Tuesday, May 23, 2017

5.19.17 - 5.23.17 Seattle and Portland

We arrived about 3 hours late Friday night because of bad weather across the country. I was very glad we decided to stay at a hotel near the airport. It took about 25 minutes from claiming our bag, calling the shuttle, and getting to the Coast Getaway Hotel. It's a clean, dated hotel with a friendly staff. It's on a road with several restaurants including Roasters in the parking lot. We enjoyed the continental breakfast with hard boiled eggs, waffles and sausage in the morning.

Saturday morning, we took a Lyft down to Pike's Place Market and checked into the Inn at the Market. The location is amazing. We are steps from the market. The hotel is on a steep incline so that's something to keep in mind. We checked in early so our room wasn't ready.  They took our cell phone number and said they would call us when it was.

We headed out towards the Space Needle. The museum on our list was the Museum of Pop Culture. It is fantastic! The exhibits on Horror, Fantasy, Sci - Fi, Star Trek, and Jim Henson were immersive, interactive and fun! We spent about 2 and 1/2 hour there and could have spent longer. We usually spend about an hour at a museum so this was a great museum.

We headed to Elliot's on the pier to get our oyster fix. The oyster list was so long! We couldn't choose so we trusted our server to choose for us. The oysters were fantastic.

Our favorites were Eagleock and Snigoku. We also had a crab and shrimp melts and the spicy crab chowder. Both were very flavorful with a lot of crab meat. Glenn thought the crab chowder was too thick. It was a little globby.

We got the call our room was ready so we headed back. We needed to fix a part of Glenn's shoe since the sole was a little loose. We completed our shoe repair and headed back to the docks. I wanted to see the Seattle skyline from the water and ride a ferry so we chose the 35 minute ferry to Bainbridge.

Everyone was in good spirits since the weather was sunny and warm - a Seattle anomaly. We walked into town, tried some very good Amelia Wynn wines and took the ferry back.

It's game time! Time to check another stadium off our list. As we were walking to the stadium, Glenn stopped and pointed to a bar across the street. "That's the bar from the painting." We've had a LeRoy Neiman painting for years of F.X. McCoy bar. I was so excited. We headed in and had a drink.

It's famous for its collection of whiskeys. Glenn had Woodford Reserve Brandy Cask Finish. The bartender was pretty excited to serve it.

A few unique things about the Mariners stadium are:
  • One of the stands has cask ales.
  • The ridiculous walk up music - It was a lot of sad country and Phil Collins.
  • The scoreboard showed First Pitch Stats
Overall, the stadium was a good mix of local  and corporate food. The fans were friendly and we loved the location right downtown.

Sunday, we headed to the Amtrak station. It was a little stressful because we didn't count on there being a long line to check bags. Then we stood in the wrong line. We figured it out and made the train, but that much stress at 7:00 am when you've only had one coffee is a bit much. The views from the train made up for the stress.

We arrived in Portland, checked in the Portland Vintage Hotel, grabbed a beer at Rock Bottom Brewery, and then headed to the Northeast neighborhood to meet up with Devon and Nick. They gave us the BEST day. We had amazing French food for brunch, sampled terrific sour beers at Great Notion Brewery,

played games while drinking fun cocktails and eating yummy tacos at Cruzoom,

sampled an ice cream flight at Salt and Straw,

and ended the evening at Alberta Street Pub. It was a blast - the absolute best way to spend a Sunday.

Monday we took it easy. We made the pilgrimage to Voodoo Doughnuts and tried a whole bunch. Glenn's favorite was the Portland Crème and mine was the Lemon Crueller.

We took the train back to Seattle. A little boy around 2 years old and his dad were in front us. He was pretty cute and talked the whole time. The best moment was when he was trying to do something. His dad said, "Don't do it." The little boy responded  in the same tone of voice, "Don't do drugs." The entire car laughed.

We checked in the Palladian Hotel. We were upgraded to a one bedroom suite - I know, we are so fancy. Glenn found a great Japanese restaurant just down the block. We had a great meal and called it an early night.

Today we take a VIP tour of Pike's Place Market and then board the cruise ship. I can't wait.

Monday, January 2, 2017

1.1.17 A disappointing start

1.1.17 A disappointing start

We were supposed to dock in Virgin Gorda today. It was one of the reasons we chose this cruise since visiting the Baths is on my bucket list. Heavy winds kept us from leaving St Kitts. The winds were too strong for the side thrusters on the ship so it couldn't get off the dock. The weather report didn't have any improvements and the Captain got very worried about getting back to Miami. Since it was New Year's Eve, the Captain had a very hard time getting help from the dock so he went and knocked on the door of a tug boat in port to see if he would help pull the boat out if the winds died down a little before sunrise. And it worked.

It meant no port but at least we'll make it back to Miami on time. I had a rough day with seasickness so I spent most of the day in bed. We have two more Sea Days so hopefully I'll feel better.

12.31.16 Nevis

12.31.16 Nevis

We pulled into St Kitts this morning and had another breakfast on the balcony. We really like having a large table out there.

We decided to take an excursion to Nevis since we've been to St Kitts before. The weather was windy with on and off showers. The boat ride over was very windy. The captain did a great job avoiding the rain showers. At the Nevis pier, we split up in groups of 8 to tour the island. We stopped at a historic bath house to put our feet in the hot springs. We passed by Alexander Hamilton's home. We stopped at Nesbit Plantation House and saw the gorgeous Four Seasons golf course plus a church from the 1600s. It was a great island tour. We were surprised to see so many old buildings, but they were built from bricks made from the volcanic soil.  The end was a 2 hour beach break at Lime. It's a restaurant where had some amazing grouper and Caribe beer. The weather was too rainy to hang out at the beach.

We took the ferry back and then got ready for White Night/ New Year's Eve. We had dinner in the dining room. It was surf and turf of the standard cruise variety. We headed up the Living Room to hang with some of our new cruise friends. We were very impressed that the crew transformed the pool deck. All the chaises were replaced with tables and chairs.  A local group came on board to dance. Then the Azamara orchestra, dancers, and singers put on a show leading to midnight. It was great!! We had so much fun. They had the ice sculptures of the old year, knocked off the six and added the seven. We headed to bed shortly after midnight since we had an early excursion in the morning.

12.30.16 Antigua


We started the day with a good breakfast in the dining room. I had a tuna melt omelet which tasted just like a tuna melt. We played morning trivia and lost terribly.
Our tour left at 10:45 am.

We joined 11 other people for a cooking class at Nicole's Table. The class is hled at her home on the top of a hill with a gorgeous view of the harbor. We made snapper, green and ripe plantains, shrimp wontons, rice and beans, and a coconut tart. It was a great fun class. It was more expensive to book through the cruise line, but we were glad we did. The two women who booked separately had a little trouble finding a taxi who knew where her house was.

We came back to the ship and enjoyed some cocktails in the Living Room. Then it was time to get ready for the special event. Each cruise, Azamara hosts a special event on shore for everyone cruising. Our event was a party at the Governor's House. It was incredible. We had police escorts through town. A huge tent was set up and we met the Governor. They had a great steel drum band, cocktails and appetizers of local food. The highlight was a band that had played for Prince Harry. Most people sat in chairs on the lawn. Glenn and I found a high table with a view. We danced the night away. I think we were the only ones dancing. We couldn't help it! The music was so good!! Then we enjoyed one of the longest fireworks displays we have ever seen.

When we got back to the ship, the taxi took us right to the door where waiters were waiting with glasses of champagne and the band was playing. So much fun! We went straight to karaoke and had a blast. Glenn sang three songs and during Fly Me to The Moon - a couple got up to dance. A very very fun night.

Friday, December 30, 2016

12.29.16 St Bart's


Today we arrived in St Bart's. We as a great room service breakfast on the balcony and saw a rainbow. We took the tender into port. We had to weave around multi million dollar yachts since all the rich and famous spend the new year in St Bart's. We took a catamaran excursion that was a bit disappointing. We expected a much nicer boat and more time sailing. We still had a beautiful swim and enjoyed checking out all the huge yachts.

We came back and spent a relaxing afternoon by the pool. We headed to trivia at 4 pm, paired up with some trivia pros, and won cruise line logo trivia. We weren't quite as successful at 5 pm trivia. We enjoyed a pre-dinner cocktail and piano music in the Living Room - a beautiful lounge on the top deck. Dinner was good again. After dinner, we went to the show Garin Bader. He plays the piano and does magic. It's an odd mix. After dinner, we headed to the casino bar to listen to some more piano and chat with the bartender.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

12.28.16 St Martin


We had a leisurely start to the day.  Buffet breakfast was simple but tasty. We enjoyed relaxing on deck and then headed to Marigot around noon. We tendered over in life boats. We walked around a little before having decadent ham and cheese sandwiches and macarons at Sarafina's. We took a taxi to Sonesta Maho Bay where I did a site inspection and then we enjoyed the pools and watching the planes land. Our driver on the way back had a lot of passion for Trump. Hearing international cab drivers chat about US politics is a great benefit of traveling abroad. We attended the Distinctive Voyages cocktail party and met a fun couple who'd been on 12 Azamara cruises and are booked the same Croatia cruise for next year.

Dinner went so much better tonight. Mauricio and Mickey were fantastic. The head waiter and maitre'd checked on numerous times. Glenn had a good veal chop and I like the Norwegian salmon. They brought Glenn out his happy birthday cake. We had a night cap in the living room listening to the guitar player. R was a little more Branson than acoustic, but I still enjoyed it. We called it an early night since we have a early excursion in St Bart's tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

12.27.16 Welcome to the Azamara Quest


We started the day with breakfast at the Cafe American in the hotel. It plays Casablanca as you eat. Both our meals were good. For mine, I had a breakfast sandwich that used shredded fried plantains as the bread. Glenn had poached eggs with smoked salmon and bleu cheese in a fried plantation shell.

We walked down to the port to see the new Viking Ocean cruise ship. We relaxed a little more on the hotel roof and then grabbed a taxi to the port. It took a out 30 minutes to get a taxi so leave plenty of time.

Embarkation was very easy and quick. We were surprised we had to walk outside and up a set of stairs instead of a ramp.  We stopped by the Land Discoveries desk to finish booking our shore excursions. Lunch at the buffet was good. For the first 24 hours, they had staff serve all the food to help cut down on illnesses. We had great beverage service. The cabins opened at 1:45 pm. Our luggage arrived around 3 pm so it was great to be unpacked. We took the ship tour at 4 pm. It took 20 minutes. One good tip was that all the elevators empty facing forward and all the restaurants are at the back of the ship. We tried to make Chef's Table reservations, but they were all booked. The muster drill was at 5 pm
We really liked that it was not in the middle of dinner. At 5:45 pm, we went to the Cruise Critic meet and greet. We were impressed several of the ship's officers attended and the cruise director.

We had dinner in the included restaurant. We chose a table with other people and had a lively conversation. Our dinner was very slow and all of us got a little agitated when all the tables around us had come and gone and we still didn't have entrees. The best part was that the maitre'd tried to blame us for sitting at a large table. My response was, "You did this - not us. We don't know each other. If you can't handle a large table - don't sit people at one." We left before dessert to get to the show so we didn't get the cake I had arranged for Glenn. We should get it tonight. (As I'm writing this Wednesday morning by the pool, the pool butler just came by with a cold towel. Nice touch.)

The welcome aboard show featured two vocalists, a piano player and two dancers.  If you like cabert entertainment, I think you'd like the shows. We stayed up late chatting with other guests.