Saturday, November 19, 2022

Second Cruise - Day 4: Bar Harbor, ME.



Day 4: Bar Harbor, ME.

We didn’t have to get up early today, so we didn’t.  Yet, we were up by 8:00 am, and were having breakfast by 9:30 am.  This made it possible for us to get off the ship by 10:30 am, and start walking around Bar Harbor. Unlike tendering at Newport, the cruise line hired a charter boat to ferry passengers from the ship to the pier and back.  That gave us at least 4 boats in tender service to move people, and it didn’t take long to get to shore.

This was RQS’s first time in the area in years, and she was happy to follow my lead in walking around town.  Once on shore, we took some pictures of the harbor, then went to a local book store to spend some money.  Next, it was a search for two stores, one of which always has wallets on sale - where we both replaced our wallets for new ones.  The other store was where I bought (as Marian) a scarf which I have yet to wear - it was packaged as a knot, and looks better as a knot than it does as a scarf.  (Sooner or later, I will untangle the knot and wear the scarf.  Until then, I like how the scarf was packaged for transit, and will keep it that way.)

After walking through town we looked for a place to eat.  Most of the good joints were closed for the season, and we made the mistake of going into a joint where we should have ordered burgers and beers, not chowder and tacos.  That was a waste of money and time.  But, when most of the good joints are closed, one takes what she can get.

Then, it was back to the ship, to prepare for our next day’s journeys.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Second Cruise - Day 3: Portland, ME.



Day 3: Portland, ME.

After a good sleep, we awoke and took our time getting ready for the day.  Unlike Newport, where the ship arrived in port at 6:00 am, our Portland arrival was scheduled for 11:00 am.  This gave us a reasonable time to explore the port.  Better yet, this was not a tender port.  We could walk off the ship, and go directly to the shops or restaurants we wanted to go to without delay.

Once done with a quick but hearty breakfast, it was off the ship and on to a narrow gauge train ride.  The Maine Narrow Gauge tourist railroad didn’t go far, but it had some scenic views of Casco Bay.  While on the train, we met up with a couple we dined with on the ship last night, as well as meeting a young woman and her dog. (She was not on our ship.  Instead, she was a tourist from Florida who was working remotely.) It’s too bad that a bridge has been out of commission for years, as it would have been nice if the train ride could have crossed the water and continued its path on the mainland.

Next, it was off to find a place where we could have a good lobster roll.  RQS and I didn’t want to go back to last month’s restaurant, as we were very unhappy with the food served there.  This time, we found a little place on a pier that both serves food and delivers seafood to other operations,  This place, Luke’s is a gem that has been family operated for 3 generations, and well worth going to when in the Portland area.  I noted to RQS that I suffered a little sticker shock when looking at the price of lobster rolls.  The lobsters from the Cousins Maine Lobster truck come from the same region, taste just as good, and are several dollars cheaper.  Although neither of us had any complaints about the restaurant, we realized how lucky we are to have a good food truck visit our area from time to time.

Now that were done with the restaurant, it was time to go back to the ship and rest for a while before going to the specialty restaurant on the ship.  We had booked dinner at the on ship steakhouse when we embarked on this cruise.  And we looked forward to having this meal from the time this cruise was booked.

As expected, dinner at the steakhouse was very good.  We ordered differently than we normally would, and we were impressed with the lamb chops and filet mignon.  NCL’s specialty restaurants never cease to impress me with their quality and service.  Too bad that we can’t eat this well on a regular basis.  But then, RQS and I would be sharing our own unique zip code….

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Second Cruise - Day 2: Newport, RI.



Day 2: Newport, RI.

I found it hard to believe that I awoke at 6 am, and didn’t fall back to sleep.  The motion sensor nightlight worked like a charm, and RQS was glad that I brought it along for the trip.  After showering and dressing, we had a quick breakfast and got on the tender boat to Newport.

It seemed to take forever to get to Newport, as there were more people trying to get to Newport than the tenders could deliver to the landing in a rapid manner. Once there, we decided not to go to the Breakers.  Instead, we decided to walk around town and go into a chocolate shop.  Yum!  Both of us picked up some stuff to spike our blood sugar levels later on.

Once we returned to the ship, we rested before dinner.  Tonight, it was the main dining room, where we were seated with other people.  It would have been nice to be able to chat with the older couple who were sitting next to us.  Unfortunately, the band playing in the background was too loud to shout over, and we had to make do with understanding snippets of chat around the table.

When dinner was done, we relaxed a little, and then went to a show in the main theater.  It was an NCL production of modern ballroom dancing that could be best described as random modern tunes organized for dancing without a meaningless plot from a Hollywood musical or Broadway play.  Would I have paid to see this performance?  No!  Although the performers did a great job, it is not the type of performance I’d gravitate to.  At least, Sue enjoyed this show more than she did watching Flashdance on our prior cruise.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Second Cruise - Day 1: Embarkation Day.



Day 1: Embarkation Day.

I had installed and set up both Uber and Lyft applications on my cell phone, but couldn’t summon a driver.  So, I left this task up to RQS.  Unlike our last trek to the cruise terminal, this ride was pleasant - even though we went through the bowels of Maspeth before reaching the Midtown Tunnel.

Unlike our last cruise, the embarkation process went more smoothly than expected.  There were no long lines.  Instead, after a brief delay at security (which I expected), it was over to the check in counter, where we picked up our cruise cards within 5 minutes of passing the security checkpoint.  At this time, they had just opened up the 3rd gangway to the ship, and we got onboard without waiting on any line.  Once onboard, I looked to my left, and there was the muster station.  We checked in before even proceeding to our room.

We got to our room a few minutes early, and were greeted by our steward, Ed.  He is an overly nice fellow who aimed to please. However, he misinterpreted a request of ours, an easy thing to do when English is not one’s native language.  We wanted our mini bar emptied of all items, so that we could keep our water containers cold until we disembarked.  Instead, he put those items that NCL charges for on the desk, not realizing that we wanted them removed from the room.  This was taken care of when we returned from lunch.

Our cruise package included 2 specialty meals.  However, because of my loyalty status, we were to receive 2 extra specialty meals. But I didn’t know how that would be done.  This was question was resolved when we looked at a card left on the desk.  It had the coupons for 2 specialty meals.  So we hoofed it down to the reservations desk, where we set up specialty restaurant reservations for the week.

After a little rest, it was time for dinner.  And off to the seafood restaurant we went.  By the time we got out of there, we were both stuffed.  I was glad that we didn’t go for steak today, or we’d see our stomachs explode before we hit the bed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Second Cruise - Day 0: Travel to Queens.


Day 0: Travel to Queens.

Normally, I drive to RQS’s place and park my car in her neighborhood.  This week, it was not the case, as I couldn’t leave my car on a city street due to alternate side of the street parking that takes place during weekdays.  So, I called a cab to the station, and had a one way chat with a cabbie which had a bone to pick with Uber and Lyft for not having to follow any regulations for passenger rides.

When I arrived at Croton Harmon, I found that I had just missed a train to the city, and had to kill time before a local train arrived.  The train ride was uneventful, but I realized that I had nothing to eat before getting on the train. So I stopper into the food court at Grand Central to pick up a quick bite to eat, then hump my bag and CPAP machine onto the subway.  In the post-Covid Grand Central, there are few places to have a seat, even to eat something from one of the food vendors still open.  Everything is geared to standing up at a high table, to keep people from lingering.  Luckily, I found a ‘handicapped table’ which I used while quickly eating a sandwich.

Eating the sandwich was the smartest thing I could have done.  I took the subway to Bleeker street, where I could connect with the M train going out to Queens.  This was a big mistake, as there were no (or few) M trains running this afternoon.  (I had checked service outages before making this route decision.) So, after waiting more than 30 minutes, I bailed and went back to Union Square to catch another train to RQS’s neighborhood.

The whole trip took 4 hours, for what would normally be a 2 hour trip.  I was both hungry and tired before I got to RQS’s place, and after a little rest, we went to eat.  Shortly after dinner, we went to bed early, in anticipation of the trip to come.

Monday, November 14, 2022

I might be starting a new blog


Harpo Marx - The strong, SILENT type.  Although he could talk in real life, he fell into gold when he stopped talking in his act, and started doing visual gags on stage, then screen.  If you haven't done so, I suggest that you get a copy of Harpo Speaks, then read it.  You may find that you'll be wishing you could have met this man in real life.

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Why do I mention Harpo?  He was a man who did a lot of traveling in his life, 99% of it via surface level methods available in his era.  In my case, I prefer NOT to travel by air.  Instead, I like to travel by land and sea, Amtrak and Cruising being my favorite ways to go places.

Right now, there is a glut of people wanting to make cruise videos, thinking that people will be interested in amateur ship tours, images of plated food, and rehashed news about the cruise industry.  That is not what I plan to write about.  Instead, I will write about travel by land and sea, telling my readers how to determine which offerings will give people the best bang per buck, as well as ways to minimize headaches and maximize pleasure while traveling.

I thought of this idea when I realized that my girlfriend had never cruised before, and would be leaning on my experience to get the most enjoyment from this experience.  Given how popular cruising has become, I see a niche market in the idea of "Cruising for Dummies".  But after that, what else?  Riding the rails (via Amtrak) is also a way to chill out.  So why not discuss how to avoid air travel as much as possible, and enjoy the world of surface level travel?

So, if you see me mentioning a new blog, please feel free to say hello.  But don't be in a rush.  I'll have nothing posted for a few weeks at best.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

I should have bought a 1 year travel insurance policy.


Although the fellow on the left will tell you that "you no foola me, there ain't no sanity clause", while ripping up a contract, I like well written contracts.  Specifically, I like to have insurance for whenever I cruise, as I've heard of too many situations where travel insurance is needed.

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By the end of this year, I'll have made at least 4 cruises in a 365 day period.  As a result, I would have done much better had I bought a yearly travel policy from a firm such as Allianz Travel Insurance.  Each time I took a cruise, I bought a travel insurance policy valid for only that single cruise.  Policies sold by firms like Allianz tend to have yearly terms, and pay for themselves after 2-3 trips.  In my case, buying this insurance when I booked my Hawaii cruise would have made sense, as the cruise line's insurance for that one trip costs me the same as if I bought the yearly policy from Allianz.

Although I don't think I'll be traveling as much in 2023 as I will do by the end of 2022, I'm leaning towards buying a yearly policy when I book my next cruise.  This way, I don't have to worry about which policy to buy: the cruise line's policy or that from a travel agent.  Instead, I'll have already made that decision, and be in a position to save once I've passed the 2 trip mark.

Given that RQS and I are already talking 2023 trips, it makes sense for me to start my insurance shopping now.  What do you think?

RQS went home, and I got keys made - a quick post

  One of the problems with going about as a female is that almost everything one carries around during a typical day is carried in a handbag...