Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 2014 Cruise - Ship Activities

After our first sea day we got into a routine on the ship: sushi happy hour on the back deck to watch sailaway, pre dinner cocktails or show, dinner and then the evening activities.

The Music
Xstasea - We loved this band. They played all types of music. They played poolside and in the Revelations lounge. They always got the party started.

Jason - guitar player. 

We enjoyed his music on the Sunset bar at the back of the ship. We had a little laugh that he didn't play any of the normal requests like Brown Eyed Girl or Sail Away. It wasn't "his" type of music. He did do a great job using technology to enhance his sound.

It's 5 o'clock somewhere duo - This was a keyboard player with a guitar player. We heard them a couple times and enjoyed it.

Salsa band - Before dinner, a salsa band would play in the lounge closest to the dining room. We loved watching the salsa dancers.

Karaoke - Karaoke is usually scheduled during the second dinner seating. We were glad that it was available one night so Glenn got to sing. 

He did so well that he qualified for the finals, but it was during our dinner time so he couldn't compete.

The Shows
Rondell Sheridan - We loved his comedy shows. He did a regular show and an adult comedy show. He really played to the audience with jokes about cruising, being over 50 and being married for a long time.

Jay Mattioli - He is a magician who appeared on an early season of America's Got Talent. His show was entertaining, but not the best magic I have seen.

Battle of the Sexes - We enjoyed this trivia game that separated the men and the women. The questions were good and fast paced. It was a lot of fun.

Dancing with the Stripes - Members of the crew pair up with passengers for a dancing with the stars type competition. We had some good laughs at the enthusiastic dancing.

The Dance Parties
Sizzle Deck Party - The Deck Party had a Latin theme and it was awesome. The dancers kicked off the show with a great routine and then Xstasea kept the dance floor packed with the dancers leading line dances. We had so much fun!

70s Dance night - This followed a similar format with the dancers starting the party and then keeping the dance floor packed.

Ship activities
Backstage Tour - Because Glenn is a Select member, we were invited to a tour of backstage. It was interesting to see the tight dressing room quarters. 

The dancers on the Summit all work for an English production company. They are cast in England and learn all the shows there. Then they have one week to learn the blocking on the ship. A different production company handles each class of ship, but each ship has different shows. The shows usually last about 5 years unless they are really popular.

Visit to the Bridge - We were very excited to get invited to a visit to the Bridge especially since we attended the navigation lecture.




Martini Bar - The bartenders here definitely know how to make pouring drink entertaining.

Ship portraits - Because we were traveling with a group of 18, we pre purchased the photo package so we got all 101 photos taken by the ship photographs. We posed for the portraits we had made fun of on previous trips and got some great group shots.





April 2014 Summit Cruise - The Ports

Instead of continuing to use the diary format, I am going to switch to themed posts since our evenings were all pretty similar. This post will be on the ports.



Barbados
Our first stop was Barbados. We signed up for the Shipwrecks, Turtles and a beach day. We took the later tour so we had a nice morning having eggs Benedict at the breakfast buffet, coffees at the coffee bar and enjoying the scenery. We got off the ship early to check out the port, but there really wasn't much there. I wish we had taken a taxi to Carlisle Beach. It is close to the port and that is where they took us to swim with the turtles. We met the tour at 1230 and took a short ride to board our boat. Our tour started with snorkeling with the turtles. The guides jumped in the water and started putting fish in the water. I got into the water a little late. One of the guides had been feeding the turtles by himself as the other snorkelers followed the main guide. So it was just me, the guide and two turtles for about 10 minutes.

 It was so cool.  I also saw two large turtles. After we snorkeled for about 30 minutes, we got back on the boat and drove a little further to a shipwreck. 

The visibility was not great because it was so windy so I didn't stay in the water too long. After the snorkeling, the "bar" opened with sodas and rum drinks. They took us to a deserted beach. I called it the prison beach because it as in front of an abandoned hotel development.

 The water was beautiful. 

After the tour we headed back to the port to try the local beer - Banks.

 It was an average lager.

St Lucia


We had to cancel our shore excursion in St Lucia because I was over the weight limit. Since no one could tell us why the weight limit was in place,  we though it best to cancel.  At that point, all the other shore excursions were all booked so we had a free day in St Lucia. I was bummed. I was most looking forward to exploring St Lucia. We made the best of it and headed to Reduit Beach near Dickinson Bay.

 The view was beautiful but the vendors were very agressive. We stayed a few hours and then headed back to the port. We had to try the local beer here - Pitons. It's a refreshing lager. I tried the shandy and it was just okay.

Antigua
We had originally planned to visit the Sandals in Antigua, but since we cancelled the tour in St Lucia, we decided to go on the Antiguan Experience. We visited a woman's house, a pineapple farm and had a beach barbecue. The house visit was a little odd. I am used to visiting plantation homes,but not ones with people living in them and filled to the brim with collections.


 The pineapple farm was really interesting.
 Then the beach was phenomenal. Absolutely stunning. 


We had a lovely barbecue buffet with a steel drum band and a singer. 


It was a lot of fun.

St Maarten
We took a taxi to Orient Beach and set up just on the edge of the clothing optional side. We like it over there because it is less busy and you had more space, but there are naked people. We had a great day enjoying the beach.


St Thomas
We took the St John Self Explore tour - a boat ride between the dock and St John's. The boat ride was quite adventurous on the way there. 

Then we took a taxi to Trunk Bay. It is breath taking.

 It has an underwater snorkel trail that was really fun. It is a national park so we had to rent chairs at the gift shop and drag them to the beach. We stayed for about 2 hours and then headed back to the dock for nice lunch at a local cafe. The boat ride back was smoother. The tour company was called Topsails and they did a nice job.

Monday, April 7, 2014

April 2014 cruise - day 2 and 3

April 2014 day two 

We started the day with a great breakfast at the hotel. I had an egg white omelet and Glenn got the continental breakfast. We took a nice walk on the beac and then relaxed in the lounge on the roof. We all headed to the port around 1130 am. Check in was a breeze. 

We got a great table at the Sunset bar on the back deck and enjoyed a Buffet lunch. Glenn and I upgraded to the premium package right away and a couple other people joined us. 

After lunch, we grabbed a group of chairs and set up camp in a hot tub on the main deck. The weather was perfect and sunny.  We really enjoyed the band. 

We headed inside to get ready for dinner and the muster drill. The muster drill was at 745 pm so after that we got our Martinis and headed to dinner. 

Our group was set up at a table for 12 and a table for 6. The first night we had eight of us. Our waiters are Robert and Sanjaya (like the guy from American Idol). The sommelier Rhoel. The food was excellent! I was so excited to see you can get escargot every night. The best dish of the night was the jerk chicken. The Thai beef spring roll and cumin carrot salad were also very good. The sommelier quickly figured out that just leaving the bottle was the most efficient way to handle all our wine orders. At one point we had 6  bottles on the table: Bordeaux, Cab, Malbec, Shiraz, Pinot noir and merlot. It was a lot of fun. 

After dinner we went back to the martini bar for dessert Martinis. Then Beth, Ron, Glenn and I headed up to the disco. We closed it down at 2 am. We had a blast dancing!! We tried to keep the party going but everything was shut down by then. 

Day 3 - Sea day 

We started the day at the eggs Benedict bar on the buffet where we ran into Marisa and Bob. We spent most of the morning inside. We played trivia, then has our cappuccinos at the coffee bar. We also attended a lecture in ship navigation from the captain.

 It was fascinating. He talked about how the ship is able to maneuver. The ship can safely list up to 45 degrees, but since that is not very comfortable, they take all the turns slow so that the maximum list is one degree. He was asked why there are not more female captains. He guessed it was because all captains must start on cargo ships and that can be a very difficult environment for women. 

After the  lecture, we stayed for the Iron Chef competition with some of the chefs from the Summit. It was pretty fun. I asked the chef how much control he had over the menu. He answered that he has no control over the sit down restaurants as those are decided by corporate, but he does have a lot of control over the Buffet menu. Then we headed to lunch in the dining room. It was also delicious. We had several good laughs about the pork knuckle sandwich on the menu. 

After lunch we grabbed some seats by the pool and enjoyed the sunny weather. We attempted afternoon trivia and actually got second place. The host was very rude and abrasive so I don't think we will be joining his games in the future. We enjoyed some tea sandwiches and sushi on the back deck before heading back to get ready for dinner. It was formal night so we took some group pictures with everyone in their fancy outfits. 


Dinner again was very good. The highlights were the salmon tartare, the corn soup, and the beef tornadoes. The duck and lamb chops also got rave reviews. We went to the show after dinner. It was a series of dance numbers highlighting the different decades. After seeing the elaborate sets and shows on the Carnival Breeze in December - this was a bit of a let down. The aerialists were very impressive and the highlight of the show. We decided to call it am early night. 

Overall - a fantastic day!  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

April 2014 Celebrity Summit cruise - Day 1

It was so exciting to wake up and get on the road for this trip. We had been planning it since February 2013. Eighteen of us will meet up on a cruise in Puerto Rico and sail the Southern Caribbean. 
Our Jetblue flights went well. The TV cuts off half way so I tried to watch Saving Mr Banks, but I just couldn't get into it. We landed around 11 am and by noon we were all checked in to the San Juan Beach and Water Club Hotel. 

The staff was so friendly. It was windy and threatening rain do we headed to the rooftop pool bar. The pool itself is small and the deck only has room for three chaise loungers. Around the deck they have these great day beds and couches to enjoy the sun. 

We had some chicken. Wings and a steak sandwich and then enjoyed some Medalla Light. Ron and Beth were the first to arrive then Laurie and Kate and then Marisa and Bob. We moved back and forth between the covered seating at the bar and the day beds as the rain came and went.

At 630 pm we met in the lobby and headed to Old San Juan. Bob had researched our options and recommended Toro Salao - a Spanish tapas restaurant.  It was perfect. It had great outdoor patio seating. We perused the  menu. Everything looked good so that's what we ordered - everything on the tapas menu. I have always wanted to say "We'll take one of everything." And I got to do it!! The food just started coming. Glenn ' s favorite was the salad, potato wedges with chorizo aloili, chicken and sausage empanadas and the fried pork with yucca. My favorites were the fried pork with yucca, ham croquettes, and a flat bread with goat cheese, arugula and Kalamata olives.

After dinner we walked down to Old Harbor Brewery to meet up with Jon and Jackie. Around 11 pm, we decided to call it a night, grabbed a cab and headed back to the hotel. Overall it was a fantastic day and I am so excited for the cruise.

Monday, March 31, 2014

March 28th - March 30th Friends, Fun and a Drink Contest

This past weekend was so much fun! On Thursday, a good friend and her 3 year old son flew in to stay with us. It was wonderful to see her and get to hang out with her son. Having breakfast with a 3 year old each morning really brought a lot of joy to our days. And having the evenings to catch up was a good reminder that Facebook is not enough!! 

Saturday we had plans to participate in our community yard sale, but the rain kept us home. Sunday, we went to the Spring Fling Music Festival at Curtis Hixon Park. We had VIP tickets so we got a great umbrella table in the shade and got to listen to the bands. The weather was beautiful. 




 The big excitement of the weekend was at our friends' Vodka party. They had a brilliant idea to have a flavored Vodka party. It included a very serious drink making competition with judge, score sheets and a very serious trophy. Glenn decided on a whim to enter a Caramel Apple "Money Shot" - the garnish was a dollar bill!! It was the winner!!! He was so excited and surprised!



March 20 - March 23rd: Angie's Parents come to visit

We were very excited to welcome my parents the weekend of March 20th. They joined our trivia team on Thursday night. We placed SECOND! Our first placing in a long time. It was very exciting. 

Friday, we headed over to the casino. Glenn turned heads with his dessert waffle at the buffet. 


We had the best time! At one point, Glenn, my mom and I were sitting a bank of machines and hitting all the bonuses. It was so much fun! 

On Saturday, we hung out at home by the pool playing games. We used the occasion of their visit to taste some of the wines we'd been storing. 


Overall, a wonderful weekend. 


Glenn's Bucket List": Seeing Joan Rivers Live March 14, 2014

Glenn has very few things on his bucket list so I am so excited when we can cross one off. Joan Rivers came to town. 




*** 

Funny Side Story: We went to the wrong theater and stumbled upon the L. Ron Hubbard Birthday Party - a huge gathering of Scientology. We knew we were in the wrong place when we saw the fancy outfits, the red carpets and the security men in suits. 

*** 

Back to Joan -  After Glenn and I crammed ourselves into the teeny tiny seats of the mezzaine - Joan's opening act came out it. It was a live singer backed by a 5 piece band. He sang old favorites, jumped into the audience and kissed the hands of the lovely ladies. Both Glenn and I remarked that this must be what old Vegas was like. 

Then Joan came out and she was fabulous! We had to laugh a little that before the show, the stage hands came out and taped huge pieces of paper down with very large writing with her act outline on them. She told some old jokes in new ways. Overall it was a fantastic show! I am so glad we went.