October 30, 2010
Boston, Mass

I had a not so refreshing night’s sleep. By the time I turned out the light last night (1:30), the ship had begun to roll a bit. It was quite relaxing; & I did fall right asleep. But the closer we got to Boston, the ship settled down a little too much. I kept waking up. I got up to look out the window about 7:45; the sun was shining brightly; & we were backing our way into our berth. The Costa Atlantica was coming in behind us. And the Jewel of the Seas was already here, berthed off our bow. I guess it was to be a busy day in Boston.

I went to work on the blog for a while. I was beginning to crave my morning capp’o; & wondering exactly what time Michael might be arriving at the pier. So, I called; & he was still at home in (Pawtucket, RI) trying to figure out what to wear! Is this for real? I had told him that casual night on Crystal meant nice looking slacks (no jeans) & a shirt. This obviously was a challenge for Michael, since his life revolves around either a uniform or jeans. He promised he’d call when he came into the city. I dressed; & headed down to the Bistro with the laptop; ready for my coffee. I had some fruit, fresh squeezed orange juice & the coffee. About an hour or so later, I called Michael again; he was just now getting off the interstate. I reminded him that the ship was only going to be in Boston about 36 hrs; & the he’d better hurry up or we’d be gone.

Finally, about 10:45 he called saying that he had just parked the car & was trying to figure out which ship was mine. I told him I’d run down to the gangway & watch out for him. I didn’t have a coat; & it was quite cold out there (mid 40’s). I called again & told him to look for the yellow buses; I turned & come see him coming down the pier. He said he didn’t know if he should go ahead & bring his clothes in now or later. I asked why would he want to get back off the ship later? Go get them now. I headed back into this cavernous warehouse building, which was “our terminal” to try to get out of the wind. I saw a good number of crew rushing off to do some much needed shopping. Including the Chief, who was off to do some early holiday shopping for his family. I almost didn’t recognize him in regular clothes. He looks a lot different; but still so fine. Michael must have parked the car somewhere in RI; cause it took him 30 mins. to come back.

Finally, onboard at 12:30, we headed right away to lunch in the Lido. I had a bowl of soup, a half BLT sandwich (which had a slice of brie on it, very good combo), a small piece of filet mignon, some hearts of palm & some camembert cheese w/ apricots. We talked for a while (lamenting over our new Droid phones & how difficult it is for us “oldsters” to figure out how to use them). As a belated b’day present, I had booked a massage for Michael at 2 pm. In all his years, he had never had a massage; & he was kinda nervous. I coached him on how to “direct” the masseuse. He finally joked, “if I can jump out of an airplane (skydiving on his 50th b’day), then I guess I can handle this”. I walked him up to the spa & told the girls to return him “a new man”.

When he finally returned to the cabin; he was looking pretty “mellow”.  We went down to the Bistro for capp’o.  Peggy (xrvlcruiser) came by to chat.  She had been on 2 tours today; & hadn’t had time for lunch.  People were beginning to emerge in their evening attire.  I decided now was a good time to give him a grand tour.  He’s been on many ships in his life; but he’s never experienced Crystal.

We had reservations in Silk Road.  Another first for Michael…..eating with chopsticks.  After a short lesson, he made it through the tempura & sushi using them; but finally gave up on the entrée.  We asked the waiter to prepare a platter of various kinds of each; everything was delicious.  We had a hard time deciding on the entrees; trying to order some of everything that we wanted a taste of.

I knew one of us had to order the Nobu-Style Lobster with Truffle-Yuzu sauce.  And I couldn’t resist a selection of my favorite appetizers.  So, I chose the pan seared diver scallop, which is plated beautifully on a bed of stir fried baby brussels sprouts leaves drizzled with a not too spicy jalapeno relish.  I also chose the broiled eggplant that’s been marinated in the most awesome miso sauce; creates an almost crispy coating.  The last appetizer was the rock shrimp; which is tempura fried, served on a bed of shredded lettuce & drizzled with a spicy cream sauce.  We ate off each other’s plates.  I’m a big fan of the lobster dish, which for those who haven’t had the pleasure… stir fried lobster with garlic, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms & snow peas.  It’s topped with this divine “truffle-yuzu sauce” (which in all honesty…..I have no idea WHAT it is…..I just know it’s fabulous!

Pan seared scallop

Nobu-style lobster

Grilled Eggplant & Rock shrimp

He thought it was a fantastic meal. Being at a 2-top, we were elbow to elbow with other couples; & he was a little surprised at how chummy everyone is. Especially for such an elite cruise line. I explained that he just discovered who the true Crystal passengers are……not the stereotypical snobs that some people think WE are. If the uninitiated only knew……or maybe we don’t want them to know.

We lingered a while longer over hot tea & dessert. I had to have the lychee sorbet; Michael had the chocolate soufflé cake. Just before we started eating dessert, a group of 4 were seated at a table to my left. And there sat Tim Conway. I keep wanting to just say a simple hello; but I figure the most polite thing I can do is just nod & smile; & basically leave him alone. He, his wife & the other couple they were traveling with are always smiling & seem to be having a great time.

We strolled through the photo gallery; & I pointed out the assorted “characters” that have caught my attention this cruise (did I mention a “Lady Ga-Ga wannabe” before). Michael was a ship’s photographer back in the 80’s & 90’s; & he marveled at the streamlined way they operate now.

The one kink in this beautiful day was a phone call Michael got about 6pm, telling him that the person that was supposed to come to work at midnight, called in sick. He works for the “T” (Boston commuter railroad). Since he’s the shift supervisor, it’s his job to find a replacement. He tried & tried; but ended up having to leave the ship at 11; & go straight into work (which is just a few miles away). He would have to work a double shift without sleep. As disappointed as I was, I felt really badly for him.

About the only people leaving the ship at this hour were crewmembers. With an overnight in port (& it being Halloween), there was going to be lots of partying going on tonight. I put on the coat & boots & walked him out through the “terminal” (a term I find hard to use when describing this new Black Falcon Terminal….if they’ve done anything yet, I can’t see it). He had to park at least half a mile away; & I watched for his safety until he was out of sight. Not to worry, though, there was plenty of port security around. The air was pleasantly crisp; not windy; it felt quite good.

This was the first time this cruise that I actually walked through the public areas late at night. Despite the fact that some passengers were obviously off ship for the evening, there were plenty of people milling around. I went back to the cabin; & proceeded to work at the computer. Finally about 1:30, I hit the wall. Probably was asleep before my head hit the pillow. And to think the only things I’ve seen of Boston so far is the back side of a dreary, grey brick building. What’s on the other side, could very well be Oz……..


October 29, 2010
Portland, Maine

FACTOID: Andrew Wyeth, Stephen King & Mr. LL Bean (Leon Leonwood Bean) all hail from Portland!

I was not a happy camper having to get up so early for immigration. And especially not knowing if there would be enough time to eat & get to my morning tour before 9. While I dressed, I picked at the fruit & cheese left over from last night. That was going to have to suffice for breakfast just in case.

How do all these people look so “put together” this early in the morning? I hoped I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew. I immediately run into Alice, Ralph & Doris waiting in line. Once I got through the line, there stood Tim Conway. So, it’s not just a rumor; he really is onboard. He’s thinner & much younger looking than I expected. And like the rest of us peons, he also has to stand in line.

It took longer than expected to clear the ship; & excursions were late leaving this morning. It was grey outside; but the temps made it to the upper 50’s. There was practically no wind; so it wasn’t unpleasant. Just grey.

My morning tour was the City Highlights & Portland Head Lighthouse (PWM-A). Our guide was Nancy; Driver, Clyde, in bus #2. Nancy did a fine job; didn’t bore anyone to death. And she wanted to start off by teaching us how to speak “Maine”….. “lob-stah” & “chow-dah”.

The port of Portland is really uninteresting; although it does sit within reasonable walking distance to “town”. We started off on a road that ran alongside Casco Bay toward the “East End”. We drove through residential areas along Eastern Promenade Street where beautiful homes of every variety of architecture all backed up to magnificent views of Casco Bay.

Next passing through an area known as Munjoy Hill & (what appeared to be) a red brick “light house”. It is now the home of the Port Observatory.

We drove down Exchange St, previously referred to as Fish St through the heart of the Old Port Area. Most of the wooden buildings in this area were completely destroyed by the great fire of 1866. This area is home to some lovely Museums, parks & statues honoring just about every noteworthy person who ever lived here.

Finally we entered the area known as the “West End”. The trees are still ablaze with color. Nancy said the colors peaked last week; & the fiery red “burning bushes” were just at their peak. I can only imagine how beautiful it would have been under sunshine. The sun tried to peak out a few times; but never did. In fact, there was a little rain during the late afternoon just before sailing time. We stopped for a photo op at the “widow’s view” park along the White River (?), with the mountains of New Hampshire way off in the distance.

She pointed out some gorgeous summer homes. Gothic style cottages, sprawling Victorian mansions; all used just a few short months of the year.

We proceeded about another 20 mins. to the town of Cape Elizabeth, which is home to the famous Portland Head Lighthouse. Built in 1791, its beacon still safely guides the busy marine traffic off the coast of Maine. We had about 25 mins. to walk up to the scenic overlook or explore the museum. If there had been time, there is a walking path that leads from the lighthouse along the coastline. I’m sure the vistas are breathtaking.

On the way back to the ship, I asked Nancy if she might recommend a place close by that would have authentic lobster rolls. She mentioned a few that were side by side right along the street next to the terminal. She reminded us not to be put off by the way they look cause that’s where the best food is. I perused the menus posted outside of a couple of them; but settled on the most “homely” looking building. Gilbert’s Chowder House looked slightly “seedy”; & you could tell the waitresses had probably been there forever. I had a luscious cup of clam “chow-dah” & (my first ever, genuine, authentic) “lob-stah” roll. Nancy said they are often served on a grilled hot dog bun; but mine was on a buttered/grilled thick slice of (what looked to be) home made bread. It was divine. They had CNN on at the bar; & the breaking news of the day was dominating the airwaves…..the security alert at the London, Newark & PHL airports. I know some of the Pax that are coming onboard in NY, were planning on flying into the NY area today for a long weekend. This could make for unpleasant travel delays.

As I was coming out of the Gilbert’s, I saw Ralph, Alice & Doris walking across the street. They were looking for a place for some lunch; & I highly recommended they eat at Gilbert’s. They did; & loved it,

I came back onboard about 1:30; went straight to the Bistro, in the mood for some of that great hot chocolate. While I was sitting there, Peggy (xrvlcruiser on CC) came up & sat down. We had a very nice visit. Pretty soon Alice & Ralph came in & joined us. I really lucked out with my table friends. These two are the most delightful people you’d ever want to meet.

In a little while Ioannis came in for his afternoon capp’o; so I sat & talked with him a while. Just as he was doing just about this time last year, he has the corporate people onboard this cruise working on next year’s budget. Always a stressful time for him. I had forgotten until he reminded me that tonight was the cocktail party in the Capt’s Quarters for all those who are dining at officer’s tables. I would have liked to have skipped it; but it is an honor to be asked.

Back in the cabin I could see that it had started to sprinkle rain; & I thought it was time for a short nap. I slept long enough that I really had to scurry to get ready for the party. I was about 10 mins. late. Everyone was talking loudly & having a good time.

We headed down to the D.R. a little early. The ship’s photog’s were trying to get people to sit for portraits. And Ralph grabbed us; & said let’s have some fun. The photog perched Alice & Doris on stools; & arranged Ralph, Norman & I behind them. We took several different poses; laughing so hard we could hardly see straight.

It’s (semi) informal night, the fabulous French Dinner menu (one of my favorites). And the Chief was dining with us again tonight. The wines flowed; the conversation revolved around Alice’s expertise in handwriting analysis & reading body language. Before the night was over, she had “read” everyone at the table, Ioannis, Aden & Davor (the waiters) & Ivo (Head Waiter). The looks on the faces as people realized that she had them “pegged” was priceless. Most of what she said about me was right on target. A few things, I’m still pondering.

For dinner I had escargot bourguignon, seasoned with just the perfect amount of garlic. Since I’ve been intrigued by all the pasta specials, I tried an appetizer portion of Parpadelle Boscaiola. This looked like an extra wide linguini noodle with garlic, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes & cream with a touch of white truffle oil. It was outstanding.

My main course was garlic-herb crusted rack of lamb served with a finely diced ratatouille, au gratin potatoes & sautéed haricots verts (in essence, skinny green beans that are way undercooked). I was having trouble cutting the lamb; couldn’t tell at first if it was the meat or the knife. Ioannis motioned to Ivo; & he brought me another small rack. This one was succulently tender & delicious.

For the 8th night in a row, I’ve not found anything on the dessert menu that excited me. Something seems amiss here. So, I let Adem select cheeses from the trolley for me

The meal ended at 10:30; everyone going their separate ways, looking for entertainment. I’m ready to call it a night. Just a little typing to do & a few photos from dinner to edit. Tomorrow we arrive in Boston for 2 days. My dear friend, Michael will be coming aboard in the morning. It should be a fun weekend!

Here are various photos of Alice doing her "readings" for Pauline, Ioannis & Ivo at the table tonight:

October 28, 2010
St. John, New Brunswick, Canada

FACTOID: Did you know that “Children of a Lesser God” was filmed in St. John? Or that Walter Pidgeon & Donald Sutherland were born here? Me neither…..

It was looking pretty bleak outside when I got up at 8:30. Thick fog; but it wasn’t going to be too awfully cold today (around 60). I did a little computer work until just before 10. I rushed down to the Bistro for capp’o & some fruit & cheese for breakfast. Crew lifeboat drill was at 10; & I wasn’t sure if anyone would be “minding the store” at the Bistro. The place was abuzz. We had arrived in St. John a little late this morning; & that caused all the tours to be backed up.

I carried my breakfast back to the cabin, sort of lounging until, my tour left at noon. When I met the group in the Starlight Lounge, I saw “Betty” (one of the 2 ladies from my tour in Quebec, the ones that got the bad news phone call). Betty was telling me about her friend’s husband (the one who had the heart attack). The poor lady ended up missing the last flight out of QUE on Sunday; & had to stay over an extra night. She has been sitting by her husband’s side at the hospital ever since she returned. They are not sure if he’s going to make it. Poor Betty was “blue”; & she has so much trouble walking. So, I stayed close by; & helped her throughout the tour.

Today’s tour was the St. John Highlights by Trolley (STJ-A1). Our guide was a lovely woman, dressed in period costume, named Ann. We had a lady driver, Bonnie; & the tour escort was Jo (works in the casino). Ann was very apologetic about the weather; & said we’d have to use our imagination occasionally. She said whenever she would point out something that was hidden behind the fog, she asked us to “ooh & ahh” (as if we really could see it & were duly impressed).

Leaving the pier we circled St. Patrick’s Square, a historical park right by the pier that held a Celtic cross & an unusual triple street lamp. One side of the street lamp (facing the harbour) was red, the other side (landside) was white. She explained that before there were light houses, the ship captains used to navigate by these lamps. They knew if they could see “red” they were on course. If they saw “white, it meant that were about to run into land.

We went inland a little further to King’s Square in their downtown area. In the center, a lovely park with a two story gazebo/bandstand. On one side of the square stood the Imperial Theater where some of their native son actors started their careers.

On the opposite side of the square was the City Market, the oldest market in Canada. It’s not huge by any means; but it bustles with activity. The produce was beautiful; & Ann said that most everyone uses it as their local neighborhood market. Built by shipbuilders, the white wooden ceiling was modeled after a ship’s hull (upside down).

We drove through residential neighborhoods. She showed us the school & a house that were used in the filming of the (above mentioned) movie. We saw medium sized “mansions” (who’s yearly property taxes are only about $1200 CAD) & everyday people’s houses. Like we saw in Halifax, they are multi colored; & mostly clapboard.

We drove up to the Fort Howe lookout; where could have seen the Symphony docked below had it not been for the fog. While up there, Ann pointed out a humongous hunk of limestone that geologists have verified is 1 billion years old! I sorta wonder how they can tell.

The highlight of today’s tour was a visit to the Reversing Falls Rapids. Again the fog made it difficult to get the full effect; but the timing of our visit was perfect. We arrived at “slack tide”; just past low tide, & when the water has begun to rise approximately 14’. Everyone knows from their geography lessons that rivers flow into oceans. And this is true part of the time here at the Bay of Fundy, where the St, Lawrence River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Ann tells us that deep keeled sailboats must come through this pass at “slack tide”; & this stage only lasts about 20 mins. She says at her house, she can sit & watch the sailboats gather at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, patiently waiting for “slack tide”. Then there’s a mad rush during that 20 min. period, for them all to make it up into the St. Lawrence. Jet boat rides on these rapids are a big tourist attraction. The ones that were scheduled for today were cancelled because of the dangerous conditions with the heavy fog.

Two times a day (every 12 hrs & 26 mins. to be precise) the tide rises as much as 48’! It is the highest tide in the world!! When the tide comes in from the Atlantic, pushing it into the St. Lawrence, it runs out of room. It has no where to go, but back out. We were able to see the clockwise eddies form as the direction started to change. It’s quite fascinating. She helped us spot some seals who love “slack tide”. They just surf along the top of the flow with their mouths open & feed on the fish caught in the rush of the tide. Easy lunch!

Ann had before & after photos of the tide change; & I attempted to take a photo of her photo. It’s not of very good quality; but you can get some idea of how it affects some of the boat docks in the tributaries.

After leaving the rapids, we drove through Wolastoq Park. Not sure of the significance of this park; but it was chock full of interesting wooden sculptures.

The driver took us past the “witch’s house”, a true “Munster-esque” looking house. She said every Halloween the kids dare other kids to go trick or treating there. Nobody will.

As we approached the pier area, she pointed out Market Square, which would be a wonderful place to visit in the afternoon to shop & eat. It’s very close to the ship.

Back onboard about 4; I stopped at the Bistro for some fruit & cheese & a cup of hot chocolate to go. I saw Alice & Doris who informed me that they would not be in the D.R. tonight. A shame; because I was actually going to show up. Also when I came through the terminal, I saw a Pax sitting there with his laptop. He said there was “free” wifi; & I thought, oh goody, I can upload photos to the blog for free! I came aboard; gathered up the laptop & trip notes; & set up “shop” at a table right by the security guards. Here I sat for the next 90 mins (until I ran out of battery power). I got a lot done; as I’m sure you saw.

About 4:20, the Guard came over; & said “I think you better get back onboard now”. I was the next to the last person to be scanned back onboard. In fact, we pulled away from the dock about 5 mins. early.

I told Mag that I would be dining in again. I gave her my order; & told her she could bring it whenever she wanted. She asked if she could bring it before 9 tonight; & I said that was perfectly fine. I asked her if she had a hot date or something. She said she had the opportunity to work out in the Pax. Gym tonight with a personal trainer. As if the poor girl doesn’t get enough of a work out every day doing her job. I went down to the Reception Desk to turn in a visitor request form for my friend, Joyce, who may come aboard in Charleston. And we were told to pick up our passports since we have to present ourselves bright & early in the morning to U.S. Immigration (since we’re re-entering the U.S. from a foreign country, Canada).

I came back, showered & washed my filthy hair. (I was getting sicker of the wig than I was of the hair.) By the time I finished, Mag brought my dinner. It’s Neptune night; & not one of my favorite menus. I did manage to find something. I had an appetizer portion of the pasta special (yes, again). It was linguini with lemon oil, roasted garlic, tomatoes, parsley & cracked black pepper topped with tiny rock shrimp. Very tasty. Although I should have known better from past experience, I had the king crab cake as my main course. It was served with garlic mashed potatoes, grilled veggies & a Dijon mustard aioli sauce. I don’t know why this continues to be a disappointment to me. Crystal offers huge chunks of crab meat in various ways through the cruise. Then why is it that the crab cake is predominantly “filler” with small fleck of crab meat? As I said Neptune night is not my favorite. And given the choice of filet mignon, Cornish game hen, & ahi tuna; I went with the crab cake. The pasta was very good. But maybe I could have just gone with something from the regular room service menu & been happier. I did order a fruit & cheese plate again for dessert; but will put it in the fridge for breakfast since I’ll have to be out of here kind of early.

Tonight, we run our clocks back an hour (back to Eastern Daylight Time). Despite the fact that I have to set the alarm for 7 am (& we all know I can’t sleep when an alarm is set), I took advantage of this extra hour to get caught up on the blog. Maybe I’ll get lucky tomorrow & find free wifi somewhere. There’s some nice rocking motion tonight; & I’m pretty beat. I pray that I fall asleep the min. my head hits the pillow. Only if I try to pretend that the alarm’s not on….. what alarm?


October 27, 2010
Halifax, Nova Scotia; Canada

FACTOID: Did you know that Halifax is the 2nd largest harbour in the world (after Sydney, Australia)? And that it never freezes? Well, neither did I.

About 9 am, I cautiously opened the drapes; our luck had really run out. My window was facing the open harbour; & I could barely make out the shoreline through the dense fog. And a fairly hard rain was falling on the deck below. The ship had a lot of tours scheduled for today; most of which said, “this excursion will operate in all weather conditions”. (No refund, no excuses) Drat!

My planned excursion to picturesque Peggy’s Cove was going, with or without me. I still had some leftovers from dinner last night; so that turned out to be breakfast. I never even got around to having my capp’o today. I told Mag when she came in that I didn’t need anything; just take the rest of the morning off. She refilled my ice bucket & took away last night’s dishes; & let me be. I was back on the computer feverishly trying to catch up. (I keep getting e-mails asking if everything’s alright; what’s happened to the blog?) It’s been a long time since I’ve actually cruised & taken tours. Today’s high was 61; so cold wasn’t necessarily going to be a problem. But wet was. So, I only carried a sweater & my rain poncho & an umbrella.

When my tour left at 12:15, it was raining steadily & the fog was still thick. Today’s tour was called “Peggy’s Cove Acquaintance” (HAL-I). Our guide’s name was Laurie; driver, Lloyd; & the tour escort was Steve, one of the dance hosts. We were on bus #7. The bus windows kept fogging up; & we couldn’t see much of anything. I could tell that there were still a lot of colorful leaves on the trees. And the houses were quite colorful, clapboard & similar to what you would expect in the northeastern U.S.

The drive to the small fishing village of Peggy’s Cove on St. Margaret’s Bay (“Peggy”) took about an hour. I’m sure it’s quite lovely on a sunny day. There is not a lot to see; but the uniqueness would make it a big draw. There are less than 50 year round residents; mostly lobster fishermen & their families. Lloyd parked the bus in a lot by the famous light house; & some of us walked with the guide; some just wandered around on their own. We walked down to look at the “famous” monument that was carved out of granite by William deGarthe. He was a quirky artist that took up residence here; he befriended the fishermen & wanted to create this monument to them & to the famous “Peggy”. He died before finishing it; & he requested that his ashes be interred inside the monument (behind the white square plaque).

There was very little activity in Peggy’s Cove today; lobster season starts again next week. The boats & lobster pots sit idle at the small dock. There are a few souvenir shops, an art gallery & a restaurant. I went back up to the top of the “hill” & got some shots of the light house. The fog occasionally got less dense; but never disappeared completely. It would mist rain off & on; & I developed an urge for hot chocolate. So, I sat down in the restaurant for a few mins, & had a cup until it was time to reboard the bus.

It had finally stopped raining by the time we arrived back in Halifax at 4:30. The general consensus of those on the tour, thought it was much ado about nothing. The bad weather was unfortunate. And given the distance, I don’t suppose $57 was an outrageous price for the our. I guess I’m glad I got to see the light house; but I suppose I’d have been just as happy curled up in a deck chair, wrapped up in a steamer blanket, reading a book & sipping hot chocolate.

I took advantage of a “port day” special in the spa. A 50 min. massage for $100. My appt. was 6 pm. I requested a mostly deep tissue massage; & she worked me over good. I had knots on top of knots; at times it felt like her elbows were going to puncture a lung! But it hurt in a good sort of way. I was worthless when I left there at 7; no way was I going to make it to the D.R. (again). I came home; piled under the covers & fell asleep. Mag came in to check on me about 8; & I gave her my dinner order. She was back with it a little before 9.

I had the most luscious appetizer, Maine lobster strudel wrapped in a delicate phyllo pasty drizzled with Crawfish Buerre Blanc sauce. I also had another appetizer portion of the pasta special. This time is was HUGE tubes of pasta (pacceri), with tiny sweet scallops & chanterelle mushrooms & a champagne sauce. Oh Lordy, was that good.

For my main course I had sautéed jumbo shrimp that was served on a bed of lemon-spinach risotto. It was accompanied by grilled vegetables & a dipping sauce of bell pepper & saffron emulsion. Yummo!

By 10 pm, I need to work but wanted to read. My “tortured” back muscles were starting to scream (bruises). I must have read a page; & I was gone. The winds have picked up; & they’ve blocked off the outside decks for safety reasons. There is a nice trembling vibration that feels real good on the muscles. I slept several hours.

Awoke about 2 am & had my dessert (fruit & cheese plate). Did some more typing on the blog til about 4 am. Took 2 Advil; & back to bed for a little longer. Another tour tomorrow; & it’ll be here real soon.
October 26, 2010
At sea-cruising the Atlantic
En route to Halifax, NS

Had a wonderful night’s rest. It was an unpleasant surprise to open the drapes; & see heavy grey clouds, rain & small whitecaps on the water. Better this happen on a sea day rather than in port. But a day, none the less, that I’d love to spend just wallowing around; reading a good book.

I went down to the Bistro for my morning capp’o; & then headed to the card room for bridge lesson #2. Not realizing that this was the last sea day of this leg of the voyage, this would be our final lesson. There were 4 new people in class; & you could tell they were a little lost. Well, so was I. It was as if I had fallen into a coma, woke up & missed an entire class. Yesterday, I left there confident that I understood everything she had taught me. Today, Brenda jumped right into “trump”, “no trump”, “double”, “redouble”. And I was thinking….what the hell is she talking about??? And I could tell this was really frustrating (9 yr old) Tegan. We didn’t even have enough time to get to the subject of bidding. You would think that they could have allotted more than just 45 mins, both days. But, we all did come away with a copy of the book, “Audrey Grant’s Introduction to Bridge Basics”. Maybe I should try classes again sometime…….like on a transatlantic voyage!

The Great American Buffet was held at lunch time today; & I had about an hr. to kill. So, I packed up the laptop; & parked myself at the Bistro. Nowhere in that room is a 110 volt A/C plug! I wanted to get the Quebec blog online; but ran out of juice before I made it that far.

    Sitting with Doris, Alice & Ralph (see the resemblence to Giuliani)?

I went up to the Lido buffet about 12:45; the place was packed. And for the first time I had to ponder whether it was a good idea for Crystal to do away with the service trays. One can balance one plate as you walk through the line. A plate & a bowl of soup, maybe not. They were so busy; there was no one to assist me. And there was no place to sit, other than out by the Trident Bar; & it was frigid a$$ cold out there. I just kept circling until I found a 2 top. Just before I started to eat, I saw Doris, Alice & Ralph; & they waived me over to their table. We had a lot of fun; & I barely made it through half of the food I had put on 2 plates. The rest would just have to go home with me for a snack later.

                                    It's disgusting I know!

Now about that lunch……….I LOVE the American buffet……some great old standards & some interesting adaptations of traditional southern fare. Thankfully, since I’d tasted just about everything at one time or another, I knew what I wanted & what to avoid.

The main attraction for me is the BBQ short ribs with a nice (almost) crunchy, coating of the sweetest sauce. I also love their okra fritters, Southern fried chicken salad & the perfectly spiced jambalaya. The corned beef unfortunately was sickeningly salty today. I love whatever the seasonings are that they put on the oven roasted vegetables. The prime rib was okay; but lacked any real flavor. And the bowl of (supposedly) cream horseradish wasn’t. In fact, it tasted more like sour cream to me. I took a tiny 2-bite size sampler portion of the “turtle cake”; & it was marvelous. Tasted similar to German chocolate cake; & was just enough to offset the flavors of the other heavy foods.

Doris asked if I was planning to come to the D.R. for dinner; & I said “probably”. I probably shouldn’t have done that. As the dreary day progressed, I had a feeling I was going to eat in. I tried to get the blog uploaded; but we’re still having issues intermittently with the internet service. I laid down with my book until it was time for the Cruise Critic cocktail party. There were about 16 of us signed up; but it ended up being only 6. We met on the port side of Palm Court at 5:30; & they provided appetizers & drinks.

                          Becky, Carolyn, Bill, Peggy, Chris & Steve

In attendance were Peggy (xrvlcruiser), Bill & Carolyn (Wrobichaux), Chris & Steve (CandS) & myself (Liv4cruzin). I so enjoyed getting to know a little about these fine folks. Chris & Steve had started their adventurous journey weeks ago from Australia. They had already trekked through Europe on their way to Montreal. Coincidentally, Chris & Steve already knew Bill & Carolyn; having met on a Crystal cruise out of Hong Kong 3½ yrs ago. Although this was Peggy’s first Crystal cruise, she has an extensive background of cruising on many other luxury lines. Their travel stories were quite interesting, especially since they’ve been to so many places I’ve never been.

Throughout the 2 hrs, various Officers stopped by to say hello. First, Nikki Andrews (Onboard Cruise Consultant) came by with Yvonne (Chief Accountant). Captain Giske & one of his Jr. officers came by & spoke ever so briefly. Josef Matt (Hotel Dir.) & Victor (Food & Beverage Mgr) visited a short while. Last, but certainly not least, Paul McFarland (Cruise Director) came & spent a good while with us. This is the first time I’ve met him; & he’s a delightfully, interesting man. He had just finished taping one of his shows (for onboard TV) with Tim Conway (actor/comedian); who happens to be cruising onboard just as a passenger. Wonder where he’s been hiding out? Who knew??? He also shared in great detail how a new musical production at sea is “born”. Everything from designing costumes, to blocking the stage to accommodate the motion of the ship; & to reworking a number in case someone gets sick or injured. Obviously a lot more goes into it than I ever realized.

The party broke up about 7:30; & I’d already made the decision to order dinner in. By now, I’ve gotten 3 days behind on the blog; & that’s bothering me. With the daily tour schedule, the issues with the internet & all the photo editing, I hope I can dig my way out before it gets any worse.

I gave Mag my dinner order about 8:30. Since I already had leftovers from lunch, I didn’t really NEED any dinner. But there were a few things on the menu that I just had to try. The corn bisque with bell pepper & leeks was excellent. I had an appetizer portion of the pasta special, Spaghetti “Prince of Naples”. It had been tossed with a light tomato sauce; plated & then topped again with half porcini mushroom sauce & the other half with Bolognaise sauce. The mushroom sauce surprised me; I loved the flavor. I also asked for a side order of the featured veggies: gratinated cauliflower, green beans wrapped with bacon & smoked onion pudding. I had to admit that my green been “bundle” recipe is much better; but the onion pudding was divine. I would hardly call it “pudding” as it was formed into wedges & cooked like Southerner’s would do cornbread (in a divided skillet). Needless to say, there were now even more leftovers to have tomorrow.

I did a little work on the computer; & intended to lay down for just a bit about 10:30. There’s some nice wave action going on out there; & I was out in no time. Woke up about 1; & turned the light out. Guess I’ve finally gotten used to the hard bed; & the rocking of the Atlantic Ocean is finally working it’s magic.

Again since it was a slow news day......a few extra photos from Quebec City:

Walking tour through Place Royale

More trompe l'oeil murals on what appears to be a medical building.

A quiet square in the "upper city".

Although this was taken from a speeding bus window, I was kind of intrigued by these 3 houses that were built on top of an existing building.