Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bah Humbug - Enough is Enough Already!

Bah Humbug - Enough is Enough Already!

When we finally get home from a trip, I'd like to let everyone know that we arrived safely and are now happily settled into our routine -- OK, so you have been so notified. However, getting here was anything but easy. Considering that we spent most of our Christmas trip sick, why should it surprise me that the ending would be any different?

Our ship arrived back into Ft. Lauderdale as scheduled on Monday, January 6th. As soon as I turned on my phone, there is a message from Delta that our flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Atlanta has been delayed almost 2 hours, thus insuring that we will miss our connection home from Atlanta. It was 6am, so too early to call our travel agent for help, and thus I sprung into action in an attempt to come up with some alternative. Yikes - almost every flight from Ft. Lauderdale to anywhere was sold out. It seems that the weather was terrible in the northeast so flights had been canceled in large numbers, and our ship was not the only one dumping its passengers into the airports. The best I could come up with was that we would have to stay in Florida until Thursday.

By this time it was late enough in the morning that I could contact our travel agent, and as if I ever needed any proof as to why I need her help, she was able to confirm that we had been rebooked by Delta onto a later flight both into Atlanta and then onto Kansas City. Now why I could not come up with that is beyond me, but then at my age perhaps I should just stay away from this new technology anyway.

After the "flight" scare. we were already exhausted as we left the ship for the long journey home. After 5 hours sitting at the airport, we finally departed for Atlanta arriving with just 50 minutes to scram to our next flight. Whoops - we arrived at the gate only to find a huge crowd, but no airplane? Finally there is an announcement telling us that our airplane has been taken out of service, however another aircraft which we can use has been located in the maintenance hangar. A cheer goes up, but is cut short as the gate agent informs us that the aircraft will have to be cleaned up and vacuumed, and then towed to the TSA for inspection before being returned to service. Also it has too much fuel on it for our flight so it will have to be partially defueled, and lastly it will then have to be provisioned. In short, it is going to be a LONG wait until we actually see that aircraft at our gate!

We sit down for the long wait and my cell phone rings. It is our wonderful house sitter with some bad news. One of our Jack Russell Terriers, Mary Alice, was found dead in her cage that afternoon, and he had taken the body to our vet. We were devastated. I hardly remember the rest of our time in Atlanta because Lisa and I were both pretty deep in grief.

An aircraft finally arrives and we were boarded. We made the long taxi out to the runway, where we are number five in line for departure. Eventually we get to the runway and sit; and we sit, and we sit. Other aircraft are going around us, and we sit. The pilot announces that the airplane has an indicator lamp on which he believes is a false indication, however, he cannot depart with that lamp lit. And so, it takes almost an hour to taxi against all the traffic and back to some gate in order for maintenance to come aboard to resolve the problem. They fixed the problem by powering the aircraft down and then back on again - in essence a reboot. That solved the problem, but then there was another 30 minute delay while the necessary paper work was completed.

Finally we left Atlanta and arrived into Kansas City. After landing I turned my phone on, only to receive an e-mail from Delta informing us that they are very sorry that our bags "did not travel as intended" and directing us to see the baggage claim attendant. The baggage claim area was stacked so high with lost luggage that it was difficult to even get into the claim office. There we learned that not a single bag of ours made it onto our flight! Welcome Home!

It seems that if it could go wrong, it did that day. Eventually we are reunited with our bags, but then we are faced with the void from the loss of Mary Alice.

Fortunately this story has a happy ending. Our daughter Carol springs to the rescue. We arrived home late on Monday, and by Tuesday morning, Carol sent Lisa a link for a "rescue dog" which she had located in Troy, IL. Carol offered to take Friday off work, pick up the dog, and bring it to Kansas City! So we went from moping around about the loss of Mary Alice, to the intrigue of thinking about a new addition. The terrier which Carol had located turned out to have been adopted, but in the process Lisa found a 2 yr. old terrier who had been rescued after having been run over by a car and abandoned. Her name is Spirit, exactly like the ship we had just left by the way. It turns out that Spirit was located just 5 minutes from where Carol lives. After some paper work and negotiating, Carol arrives Friday afternoon with our new addition. She is adorable and has already fit into the house routine - so finally our New Year gets off to a good start!


Our best to everyone for the New Year. The Globe-Trotters (that's us) will be home now until August when our next journey will begin. That will be an 81 day odyssey - but I'll save the details for later. It should, however, be one hell of a trip.


P.S. I am sorry for all the problems with our web page and blog site. I also learned that the pictures from our trip were locked so that you could not even see them. I have finally repaired all the issues, so you may read our blogs at Once there, click on the picture of the penguins and you will be taken to our photo page. Open the album labeled 2013.12 Caribbean and enjoy.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings


I sure wish she would get on with it – it is time to come home, even to the cold and snow.

You rarely hear us speak about being ready to come home, but because of our various illnesses, we really are looking forward to just getting back to our little cubby hole. Overall, the ship has done a good job, and the ports were for the most part interesting, but it is just time to bring this to an end.

On Jan. 3rd, we did visit the Dominican Republic, or more correctly, we visited the small peninsula of the Dominican Republic known as Samana. We were put onto an air conditioned bus for a change, but there we were imprisoned for a “spam in a can tour.” Our guide was right out of the foreign information office, and he filled his captive audience with all the wonders of the government’s current programs. So, for an hour we drove hither and yon around the small city of Samana “looking” before pulling up to a very small Museum on the subject of whaling. We were carefully shepherded into the building and given an hour to look around, which was easily done in 5 minutes. Then back onto our bus for a 20 minute ride just outside of town to a Center dedicated to using dioramas to tell the story of the indigenous people. We were each given a small iPod player and directed to follow a one way circuitous path that took an hour to walk. While I did learn some information, overall it was boring.

Once again, we got back on the bus and drove to a government funded resort where rooms and condos were available, and where we were treated to a spin pizza and a pop. Yet again, back onto the bus where we returned to town to a shopping Mall just completed by the government for tourists. Unfortunately, it was not quite finished and only two or three stores were open, but we were given an hour to “browse the shops.” Several of us objected, and asked if we could walk back to the tender on our own, since it was only a few blocks away and there were some pretty pictures of the town. Unfortunately we were not able to go off on our own, so we “had” to wait for the bus. To sum up our trip to the Dominican Republic, we drove a little, saw a whaling museum, saw a diorama program, had a pizza and were given an opportunity to shop. Did we really see the country – hell NO!

Yesterday was our last stop on the cruise. We visited the Island of Grand Turk. We had been to the island before and knew the people were friendly and it was a very safe place to visit. It was a Saturday, and on this Island everything closes on Saturday, particularly on a holiday. So, our small group gets into a small van to start our tour, and before we realized it, the driver is killing time because nothing is open; therefore he is just driving around – not letting us stop for pictures. Finally he takes us to the one thing which is open, the Grand Turk Museum. This is a small, but interesting 200 yr. old building, which you could visit in 15 minutes and see everything. Instead we are let off and told we have an hour at this stop. Well, a little rebellion took place about not letting us stop for pictures, and I explained to the driver that every person on our bus had a camera – which means that every person on that bus came to take a picture and not through the dirty windows of the bus either. Well, believe it or not, he listened, and he apologized to the group and from that point on, he made sure we got our photographs, even retracing his drive in order that we could stop and snoop around some really pretty areas in Old Town.

Today is our “pack to go home” day. Outside it is a balmy 83 degrees, but I gather we are about to undergo a huge temperature shock. Anyway, it will be good to go home, and if I listen carefully, I am certain that I am hearing “the fat lady singing.”


Selected pictures from this trip are now posted online. Go to our webpage at On the right you will see a link to our photo albums. The current album is 2013.12 Caribbean. Open it and enjoy

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My My – What a Fun Trip We Have Had


We are only three days from ending our Caribbean holiday! Looking back, it seems unbelievable that BOTH Lisa and I have been so sick most of the trip. It has become a joke that we actually came on this trip just to spend time in the infirmary – which I can assure you is not true. Just when we thought we had turned the corner, I came down with yet another virus that once again put me down with a high fever, and Lisa was grounded with a really bad asthma attack. I will spare you the details, but do want everyone to know that today we both seem well (knock on wood) and hopefully will have some fun for our last three days.

Obviously my blogs have fallen by the wayside, and just to make matters worse, when I did try to post my early blogs it seems that the Google programs which host our web page has undergone a change, and it is not working correctly. Unfortunately with the slow internet connection on the ship, I simply am not in a position to repair it, so it will have to wait until I get home. You can however go to our web page at It may look strange but the content is correct, and if you click on the pictures of the Penguins on the right you will be able to see some of our photographs.

I last wrote about St. Lucia. Lisa did manage to make it ashore in Barbados, but I did not, so we’ll have to skip that stop. Our next port of call was to Bequia, a town on St. Vincent and the Grenadines which is all the way South near the end of the Windward Islands. To go further South would put us on the coast of South America. So, our last visit of the old year was at Bequia, pronounced beck-way. The tiny island is the most populous of the 32 islands and cays that make up the Grenadines. Now even as travelled as I am, it does not surprise me that I am continually introduced to little places and islands about which I have never even heard; but what does surprise me is just how crowded all of these places are with tourists. Let’s take Bequia – this to me, at least, is not your typical tourist destination. First, it has only a very small airport. Second, the harbor, while beautiful, has no dock, so any ship which makes port has to come ashore in tenders. In short, this is not a place that one just “happens upon”. It does, however, have one of the prettiest anchorages in the Caribbean. The mountainous terrain provides a multitude of hide-a-ways with superb views, and the beautiful gold-sand beaches are unbelievably inviting.

In fact, at every stop on our journey, we have found the Islands teaming with tourists in holiday residence. At times it almost seems as if the world has moved to the Caribbean, not to mention that virtually every cruise ship from North America is cruising these crowded waters. I would bet that if I went on deck right now, I would be able to see at least one other cruise ship on the horizon, and sometimes several at once. During our visit to Bequia we constantly had a helicopter overhead, which the locals said came from the adjacent island. That island had been taken over by Bill Gates and his party and the helicopter was one of his providing his party over flights.

Yesterday we stopped at the British Virgin Islands, anchoring off the island of Virgin Gourda. Once again the island and surrounding waters were teeming with tourists. After being tendered ashore, we once again crowed into a little open air truck and quite literally drove from one end of the island to the other. By the end of three hours holding on for dear life, we thankfully we able to seek refuge back on the ship.

If you would like for me to spend more words describing each island, you would quickly discover a numbing redundancy. While there are naturally some differences among the islands, for the most part they all have a striking similarity. That is not to diminish the striking beauty that one finds in the Caribbean, it is rather to acknowledge that in this part of the world they all share a common history rooted in the slave trade. They survive mostly on tourism and their people are friendly, at least in the southern Caribbean.

This afternoon we are set to anchor off the city of Samana in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic shares the Island of Hispaniola with Haiti. I have visited Haiti, but never been to the Dominican Republic before, so this will be a new adventure.

Lisa and I both wish everyone a very Happy New Year, and I will try to do a better job of writing for the end of this journey.