Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sample dinner menu!

Friday, January 31, 2009 – day at sea – slightly more humid
Up at 7 to make dinner reservations in the specialty restaurant for 7 of us – the CARVERY. There is no charge but you have to reserve early as it only seats about 60 people.
I swam and it was lovely. The sun is now up about 7:20 and the water was warm and there were only three of us in the pool. Then I tried the sauna! LOVELY view to the sea and rolling waves and horizon.
Two computer classes, lunch in the restaurant and worked on uploading email onto the computer, another class, worked on the next cocktail party and by then it was time to dress for dinner! There were five of us in the CARVERY and it was very, very nice. I tried the pork with the hard crackle skin on top (just like I used to have in Denmark!) and apples and trifle. In any restaurant, the presentation is so incredible. The shape and size of the serving plates enhances the presentation and then when you eat it…oh wow…the meals are quite enjoyable. The meats and fish are of the best quality.

Here is a sample dinner menu:
There is always a choice from the ROYAL SPA SELECTIONAppetizer – Southwest Roasted Pepper and Avocado Salad and Pineapple Vinaigrette
Entrée – Stuffed Yellow Pepper with Marinated Sauce, Hazelnut Couscous and Haricot Verts
Dessert – Chocolate Banana Cake with Kahlua Sauce

Smoked Halibut Mousse & Jumbo Shrimps, Citrus Salad and Crème Fraiche
Poached Pear with Goat Cheese Quenelles, Frisee Leaves and Candied Walnuts
Sauteed Chicken Livers with Madeira Glaze, Poached Eggs and Fried Crispy Onions
Chicken Mulligatawny Soup
Clear Oxtail Essence, Sherry, Wine Chester Stick

Lollo Rosso, Romaine, Spiced Nuts, Pickled Walnuts & Soy Balsamic Vinaigrette
Mixed Lettuce, Cherry Tomatoes, Scallions & Tarragon Vinaigrette

Bellini (Peach Puree, dash of lemon mix and sparking wine) $6.25 per glass

Cheese Tortellini, Fresh Sage, Brown Butter and Crème Fraiche
Salmon Coulibiac, Layers of Salmon, Spinach, Mushrooms, Eggs and Rice, Baked in Flaky Puff Pastry, Lemon and Dill Beurre Blanc
Pork Cordon Bleu, Pommes Elizabeth, Provencale Sauce
Sundried Tomato & Olive Crusted Rack of Lamb, Pommes Anna & Rosemary Jus
Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagna, Roasted Plum Tomato Coulis

2007 Soave Classico, Pieropan, Veneto, Italy $40 per bottle
2004 Tignanello, Villa Antinori, Tuscany, Italy $105 per bottle

Crème Brulee Cheese Cake, Crimson Berries
Summer Berry Parfait with Vanilla and Honey
Crepe Suzette
Sugar Free- Cherry Clafoutis
Rocky Road & Pistachio Ice Cream with Peach Frozen Yoghurt
Cheese Selection with Stilton, Herb Boursin, Munster, English Cheddar

1965 Sempe, Armagnac, France $16 per glass

We had a fantastic clarinetist tonight, Kenney Martyn. He played Night Train, Five Foot Two and an entire set of Benny Goodman. Great concert!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Panama Canal Transit & Guatemala Photos and day at sea - 1/29

Panama Canal transit (Jan 18) and market place in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala (Jan 21)

Wednesday, January 29, 2009 – at Sea on the way to Honolulu
I participated in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) class! We had to act as if we were as important as our selected number – anywhere between 2-9 with 9 being the “top dog”.

I met with new passengers for a few hours and had lunch with a friend in the Britannia Restaurant, the formal dining room. Even at lunch time, the waiters are formal and spiffy in their uniforms. Was a sunny bright day but chilly to be outside. Worked on files and just as I was headed to the gym, realized it was “formal night” so I returned to dress for another cocktail party with the Captain and the Black and White Ball…(such a life at sea!). Pianist entertainer, Elliot Finkel, from Brooklyn and computer work from the room before retiring for the night!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Long Beach/LA

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 – LA (Long Beach) – sunny, 65 degrees today (snowing in Delaware!)
Los Angeles remained small well into the 20th century. The obstacle to growth was an acute water shortage. Transcontinental rail travel changed everything. Oil was discovered and people arrived in droves and now water was an even bigger problem. In 1923, the much-photographed giant letters were erected on the hill, and the golden age of Hollywood was born. The Depression spurred the film industry; cinema offered instant escape. LA sprawls across five counties and 34,000 square miles, a little more than the state of South Carolina. Water concerns still loom and have sparked word wars between governments and vendors. The life-giving liquid may well become more precious than gold soon.

Some of the tours available for passengers are: Mann’s Chinese Theater, Universal Studios, Japanese American Museum, Huntington Library, La Brea Tar Pits/George Page Museum, Malibu/Pacific Coast Highway, Getty Museum, Farmer’s Market and Olivera Street and of course the Queen Mary, one of the original Cunard ships which is now a docked haunted hotel!

Long Beach port is HUGE! There are miles and miles of freighters and derricks and new cars and tall suspension bridges. It is fascinating.

Everyone had to leave the ship for U.S. immigration. The lines for foreigners were incredibly long and slow and several comments were made. U.S. citizens also had long lines but they moved quicker.

Cunard provided a free shuttle bus to the Queen Mary museum/hotel and it was very nostalgic to visit this “Queen”. She is docked in a beautiful setting and they have an excellent historical perspective of her days – from 1936 when she entered service as a trans-Atlantic ocean liner and as a troop ship until she retired in 1967. At one point, there were over 16,630 men in her as she zig-zagged across the Atlantic to avoid submarine attacks. There were personal accounts by the men who sailed on her and the war brides (and babies!) as the Queen Mary brought them home to the USA. By the end of the war, she was called “The Grey Ghost” as she had been painted grey, and had traveled more then 600,000 miles and played a significant role in virtually every major Allied campaign. You could tour the engine room (at least six levels!) and there were replica rooms for each cabin category, the gymnasium, the dining room, the hair dresser…walking around I felt such a connection. We were touring the “older Queen” and in a few hours would be back on the “newest Queen” being wined and dined and pampered, just as (most of) these people had been in their day. Would our ship also end up in a similar venue? Or be sold for scrap? Or be used as a war ship?

The Passport is a free bus service offered by Long Beach so we headed into town. Drug store stop and back to the Convention Center to get the last bus to the ship.

Back on the ship, we received mail! Yeah! What fun! Such an everyday occurrence at home can mean so much at sea. If you are so inclined… Cunard – Queen Victoria, 24303 Town Center Dr. #200, Valencia, CA 91355 and in the lower corner write QV 8028, GEORGOV – WORLD. Nothing after April 1, please.

New dinner mates…from Sydney, Australia. Enjoyed hearing about their trip to Mexico and Cuba. Then to the theater for Hal Frazier, a singer, with a Nat King Cole style.

Made many phone calls today but did not get any internet work completed. Delivered gift bags and letters to our 22 new passengers! Welcome Onboard!

And off we sailed at sunset. It was a beautiful sunset as we passed through the port and headed out into the Pacific Ocean.

Headed north to California

Monday, January 26, 2009 – sea day heading up to LA
Gray and cloudy and cold!! I tried to swim. I was the only nut out there. The waves were sloshing up high on the ends of the pool, the crew had their parkas on and I was in the pool! I was nuts. It was so cold!! I gave up after 15 minutes and headed back.

Worked all morning and connections to the internet were s l o w. And I mean s l o w. When it takes me 8 minutes to connect to one website, you appreciate dial-up! Just to get the home page!!! But anyway, work was done.

Sun came out after lunch and I enjoyed the passenger talent show – singers and piano playing. I did a really good exercise work out today and was dripping wet. Jane, my trainer, would be proud of me!! Worked again the stateroom; slightly rough seas; had a farewell dinner with two of our dinner-mates and saw Ami Abler play piano for the entertainment. Did laundry and got lint all over everything!! Yech. People are packing and their suitcases line the hallway as they plan to disembark tomorrow in LA to journey home --- into the snow and cold of the winter!!

Cabo San Lucas Mexico!

Sunday, January 25, 2009 – Cabo San Lucas, 84 degrees
Slept until 8 and off we went on a tender to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We have been here previously so we used our time to catch up on the port area attractions, which include a dolphin encounter!

Cabo San Lucas is a city at the southern tip of Baja California with a population of 65,000. It has become a high-end holiday destination with resorts and timeshares on a desert peninsula on the Sea of Cortez. It is known for the rock formation known as El Arco (the arch). There is a lot of marine life, including large sea mammals such as grey and humpback whales (we saw one!) and sea lions and dolphins. Once small fishing villages line the Corridor Highway linking San Jose del Cabo with Cabo San Lucas. Golf courses, luxury hotels and condos are in between these two small cities. The area is known for its world-class fishing – tuna, marlin and dorado among others – and golf courses.

As there is not a pier large enough for the cruise ships, all ships must use smaller boats to transport passengers from the cruise ship to the shore. These tenders hold 50-200 people per vessel. The crossing takes about 10 minutes.

We took a bicycle taxi ride through the city to the flea market, past the stalls of vendors and through almost empty streets – very surprised to not see the streets crowded with other cruise ship passengers and tourists. There were only two ships in town today and it was a Sunday so families and stores were not nearly as crowded as expected.

We toured La Finestera hotel, a 5-star hotel built into the cliffs. It faces the Pacific Ocean and had spectacular pools and beaches, plus a great view of the Dolphin Encounter!

As we sailed out of the city and around the “arch”, we saw a whale spouting three times! Called home and all were safe and sound.

Tonight was formal; it is the Burns Night Scottish Ball. We watched Scottish dancing by fellow passengers who had been practicing all week and enjoyed another cocktail party with the Captain and officers. It seems these happen very frequently!!

On this 17-day voyage, there are passengers from Australia, Austria, Angola, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany (385), Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom (515), USA (571) and Venezuela! Who knew there were so many nationalities onboard!??

Puerto Vallarta!

Saturday, January 24, 2009 – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Up very early for our first private excursion tour. It was gray and foggy out at 7AM when the sun is normally up but soon cleared for a beautiful day. The Sierra Madre mountains were looming in the background we glanced toward land. The ship docked in Marina Vallarta/northern Puerto Vallarta (with a beautiful beach, 18-hole golf course and luxury hotels) and we were soon cleared to depart the ship.

Puerto Vallarta is a resort city situated on the Bahia de Banderas with a population of 250,000 making it the fifth-largest city in the state of Jalisco. Gold and silver were found in the mountains surrounding the city. The peso is the currency and is valued at approx. 1US$ = 14 Mexican pesos.

The group was on time and our guide and bus were late! Bit of a panic but they showed up and we were on our way to the tequila factory – at 9:30 AM!! They showed how the agave cactus is beaten and milled and offered quite a few samples of plain, chocolate and almond and other fancy kinds of tequila. We made our way to the historical center of Puerto Vallarta and along the malecon, the Champs Elysees of Puerto Vallarta – their boardwalk. The mile-long concrete walkway bordering the sea is where locals and tourists stroll, vendors and peddlers sell empanadas, corn on the cob, fried bananas, helium balloons, and cotton candy. It is lined with interesting pieces of sculpture – some mythical, some contemporary and some nautical but all very beautiful – especially the symbol of the city, the sea-horse icon. There were quite a few sand sculptures being built also.

On to the downtown area and we stopped right by a silver jeweler – how convenient! – in for a quick look around and some purchases. Mexican sterling silver is stamped 925 and there are beautiful stones to accent the silver – opals, malachite (green stone), jade (various colors) and many other precious and semi-precious stones.

We drove out to the south along the coastline past $3-9 million dollar residences to Mismaloya Beach, where “Night of the Iguana” was filmed in the ‘60s with Richard Burton and Ava Gardner. Elizabeth Taylor was also along to be with Burton and it was the largest scandal of the day. From that date on, Puerto Vallarta was no longer a sleepy village – it was discovered as dthe new gem on the Pacific.

We drove back to town, to the Plaza de Armas, for a stop at the glass factory store and then to the Church of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe. And we were so fortunate!! They were holding a mass for a girl’s 15-year old birthday celebration. This is a very big event in the life of a young girl – only at her wedding will there be a larger celebration. The church was completely filled with family and friends, the young girl was seated in the center of the aisle near the nave in an elegant gown and the Priest was saying mass. The aisles were overflowing with huge bouquets of flowers and the waiting cars at the entrance to the church were decorated with flowers, just as if it were a wedding. What a wonderful opportunity to get a glimpse into the Mexican culture.

We divided the group into minivans to go up the very steep and narrow cobble-stoned streets to La Hacienda San Angel, the home Richard Burton bought for Elizabeth Taylor. We had a quick tour of the rooms (now an elegant and historical hotel) to see beautiful bedrooms with exquisitely embroidered linens and antique armoires and private plunge pools and an inner grass courtyard with arches… a stunningly beautiful residence/hotel. We had a four-course meal on the upper terrace, with a view overlooking the city and bay, AND as we dined we enjoyed a folkloric fashion show showcasing each state in Mexico and their local clothing. It was absolutely stunning to see the handiwork, the colors, the laces, the head gear and shoes of the people of the various regions. Very professionally presented and we found out later the models are ballet dancers from the PuertoVallarta professional ballet troupe.

We reached the ship and were hot and exhausted after a full day of exploration.
It was an easy departure – due west and now headed north to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Dinner and variety show tonight – Royal Court Singers and Dancers in a Frank Sinatra tribute (just up my alley!) and then the comedian and Ventriloquist. Mexican Fiesta Deck party is being held on the top deck by the pool in the area with a retractable roof.

Jan 23 - sea day - An Actress!??

Friday, January 23, 2009 – day at sea
Up at 6:45 to get the laundry out of the machine and into the dryer! The security man had already taken it out of the machine. I went for a swim while the clothes dried. Lovely!

I joined the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts workshop (RADA) as I thought THEY were performing for the last day during this segment. I had that wrong! It was a performance by the students! I ended up being Juliet, as in Romeo and Juliet, for a one minute performance of the entire play! There were six of us and our task was to perform it to the tunes of Broadway shows. Quite a show, I must say. Me, the shy inhibited one, as Juliet, singing "I can't live...if living is without you..." and some other songs, then falling dead onto the floor. Oh what a photo that would have been. Don't think the family would have believed this one. Me neither, in fact.

Then another computer class and lunch with friends and RADA performed "The Bear" by Anton Chekov, adapted by Brian Friel, in 1/2 hour. It was brilliant (notice that English slang there???).
Prepared for the our first shore excursion tomorrow with walkie-talkies, name tags, release forms, photo forms, tour information, name it. Dinner (semi-formal night) and a comedian from the UK performed -- Kevin Devane. Friends are letting me use their internet minutes -- they have over 700 to use by Tuesday! And then they get another 700 until the next segment. BUT it is Big Band Night and the music is great!!! Both orchestras are combined to give a powerful sound of wonderful big band music -- I could sit in there and listen forever but must get to bed to be ready for tomorrow. Big day ahead and the weather looks to be good. 80 and sunny.

Jan 22 - sea day off the coast of Mexico

Thursday, January 22, 2009
Sea day off the coast of Mexico with turbulent winds in the morning.
Went to do office work in the morning. Made my copies, hand delivered them to the various floors, wrote out my thank you notes and information letter for the tour on Saturday, cleaned up the stateroom, re-arranged the furniture and hid all the suitcases!!! Yeah! It actually looks like a livable room now. I pass by other staterooms as they are being cleaned and see how neat and tidy others are so now this one will almost match theirs…

Had lunch with clients who are currently on their 30th world cruise with Cunard. 30 YEARS of world cruises. Wow. I actually sat out on the balcony for an hour and it felt absolutely wonderful. The sun was warm and strong and felt so good. Then I ran to the pool and swam my laps. Most people just lie around and tan so the pool is never too busy. They were having an ice carving demonstration but the block broke as they transported it from the freezer (probably an easy 400 pounds) so the carvers were pondering on their next step.

There is always live music at dinner, either a harpist or a string quarter. After dinner we had a special cocktail party for the Platinum and Diamond members of the Cunard World Club (frequent cruisers with Cunard) including an awards ceremony (we are Platinum). Our clients were recognized and the Queens Room was decorated with piñatas and Mexican decorations and colors; it looked great!

The entertainment was an extremely energetic pianist, Ami Abler, with classical, pop and Broadway show tunes. I managed to get a load of laundry in to the machine before closing hour but did not manage to get it OUT of the machine and into the dryer before the door was locked. I need to be there at 7AM tomorrow or others will invade our space!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I've tried to add these to the correct dates but can't quite figure that out!
Here is one from our cocktail party on Jan 20 and two from Curacao -- the pontoon bridge and street art!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

At sea - Çocktail party

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 – sea day off the coast of Nicaragua and Costa Rica

Swam again WITHOUT a current machine and WITH a gorgeous sunrise. Oh wow, it was pretty coming up over the water’s edge.
Hurried to our fencing class. The equipment and uniform are enough alone to make you lose weight without doing even the most basic footwork. Left there drenching wet with sweat and I should probably repeat this second class. I’ve not quite mastered how to Parry and Resolve after lunging…! Some of our group took photos of us but you can’t really tell who is who with all those helmets, gloves and straight jackets on everyone.

One more computer class on Excel Version 7 and then to a nice lunch. Again it was absolutely perfect weather outside and most people were outside. We prepared for our first cocktail party in the Hemispheres Lounge on Deck 10 for 5PM. Name tags, tables, signs, brochures, script…it was all the more complicated as the internet WIFI is still down (since Sunday) and you cannot download from your internet or open Word attachments so I can’t open everything I need. The purser’s desk was great and helped me tremendously. When such basic computer needs cannot be fulfilled due to connectivity/technical issues, you go back to “step one” in the pre-computer days!

We had a very nice turnout with 31 guests and Captain Wright, Staff Captain Hall, Hotel Manager Jacqueline Hodgson, Hotel Manager Assistant Pauline McDonald, World Cruise Hostess Gayner Van Deventer and Future Cruise Consultant Rebecca De Reus. Whew! We were very lucky so many officers showed up! That was wonderful. I took some photos and enjoyed the company. Many stayed until 7PM (an hour longer) before their evening entertainment began and we chatted as the sun set on the horizon.

We dined for the first time in the Lido Buffet for dinner, which is a much more casual atmosphere. They had a grill night – ribeye, sirloin, double lamp chop, pork chop, tuna plus the most delicious vegetables and fruit. I have been enjoying the sugar-free desserts and you barely notice the sugar is missing – they are delicious!! This area is the buffet area in the daytime but at night they dim the lights, waiters have on waist coats, and we sat and saw the sky turn various shades of red as we ate. It was a very nice dinner with great atmosphere and men can eat there without a jacket! The other side of the dining room has a reservation only section – tonight they had a fondue night; never a cover charge but limited availability. They rotate on a 3-night schedule between Carvery, Fondue, Indian, Asian/Fusion and La Piazza Italian. We’ll have to try that also!

Brett Sherwood was back tonight, the magician, and Annette Wardell, the opera singer. They leave the ship tomorrow and hopefully we get a ventriloquist. So far we have had trouble getting the entertainers on board the ship at the correct ports of call, so we will see how this one works out! The entertainers sound like “normal” entertainment but they have all been top-notch!

Managed to do a load of laundry just as it was closing. So the guard said he would come back and let us in to get them dried. There are five (free) laundry areas for 2000 guests so you can imagine the competition -- or rather the camaraderie! It is like being in a coffee hall with much laughing and waiting around for the two machines to be vacant. It is a real party. Who would have thought...

Monday - at sea

Monday, January 19, 2009 – at sea along the coast of Costa Rica
Hot, sunny and breezy outside and I spent the entire day inside!!
People are red and tanned and have been enjoying themselves in the sun.

I was up at the 7 and into the pool. Someone had turned on the current machine and it was quite strong and I’m not sure I liked it. It is a very strong current you swim against and with the motion of the ship the water was slamming up against the edges of the pool. It took a lot of muscle to swim one lap in the pool.

Excel spreadsheet computer class at 9:30; Rumba dance class at 12:15; creating a slideshow computer class at 2:30 and found out they have Rosetta Stone language cassettes which we can use on two computers – headphones and all! We could learn French, Spanish and German onboard at our own pace! Missed the lecture on the Music of the ‘40s by Roy Hunt and the Warner Bros. Studios speech by Rick Senat on Batman, Eastwood, Kubrick and Gorillas in the Mist, country line dancing, Classical concert with Pianist Warren Mailley Smith, the Royal Academy Drama Association workshop, art auction…the list goes on and on. There are so many activities it is mind-boggling. I could be bopping from one event to the other all day long, and they are all fascinating subjects! Jewelery, history, music, computers…

Tonight was formal and we were invited to a private World Cruise Cocktail Party in the Queens Room before dinner. Fancy-schmanzy event…with white-gloved waiters, ice sculptures, a HUGE cake (probably 6 feet by 4 feet with the entire world and our ship’s itinerary and a boat showing where we are at the moment!). Chefs were cooking shrimp at stations around the room and cocktails were being served with uniformed officers mingling amongst the crowd. There are 650 people doing the entire world cruise and they had another reception at 7:45 for those on 2nd seating for dinner; it was a beautiful affair.

The entertainment was a production number called DANCE PASSION. Scenes of Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain, the Tango, Latin rhythms of salsa, classical ballet, the Lindy Hop and Jump Jive were showcased with fantastic costumes.

OK – let’s review the daily possible activities. Besides the ones listed above, there is a casino, a Royal Arcade which includes international shops for books, toiletries, tuxedos/dresses, casual clothes including t-shirts, florist and camera shop, the Royal Spa, Cunardia Shop, library with 6000 books, internet centre, Play Zone for children (I’ve seen 3 kids on this cruise!), Royal Cunard Gymnasium, Cunard Fine Arts Gallery and the Voyage Sales Office. There is SO MUCH to do every hour of the day and night.

We’ve received our invitation for our 2nd fencing class. On Guard!

Panama Canal transit!

Sunday, January 18, 2009
Up at 7 with the sun just rising and I had a wonderful swim. The pool was cool and overflowing and I was the only one there for a short while. People were out walking their laps around the decks and we were in a holding pattern for the ships waiting to enter the Canal at the Gatun Locks area.

An historian boarded the ship and provided commentary all day as we traversed the three locks – Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores (which are the closest to Panama City).

The Panama Canal is a major ship canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and runs northeast/southwest. Its construction was one of the most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken. A ship saves over 8,000 miles by traversing the canal as opposed to going around Cape Horn. The canal opened in 1914 and accommodates more than 14,000 ships a years with over 203 million tons of cargo. The typical crossing takes nine hours and the weekly average is 40 ships per day.

Each lock chamber holds 65,800,000 gallons of water and each time a ship makes a complete transit, approximately 52 million gallons of fresh water are spilled into the sea. No pumps are used in filling the lock chambers. There are 18 foot culverts located in the center and the side walls of the locks. From these, the water flows through smaller culverts which open into the floor of the lock chambers. The lock gates at each end are steel structures 65 feet wide, 7 feet thick and vary in height from 47-82 feet and weight 390-730 tons each. The canal is approx. 48 miles long and we spent the entire on the crossing, between 8-5:30.

We were seated in the Commodore Club on Deck 10 (there are 12 decks) and had a great air conditioned view of the locks and ships ahead. S L O W L Y we approached the lock and pulled in to one of the two lanes. They connected the ship with steel cables to an electric locomotive and it kept us in position as we moved through the locks. Waiting for the lock to fill, we found out our ship is JUST the right size for a tight fit, a Panamax vessel, no later than 106 ft on the beam, 965 feet length and with a 39.5 feet draft. It cost the Queen Victoria $300,000 to transit the canal today and when we go through the Suez, it will be approximately double that price!

All day long we were mesmerized by the scenery in the lakes, the locks and the activity with the locomotives and the hordes of people along the canal waving and shouting to us as we went through.

I did manage a tango lesson at noon! That was a new one and I’m sure will take a lot more practice to perfect. They also have country line dancing in the morning and I would like to try that when time permits. The instructors make the dancing so much fun; there is no feeling of competition. Any Cunard voyage would be ideal for those wanting to learn to dance or for dance clubs wanting to perfect their steps. It is all included in your price of the voyage!!

Had lunch with some of my group and ran outside again for more photos. It was very hot and humid but there was a nice breeze. Met with the Hotel Manager, Sommelier and Future Cruise Assistants and enjoyed being served a nice dinner. Decided to forego the show -- we think it is JC Fisher, a singer, but he has had trouble getting to the ship so we are still not sure if he made it or not today! -- and do some work as I am very tired. I hope to see the show on the next segment of the trip or on TV.

Felt sad we never set foot in the country of Panama to visit with the people and hear the language. One man hollered ADIOS to us and that was the extent of the native person contact...but it was a wonderful transit.

(Photos are coming but do not have the links ready to connect...)

Formal dinner on Jan 17

Saturday, January 17, 2009
Cloudy and warm as I got up at 8 to swim!! The pool was 34.4 degrees Celsius, about 86 degrees, so it was very warm for laps. I did exercises and some laps and it was nice and quiet out on deck. The sun was peeping through and I sat out on the balcony and wrote postcards and realized how hot it actually was! I was just as wet as if I had just gotten out of the pool…

After a quick breakfast, I went to a few meetings and then to the dance class to learn the “jive”. It was so much fun! The teachers are funny and patient and the Queens Room is full of students so we have enough to fill six lines of people!!! I felt full of energy afterward and had really enjoyed it.
Then up to the Cunard shops and Gene bought me for my birthday a 2009 world cruise t-shirt with the itinerary on the back of the shirt. Supposedly they only sell them today and then a few days before we get off the ship…we’ll see if they hold true to their word. On deck 3, there are shops to fill any need you may have: tuxedo, dresses, shoes, toiletries, books, cards, drinks, candies, jewelery…wonderful choices if you must have it now!

I ran to attend my invitation for an “exclusive” from the hair stylist manager for a seminar on their offerings since I am on for full world cruise. On port days, prices are $45 for wash and blow dry and $70 for a haircut plus there are many spa treatment options. Prices are slightly higher on sea days.

Another computer class at 2:30 on how to edit photos -- and I have decided my goal is to have the slide show created by the time I get home!

Then up to organize the formal dinner in the Todd English restaurant with the place settings, gifts and menus at each seat. We were 25 for dinner and it was very nice, even if I have to say so myself as the host. Ready to drool??? Lobster and baby corn chowder soup, truffled potato love letters as appetizers; then a choice of ricotta gnudi, brown butter lobster or seared yellow fin tuna or grilled beef tenderloin followed by chocolate fallen cake with vanilla ice cream OR mandarin orange crème brulee or selections from the cheese trolley and then finally the coffee/teas and Todd’s homemade cookies and biscotti!! Whew. We had four tables and everyone showed up but one person. I had invited the professional photographer and conversations seemed to flow easily. We all seemed to have a nice time, they liked their gift (an optical paperweight) and we were there past 10PM.

I attended an opera concert by Annette Wardell and she had the string quartet join her on several numbers. She has also sung for the royal family several times.

After attending to several comments from the guests and delivering a birthday card (who is smiling now I wonder??!!), we turned the clocks one hour back and hit the hay!

Panama Canal tomorrow bright and early and we look forward to it!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Curacao - Friday, Jan 16

Friday, January 16, 2009
Gray and warm – cloudy and rainy – sunny and humid…a real mixture today of weather.
We were up at 7 to see the views as we cruised in to the port of Willemstad on the island of Curacao, just off the coast of Venezuela. It is a self-governing part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with a population of 131,000. The original inhabitants were Arawak Amerindians and the first Europeans were members of a Spanish expedition in 1499. Many were from the Valencia region and knew how to cultivate oranges. Unfortunately, climatic conditions did not favor sweet Valencia oranges – the fruit was bitter. It probably happened by accident that some of them fermented – and why waste perfectly good liqueur? Margaritas would not be the same without Curacao!!

With its various Dutch and Spanish colonial style architecture, Willemstad is on UNESCO’s world heritage list. The buildings have verandas, porches, slatted shutters and pastel colors to accommodate the warm Caribbean climate.

We walked to the overgrown ballfield to see where Andruw Jones played – a Curacao native now playing for the Atlanta Braves/LA Dodgers. As we headed in to town – a short 10 minute walk – we stopped the local police for a tourist question and they offered us a lift! We found the Governor and Prime Minister’s offices, heard an organ recital in a beautiful church and worked on the computer from a café. And I mean we worked. Connectivity is low and slow and then it began to rain. We could not get anything on the screen to move, thinking water had gotten into the computer, so that really concerned us but a friendly fellow passenger helped us get it back working again. Thank goodness!!!!

We explored the floating market place where fisherman come with their fresh catch, walked along Fort Amsterdam where a cannonball is embedded in the chapel wall compliments of Captain Bligh, past the Jewish Museum, the Numismatic Museum and enjoyed the Kura Hulanda Hotel and Museum’s anthropological collection on Curacao’s cultural history, including the slave trade. What we didn’t have time for were the Animal Encounter at the Sea Aquarium, the Ostrich and Game Farm, the recreated slave village of Hofi Pachi Sprockel and Hato Caves, which were a hideout for runaway slaves.

My favorite and the most unique feature in Willemstad is the Koningin Emmabrug (Queen Emma Bridge) which is a floating pontoon! It was designed in 1888 as a toll bridge but is now a pedestrian structure. Two ship engines are required to move the 16 pontoons that support the 551-foot bridge, affectionately nicknamed “The Swinging Old Lady”. You are walking across and the bell rings…hurry to the end of the bridge or else you will be on for about five minutes while it swings to the other side before you are able to get off again!

It drizzled and we had sunshine all day long. We explored the casino in the new Renaissance hotel at the waterfront and returned to the ship. I took a short nap!!! Yeah! But I was awakened to the phone ringing to hear that two of my passenger were leaving the ship for an emergency and would return to the ship when we docked in LA, on January 27. That was sad news and I hope their return home will be safe.

I became engrossed in the Cunard Historical TV channel while I was trying to work. They showed the QE2 from the ‘80s (when I was on) and had the old TV advertisements and actual footage from the ship. What a grand way to cross the Atlantic! The sumptuous meals, the substantial staterooms, the grand parties at night and (silly) games on deck during the day…

I did go up to exercise again and was proud of myself! We sailed off as I huffed and puffed on the stair master.

Dinner is becoming old hat; always wonderful choices, wonderful presentation and wonderful tastes. I had spring rolls, green salad, haddock and pavlova with fresh fruit (a New Zealand specialty (meringue)).

Our entertainer did not make the ship!! So we enjoyed a marvelous magician – Brett Sherman -- who has worked with all the top names in the business. He was incredible. It was also the Buccaneer Ball being held in the beautiful Queens Room. Crew were dressed up as pirates and there were hats, eye patches and bandanas for sale, colorful (fake) Polly-want-a-cracker birds swinging around the room in open cages and puppets of bones and skeletons. Formal dancing takes place here every night and it is so graceful and relaxing to watch. The couples just seem to glide to the music…it is magical.

Sea day - Jan 15

Thursday, January 15, 2009
Breakfast seems to go by the wayside so I can sleep a little longer and get down to the purser’s desk for meetings; I finished off the invitations to the officers for the cocktail party.

Ran to a classical pianist concert in the Queens Room by Warren Mailley Smith who just made his debut at Carnegie Hall – Chopin, Mozart, Listz…wonderful! Then to my computer class on cameras and adobe photoshop, and then to the fitness center. I found out I can catch some of the lectures I may miss in person as they are on the Cunard TV channel; I can do the treadmill and other machines and watch/hear the lectures!! Great news to be able to do two things at once PLUS look out at the beautiful sea ahead of us - - the fitness room is in the front of the ship on the 9th floor.

It was a formal night again but not a ball night. We enjoyed the Cunard singers and dancers, the string quartet and pianist Warren Mailley Smith in the Royal Court. It is a magnificent theatre in its resemblance of a London West End theatre. Maroon walls and heavy velvet drapes with walls decorated in the Victorian era, extremely comfortable seats with excellent sight lines, fantastic acoustics, box seats with butler service and tables for snacks/drinks and with great sight lines! The 1st floor entrance has paneled walls lined with old programs and newspapers from 1893 and more recent dates. It is a beautiful first-class theatre.

Some of you may know I am a James Bond fan…tonight was also James Bond night in the Commodore Club! Every drink was named after a movie and of course they had his signature drink…shaken, not stirred!

Sea Day, January 14

Wed, Jan 14 – at sea
The seas are calm. We saw a large group of seals bobbing up and down at breakfast.
I called the new passengers who came onboard in Ft. Lauderdale. Met with a couple who would like to change rooms from an inside to an outside stateroom, but the ship is full and even oversold. We have to wait to see on that one. Another gentleman’s shore excursion questions were answered and the other lady’s account was credited for two excursions she did not want. Some issues resolved and some created…Just the beginning, I’m sure.

We enjoyed a very nice pub lunch in the Golden Lion pub with friends celebrating his birthday today. He is a French/English translator for governments and they have traveled to many of the same countries we have.

Took a camera/computer class and that will continue tomorrow…

We have a private lounge for the full world cruisers. Newspapers in all languages, coffee, tea and cakes available most of the day, plus a dedicated hostess – all in the most beautiful lounge at the front of the ship with sweeping views of the seas.

Tonight was the first Ball – Black and White. We met the Captain through a receiving line and had a welcome speech with formal introduction of all the officers. Waiters with white gloves and drinks circulated around the opulent Queens Room; with the ball gowns and tuxedos, it was quite elegant.

Made new friends again at dinner – a couple from Melbourne, FL who are sailing the entire voyage to Southampton and then flying home from FL from there. Entertainment was Gary Arbuthnot on the flute again and he was superb. Dancing followed in the Queens Room. We set the clocks an hour ahead for the visit to Curacao, in the southern Caribbean.

I missed…Musical Historian Roy Hunt: “Cole Porter – His Life and Music” and Guest Jeweller: Marek Chmiel about “Carl Faberge and his works of art” and another talk on “Amber” and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art workshop on the basic techniques of learning how to use the voice in the art of acting.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monday - at sea

Jan 12 – Monday
Up at 8:15. I had worked until 2:30 so I was exhausted. We ran to the fencing class!! There are only 12 allowed at a time. We had partners, learned how to hold the foil and wore the white jackets and helmets. Then we all hollered “on guard” and learned to “lunge”! We were quite a sight. We were really sweating by the time we came out of the straight jackets (yes, they are actual straight jackets) and it was something we would not normally have learned.

Over to the computer room and Mitch is a very patient man. If you can just imagine everyone boarding the ship and wanting to have their laptops working – immediately! Myself included! He helped each one of us and I am now able to upload, work and then send so I can use fewer minutes of connection time for less cost. We’ll see….it took us a few hours to figure that out! Everything seems to take longer but it does eventually get accomplished! Had some meetings and there is still much preparation for the first event on Saturday night.

Still gray and misty out but they are claiming 80 degrees tomorrow in Ft. Lauderdale. The sister ship, the Queen Mary 2, will be docked near us and several are transferring to her. We board her on April 20 in Southampton for the trans-atlantic crossing so it will be a thrill to see her up close!

The hallways are decorated in black and white photos of past stars who have sailed on the Cunard Line. The photos are a trip down memory lane…Bing Crosby, Buster Keaton, Clark Gable, Bob Hope, Rita Hayworth, Charlie Chaplin, Debbie Reynolds…I love reading, seeing and living the history of Cunard! There is an entire museum onboard dedicated to Cunard memorabilia.

Had an interesting dinner as we were joined by Giacomo, an Italian opera director in Milan. He is working on his next production in Milan and hopes to contact his preferred female “star” for casting from Ft. Lauderdale tomorrow.

The show was a full production number of Irish dance and how the Irish left their land to go to other countries for work. All the dancers are top notch – beautiful bodies, excellent voices, many many costume changes, complicated dance routines, professional sets and lights…it was as if we were looking at pre-Broadway talent just waiting to be discovered. They ended with the typical Irish dancing and it was excellent.

Seas are calmer now and it should be a beautiful day tomorrow. Missed the lecture today on maritime history but it will hopefully be repeated. I forget that we are on for such a long time and with different segments where new people are coming and going, they will offer the same speeches a few times – thankfully!! I may not miss anything at all this way. I still have the mentality that this is a 7-14 day cruise…

Sunday, January 11
Since we had not unpacked the night before, it was difficult to find something to wear quickly! After digging through various suitcases, we managed to have breakfast in the Lido buffet (a bright airy room with large windows) and signed up for fencing classes! Tomorrow at 9AM, I will be attired in my white jacket, helmet and baggy pants and learn how to fence (this is the only ship at sea which offers this option) in the most beautiful Queens Room – a gorgeous ballroom where formal dances are held each night (an entourage of gentlemen hosts are also available).

The 10:00 lecture was on the history of Warner Brothers film studios, complete with silent screen clips and the family history; very interesting to know they immigrated to Baltimore and were first shoe cobblers before moving to Youngstown Ohio and New Castle PA to open their first move house. Exercises filled my afternoon! I did two classes – abs and arms and then the machines – enough to make me sweat and laugh. I even managed to walk back to the room using the steps (as opposed to taking the elevator) and I hope to continue that little bit of exercise.

I met with some of my group in private sessions and the purser’s desk staff have been extremely helpful and the ships’s WHITE STAR SERVICE is evident in all you meet – whether walking down the corridor or being welcomed into the dining room.

After 6PM, the ship has three categories of accepted attire in the public areas; elegant casual, semi-formal dinner and formal. Men should wear a jacket every night and only on the elegant casual night can he be let loose without a tie! Tonight was semi-formal and, honestly, the passengers look grand. It is just like the days of old and I welcome the change from today’s present baggy pants and sweatshirts.

Dinner was wonderful with halibut mousse and giant shrimp, surf and turf and lime crème brulee. Of course, each course had the most enticing description but the tastes were just the same to the girl from Bear, DE.

We were joined by a lively 93-year old women from Melbourne Australia and she had stories to tell; especially about our non-welcoming LA immigration man who really gave her a hard time (she told him shame on him for harassing a 93-year old and I quite agree with her!). She is on the ship for 41 days and has been on before.

The show tonight was Brenda Cochrane, a Scottish singer who can belt out the songs of Connie Francis, Julio Iglesias and other singing legends.

MOVED THE SUITCASES (yeah, I get a gold star!!) and finally have some room to walk around. Now have to tackle the internet center to get the account set up… if you are reading this, you will know I succeeded!

The weather has been rainy, cold, gray and misty all day and I barely noticed. There are so many activities onboard and not enough hours to do it all!

My goal is to certainly try.

We are onboard!!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009
We are onboard!

As we passed by the “World Cruise 2009” poster which greeted us on the pier and after embarking on the “Queen”, it began to snow!!! It was surreal to be on the balcony of the Queen Victoria in Manhattan watching the world turn white and wintery. We were delayed in our departure due to weather delays from incoming flights but were on our way about 5:30, watching the twinkling NY skyline through the snowflakes and mist.

Our cabin is on the 8th deck, has a lovely balcony (with 2” of snow on the top of the railing!), and two chairs and a small round table. There is glass at the bottom of the rail so we have a full view of the water and world. The room has a 2-seater sofa, nice desk area with all kinds of outlets, a flat screen 15” TV, good lighting, beige walls and golden/cream duvets on the very comfortable beds. And with my four boxes of gifts for my passengers and our five suitcases, carry on, back pack and computer case, we are finding the space challenging but we will shortly be handing out some items and should be able to eliminate a few boxes. We also found extra drawers under the bed so once we get organized, it will do just fine. To give you an idea…the room is approx. 10’x 24’ including the bathroom and closet space! 248 sq. feet

Cunard is an English company so there are many British nationals (including Canadians, Australians, Irish), many Americans and some French, Germany, Spanish and Japanese. Our dinner mates were from the UK and Chicago. One couple will change ships in Ft. Lauderdale onto the larger ship, the Queen Mary 2, and continue their around the world trip going around South America. The other couple will sail with us for 17 days and get off in LA. So many options for length of cruise, destination and accommodations!

Dinner was as expected – superb presentation, selection, quality and service. Soup, salad, smoked salmon with pasta and carrot cake and pistachio ice cream were my choices but there are at least four choices for each course. There is even a "spa menu" so healthy dining is always an option.

Then for the evening’s entertainment in the Royal Court Theatre! Fantastic flautist – Gary Arbuthnot – with such a clear and strong sound; a powerful musician. It is the only theatre with private boxes at sea! It is a beautiful Victorian theatre with very comfortable chairs.

We crawled over the suitcases and boxes and fell into bed, still in a dream world.

Friday, January 9, 2009

5 minutes to go...

Suitcases are in the car. Five total. One computer. One box.
We have one left to pack -- the carryon.
Five minutes left to go before January 10, 2009, our embarkation date.

Thank you for your emails and notes of support!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Where are we going?

Wednesday, January 6, 2009
Departure is less than a week away. I have been learning a new blackberry, setting up automatic bill paying, organizing files, participating in conference calls and PACKING!

I have also been thinking about the passengers on my list who are doing some of these same activities to prepare for the voyage. We shall meet soon!

Documents arrived in two large boxes on Friday afternoon. I spent most of the weekend going over spreadsheets, instructions for every possible scenario and talks I will present, gifts and letters I will pass out, deciding on wines for dinners (with help from NKS Distributors and friends, thank you!)...

We embark in Manhattan in the dead of winter, stop in Ft. Lauderdale and continue to the southern Caribbean to Curacao (near Aruba and Bonaire – which are called the ABC islands), on through the Panama Canal and up the western coast of Latin America with stops in Guatemala and Mexico…


Date Description Arrive Depart

Jan 10 New York 5:00PM
Jan 11 At Sea
Jan 12 At Sea
Jan 13 Fort Lauderdale 7:00AM 5:00PM
Jan 14 At Sea
Jan 15 At Sea
Jan 16 Curacao 8:00AM 5:00PM
Jan 17 At Sea
Jan 18 Panama Canal 7:00AM 4:30PM
Jan 19 At Sea
Jan 20 At Sea
Jan 21 Prto Quetzal Guatemala 7:00AM 6:00PM
Jan 22 At Sea
Jan 23 At Sea
Jan 24 Pt Vallarta Mexico 8:00AM 4:00PM
Jan 25 Cabo San Lucas Mexico 8:00AM 2:00PM
Jan 26 At Sea
Jan 27 Los Angeles 7:00AM 5:00PM
Jan 28 At Sea
Jan 29 At Sea
Jan 30 At Sea
Jan 31 At Sea
Feb 01 Honolulu HI 7:00AM 6:00PM
Feb 02 At Sea
Feb 03 At Sea
Feb 04 At Sea
Feb 05 At Sea
Feb 06 Apia Western Samoa 12:30PM 7:00PM
Feb 07 X Intl Dateline 8:00AM 5:00PM
Feb 09 Nuku'alofa Tonga 8:00AM 5:00PM
Feb 10 At Sea
Feb 11 At Sea
Feb 12 Auckland NZ 7:00AM 8:00PM
Feb 13 At Sea
Feb 14 Christchurch NZ 8:00AM 6:00PM
Feb 15 At Sea
Feb 16 At Sea
Feb 17 Hobart AUS 9:00AM 6:00PM
Feb 18 At Sea
Feb 19 Sydney AUS 7:00AM 7:00AM
Feb 20 Sydney AUS 5:00PM 5:00PM
Feb 21 At Sea
Feb 22 At Sea
Feb 23 Yorkeys (Cairns, AUS) 8:00AM 6:00PM
Feb 24 At Sea
Feb 25 At Sea
Feb 26 Rabaul Papua New Guinea 8:00AM 4:00PM
Feb 27 At Sea
Feb 28 At Sea
Mar 01 Saipan Mariana Islands 9:00AM 6:00PM

Mar 02 At Sea
Mar 03 At Sea
Mar 04 At Sea
Mar 05 Nagasaki Japan 8:00AM 5:00PM
Mar 06 Pusan Korea 8:00AM 5:00PM
Mar 07 At Sea
Mar 08 Shanghai China 8:00AM 8:00PM
Mar 09 At Sea
Mar 10 At Sea
Mar 11 Hong Kong 8:00AM 9:00PM
Mar 12 At Sea
Mar 13 Nha Trang Vietnam 9:00AM 6:00PM
Mar 14 Phu My Saigon VIetnam 7:00AM 7:00PM
Mar 15 At Sea
Mar 16 Laem Chabang Bangkok 7:00AM 7:00PM
Mar 17 At Sea
Mar 18 At Sea
Mar 19 Singapore 7:00AM 7:00AM
Mar 20 Singapore 1:00AM 1:00AM
Mar 21 Phuket Thailand 7:00AM 6:00PM
Mar 22 At Sea
Mar 23 At Sea
Mar 24 Cochin India 12:00PM 7:30PM
Mar 25 At Sea
Mar 26 Mumbai India 7:00AM 6:00PM
Mar 27 At Sea
Mar 28 At Sea
Mar 29 Dubai 8:00AM 6:00PM
Mar 30 At Sea
Mar 31 At Sea
Apr 01 At Sea
Apr 02 At Sea
Apr 03 At Sea
Apr 04 Aqaba Jordan 9:00AM 8:00PM
Apr 05 At Sea
Apr 06 Suez (Canal) (Cairo Egypt) 1:00AM 5:00PM
Apr 07 Alexandria Egypt 7:00AM 8:00PM
Apr 08 At Sea
Apr 09 Kusadasi Turkey 7:00AM 1:00PM
Apr 10 Istanbul Turkey 8:00AM 6:00PM
Apr 11 Mykonos Greece 1:30PM 7:00PM
Apr 12 Athens Greece 8:00AM 5:45PM
Apr 13 At Sea
Apr 14 Civitavecchia (Rome) 8:00AM 8:00PM
Apr 15 At Sea
Apr 16 Barcelona Spain 8:00AM 5:30PM
Apr 17 At Sea
Apr 18 At Sea
Apr 19 At Sea
Apr 20 Southampton
UK 7:00AM
Apr 20 Transfer to Queen Mary 2 for 6 nights to NY Arrive NY and DE on 4/26

It is an exciting itinerary! There are several maiden ports of call (when a ship arrives in a port for the first time). She is usually welcomed with tug boats shooting sprays of water and keys and plaques being presented to the Captain from the Mayor/Governor of the local community. (In October, we saw the QE2 leave for the last time from Halifax with the tugboat sprays and it was very moving. The QE2 is now in Dubai to be refurbished and docked as a museum after her 25 world cruises and 800 transatlantic crossings. I was very fortunate to have sailed twice on her transatlantic voyages.)

The Queen Victoria had her much anticipated maiden voyage in December 2007.

On January 10, 2009, she begins her 2nd around-the-world cruise. There are 2000 passengers (and space is waitlisted in case you still want to join me!) and the ship is 90,000 gross tons – a medium-sized ship in the cruise ship market of today.

The reason I am hosting
Preferred Travel (in Essex, CT --ph 860 767 2658, is the head office of my agency. We are a member of Ensemble Travel (, which provides passengers who have been booked through an Ensemble member agency discounted fares, upgrades, onboard credit, complimentary shore excursions in specific ports, VIP cocktail parties and special events, like our world cruise dinner. I will be there to coordinate those events and to assist with any personal requests.

I have been in the travel industry for over 20 years and I love the work. I enjoy meeting and working with my clients and the tour operators. I enjoy digging in to the research to find the best trip for the best price.

My goal is to create special moments and to fulfill dreams.
And I love to travel. You could say I live to travel.


Back to the packing: I completed the fifth case tonight. I believe there will be a minimum of six. (Did you catch that word “minimum”?) I still don’t have the dry cleaning back!

Oh yes, and for our transport to the pier, I changed the mid-size rental car to a minivan. Now I’m thinking 18-wheeler.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Saturday night: I'm wondering...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Tonight I felt challenged. Could two people really need five suitcases for a 3.5 month trip???? Could they? Am I over-packing??...even if it is a L O N G trip…

AND I still have more to pack...clothes which have yet to go to the dry cleaner, the heavy folders and box of files, toiletries, medicines and all the last minute stuff you throw in “just in case!!!”.

So I called my friend who has been on the cruise five times. The first year she brought two cases and last year she had five -- for one person. So I feel much better. I’m not on suitcase overload yet.

Ask me again on Friday night.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Where in the World is Luisa?

Friday, January 2, 2009, Bear, DE

The host information arrived today.
That was a reality check.

Luisa, you are really going on a world cruise.
On the Queen Victoria.

And you leave in a week.
And you still have a lot to do!

Formal clothes, passenger paperwork, name badges, deck party clothes, jewelry, shoes, toiletries, MP3 player, camera, exercise clothes, client paperwork, computer, medicine, semi-formal clothes, passport (!!) with necessary visas !!!!, elegant casual clothes, gifts...the piles around the house are numerous... did I mention that most of them are clothes??

An 105-day cruise takes a considerable lot of planning.

The past few days I have been wondering...
How many tubes of toothpaste do you need for 105 days for two people?
How many pairs of black shoes do you need for 22 balls and 11 formal nights?
How many times must I train on this new Blackberry 8830 to finally understand how to call from the ship and overseas for the minimum price of $1.99 per minute?

I know it will all come together. Family and friends have been helpful and supportive.
It is a new year and a new adventure and a great opportunity await.

I'm ready for it.
( Just let me step over this last pile of clothes to get to that suitcase...)