Day 7…Celebrity Xploration…The Galapagos Islands…Avian flu kills three birds in Galapagos….Tom stayed on the ship with me today…

Tom took one of my favorite photos: a pelican with a pouch filled with fish. The brown Galapagos pelican has a thick layer of skin located on the lower mandible and connected to the throat – this is a gular pouch. The bird uses this flap of skin to scoop fish out of the water, to hold its catch like a dinner plate of regurgitated fish for its chicks, and even to cool itself on a hot day!

In the past week on this ship, Celebrity Xploration, there were islands we didn’t visit that may have been included in past cruises due to the incidence of avian flu discovered in three dead birds. See the article below from this site:

Another pelican in rough seas.

“Catastrophic avian influenza reaches the Galapagos for the first time

Almost 200 years on, when Charles Darwin observed his Galapagos Islands finches, which became the emblems of his theory of evolution, birds in the region are again in the news for what many scientists warn could be the source of the next pandemic.

A lovely photo of a pelican, taken by Tom, is in rough seas.

Three out of five dead birds have tested positive for avian influenza (H5N1), according to the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD), which is the first time the deadly virus has made it to the Archipelago. It’s a worrying sign for scientists, who have sounded alarms since the pathogen moved from a seasonal concern to a potential pandemic spillover in 2021.

Notice the frigate with the red pouch…Males have a bright red pouch on the throat, inflating like a balloon to attract females. Females, unlike most other seabirds, look different than males with their white chests.

In the last two years, more than half a billion farmed birds have died or been culled due to the virus, and conservative estimates suggest hundreds of thousands of wild birds across the globe have died. It’s also killed thousands of sea lions in South America. Skunks, mink, dogs, and some humans have also been infected.

On a tour of the bridge with Captain Marcos.
Ship captains often still use handwritten logs, although they have plenty of computers they could use.

While H5N1 has now spanned the globe, its presence in the Galapagos highlights how difficult this virus is to contain, mainly since it is so prevalent in shorebirds and migratory birds. In the Galapagos Islands, 80% of birds are endemic. The arrival of H5N1 makes all bird species incredibly vulnerable.

There are cameras throughout the ship, which the captain and his staff observe throughout the cruise.

While avian influenza has been circulating for decades, intensive farming and virus mutations have seen it spread in novel ways, and scientists have sounded the alarm it’s the most likely source of a new pandemic.

More equipment on the bridge.

To date, Antarctica and Australia are the only continents without reported avian influenza outbreaks among wild birds.

This is known as Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), which we sailed around in the ship at happy hour.

Source: Galapagos Conservation Trust”

Sure, three birds dying from this flu doesn’t sound like much, but three birds could have eventually impacted the entire bird population, which could have entirely affected the ecosystem of these fantastic islands. Hopefully, they’ve caught it in time to save the birds that have been such an integral aspect of our time spent here on the islands.

Amazing rock formations.

Today was a hectic day planned for the passengers, starting at 8:45 am and returning at 6:00 pm, which would include hours of walking while visiting a village on Santa Cruz island, the most populated of the islands in the Archipelago. A lunch at a local restaurant and a visit to a farm with lots of giant tortoises were planned. The remainder of the day would be spent shopping in the village, a favorite pastime of many travelers.

An alternate view of the rock formation

Unbeknownst to me, last night, Tom decided he was going to stay on board with me. There was no way I could have walked about for nine hours. Last night, when he chose to stay with me today,  he didn’t tell me until this morning since he didn’t want me to worry about him staying behind while I was trying to sleep on yet another night of rough seas and seasickness. Surely, I would have attempted to talk him out of staying behind, but he insisted he wanted to be with me. What a guy! I am so lucky.

Another view of Kicker Rock at sunset. Beautiful!

After dinner and conversation, I headed to bed when I became seasick and couldn’t keep my head up. Anticipating rough seas, I didn’t eat or drink much at dinner, and just like that, at 8:30, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Tom had to hold onto me to escort me to our cabin and help me get into my pajamas. Once my head hit the pillow, I felt better and could eventually fall asleep for an hour.

Kicker Rock at sunset.

But, when the rocking and rollin’ became worse, I awoke and never went back to sleep until around 3:30 am. During that time, I was going back and forth with my web guy and our hosting company while they were attempting to fix some issues on our site that I’d been dealing with for the past five days. They were in a different time zone, and it was daytime where they were.

Last night’s sunset.

After dozens of email messages back and forth, by about 3:00 am, they resolved the issues. Most likely, few of our readers would notice any of the issues, but they were evident to me while I was trying to upload posts daily. Then, a few nights ago, when we put our laptops on the floor during brought seas, as recommended by staff, somehow my laptop got banged around on the floor, and the screen came loose from the base of the laptop.

Sea lions love to sleep on rocky surfaces as well as soft sand.

It appeared that it could be fixed when plastic pieces had broken off. Wouldn’t you know, four staff members gathered around my laptop while I tried fixing it and offered to help? It was Agustin, the hotel manager, and Christopher, the cabin attendant, who performed a miracle getting it entirely fixed. They even fashioned some new parts from bits of metal they had on the boat.

Alternate view of last night’s sunset.

Not only will we be tipping the 12 members of the crew in the passenger’s collective tip basket, but we’ll be giving extra tips to Agustin, Christopher, Jonathan (the superb chef), and the two naturalists, Juan Carlo and Orlando, who fussed over me every chance they got, sharing tidbits of information about the wildlife that I have presented here in the posts.

Sailing away from Kicker Rock.

We’ll have to share many more photos and continue to post them until we feel we’ve shared the bulk of them. It may take a few days or even a week until we’ve exhausted the supply of photos and videos from this exciting experience.

What a unique sight to see here in The Galapagos Islands.

Tomorrow, Saturday, we’ll disembark the ship and fly back to Quito, where we’ll again stay at the gorgeous Marriott Quito until Sunday, when we’ll fly to Manta, where we’ll stay overnight for one night to begin our drive to our new home on the sea on Monday morning, making a quick stop at a market for some groceries along the way.

From left to right, starting with Alexis in the wedding dress and her new husband Seth. Then, continuing to the right are Emmanuel and Ann, Anthony and Colleen, and Jackie and Michael.
Last night at dinner, our group of eight sat at one of two tables in the dining room. From left, with her back to us, Gill, her husband John, Jeff, Nadine, Tom and I, Karin and Stephen.
Us, last night at happy hour on the upper deck.

Although the boat is anchored right now, we’re still rocking back and forth, making me queasy, but Tom is fine. Go figure. Jonathan will have some lunch at noon since I haven’t eaten anything yet today. Tom didn’t want lunch when he’d had a big breakfast this morning. When the passengers return tonight, we’ll celebrate our final night with the crew over another spectacular dinner. I hope the seas aren’t rough tonight.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 20, 2013:

We are babysitting their two little dogs with Hans and Jeri gone for the Kenyan holiday this weekend. This is Jessie, whom they inherited when a nearby homeowner didn’t want her. She is an entirely outdoor dog, never sleeping indoors and spending all her days and nights outside. It was hard to close the doors on her last night when we went to bed, leaving her looking at us. I wanted to pick her up and put her in the bed with us, but we knew not to upset her routine. She’s a sturdy little dog and an excellent watchdog. For those who knew us in our old lives, does this remind you of anyone? For more photos, please click here.

Day 6…Greenland Cruise…Amazing scenery in Greenland…

This iceberg was much more enormous than it appears in this photo.

We are in Greenland! Wow! What a place! Late yesterday afternoon, we arrived at a magical wonderland known as Prins Christian Sund, named for Prince Christian VIII of Denmark. The area is a dramatic fjord separating the southernmost islands of the rest of South Greenland, a land of jagged mountains and green pastures where sheep farms border icy fjords and Norse history intersects with modern communities.

Prins Christian Sund presents exquisite scenery for cruising, with mountains reaching nearly 4,000 feet, glaciers inching toward the sea, and tidal currents that limit ice formation.

What an interesting iceberg floating by this glacier.

From the ship’s brochure:

“At approximately 4:00 pm, Celebrity Summit will be reaching Prins Christian Sund. The duration of viewing will be influenced by prevailing weather conditions. Our Celebrity Activities Speaker, Brent Nixon will provide updates to our navigation to Prins Christian Sund and some narrations about the history and importance of this symbolic place. 

Announcements can be heard in public venues as well as open decks around the ship and on your stateroom TVs on Channel 1. Please turn the volume up. If weather permits, we will open the helipad in order to enhance your scenic cruising/viewing experience. Please listen for announcements via the PA system to advise you accordingly.”

We encountered one amazing glacier after another.

Here are some essential facts about Greenland from this site:

1. World’s Largest Island

Let’s start with the basics. Greenland is actually the world’s biggest island – by area – that is not a continent. The total area of Greenland is 2.16 million square kilometers (836,330 square miles), including other offshore islands. Almost 80 percent of the land mass is covered by an ice cap. The ice-free area may be a minority, but it’s still around the size of Sweden. With a population of 56,480 (2017 estimate), it is one of the least densely populated countries in the world.

2. Greenland Was Green

The Arctic nation is mostly white since most of Greenland is covered in ice, snow, and glaciers. So how did it get its name “Greenland” when it’s not really green? It actually got its name from Erik The Red, an Icelandic murderer who was exiled to the island. He called it “Greenland” in hopes that the name would attract settlers. However, scientists say Greenland was quite green more than 2.5 million years ago. A new study reveals that ancient dirt was cryogenically frozen for millions of years underneath about 2 miles of ice.

They couldn’t have been more awe-inspiring!

3. Greenland is an Autonomous country

Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark. Although Greenland is geographically a part of the North American continent, it has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for about a millennium. Since 1721, Denmark has held colonies in Greenland, but the country was made part of Denmark in 1953. In 1979, Denmark granted Home Rule to Greenland, and in 2009, expanded Self Rule was inaugurated, transferring more decision-making power and responsibilities to the Greenlandic government. Under the new structure, gradually Greenland can assume more and more responsibilities from Denmark when it is ready for it.

4. 4,500 Years of History

According to historians, the first humans were thought to have arrived in Greenland around 2500 BC. The group of migrants apparently died out and were succeeded by several other groups who migrated from North America. At the beginning of the 10th century, Norsemen from Iceland settled in the uninhabited southern part of Greenland, but they disappeared in the late 15th century. The Inuit migrated here from Asia in the 13th century, and their bloodline survived to this day. Most Inuit Greenlanders are their direct descendants and continue to practice some of the centuries-old traditions.

“Humans have inhabited Greenland for more than 4,500 years.”

Deep-sea sediment cores from northeast Greenland, the Fram Strait, and the south of Greenland suggest that the Greenland Ice Sheet has continuously existed since 18 million years ago.

5. Inuit Culture

Today, 88% of Greenland’s population are Inuit (predominantly Kalaallit) or mixed Danish and Inuit. The remaining 12% are of European descent, mainly Danish. Truth be told, Greenlanders actually don’t appreciate being called ‘Eskimos’; the proper name for them is Inuit or Kalaallit, which actually means ‘Greenlander’ in the native Inuit language, Kalaallisut. The Inuit Greenlanders identify strongly with Inuits in other parts of the world, like Canada and Alaska, and they actually share some similarities in their languages as well.

6. A Multilingual Nation

The majority of the population in Greenland speaks both Greenlandic (mainly Kalaallisut) and Danish. The two languages have been used in public affairs since the establishment of home rule in 1979. Today, the young generation learns both languages, as well as English, in school. The Greenlandic language is an interesting language with a long history, and it’s closely related to the Inuit languages in Canada, such as Inuktitut. “Kayak” and “igloo” are Greenlandic words that have been adopted directly by other languages.

Another interesting iceberg.

7. No Roads In Greenland

Despite having a land size of 2.16 million square kilometers, there are no roads or railway systems that connect settlements to one another. There are roads within the towns, but they end at the outskirts. All travel between towns is done by plane, boat, helicopter, snowmobile or dogsled. Boats are by far the most popular mode of transportation, and you’ll often see locals out cruising the fjords every summer.

8. Whaling & Fishing

Fishing is a major industry in Greenland. The country imports almost everything except for fish, seafood, and other animals hunted in Greenland, such as whales and seals. Each administrative area has a certain quota of whales, seals, and fish assigned to it, ensuring that there’s no overfishing. Certain species, like the blue whale, are protected and thus cannot be fished. No export of whale and seal meat is allowed — they are only consumed locally.

Another interesting iceberg.

9. A Vibrant Capital City

Almost one-quarter of Greenland’s population lives in the capital city of Nuuk. Vibrant and funky, the city is the biggest, most cosmopolitan town on the island and it packs in quite a lot of museums, hip cafes and fashion boutiques for its small size. To get an introduction to the country, be sure to visit the National Museum of Greenland, the Katuaq Cultural House as well as Nuuk Art Museum. Backed by a panorama of mountains, the city is perched at the mouth of a giant fiord system, making for easy day trips into the fiords and surrounding nature.

10. Midnight Sun

Every year, the sun does not set from May 25th to July 25th, and it stays visible throughout the entire day and night. The midnight sun, as it is called, is a pretty cool natural phenomenon that everyone needs to experience at least once in their lifetime. June 21, the longest day of the year, is the summer solstice and a national holiday in Greenland. You’ll find locals out basking in the sun or enjoying a barbecue out in nature.”

More views of a glacier.

We had such a fantastic time yesterday afternoon, taking photos and commiserating with passengers over the wonder before our eyes. The captain did a great job rotating the ship to accommodate our viewing. We took tons of photos. In many ways, it was similar to being in Alaska, which we did in 2017, and then to a much more expansive experience, Antarctica, in 2018.

Check out the amazing ice formations where the glacier meets the sea.

Seeing glaciers and icebergs was exciting again, and we loved every moment. Finally, when we moved along, we headed to dinner in the main dining room at another shared table and dined with three lovely women with great stories.

Stunning scenery.

After dinner, we headed to the Rendezvous Bar for live music and to visit with our new friends, Tracy and Sean, whom we’ve had much fun with since the cruise began. They are newlyweds, 30 years younger than us, and quite a fun couple.

Glaciers running toward the sea.

Soon, we’ll be heading to a tender to go ashore to the small town of Nanortalik, Greenland, with less than 1200 residents. Tomorrow, we’ll share photos from that experience.

Be well.

.Photo from ten years ago today, August 23, 2013:

We sure have plenty of tomatoes (Pomodoro) to last through our remaining eight days of cooking before we travel to Africa. Yesterday, I had none, and we have more than we can use today. After Santina left this morning, I discovered this glass bowl filled with tomatoes in the kitchen. We’re well stocked with tomatoes with the substantial batch Lisa picked for us yesterday in the steep yard. For more photos, please click here.

Day 5…Greenland Cruise…Another sea day…Time changes…

The sunset out to sea last night. Tom took this photo using his phone. Excellent, minus the post.

Yesterday, I was tired after many late nights. Last night, we headed to our cabin by 11:00 pm, and shortly after, I was sound asleep and slept through the night. I broke my Fitbit when we were in Norway, dropping it on the ground and breaking the face. It still works for most features, except it doesn’t record sleep correctly, so I have no idea how I am doing sleep-wise.

With the Costco shop card we earned from the last cruise, I will purchase one online at Costco when I have a strong enough signal to do so. The WiFi is good on this ship but not necessarily enough for shopping. Then, I’ll send it to our mailing service in Nevada, where we will be in ten days.

There’s a greater variety of shops on this ship than on the smaller Azamara ship a week ago.

Since we rented a car there, after all, getting a much better price last minute than what we’d found months ago, we’ll head to our mailing service a few days after we arrive and pick up the Fitbit and a few other items awaiting us. The last time we visited Henderson, we didn’t rent a car, and it worked out using Uber, but this time with several tasks to accomplish while there, including renewing our driver’s licenses, having a car will be easier.

Gosh, we’re looking forward to seeing family members when we arrive in the US while we enjoy every day and night on this delightful cruise. It couldn’t be more fun! Again, last night was entertaining. We sat at a shared table with two other couples, one couple from California and the other from England. The conversation was hilarious and enjoyable.

I didn’t see anything I had to have.

After the later dinner, we headed to the Rendezvous Lounge, sat at the bar, and enjoyed the live band until we finally drifted off to bed. When my head hit the pillow, I was asleep and didn’t awaken until around 6:00 am. We’re experiencing a few time changes as we move closer to Greenland. By the time we get to Boston on August 30, we’ll be caught up except for three hours between Boston and Las Vegas.

I like Lancome cosmetics, but they don’t carry the items I may use.

We easily adapt to multiple time changes as we travel the world, especially so when cruising, which is only about one hour a day. Those slow changes make it unnoticeable for us once we change the time on laptops and phones, and of course, the Fitbit is a little trickier to change the time while traveling.

Today is another sea day. At some point, I’ll need to go to the shops aboard the ship and spend our remaining cabin credit of $284. The shops are only open when we are out to sea, on sea days such as today, and at night when we’re on the move once again. We’re so busy socializing at night that I don’t feel like spending time in the shops.

On the last ship, I used our excess cabin credit to purchase a small handbag appropriate for taking to dinner.

Also, over the years, I’ve lost interest in shopping. On cruise ships, prices are so high it’s challenging to find something to buy that doesn’t make me cringe over the ridiculously high price. But, at this point, as we get closer to the cruise end, the supply of products begins to diminish, and yet prices stay the same.

We don’t have any big plans today. We’ll likely play trivia and continue socializing with many wonderful ship passengers. We’ve become friends with couples of all ages and lifestyles, making conversations lively and animated. Tonight, we’ll dine late again, as we did last night, since at noon we’ll go to lunch and have a bite to eat. I’m still doing only lunch and dinner, but the later dinner hour is better after a good-sized lunch.

They carried some fitness watches but not the Fitbit brand that I like. Instead they carried Apple iPhone enabled, which didn’t appeal to me, although they work with Android phones like ours.

In a few minutes, I will walk through the shops to take the photos we’ve shared here today and see what I can buy with our cabin credit.

Tomorrow, we will be in Greenland and sharing photos from our outing.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, August 22, 2013:

There was no post ten years ago on this date due to the internet being down.

Day 4…Greenland Cruise…Sea day…Unusual events on the ship…Cruise food photos

My dish from two nights ago consisted of various seafood on a bed of steamed cabbage.

This morning, the ship’s captain announced that an ill passenger was being airlifted off the ship by a helicopter. Since the helipad was located at the bow of the ship but from our cabin’s location, we couldn’t see it and take a photo. Sadly, a passenger would have to go through such a frightening ordeal.

It’s a terrifying thought to be lifted from a basket (Tom heard the basket was used in this case) onto the helicopter to be airlifted to a hospital somewhere in Iceland. Hopefully, such patients will have suitable travel insurance. Otherwise, the cost can be prohibitive, often hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Next story…a man aboard the ship stole another passenger’s “sea pass” card, which is linked to a credit card in every case. The thief used the woman’s card to make massive purchases in the jewelry shop aboard the ship. When the woman encountered the man she was told was the perpetrator, a fight ensued, and she slapped him.

Cobb salad was made for me on the Azamara cruise only days ago.

The thief and the woman who hit him were removed from the ship. We don’t know what happened after that. But what an odd thing to transpire on a cruise. It’s been interesting to hear the varying opinions on how this occurred and the subsequent results.

Last night, again, we dined at a “sharing” table by heading into the main dining room by 6:00 pm. That’s a bit early for us to eat, but we love sitting at a shared table with other passengers, some we may have met and others new to us. Invariably, In most cases, the conversation is entertaining and lively.

The food on this ship isn’t as spectacular as it was on Azamara, but it’s been fine, and we have no complaints. The menu is less comprehensive than Azamara, but the taste and presentation are good, and the restaurant manager pays special attention to ensure my food is prepared correctly.

The issues I often experience are too much butter on everything and not enough seasoning. For some odd reason, the cooks think seasoning is out of the question for my way of eating, which is hardly the case. Last night, I stressed the importance of reducing the amount of butter I don’t need or want and the addition of seasonings, as long as they don’t contain starch, fillers, or wheat. That simply means spices are in their natural state, not highly processed.

Tom’s chicken rigatoni pasta was reminiscent of his lockdown dinners in India of chicken penne pasta in 2020. He said this version wasn’t as creamy and good as he’d had then.

Today is a sea day. Seating around the ship is limited right now, but we got a good seat at Cafe al Bacio and enjoyed a few cups of their fantastic coffee drinks, sugar-free for me and regular for Tom. It’s a pleasure to sit there when passengers often join us at our table for four minutes to engage in lively chatter. It’s pretty enjoyable.

We are having a great time. We are undoubtedly enjoying this cruise as much as the Azamara. I asked Tom which one he preferred, and he said they are equal in the amount of fun we’re having and the amenities we’re experiencing. I agree. Life is good.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, August 21, 2013:

Three-legged lizard in the house. For more photos, please click here.

Day 3…Greenland cruise…Akureyri, Iceland…Fun at last night’s Silent Disco!.

Tom was squinting his eyes after he took off his glasses for a selfie. We had so much fun at the” Silent Disco.”From the ship’s brochure about  Akureyri, Iceland:

“Akureyri, Iceland, is the country’s second-largest city and one 0f the country’s most important ports and fishing centers. Affectionately known as the capital of North Iceland, it has a cool cafe scene, a growing gourmet movement, and a bustling nightlife that proves this city is more than meets the eye. Soar into the blue sky to discover Grimsey Island, home to only 92 residents and thousands of sea birds. The city’s botanical gardens are famed for their collection of high/latitude plants and are well worth a visit. Explore the ancient lava formations of Dimmuborgir and the geothermal landscape of bubbling mud and hissing fumaroles at Namafjalll Mountain.  The city is best known as the gateway to Iceland’s natural wonders; thundering waterfalls, gurgling lava fields, snow-capped mountains, sweeping fjords, and robust folk culture. Whatever you choose, it’s sure to be an adventure of a lifetime.”

Yeah! We can post photos now with Celebrity’s good WiFi. Our photos from the Azamara cruise will be added once we settle in Nevada on September 1. Thanks for your patience!

View from the ship to the port in Akureyri, Iceland.

Now that I am feeling like myself after two good nights’ sleep, having recovered from our harrowing ordeal in Reykjavik as described in yesterday’s post here and my 24-hour bout of Afib, I am able to sit back and enjoy the remainder of this cruise ending in ten days.

But I won’t rest on my laurels and overdo it. I am drinking lots of water, only sipping on one glass of wine all evening, and not over-exerting myself. Last night, at our favorite shipboard event, the “Silent Disco” in the Ice Bar, we only danced in our seats at the ice bar, rocking to the fun music.

For those of you unfamiliar with a Silent Disco, it is an event on some cruise ships whereby the passengers don chunky headsets with three channels and sound control. With the flip of one of three buttons on the side of the headset, three channels with various types of music can be heard, one by one. However, no sound can be heard in the bar when the music is only broadcast via the headsets.

Silver Seas Silver Moon ship at the port.

It is very funny to watch people dancing but not hear any music while the area is abuzz with laughter and loud conversation over the ear-splitting music blasting into everyone’s ears. The headsets light up in blue, green, or red lights, depending upon which of the three channels one is listening to. Tom and I may “dance” to two different songs. He likes rock and roll and oldies, and I like disco, all of which dominate the three channels. What a blast!

Last night we joined new friends, Laura and Les, for dinner in the main dining room with a couple they were traveling with, Maya and Tom. Our table of six was lively and animated with conversations about our like-minded thoughts and ideas about the state of the world and about world travel. It was a delightful dinner.

Again, today, we won’t be getting off the ship. The small town of Akureyri, Iceland, with a population of 18,191, doesn’t hold enough interest to us to tackle the long walk from the pier. We noticed these small towns don’t have awaiting taxis to drive us around to see a few things, and walking further to find a taxi, doesn’t make sense right now.

The small town of

As it turns out, based on the location of our cabin, and my Fitbit, we’re walking 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, and I don’t feel as if I can do much more right now. It’s a fact of life I have to face now and into the future. Will it impact our lives of travel? We’ll make every effort to engage in events that make us fulfilled and happy.

Right now, on this ship, Celebrity Summit, as well as the last ship, Azamara Journey, we are having a fantastic time socializing with wonderful people and enjoying the onboard activities that we love the most. In a few minutes, we’ll put away our laptops after having had fantastic coffees in Cafe al Bacio on deck 5 and head to the Sky Lounge on deck 11 to play two rounds of trivia from 10:15 to 11:15.

Thereafter, we’ll head to the Oceanview Cafe for lunch (I’m still not eating breakfast) and more delightful conversations with other passengers. It couldn’t be more enjoyable. After lunch, we’ll return to our cabin to pick up the laptops and return to the cafe to wrap up today’s post.

View of the town of Akureyri, Iceland.

We just returned to Cafe al Bacio after a nice lunch at the Oceanview Cafe. It doesn’t look as if we’ll get a nap today, but we’ll be fine. Once we’re done here, we’ll head back to the cabin again to drop off the laptops and head back up to the Sky Lounge for more trivia at 3:30 and 4:00 pm. Then, we’ll change for dinner, and the evening will begin once again. We love the routine we’ve developed while continuing to meet more and more passengers.

Hope your day is going filled with pleasing moments. Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, August 20, 2013:

There was no post uploaded on this date ten years ago today.

Day 13…Norway Cruise…Bodo, Norway…Car rental in Nevada?…

Bodo, Norway
Not our photo. The town of Bodo has many modern buildings against its snow-covered mountains.

Note: I cannot add more photos today, other than the above, due to the poor WiFi signal aboard the ship. Once we arrive in Nevada in early September, we can post our photos from Edinburgh and this cruise. Of course, we’ll continue to try to add photos each day! We are sorry for the inconvenience. Perhaps, when this cruise ends, we can start posting photos while on the upcoming Celebrity cruise in 6 days. We’ll continue taking photos and writing text daily, if possible.

This cruise ends in four days. Have we loved it so far? The food, the people, the ambiance, and the entertainment have been excellent but not necessarily better than we experienced on other cruises. Would we sail on Azamara again? Yes, but only after they improve their WiFi.

My frustration over being unable to upload photos to our daily post has been annoying. It will require me to spend a lot of time when we get to Nevada on September 1, editing and uploading the many photos we’ve yet to post. Although the only things we’ll want to do in Nevada are collect mail at our mailing service, renew our driver’s licenses at the busy DMV in Henderson (we have appointments), and spend time with Richard and a few friends in Las Vegas.

After that, we’ll be able to relax. I aim to get the photos uploaded in the first few days, leaving my mind free to relax and enjoy the time spent in our state of residency. Yesterday, we rented a car in Las Vegas, which we hadn’t planned to do, instead using Uber for our few appointments. But prices had dropped since we last checked several weeks ago.

We were surprised by the lower car rental prices when we arrive on Thursday, August 31, Labor Day weekend. But we were all over it when we could rent a car for nine days for under $400. Formerly, prices were running around $100 daily, which was quite an improvement.

Now, as this cruise winds down, we feel more like relaxing and winding down for our next adventure, the cruise to Greenland. Today, we’re doing laundry in the provided washers and dryers down the corridor from our cabin. They even provide laundry pods, all at no charge, which is an excellent perk for us instead of paying for laundry.

On the upcoming Celebrity cruise, with our Captain’s Club rewards, we are entitled to two laundry bags during the entire cruise. We’ll likely have clothes to wash once we arrive in Nevada, but we’ll figure that out. For us, laundry is always a concern when we don’t have a home we’re returning to at the end of any cruise or tour. Of course, a washer is a priority at all of our holiday homes, although a dryer is not.

Today, our ship is docked in the village of Bodo, described as follows from Azamara’s brochure:

“Bodo, nestled on Norway’s northern coast, offers a captivating blend of natural wonders and modern charm. Embrace the midnight sun during summer and witness, witness the Northern Lights in winter, and explore scenic landscapes. With a rich maritime history, vibrant arts scene, and access to Lofoten Islands, Bodo is a gateway to Arctic adventures and a destination of captivating allure.”

Last night, we had a fun evening in the Den (Spirits Bar) when the cruise director and his assistant provided delightful entertainment. However, we drifted off to our cabin by 10:00 pm to watch a movie and relax, ending in a great night’s sleep.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, August 13, 2013:

I read this book when it came out, which made me acutely aware of not sitting too much during our world travels. For the story, please click here.

Day 9…Norway Cruise…Tromso, Norway…Why is Norway called, “The Land of the Midnight Sun?”…The Troll Fjords…

Not our photo. The Troll Fjords in Norway.

Note: I can only add the above photo due to the poor WiFi signal aboard the ship. Once we arrive in Nevada in early September, we can post our photos from Edinburgh and this cruise. Of course, we’ll continue to try to add photos each day! We are sorry for the inconvenience. Perhaps, when this cruise ends, we can start posting photos while on the upcoming Celebrity cruise in 9 days. We’ll continue taking photos and writing text daily, if possible.

It’s been odd for me to prepare posts without photos for the past several days. I am looking forward to arriving at a new location that will allow me to catch up, adding the corresponding photos to the posts, and listing the links for those who like to see photos to return to each post and catch up easily. It will be a one-click process.

Many have written and asked if we’ll see the Northern Lights, and with much disappointment, we discovered early on that we will not. Norway is known as “The Land of the Midnight Sun,” as described below from this site:

“What is the Midnight Sun?

The Midnight Sun is a natural phenomenon that occurs north of the Arctic Circle at 66º33′N during the summer months: beyond this latitude, the sun never completely sets below the horizon. Why is that? As the Earth rotates on a tilted axis relative to the sun, the North Pole is angled towards the sun during summer. This also means the further north you go, the higher in the sky the sun is at night. As a sizable portion of its territory, located above the Arctic Circle, Norway is well known as the Land of the Midnight Sun. The Midnight Sun is the same sun we see during the day! However, it’s something you must see for yourself. The reddish yellow light is something that will mesmerize you, like a never-ending sunset…

Where can I see the Midnight Sun?

Northern Norway is probably the best place to experience the Midnight Sun. TromsøSenja, the Lyngenfjord region, and the Lofoten islands are a must-see during the Arctic summer. Imagine it’s 11 pm, and you’re sailing through the fjords of Norway, the golden light caresses your face while you enjoy the beautiful scenery passing before your eyes. For the more adventurous ones, the Midnight Sun is also best experienced from the top of a mountain. You can go to Sommarøy, the “summer island” and the world’s first time-free zone (people officially asked the government to abolish civil time, understandable when the Midnight Sun gives you the impression of endless days!), and hike to unique viewpoints overlooking the Caribbean-like beaches. Around Tromsø, an all-time favourite place to enjoy the Midnight Sun is Ersfjord and its dramatic scenery

When can I see the Midnight Sun in Norway?

The Arctic is truly special during the Midnight Sun season, which basically runs from mid-May to late July. Depending on where you find yourself above the Arctic Circle, the Midnight Sun period might differ: the further north you go, the longer it lasts! That’s why Svalbard, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, has the longest period of Midnight Sun: 4 months!”

I suppose this is somewhat of a trade-off for being unable to see the Northern Lights. In any case, we’re enjoying Norway, and today, we’ll disembark the ship to walk around the village for Tromso, as described below in the ship’s brochure:

“Tromso offers a captivating blend of nature and culture. Explore the mesmerizing Northern Lights, embark on thrilling Arctic adventures, and indulge in local delicacies. This vibrant city with its warm-hearted locals awaits, promising an unforgettable experience in the Arctic wonderland. Discover the magic of Tromso and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.”

With a map of Tromso in hand, it appears there is plenty for us to see when we walk through the quaint little village. Our ship arrives in Tromso in an hour, and we’ll be getting off to see the attractions that appeal to us the most.

Tonight, we’ll leave the ship again around 7:00 pm to head out on buses to a venue where we’ll be entertained by local artists, returning to the ship around 11:00 pm. Azamara refers to these off-the-ship entertainment venues as Az-Amazing. Cute, eh?

Last night, we sailed through the fjords for an exciting adventure, during which we took many photos to share in the future. The fun continues.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, August 9, 2013:

Common pipistrelle, Pipistrellus pipistrellus, common house bat.  I guess this is nothing compared to the bats awaiting us in Africa. For more, please click here.

Day 5…Norway Cruise…Olden, Norway…Cruise demographics…Dancing while “rocking and rolling”…

Note: I cannot add one photo due to the poor WiFi signal aboard the ship. Once we arrive in Nevada in early September, we can post our photos from Edinburgh and this cruise. Of course, we’ll continue to try to add photos each day! We are sorry for the inconvenience. Perhaps, when this cruise ends, we can start posting photos while on the upcoming Celebrity cruise in 13 days. We’ll continue taking photos and writing text daily, if possible.

Again, this morning, I attempted to download one photo from our main page Alas, no such luck. Although, as we write here now, situated comfortably in the Mosaic Cafe on Deck 5 with my big mug filled to the brim with delicious iced coffee. (Tom just finished his caramel macchiato) and we’ve already been off the ship to see the village of Olden, Norway.

The ship’s brochure describes Olden as follows:

“Olden, Norway, a picturesque village encircled by awe-inspiring fjords and glaciers. Surrounded by natural beauty, it beckons travelers to explore the enchanting Briksdal Glacier and immerse themselves in Norwegian traditions. With warm hospitality and outdoor adventures, Olden is a captivating destination for nature lovers and culture enthusiasts alike.”

We realize these ship-generated comments about each location are becoming redundant, but with the poor WiFi signal on the ship, any help I can get to complete a post is worthwhile.

This morning, after breakfast, we boarded one of the ship’s  lifeboats, used as tenders to get us from the bay to the port, which only has a dock sufficient  for one cruise ship, which was already occupied with the Costa Fascinosa, in the bay as described:

“Olden is a village and urban area in the municipality of Stryn in Vestland county, Norway …Olden by the shores of Oldebukta, a terminal bay in Nordfjorden.”

Once we arrived on land, we took a shuttle bus to the center of town. But, the small village had little that appealed to us. There were a few tourist shops and tiny cafes, but nothing prompted us to stay long. We took several photos, and in no time, we were back on the bus and headed back to the tender and then the ship.

Upon our return, it was quiet on the ship, with so few passengers on this smaller ship. Stephen, the cruise director, sent me some information on the ship’s demographics for this specific cruise which stated as follows in this email he sent a few days ago:

“Hi, Jessica and Tom,

Lovely to meet you yesterday, and I found some time today to poke around the website – very cool and impressive! Looks like you’ve had a lifetime of adventures 

I’ve attached a breakdown of the demographics for this voyage to use as you’d like. Let me know if there’s anything else you would want – metrics or basic ship information.

The average age for this voyage is 70 and probably a touch higher than our typical, which I would put around 67 – itinerary and length of voyage always play a factor; longer and more unique itineraries tend to pull in a more experienced crowd.

The current guest count is 562 after a few late arrivals, and the max capacity is just under 700 – 694 if I recall correctly.
Fun fact – the Journey is one of 8 identical ships originally part of Renaissance cruise lines that were only around for a couple of years in the early 2000s. The ships were numbered R1-R8, and the Journey was R6. Azamara now has 4 of that fleet, and Oceania operates the other 4.

I’m sure I’ll see you around more, so feel free to ask anything else!


Stephen Millett / Cruise Director”

We appreciate Stephen’s quick response to our inquiry and this interesting information. It’s been lovely sailing on a smaller ship of this size with its small number of passengers.

Last night after dinner, we experienced some rough seas that continued well into the evening. We were seated in a lovely bar, The Living Room, while the live band played a wide array of current music and many oldies. The ship was rocking and rolling, but we decided to get up and dance anyway. It was quite fun and funny as we hung onto each other while dancing to keep from tipping over as the ship rocked and rolled during the rough seas.

After the band stopped around 11:00 pm, we had little interest in heading to bed. We returned to the Spirits Bar, where we ran into Cheryl, John, and several other couples we chatted with for a while. We didn’t get back to our cabin until 1:00 am! We are having such fun we hardly worry about getting to bed early.

Although we’re carefully monitoring how much we drink, I continue to be thrilled not to have a headache and facial pain for five days in a row. Wow! This is so exciting; I feel like dancing! Duh, which we’re also doing!

Be well.

..Photo from ten years ago, August 5, 2013:

Here are some deli meats we’ve purchased in Pescia, Italy. We’ve found the beef to be tough here, instead, eating mostly chicken, pork, and fish. Notice the price of the rare roast beef on the right-center at Euro $34.90, which translated to US $46.31 per gram (less than a pound). We skipped that item! For more photos, please click here.

Day 2…Norway Cruise…Bad WiFi…Sorry for late post…

Note: Due to the poor WiFi signal aboard the ship, I am unable to add a single photo today. Once we arrive in Nevada in early September. we’ll be able to post our photos from  Edinburgh and this cruise. Of course, we’ll continue to try to add photos each day! We are sorry for the inconvenience. Perhaps, when this cruise ends, we’ll be able to start posting photos while on the upcoming Celebrity cruise in 16 days. We’ll continue to take photos and write text each day, if possible.

We felt bad we couldn’t post when we boarded the ship yesterday afternoon, although we’d signed up for the $319 unlimited internet package for one device. We usually can get a package for two devices, but on this particular cruise line, they didn’t have more reasonably priced packages for two, and we didn’t want to spend another $319 for a second device.

Besides, the signal is so weak that spending more on another device makes no sense. As a result, we’re switching back and forth between our laptops and phones as needed. This morning was the first time I got a sufficient signal to get online on my laptop when I couldn’t get into the editing site for our blog on my phone.

As a result of these difficulties, I may not be able to post when we arrive at some ports of call when the signal is always at its worst. If you don’t see a post, please do not be alarmed. It simply means we aren’t able to post. Please know we will post as soon as we are able.

Once, we left the Bay Hotel in Burntisland with our excellent driver Mo, accompanied by his lovely wife, Shaziia Hassen, our tour guide. At the same time, MO manuevered many narrow and winding roads in the center of Edinburgh; we felt excited to finally see some of the highlights of the stunning city of Edinburgh, rich in history and culture.

Mo proved to be a fantastic driver, thoughtful of our wishes as to what we wanted to see, and, along with Shazia, made our few-hour experience a pure delight. If and when you ever come to Edinburgh, we highly recommend him. He can be reached at, phone: 00447931772188.

Mo stated he’d be happy to arrange regular transportation and, if desired, tours of the fantastic city of Edinburgh and its surrounding areas. He explained how he has embarked on a few day-long trips with tourists who wanted to travel far from Edinburgh.

The conversation flowed easily with Mo and Shazia, and by the time we were at the pier, they invited us to stay with them at their home in Edinburgh the next time we came to Scotland. Also, they have a home in Pakistan, and they offered this to us as well. What wonderful people. Who knew we’d connect so well with our Uber driver and his lovely wife?

Our dear friend Don in Hawaii, whom we met along with his beloved wife and my precious friend Kathy in Marloth Park in 2013, has been ill for some time. Don had mentioned he attended Fettes College in his youth, located in the heart of Edinburgh, and we thought it would be fun to drive by there and send photos to him.

Unfortunately, the college was closed, and we weren’t able to enter the gates, but we took a few exterior photos and sent them to him and Kathy yesterday afternoon when we had a signal for a few minutes. Also, they suggested we visit Edinburgh Castle, but we never ventured into the castle. We had a schedule to follow to get to the port of Leith on time to board the ship at our designated time.

Also, the venues in Edinburgh were packed with tourists since there were two festivals upcoming in the next few days, and Edinburgh was more packed than ever with worldwide tourists and visitors from throughout the UK. The quaint and narrow streets were filled with people shopping, browsing, eating, and drinking at endless shops, restaurants, and pubs. What a delight to behold!

We could see a lot more from the car than we would have had been on foot. Also, with my difficulty walking long distances, this was a perfect solution for us with limited time to get to the pier. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Once we arrived at the port of Leith, we exchanged warm hugs and goodbyes with Mo and Shazia. Moments later, our bags were whisked away, and we could check-in for the cruise in minutes. We were handed two glasses of sparking wine, which we never drank when it was too sweet for me, and Tom doesn’t like anyway.

In a matter of less than an hour, our bags were at our cabin. We had a few drinks by the pool and ran into the lovely couple we met at the hotel, Cheryl and John, and ultimately had an enjoyable dinner with them last night in the main dining room.

Finally, by about 10:00 pm, we returned to our cabin. We’d unpacked earlier in the day and were thrilled to be all set and organized. The cabin is small, with the tiniest bathroom and shower we’ve ever seen, but we are okay. I will take photos of the ship and share them here in the next few days. Today and tomorrow, we’ll focus on posting the photos from our time in Edinburgh.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, August 2, 2013:

Concerned about maintaining good dental health, we have always used these Brushpicks, which have been instrumental in reducing tooth decay and gum disease. They can be purchased at some pharmacies and also on Amazon. For more, please click here.

Day 2 in Scotland…Sightseeing and sail away tomorrow…

Tom’s Sunday Roast of roast pork loin, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes, carrots, and au jus. He said it was delicious.

We haven’t gone sightseeing since we arrived in Scotland less than 48 hours ago. We got caught up on sleep, including a few naps, and feel great. Tomorrow our trusty Uber driver Mo will pick us up in the morning, and we will go sightseeing in Edinburgh until our scheduled time to board the ship at 1:30 pm at the port of Leith.

I had asked for the dressing on the side, so they took my plate away and returned with the plain prawns with the sauce on the side.

Since our hotel is over an hour from Edinburgh, it made sense to go sightseeing this way. Plus, the round trip cost to the hotel using an Uber is over US $260 with tips. This way, if we go sightseeing before boarding the ship, we save hundreds of dollars and hours of driving time.

Sure, we could have booked a hotel in Edinburgh, but we hadn’t budgeted over $1500 for the waiting time before the cruise, which was very expensive. Living this life on a budget has limitations, and we must make practical decisions along the way.

I gave Tom my chips, but he didn’t have room for them after eating Sunday Roast.

Always booking our preferred balcony cabins with perks on both cruises (as always) was more important to us. Besides, after almost 11 years of world travel, we have seen more historic castles and buildings than we ever imagined possible, especially in The UK and Europe.

But tomorrow, we’ll see the highlight with Mo driving us through Edinburgh. We will post those photos on the first few days of the cruise and then start posting cruise photos from there on.

Horizons restaurant in the Bay Hotel.

At the end of the first cruise, 16 days later, we will fly from Amsterdam to Reykjavik, Iceland, to embark on the next two weeks’ cruise with one overnight stay required. We’d already done an extensive tour in Reykjavik several years ago, thus we won’t be sightseeing there. A month from now, we’ll be disembarking in Boston, where we will stay one night to see my cousin, Phyllis.

Then we fly to Nevada for nine nights and then to Minnesota for one month before leaving for Ecuador. It’s just the right amount of being busy for us, especially having fun times with family members and friends in both locations.

An antique double-decker bus in Burntisland.

I have managed to keep my computer running on its battery reserve by not using it much to prepare the post, instead doing most of it on my phone. If I observe it carefully, I can get through today.

But tomorrow, I won’t post until after we get on the ship, and I can charge it for a while. It only takes about an hour to fully charge it. That will give us plenty of time to get unpacked and settled.

The side of the double-decker bus.

So, hang tight, dear readers. We will have plenty of photos coming up in the next few days and after that.

Today is rainy and overcast, which is not unusual for Scotland. We’re actually glad we don’t have plans today. But tomorrow, rain or shine, we’ll be on the move. It’s exciting, and also we are enjoying our time at this lovely hotel and simply being together.

Sign on the side of the historic double-decker bus.

Still…no headache, no face pain. Thrilled beyond belief!!!

Be well!

Photo from ten years ago today, July 31, 2013:

The opposite side of the archway in a historic building in Lucca, Tuscany, above as we entered the Piazza Napoleone square that housed government offices in these unique structures. For more photos, please click here.