in the “aboard” post, we made it aboard uneventfully and met George & Doug and Barbara for lunch in the main dining room. Most folks head to the buffet but since not folks have apparently never seen food before, “look Mildred, they have tomatoes” which leads to half of the folks standing still in shock and unable to move generally blocking those of us who don’t stop all life to gaze upon an olive from getting our food. So we instead go to the fancy dining room for a proper lunch. 
The four of us met Barbara five years ago when we all cruised on Gem from NYC to Quebec. We all enjoyed each other’s company and she and George have kept us connected through the Book of Face. When G&D issued their invitation to join them on this cruise, Barbara (who has issues with the sun) decided it was time to loose her island virginity and come along. After lunch we attended the mandatory muster drill (think airplane safety announcement but instead of learning how to fasten a seatbelt, you learn to put a foam blocky thing around your waist) and then headed to The Great Outdoors (large shady deck area on the back of the ship with a bar) where the cruise Critic group was having our first get to together. 
We were all sipping and waiting for the ship to cast off and head down the Hudson for what is one of the best sailaways (Venice is better and sailing under the Golden Gate is pretty incredible too) when there was suddenly a commotion over there, and when we looked, there were two people holding cutouts if Mike and my face on popsicle sticks-whatbin the world????
They lowered the masks and it was Peggy and Lowell! We first met them 9 years ago (this week) on my 50th birthday cruise from Athens to Istanbul via Egypt). We knew we were going to be friends when Peggy said that her kids say all her best stories (and she has some doozies) begin with, “I was having a glass of wine and….”

Since that first cruise we have sailed with them on Sun where they met D&G and afterwards gifted Doug with his very own monogrammed stool-more on that later. We have visited each other’s homes for weekends and we typically talk every Saturday during Happy Hour.  
Meeting folks like Peggy & Lowell (hereafter P&L) (and Carol & Burt -or is it Bert?and Sandy and MaryKay -and her man Joe and Donna and so many more) is one of the things I like best about cruising and about Cruise Critic. We have made lifelong friends literally around the world…and some of them even like us enough to surprise us by joining us for what was already going to be a fun cruise but is now gonna be epic!