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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bermuda Cruise: Day 7

Yet another early morning room service breakfast followed by a full buffet breakfast. We’ve grown quite accustomed to this and will expect it upon our return home. Who will be cooking all the food remains to be answered.

More trivia. With Jack, Jen and me (Jill was absent), we crushed the competition (17/20) earning ourselves NCL flashlight key chains. Next was more Bingo. The last game to give away all the money and raffle a free cruise. We read our books in the back, playing the 1 free game we had a card for and listened to the raffle. Not as lucky as Jen’s blackjack exploits, so we headed out.

A little lunch, a little gambling, a little rain. The afternoon slowly passed by.

We hit the art auction for the free champagne for last time and Jen won a free bottle of champagne to take with us! So, we decided to dress up for dinner, head to Windows and get – what else – a window seat. We drank our bottle of champagne with dinner looking quite dapper I may add.

We stopped back by the room to dress down a bit then headed to the Galaxy of the Stars room early to get front row for the Second City complete improv act. This was much better than their first show as it was entirely improv. We enjoyed it so much, we stayed on, listened to the band sing some tunes – among them, ABBA’s “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, to which we sang along, and then watched the Second City’s second performance. Being improv, it was entirely different and entirely enjoyable.

We went to bed on our last night.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bermuda Cruise: Day 6

By this time we were in full vacation mode and regularly sleeping late (that is to say, after 5:30 AM). This day, we missed leaving Bermuda. We awoke around 7:30 AM and saw water outside our window as opposed to pier. This would normally have been an issue – say if we were at our house, but alas, we didn’t worry and took our time getting up and about. We ate breakfast and spent some time lounging on the promenade deck (7) reading and waiting for the 10 AM trivia game. With the help of our cruise buddies, we won (19/20 questions)! We collected 2 NCL mugs as our prize.

Some more reading, then lunch, then another art auction. We really aren’t that interested in art. We are interested in free champagne. You think they’d catch on. We decided we’d do another Grey Goose martini tasting with our cruise buddies. We grabbed some to-go food (chicken fingers, fries) at the pub and headed to the tasting extravaganza. Five new martinis, including an espresso martini and a bonus sixth martini with Blue Curacao! We ordered more drinks afterwards before I finally switched to beer and Jen and Jill took to the casino.

Jack and I decided it was time to find the girls after listening to the live music for a while. I found Jen at a blackjack table – she’d been there over one and a half hours. I asked her how much she was down (assuming the worst). She said she started by putting $20 in and then handed me a $100 chip and told me to hold it. She did this a few more times throughout the night as I mingled and talked with others around the table.

I finally had enough and decided we had to see the “risqué, adults-only burlesque” show put on by the cruise director staff. Jen cashed in about $275 that night ($20 to $275 in about three hours - eat it Bernie Madoff) and we headed upstairs. The show was not quite what we expected and so left midway through for bed. We ordered late night room service, although I don’t remember if we got it or not.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bermuda Cruise: Day 5

After a late night filled with beer and chocolate, it was nice to sleep in … until 8 AM, when we woke and headed to breakfast. We were planning an all-day island excursion so we wanted a head start. We got off the boat around 9:45 AM and bought our all-day public transit tickets ($12 all access/person) and got on the pier’s trolley as we were assured this would get us to the ferry before it left at 10 AM. Had we known where the ferry docked, we could have walked there in about 2 minutes, but we opted for the scenic tour of the pier as we picked up passengers from the Royal Caribbean ship that was docked in back of ours. This did give me the opportunity to jump off the trolley, grab a Bermuda guide book (which we already had, but had forgotten in our room) and get back on. We hopped to the ferry as it was pulling away and we were on our way to St. George’s.

We arrived in St. George’s with no real itinerary except to see St. Peter’s church. So we did that, looked around and decided to move on. We caught a bus and decided on the ride we should see the Crystal Cave. So we de-bussed at the proper stop, bought our tickets and waited for about 30 minutes for the tour to start. The wait was tempered by the friendly Canuck we met. The cave was nice to see, but far too crowded (with people, not stalactites - we didn't mind them).

After exiting, we walked around the corner in search of food. We found a nice restaurant that wanted $18 for a club sandwich. We decided to starve and get on the bus for Hamilton. At the bus stop, we met our Canuck friend again and he told us to get on the number 3 bus because the number 11 bus was going to “f--k around” in the golf course area on the map he showed us. We kept our laughter at his American colloquialism to ourselves.

Once in Hamilton, we could no longer wait for food so ate at the Pickled Onion on Front Street. The food was good, but certainly not worth the $40 for a chicken sandwich, nachos and spinach dip. As our Canuck friend would say, “C’est la vie”.

Hamilton quickly bored us and it was time to lounge on a beach – after all, what else should we be doing on vacation? We hopped on a bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach. Jen led us down a sand dune trail off the main road assuring me that we’d reach the beach. We did, at the far end. It was actually better that way: shorter walk, avoid the crowds and quickly get to lounging around. The water was warm, sand was pink, sun was hot – all in all, a great way to end the day. That is, until we needed to get back to the boat.

A long uphill slog was followed by an overcrowded, non-air conditioned bus (mind you, all other buses we took that day were half full with fully functioning air conditioners). After arriving at the ship, we decided dinner and a movie was the night’s plan – no shows tonight.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bermuda Cruise: Day 4

Woke up and was ready for a run. We ate our room service early-breakfast and Jen dozed off while I hopped off the boat and ran to Somerset Bridge. Somerset Bridge is the world’s smallest draw bridge - they say don’t blink as you drive over it or you’ll miss it. Rest assured after dodging traffic, dealing with the heat, eating road dust and a few miles up and down hills on the way out, I was very prepared when I saw it. I was welcoming the break and looking forward (read: dreading) the run back. I finished the round trip in about 1.5 hours. A quick shower, wake Jen and it was off to a real breakfast.

We lounged by the pool and read until we headed off at 2:00 PM for our 2:15 PM snorkeling adventure. Our trip left from the pier so not much walking and easy to find. We took a nice leisurely cruise out of Dockyard, under a bridge (not Somerset) to the west side of the island near the wreck of the HMS Vixen where we did some barrier reef snorkeling.

This is certainly my element, but for Jen, it’s not quite her milieu. After donning her mask, fins and snorkel and fully inflating her buoyancy compensating vest, she did a cannonball towards my head rather than the proper diver entry. After a few minutes of sheer terror and panic and the requisition of additional flotation tubes, we eased to the shallower waters of the reef where fish actually came into view. At this point, she mellowed out and started to quite enjoy the experience.

She returned to the boat after about a half an hour in the water and I stayed out for another half an hour. We fed the fish at the HMS Vixen on the boat trip home.

We did dinner on the ship that night at the Raffles buffet to get in and out quick so we could catch the Richard Burr magic show. We bumped into our cruise buddies so we ordered a bucket of beers and took front row seating. After show one, we headed to the Battle of the Sexes game show for show two (and bucket of beer two, too). We decided to participate and under dubious officiating and protest, the girls won. We adjourned to Raffles for the late night chocolate buffet before heading off to bed.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Bermuda Cruise: Day 3

Awake to land ho! I sped up to the promenade deck (7) to get a glimpse and some pictures of us arriving in Bermuda. We passed by Fort St. Catherine in St. George's first. Bermuda is very holy.

I woke Jen, we ate breakfast and then headed to the "Galaxy of the Stars" room deck 12 forward to watch us dock at the Royal Navy Dockyard. We killed some time and then went ashore to browse the few overpriced shops that were open on Sunday. A quick return to the boat for lunch and a quiet afternoon.

Around 3:30, we decided to go to the beach - Snorkel Park - a short walk from the boat. I took my snorkel gear and Jen just enjoyed the sand and sun. Her lower legs enjoyed the warm water, but nothing more - we turned and headed back to the boat for dinner.

The show tonight was the Second City improv comedy troupe.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Bermuda Cruise: Day 2

We woke up promptly at 5:30 – Jen swears she heard Misty barking. I finally let her in on the secret that it was me. We woke up promptly (for real) at 7:30 AM as room service delivered our first breakfast. We went for a run on the Deck 13 track at 8AM. Jen did a mile. I did about 7.5. Who’s counting? It was quite difficult as the track was only 1 lane, people were walking, there were walls and rails really restricting space at some points and I am an explosive runner. In any case, we finished, showered and ate breakfast … again … at 9:30 AM.

At 10 AM, we attended the Shore Excursion Presentation to find out which snorkeling trip I was going to drag Jen on. We quickly booked, exited and made it up 4 floors forward and sat for Bingo. This was not your Foxwoods Bingo. Only 4 games at a reasonable cost of $69. Jen insisted it was a good deal until she didn’t win anything, save for the $1 pull tab. She did redeem herself with the matching $10/$10 Casino slot machine coupon she got with the Bingo purchase. A few spins on the one-arm bandit and she spun the “Wheel of Fortune” collecting a cool $87 dollars. Screw you Bingo!

Loads of excitement, still no whales or land sighted, we ate lunch.

At 1:30 PM, we became art connoisseurs again – and alcoholics, although that didn’t actually kick in until around 3 PM after we downed about 6 champagne’s each, won free art and a free bottle of champagne for our room. We also bumped into our nursery rhyme friends who had a great idea for the rest of the afternoon.

After art overload, we four headed to the atrium bar for a $15 per person Grey Goose martini tasting. We each got 5 full martinis for $15 – that’s a great deal at any bar! First was the cosmo, followed by an apple martini. Next was the French Kiss – Gran Marnier and Chambourd. Fourth was a Lemonciello martini, which Jill taught us to do as a tequila shot, but with sugar instead of salt (she’s my hero). All followed nicely by a chocolate martini.

With bellies full of liquor, it was time to add some absorption; dinner it was for the four of us. We realized we had some time to kill before the Newlywed Game Show, so we watched a tribute to Broadway shows in the theatre. Aside from singing along with Abba tunes, it was a non-event.

Finally, the Newlywed Game didn’t disappoint. Bed time on another fine day.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Bermuda Cruise: Day 1

Friday morning went mostly according to plan. We left the house on time forgetting nothing. Erika and the kids had us to the Black Falcon Pier with aid of Garmin by high noon. Jen got out of the car, put her water bottle in “my carry-on backpack” and we took our luggage to the porters.

While waiting in line, Jen suddenly realized that the water bottle was missing – I must have dropped it when I picked up the backpack. So I dutifully went to look for it while she called Erika just to make sure it still wasn’t in the car. Luck with neither option – someone must have seen our coveted water bottle and stole it and its precious contents. Jen was incensed. The vacation was ruined.

Nevertheless, we boarded around 1PM, drank some free champagne and went to lunch. We walked around a bit killing time before we could go to our stateroom when Jen realized she had a message on her voicemail. Erika had phoned to thank her for putting the water bottle in Erika’s backpack and she had been hydrating her kids as they walked around Boston for the afternoon eventually realizing that she didn’t actually own the water bottle which was providing such nourishing contents. Disaster averted – the trip could go on.

We read the schedule to find out where our next best bet for drinks was. The casino was offering free Rum Swizzles for the first 30 minutes after opening (5:30 – 6PM). After drinking about 5 apiece, we walked through the lobby where a “try before you buy” Duty Free alcohol presentation was happening. We pretended to be highly interested in each beverage they were peddling thus allowing us free samples of each spirit. Thoroughly liquored, we headed to Trivia in “Henry’s Pub” only about 5 minutes late.

We did fairly well – 14/20, the winner had 17 right, but alas, they cheated (they must have to beat us). We met and chatted with a nice couple – Jack and Jill (no, we were not drunk, this was real) and then adjourned to dinner.

At 8:30PM, we went to the Art Gallery to admire the Monet’s, view the Van Gogh’s and of course, drink the free champagne. Finally, the 9PM welcome show with the cruise director was a laugh riot and we were ready for bed.

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