Thursday, March 24, 2016

Friday, December 11, 2015 – Miami, FL – Partly Cloudy – mid 70s

Distance from Virgin Gorda to Miami, FL: 1300 Nautical Miles

It was a wonderful crossing and several nice and warm days in the Caribbean but now it is time to go home.

Treated to another sunrise but this one was in Miami, FL.  The clouds look more menacing than they really are and we don’t expect any issues with our flights.

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Sunrise Over Miami

We took the Azamara Shuttle to MIA and we were there in plenty of time for our 12:10 PM departure.  Our plane, AA1017, is parked at the gate and luggage is being loaded.  All good signs.

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AA1017 Ready to Go

As boarding time got closer, I could tell that all was not well.  Flight crews were buzzing around the check in desk.  Not a good sign.  Finally, the announcement came that our jet was unable to fly (some mechanical issue) and a new aircraft would have to be brought in.  The new gate and time would be forthcoming.

To my surprise, just a few gates away, a new 737-800 appeared as the new AA1017.  Perhaps, they ordered from Amazon Prime.  In any event, the delay was short and soon we were boarding our replacement aircraft.  No seats had to be juggled since the two planes were identical (except for the paint job).

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AA1017 – Really Ready to Go

You can tell by all of the pictures that I had a window seat on this flight.  I think I might have been alone in my row.  The next few shots are from our scenic climb out from Miami International Airport.

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MIA Climb Out

The flight was uneventful – pretty smooth.

As we neared Chicago O’Hare, we picked up a buddy on the port side of the plane. 

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Buddy in the Air

Soon we were on final approach…

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Argonne National Lab Accelerator (I Think)

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It was a great cruise.  Even though we had aircraft issues at both ends, it all worked out.  And although we missed our day in Barcelona, we made up for it with a wonderful dinner. 

We are going to be back on the Azamara Journey in a few months for a Panama Canal Cruise.  Looking forward to it.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Thursday, December 10, 2015 – At Sea–Atlantic Ocean – Sunny 80s

Our last sea day…they have all been great.  Another sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.  Another wonderful breakfast on Deck 5 aft.

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Although not affecting us, an isolated rainstorm provides another interesting vista of sailing on the open seas.

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My final talk, “Identifying the Famous and Infamous”, enjoyed a good turnout – almost full.  A nice round of applause capped off a very successful lecture series (the most successful on either the Journey or the Quest).  I don’t believe any previous cruise on any ship has involved giving 10 lectures – so a new record has been set.

We received an invitation to attend a tour of the Engine Control Room.  We met in the Guest Services lobby and were escorted into the Control Room.  The Chief Engineer, himself, conducted the tour.  It was not really a tour (nothing to tour) but a presentation describing how the engines work and the capabilities of the ship.

It was all very interesting except for the fact that some passengers have to show off their vast (and mostly incorrect) knowledge of maritime engineering.  I would much rather hear the ship’s engineer speak. 

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Engine Room Tour

Tonight the Singers and Dancers are putting on the final production show, “Stage Door to Dreams”.  The show, which we have seen on an earlier cruise, is all about making it big on Broadway or the West End.  It does have some great numbers and terrific dancing and is probably the most enjoyable of the production shows.

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Stage Door to Dreams

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“Seasons of Love”

The show ended with an extended medley of songs from “Hairspray” with Eric dressed up as Mrs. Turnblad.  With the extra height of the wig and feathers, he is huge and has to duck when stepping on the stage.  The big number, of course, is “You Can’t Stop the Beat”.  Nearly every ship on the seas does this number and each version has different choreography.

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Captain Johanes joined Eric after the number to again thank everyone for sailing on the Journey. 

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The Tall and Short of It

There was a post show tribute to ABBA.  I don’t remember anyone looking like the Singers and Dancers did during the years ABBA was on top of the charts. Entertaining, nevertheless.

The big moment was Eric on roller skates whizzing around the room.  When he stretches out and skates on one leg, he almost reaches across half the stage.  It looks a little dangerous but he survived. 

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A Tribute to ABBA and Eric on Skates

We are all packed and ready to go home tomorrow.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Wednesday, December 9, 2015 – At Sea–Atlantic Ocean – Sunny 80s

The weather continues to be fabulous as we make our way to Miami.

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The two sea days are a good time to finish up those books on our Kindles and just take it easy.

The audiences maintain their consistency as “The Whitechapel Murders” pulls another near full house.  Again, Eric attended the entire session.

The Azamara Journey is doing something a bit unusual during the last days of the cruise.  They are changing the bedding in all of the staterooms.  The new bedding is very posh with gigantic pillows and designer sheets.  While they are a major improvement over the old bedding, some passengers apparently are allergic to either the sheets or some material that was not completely washed out before the bedding was installed.  They are getting their old sheets and pillows back for the duration.

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The New Bedding (Pretty Spiffy)

Tonight is the Fourth Candle of Hanukkah and the spread continues to be great.  However, tonight there are no jelly donuts – no special dessert after dinner.  Still, a pretty nice touch and check out the huge menorah.  It appears that the menorah was always on board and all it needed was some bulbs.  Now, we have some real lights.

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Hanukkah Day 4

Tuesday, December 8, 2016 – Virgin Gorda, BVI –Sunny and Warm – 80s

Distance from Philipsburg, St. Maarten to Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, BVI: 80 Nautical Miles

This is our first time in Virgin Gorda (Christopher Columbus gave the island this name because he thought it resembled a corpulent woman lying on her back).  We have been told that there is not much in the way of shops in Spanish Town but we are going to take a look around.

Up early enough to watch another Caribbean sunrise and have a wonderful breakfast on the back deck. 

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Sunrise in Virgin Gorda

I am calling this the best breakfast on this cruise.  All the food turned out great.

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This is a tender port but it looks like the ride will be short as the island is very close to our anchor point.

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Virgin Gorda through our Window

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The Island from the Ship

Getting on the tender was easy and soon we were on our way to the island.

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Ellen on the Tender

This tender ride afforded terrific shots of the Azamara Journey at Anchor.  Perfect angle and position of the ship.

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Journey at Anchor

Also at anchor in the bay is the “Club Med 2” – I had never heard of this ship (unusual configuration) but I am thinking expensive and parties.  The ship has been here a while as I spotted it while I was watching the sun rise this morning.

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Club Med 2

I think we had to bring our own materials to the island including the welcome to BVI sign below.

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It’s true what they said.  There isn’t much to see in Spanish Town.  There are a few shops and restaurants.  The really big site is the “Baths” – volcanic structures located along a beach.  The Baths are approximately 2 miles from Spanish Towns but the roads are uneven and unpaved, the drivers are scary, and it is a hot day.  The solution to the equation is no Baths on this trip.

The harbor area at Spanish Town is very nice with a few spiffy boats docked.

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Azamara Journey and Club Med 2 from the Marina

It didn’t take long to see everything there was to see in Spanish Town so we tendered back to the ship to enjoy lunch and the rest of the glorious day.

Before dinner, we went to the Hanukkah Candle Lighting in the Drawing Room.  Rabbi Fine (accompanied by his wife) has been running the Candle light for the festival.  He spends a little time going over some topics related to Hanukkah.  After the candles, there are latkes and jelly donuts (suf ganyot), plus some Wine.  The spread prepared by the ship is very nice.

The Captain came by during one of the candle lightings (he had never seen one before) and spent quite a while sharing some stories and having some latkes with us.

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Rabbi Fine and our J Crew

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The Hanukkah Spread

The Suf Ganyot cannot be found anywhere else on the ship, so I smuggled some out for dessert later.

Showtime tonight is another double show – Marcos French (Argentine Vocalist) followed by Eric. 

Before the show started, we were treated to a really entertaining Flash Mob dance by passengers.  Natalie and Jodie have been “secretly” teaching the dance.  One member of the audience suddenly stands up and starts the song followed by the other dispersed members of the group until everyone is involved.  It is really a fun thing to watch and it was very hard work to put it together.

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Natalie and Jodie start things off

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The Azamara Journey Flash Mob

Marcos French did a nice job during his show – he has a great voice.  He will only get better as he fine tunes his banter with the audience and works on a more defined ending to his musical numbers.

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Marcos French

Eric, as always, put on a great show.  I captured his “Bring Him Home” below.

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During the day, I got a message from Jodie, asking if I could add another talk to fill the last sea day (I was supposed to give just one talk).  I couldn’t reach her so I left a message in her office suggesting “Identifying the Famous and Infamous” as Talk Number 10.  She confirmed with me later. 

Tomorrow, we head to Florida.