Saturday, December 9, 2023

2023 Bermuda Cruise - Day 5 (Port Day)


Thursday, November 23, 2023 (Thanksgiving)

As usual for us, RQS and I didn’t start getting moving until it was lunch time. After a forgettable meal, it was off the ship and off to see Hamiltion for only $19.00. (No, we didn’t get overpriced Broadway seats at a deep discount. Instead, we went to Bermuda’s capital city on a bus from the Dockyard area. I highly recommend using the archipelago’s mass transit if possible, as it is safe, clean, and convenient.)


It is about a half hour’s bus ride from the dockyard area to Hamilton, and well worth it if one wants to see Bermudans in their native context. RQS and I felt very safe using the bus into town, and we were impressed by such a small archipelago can have such a healthy center of town. The bus terminal is centrally located, and provides for an easy transfer between bus routes. Once in Hamilton, we decided to walk around before returning to the Dockyard and our ship.


After a few minutes of walking around and taking pictures (including the above at City Hall), we found an Irish Pub at which we enjoyed a “real” lunch (as compared to what we’ve been having on the ship). Although the prices were a little pricey compared with the mainland, the service was good, the food tasty, and the place accepted US currency. (In fact, the Bermudan dollar and US dollar are equal in value and equally accepted in most establishments.) While eating, I finally had a reliable internet connection, and I sent Thanksgiving greetings to both friends and family. However, there is one thing of note: I received two messages of concern - one from Social Security asking me to call them (I’ll log on to their site (login.gov, from which I can connect with Social Security) to find out whether the message was a scam or whether it is real.), and the other from my bank, saying that they stopped payment on one of my checks. Since I likely sent out one paper check to a gas card company, I figure that I can wait until I return home to investigate this issue further. 

By the time we finished lunch, it was approaching the time we had to return to the ship. Instead of taking the bus back to the Dockyard area, we decided to take the ferry back to the ship. Luckily, we had a day pass for Bermudan mass transit, as it is accepted on the ferry, and is a quicker way of getting between Hamilton and the Dockyard area. (Note: Bermuda operates a system of ferries to get people from opposite ends of the archipelago, as they can efficiently carry more people between their terminals than their buses.)

Arriving at the ship, both of us wished we had more time in Bermuda, as there is so much more that we have yet to see. And we intend to do that in future visits.


Friday, December 8, 2023

2023 Bermuda Cruise - Day 4 (Port Day)


Wednesday, November 22, 2023.

The day started with the crowing of a rooster. No, there were no live chickens onboard the ship. Instead, it was my alarm trying to wake us up early enough for RQS to make it to the ship’s infirmary while they had clinic hours.  Like yesterday, the sky was cloudy when we awoke, but neither of us wanted to get moving. Both of us heard my phone’s obnoxious alarm, and it roused both of us as intended. Getting showered and dressed was hard for RQS, but she was out the door before me, as I was still dressing while she hobbled to the clinic.

When I arrived at the clinic, RQS was still filling out paperwork prior to being treated. Shortly afterward, RQS was brought into the examination room while I waited outside. The waiting area was sterile in more than one sense. In this case, all the furnishings were in the same color scheme as the walls - a very light beige. The floor was a light creamsickle orange, and the seats were a non-descript shade of gray. About the only things that could be said to stand out in this area were the pictures on the walls and the bright red biohazard bucket. This is where I waited, when I would have preferred to stay in our cabin until called for.

RQS came out several hundred dollars lighter than when she entered the clinic, with some pain killer pills, instructions to stay off her feet, and to use an ice pack on her ankle. This would not be a pleasant way for her to spend time on the ship. And then, ship security arrived to record our accounts of the embarkation day incident. If we’re lucky, we might be able to use a copy of the security investigation and the medical bill to have RQS’s medical expenses reimbursed by our travel insurance company.

And then we were off to have breakfast. Breakfast at O’Sheehan’s, a casual dining area on the ship, was mediocre, as both service and food quality was lacking.  Next time we'd decide to have breakfast on the ship, it would be at one of the other complimentary dining rooms, where they will deliver all components of a meal in a timely manner.

While RQS was relaxing in our cabin, I went to the buffet looking for some cookies.  In the process of heading to the buffet, I met someone with whom I struck up a conversation. By the time our chat was over, the buffet was setting up for lunch. And this gave me an opportunity to bring RQS something to eat. But I found no cookies! WHERE ARE THE COOKIES ON THIS SHIP???? On the way back to the cabin, an attendant was delivering cookies to several cabins, and if by magic (with a friendly ask of the attendant), RQS now had both the cookies she asked for and her lunch.


After lunch, I decided to and take a long walk. One of the stops I made along the way was a shop in the Clocktower mall to buy some jewelry for myself (when presenting as Marian). I figure that it will go well with the blue dresses I enjoy wearing. (I’m making a note to take care of some purchases I need to make when I get home.) While out, I checked my email, and found that there were a couple of messages of unknown origin that I have to check out. The first was likely a scam, as I know no one in a foreign country that I’d want to talk to. The second was a person who had my name who claimed to be from the Social Security office. This is one call that I must be careful to fully verify its origin before giving out any information - including that which I could consider harmless. (Let’s see if there is some snail mail in my box when I get home, as I believe that SSA uses that to establish first contact.) I don’t want to have a scammer spoof my identity before I am even able to collect my first SS payment.

Near the far end of my walk, I passed by the local prison. That was one place where I decided NOT to stop for a rest. A few minutes later, I passed by Pulpit Rock (no, I don’t have a picture of it) where I was able to take a few more photos. At that point, I decided to return to the ship, as it was getting late and I wanted to be back onboard before the sun went down. 

On the whole, it was not a day that I would have planned to have. But it was productive, as I got in more walking than I usually do in a typical November week.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

2023 Bermuda Cruise - Day 3 (Port Day)

 

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

As we were getting up, RQS had something important to say. Due to her ankle injury, whe probably would not be able to visit the Crystal Caves on this trip. I didn’t mind too much, as we can always visit them on a future trip. As usual, we didn’t get up until it was lunch time, and we went to the buffet - a big mistake. Normally, I won’t make a big deal about buffets. But I often eat too much at buffets, and today, I did just that. RQS, on the other hand, ate light, as she had GI Tract issues of her own. Once done with lunch, we left the ship and started our exploration of the Bermuda Dockyard area.

The Bermuda Dockyard area has been transformed into a multi use area. Yes, there is the old fort. But many of the old buildings have been repurposed into stores, restaurants, and even a museum area. Since RQS was unable to see the ship’s doctor while the clinic was open, we went to the local pharmacy so that RQS could purchase a cane. Since Bermuda is an archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic, prices here would be more expensive than on the mainland - and we both had sticker shock when she told me the price of her cane.

After leaving the pharmacy, we decided to visit the Clocktower mall and walk around a little. Thankfully, the cane was helping RQS a bit, as she wasn’t in much pain walking while using the cane. Soon, we decided to go back to the ship, and got caught up in the rain. So we took the free shuttle back to the ship and decided to relax. When we arrived at the pier, RQS almost misplaced her ID, and Bermudan authorities were expecting her to show it when we went back to the ship. Luckily, she had kept it with her cell phone, and we were soon onboard the ship. 

Once onboard, we made the mistake of going to the ship’s version of a restaurant serving pub food, and we suffered with mediocre service. Sadly, when we went to one of the ship’s main dining rooms later on, we also suffered mediocre service. This time, in both settings, the food was underwhelming - a significant drop in quality from the last time we cruised NCL.
 

Since we walked over 2 miles today, we both thought that taking the time to rest was a good thing, so we called it an evening after dinner. Hopefully, we will get to see Hamilton (Bermuda’s capital) tomorrow, and have the time to enjoy it….

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

2023 Bermuda Cruise - Day 2 (Sea Day)

 

Monday, November 20, 2023.

Since this would be a sea day, neither of us were in the mood to get up early. So we took it easy, and didn’t leave the room until it was time to have lunch.


Given that the buffet is usually a madhouse, we decided to have lunch in one of the complimentary dining rooms. This would be a wise decision, as we would later have a snack in the buffet after killing time in the Library/Card Room to give our cabin attendant time to clean the room.

We decided to rest again, forgoing the opportunity to make “donations” to the altar of the gaming tables and machines. Once we were ready, we went to the ship’s onboard French restaurant for a second specialty meal. While seated, we struck up a conversation with the couple next to us. Shortly afterward, their food arrived, so we went back to our meal. Both of us noticed that this couple was having an intense conversation regarding how to deal with post-cruise transportation and luggage handling, and we talked about it after they were gone. And then, a fellow two tables over started a converstaion with us (the starting topic was AI generated music with Elvis doing Sir Mixalot’s ‘Baby’s got back’ and Hank Williams doing NWA’s ‘Straight out of Compton.’) Too bad that a new couple was soon seated between us, as we’d have liked this conversation to last longer.


After dinner, we went to see ship musicians perform Broadway standards in new ways. Although the group was entertaining, I wouldn’t have paid to see them perform. But the 18+ comedy show we went to afterwards more than made up for the first show. This comic wasn’t vulgar, but he did touch on adult topics not appropriate for children. Most importantly, he made me laugh, something few comedians can do these days.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

2023 Bermuda Cruise - Day 1 (Embarkation Day)

 


Sunday, November 19, 2023.

We considered ourselves lucky today, as RQS had found the handbag which contained all of her ID needed for the upcoming cruise. So it was our “normal” travel routine or rushing to get ready, and hiring a car to get us to where we had to go.

Around 8:00 am, we got showered and dressed and ready to travel. While RQS finished her breakfast, I went out to buy a pair of sunglasses and get some extra money for our trip. With our bags fully packed and ready to go, we called a cab, so that we could take the 10:37 train to Grand Central. The train ride was relaxing, and we caught a cab to the cruise terminal, which got us there by 12:15 pm. Cruise check-in was a little annoying, as the counter agent asked RQS for her passport, and didn’t accept her passport card - normally, the only ID required for closed loop cruises.


 

By 12:45 pm, we were on the ship and ready to deposit our bags in our room. One catch - the rooms weren’t all ready for passengers yet. Walking to the cabin, we noticed these signs hanging on the doors.  I hadn't seen anything like them since my December 2021 Christmas cruise during the pandemic restart. We cheated a little, and dropped our bags off in our cabin, then went to the buffet to have a leisurely lunch. Throughout the rest of the afternoon, we were tracking the location of our checked luggage, as our bags hadn’t yet made it to our cabin. Just before the ship left port, RQS’s bag made it to the cabin, leaving the location of my bag still a mystery. Luckily, the tracker reported that it was in the ship’s hold (based on a nautical location ID), and my bag was placed outside our cabin just before dinner time.

Since I have a Platinum loyalty status with NCL, I get two “free” specialty meals when I cruise. But I couldn’t reserve these meals until I was onboard the ship. However, we had booked our cabin with the “free at sea” promotion, and this gave us two specialty meals that we could book. So we proceeded to the Brazilian Churrascaria onboard, and had an “Atkins Diet” feast - all the meat we could eat, and we did just that.

After dinner, we decided to take it easy and go back to our room for the evening. Unfortunately, on the way back to the room, a woman fell on RQS, injuring RQS’s ankle. For the rest of the evening, the ankle hurt, and RQS wondered if she’d be able to walk around Bermuda when we arrived on Tuesday.


What a way to start a vacation!



Monday, December 4, 2023

A test run of a trip to NYC to reach a ferry terminal.

 

I loved watching Bugs Bunny cartoons when I was a kid.  He always seemed to come out on top of almost every situation.  But in the real world, that's the type of thing that requires a lot of work.  Soon, I'll be taking a cruise out of Brooklyn, and I figured that I needed to take a test trip using Metro North and the NYC Subway to reach the Pier 11 ferry terminal, and I'm glad I did this, as I found out that I will need to change my plans for this journey.

- - - - - -

Shortly after I finished lunch, I decided to trek into NYC by train.  Since it was a weekday, I was glad that I was not wheeling a bag - for reasons I will discuss in a bit.  I had some GI Tract issues which delayed me a little, and I ended up leaving for Croton-Harmon station later than planned.  By the time I got there, the usual supply of available metered parking spots (freed by people returning to Croton in the early afternoon) was depleted, and there were several cars hovering in the lanes of the lot waiting for spaces to open.  I was in luck - a space opened up just in time for me to both pay for parking and to make it onto the 3:45 pm express to Grand Central.

Around 4:40 pm, I arrived at Grand Central, and browsed the holiday court of stores before heading to the subway.  Since the Lexington Avenue line (#4 & #5 trains) runs along Broadway in lower Manhattan, I doubted that I'd use it to reach Pier 11, as it is a long walk from the Wall Street station to Water Street.  This ride gave me a good reason to nix this line for use - It is not an ADA accessible station.  It would be a major effort to lift my bag up the stairs (as there are no elevators at the station) and then walk th the pier.  On my way to the pier, I noticed that the 7th Avenue line (#2 & #3 trains) would be just as bad a choice to reach the pier.  So what should I do?  I figured that I'd walk to South Ferry and see if there was a bus that runs along Water Street, and figure out how to take it from the Staten Island Ferry terminal to Pier 11.  Although I didn't see the downtown bound M15 Bus, I did see uptown bound buses, and knew that I could reach the ferry terminal without problems.  (I'll deal with the return trip when I get back to NYC.)  And the South Ferry subway station is ADA accessible.  So, now I had a plan.

Once I got to South Ferry, I took the 7th Avenue local to Times Square, then transferred to the 42nd Street shuttle to reach Grand Central.  While at Grand Central, I decided to look at the Long Island Railroad Terminal.  They did a nice job on it, and the rest rooms look much better than their counterparts in the original Grand Central.  (I say that, as they do their best to make the restrooms stay clean at the original Grand Central, but they look the worse from many years of overuse.)  But soon enough, I had to return to the Metro North zone and board a train with only 5 minutes to spare.  I'm glad I did so, as the train was a super express that didn't even stop in Harlem.

Soon enough, I was back home and in for the night.  It was a long day, but only because I did a lot of walking.  My legs were telling me to call it a day when I reached Wall Street.  By the time I walked to South Ferry, my legs were cooperating with me and didn't mind the exercise.  I wonder if I will feel the same way when I do both legs of this journey for real in a few days.

 

 

PS: They were preparing to light the Financial District's Xmas Tree as I walked along Wall Street.  Glad I didn't stay to see it, as I'd bet that the area would be a pickpocket's paradise in a little while.  I certainly don't want to visit DMV again, nor do I want to dealing with stopping stolen cards again!

Sunday, December 3, 2023

A run to Kingston to attend a spa's grand opening.

 


I haven't seen my friend Maria for over a year, and today was the chance to say hello and catch up with her for a few minutes.  The catch, the spa she owns with two partners is up in Kingston, NY, and we were in Croton.  So going to see her for a few minutes may not have been a cost effective trip.  But it was one I wanted to do to stay in contact with a person I think is worth the effort to know.

- - - - - - 

RQS and I got up late, and by the time we left the apartment was 3:15 pm.  This meant we could easily make it to the spa by 4:30 - 5:00 pm, and be able to have a leisurely drive home.  However, we forgot one thing - traffic.  Even with traffic, we were in Kingston (after a couple of stops) around 5:00 pm, and got to the address which was given to google maps.  One problem - the link I was sent had two addresses: the address of the business and the address of one of the owners of the business.  Guess where google sent us?  Certainly not to where we wanted to go, but to a nondescript home in one of Kingston's residential districts.

Once I realized we had a problem, I manually entered the spa's address, and google sent us through the back roads to get to the spa.  And even then we had a little bit of confusion before we got to the spa.  As we arrived, I mentioned that we were looking for Maria, and I was greeted warmly by Maria.  She introduced us to her boyfriend (when is he going to make her an "honest woman?") and showed us around the place.  Then RQS received a complimentary 15-minute facial before we left for home.  Hopefully, Maria will fit us into her schedule sometime early in the new year.

Instead of taking the thruway back home, we came down Route 9.  Even though it was pitch black outside, it was nice to see the lights in Rhinebeck on for the holidays.  On the way back, we stopped into a store to pick up a few sundries, and then stopped off at the bank and the supermarket before reaching home for the night.  

Hard to believe that we'll be on our cruise soon!!!!

Norwegian Fjord Cruise Vacation - 06/28/24 (Zeebrugge, Belgium)

Today is our last stop in mainland Europe, and our last shore excursion.  We have been choosing relatively low energy shore excursions, as n...