Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011 – At Sea – Atlantic Ocean – 300 miles from the Azores - Cloudy – 69F

And I thought the time change yesterday was bad…

A cool but smooth day at sea…

Sea Day 5-12 (Small)

My talk this morning, “Secrets of the Royal Families”, is scheduled for 9 AM in the Coral Theater.  Since I have to be at about 8:20 AM to check out the AV situation, I need a 6:30 AM wakeup call; because the Windjammer Cafe doesn’t open until 7:00 AM, we decided to order room service (raisin bran, omelets, bagels, toast).  Breakfast showed up about 6:45 AM and wasn’t bad (and was still warm).

Because the projector in the theater is really designed for the production shows, PowerPoint slides look a little fuzzy in this AV system.  I asked my contact to see what he could do to improve the quality of the slides.  Today, it was what it was.

The audience started coming in about 8:30 AM (many with coffee in hand) and the final tally was pretty good (maybe about 300 folks); there were even people in both of the balconies.

 Lecture 5-12 (Small) 

I struggled a bit with the presentation – time change – but 99 percent of the material came across OK.  The most difficult part was trying to read the blurry slides – the audience probably didn’t get anything from some of them.  We will try to work on that for the next one.

Feedback from the audience was positive so the slides were not a significant negative.

On the way back to the room, I figured it was time to get a picture of a neat sculpture I had been seeing the entire cruise (below). The “6” is the deck number and not part of the work.

Sculpture on Centrum 6 (Small)

I finally finished “Jack The Ripper: Case Closed” – a lot of words to try and make the case but only one or two pages of actual forensic work. 

After dinner, it was show time in the Coral Theater.  Tonight was the second production show - “City of Dreams” – a “love story through space and time”.  Nice costumes, great choreography, but the songs though well done were obscure.

 City of Dreams 1 (Small) City of Dreams 2 (Small)

City of Dreams Finale (Small)

Finale complete with streamers

We are on tour tomorrow so straight to the room to get some rest.

Seas are still smooth…

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 – At Sea – Atlantic Ocean – Partly Cloudy - 75F

The time change has done me in…

But another beautiful day at sea…

Sea Day 5-11 (Small)

Got up an hour late so I was behind schedule for my 10 AM talk. 

A quick breakfast and at 9:20 AM, I am setting up for my fifth presentation: “DNA: Genetic Witness”.  Another capacity crowd (standing and sitting on the floor) of more than 250 people.  Again, the talk was advertised in the Cruise Compass.  I understand that we will be changing the venue to the Coral Theater for tomorrow’s presentation.

Lunch in the Windjammer.

I attended Ted’s talk on “China: Discovers the World” at 2:00 PM and then the rest of afternoon is spent in the Solarium.  I have been looking an an interesting work of art out by the pool area for the whole cruise and I feel it needed to be shared.  Below is “Man by the Pool with Ball” (not the real title).

Pool Guy (Small)

We checked out “Celebration 4” in the Centrum before going to dinner in the Windjammer Cafe.  Following dinner, we got great seats in the far aft section of the Safari Club and listened to the “Celebration 4” again until Showtime.

The headliner tonight was “Tracy Shield: An Evening with Celine Dion”.  Tracey Shield is a British women, who won a contest on Brit TV for best impression of a singer – in this case, Celine Dion.  She not only looks a bit like Celine Dion, but has her voice and movements down perfectly.  Her voice is indistinguishable from the original – the whole picture is pretty eerie.

 Tracey Shield 1 (Small)

At one point, she went up the aisles during one of her songs.  Even though she was less than five feet away, she was moving so fast, that she’s just a blur.  She did tell me to “shoot my best side”

Tracey Shield (Small)   

Near the end of her show, she came out of character to tell us about her British background and how she came to be a Celine Dion tribute artist.  She then went back into character to finish off with “The Heart Will Go On”.

Tracey Shield 2 (Small)

The audience loved her and so did we.  Just great…

There is another time change tomorrow so we head back to the room.  The Compass does indicate that I am speaking in the Coral Theater tomorrow but that the talk is at 9:00AM.

We order room service for 6:30 AM and set a wake up call for 6:30 AM.  I need to get there early to see if there are any AV issues.

Seas are call but I did have “decaf” coffee for dinner.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 – At Sea – Atlantic Ocean – Partly Cloudy – 75F

Another cloudy start…

Sea Day 5-10 (Small) 

A daily dose of jet lag…had a little trouble sleeping and then getting up due to the time change but I’m in the Windjammer at 7:15 AM.  Not as many early risers as usual. 

The talk today, “Cold Cases Solved”, was advertised in the Cruise Compass passed out last night – I wonder if that will bring additional people to the talk.  When I arrived at 9:30, the main seating area was already packed.  Wayne (AV) also took the projector from its perch in the ceiling and placed in on a table on the main floor.  This completely improved the quality and alignment of the image.  Crisp and clean.

At 10:00 PM, the place was packed – people were on the floor (below) and standing.  It was difficult to get a count but it was well over 200 people.  I promised I would check with the Activities Department about changing the venue.

 People on Floor for Lecture (Small)

The talk went well and finished on time even though I included the OJ Moment in the presentation.  After the talk, while they set up for Bingo, I get a chance to talk to folks attending the talk (below).

Chatting with attendees (Small) 

The afternoon was spent in the Solarium, which was packed due to the windy cool conditions on the open deck.  I am still re-reading “Portrait of a Killer”.

Before dinner, we listened to the “Celebration 4” (easy listening band from Hungary) in the Centrum.  The Centrum is a pretty impressive structure (below), resembling a hotel.

Centrum 1 (Small) 

On our way to dinner in the Windjammer Cafe, I got a great shop of a beautiful sunset.

Sunset 5-10 (Small)

The headliner for tonight’s show is Mike Riley, a comedian-singer-guitarist from Milwaukee, WI.  He was a very funny guy and put on a great show.

After the show, we listed to a few songs from Lyn MacKay and then onto the Centrum to hear two of the Celebrity Singers, Amanda and James, put on a concert. 

 Celebrity Singers 1 (Small)

Celebrity Singers 2 (Small)

They were really good but since we are turning our clocks ahead again tonight, we called it a night.

The seas are smooth…

Monday, May 9, 2011 – At Sea – Closest Land Bermuda – Mostly Sunny – Mid 70s

Another beautiful day at sea…

Sea Day 5-9 1 (Small) Sea Day 5-9 (Small) 

Didn’t sleep all that well – up at 3 AM.  I suspect that the Decaf coffee I had a dinner was actually the full octane variety.  Always a mystery with the Decaf…

NEWS FLASH – I found the cottage cheese in the breakfast buffet.  At least, it wasn’t on the last day of the cruise.  It looks like Waffles and Cottage Cheese for breakfast for most of the remaining breakfasts. 

I arrived at the Safari Club at 9:30 AM so that I could work with Raymond to correct the video projection.  He changed the resolution and aspect ratio in the Control Panel, which apparently did the trick.  Today’s attending was in excess of 200 people.  The time change made for a more reserved session but the attendees still participated in the session.  A number of folks stayed after to chat and ask questions.  The feedback has been very positive so far.

We had lunch today in the Windjammer Cafe – I put together a fish sandwich (tasted exactly like a McD’s Fish Fillet) and also had a tuna wrap and tastes of sides.  We got some desserts from the Sea View Cafe and had them on the back deck.  It was nice and warm (see below).

E Lunch on Back Deck (Small) H Lunch on Back Deck (Small)

At 2:00 PM, I attend the “Longitude Talk” given by Ted Poulton.  From there, it is another afternoon in the Solarium (below) for puzzles and reading.

Solarium (Small)

Kindle and Solarium (Small)

After dinner in the Windjammer Cafe, we caught the tail end of the 7:00 PM show – Craig Richard, a sax player.

We took in Lyn MacKay in the Schooner Bar who was at the top of her game tonight.  I really liked her version of “It’s almost if we never said goodbye”. She’s started to pick up fans so there are more people requesting songs.

At 10:45 PM (yes, really), we are in the Coral Theater to hear Rich Ceisler do his late night comedy routine.  He was still funny just talking off the cuff about his career and what annoys him.

Another forward time change tonight so I expect to be a zombie in the morning.

The Cruise Compass has my talk advertised on the front page.  I wonder if this will bring in additional attendees.

Seas are still calm.

Sunday, May 8, 2011 – At Sea - South of Bermuda – Sunny - 78F

A cloudy start to another day at sea…

Sea Day 5-8 (Small)

Again, today’s talk, “The Science of CSI”, is at 10 AM in the Safari Club.  Today’s audience was 175 and very interactive as well.  I spoke to many people after the talk.  Responding to a request, I added some Osama Bin Laden DNA information to the beginning of my talk.

We did a progressive lunch – soup and salad in the Windjammer and Fish and Onion Rings (and Tuna melt) in the Sea View Cafe.  The Windjammer Cafe featured Mother’s Day Cakes.

M Days two Cakes (Small) Mother's Day Cake (Small)

It was a bit windy on Deck 5 so we spent most of the afternoon in the Solarium.  I actually went back and read (in more detail) Patricia Cornwell’s “Jack the Ripper: Case Closed” on the Kindle.  Maybe I can pick up some additional insight I can use in my talk.

Dinner was in the Windjammer Cafe – I had a “make your own” pizza (mostly sauce and onions and little cheese).  It was OK – maybe a little less sauce the next time.  Another Caesar Salad completed the meal.  We had dessert on the deck.

Tonight is Formal Night so we are not going to the Captain’s Reception in the Safari Club.  We tried to listen to pianist, Anna Babak in the Schooner Bar but the noise from the line to the Reception drowned out the music. 

The headliner tonight is Mario D’Andrea (an Italian-Australian singer and electric guitarist).  I liked his singing (very good) better than his guitar segments but overall his show was great.

We are changing our clocks tonight (one of several forward moves) so we went to the room since it was late on the new time.

Seas are smooth…

Saturday, May 7, 2011 – At Sea – just beyond the Bahamas – Sunny – 78F

A beautiful day at sea…

Sea Day 5-7 (Small)

Sea Day 5-7 1 (Small)

Breakfast in the Windjammer Cafe consisted of oatmeal and a waffle.  No cottage cheese to be found during breakfast.

My first talk, “The CSI Phenomenon”, is scheduled at 10 AM in the Safari Club.  The venue is nice but the AV system had trouble projecting the whole slide.  About 110 people attended the talk and they were very interactive. 

Most of the afternoon was spent in the Solarium.  I gave up on the book - “Scarpetta” – because I just don’t like the reboot of the series and the new writing mode used by Patricia Cornwell.

At 4:30 PM, I went to the gym for a little workout (while Ellen was at Stretch Class).  I eventually did 40 minutes, 2.2 miles, and burned 250 calories.  I also did reps on some of the machines.

Dinner was in the Windjammer Cafe – Mexican Night (Enchiladas and Chile (actually sautéed veggies)).   Lemon meringue pie saved the meal; we had dessert on the back deck so we could see the great sunset.

Sunset 5-7 (Small)   

E and Sunset 5-7 (Small)

After dinner, we listed to Anna Babak, pianist, in the Schooner Bar.  From there, we went to the first production show, “West End to Broadway”.  The show was great including some well known Broadway tunes, including “I Knew Him So Well” from “Chess” (below).

West End to Broadway - Chess (Small)

There was a great duet from Les Mis (“Let Him Live” and “On my Own”).  The closing number was “Copa” (below).

Copa 3 (Small) West End Broadway - Copa (Small)  Copa 2 (Small)

We again took in Len MacKay in the Schooner Bar.  We asked her to re-sing “Hallelujah”, which she did. 

The seas are still smooth…

Friday, May 6, 2011 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Continued

Embarkation and Sail Away (Continued)…

The muster drill was the shortest we have every encountered (maybe 10 minutes tops).

My meeting with Raymond Palmer, the Program Cruise Director, was also very quick and to the point.  I also met the other speaker on board, Ted Pohlman, who is the Destination Speaker.  There is also a Bridge Instructor and Arts and Crafts (Origami) instruction on board.

We have seen this sail away before, but it is still scenic…

Sailaway FLL 2 (Small) Sailaway w Pilot (Small) E and Hair at Sailaway (Small)  Sailaway FLL 1 (Small)

Checking with the Maitre D, we found out that we had no table assignment.  We decided to not eat in the Dining Room this cruise but rather check out the Windjammer Cafe and the Sea View Cafe for lunch and dinner. 

The Sea View Cafe on Deck 12 is open for Dinner until 6:30 PM.  We tried the Fish and Chips, Chips, Salsa, and Guacamole, and the Grouper Cesar Salad.  All the food is prepared to order which is a real positive.  The food was good.

The Welcome Aboard Show in the Coral Theater featured comedian, Rich Ceisler, who was very very funny,  Low key but spot on with his observational humor.  Also got a preview of the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers (most of whom, unusually, are from the US and Canada), 

After the show, we listened to Lyn MacKay, pianist and vocalist, in the Schooner Bar.  She’s a belter but we enjoyed her singing – she also sang some of my requests.

Our room seems quiet – no engine noise.  Hoping it continues.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Cloudy – Warm - 70s

Embarkation day

Not the greatest night’s sleep even though it was a real quiet room – not sure we even had neighbors.

Wake up call for 7:00 AM and off to the lobby for breakfast…cereal and waffles (consistent and good).  Before we left, I took a few pictures from our room of the pool and the lagoon.

Pool Area from room (Small) View from La Quinta room (Small) View from room (Small)

Our transfer to the port was scheduled for 10:00 AM and it left right on time.  The trip to Port Everglades was short (10 minutes) and within about an hour, we were on board the Jewel of the Seas.  This ship, exactly like the Radiance of the Sea, accommodates about 2000 passengers.

We are in room 3134 in the aft section.  The cabin is very nice and is an outside room with a nice window (no porthole).

Cabin 3134 1 (Small)

Cabin 3134 (Small)

We had lunch in the Windjammer Cafe (Deck 11).  The buffet seemed small for a ship of this size but the food was good (salad, pizza, and tuna wraps).  They even had a veggie soup – potato leak – which was very good.

While exploring the ship, Ellen got an opportunity to model a facial in the Spa.  While she was there (for three hours), I spent time in the Safari Club doing some last minute checking into DNA and Osama Bin Laden identification (in case somebody asks).  The Safari Club is where my presentations will be.  A nice cozy venue.

Safari Lounge (Small) 

Safari Club

We do not have seats in the Tides Dining Room and will be in the buffet at least for tonight.  We may check back with the Dining Room tomorrow looking for a table for two.

Back in the room now.  Our bags made it to the room. 

I am scheduled to meet with Raymond Palmer, Cruise Program Director, at 5 PM to go over my talks.  A letter outlining my schedule for the entire cruise was waiting in the room – very nicely organized.  I might meet Simeon Baker, the Cruise Director, at a later time. 

Will upload this now and continue later…

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Transatlantic / Baltic Cruise – Jewel of the Seas – May 5 – May 30, 2011

Travel Day

We are all set to embark on a month long journey – crossing the Atlantic and then on to the Baltic for a 12 day cruise.

We are on AA1730 to Ft. Lauderdale with a 2:35 PM departure.  Our cab is prompt, the weather is cooperative, and our plane is at the gate when we get through security.  It seemed that the security checks were a bit more thorough as a result of the recent developments internationally this week.  Belts off, wallets checked, and everyone had the opportunity to get body scanned. 

 737-800 ready to go (Small)

Our 737-800 ready to go

It’s dreary (as it has been the last month or so) in Chicago so it takes the plane a while to get above the clouds.  The flight is smooth and soon we are about an hour from Fort Lauderdale (both pictures below)

one hour from FLL (Small)

One hour from FLL1 crop (Small)

The flight is about 10 minutes early and the wait for the hotel van is about 15 minutes.  As we made our way to the van stop, we noticed a line stretching from the entrance to security, out the terminal door, and onto the sidewalk outside.  We were told that the wait for security was at least 40 minutes.  I am glad we are not flying home from here.

We are staying at the La Quinta-Ft. Lauderdale Airport in a nice room at a good price.  We signed up for the shuttle to the cruise port tomorrow.  I am already looking forward to the waffles.

All we need now is a good night’s sleep.  So far the hotel is very quiet.