It’s June 6th for us today!…How unusual!…Unbelievable entertainment!…Totally unexpected…

As soon as our ship docked at the pier in the port of Suva, Fiji, the marching band began to play welcoming us.
Note:  For all of our non-Australian readers, please note that many English words are spelled differently in Australia. In respect to their use of the English language, any information we provide from other sites will contain the Australian spelling which we will not change to the Americanized version.
 Last night we crossed the International Dateline and it’s now June 6th. Plus, there was an additional two-hour time change occurring overnight. When we awoke this morning the time difference was 22 hours.
As a result, sleeping last night was a bit confusing. We went to bed around midnight when it was about to become 10:00 pm. As it turned out I didn’t get much sleep, although Tom did well for seven hours.
We just docked at the pier in Suva, Fiji in a highly industrial area. We’d considered taking a private tour but after checking online to mixed reviews regarding safety and possible scams with taxi drivers, we decided to go out on foot. 
We appreciate the welcome reception.
Once the ship arrived at the pier, it was evident that going out on foot wasn’t a good option with nothing but industrial buildings in the area and the falling rain. Living on two different islands in Fiji starting in a little over three months, we decided to save the sightseeing until we’re here which will be more sensible and sensible.
 Yesterday, we attended a live show with the world-renowned performer, Danny Elliott from Australia. After missing his first show a few nights ago when we were having fun at our dinner table, we were anxious to see what all the hoopla was all about.

We’ve never seen such a reception at a port. It makes us feel good about our upcoming time in Fiji.

As we mentioned in the past, from time to time, when we find that a venue, an artist or performer, a restaurant or hotel is exceptional, we like to highlight them in a post, as we’re doing today for performer Danny Elliott.

After watching the hour-long matinee, we are convinced the hoopla was warranted for this fine performer. He ran out of CDs during his first show. 

We were glad we hadn’t decided to go on a ship sponsored tour.

As a result with our now growing Australian readership, we decided to post the links to Danny’s website enabling our readers to easily find where they can read more about him, watch a video and order his CDs. (We are in no manner involved in the sale of any of his products).

More band players, standing in the rain.

Please click here for a free video of highlights of Danny’s performances.

Please click here for the link to Danny’s website where CDs may be purchased.

“Danny Elliott was awarded the 31st “Mo” Award for the “Peter Allen Australian Variety Entertainer of the Year”. This is the premier award for various artists in Australia and is proudly sitting alongside Danny’s other “Mo” Awards for Versatile Variety and Vocal Instrumental Performer received in previous years. Danny has also been recognized by the “ACE” Awards and has received two gongs for versatile variety performers.

Watching Danny Elliott play one instrument after another during his high-impact performances, it’s not hard to believe that his natural talent for music has been evident from a very early age.

Last night, we attended an invitation-only party on the 9th deck by the indoor pool.

When a pre-school teacher discovered a distinct aptitude for music in four-year-old Danny his parents quickly helped the budding musician explore his creative impulses with piano lessons. Then taking up the flute at just eight years old, Danny has spent years expanding his musical expertise and now plays more than 12 instruments.

Danny first performed for an audience as a teenager at a local talent quest. His unique ability impressed the organizers and the young musician quickly became a favorite mainstay on the talent quest circuit. Leaving high school to focus on his promising music career, Danny spent time developing his repertoire and was soon being booked by local clubs for his acclaimed solo show.

Passengers sitting around the pool enjoying the party.

But his real break came when 23-year-old Danny was signed to play aboard the world-famous cruise ship, the QEII. Infamous for its cultured, demanding audience, Danny’s unique ability to play successive instruments in a single show drew standing ovations from the tough crowds and glowing reviews from the ship’s entertainment director.”

Once again, we’re seated in the Schooner Bar with friends, Reene and Jeff at our side. The guys are chatting while I’m busy writing. Today will be a low key day, hanging out with new friends, attending shows, and playing trivia games. 

A ferry boat going to other nearby islands.

In five days, we’ll disembark to continue our years-long journey to everywhere. Please stop back for more with many new photos yet to share.

It’s Saturday here. Happy day to those of you where it’s Friday!

Today, we’re posting two “year ago” photos, one for June 5th which we missed entirely, and the other for today, our June 6th. Confusing.

                                                                  June 5, 2014 photo:

     
View of the house we rented in Madeira, Portugal which we loved for the two and a half months we spent on the island. We took this shot when we walked the neighborhood’s steep hills.  For details from that date, please click here.

  June 6, 2014 photo:

Having the opportunity to purchase this entire tuna from the fish truck that drove past our house in Madeira was a memorable event.We shared the fish with Gina, our friend and property manager, and Judite, our cleaning person. Please click here for details.

 

A glorious morning…Three days and counting…

Goodbye view! We’ll always remember or we can always check here to be reminded of how much we’ve enjoyed this resort and beach.

After a night of fitful sleep, I awoke at 4:44, wide awake, thoughts running through my mind.  “When does the “motor” stop running?” I asked myself, longing to go back to sleep.

 The gentle sound of the sea at night has been soothing.

Picking up my smartphone-with-no-contract from under my pillow while putting on my spectacles-for-old-age on my eyes, I continued reading the Kindle app where I left off last night. Mindless reading. Not necessarily worthy of mention.

This is the beach we walked almost every day in Belize. We’ll miss this.

Fortunately, it was mindless enough that I dozed off to sleep for yet another hour, dreaming about what I had read.  Oh, yes, clutter my mind with mindless drivel so I don’t go there…my own worrisome thoughts as we near the end of our time in Belize.

As I lay there the second time, contemplating arising, a refreshing thought hit my brain.  No worrisome thoughts are necessary!  I’m a girl (albeit an old girl) that will be cruising for the next two-plus months (except for the 13 nights in Dubai and two separate hotel nights in Barcelona between cruises) and I’ll be looking forward to the following:

1.  No bed to make
2.  No meals to cook or grocery shopping
3.  No dishes to wash
4.  No laundry (perhaps a little hand washing)
5.  No cleaning (only tidying. Tom picks up after himself)
6.  At least one fun dress-up night a week
7.  The ocean around us with breathtaking photo ops
8.  Socializing if we choose, or not
9.  Three pools at which to lounge
10. Movie theatres inside and outdoors (we love movies)
11. Live entertainment if we so choose
12. Educational seminars
13. Ports to visit
14. Tom can drink and I don’t have to drive home
15. Easy access to a fully-equipped fitness center

These are the key points that appeal to me. For Tom, he’s enjoys all the above, except for the health club.  These points drove my mind to a place of imagination.  Imagine, we were living somewhere and were preparing to go on six cruises, almost back to back.  I’d be jumping up and down with excitement.  Tom would be doing his usual smile, enthusiasm tempered with no apparent jumping up and down.

Caribbean Sea, thanks for sharing with us!

Can I let go of all of the things that can go wrong in the six hours from leaving here Tuesday morning at 8:00 am until we’re aboard the ship by approximately 2:00 PM? Only six hours, I keep reminding myself. Only six hours. 

“Get a grip!” I tell myself, “Get a grip!”

 

We’ve got transportation plus booked two more cruises!

Yesterday morning, we returned the golf cart to Captain Jak’s Resort in Placencia Village. At a cost of $1200 a month after doling out $5000 US for the next two months to live in the fabulous Laru Beya Resort, there is no way we’d consider paying $1200 a month for a golf cart rental. Cars are much more. 

We choked to pay the $350 for the week we had it. However, in essence, we never would’ve found this place without it. It proved to serve us well.

The golf cart rentals at our resort are $35 US for 12 hours and of course, $70 for 24 hours (no deal here).  This morning I asked if they’d give us a special rate for four hours once a week enabling us to go to the grocery store and out to eat.  The lack of enthusiasm indicated it was an unlikely option. 

Compared to our past experiences traveling to Mexico, it appears that “negotiating” is less likely in Belize. As we continue our travels we’ll surely discover that each country has its own demeanor as to dealing with “tourists” in their continued efforts to “make a deal.”

Dropping off the golf cart left us five miles south of our resort.  We could walk around the little town for two hours to catch the next bus at 2:30 for $1 US each or grab a cab for a total of $10 US (for both of us). 

Finding our way to the famed long sidewalk along the beach, we walked its entire length.  See quote below:

“Aside from the beach, the main attraction in Placencia is the world-renowned main-street sidewalk, cited in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the world’s most narrow street.” It’s 24 inches wide in spots and runs north–south through the sand for over a mile. Homes, hotels, Guatemalan goods shops, craft makers, and tour guide offices line both sides.”

An hour later, after the long enjoyable walk along the sidewalk in almost 90 degrees and a massive amount of humidity, we decided it made sense to grab a cab back to Laru Beya, rather than ride the bus.  It was time to build a relationship with a cab driver.  We lucked out (so we think thus far) when Estevan responded to our taxi hail.  

Along the ride, it took no time for me to chime in and ask him how much he’d charge for a once-a-week trip to the grocery store in Seine Bight, which would include: picking us up at the resort, driving to the store, waiting for us while we shopped (we promised not more than 20-30 minutes), then driving us back to the resort. 

Estevan hesitated to give us a price.  He asked us to suggest what we’d pay.  No problem.  We offered him $10 US for the round trip, including the wait.  He agreed without hesitation.  Beginning this Wednesday at 9:00 am, continuing every Wednesday for the next two months, Estevan will arrive to take us grocery shopping, out to breakfast or lunch, or any other outings we may desire during his daytime shift!  We’re relieved.

There are four restaurants within walking distance.  We’ll alternate these from time to time preferring to cook our own meals in our upcoming (as of Sunday) well-appointed granite kitchen, dining at our own table, and chairs on our outdoor veranda about 20-30 feet from the ocean.  

We can’t wait to cook our own meals  The restaurants, all loaded with ambiance, offering well-prepared local flavors, serve tiny portions.  Neither Tom nor I snack between meals and enjoy hearty portions when we do dine.  Each night after dinner, we find ourselves still hungry, wishing we had access to something we can eat.  It’s not easy here in Belize with limited foodstuffs in the minuscule grocery stores, most of which are more like a 7-11 than an actual grocery store.

Today, we spent the entire afternoon by the pool. The sky was clear, the humidity down and the temperature was a paltry 82. Perfect! We met a lively Canadian couple by the pool, yakked up a storm, and are meeting up with them to go to Robert’s Grove buffet tonight.  

On the cruise ships, we enjoyed meeting couple after couple.  With our past tumultuous week, we hardly felt like socializing. Now, as we get ready to move to our villa tomorrow morning, we’re feeling all the more relaxed and at ease. 

We officially booked the two cruises for October and November 2014.  The details on the first of the two is on yesterday’s post. 

Here are the details on the second cruise:


FastDeal
25425
7 nights departing November 9, 2014 on
Norwegian’s Norwegian Epic
Brochure Inside $1,799
Our Inside $599
You Save 67%
Brochure Oceanview $2,399
Our Oceanview $829
You Save 65%
Brochure Balcony $2,399
Our Balcony $829
You Save 65%
Brochure Suite $2,699
Our Suite $979
You Save 64%
The prices shown are US dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. They include port charges but do not include airfare or (where applicable) airport or government taxes or fees.
ITINERARY
 

DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Sun Nov 9 Miami, FL 4:00pm
Mon Nov 10 At Sea
Tue Nov 11 At Sea
Wed Nov 12 Ocho Rios, Jamaica 8:00am 5:00pm
Thu Nov 13 Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands 8:00am 4:00pm
Fri Nov 14 Cozumel, Mexico 10:00am 6:00pm
Sat Nov 15 At Sea
Sun Nov 16 Miami, FL 8:00am

We upgraded to the Mini-Suite for both of these cruises, giving us a sofa, a desk in about 20 more square feet.  In a cabin, 20 square feet makes a substantial difference.  The additional cost to upgrade was $75 per person per cruise, well worth it for the total 21 days at sea.  We’ll stay on the same ship, in the same cabin enjoying extra amenities which we will share with you as they occur.

(We love cruising. The little cabins don’t bother us at all, easily maneuvering around each other. I’m not afraid t of rolling seas and noises anymore. Tom never was. We love the food, meeting new people every night, the entertainment, the classes, the movie theatres, and the pools. I love the health clubs and health orientated classes. We love it that neither of us had a moment of seasickness, even in rough waters. We love cruising together.)

It’s possible that the prices on these two cruises along with our remaining six cruises could drop over the next 21 months. If that occurs up to 90 days before we sail, we’ll receive the reduced prices. 

However, it’s our responsibility to check to see if the prices have gone down informing our cruise guy, Joaquin, who will immediately give us a credit emailing us a new “cruise confirmation” indicating the new pricing.  We’ve saved $1400 so far by watching the prices! 

Time to get ready for our “double date” tonight.  This couple is one floor above our new (as of tomorrow morning) villa.  We’ll be neighbors for the remaining five days of their trip.  They’ve rented a fishing boat for a day and invited us to join them. Our luck, we’ll catch a sailfish and have no wall on which to hang it.

Ah, the joys of being homeless.

Apprehensive about the four hour bumpy ride to Placencia…

Yesterday, I was feeling a little apprehensive about tomorrow’s upcoming trip to Placencia, Belize. The almost four hour ride through the mountains on bumpy dirt roads with one way bridges tends to make me slightly anxious. Tom, as usual, is totally at ease. I wish he were driving.  He’s the safest driver I know and he’s been on plenty of one way bridges in his 42 years on the railroad!

With the driver picking us up in Belize City at 12:30 for a quick trip to the FedEx store to drop off the XCom Global WiFi, we’ll be on our way.  We’re bringing along our four Contigo mugs filled with ice which usually keeps for hours, one quart of pre-made Crystal Light iced tea and one quart of purified water.

In a reply email from the owner of Little Cottage in Placencia we’ll be about two miles from a grocery store or restaurant. She suggested we stop along the way to buy some food for dinner until we figure out a form of transportation to get around.  Car rentals are $250 a day or more. 

Golf cart rentals may be our best option.  We can rent one for about $27 for three hours.  We figured we’d do this at least twice a week so we can go grocery shopping and I can work out at Robert’s Grove Hotel gym  ($39 a month). 
If we get the golf cart one morning a week, we can grocery shop and go out to breakfast.  The next time, we can get it in the afternoon, grocery shop again and then go out to dinner.  We’ll figure it out.  Also, I sent a request to a local vehicle rental company for a two month rate for a golf cart. They responded saying they’ll give us a price by tomorrow.

Norman, the owner’s property manager, will drive us anywhere for a nominal amount for gas and his time. We can ask Norman to take us sightseeing and to further explore the area. Placencia is far from the tourist hustle and bustle which is exactly what we’ve wanted although, it does have a busy downtown area with shops, activities, restaurants and services. 

The lifestyle in Belize will be very different from that which we’ve known and loved: no TV, limited Internet (the cottage has wireless but its unpredictable), no transportation round the clock. We’ll adapt.

Linda says the water in potable but “it may take time for our systems to get used to it.”
Does that mean we’ll get sick? It might be best to use bottled water. Hopefully, we’ll be able to eat uncooked vegetables. Life without salad is hard when eating my restrictive diet. Then again, when we travel to Africa in seven months, lettuce will be out of the picture entirely, along with any uncooked vegetables.

Nurse Marsha from the Travel Clinic in Minnesota firmly stated that we should use only bottled or boiled water for everything and tototally avoid any uncooked vegetables, including lettuce. 

Two schools of thought here.  Shall we bite the bullet and use the tap water, allowing our systems to “toughen up” even if it means a few uncomfortable days?  Or, shall we avoid it altogether as suggested by Nurse Marsha? I guess we’ll decide this tomorrow when we arrive. 

On our second week’s dose of the malaria drug, we’ve relived that neither of us is experiencing any side effects so far.

It’s now Monday morning. We’ve had breakfast and we’re sitting outside on the shop on the deck off the restaurant each of us reclining on two comfy sofas, a strong warm ocean breeze swirling around us, a fresh glass of iced tea in our mugs. 

Soon, we’ll go back to our cabin to begin packing, much easier this time since we’d only opened
a few of the many bags when we began this cruise one week ago today.

Today, we’ll buy two of the soft beach towels for sale on the ship at $28 each, well worth the price and two bottles of Courvoisier for Tom, liters at $35 each, a good duty free price. Belize allows tourists tobring one bottle of alcohol per person in the country.

The ship is swaying due to high winds but after 23 days at sea, we barely notice it. Could we
have developed “sea legs?” We both feel that we could cruise indefinitely.
Perhaps, down the road we’ll encounter a great last minute price on a “world cruise” that lasts for 120 days or more. 

Once situated in Placencia we’ll write a review and comparison of the two cruises we’ve experienced thus far, the Celebrity Century and the Celebrity Equinox. Definitely not experts after only two experiences, we’d love to document our observations while it is still fresh in our minds,
coming back later to see, after six more cruises, if we’ve changed our opinions.

We won’t be writing here tomorrow as it will be a long travel day. By Wednesday, we’ll update you on the process of getting off the ship, our perspective of Belize City, the four-hour drive on the bumpy road and photos of our new home, a cottage on the beach in Placencia.
__________________________________________
Tom to the rescue…

The live show begins at 9:00 PM each night in the Equinox Theatre.  In order to get a good seat, it’s necessary to arrive at least 30 minutes before the show  begins. With the majority of the ship’s passengers 65 and over, it’s not unusual to see folks scrounging for seats as early as an hour before the show.

Seating in the Silhouette Dining Room each night between 6:30 and 7:00 PM, we’ve found we have time to enjoy dinner, the companionship of our “table mates” and a three course dinner with time to scurry off to the theatre for the show.

While comfortably seated on bar stools with cushioned backs at a high bar top table, we’ve had a “bird’s eye view” of the hundreds of passengers picking out where and with whom to sit. In itself, that’s been entertaining. “People watching” aboard ship can be quite an adventure.

Saturday night, we couldn’t help but notice an adorable couple, possibly in their 90’s, as they managed to find two seats to their liking. We laughed. Hopefully, that could be us in many years.

Yesterday afternoon, while cloudy and drizzling while out to sea, we decided to go to the 2:00 PM movie in the Celebrity Central Theatre, for the showing of “My Week with Marilyn”. Once again, arriving early to ensure a good seat, we perused the room for yet another 30 minutes of “people watching.” 

As the lights went dark, suddenly from out of nowhere, Tom bolted out of his aisle seat so fast, I didn’t know what happened.  There on the floor lie a little old man, of the couple we’d seen on Saturday. He apparently tripped while maneuvering to his seat in the darkened room and Tom with his hawk-like ability to scan the room, moved so quickly to assist him, it was
startling.
He reach the old man about 15 feet away in but two seconds flat, checking out his condition as he lay completely flat on the floor, helping him to arise after he insisted that he was uninjured.  Thanking Tom profusely for his prompt assistance, he was able to sit through the entire movie.  
When the movie ended, Tom again, dashed to the old man to see how he was feeling asking if he’d like further assistance. 
This incident, luckily without injury, reminded me of how safe I feel with Tom at my side. No matter my apprehension or fear, he’s at my side offering loving reassurance and comfort no matter the situation. His quick responses and ability to “think on his feet” put my mind at ease knowing he will be at my side through any “out of the box” experiences we may have along the way.
So… bumpy, mountainous, narrow road with single lane bridges, here we come! I’m ready for
you!

Scary night aboard ship!…

 

View as we sailed away from the Panama Canal area with numerous ships awaiting beyond the breakwater for their upcoming transit through the canal.

Most likely, cruising is one of the safest modes of travel. 

We haven’t given our safety a second thought until last night during dinner as the ship was literally rolling back and forth, our glasses tinkling at our dining table nearly splashing out their contents. 

Tom and I glanced at each other with a look of uncertainty. We shrugged, returning to yet another enjoyable evening, again sitting next to a new couple engaging in lively animated conversation.  They had cruised many times and had traveled the world extensively.  It was reassuring to hear they’d been to and loved many of the places we plan to visit in the near future.

A discussion ensued concerning our upcoming
cruise to Dubai in May 2013 which they had the pleasure of experiencing a few years ago. This particular cruise offers several excursions in which we’ll surely partake: the Great Pyramids; the Sphinx and Giza.  They advised against paying additional fees to actually venture inside the Great Pyramids, saying that it was a waste of money with the space too small, too commercialized, and outrageously hot.  We take their advice seriously.

We welcome any advice from our readers worldwide as we share places we’ve yet to visit or while we’re staying in a particular area.  Please suggest restaurants, markets, local foods, places to visit and people to see.  Also, if you have knowledge of medical resources/doctors in the area, let us know.  We can’t be too prepared.  Please comment at the end of each daily post to which we’ll respond within 24 hours, once we’re able to get online.

We find ourselves suspicious and cautious of commercialized offerings that make one feel like cattle herded along to awaiting salespeople barking to “buy, buy, buy” which is often the scenario at most ports of call. 

Most of the excursions offered by the ship present the ultimate goal to place the passenger into a “buying” mood.  Most outings end up in some form of a retail area. We’ve recently discovered that most of the
excursions are owned by the cruise lines. Certainly, they are entitled to their profits. But then again, we are entitled to keep our money for our chosen future plans, not trinkets, artwork, local clothing, or jewelry. 

 
After yet another elegant dinner and the 9 PM show in the Celebrity Theatre, a nightly event we’ve only missed twice (the first night aboard ship and the Panama Canal night after which I was too exhausted with only two
hours sleep), we headed to our cabin as the ship continued its wild thrashing about in the strong winds.

Tom, bless his heart, can go on and on into the night but then again, he is five years younger than I.  Oh, it’s “hell to get old.” How we used to be able to manage the next day on so little sleep! 

Walking down the long hallway to our cabin, we faltered back and forth between the narrow walls as
the ship continued to sway. I had a particularly difficult time walking in 3″ heels weaving as if I were drunk (I don’t drink).

Once inside our cabin, we turned on the TV to the ship’s GPS station, showing our exact location, wind speed, etc. After checking our email, we decided to try to get some sleep as the ship raced toward our next destination, Cartagena, Columbia, (expected time of arrival at 8:30 am today). We were asleep by 11:30.

At 1:30 am I was startled awake by the sound of something falling off of a shelf in our cabin as the ship
flailed wildly in the sea. Twice, I got out of bed stumbling over our shoes and power cords scattered on the floor to witness the high white waves splashing up the sides of the ship.  On the 8th deck, the floor of our balcony was
covered with water.  I was a bit scared, to say the least.

 
Tossing and turning for hours unable to fall back to sleep, the sounds escalated around
4 am.  I wanted to wake up Tom during that period.  I couldn’t believe he was sleeping through it all. Finally, I turned toward him and in a whispered tone, I asked, “Are you awake?”

Mumbling, he said, “No, not really.” 

Hesitant to awaken him further I said, “Do you feel the rollin’?”  Hard of hearing after 42 years on the railroad, he said “Did you say “rollin’…rollin’?”

“Yes,” I answered in a louder voice, “rollin’!”

“On the river?” he asked.

“No,”  I laughed aloud, “on the sea!”

Leave it to my guy to make me laugh when I’m scared.  He has a magical way of comforting me with his non-stop sense of humor.  It was 4:00 am. Cuddling up we both wandered off to sleep.

At 7:15 am we were awakened by the loud roar of the ship’s side thrusters.  We were finally approaching Cartagena, Columbia. Bolting out of bed at exactly the same moment we threw back the balcony door drapes, opened the heavy sliding door and this is what we saw.

Downtown Cartagena Columbia.  All the buildings are white.

Again, tonight we’ll dine in the Grand Restaurant to later attend the live show “Groove,” an interactive 60’s party in the Grand Foyer, and then off to the Celebrity Theatre for their last live show of the evening.  Quite fun! We’re having the time of our lives!  Our new lives couldn’t be more fun, rolling seas or not.