Relieved.

I spent most of Saturday night in a multi media frenzy. My iPad was streaming Norwegian news’s live reports of Viking Ocean Cruises Sky’s power loss and passenger evacuation to the tv as I worked CruiseCritic and Twitter on my phone to find out what I couldn’t understand from the Norwegians. Someday I really should learn to understand Norwegian.

In case you missed hearing about it, Sky (our ride to Europe last spring) was near the end of a “In Search of Northern Lights” cruise (they found them three times) and was sailing in a storm. They lost power which meant they were at the mercy of the seas and couldn’t maintain forward motion. The rocking and rolling got quite bad as you can see in the video live tweeted from a passenger aboard while sitting in the Explorer’s Lounge looking out over the ship’s bow:

https://twitter.com/alexus309/status/1109537029912711168?s=12

Without propulsion, the ship was being pushed towards the rocky shore, and MAYDAY was declared and passengers began to be evacuated via helicopter. While I can’t imagine how terrifying that would have been, it would have been worse to have to get into a life boat in those seas or worse yet wash up on the rocks! Below is the helmet cam video of one of the Norwegian Coast Guards showing the passengers winched up to the copters.

https://youtu.be/emXMftApdEY

To think sometimes you have to pay a fortune for an exciting excursion like that! Most of the passengers who the Norwegian news interviewed said it was terrifying but one said it wasn’t as scary as the parachute jump she had done last year to celebrate her 70th!

While the evacuations were underway, they got the power restored and with the help of tugboats were able to move Sky away from the shore and out of immediate danger. About 480 passengers were evacuated when a halt to the rescues was called and the ship headed to the nearest pier large enough for it.

Sunday morning the multi media center was reopened to watch the ship dock and the passengers come ashore. Both those who were evacuated and those who spent an uncomfortable night aboard spoke highly of the Viking crew, Norwegian Coast Guard, Red Cross and the Norwegians in general. The town where the evacuees were taken and the ship docked turned out to welcome and help.

So, not exactly what one wants to witness six days before boarding a sister ship for a transatlantic! However, the calm and professional way Viking handled the incident, and how well they have taken care of the passengers is impressive. Each passenger is getting a full refund, a future free cruise and all their expenses taken care of. I don’t think there was much more that could be asked. From what I can read, all the passengers are satisfied with Viking’s efforts.

There are outstanding questions as to why the ship lost power during a critical time but at least one experienced ship captain believes it was caused by the unusual wave action leading to a power surge when the ship’s screw had less resistance when it bobbed near the surface. This causes automatic systems to shut the generator down. The full reason won’t be known until the Norwegian authorities complete their investigation.

Most importantly, all passengers are safe. There were twenty injuries most of which were minor due to the ship’s movement. So as opposed to the horrible Costa Concordia accident a few years ago which was determined to be caused by the Captain. In this case the Viking Captain appears to have done everything in his power and he successively saved over 900 passengers and 400 crew!

So relieved!

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I have no brain!

I’m reposting this to correct a major error in what I posted yesterday. Glad I realized it today and not next week at the airport!!!

A week from right now we should be aboard our American A319 in Raleigh headed for Miami. We have an almost four hour layover there so are hoping to use our PriorityPass benefits at one of the restaurants there for an early dinner before boarding our American 767 headed to Puerto Rico. We are scheduled to land about 8 pm so by the time we get to the hotel will be sorta late for dinner. Of course if we get lucky and our Gold upgrades come through, we will get dinner on the plane. 🤞

Mike and I are all packed and Lois is almost there so after one last weekend at the lake with her, her boytoy, and Mike’s brother and sis in law (they are up for a family wedding on her side), we are going to close down the house on Tuesday and head to Danville for last minute prep before our Viking Transatlantic cruise to Barcelona which leaves a week from tomorrow.

1 week!

A week from right now we should be aboard our Delta A319 in Raleigh headed for Miami. We have an almost four hour layover there so are hoping to use our PriorityPass benefits at one of the restaurants there for an early dinner before boarding our Delta 767 headed to Puerto Rico. We are scheduled to land about 8 pm so by the time we get to the hotel will be sorta late for dinner. Of course if we get lucky and our Gold upgrades come through, we will get dinner on the plane. 🤞

Mike and I are all packed and Lois is almost there so after one last weekend at the lake with her, her boytoy, and Mike’s brother and sis in law (they are up for a family wedding on her side), we are going to close down the house on Tuesday and head to Danville for last minute prep before our Viking Transatlantic cruise to Barcelona which leaves a week from tomorrow.

WhooHoo!

Less than a month until Mike, his Mom and I will be aboard Viking Sea for his Mom’s first and our second cruise on Viking Oceans. We are spending 4 nights in Barcelona and 4 in Rome after the cruise so that Lois can also make her first visit to these wonderful cities.

Since this cruise stops at all the same places and is on the same cruiseline as our eastward transatlantic last year, I am not sure what the focus of my blog should be this time. I would hate to be repetitive and bore you!

Please let me know in the comments if have suggestions on what you would like me to cover or ideas of what you would like to know about this trip.

Transatlantic

While we haven’t yet finished our month at the lake testing the waters (no pun intended) for this becoming our home base, Mike got an email with too good a deal to pass up. So we are booked for a transatlantic cruise at the end of March. It is the same cruise we did last year to begin our retirement year. We will be sailing aboard Viking Sea from San Juan to Barcelona. We were on Sky last time but all of Viking’s ships are almost replicas of each other so we should know our way around.

Lois (Mike’s Mom) will be joining us for the cruise and for a few days post cruise in Europe. Our plan is to fly into San Juan the day prior to the cruise so Lois can see our 51st state. We hope to spend 4 nights post cruise in Barcelona followed by 4 nights in Rome before flying back home as she has been wanting to see the sights in both cities we have talked so much about.

We will have to buy the flights to Rome but otherwise the flights are all included in our cruise fare which with all our loyalty and referral discounts is $2,650 per person. Not bad for 14 nights, three meals a day (including beer, wine & soda). Pavlus, the travel agent we have used recently is providing each of us with $300 of onboard credit which will cover our daily service charges (tips) and the few drinks we will buy. We are currently waiting to see if Viking will allow us to fly home from Rome in their dime or if we will have to fly ourselves back to Barcelona. We are both excited about sailing on Viking again and showing Lois two of Europe’s great cities.

Upon our return, we believe we will be staying close to home and will probably do some road trips…maybe even out west as neither of us have visited the Grand Canyon.

January.

The view above is from the deck at our accommodations for at least the next month. We had a great Christmas road trip to visit both our families and see a few sights and friends along the way. After New Year’s Eve in Raleigh with our friends George & Doug we had brunch with our other friends in the Triangle, Robert & Scott and then headed to Danville to Mike’s Mom’s. Yesterday was spent doing lots of laundry from our road trip and packing it back into the car for the 45 minute drive up here to the lake.

We are using the month of January to reflect on our year of travel and figure out what we are going to do in 2019. The only decision we made was that we wanted a home base somewhere-to not be permanent nomads. So the obvious question is where should that be.

While we haven’t written off living outside the USA, we are considering the possibility of making Lois’ lake house here at Smith Mountain Lake our home base. The house is unused except in the summer so it would take the responsibility of its upkeep off of her -with all her rental properties she has enough to deal with. Of course we aren’t sure how we will deal with being this remote-there is an overpriced small grocery store about 10 minutes away in Penhook, small towns with Walmarts about 20 minutes away (Gretna & Rocky Mount) and then Danville about 45 minutes.

Best wishes for a great 2019!

Little Rock

We had a nice morning at the Clinton Presidential Library. 42nd’s compares favorably with 41’s which we visited in College Station a few years back. And sadly they have begun construction of Bill and Hillary’s final resting place, which interestingly appears to have a circular design much like George and Barbara’s.

The building is built on the former train yard at the east end of Little Rock on the Arkansas River. It is adjacent to an old train bridge which is now pedestrian and is part of the Arkansas River Trail. The building was intended to read as a bridge harking back to Clinton’s campaign theme of building a bridge to the 21st century.

The building’s interior design was also influenced by Trinity College Library in Edinburgh.

The exhibits were as expected, exploring the high and low points of Clinton’s presidency but I have to say the morning made me yearn for a president again who I believe really cared about all the citizens of our country. Of course the booming economy during Bill’s 8 years would be nice too! There were full scale replicas of the Cabinet Room and the Oval Office and displays of the various gifts, letters and daily schedules. And of course the Presidential Limo.

After leaving the Library, we swung by the Arkansas capitol building and then headed towards Jackson.