Tuesday, November 30, 2021

November 11, 2021 – At Sea – Atlantic Ocean – Partly Cloudy – 80s

Didn’t sleep well due to the shimmy/shutter of the ship; the ship was also creaking (I thought creaking was an issue with older ships but Apex is brand new) and I did not put in my earplugs because the evening was quiet up until then.

I have a 9:15 AM Lecture this morning so I was at the Oceanview Café when it opened.  I had my usual waffle and trimmings, which was yummy as usual.  I should mention that the coffee is still good as long as it is diluted by a third with hot water.

Even though it was early, another nice crowd came out for “Forensics and History: Identifying the Famous and Infamous”.  A bit larger than the turnout pre-island hop. The weather outside is beautiful and a formidable opponent for any lecturer.  I was introduced by Darren and I hung around afterwards to chat with passengers.  The actual feedback has been very positive.

Up in Eden, I am still making my way through my book – “One Day Gone” – and am starting to think that this book, while reasonably written, may be a religious book instead of a mystery.  There has been more talk about praying than about forensics and police work.  I will give it a few more pages before I bag it.

We haven’t gone to the Cosmopolitan Restaurant 


for dinner yet because we cannot find enough items on their regular menu.  It took a whole cruise for us to figure out that this restaurant is the only one open for lunch (maybe only on sea days).  They have a lot of interesting items on their lunch menu and it’s walk in.  We got a great table by the window in the corner.  We both had the fried mushroom starter (terrific).  I had a green salad with their super ranch dressing. My main course was a veggie burger, the same ones served up in the Mast Grill but here you don’t have to order and come back to pick up your burger.  The burger was a huge Beyond Burger (my best guess – I asked the waiter to find out but he never came back with any info).  It was super good and it didn’t smell like the burgers I cook back home.  I will have to do some detective work to find out what this burger really is.  Ellen had an egg panini that I think she liked.  Both mains came with freshly prepared fries.  However, the main event was the dessert, a chocolate brownie with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream – easily the best dessert of the cruise so far.  I should mention that Olga, the Hostess, here is very accommodating as are all of the hosts and hostesses on the ship.  It was also nice to have a relaxing lunch with a view.

Ellen has wangled an Art Tour of the Ship.  She came back with all sorts of interesting information on all of the installations on the ship.  Unfortunately, there were no handouts so it was difficult to remember all of them.  One of the most interesting was a large metallic installation on the floor near the Normandie Restaurant.  I thought it was a compass but Ellen said it has something to do with measuring the waves.  Not convinced of that.  In the ceiling several floors up from that instrument was a view of the constellations.

After lunch, we went to Eden and found some nice seats where we could watch the water go by.  It looked like the ship was a full throttle because the reported speed was 19.5 knots.  It’s a long way back to Florida.

While we were there, we caught a rehearsal session of the aerialists who are part of the Eden Cast.

As we were leaving, I decided to take a picture of the Eden sign, which is actually full of plants.  I thought it was different from the one on Celebrity Edge but a check of the log indicated that they were the same.  

Dinner tonight was in the Normandie Restaurant. All through the cruise, in an "abundance of caution" (overused but effective), we have been asking for a table for two away from other people.  That has morphed into a table for four with only two settings.  Tonight, we hit the jackpot, a table for six just for us and by the window.  This required documentation.

After the blue cheese tart appetizer, I tried the spicy plantain soup from the Veggie menu (didn’t like it – spicy with little taste). (It again took a whole cruise to find out that the restaurants had Vegetarian Menus).  I tried to be adventurous and try the Herb Encrusted Haddock but it came covered with some green powder and was undercooked.  I sent that back and settled on a sure thing, the Halibut – it also was different from what we had had earlier in the cruise but it was still good.  We decided to get dessert upstairs after the show.

The headliner tonight was Jason Bishop (a magician) and his assistant Kim (I assume that she is his wife even though he never mentioned it.  We met them both during our pre-boarding COVID testing – she told Ellen that they had a "little magic show" they put on.  I did some checking in my cruise logs and we had seen Jason about 10 years ago.  He may have done three or four tricks during the performance but he filled the time with some funny banter – he would be a pretty good comedian.  When we saw him years ago, he wasn’t so much a comic magician but rather a low-key magic guy.  The audience liked his banter.  He once again put Kim into a tiny foot square box and speared her with three swords.  I couldn’t figure out how he did in the first time we saw it and still can’t figure it out.  Kim must be triple joined or extremely flexible or it might just be "magic".  She and the box were clearly visible at all times.  That’s why it’s magic.  Jason and Kim also did the classic “Metamorphosis” illusion but there are parts of that that I have figured out.  Even with the high-tech screens and cameras it was difficult to see some of the close-up magic.  All in all, a very entertaining show.  The pics are below.




Up in room while trying to find something on the room TV, I came across an advert for my next talk from Lauren and Darren. (It also took until the end of the cruise to find out that my talks were rebroadcast on Channel 2 - I had been watching this channel but I guess I just missed them).  The AV was great - a split screen showing me and the slides.  The camera was following me as I walked so someone was actually there.

Seas are smoother.

Clocks move back an hour to put us on EDT.

November 10, 2021 – St. Kitts – Mostly Sunny – 85F

Not a great sleeping night – wasn’t the iced tea (half glass) or decaf coffee (half cup).  And again, you can't blame the bed - I think we even got new sheets today (we might get them every day - it's hard to tell). 

I got some pictures of our arrival into Basterre, St. Kitts this morning from our cabin.

I was up early enough to take a shower before breakfast.  I had a little less of everything this morning – Still the standard WCCSCJ and scrambled eggs but half portions. I just wasn't that hungry, I guess. I still had a great view from my favorite seat and I watched 
the arrival of the Carnival Freedom.

I brought Ellen her breakfast this morning – hardboiled egg, lox, cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon.  And tea, of course.  

Did something quite different this morning – we went to the Rooftop Garden to see “Mulan” on the big screen.  I really liked the movie – I am into kung fu type movies.  This Disney live action film was quite good – if a little predictable – and the stunt work was, of course, top flight.  We also got very comfy seats in the shade - couldn't ask for any more except maybe for popcorn.  I was tempted to get another Pina Collada but it was kind of early for that.

Lunch today, because we are in port, is in the Oceanview Cafe. A lot of passengers are off exploring St. Kitts so it's not very crowded.

I had salad (lot of good stuff on the salad bar and great Ranch dressing) and pizza with caramelized onions and goat cheese (as good as any fancy pizza place). Ellen had cheese pizza and a little bit of tuna salad and tabbouleh.  Lunch was really good.  Apex might have one of the best salad bars at sea and their system of dispensing to passengers works so well, I think the salad bar moves faster.

My leg has really been bothering me so I spent time after lunch setting up another appointment with an orthopedist.  Since I have no phone service, we texted back and forth on the Northshore connect website.  Hoping I was successful in getting a time - this group of docs is so busy that getting an appointment within two months is a miracle.  I tried to stress how acute my situation.  Some options did come up but they didn't work that well - I'll try to get a better appointment when I get back.  

We spent the afternoon in Eden reading and then to the room to settle down before dinner.

Before we got back, I was able to get a great panoramic shot of St. Kitts.

Tonight, we decided to have dinner in the Oceanview Café.  The pasta station is doing a good job of labeling their sauces as vegetarian and the chef is very good at making sure that he keeps it kosher.  I had the spaghetti with marina sauce – it sounds plain but the sauce as really good. I wasn’t that hungry so I just had some watermelon along with that.  A simple but tasty dinner.  Ellen had the tilapia.

The theater is hosting the second Production Show, “Tree of Life”.  This is a special effects heavy show but the music volume was in the goldilocks zone (not too loud and not too soft).  I only recognized two of the musical numbers (“Fields of Gold”).  The story was hard to follow but the LED effects were amazing – there was also theatrical snow falling on the audience and when they put rain on the screen it really felt like it was raining.  It’s an amazing show.


After the show, Lauren have me a great plug for tomorrow's lecture.  She has really been supportive of the Beyond the Podium program.

We were pretty tired so we headed to the comfort of our room.

Seas are a little rockier as we head back to Ft Lauderdale.

Monday, November 29, 2021

November 9, 2021 – Castries, St. Lucia – Party Cloudy – Showers – 85F

Slept OK last night.

As we approached Castries, I was able to get a picture of Les Pitons, a key geographical feature of St. Lucia.


Breakfast was in the Oceanview Café (where else).  Today, it was waffles, cottage cheese, sour cream, and strawberry and marmalade jam.  Also had some scramble eggs, which after two days of being over cooked and dry, were back to their buttery wonderful self.  I also ate one of my two mini biscuits. 

The ship also passed a small airfield and it seems a small plane some time ago did not make a successful landing - the plane is still sitting to the left of the runway in a ditch. 



As we pulled alongside the pier, it started raining and raining hard.  The crew had to get all of pad off the deck chairs before they got soaked. 

Viking Orion is also here today - must be running the same itinerary.

Had a second breakfast with Ellen (she didn’t like her room service fare).  Had some herring with a roll (wonderful) and coconut French Toast. 

After breakfast, we went to Eden (after passing through the weird and fascinating hall of shiny rocks)

and tried sitting in the swinging chairs – the only noise was the trivia being run by one of the entertainment staff.  There is a very strange piece of sculpture on the deck outside of the Eden Cafe - a blue man with trees growing out of his body.  Not sure what it means.

We wanted to have lunch in Eden but it was closed – we were told they are not open on port days.  Instead, we went to the Oceanview Café, where I had a salad (the ranch dressing was very good) along with some Macaroni Salad (very good).  We both had veggie spring rolls (good) and veggie Pad Thai (good but really spicy).  Subbed in a slice of Pizza Margherita (which was good).  I had a waffle cone with Rum Raisin ice cream (first time ever) and it was OK.  If I haven't said it before, the freshly made waffle cones are really good.

I got a nice shot of the pool deck from the Cafe.

We sat on the back deck outside the Café until it got to hot; we are back in our room for some P and Q.

We are not docked in downtown Castries - the ship is too big. Instead, we are alongside in a lagoon.  There is a small shopping area and a new "St. Lucia" sign that people used as a backdrop for pictures.

After giving up on two free Kindle books, I started a third: “One Day Gone – a Mylas Grey Mystery” by Luana Erlich.  Mylas Grey is an independently wealthy lawyer/investigator who is the Lead Investigator for a Senator.  His main job is to vet potential judicial appointees but he winds up dealing with something a lot more serious.  So far, I like the book.

No dinner reservations tonight so we are up in the Oceanview Café.  There were quite a few people up here so it took us a while to find a table with distance.  I was first in line for the pasta chef who made me spaghetti Alfredo with sautéed onions, broccoli, tomatoes, and garlic.  It was really good and the ingredients listed indicated that the sauce was vegetarian (I used to have to ask).  The pasta was accompanied by a green salad (you still can’t get stuff yourself on the buffet) with really good Ranch Dressing.  I tried some cakes but I have been very wary of cakes since watching baking shows (gelatin).

Tonight’s Headliner is Greg London, vocal impressionist.  


Believe it or not, we saw Greg 11 years ago and we liked his show.  This show will be different as he is doing impressions of rock stars.  Before we left, he did his take on Johnny Cash, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Jim Morrison, and ZZ Top.  All of the segments are short but it was still a bit noisy and the artists are not our favorites.  Still good to see that Greg has had a long shipboard career.  Tonight's Showtime was special as Darren was the “Cruise Director” for the evening.  He said he was training to be a CD and this was part of the process.  He did a good job.

We next spent some time listening to the light music from the guitarist up in Eden.  We stayed for his whole set, which was entertaining.

I thought we might go up Deck 14 Aft (seats outside the Café).  It was absolutely beautiful up there.  The sky was clear and we could see not only Venus (very bright) but also Saturn and Jupiter, which were in alignment with the Moon.  I actually was able to get all of those planetary bodies in a photo.

Back to the room to settle down (it was actually getting a bit crowded up there as it is a place for that the entertainers use).

Smooth seas.