FlowRider videos and story….Cruise ending in two days…Final cruise expenses coming soon…

FlowRider video #1.

FlowRider video #2.

A few days ago, we chatted with another passenger, also a Tom, in the Diamond Club lounge while we were preparing the day’s post.  In speaking with Tom, he shared that he belongs to a group of men who meet on sea days from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm to participate in one of the ship’s most exciting activities, the FlowRider.


 Eric, Darrell and Paul, members of the FlowRider Society determined to surf on a windy and cold day at sea.  Tom was finished for the day and thus, I missed his photo.

Fascinated that men over 40 had become avid and expert FlowRider participants, an activity definitely geared toward youth and/or the fit and coordinated sports enthusiast, we were thrilled to prepare a story on these FlowRider adventurers.

It’s imperative to stay within the white Royal Caribbean logo on the blue platform to avoid risk of injury from hitting the sides.

From Royal Caribbean’s site:

“Perhaps no onboard activity is as synonymous with Royal Caribbean as the surf simulator known as the FlowRider.
When Royal Caribbean started adding FlowRiders to its cruise ships, it generated a lot of buzz and ever since then, the company has been working to add FlowRiders to more and more ships in its fleet.
If you want to give surfing a shot on your next cruise, here is what you need to know about this popular surf simulator. (Continued below).

I wish I could take credit for this photo of FlowRider Tom, taken by a professional photographer aboard Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas.  What a fabulous shot of Tom in his mastery of this difficult and challenging sport!

The FlowRider is a simulator that sends water a very high speed across a small area that mimics what it is like to surf on the ocean.

FlowRiders were first created as a business on land and have partnered with Royal Caribbean to offer guests cruising the chance to try it out there.  The FlowRider supports two surfing styles: stand up traditional surfing and boogie boarding.
Royal Caribbean has added FlowRiders to more of its ships recently and here is the list of ships that offer a FlowRider:
  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas (two FlowRiders)
  • Allure of the Seas (two FlowRiders)
  • Harmony of the Seas (two FlowRiders)
  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas
  • Voyager of the Seas
  • Explorer of the Seas
  • Adventure of the Seas
Guests participating in the FlowRider, for example, must be at least 52″/132 cm tall to use the bodyboard and 58″/147 cm tall to use the flowboard.   Absolutely no footwear allowed, no goggles and no go-pro cams are allowed.”

Paul was on-a-roll.
Use of the fluoride is included in the cruise fare, although there are additional charges for personalized training.  However, staff is available at no charge to assist the passenger in getting started and in becoming familiar with safety procedures.  More of the details of this popular activity may be found at the above link.

Every so often the surfer will restart from the side of the FlowRider.
As a result of the enthusiasm over being RC FlowRider participants, there’s even a Facebook page named Royal Caribbean FlowRider Society, which may be found at this link.  Who knew?
Paul back at it again.
After chatting with passenger Tom, he suggested we join their group to watch one of his group activities on this particular ship, Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas.  From that, I was excited to take photos and videos we could share with our worldwide readers.
A good rider such as these has the option to maneuver their way back to the top based on the pressure placed on their feet on the board.
Had it not been so bitter cold, I’d have stayed outside longer to chat with the group, but I was only wearing a hooded sweatshirt and workout clothes and staying longer wasn’t an option. 
Even with the short length of the FlowRider, an experienced surfer can last on the surf for an extended period.

Paul at the end of his great run.
We commend the brave FlowRiders for their acquired skill and persistence in mastering what appears to be a difficult sport requiring considerable coordination, balance and fitness, especially when the participants aren’t necessarily youngsters.
Eric had an excellent run staying on his feet for quite some time.
In no time at all I dashed back indoors anxious to share what I’d witnessed with my Tom about these athletic “surfers” on Royal Caribbean’s FlowRider.  He was glad he’d stayed indoors in the warm comfort of our cabin.
Inevitably, each rider takes a stumble from time to time.
Hmm… In four days we’ll be boarding the ship to Alaska.  I wonder what the weather will be like while we’re there…
Happy day to all our worldwide readers.  Thanks to each and every one of YOU who’ve followed along with us on this lengthy cruise!
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 Photo from one year ago today, May 13, 2016:
We did a double take in Bali when we saw these two young guys walking their inner tube type boats along the beach.  Later, we saw them fishing from these tiny watercraft.  For more details, please click here.

No Wi-Fi all morning…Late posting…Cruising along…Immigration issues at the port…

 
The Promenade deck is a favorite of ours.  Its comparable to a long street in the ship where there are bars, dining establishments and shops.  Great people watching!

It’s almost 5 pm and the first time today we’ve been able to get online except for a few instances on our phones.  Its been frustrating to say the least. No doubt, its due to the vast number of passengers of this ship using their phones and iPads..

We’d hope to get today’s post uploaded close to our usual time but based on the 3,825 passengers on this ship, the connection  is and will continue to be sketchy to say the least.

Our standard balcony cabin is small but we’re fine with it.

After paying over US $500 for the VOOM high speed unlimited Wi-Fi for two devices for this 24 night cruise, we expected a little more.  There’s no point in bringing it up to customer service since its clearly outlined that the ship’s service may be unavailable at times.

Beside that inconvenience we are doing FABULOUS!  Although the ship, Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas, is old and a little dated (built in 2000, refurbished in 2015) its in good condition with all the amenities a passenger could expect for this cruise line. 

Our toilet seat had a huge crack in it.  Last night they replaced it upon our request.  The bathroom is tiny with little storage space but we make it work.

Yesterday’s boarding process was relatively easy except for one not-so-surprising glitch…immigration.  With copies of all of our bridging visa documents on hand, we still got whisked away to be “reviewed” in a separate area. 

The agent mistrusted what appeared on the computer and refused to look at our documents.  Weird.  However, neither of us panicked when we were certain we had the correct documentation.  Instead, we waited for over 30 minutes while the agent satisfied her curiosity that her superiors in Sydney had in fact done the documents correctly.

I offered the name of the supervisor in Sydney suggestion she contact her for confirmation.  Instead, she plodded along trying to read the laws while we waited to ensure it had been done correctly. 

View of the Sydney Opera House from our balcony prior to sailing away.

Finally, she let us board the ship reminding us we’d have trouble if we wanted to get back into Australia at any time in the future..  With no plans to return, we weren’t worried.

Back on track, we boarded the ship to warm welcomes from staff, glasses of champagne (we declined) and with a short waiting period until our cabin was ready.

In no time at all, our bags were delivered to our door, except for Tom’s suitcase containing two power strips (referred to as “power boards” in Australia).  Later in the evening he had to go to security to retrieve his bag after the power boards were confiscated.  They aren’t allowed to be used on ships.  Instead we’re supplied with extension cords.

I started shooting a few photos before we made a mess unpacking our bags.

Most passengers don’t have everything they own in their cabin, like us and don’t have power boards in their possession.  For our lifestyle, we need them and our adapters in our possession everywhere we travel.  We have to way to “leave them at home.” 

Once we unpacked, neatly folding and hanging our clothes, we began to feel settled and comfortable.  As Diamond Club members we’re provided with free drinks in the Star Lounge each evening.  Usually this runs from 5 pm to 8:30 pm but last night’s muster drill at 5 pm, caused the happy hour time to be from 6:15 pm until 9 pm.

Alas, we had so much fun, the time slipped away and suddenly, it was almost 9 pm.  By the time we made it to the dining room it was closed.  Immediately, we took the elevator to the buffet, the Windjammer Cafe only to discover it too was also closed. 

Most likely, this was the last of many photos we’ll have taken of the Sydney Opera House.  Goodbye Sydney.  Aside from a few glitches, it was grand.


Then, we headed back to our cabin to order room service only to find there wasn’t a single item on the menu that I could eat.  Since I haven’t been able to digest raw vegetables these past months, salads were out of the question.  The remaining options were sandwiches and wraps.  No good.

Tom refused to order anything with me being able to eat which was entirely unnecessary as far as I was concerned.  Who misses the first night’s dinner on a cruise?  Isn’t food what cruises are always about for many passengers? 

The perception that cruises have food available 24 hours a day is not necessarily true.  Sure, there was food but nothing either of us wanted to eat.  We laughed.  Only us!  Fun over food!  We went to bed without a morsel after haven only eaten a few bites of cheese back in fairlight before we left for the cruise terminal. 

Tonight, if we stay at the Star Lounge until happy hour ends at least we’ll make it to the dining room well before the 9 pm closing.   Since we always select “My Time Dining” we can eat anytime we want before the 9 pm closing.

Surprisingly, we were starved this morning and we each had a good breakfast in the main dining room.  The head maitre’d met with me to review my food list and fully understood my restrictions.  My usual meal consists of fish, chicken, beef or pork (no sauce) and two sides of non-starchy vegetables.  Its not filling but the hunger abates in no time at all.

This afternoon when we couldn’t get online to post.  Instead we went to the main theatre, The Palace, to see the movie, “La La Land.”  What a fabulous movie!  If you haven’t seen it we couldn’t recommend it more.

Now, we have to get ready for “formal night” with another upcoming happy hour and tonight…dinner in the main dining room.

Cruising is fun and we’re not missing a beat.  Today at noon,we experienced our first one hour time change.  There will seven one hour time changes plus one entire day.  Ha!

Have a wonderful day or evening wherever you may be.

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Photo from one year ago today, April 23, 2016:
The signal is too weak to post the one year ago photo.  We’ll add it tomorrow if we can.  Thanks for your patience.

Arrived in Brisbane…Benefits of RC’s Crown and Anchor Society’s Diamond Club membership…

Notice the man on the left wearing a kilt for formal night.  We’ve done our best with the clothes we have on hand.

“Sighting on the Cruise in Australia”

We didn’t quite grasp the significance of this tree trunk in this entryway
 to the salon.  Thus, I took a photo.

A few hours ago we docked at the port of Brisbane, Australia. We’ve decide not to get off the ship. Unless there’s something particularly appealing to us we don’t care to get off at typical shopping ports.

The one hour shuttle ride each way held little appeal nor did the drop off point at the largest shopping area in Brisbane.  The only transportation available was the roundtrip shuttle at US $50 AU $65 per couple.

Schooner Bar at night.

We weren’t interested in spending $50 to go shopping. We decided to wait until we arrive in other ports to explore with a little more freedom to pick and choose what appeals to us.

As those of our readers know from past experiences, we seldom get off the ship unless there’s something profound available that appeals to our interests.  Many say, “Get off the ship anyway.  At least you can say you’ve visited Brisbane.”

Decorative display.

We’re not traveling for bragging rights.  We’re traveling to experience the people, culture, sights and scenes that most appeal to us.  The remainder of the time, we’re thoroughly enjoying ourselves, me, writing to YOU now, Tom engaged in his usual browsing and researching.

At 1 pm, we’re going to see a “guy movie, “The Nice Guys” when so often we watch movies that appeal to my tastes.  Neither of us cares for comic book character or cartoons, fantasy, zombies and vampires.  Tom doesn’t like science fiction or futuristic type movies but often watches them with me.  Its my turn to coalesce when I don’t like movies about the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s.  Go figure.

We get a kick out of looking at the world globe considering how much we’ve seen so far and what’s yet to come in the future..

Today, we’d mentioned sharing information on the Diamond Club priority membership which we recently attained from our last cruise from accumulating 80 points as Crown & Anchor members (1 point per day on a RC). 

We’ve already begun to enjoy our new status which has not only saved us a considerable sum on our final bill but greatly contributed to another opportunity  to interact with other passengers in a different venue.

For us, the biggest perk is access to the Diamond Lounge from 4:30 to 8:00 pm for complimentary cocktails, any amount, any type.  Since we usually do “happy hour” this time frame works perfectly for us.  We have an opportunity to mingle with other Diamond Club members who have attained sufficient points to be provided this excellent perk.

Lounge area of The Colony Club, a place for dance enthusiasts.

With this benefit, we avoid spending on drinks of any type.  Plus, if we leave the Diamond Lounge before and up until 8:00 pm, we’re entitled to three drinks each from any bar on the ship, even ordering three at once to bring into the dining room. The free drinks are not served in the dining areas but passengers may carry them into the dining areas.

Complimentary specialty coffees are available 24 hours a day at the Diamond Lounge, available to Diamond Club and above members.  The coffee drinks are made by a machine using milk, not cream and are sugar sweetened making them out of the question for me.  I do fine drinking our iced tea throughout the day.



Self-leveling (for rough seas) pool table in The Colony Club.

Other “spending” perks include the following, found at this site:

Diamond

  • Buy any wine, beer or soda by the glass and get a second free: $6.95 (beer)
  • Purchase any glass of wine, beer or soda and receive a 20% discount: $1.38
  • Buy one, get one free Johnny Rockets milkshake: $4.50
  • One complimentary non-alcoholic specialty coffee drink with the purchase of dinner in any specialty restaurant: $8 (coffees from Chops Grille)
  • Buy a Bingo Package and get 6 free Jackpot Card: $15
  • Three free Spin to Win at the Casino: $1 (We assume one wins a keychain with three spins, we’ll give a $1 value).
  • 25% off Casino tournament entrance fee (excluding Poker tournaments): $6.25 ($25 slot tournament)
  • 1 free day of internet usage or $30 off any Internet purchase: $30
  • Spend $25 or more on Royal Caribbean logo products and receive 15% off: $3.75
  • Free any size photo of your choice from your existing printed photograph selection: $19.99
  • Get 10% off a digital photo package or photo book: $19.90 (All inclusive digital photo package)
  • Get 20% off any one spa or salon service: $19.80 (60 minute Swedish massage)
  • Receive $10 off a $30 bag of Wash and Fold Laundry on 5 or more nights: $10
  • Receive $10 off a $30 bag of Wash and Fold Laundry on 8 or more nights: $10
  • $5 off any dry cleaning or pressing services of $25 or more: $5
  • Stateroom phone discount of $2 per minute: $11.90 (assuming a two minute phone call)
Each evening we dine in the Cascades dining room.  When we were seated at a table of 10 last night during formal night, we were the first guests at the table.  Within minutes it was full and once again, we had a delightful evening meeting new passengers.

There are many more perks as listed here, many we’ll never use and others of some benefit as shown below:

Diamond Club Benefits

  • Crown & Anchor Society Onboard Offers
  • Priority check-in
  • Private departure lounge with continental breakfast
  • Exclusive Trivia
  • Exclusive Top Tier Event
  • Robes for use onboard
  • Signature lapel pin
  • Welcome Gift/Amenity including choice of beverage
  • Milestone recognition
  • Chef’s Choice Gift/Amenity
  • Priority wait list for Shore Excursions/VitalitySM Day Spa services
  • Diamond Lounge (on select ships)
  • Priority departure
  • Exclusive Nightly Diamond Event
  • Daily breakfast with specialty coffee
  • Entertainment Tour

For perks in other categories for Crown & Anchor members with more or less than the required 80 points for Diamond Club, please click here.

Dance floor and seating in The Colony Club.

With Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise lines owned by the same parent company, we’ll have similar perks on seven of our eight upcoming eight cruises except the Antarctica cruise on the Ponant line.  Of course, as time marches on, we’ll add more cruises as they become available and suit our needs and desires.

Tonight is casual night in the dining room.  That will be jeans and nicer shirts.  We have five formal nights ahead in this remaining month.  Somehow, as always, we’ll make do with what we have on hand; each other, a joyful attitude and a strong sense of living in the moment.

Happy day, dear friends!

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Photo from one year ago today, November 2, 2015:

Tom was thrilled with his first cocktail  he’d had in months at the Namale Resort & Spa in Fiji, one year ago, as we celebrated our three year travel anniversary.  He was working on the first of his delicious warm buns slathered in butter.  We didn’t have any specific four year anniversary activities this year since we were busy getting situated on the ship on the actual date of October 31st.  But, enough celebration is to be had each and every day over this month at sea.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Visiting Darwin…A beautiful city…Busy downtown area…



The two little ones played with the hanging braches of a Banyan tree in the middle of town.

The shuttle ride to Darwin from the port wasn’t more than 10 minutes from start to finish. Waiting in line to board the shuttle took about 35 minutes. In essence we could have walked into town but, we enjoyed the ride seeing a little more than we would have on foot.


We actually had to purchase a few items which made the outing all the more fun for us.  We’d been told by other travelers to purchase insect repellent in Australia since we’d be unable to find many options in Bali.

The sports store where we purchased a new Fitbit for me.

Secondly, after noticing several passengers wearing FitBit fitness tracking devices, I was determined to purchase a new one since my years old tracker had bit the dusk awhile back.

The Intersport store has typical sportswear and equipment.

I’ve found using such a device forces me on my feet more, taking stairs instead of elevators and generally be more active.  After returning to the ship and setting up the FitBit, I’d done over 1500 steps in the first two hours.  At this rate, it may be possible to do the desired 10,000 steps a days.

We walked up and down several blocks looking for the store.  It was a beautiful day, warm but tolerable in the shade.

It wasn’t that I detected any of the wearers necessarily appearing more fit than non wearers but for me, its had always been a good motivator, digital person that I am. 

Plus, my last wristwatch died a few days ago and for the low price I’d paid for them, it didn’t make sense to replace the batteries.  The new wrist-worn FitBit also doubles as a watch. Perfect.

A pleasant park in near the shopping district.

We wandered about Darwin feeling totally comfortable and safe in the lovely city.  The high temperature was offset by a cooling ocean breeze.  The city was clean and low key with an abundance of shops and restaurants.  Of course, whenever the cruise ships came to town, the businesses thrives.

The Darwin State Square.  Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory in Australia.

When we entered a local chemist shop, it was jammed with dozens of cruise passengers. Cruise ships carry few toiletry items onboard and an opportunity for a stop at a pharmacy is always a popular tourist attraction.

As we wandered about the town, we were amazed by how similar is it to New Plymouth, NZ which we left only a little over a week.  In many ways it feels as if its been much longer ago since we left when we’ve so easily immersed ourselves into life aboard ship.

The Darwin State Square Building.

We apologize for the last posting once again.  Not only did we have a very busy morning, we just left La Scala Theatre after watching yet another movie, a perk included in the cruise fare.  Now after 4 pm, its time to dress for the evening and to attend a special party for Crown and Anchor members at 4:45. 

After the party, we’ll head to the bar for a pre dinner beverage and by 7:30 make our way to the main dining room for what most likely will prove to be yet another enjoyable evening at a shared table of eight or ten.

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Photo from one year ago today, April 24, 2015:
Due to the poor wifi signal on the ship, we’re unable to post the year-ago photo today.  We’ll get caught up as soon as we get a better signal.  If you don’t see a post, know that we’re struggling to get online and will be back as soon as possible.  Thanks for your patience.

Fifth day of cruise…Sailing along with ease…Free Food aboard ship…Finally, a few photos…



Tom’s dinner of tender steak, broccoli and fried potatoes.  In addition he ordered a starter and a dessert.

There are no rough seas, no notices of Norovirus or signs of the cruise cough. We’re as content as we can be.  Tom’s attending the “Shed” meetings each afternoon at 3 pm and finds me when he’s done, usually close to 5 pm. 

At 5, we head to the cabin, freshen up for dinner, check our email if we can get online and by 6 pm, we’re out the door heading to the bar.  Tom has a cocktail, his usual cognac and Sprite Zero on the rocks while typically I sip on my mug of hot tea.  Last night I ordered white wine with dinner.

With a tea pot in our cabin and a few spots onboard where I can reload at no charge, I’m reminded about the many complimentary perks aboard the ship which are included in the cruise fare as opposed to the many extra charges we mentioned over these past few days.


Every evening they serve me a plate of cut up avocado.  I never have asked for it to be cut this small and suggested cutting it in half would be fine with me but they continue to cut it in tiny pieces which is fine.

The single biggest perk included in the cruise fare, not surprisingly, centers around food.  Its everywhere.  And, a vast majority of it is “free.”  Sure, there are a number of areas where there’s a charge for certain items; specialty coffee drinks and shakes in the coffee bars; fancy cupcakes in the cupcake decorating center; and specialty restaurants which we mentioned a few days ago.

With several buffets at various times of the day along with the Windjammer Café on the 11th deck, always open, at least in part for anytime dining and the main dining rooms open for meals at specific times of the day, there’s never a shortage of venues for full meals or occasional snacks. 

Whether it’s a burger, hotdog and fries or a slice or two of fresh baked pizza, Chinese or Indian food, it all there for the taking included in the fare.  For those with a sweet tooth there is a decadent array of every imaginable dessert including soft self serve ice cream.  

Although this may not look appetizing, it was a delicious steak dish suitable for my way of eating.

On the Promenade deck, a boulevard that runs through the center of the ship on deck 5 with many shops, there’s the popular Café Promenade with cases filled with baked goods including doughnuts, cakes, cookies, pies and pastries.  

In addition, there’s a wide variety of sandwiches, wraps and Panini to fulfill the tastes of most passengers at one point or another (present company excluded).  Today, Tom had two chocolate covered glazed doughnuts after a big breakfast.  Piglet.  I keep my mouth shut and let him enjoy himself.

For sun worshippers and swimmers, there’s a complimentary grill by the pool with burgers, fries, hotdogs and more and a “healthy food” café by the spa (nothing there works for me).

Occasionally, the ship hosts social functions for Crown & Anchor members all of which include free beer, wine and appetizers for the guests.  Many passengers partake in these free events for the complimentary alcohol and snacks.  Others choose to partake for the socialization.

Magically, the restaurants aboard the ship are the perfect venues for meeting people.  We can’t believe how much fun we’re having each and every time we sit down for awhile in one of the eating establishments aboard the ship.

This, dear readers, is why we love cruising!

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Photo from one year ago today, April 21, 2015:
Due to the poor wifi signal aboard the ship, we’re still unable to post the year-ago photo.

Sailing takes me away to where I’ve always heard it could be…Ship couldn’t leave…

 

Balcony view of our cabin.

With a party to attend at 9:30 am today, I wanted to be able to stay and enjoy ourselves without leaving early to upload today’s post. Thus, I’m rushing a bit. We’ll check back later for error corrections.

Consistency means a lot to us and to our much appreciated worldwide readership which last night grew well over 300,000 reads. Perhaps, that’s nothing compared to millions of other sites but, for us who aren’t necessarily bogged down by these numbers, it’s astounding.  hanks to all of our readers for the dedication to following along with us.

As for today’s heading, this song has been running through my brain over the past few days. The next few lines in this 1980s song continue with:

“Just a dream and the wind to carry me
And soon I will be free

Well it’s not far back to sanity, at least it’s not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away and find serenity
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see
Believe me”

Our cabin, small but well equipped.

Ah, these words not only bring back memories from another era of my life when I was single at the time, owned a 26′ Chris Craft cabin cruiser that I kept in a slip on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota, had two kids, owned a house and a business and life was a combination of raging responsibility and occasional carefree fun at age 32.

This song also holds true today for the joy and freedom we experience in our daily lives. We’ve already met and made friends with a lovely couple from Australia, Judy, and Mal, whom we’ll surely see again. And last night, at dinner we had an excellent time with Michael, Allison, Jenny, Jenny, (two named Jenny), and Ken, again all from Australia.

View of Honolulu.

The ship is supposed to be on it’s way to Australia and the South Pacific, where we’ll live for the next almost two years. However, last night there was an announcement regarding mechanical problems. Here we are at 9:00 am Monday and we still haven’t sailed away. We’re still in the harbor in Honolulu.

This morning the captain announced we’ll be ready to sail by noon, 13 hours later than last night’s schedule 11 pm departure. We’d never experienced a late departure of a cruise ship. Hopefully, it’s not a sign of things to come.

Tugboat.

Boarding the ship was painless. We arrived at noon and within 30 minutes, our bags were whisked away (we kept our carry on with us on the cart). By 4:00 pm when the bags hadn’t yet arrived, we grabbed our laptops and headed to the bar. 

Before it was time to dress for dinner, the bags were awaiting us outside of our cabin door. I’d been wearing the same clothes for two full days and was anxious to unpack and freshen up to get ready for the evening. 

Lobby bar.

Two things are different on this cruise than on the 10 cruises over the past 27 months. For one, this time Tom purchased the drink package for the first time at $57 per day, $1026 for the entire 18 night cruise. 

At the ship’s prices of $10 to $12 a drink (in a small glass), economically it made more sense. Tom is generally a lightweight drinker but why shouldn’t he splurge a little and have all he wants? Besides, that’s part of the fun of the venue; cruising, schmoozing, and whooping!

Honolulu.

Luckily, this cruise ship doesn’t require both of us to purchase a package or he wouldn’t have done it. That rule prohibits the “sharing” of one package. All I drink is water, iced tea, plain coffee, and hot tea, definitely not worth a “package” when all of these are included in the fare.

What precipitated Tom’s decision to purchase the drink package was the second item that’s different on this cruise. We were able to purchase an unlimited wifi package for the entire cruise, suitable for two devices concurrently, for a grand total of $299! 

A barge and tugboat from our balcony.

A package such as this had never been available on any past cruises when we often paid well over $1000 for metered wifi, jumping off and on to avoid ringing up a bigger bill. We’d sign up for two $400 packages, using every last minute. Writing and posting alone would eat up most of that.

You may ask, why would we be online when we’re on a cruise? When we’re not eating, participating in activities, going on tours, hanging out with others, attending parties, seminars, and movies, or reading books, our lives continue as always. 

A view looking up.

A cruise for us is not a vacation/holiday. It’s a continuation of our worldwide travels and daily lives that happens to be on a ship which we use for transportation when possible. The tasks we continue to document and the searching for future locations continue regardless of where we are, on a ship or on land. Tom enjoys Facebook, email, and Ancestry.com. I enjoy researching our travels and my other interests.

Plus, we particularly enjoy staying in touch with friends and family wherever we may be. Yesterday while we were relaxing in the main lobby bar, I received a Skype call from my dear friend Chere. I admit the signal was bad and will be worse out to sea but we had an opportunity for a few minute conversations to be resumed once we’re on land.

Luckily, we can’t be pressured into buying art aboard a ship. We don’t own a wall!

As for the ship, Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas is old and a bit worn in spots. A toilet overflowed before we boarded and there was an awful stench in the hallway outside our door. We addressed it with the maintenance department. They explained that they’ve made the repairs but, the smell remains until the carpets are all cleaned this morning. We shall see how that goes.

Otherwise, it’s not unlike the other ships on which we’ve sailed in the past. The cabin is small as always but has a full-sized sofa and coffee table which makes us happy that we don’t have to sit on the bed when we stop in to relax, unwind or watch the news. 

A short time later, the band began to play.

More on the ship later as we continue on and become more familiar. We’re content, excited to spend these 18 days and night aboard ship, see the sites and ports of call along the way, and to interact with the many people we’ll meet during the days and at dinner. 

The view from the main lobby area.

So far we haven’t met any Americans. This cruise ends in Sydney. In speaking with many Australians, they arrived in Honolulu early for the beginning of their vacation, then taking the cruise back home.

Tom, shortly after signing up for unlimited drinks. Check out his eyes!

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with a reminder of the upcoming itinerary, more ship photos, and perhaps people photos.

We hope our US friends and readers have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day especially in remembering the powerful message on this important holiday.

                                           Photo from one year ago today, May 25, 2014:

Gina, the property manager, brought us this gorgeous rose. For more details on our post from one year ago, please click here.

 

 

Synonyms for “Hopefully”

Day #161 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Mad about this…Are you, too?

Arrived on the ship…Excited to sail away…

 

This afternoon’s view from our balcony. It’s good to see the ocean once again.

It’s hard to believe we’re finally aboard Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas for a 14-day cruise from Harwich, England to Boston. Earlier today, we posted the ship’s itinerary. 

On our way through London to Harwich, we spotted a number of popular attractions including this church.

As I write this, it’s 3:30 pm and soon we’ll be called for the muster drill, which for those of our readers who’ve never been on a cruise, is a mandatory safety procedures drill during which names are taken to ensure each passenger has attended this drill.

Buckingham Palace.

Several cruises ago, we missed the drill when we were told we didn’t have to attend when we were on a “back to back” cruise. The next day we were required to attend a private session for others like us who hadn’t attended.

Big Ben was to the right in this shot, but I had no way to get the photo in traffic.

 

Another Ferris Wheel referred to as the “Eye.”

After the muster drill, we’re headed to a party for CruiseCritic participants. Tom is an avid follower and made many new friends on the site, many of whom we’re joining on several private tours. That will be fun, thanks to my socially engaged hubby. 

A fast shot of the Tower of London.

Embarking on this cruise feels as if we’re we’re embarking on an entirely new leg of our years-long journey.  We’ve had an unbelievable number of experiences in these past almost two years. And, with the next two years almost completely booked, we’re looking forward to the future as well as living every moment as it comes.

Not sure as to the name of this memorial as we zoomed past.

The drive from the hotel in London to the pier in Harwich flew by as we chatted with our driver Tony who was delightful and charming. As soon as we met, he welcomed me with a kiss on the cheek, a common greeting in the UK. 

A memorial near Buckingham Palace. With WiFi restrictions, we’re unable to look up the names of these monuments.

Whoever said Brits are stuffy hasn’t been to the UK in a while. They are warm and kind people with big hearts and a great sense of humor. We loved that fact about London more than anything.

At last our ship, Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas.

After the party at 4:45, we’ll return to our cabin to change for dinner, and mosey our way to the main dining room for what we expect will be an enjoyable evening sharing a table with six or more passengers.

We always appreciate having a sofa in the cabin as opposed to lying on the bed when relaxing.

Tomorrow morning at 8:00 am, we’re off on our first tour to Le Havre/Normandy, France for an all-day excursion to see WWII Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, and American Cemeteries. As mentioned earlier, we’ll post a short update with photos as soon as possible upon our return to our cabin, prior to heading for dinner. 

Our balcony cabin.  The queen-sized bed seems comfortable.

Our MiFi device is working. The ship’s WiFi is working. We’ll alternate between the two sources depending upon our location; out to sea, we’ll use the ship’s WiFi; in port, we’ll use the MiFi. 

Tiny cabin bathroom.

Unfortunately, we both had to spring for the ship’s WiFi service at US $399 each. However, we have several onboard credits we can use toward the final bill which we’ll post as the cruise nears the end.

A roomy safe is also appreciated.

Happy Labor Day tomorrow to our family and friends in the US and thanks to all for joining us as we head out to sea for our second Transatlantic crossing, our first westward.

                                               Photo from one year ago today, August 31, 2013:

There was no post on this date one year ago as we headed to Venice to spend the night in a hotel to prepare for the next day’s very long flight to Kenya.