A bit of “this and that” aboard the ship….Group photo…

A path to the aqua blue bay.

Today is day 12 of the 24-day cruise. It’s hard to believe that we’re halfway through this cruise.  In a few days, we’ll reach Hawaii. Then, in 15 days, we’ll board the cruise to Alaska from Vancouver, British Columbia, ending in Seattle. Then, in a mere 24 days, we’ll be in Minnesota to visit our family and friends.

Sunbathers and swimmers on the beach.

From there, in 66 days, we’ll arrive in Nevada, visiting more family and friends. Ninety days from today, we’ll be leaving the US heading for the next leg of our journey, most likely not returning to the US for two more years for another visit.

With the number of people we’re meeting, the over-the-top experiences we’re adding to our repertoire of cruising adventures, and the sheer pleasure of spending this time together, we couldn’t be having a better time.

Boats at the beach.

The anticipation of seeing our loved ones only adds another layer of joy to this busy and action-packed period. Yet, the ease with which each day flows into another is barely interrupted.

This morning we noticed an error or our account when charges for two drinks were listed US $17.00. Calling guest services for an adjustment, we reached a roadblock when they explained the only way to resolve the issue was to go to deck two during certain hours.

Passengers were walking along the beach.

That solution was unbelievable to us. Why couldn’t this be handled over the phone? But, in our usual manner of problem-solving, we addressed the issue with Jorge, our Diamond Club concierge, who spends most days in the Diamond Lounge on the 14th deck. 

Upon entering the private Diamond Club Lounge to prepare our post for the day, Jorge had the issue resolved within minutes. We expressed our gratitude for this prompt and seamless resolution.
The beach at Mystery Island, Vanuatu.

We seldom run across such an issue, but when they arise, we look for the most uncomplicated and quick solution to avoid tainting our perception of any cruise line or ship. Diplomacy and kindness seem to get us from Point A to Point B with the least amount of stress, always our top priority.

Having control over my two daily meals, breakfast and dinner, can be a challenge. We’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work with Belik, head waiter in the Sapphire Dining Room on this cruise. 

Ship passengers out for a boat ride on a tiny sailboat.

Belik makes more effort to fulfill my dietary needs than any head waiter who’s worked with us on the past 17 cruises. However, having experimented with various foods within the framework of my usual diet, I’ve found some foods that seem to exacerbate the symptoms of the past many months; mainly garlic, onions, cruciferous vegetables, and dairy.

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve eliminated all dairy products, including cheese which has been a staple in my way of eating over these past five and a half years. 

View from the ship as we sailed away from the Fijian islands.

I’m hoping being dairy-free will help when yesterday was my best day since the onset of the h. pylori symptoms.  Perhaps now, I’ll see why drinking coffee with cream only seemed to make matters worse.  I blamed it on the acidity of the coffee when in fact, it may have been the cream.  We’ll see how this goes over the next few days.

Belik has been so helpful as I work my way through figuring out what I can and can’t eat.  There’s no doubt it’s added more limitations to my eating method, but he remains determined to ensure my food is satisfactory. I’ve never seen anything like this guy…except, of course, Tom, who puts up with me beyond my expectations.

View of Fiji from the ship.

We’ve settled into somewhat of a delightful groove with new friends Ulla and Ray and Julie and Terry, all from New South Wales, Australia. (See the photo below). It’s so easy to “hit it off” with others aboard the ship, whether couples or singles, of which there are many aboard this ship.

Yesterday, we watched a fantastic movie, Collateral Beauty, well worth watching. Today, we’ll head to the Palace Theatre for the 2016 movie, “Sully,” which starts at 1:30 pm. Unfortunately, it will be necessary to arrive at the theatre 45 minutes before showtime to ensure good seating as another sea day.

Our new Aussie friends, from left to right, Julie and Terry, Ray and Ulla and Tom and I. We’re having a fabulous time with these two couples as we meet for happy hour and dinner most nights.

After the movie, we’ll mingle with other passengers throughout the ship. By 4:15 pm, we’ll return to our cabin to dress for the second formal night. As much as we dislike formal nights due to our lack of dressy clothing, we make the best of it with what we have on hand, ultimately having another memorable evening.

A sense of contentment and serenity wafts through our minds as we continue on this leg of our journey. Thanks to all of our readers for sharing it with us!

Photo from one year ago today, May 2, 2016:

The covered huts and cabana poolside at the villa in Bali, one year ago today. For more photos, please click here.

Horrible weather in Sydney…Opera House tickets tonight…Happy St. Patrick’s Day!…

This cockatoo stopped by for a visit, alighting atop Bob’s medicinal Papaw tree in the yard.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those who celebrate. Today, March 17th in the US is also eldest son Richard’s 50th birthday. Happy birthday, Richard! It’s hard to believe you’re 50!  Richard is a highly successful real estate agent in Henderson/Las Vegas, Nevada with nothing but five star reviews in Zillow. (See here for details). We wish you continued success and much happiness and look forward to seeing you in July!

Evening walk through a portion of the shopping area near the Manly Ferry.

Today around 3:00 pm, we’re off to the Sydney Opera House in this outragous weather; windy, rainy and cold.  Bob will drive us to the Manly Ferry which will bring us within a 20 minute walk to the venue. 

Fish Cafe in Manly where we dined this week.

The only part of the trip that concerns us is that 20-minute walk from the wharf to the opera house in the event the pouring rain continues. We’re not concerned about getting soaked on the return walk to the ferry. It won’t be fun to be soaking wet while sitting in the theatre during the performance. 

Daily specials posted outside the restaurant where we dined with Bob this week. The highest-priced items on this menu at AU 36.90 is equal to US $28.42.

Bob has supplied us with an large umbrella which along with our hooded parkas we hope to stay dry.  Unfortunately, our parkas aren’t necessarily stylish for the opera but we have nothing else to wear. Plus, the only shoes I have that are appropriate for my outfit and the long walk are black sandals. So it goes.

We were early and the rush of diners had yet to arrive at the popular local restaurant.

This is a reality of our lives of world travel…if we chose to partake in a more dressy affair, we don’t necessarily have the appropriate clothing. As always, we’ll make the best of that which we have on hand. It’s worked on formal nights on cruises and will certainly be sufficient for the Sydney Opera House.

My plate of grilled barramundi, vegetables and a side of sour cream.

According to the theatre’s website smart casual is acceptable although they say many attend wearing formal attire while others may be dressing more casually. It was a relief to read this comment. Overall, Australians tend to dress casually for most events although they certainly can “dress to the nines” when they so desire.

Tom, with little interest in grilled fish, ordered the fish and chips.

Although no photos will be allowed during the performance, we’ll bring the camera in a waterproof bag and take as many photos as possible of the exterior and interior of the world renowned theatre which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

Bob dined on the grilled swordfish and salad.

Today’s photos are from a night out to dinner with Bob at a popular seafood restaurant in Manly. The beachfront area is rife with shops and restaurants which we look forward to browsing when the weather improves. Since our arrival five days ago, its been raining each day. 

Aquarium in the Fish Shop Restaurant where we dined  with Bob earlier in the week.

A week from Monday, we have a scheduled appointment at the Australian Immigration office in Sydney, after which we’ll know what we have to do in order to be able to board the cruise to the US on April 22nd. We’ll keep you updated on how this rolls out.

Manly Beach across the road from the restaurant.

For those who celebrate, have a safe and fun-filled St. Patrick’s Day. While in Ireland in September, 2014, we didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone after we heard dreadful stories about it. 

Us, in front of the Blarney Castle in Ireland in September, 2014.  Click here for this link.

Instead, we kissed one another with Irish on our minds although Tom kissed it twice on previous visits to Ireland (before I came on the scene). According to Ancestry.com DNA test results Tom is 99% Irish, certainly sufficient to warrant celebration on this special day.

Happy green beer day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 17, 2016:

For a heartwarming and equally heartbreaking story of a favorite alpaca we so much loved, Mont Blanc, please check our year ago post.  Please click here for the details