Saturday, March 27, 2010

California to Arizona to Florida.....then to Wisconsin! Wow!

Our recent travels from Tampa and return via the Panama Canal.  Just click on this link:

Last Saturday, we flew from San Diego to Tucson, AZ.  We planned to stop in Tucson to visit Vicki's Mom, Avie, and Norm's cousin, Frank.  Avie is in the process of moving from her home of 20+ years to an apartment in a senior living community.  The change has been difficult but everything is falling nicely into place.  Avie will have an almost new custom and expanded apartment with great views of the Santa Catalina mountains.  Still plenty to do, of course, with the real estate closing, moving, estate sales, etc.  And, Vicki will be making another trip to Tucson in April/May for 6-weeks to assist with all of that.

In the meantime we all needed a break.  So, we met with Norm's cousin Frank Naughton and his wife Claudia for dinner one night.  We had lots of laughs, great adult beverages and tasty food.  Thanks Frank and Claudia for visiting with us.

Frank, Claudia, Avie, Vicki, Norm

Well, it was time to continue our journey back to our own boat/home.  So, an early flight out of Tucson got us into Tampa early evening.  Found Tide Hiker in need of a bath, but in great shape.  Spring is here and the trees are budding and everything's "greening up".  It's beautiful here and we're very grateful to Ron and Charma for allowing us to dock here.

We're now doing haircuts, exercise, diets, laundry, dry cleaning, catching up with friends and mail and preparing for our next trip to Milwaukee to meet our new granddaughter, Joyce, and the rest of the family.  We're really excited!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Summary--Panama Canal Cruise

This is Part 2 of a 2-Part Blog update.  Be sure to check out Part 1 immedialtely preceeding this entry.

Ft Lauderdale, FL – San Diego, CA via Panama Canal
Aboard Holland American Lines’ ms Maasdam
March 5, 2010-March 19, 2010

Day Zero--Thursday, March 4, 2010
Things don’t start out too good! We received an email from Holland American Lines (HAL) that our scheduled embarkation and departure tomorrow will be delayed. The reason: An increase in cases of onboard gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses on the previous cruise. They are required to sanitize the ship in accordance with US Centers for Disease Control. So, our scheduled 11:00 AM boarding time was moved to 3:00 PM; and, our scheduled 5:00 PM departure time was moved to 7:00 PM.

The Maasdam is 780 ft long, 101 ft wide, with a draft of 27 ft. It was built in 1993 and is scheduled to be sold after 20 years of use. Its propulsion system is diesel-electric. There are 5 large generators—4 that provide the electricity that run the propellers and one that runs the house. They are all interchangeable. We will have a full house—1200 passengers and over 500 crew.

Day One—Friday, March 5, 2010: Embarkation at Port Everglades, FL
We arrived at Port Everglades (Ft Lauderdale) at 2:30 PM and immediately began the check in procedure. It was here that we learned that our room was upgraded. Yea!!!!! The room was the same layout but up one level higher. Unfortunately, our luggage was tagged with the room we selected in advance on-line. Oh well, they’ll show up.

The sanitation protocol delayed everything. So, HAL had a nice lunch ready for us in a huge waiting area while we waited for permission to board. They also managed a very organized boarding procedure once it was time to embark. Usually, people arrive at different times and board. Now, there are 1200+ passengers all waiting at the gangway for boarding. All passengers were orderly and in good spirits, though. We did not witness any bad tempers. HAL moved us onto the ship in waves, ala southwest airlines’ procedures. We went to Customer Service immediately upon boarding and advised them of our luggage issue. “They’ll handle it” was the response. We were not convinced!

Our rooms were not immediately ready however. The cleaning was continuing. We were all asked to wait for a public announcement to go to our rooms. So, it was off to the Crows Nest Bar for a “bit-o-the-jolly”. Within the hour, we heard the announcement. If we were patient, we could have just waited for the luggage to be brought to our room. But on our way to our rooms we saw luggage stacked 5-high and pouring out of the elevators. That did not look good! People started searching for their own and taking matters into their own hands. It was kind of a controlled bedlam. We waited a bit; but, we did eventually go to our originally assigned floor, find our luggage amongst the pile and lug it to our newly upgraded room. Even the case of wine we brought. All was now well!!!!

The next most important item was to purchase satellite internet time so we could stay in touch with daughter Christine (pregnant and 1.5cm’s dilated) and Vicki’s mom (who has been under the weather) as well as the rest of our families. It was then a quick tour of the boat, a nice glass of wine, dinner, a short introductory stage show at the theater and Zzzzzzz. It’s been a long day.

Day Two—Saturday, March 6, 2010: At Sea/”It’s a Girl”
Our DeFever group has 4 days of morning seminars—on “at-sea” days. We attended two this morning and relaxed in the afternoon. So far the cruise is smooth with very little vibration and no rolly-poly. Tonight’s entertainment in the Rembrandt Theater was a Nat King Cole impersonator. He was very good—quite the crooner. Also, the food has been spectacular—as is the custom on cruise liners. No exception here!

We’ve been checking e-mail every hour or so for word from Milwaukee about Christine. Norm waited up. Finally, son-in-law Joel’s e-mail to us that he sent at 2:00 PM arrived at the ship at about 1:00 AM. (Pretty slow satellite!) Anyway, Joyce Evelyn, 9.5 lbs, 21 in, was born to Christine (Naughton) and Joel Duris at approximately 2:00 PM. She was a tough delivery requiring a C-Section. Mom tired but OK. Joyce OK. Grandpa resting comfortably! Can’t wait to meet little Joycie in April in Milwaukee. Except for being there in person, it doesn’t get any better than this. Someone pinch me! We changed time zones tonight. Forward one hour—so Norm lost another hour of sleep.

Day Three—Sunday, March 7, 2010: At Sea
Norm attended two more DeFever seminars in the morning and Vicki attended to her exercise, and taking advantage of the “Facial” she won in yesterday’s onboard Spa drawing. She also attended brief wine-tasting and master chef seminars. Norm also did a “photo shoot” of the ship. Here’s a look at some of this 780-foot vessel. (Small by today’s standards).

Art gallery


Library and Computer Center

Lido Deck Pool

Main Dining Room--2 Levels

Piano Lounge

Sky Deck Pool

Our Stateroom (Left)

Our Stateroom (Right)

Today’s ride is a bit different from the first 36 hours. We’re experiencing some stronger winds and higher swells with a lot of whitecaps. The vibration is dependent on the winds and how the bow enters the swell—just like our own boats. Walking the decks is trickier and there are fewer folks out and about. Guess they’re in their staterooms—like us, writing this blog. Later, we were treated to a cocktail party sponsored by the travel agent that booked our passages. That was a very nice event with great drinks and apps. We had a chance to talk to other DeFeverites in a quiet setting.

Entertainment in the Rembrandt Theater tonight was a “Production Number” as HAL calls it. It turned out to be a Vegas Review and not bad for Holiday Inn circuit performers. (Frankly, we’re accustomed to better stage shows in our long Cruise Liner career (two previously). It did get much better later.

Day Four—Monday, March 8, 2010: Oranjestad, Aruba
Aruba was quite like most Caribbean Islands--lots of touristy straw markets, souvenir and t-shirt shops. But there were also many high end brand name specialty shops like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, etc. And, lots of traffic on narrow streets. But Aruba is also long known as a honeymoon/gambling/jewelry-purchasing destination. There had to be a jewelry store every 50 ft or so; and 8 casinos, we understand. We’re told that one purchases diamonds here by weight, not design. After a walk in the shopping district and purchasing nothing, we went straight to the beach. The beaches are some of the best in the world. It was mostly sunny, 89 degrees, humid and a strong breeze. We stayed quite comfortable on the sand chairs in the shade under a small tiki hut and palm trees, sleeping, reading and people-watching. We had a few guests almost immediately after Vicki returned with some lunch. These guys run wild here on the island.

Shopping District

Renaissance Beach

Beach Visitors

The island itself is approximately 20 miles long and 6 miles wide with relics that date back to around 500BC. We’re told that there used to be palm-tree-lined white sand beaches ala South Pacific; but, fierce hurricanes destroyed many. The beaches are still great and the people are fantastic. Other than that, we did not find Aruba to be that inviting. So, back to the ship for an early evening departure.

Tonight’s entertainment was a comedian, Janine Gardner. She was very good and we laughed a lot. We changed time zones again. This time BACK one hour.

Day Five—Tuesday, March 09, 2010: At Sea
Today’s adventure started out with breakfast in our stateroom and then 3 DeFever seminars in the conference center. Norm went to the seminars and Vicki attended the wine-tasting (are you getting the picture here?)

Jim and Betty Roberts presented a slide show on their recently built 53-footer “Alice J” going hard aground in the San Francisco Bay area. They entered a tidal lake on the highest high tide. That’s the highest tide of two high tides each day. So, when the low tide hit, they were hard aground, listing hard to port and had no hope of fully floating again because the next high tide was the lower one. Water was up over the engine room vents and the window hatches. So, they took the dinghy down and took pictures. What else? They also called “vessel assist” for the big water pumps to remove incoming water from the engine room. Fortunately, they did not install stabilizer fins because they would have most certainly ripped out or in from the weight. Also, fortunately, Alice J’s 110 volt pumps were able to handle the flooding in the ER. Also, also fortunately, the generator that was providing electricity to the pump did not die or loose oil pressure on such a steep list. Vessel Assist pulled them to deeper water eventually and on the next day’s highest tide, floated out. It was a learning for all of us and wonderful of them to share it with us. Jim said that he kept it a secret for 5 years.

Being from the West Coast, they also presented a slide show on cruising Puget Sound. This was a different story of fun, adventure and no groundings. The pictures were spectacular and revealed the rugged, but inviting, beauty of the Northwest.

In between these two seminars, Art Defever presented a short autobiography. He has certainly had an interesting life as a naval architect and is the designer of our Defever boats. He is now in his early 90’s. He was here with his wife who assisted him with his presentation.

Vicki and I enjoyed lunch by the Lido Deck pool. Then at mid-day, HAL presented a seminar on the building of the Panama Canal. We will transit the canal tomorrow. More on that later. Tonight’s another production number in the Rembrandt Theater presented by the Maasdam “Singers and Dancers”. But we were tired and skipped it. It was also a “formal night” requiring a coat and tie. So we got room service and had a nice quiet evening in our stateroom watching videos of the building of the Panama Canal that Vicki purchased before we left the States.

Day Six—Wednesday, March 10, 2010: The Panama Canal
The Panama Canal was a remarkable feat in its time. It shortens the distance between the east and west coasts by 800 miles and cuts the total mileage from Great Britain to New Zealand by 1500 miles. The French began the project in 1870 led by Ferdinand de Lesseps, the man who built the Suez Canal. His vision was for a sea level canal. This required digging through mountainous and rain-forested jungles in 120 degree heat and torrential rains. But, after 10 years of work, the deaths of over 22,000 workers to poisonous snakes, malaria, yellow fever and other diseases and a bankrupt company he (and the French) failed. The US took over in 1904. The undertaking was championed by President Teddy Roosevelt, the leader of the Rough Riders.

In the meantime, Columbia, who possessed the Panama Isthmus, had a treaty with France to build the Canal—not the US. Nor did they want the US to build the canal. When the US could not strike a deal with Columbia, President Roosevelt assisted an insurgent Panamanian bloodless uprising that eventually resulted in its succession from Columbia. The stage was then set for the US to complete the canal.

US engineers did not like the sea-level approach and designed a lock and dam system. They built two dam and lock facilities—one near the town of Colon on the Atlantic side and one near Panama City on the Pacific side. The dams flooded the Chagres River creating Gatun Lake with enough depth for ships to pass between the oceans. But the Lake is 85 feet above sea level. So, the locks at each end form a “staircase” up and down from the lake to the respective ocean. The US completed the canal in 1914. Today, about 40 ships transit the canal every day. Each ship pays hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees per transit. But even at that price it is still considered a bargain.

Our ship entered the Gatun Lock on the Atlantic side around 7:30 AM. We exited the last lock, the Mira Flores Lock on the Pacific around 4:00 PM. So, the 50-mile transit took us 8 ½ hours—as predicted.

Here is a picture story of our transit. Hope you enjoy!! By the way, we also have video's of this but can't upload to this newly formatted blog.  If interested, just e-mail Norm and he'll shoot off a copy.

There are actually two sets of locks side by side. So, two ships can be lifted/decended going in the same direction or opposite directions at the same time.  The first set of locks are at Gatun.  There are three chambers each lifting about 28 feet for a total of about 85 ft feet.  In this shot, two ships are entering Gatun Locks ahead of us--both going south.  You can't see our ship yet, but we're next in line for the left chamber.

Here we are entering the first of three chambers at the Gatun Locks.  You can see the that the second chamber of the parallel lock is full.

The gates are closing behind us.  The chamber we are in will then fill with water and lift us about 28 feet to the second chamber.  This will continue until we have passed through a total of 3 chambers on the lifting us up about 85 feet to Gatun Lake. 

Here we are going into the second chamber.  You can see the ship in front of us is already in the third chamber and ready to exit to Gatun Lake.

Looking back at a container ship entering the lock next to us.  The gates are on the lower left of the pic.  They will close after the ship passes them and is safely in the chamber.  Also notice the railroad tracks on the side of the locks running the entire length of the locks.

This is one of the locomotives that runs on the tracks.  There are 3-4 of these on each side of the ship.  They attach cables to the ship and keep the ship centered inside the chamber so the ship doesn't bounce off the sides.  In the early days, these locomotives used to pull the ships through the locks; but today's larger ships use their own power and stay straight with the help of the locomotives.

This is the forward locomotive on the Starboard side.

Here we are at the top of the third chamber.  Notice double gates.  We're headed next out to Lake Gatun with much more water pressure, hence the double gates.  We're now about 85 feet higher than when we entered the first chamber a couple of hours ago.  It's a slow process.

You may be wondering how they get the cable from the locomotive to the ship.  Yes, they use old fashioned row boats with two guys.  These guys grab a painter line and row it over to the lock.  The cable is attached to the painter line and hauled aboard the ship.  Or something like that!

Each ship that transits the canal, no matter how big or small, must bring aboard a harbor pilot or two and linesmen. Our ship required two pilots--one on the bridge and one on the stern. We continued through Gatun Lake to the locks on the Pacific side of the canal and repeated the same process--except we decended in the locks in stead of lifting.  We made it through safely and proceeded west and north up to Costa Rica--our next stop.

The Captain announced that the ship’s stringent sanitizing protocol will continue. This is because new cases of GI distress, while significantly lower, have continued. We have to have 48 hours of no new cases to stop the protocol according to CDC. Tonight’s entertainment is Tomono Kawamura, a classical concert Pianist. We were beat, though, and retired to our room after dinner and a short walk around the deck. Tried to reach Christine and Joel this evening on SKYPE--but no luck. She and Joyce were supposed to go home today. Will try again later. Also, tonight we change our clocks BACK again another hour.

Day Seven—Thursday, March 11, 2010: At Sea
Norm was up at 7:30 AM. He went up to breakfast and a 1-mile walk around the lower promenade deck. (Four circuits equals one mile.) Vicki got a little extra sleep and ordered room service. We’re currently heading up the Pacific Coast and can see land on our starboard at a distance. The water is smooth and we’re having a nice smooth ride. At 10:00 AM we attended a seminar on Costa Rica—tomorrow’s stop. We ate lunch at the Pinnacle Grille. This restaurant is an “extra charge” restaurant on the ship. But, we were given an invitation for a free exchange by the agent who booked our passage. It’s a smaller, upper scale eatery with great service. While excellent, we did not think the food was much better than at the main dining room, though. After dinner in the main dining room we saw the “Variety Show” in the Stage Theater. This was just second performances by Donny Ray Evans (the Nat King Cole guy, but doing his own versions of famous blues tunes) and the comedian Janine Gardner. Both were excellent and worth staying up for.

Day Eight—Friday, March 12, 2010: Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica
We were up early, and had room service deliver some coffee and muffins. We had to meet the shore excursion group in the stage theater at 7:20AM. Eight hundred passengers were going ashore today to several different places. The disembarkation was handled efficiently and timely; and all the busses were at the dock waiting for all of us. Our excursion was to the “Rain Forest Aerial Tram”. But first, a little bit about this stop from the info we were given.

Puerto Caldera lies at the mouth of the Nicoya Gulf on the Pacific Ocean side of Costa Rica. Even though it is a very small town, it is an important Costa Rican port with trade relations worldwide. It contains an industrial complex meant to accommodate both cargo vessels and cruise liners. Puerto Caldera serves the nearby city of Puntarenas, the largest city and capital of Costa Rica’s Puntarenas Province. Puerto Caldera and Puntarenas are located in a beautiful, green, unspoiled region that contains many tourist attractions. Para-sailors and surfers love to travel here; and climbers enjoy the steep cliffs that give amazing views of the Pacific Coast. The region is home to breathtaking mountain ranges with rivers, waterfalls and many parks and wildlife preserves. About 30% of Costa Rica is protected by the government and privately. Tourism is the main income producer, but the country also exports coffee (duh!!), computer chips and fresh bananas, melons and chocolate.

Our bus ride was about 45 minutes. We first hiked into the rain forest for a short distance and listened to the “guide” tell us about the many different species of flora, fauna, and wildlife (including poisonous snakes). Then we hopped into a gondola attached to overhead cables. Like a ski lift it whisked us up into and over the rain forest canopy. The views were breathtaking, as advertised. Unfortunately, we only saw one Toucan—no monkeys or other wildlife. But we did see tons of different species of plants, trees, etc. Check out these pics:

On the bus ride to the rain forest, we spotted these alligators in a local river.  Big ones!

First we took a hike on this brick path. 

There were samples of much of what grows in the region.  This Cocoa.

And this is coffee.

Then we took the aerial tram up and over the rain forest canopy.

More of the aerial tram...

Part of the canopy.  Cool huh?

After the Aerial Tram adventure, we were fed—again. This time it was a traditional Costa Rican meal of salad, fresh fruit, rice and beans, spiced chicken and guava punch. It was awesomely tasty mon!! Vicki also purchased some chocolate balls with coffee beans inside. Then it was a return bus ride to the ship to rest up for the next meal and tonight’s entertainment. We’re bushed—time for a nap!

Day Nine, Saturday, March 13, 2010: At Sea
We have nothing to report today. We ate, read a book, and ate, read a book. Slept.

Day Ten, Sunday, March 14, 2010: Huatulco,(wa-tul-ko) Mexico
We docked in Bahia de Santa Cruz—one of nine bays in the state of Oaxaca (pronounced wah-HAH-kah). It was 89 degrees, sunny, with very little humidity. Here’s some info about this port from the bulletin we received.

“Oaxaca is a rugged mountainous area about 150 miles from Mexico City, but is a world away from the metropolis. Barriers of sparsely populated mountains have always permitted the area to pursue its own destiny. It enjoys a slower, sunnier existence and magical quality that is largely due to its dry rocky landscape, remoteness, bright southern lights and large indigenous population. Oaxaca has stunningly varied landscapes, including cloud forests with strands of oak and pine in the inland highlands and tropical forests in the coastal areas. Santa Cruz is among the newest tourist resorts and has a spectacular, unique beauty. Santa Cruz de Huatulco was the first Spanish port on the Pacific Ocean.”

Our cruise director said that the area now has 3,000 hotel rooms; but, is planned to have 30,000 rooms by 2016. A shame—this is a spectacular get-a-way from everything.

We went snorkeling and beaching today. It was a Mexican holiday and the beaches were crowded with local folks. They got a kick out of us pasty white gringos on the beach. It was great fun and a fantastic excursion away from the ship.

Entering the harbor

The "Federalies" with machine guns were protecting the ship and harbor.  We heard that violence has increased--mostly among drug gangs.  So, guess they are being extra carefull.

The ship is now secure and the "rat off" shields are in place on the lines.

There was a welcoming mariachi band waiting for our arrival.  Very nice!!

Groups waiting for their particular excursion to begin.

Our excursion took us to a beach with a reef not too far off shore.  There we swam and snorkled.  You can see the crowds--it was a mexican holiday.

Our restaurant resting place.  The Modelo Negro was cold and the chips and salsa was hot--really hot!

Our transport boat backed into the beach.  You can see the stern anchor in the shape of a mexican holding the boat against the sand while folks got off.  We were required to wear PFD's.

Going back to the ship we met this lovely couple.  They are both free divers.  He goes to 50 feet for 3 minutes at a time.  She goes to 35 feet for 3 minutes.

After dinner we attended the stage show and saw a comedian/ventriloquist. He was really funny and quite an expert “voice-thrower”, as they are called. It was a good day.

Day Eleven--Monday, March 15, 2010: Acapulco
Norm was up and walking the strip at 8:00 AM. Vicki remained in the sack for another 1.5 hours and finally arose at 9:30 AM. We joined up again then and hired a private taxi for a 3-hour tour of Acapulco, the cliff divers and shopping in Old Acapulco Market. We stopped in an authentic local restaurant and had a late lunch. Of course we were not hungry for dinner aboard, so skipped it. The views over Acapulco Bay were awesome. Take a look:

Acapulco from the ship.

Federalies are everywhere.  Heard that a US diplomat and his wife were killed in Acapulco yesterday.

We started on our tour with a drive around the hills overlooking the harbor.

A private beach.

Overlooking Acapulco Bay

Cliff divers.  See one on the top ready to dive?

We also stoped at the Flamingo Hotel.  This is famous because Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan) and John Wayne (the duke) stayed here.

Restaurant at Flamingo hotel.

View from the Flamingo--private homes.

View from the Flamingo.

Can't shop without a cold beer to soften your defenses.

Vicki and Tony, our Tour Guide.

Not being hungry, we attended the early stage show and saw “Live Wire”—a couple from Ireland playing a guitar and a fiddle. There were fast-paced, lively and fun. Lots of great music.

Day Twelve--Tuesday, March 16, 2010: At Sea
Lots of activity on a lazy day at sea including, a 5K run around the deck for breast cancer, an interview with the ventriloquist, a massage/facial, bingo for a free cruise (we lost), dinner with our Defever group and another comedian at the stage show. Wow, we need a rest from this vacation.

Day Thirteen—Wednesday, March 17, 2010: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Erin Go Braugh!! Happy St Patrick’s Day. Everyone is Irish today—even the Mexicans!

Last night the ship had an engine malfunction—an exhaust elbow—just like the problems we have on our boats. So, we were only able to cruise on 3 of the four generators. That put us into Cabo San Lucas about an hour late. We did not sign up for a paid excursion, so it was no skin off our noses. But, there were others that had to rush to get everything in. And, one excursion had to be canceled. So, we stuck with our plan to go ashore, walk the promenade around the entire 400-slip marina to the Beach Meranda. And, it was beautiful. Norm took a dip and Vicki waded in the surf. Swimming makes us hungry so we treated ourselves to a Mexican lunch and 2-for-one margaritas. After that we went shopping for the grandkids. We got back to the tender dock before the last scheduled departure to our anchored hotel. The cruise line offered a free champagne sailaway party up on the navigation deck. Of course we had to make that. We heard that up to 260 people were still unaccounted for at our designated anchor-up time. But, about ½ hour later we raised the anchor and departed this magnificent harbor. We’re told (unofficially) that if you are on a Holland American sponsored excursion, they wait. If not, they don’t wait. Hopefully everyone made it to the boat. Today was perfect weather-wise. About 80 degrees and sunny. Again, the people were friendly and helpful, the food was delicious and the bargains were there to be had.

Maasdam at anchor.  There were no docks in the harbor for ships this size.  A Carnival cruise ship was also anchored in the harbor. 

A view of Lands End--the end of the peninsula.

Cabo harbor and marina.

Vicki on the tender going to the town.

Cabo marina

Promenade around the marina.

Ambitious hawkers ready to see everything.

Lovers Beach.  Can only be accessed by boat.

Tonight is formal night—ugh! So, we’ll don our best threads. At 6:00 PM we’ll attend the DeFever group’s final cocktail party in the piano bar. There is a mystery guest coming tonight. Wonder who? At 7:00 PM we’ll attend the last production stage show. At 8:00 PM we’ll dine at the late seating with our DeFever buddies; and, see what happens after that. Perhaps a little line dancing in the Crow’s Nest Lounge till the wee hours—11:00 PM or so!  When we got back to our room we found this towel animal.  We found a new one every day.  Pretty cool!!

Towel Animal made by cabin steward.

Day Fourteen—Thursday, March 18, 2010: At Sea
Today, we’re back to DeFever seminars in the morning. Jim Roberts (Adventures) and Hank Haesseker repeated their anchoring presentations made at a recent rendezvous. Even though we heard them before, they were timely, full of great content and entertaining. The ships chief engineer also made a surprise appearance. It was great getting all the technical questions answered about the ships propulsion, etc systems. He was a nice easy-going guy with a great sense of humor. Of course he said that we boaters ask questions most others don’t. A fun interview.

Well, we escaped the ravages of the rampaging GI illnesses. NOT! Norm came down with serious “green apple two step” in the wee hours of the am, a slight fever and stomach discomfort. Fortunately, we were already packed and our luggage was already out in the hall to be taken to the dock tomorrow. Bummer—almost got away well.

Friday, March 19, 2010: 7:00 AM Disembarkation at San Diego, CA
Disembarkation was a breeze. We just waited for our “get-away” number to be called and walked off the boat. Our luggage was there waiting for us in the terminal—including the remaining wine. So, we were off in a taxi to the Marriott for one night. Our flight to Tucson does not take off till tomorrow afternoon.

Unfortunately, Norm was in bed the rest of the day while Vicki sought safer environs by walking around Old Town. We ordered Chinese food in and Norm was already feeling better. Tomorrow we go to Tucson to help Vicki's mom with preparations for her move.