Sunday, November 30, 2008

Emerald Princess, December 2008, Embarkation

Sail away!

Lifebuoy: Emerald Princess, Hamilton

Slept well and got up at 7:30 to have breakfast and do some re-packing. There was a light rain and it was very hot. The shuttle left the hotel right on time, at 11:45 A.M., and we got to the port about 20 minutes later. There were long lines for the Emerald Princess but they moved very fast and by 1:00 we were in our cabin. It was a very comfortable mini-suite with a balcony on the usual starboard side, Dolphin deck 9. There was a bottle of Champagne waiting for us along with a plate of chocolate covered strawberries and minutes later a bowl of tropical flowers arrived. All of this requires a little preplanning but it's well worth the effort.

The PiazzaBy 2:00 P.M. three of our four pieces of luggage were delivered. The last bag arrived at the door at 3:45.

Also in Port Everglades on this Sunday were Carnival Freedom, Celebrity Solstice, Crown Princess, Imperial Majesty's Regal Empress and Holland America's Westerdam. When you add the Emerald Princess, the total passengers debarking and embarking on this Sunday is potentially 30,208 if all the ships are at capacity.

Before muster drill at 4:15 we had a light lunch in the Horizon Court Buffet. The weather was getting stormy and a front was passing by so the Commodore delayed our (5:00 P.M.) departure nearly an hour. The sea was slightly rough and the Emerald Princess was rolling a bit. Later the sea got quite rough.

Christmas Tree on Emerald PrincessThe ship is beautiful and still feels new. Its inaugural cruise was in April 2007. It is a Grand Class ship and carries 3100 passengers and 1200 crew. It was beautifully decorated for Christmas -- tastefully and not overdone.

We had dinner in the Michelangelo dining room. Luis from Portugal was our waiter and his assistant was Olena from Slovenia. Both were very friendly and professional. Dinner, with veggie spring rolls, spinach soup, mushroom soup and roast beef plus dessert, was very good.

We both were tired and sore from the long two-day drive and we went to bed early -- enjoying the rocking of the ship in the stormy weather.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Driving to the Emerald Princess, second day

Driving from Clermont to Ft. Lauderdale

We ate our free breakfast at the hotel and headed south. The weather was better. Stopped for lunch, as always, in Jupiter and continued on to the the Hampton Inn in Hollywood, near the cruise dock and the airport. We got there around 3:00 P.M. -- 253 miles. The total driving distance from home was 707 miles.

The hotel is busy but nice and in pretty good condition for an airport hotel. We arranged for our transfer to the ship in the morning and parking in the hotel lot while we are on the cruise. It was very warm and humid in Ft. Lauderdale with rain off and on.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Driving to the Emerald Princess, first day

Driving from Pensacola to Clermont

Shortly before 9:00 A.M. we took the cats to the new pet hotel our vet just opened. We signed them in and headed east on Interstate 10 on our way to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale and the Emerald Princess. The weather was cool and the sky was gray. At lunchtime we stopped in Chipley for lunch at Gary's Flamin' Grill (we discovered it a while ago and liked it a lot) but it was closed (for the day after Thanksgiving Day).

Onward, cross-country to Marianna to eat at Madison's Warehouse but they too were closed (for the day after Thanksgiving Day). We ended back at I-10 and ate at Po' Folks Country Restaurant. Good fried chicken on their buffet.

Bad rain storms before and after Tallahassee. Got to the Hampton Inn in Clermont, just north of Orlando, before 8:00 P.M., We drove 454 miles.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Taking a Blogcation

With all the stresses and timetables of the holidays -- shopping, gatherings, upcoming travel, writing Christmas cards, wrapping things, long lines at the P.O. -- it is time to take a brief break from the blog.

Taking a blog break -- be back soon

Monday, November 17, 2008

Don't scream, but...

...there are only 38 days until Christmas.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Pool In Winter

Polaris 380, brochure photoOf course you can't swim in a backyard pool when the water temperature is 52°F (11°C). But it is necessary to keep it clean and keep the chemicals in balance. If the chemicals aren't correct it's bad for the pool liner and there's also quite an investment in water -- 26,700 gallons of it -- or just about 101,041 liters -- to keep clean and sparkling.

The other day Polaris 380, our elderly pool cleaning robot, broke down again. This time it would cost a lot to fix it and we decided to get a new one.

It's very pretty in the brochure photo above. But if you look inside to fix something here's what you'll see. (Click on the diagram to enlarge it.)
Polaris 380, exploded parts diagram
It is a complicated maze of tiny parts.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Books for the Cruise

Cruise book covers IAs the time for our next cruise draws closer (this time it's on the Emerald Princess to the Southern Caribbean) it's also time to pick some books to read on the ship. This itinerary has several days "at sea" with no ports to visit. That gives us lots of time to sit and read and relax between all those meals.

I am sure that the Emerald has a good library on board -- the Princess ships usually do -- but we will take these along with us:

Absolute Friends, John le Carré
The Complete Idiot's guide to the World of Harry Potter, Tere Stouffer
Dixie, Curtis Wilkie
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Newt Scamander
Noel & Cole: The Sophisticates, Stephen Citron
The Private Lives of Noël and Gerty, Sheridan Morley
Quidditch Through the Ages, Kennilworthy Whisp
Walt Disney World Without Kids, Birnbaum Guides

Cruise book covers II


Front page, Chicago Tribune, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Results -- Check back often

Map from
HuffPost has a collection of election charts, widgets and live video feeds, it's their Guide to Watching Election Night Results. With constant updates all night long.