Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Monday, December 9, 2013 – Fort Lauderdale, FL – Sunny – 85F

We have successfully crossed the vast Atlantic Ocean…

The ship actually arrived in FLL around 10:30 PM Local Time to deal with a medical emergency on board  - the ship was cruising at about 20.5 knots to get into port faster. 

I was actually awakened in the middle of the night by what I thought was the sun coming up but was actually the lights from the pier.

Did not take any pictures today.

We were up early to grab breakfast in the Ocean View Café – not too crowded.  At our designated time, we went to the Dining Room to wait for our tag color and number to be called.  That took a little longer than expected but the real wait was in Passport Control.  I estimated that that took about an hour – just a lot of people squeezing into four or five Immigration Booths.  We were in line with Jayne Curry, who was chatting with passengers.  My cap and glasses disguise was ineffective as many passengers came up to talk to me, as well.  We eventually got through the line and boarded our transfer to the Ft. Lauderdale Airport.

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare – Our flight American 2374 (B737-800) – was scheduled to depart FLL at 1:25 PM.  We had lunch at the airport and also ran into Jayne again in the Lounge (I think she was going to Philadelphia and then back to England). 

The flight itself was uneventful and soon we were home.

A long but highly enjoyable voyage on the Celebrity Equinox.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Monday, December 2 – Sunday, December 9, 2013 – Westbound Atlantic Crossing

On our way across the pond…

Monday, December 2, 2013

A cool but nice day at sea. 

We noticed another vessel off the starboard side – later the Captain said it was the Celebrity Constellation also traveling to Fort Lauderdale.  Race on…

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Racing the Constellation to FLL

My second talk this cruise – “Cold Cases Solved” - is at 11:00 AM in the Equinox Theater.  There are quite a few people already in the theater when I arrived at 10:30 AM.  But as it got closer to the start time, more and more people kept coming – not only on the main floor but in the balconies.  When I took the stage, we were at near Full House. I estimated the attendance at over 1000 people based on 1300 capacity.  The largest audience I have ever had.

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“Cold Cases Solved” – Near Full House

The talk went well – essentially no one left early.  Nice round of applause at the end.  One special day.

After changing clothes, we went to the Ocean View Café for lunch.  The place was packed and we could not find a seat.  It appears that a sizable percentage of the folks attending the talk all arrived at the Ocean View Café at the same time, slamming the place.  With the turnover, we eventually found seats.  That’s impact.

Relaxing and reading completed the afternoon. 

After dinner, we took in the lounge entertainers as we had seen the headliner, Brooks Aehron – Pianist, several times on previous cruises.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

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I have the day off today – the Captain is delivering the “How Our Ships Move” program.

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Guess Who?

After lunch, we planned to catch the Travis Turpin Matinee at 2:00 PM.  When we got to the theater, I started to feel a little woozy and decided I would go back to the room and lie down.  When Ellen came down after what was a great show, she took my temp – 101.9F.  Felt just like the flu (fever, aches, chills, and queasiness).

Showtime tonight was “Remix” but we stayed in the room.

Ellen called Daniel to let him know that I had come down with something and we would call him in the morning to let him know my status.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

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Got some sleep – thought it best to order breakfast from Room Service – scrambled egg and pancakes.  Fever down a bit thanks to acetaminophen.  After giving a lot of thought and assessing my state, I called Daniel and said I would do the presentation.

After a shower and a couple of pills, I headed to the theater.  Instead of mingling with the audience, I sat in the chair waiting for the talk to start. 

At 10:15 AM – start time for “Mystery of the Romanovs”, I had a  capacity audience.  I think even Damian was amazed – I know I was.

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Full house – Mystery of the Romanovs

Although flu wobbly, I got through the presentation – it went well, I think - and leaned against the stage while fielding some Q and A from the audience.

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Post presentation Q and A

After the talk, I was back in the room to rest.  Still wobbly.  I watched “Man of Steel” on Demand more than once (on mute) and just took it easy. 

Had a mild lunch and then back to the room.  Some improvement.

We had dinner in the Ocean View Café – I had the chef make some vegetarian fried rice. 

Listened to the Sunrise Trio in the Grand Foyer – they sing with a strong accent but they are easy to listen to.  The drummer seems to be using a box to keep the beat.

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Sunrise Trio – Grand Foyer

Felt well enough to catch David Lucas for Showtime.  David is a half Asian- half Portuguese- Spanish – all funny juggler. He is part of the Sin City show in Las Vegas.  He puts on a very good show.  He finished his show by showing old TV clips of his uncles on the Ed Sullivan Show in the fifties.

Still trying to get better.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

A beautiful day at sea…

Still not well and I’m running out of acetaminophens.

Ordered breakfast delivered again – the scrambled eggs and pancakes seem to be a good choice. 

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I am on at 11:00 AM today – “Search for the Unknown Titanic Child”.  Again, the theater appears to be full (maybe a few empty seats here and there). I feel well enough to visit with some of the audience members.  Damian, jokingly – I think – said that maybe he should alert the Dining Room for a potential slam because the Celebrity Brunch is running this morning through 1:00 PM.  If a large number of passengers decide to go the Bruch following the talk, there might be a problem. 

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The talk went very well – this is usually a well received presentation.

We did not go to the Brunch – went to the buffet instead.  I wonder if it was slammed – a strong possibility.

Dinner was in the Ocean View as well.  They are probably wondering what has happened to us in the Dining Room.

The Headliner tonight is our friend, Jayne Curry.  Jayne was in great voice tonight and her banter with the audience is spot on.

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Jayne Curry – bringing down the house

Friday, December 6, 2013

Feeling a bit better but still ordering breakfast from room service.

I am on early today - 9:30 AM – “Life and Death of Pharaohs”  - it is another full house.  This is most amazing.

Spent most of the day in the Solarium trying to rest.

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Chilling in the Solarium

This ship has scheduled a number of matinee performances.  Today’s afternoon show features both David Lucas and Jayne Curry.  They were both great – David showed pictures of his father on the Ed Sullivan Show doing some incredible acrobatic stunts.  Jayne stopped the show with her cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”.  She might have been better than the original.

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Jayne Curry – I Will Always Love You

After dinner in the Ocean View – some kind of mild Asian Dish, we went to the Theater for the Production Show – Limelight.  It was a tribute to Broadway Shows and although some of the numbers were apocryphal, the show overall was great.  I liked the segment from “Mama Mia” (below).

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Back in the room after the show – my fever is mostly gone and I am feeling much better.  Good thing -  only two caplets left.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Finally, a beautiful, non-sick day at sea – as we get closer to Florida, the weather is improving (much warmer).

Whatever virus decided to attack me is gone (and no one washes his hands or uses sanitizers like I do) and I am almost back to feeling like myself. 

I am back in my routine – breakfast in the Ocean View Café (my standard waffle breakfast). 

My seventh talk is scheduled today at 10:30 AM – “DNA Photofitting – Genetic Eyewitness”.  It is another capacity crowd.  When I asked if anybody was familiar with the Derrick Todd Lee – Baton Rouge Serial Killer Case – two women along the side indicated that they were from Baton Rouge and remember the whole story.  When I finished with that part of the presentation, I asked them how well I had presented the story and they said it was right on the button.  Good feedback.

The best part about being well again is that I could get back into the crowd before the presentation.  This time I went to the left side of the theater (from the stage), which I hadn’t visited the entire cruise.  What a fun thing – the pre-talk schmoozing.

We had lunch out on the back deck – something we couldn’t do until the temperatures got comfortable.  

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On the Back Deck

We ventured up to the Lawn Club on Deck 15.  The grass looked nice and the sun was bright.  We met some passengers who said they spent most of their time up on the Lawn Deck – a quiet, scenic spot.

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Lawn Club

We still like our spots in the Solarium so that’s where we spent the rest of the day.  One nice thing about the Solarium is its proximity to the Spa.  Being next door to the Spa means knowing when the Spa staff are giving complimentary mini-massages.  They are five minutes of pure relaxation.

Showtime tonight featured Don Gavin – “Godfather of Boston Comedy”.  It was very nice to have a comedian tonight and he was very funny.

After the show, we went to the Ensemble Lounge and listed to Le Chic Duo – they sound like they are from France.  They sing mostly soft rock and are very easy to listen to (content and volume).  I even got them to smile for the camera.

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Vive Le Chic Duo


Sunday, December 8, 2013

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A final, beautiful day at sea – warm and sunny.

I got up early and had breakfast in the Ocean View Café.  Bonus:  A spectacular sunrise in the Atlantic Ocean.

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My eight and final talk – “Identifying the Famous and Infamous” is also a full house – the seventh capacity crowd in a row.  Without a doubt, this has been the most successful cruise (in terms of attendance and feedback) to date.  This will be hard to beat.

For the first time this cruise, it was warm enough to sit out on the open deck.  We literally spent hours out there reading and just watching the waves.

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Deck 5 Finally

I did finish some e-novels during the cruise – “Running Blind” - A Jack Reacher book and “Blasphemy” by Preston and Childs.  One thing missing from this cruise – naps in the Solarium or Open Deck.  Maybe next time.

Farewell Showtime brought back Jayne Curry for the third time – she certainly got some terrific face time with the audience, who loved her.

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And, of course, no farewell show would be complete without “We Will Rock You”

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Packing didn’t take long and our bags are out in the hall.

Tomorrow, we will be in Fort Lauderdale.

Sunday, December 1, 2013 – Tenerife, Canary Islands – Mostly Cloudy – 75F

Local Information. Tenerife is the largest of the Canary islands (named after dogs not Canaries).  The land mass encompasses 800 square miles and is shaped like a triangle.  The Capital is Santa Cruz de Tenerife (pop 220,000).  The Anaga Mountains are seen behind the city of Santa Cruz, the islands’ capital.  The Volcano Teide at 12,198 ft  is the highest point in Spain.

It is warm outside…

We have an early tour today at 8:50 AM – “Northern Island Panoramic Tour (Cesar)”.  We need a quiet, scenic, mostly bus type tour after all of the heavy-duty touring at the previous ports.  We are up so early, that we get some great predawn pictures of the capital city, Santa Cruz, from the open decks.

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Sunrise over the Atlantic – Approaching Santa Cruz, Tenerife

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Santa Cruz

Up on the pool deck, I was able to get a picture of another cruise ship approaching the city.

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We were both in our Cruise Escort gear as the ship maneuvered around the bay and approached the pier. 

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Top: Santa Cruz; Center: Ellen same scene; Bottom: Ready to get on that bus

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Almost there

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The Anaga Mountains – Volcanic No Doubt

We gather with our groups in the theater and soon we are off on our tours.  Ellen has her “Economy Plus” seat at the rear of the bus.

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Ellen on her Bus

The bus route will take us to two scenic overlooks – each of these has a restaurant associated with the viewpoint, but today being a Sunday, the eateries are closed.  The pictures below were taken from the Mirador Humboldt. The Humboldt Viewpoint looks over the Orotava Valley, which is known for its ubiquitous banana plantations.

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Volcano Teide in the Distance

The green areas in the pictures below of the valley are those banana plantations.  I am thinking that they will never run out stuff to make banana splits.

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The next viewpoint is Mirador San Pedro, which afforded nice views of the Atlantic as well as the rest of the island as the coastline curves around.

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View from Mirador San Pedro

Our final stop is the resort town of Puerto de la Cruz, located in the Orotava Valley.  This town, population approximately 30,000, was the first holiday resort in the Canary Islands.  Today, the place reminded me of a mini-Cannes, complete with beaches and plenty of hotels and shops.  There was a nice pedestrian walkway along the beach.  Wish we could have spent more time there.

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Jardin Beach, Puerto de la Cruz

We did find a fellow passenger to take a picture of us near the beach.  Not bad.


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Photographic Evidence – We were there

We did get a chance to walk along the boardwalk for a few minutes – even found some facilities.  The shops were nice and open – must have know some ship folks would be coming by.  My bus was scheduled to leave first – I was able to get an interesting picture of Ellen accessing the free WiFi at McDonalds (Mickey D has a far reach) in the center of town.

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Logging On

We got back early enough to grab lunch and head back out to get a better look at Santa Cruz.  The last time we were here in 2009, we took a tour that took us to an historic village and we saw little of the capital city.

The port and/or ship provided a shuttle to the port entrance so we hopped on and soon we were along the harbor front.  The weather was pleasant and perfect for walking.  Santa Cruz in located on hills so we did the up and down the hills thing along several streets.  The shops were modern, the streets were clean, and the people appeared friendly.  Most of the streets were traffic free – pedestrians only.  If we get back here in the future, we will do more exploring of this interesting city.

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Pedestrian Walkway – Santa Cruz

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Municipal Park

We started to walk back toward the harbor to find our bus drop.  On the way we encountered a most interesting wall on one of the buildings – a living wall complete with flowers and plants.  It was fantastic.

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The Wall is Alive

One of the more impressive sites near the harbor is the Plaza de Espana, complete with an artificial lake (not very full of water today) and the Monumento a los Caídos (a tribute to the casualties in the Spanish Civil War).

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Plaza de Espana

We took a bridge from the town to the bus stop – being up a bit allowed me get a nice (if hazy) picture of the Celebrity Equinox and two companion cruisers docked at the pier.

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Equinox and Friends

After dinner in the Dining Room, we went to the Theater to catch another old friend, Travis Turpin, doing impressions and singing.  He came into the audience as “Elvis” to spend some time with a passenger sitting in the row in front of us.  I couldn’t resist take a flash photo of Travis.  Can’t get any closer than that.  His show was updated a bit from the last time we saw him and he included the cool clip of his family accompanying him on one song.  A very entertaining show.

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Travis Turpin – Thank you very much…

After the show, we caught some music in the lounges before heading off to Celebrity Central to catch the 11:00 PM “Sin City Comedy Show”.  The show, which runs in Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood was hosted by Jason Duty (yes, he made fun of his name as often as he could).  The show also had a “Burlesque Dancer” and a headliner comic, Greg Vaccariello.  He was a hoot, mixing it up with the audience and doing some nice adlibbing.

A late night and a long day but a great day.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Saturday, November 30, 2013 – At Sea – Atlantic Ocean – Mostly Sunny – 68F

A warm day at sea…

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It’s a big day for Lecturers today.  I am on at 10:15 AM; Destination Speaker, Scott Homler is on at 1 PM and Carolyn is on at 2:30 PM.  I don’t know if it’s better to be first or last.  We all have our name in “lights” on the marquee.

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My presentation – “The CSI Phenomenon” – draws approximately 400 people.  The attendance is hard to estimate but there are certainly more people than Celebrity Central could hold.  I was Introduced by Damian and the talk went well. 

I attended both Scott Homler’s talk on the Canary Islands (I did find out that the Islands are not named after Canaries but rather dogs (Canis)) and Carolyn’s talk on “Exploring the Depths of Space”.  The audiences certainly got their money’s worth with respect to enrichment today.

After dinner in the Dining Room, we caught Showtime in the Theater. The Pampas Devils are still on board so it was an evening of tango and bolos.

In the Ensemble Lounge, we listed to the Brazilian sounds of the Elaine Abras Quartet.  She is a very good lead vocalist.

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Elaine Abras Quartet