Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cruise news

EDIT:  At first when I posted this, I totally forgot to tell WHY we took this cruise!  We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary and David's retirement!!

We left Friday Oct. 19 for Barcelona Spain.  The cruise started Oct. 21.  We cruised across the Atlantic to Miami (13 nights)              This is Fire Lake, in a volcanic crater, at the top of  the Azores Island Portugal- first stop.  I had a bit of a cold and gee, look like it.
                                          This is the evening sail-away from St. Thomas- 2nd stop
Near the port...part of one of the very many fountains and statues in Barcelona.  Christopher Columbus  with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
                         A church on the Azores ...the town was, Ribeiro Grande built in 1522!!!
                                                The NCL Epic at port in Azores
                           David writing a post card at a very small courtyard fountain in Barcelona.
                               Anniversary dinner on board- Italian specialty restaurant 'La Cuccina'
                                         A park in Ribeiro Grande with very unusual trees.
Countryside view on Azores, Portugal.
Barcelona marketplace- a fruit/juice stand
Barcelona walk up and wall area (only a small portion)

                              Ribeiro Grande licor shop- we got a very small coffee flavor sample bottle.
               The buildings all have basalt (rock from the volcano activity) around windows and doorways.
                                                      Ribeiro grande 'river'- Azores

The cruise was fantastic.  The Norwegian Epic is HUGE, but being out in the middle of the Atlantic for so long, with only water for 360 degrees all around as far as the eye could see, gave us a new appreciation of the vastness of the ocean and the Lord's creation, and made our huge ship seem rather insignificant.  Except for getting a mild cold the first few days of the trip, I don't think things could have gone much better.  The seas were extremely friendly the entire time (even so, I have to have the seasick patches ), and the temperature throughout the trip was much more mild than we had prepared for.  We saw the Rock of Gibraltar on one side, and the city of Tangier, Morocco, on the other, as we passed from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.  We spotted dolphins in the Mediterranean, and flying fish several times in the Atlantic.  The stop in the Azores Islands (Portuguese territory) was nice.  We took a bus tour around part of the island.  The only other stop before we reached Miami was in St. Thomas.  It was pretty muggy there.  We walked around for a while, did a little shopping, then went back to the ship.  The U.S. immigration process was done in St. Thomas.  They came onto the ship and had everyone pass through immigration right there on the ship.  The customs part didn't happen until Miami, since everyone got off with their luggage at that point.
On the ship, the very first day, we met a father and son (son in his early 40's) who are Christians.  We spent some time with them a few times during the cruise.  They even paid our cover charge to get into one of the specialty restaurants as an anniversary gift to us.  There was an unexpected non-denominational Sunday service that we attended. I say "unexpected" because someone had asked at the guest services desk if there was going to be a Sunday service, and they were told there was nothing scheduled.  But there was, and it went very well.  The ship's captain was even there!  We did everything from attending a talk on the history of salt (it was actually pretty interesting) to attending an art auction which included Picassos and Rembrandts (didn't buy anything), to seeing multiple theater shows including Blue Man Group, Legends in Concert (look-alikes and sound-alikes of Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson, Jimmy Buffet, etc.), a comedian/magician and a comedian/hypnotist.  Also saw other entertainment by the improv troupe Second City (many who are on Saturday Night Live come from there) and several different musical performances.  We saw a movie almost every day on the big screen in the Atrium (central area of the ship), and sometimes on the big outdoor screen at the rear of the ship, as well as movies on the t.v. in our cabin.  Other than that, we ate and slept, then ate again.  There was, of course, lots of very good food, but I think my favorite items were the pistachio ice cream and the pistachio pound cake.  I got some much needed rest and sleep.  One thing about having our first inside cabin... short of looking at the clock to see the time, you could never tell when daylight arrived.  It was great for sleeping in, but kind of bothersome in a way too.  One wonderful "plus" to travelling in a westward direction was that we gained a hour six times out of the thirteen nights as we changed time zones.  Even more sleep time!!  We had, of course, lost all that time on the flight to Barcelona, but it still seemed like an added bonus to get it back like that.   
The price was right since for us it was FREE.  We accrued cash/cruise points on our credit card which we always pay off each month (no debt).  The airfare was also a perk from David's employment at United Airline