Thursday, January 5, 2017

Monday, November 21, 2016 – Miami, FL – Partly Cloudy – 80s

Distance from Virgin Gorda to Miami: 1071 Nautical Miles

A cloudy but nice day in Miami.

Our flight – AA242- is scheduled for 12:13 PM so are on the earliest transfer which departs around 8:45 AM – with the uncertainties in immigration and other issues, it is better to be a little early at the airport than late.

Breakfast was not crowded or hectic and we had plenty of time to eat a relaxing breakfast and still get to our meeting point.

I even had time for a final decaf latte before disembarking.

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Our group disembarked pretty much on time and our time through immigration was brief.  We boarded our comfy bus and about 30 minutes later we were at Miami Airport.  We checked our bags with “skycaps” using outside terminals.  I thought these guys were American Airline employees (they wore pilot uniforms and stand behind computer terminals) but found out later that they expect tips.

Going through Pre-Chek was quick and we were off to our gate.

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AA242 – Getting Ready

We are on a B-757-200 today – relatively speaking the 757 is one of the older models put out by Boeing.  This jet had been modified because it had huge wing tips (to improve fuel consumption).  We are in seats 9B and 9C (bulkhead) – although this is a 3X3 configuration, there is no 9A seat – no neighbor and lots of legroom and no extra charge. 

The flight home was smooth and we dined on food procured from the ship.

The cruise had its crazy moments but our pre-stay in Miami was wonderful and our cruise was enjoyable.

Saturday and Sunday, November 19, 20, 2016 – At Sea – Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean – Warm, Partly Cloudy – 70s


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Heading back to Miami – Beautiful days at sea.  Still warm as we make our way Northwest.  It’s cloudy but the seas are calm.



Another fine breakfast on the back deck.  Not a lot of time to take it easy as my third lecture - “Search for the Unknown Titanic Child” – is scheduled for the Cabaret Lounge at 10:00 AM.  the lecture went very well with about 200 plus attendees. This presentation, one of the longest, was completed in just 50 min.



“Search for the Unknown Titanic Child”

Having a morning lecture gave us a whole free day.  Still enjoying the cooked to order items in the pool area – I have been alternating between the veggie burger (excellent) and the grilled tuna wrap (wonderful if it’s made well done).  The onion rings are very good and the salad bar has been OK even though some of the salad dressings are still mysterious. 

The afternoon was spent relaxing and reading on the open deck.

Tonight’s Show is the final Production Show “Who Wrote the Songs”.  It is a tribute to all of the iconic songwriters – Harold Arlen, Barry Manilow, Burt Bacharach, Elton John, etc.  It’s a show we’ve seen before but it was different when sung by a different cast.

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“Who Wrote the Songs”

Again, it was a wonderful show – not too loud with pleasant songs.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Seas are calm and breezes are warm.

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Still Nice

The final day of the cruise was certainly an usual one – there are two lectures today – one in the morning and one in the evening (during what is usually the first show).

I have to eat breakfast pretty quickly because Lecture 4 – “Life and Death of Pharaohs” – is scheduled for 9:30 AM. I thought the early hour would keep the attendance down but that wasn’t the case as 200 plus passengers showed up.

Ellen has pretty much completed the packing and even more importantly, we have Azamara transfers to Miami Airport tomorrow.


Needlepointing on Deck 5

Another lazy day at sea and another nice dinner.

My final lecture is another evening lecture. Lecture 5 - “Whitechapel Murders - Search for Jack the Ripper” – is in the Cabaret Lounge at 8:15 PM.  It is always difficult (even for entertainers) to draw good crowds on the last night of a cruise (packing time) but my attendance turned out to be consistent at about 200 people.

I was finished in plenty of time so the room could be set up for Bruce Smirnoff at 9:30 PM.  Bruce is, once again, very funny.  He doesn’t even have to say anything to be funny.

We are packed and ready to go home tomorrow.

Friday, November 18, 2016 – Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, BVI – Overcast – warm – high 70s.

Distance from Gustavia, St. Barts to Virgin Gorda, BVI:  94 Nautical Miles

A beautiful day in Virgin Gorda.  It is considerably cooler today so walking around should be easier.

No lecture today – I expected to have my third one today.  So I have the day free.

Ellen is on tour today – I am going to take the tender into town with her and check out some of Spanish Town, while she does the sightseeing.  It was much warmer the last time we were here and we did not get to see much of the town.

I walked up and down the main street of Spanish Town (difficult to do since there are no sidewalks and the cars are pretty squeezed into the streets).  I found mostly bars and restaurants in my brief walk so I decided to head back to the Quest.  Before I left, I took a picture of our ship at anchor.


Azamara Quest in the Harbor

I spent the morning catching up on my travel journal accompanied by my iced decaf mocha latte in the Mosaic Cafe and then enjoying a banana daiquiri in the Living Room.  I was inside because I need to plug in my computer.

Ellen’s photos from her “Virgin Gorda Land and Sea” tour are included below.  She got some great shots of the harbor from the hills on the island, visited a historic Copper Mine, and the iconic Baths (massive stone structures on the beach).


Quest Anchored in Harbor



Virgin Gorda Airstrip


On the Boat

The Copper Mine is a BVI National Park.  Copper was mined by the British in Virgin Gorda from 1838 to 1862.  Some of the descendants of the original miners still live on the island




The Copper Mine

Probably the most interesting site on VIrgin Gorda are The Baths.  These granite rock and boulders are located along the beach on a BVI National Park about 1.2 miles from Spanish Town.  They are volcanic in origin but they cooled below the surface.  Eventually, erosion exposed the huge rocks and also smoothed their surfaces into the smooth configuration we see today.

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The Baths (series above)

While hanging out on the deck,I watched the crew secure the last tender in its davit. 


All set to head back to Miami.

After dinner, we saw comedian Bruce Smirnoff in the Cabaret Lounge.  He is an absolute hoot and not very PC which makes him even funnier.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Thursday, November 17, 2016 – Gustavia, St. Barts, FWI – Mostly Sunny – 85F

Distance from Philipsburg, St. Maarten to Gustavia, St. Barts: 12 Nautical Miles

This could be the shortest ride yet in our cruise career – we could have tendered from St. Maarten to here.  To make this an overnight sail, Quest must have been floating with the current.

In any event, it’s another beautiful day and our first visit to this very pricey Caribbean island.

We don’t have tours today, so we plan to tender in and walk around the town of Gustavia.  The tender ride is short and smooth. 

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Tender Ride to Gustavia

The harbor is U-shaped and the plan is walk around the U to the other side of the harbor (opposite the tender port).  It is a very warm day and shade is at a premium.  Gustavia is best described as a Caribbean upper class mall.  It is one expensive shop after another.  There are no McD’s here so I can’t figure out the cost index.  So today, it’s all about getting some steps under our belt and taking pictures – at least until the heat gets to us.

The streets in the town were very narrow and there were plenty of cars traveling them today.  The sidewalks are OK but you have to careful when you cross to the other side.  At the bottom of the U, we came across a park – complete with Anchor statue and a statue of a Bear with a Camera.  After some digging, I found out that the statue is called “Chronicle of the Latter World” and it was just installed a few days ago (November 12). The bear was done by Brooklyn-based Polish artist Joanna Malinowska, and is on temporary loan to St. Barts.

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Smoky, the Tourist

We made it to the bottom of the U of the Harbor (below) but only got a little way around the other side when we called it quits.  There weren’t many stores that looked interesting and it was pretty hot (check out the sun umbrella).  We retraced our steps and headed back to the ship.


Gustavia Harbor

Back on the ship, I went up on Deck 10 and took some nice pictures of the waters around St. Barts.

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Tonight is the “White Party” – a big buffet out on the deck followed by singing by the entertainment squad.  Instead of dealing with the buffet (and inquiring as to the composition of many of the foods), we had dinner in the Restaurant.  A much more relaxing meal.  From there, we headed up to deck 10 and were surprised to get really good seats.

Eating in the restaurant turned out to be a good call since the line for the buffet was still pretty long when we got out there.


Buffet Line

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A bonus – one of the waiters was able to take non-blurry pictures of us decked out in white.



Yes, That’s Us

Then it was party time with Tony and the crew delivering the same playlist that we heard at the last cruise –yet each group of singers has a slightly different take on the tunes.


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The show was pretty much the same as we’ve seen in the past but it’s always fun to watch – nothing like good singing and dancing along with a club soda.

The big finale involved the March of the Crew with crew members carrying flags.  At first, we thought that each crew member had their country’s flag but that couldn’t true (there would be a lot of Pilipino flags and the singer from the US would have the Stars and Stripes).  Just a symbolic indication of the world wide crew.

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March of the Nations – White Party Finale

Back to our rooms to get some rest.