Thursday, January 28, 2016

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 – Houston, TX – Partly Cloudy – 72F

We have arrived in the port of Houston…our first time here.  Not the prettiest port – more commercial looking than Port Everglades.

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Port of Houston

Breakfast in the Horizon Court was not as hectic as I imagined it might be and the only thing really missing from the menu was waffles.  We had a nice and surprisingly quiet breakfast and are on schedule for our 8:30 AM transfer to Bush-Houston International Airport.

No immigration hassles on this cruise so we got our bags and boarded our bus for the approximately one hour ride to the airport.  Our flight isn’t until 1:09 PM so we will have some time at the airport.  Fortunately, that time will be spent in the United Club. 

The United Club is a fairly large and comfortable club at this airport.  The snacks and drinks are good and the seats are comfortable with power plugs everywhere.

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View from the United Club (IAH)

Ellen looks pretty comfortable in her prime spot near a window.  That looks like an iced tea with a bagel and cream cheese.  Not sure what I had (mostly party mix and the like) but I am sure it was good.

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Ellen at United Club

Our gate was pretty close to the United Club and when we were sure that our plane was there, we headed over to the gate. 

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UA1239 at the Gate

The plane boarded on time and soon we were in the air.  We are in the sardine seats but they are not as tight as I thought they might be.

The plane landed on time.

A terrific cruise on many levels – we must try to do this one again.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 – At Sea – Gulf of Mexico – Sunny – 79F

Continued beautiful weather at sea…

After breakfast, I headed up to the International Cafe to go over today’s presentation.  Of course, this involved ordering the last Decaf, Skinny, Mocha Latte of the cruise (very good). 

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Mocha Latte and Prepping

My final talk today is at 11:30 AM (competing with lunch).  I don’t usually end on this talk – “Forensics and History – The Whitechapel Murders” but this is the way the schedule worked out.  Again, the theater was full - not an empty seat with people sitting on the stairs and some people again leaving because there were no seats.  I calculated the attendance at approximately 670 people -  a new cruise record for me for theater attendance density.  The presentation went well and ran about 55 minutes. 

Spent most of the day on Deck 16 aft reading – I started “The Girl in the Spider Web” by David Lagercranz, a continuation of the Lisbeth Salander – Millenium Series by the late Stieg Larssen.  The book has the same style as the original but the scope of the story is very much expanded compared to the Trilogy.

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Deck 16 Aft – Our Favorite Place

We were treated to a beautiful sunset off the port side of the ship

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Sunset and Glassy Seas

We had dinner in Horizon Court.  Although the buffet usually had something for us, tonight we came up empty for options.  We waited for fresh pizza, which was good.

We decided not to attend Variety Showtime featuring comedian Miguel Washington and Chris Watkins (fiddler).

Our suitcases were out in the hall by 7:30 PM but we were so tired we were back in the room by 9:00 PM.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Monday, November 2, 2015 – At Sea – Gulf of Mexico – Sunny – 84F

It’s a beautiful day in the Gulf of Mexico as the ship makes it way to Houston.

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My next talk is once again an early one - 10 AM – “Forensics and History: Mystery of the Romanovs”.  This has always been a popular lecture.  Today is no exception with the theater filled to capacity and people standing in the back.  I was told that some passengers left because they were no seats. The attendance was north of 652 passengers.  This was somewhat surprising since 300 people debarked in Port Everglades.

You might also notice in the pictures below that the side screens are also deployed – this was Ellen’s doing and it gives the people on the side a chance to see the slides.

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We spent almost the entire day on Deck 16 Aft on lounge chairs.  I finished “Nine Dragons” another Harry Bosch novel by Michael Connolly.  I also finished “Torch” by Linn Anderson.

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Sunset – Gulf of Mexico

After dinner, we attended the Production Show: “Piano Man”, the music of Billy Joel.  It was a very enjoyable show.

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Looking forward to another nice day tomorrow – seas are smooth.

Sunday, November 1, 2015 – Port Everglades, FL- Partly Cloudy – 84F

Finally, in sunny and warm, Southern Florida…

We are both on tour today.  We couldn’t stay off the water so we are on “Intercoastal Waterway and Las Olas Blvd”.  Our ship for the water portion is “The Carrie B Paddleboat”.  The waters are calms and the deck affords good views of both sides of the waterway.

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Atlantic Ocean in the Distance

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On Deck

The little yacht below was once owned by stuntman, Evel Knievel.

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The Superyacht Infinity below is up for sale for a cool $250 Million. 

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The Infinity

The house below sports a faux gator on its lawn.  What? Not enough real gators around.

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The house below belongs to Director/Producer Michael Mann, best known for the TV Series, “Miami Vice”.

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Michael Mann Casa

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“New River” Section of the Waterway

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Entering the Intercoastal Waterway

The house below is called the “White House”.  It belongs to the GMC Engineer who invented auto air conditioning.  I guess those royalties are just rolling in.

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Hurrican Wilma came through the Ft. Lauderdale area and the storm and surge did some modifications to the shoreline.  One of these changes is “Wilma’s Beach”.  Not sure what it looked like before the storm.

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Wilma’s Beach

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Just Cruising the Waterway and Checking out the Houses

The boat headed out to more open water – from here, we got great views of the ships docked at Port Everglades.  I just couldn’t resist taking several shots of Caribbean Princess (for the Photobook).

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Caribbean Princess

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Looking Back at the Ft. Lauderdale Skyline

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Heading back to the “New River”

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The Independence of the Seas

We disembarked the paddleboat and continued our bus tour.  The route took us along the beautiful beaches of Ft. Lauderdale.

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FLL Beaches

Our final stop was Las Olas Boulevard – one of the posh shopping and dining areas of Ft. Lauderdale.  Some of the shops were closed this Sunday but all of the eateries were open and full of locals and tourists.

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We walked along a long stretch of the Boulevard and checked out some of the shops.  We did find one very interesting sculpture of the classic three monkeys.  Couldn’t resist taking a picture.

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Hear, See, Speak…

Soon we were back on the ship.  The many ships docked here today leave in a specific order and we were able to see the departures from the top deck.

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HAL Eurodam Departing

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Independence of the Seas Departing

After another very nice dinner, we took in the Headliner tonight, comedian – musician Gary Delena.  He was very funny and also played guitar and sang.  A highly enjoyable show.

We are off to Houston…

Monday, January 25, 2016

Saturday, October 31, 2015 – At Sea – Atlantic Ocean – Partly Cloudy – 77F

Starting on the warm segment of the cruise…a beatiful day at sea.

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Up and out early for my next presentation at 10 AM - “Forensics and History:  The Search for the Unknown Titanic Child”.  This time people arrived early to get good seats.  At showtime, the place was full with passengers standing in the aisles and in the back - SRO.  There was some difficulty with the AV cable so the talk did not start until 10:15 AM or so but the audience stayed and was very patient.  We eventually used a jump drive and the AV laptop but it was not my laptop that was the source of the problem (the AV laptop also had the problem).  Apparently, there was a connection issue involving the cable that runs from the stage to the projection booth.  They will get that straightened out for the next talk.

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Capacity Crowd

A whole day to spend on the warm deck – that’s exactly what we did.