Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Emerald Princess Cruise, December 2010, Day 2

Tuesday, at sea

The sea was slightly bumpy all night but today is calm and partly cloudy/partly sunny. Breakfast in the Da Vinci dining room -- waiter service, crisp table linens, eggs cooked to order, fresh breakfast pastries -- a very nice dining experience. Lunch in the Horizon Court buffet and dinner in Michaelangelo.

These two back-to-back sea days are great for unwinding and doing next to nothing. We set up our computer accounts, browsed for books in the ship's library and got tickets for a brief tour of Antigua on Saturday afternoon. Because the cruise is just before Christmas all the holiday chores have to be finished before leaving for the cruise. It's nice to have it all done so early.

The computer connection on board is still very slow with frequent drop offs. Fifteen minutes of connect time often means 10 minutes of waiting to connect and five minutes of transmitting time. The computer cafe has a lot of computers so usually there's no problem getting one to use. But we bring a laptop and get online in our cabin. Using the ship's network isn't cheap. The best buy is 250 minutes for $100. If you have cruised with Princess more than six times you get 250 minutes free, so that's a plus.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Emerald Princess Cruise, December 2010, Day 1

Monday, at sea

We are now in the Atlantic Time Zone, one hour ahead of Eastern Time.

During the night the sea was slightly choppy with a touch of swell. This was not unpleasant or unexpected; we are on a ship. The rolling made it easy to get to sleep. Most of the day was cloudy and not hot at all even when the sun came out.

At 4:00 P.M. we had sailed 432 nautical miles from Port Everglades with 704 more to go until we reach Basseterre in St. Kitts, on Wednesday morning.

Crown Grill logoFor breakfast we had room service. We had lunch at the burger place by the pool. For dinner we went to the Crown Grill Steak House. It's one of the ship's extra charge restaurants and well worth the $25 each they charge. Great food and great service in a setting that looks like an old New York steak house.

Tonight was formal night. We don't do formal night. But, except for the main dining rooms there's no problem what you wear. On formal nights we find the the two restaurants with the extra charges, Crown Grill and Sabatinis, are 50/50 formal and "smart casual."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Emerald Princess Cruise, December 2010, Embarkation


Port Everglades with seven cruise ships ready to sail.
A busy day at Port Everglades.

After a longer than usual wait for a van at the Park 'n' Cruise lot, waiting first in hot sun then in a light rain, we got to the ship at 12:20 and were in our cabin by 1:00 P.M. The bags took a while to arrive but we got them at 3:30, just before the muster drill. We sailed out of Port Everglades at 5:10. Dark, stormy-looking sky and a bouncy sea, but no rain.

Before we departed I took the photo, above, showing (at least parts of) seven cruise ships ready to set sail. As we expected, we saw Nieuw Amsterdam, Ruby Princess, MSC Poesia, Carnival Freedom and Celebrity Solstice in port today. And there's a tiny piece of the balcony of Emerald Princess at the extreme right of the photo. That makes six. The seventh ship is probably one of the day trippers that runs from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas and back for gambling and duty-free shopping.

17th Street Causeway Drawbridge, Fort Lauderdale
17th Street Causeway Drawbridge, seen from our balcony cabin, starboard side of Dolphin Deck 9.

This is our second cruise on the Emerald Princess, the other was in December 2008. The ship still looks new and has been well cared for. It was christened on May 13, 2007 by -- in keeping with Princess Cruises' status as a TV icon -- Florence Henderson and Susan Olsen of "The Brady Bunch" along with Erin Moran and Marion Ross of "Happy Days." Our cabin this trip is on the starboard side exactly opposite the one we had on the Emerald last time on the port side.

Taking care of our cabin, and us, is our steward (or in this case more properly, stewardess), Sherill. She's from the Philippines and appears very together, friendly and efficient. And she speaks perfect English which makes so many things eaasier.

We had dinner in the Michaelangelo Dining Room. The first impression of the dining room staff is that they are friendly and well-trained.

The cabin is comfortable and after unpacking we turned in early. A bit tired from our 700-mile drive from Pensacola to Fort Lauderdale.

Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam heading out of Port Everglades
Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam heading out of Port Everglades

Nieuw Amsterdam on her way
The Nieuw Amsterdam on her way south.

Emerald Princess Cruise, December 2010, News & Weather Enroute

News and weather links for upcoming ports of call:

Antigua Observer
The Nation, Barbados
Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel
The Observer, St. Kitts-Nevis
St. Lucia Star
Virgin Islands Daily News, St. Thomas

Antigua and Barbuda
Fort Lauderdale
St. Kitts
St. Lucia
St. Thomas

Emerald Princess Cruise, December 2010, Cruise Itinerary

Route: Eastern Caribbean Voyager

Itinerary and Ports of Call

Click on the map to enlarge it.

Embarkation, Sunday, November 28, 5:00 PM, leave Ft. Lauderdale

Day 1, Monday, November 29, at sea

Day 2, Tuesday, November 30, at sea

Day 3, Wednesday, December 1, 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM, St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts tourist infoNevis tourist infoPort Zante

Day 4, Thursday, December 2, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Barbados
Tourist infoBridgetown Cruise Terminal

Day 5, Friday, December 3, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, St. Lucia
Tourist infoCruise Ship Port

Day 6, Saturday, December 4, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Antigua and Barbuda
Tourist infoAntigua Cruise Port

Day 7, Sunday, December 5, 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM, St. Thomas
Tourist infoHavensite Cruise Ship DockCrown Bay DockCrown Bay Shopping

Day 8, Monday, December 6, at sea

Day 9, Tuesday, December 7, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Princess Cays

Day 10, Wednesday, December 8, Disembarkaction, 7:00 AM, arrive Ft. Lauderdale
Drive home

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Emerald Princess Cruise, December 2010, Drive to the Ship

Luke the ElephantLuke at the Two Tails Ranch, Williston, Florida, celebrating his 26th birthday.

First day, Friday, November 26, drive from Pensacola to Gainesville
We set off heading east on Interstate 10 about 10:30 A.M. after taking the cats to the pet hotel. It was a gray, chilly day with spots of rain, often heavy. Stopped in Chipley for lunch at Skins and Bubba's BBQ. Nice place for BBQ. Then on to Gainesville arriving there just after dark, 340 miles. As always, dinner was at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store next door. And early to bed. Today's was a long drive for us.

Second day, Saturday,November 27, drive from Gainesville to Ft. Lauderdale
On our way south on Interstate 75 we took a brief detour to Williston to visit the Two Tails Ranch. It is a training, medical, breeding and retirement facility for elephants and exotic felines. It has been there for over 20 years -- owned and operated by Patricia Zerbini, a ninth generation circus performer. The Ranch is a wonderful place; the animals have lots of open space, warm barns in the winter and frequent visitors to watch. Another web site All About Elephants has more information about the Ranch's educational outreach programs.

Luke the Elephant
Luke watching us.

We continued on to Plantation, Florida, just north of Fort Lauderdale. Dinner was at the Plantation location of a small south Florida restaurant chain -- Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine.

Miles so far 680; miles since Gainesville, 340.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Patio Flowers in Florida -- November 2010

November Patio Flowers
Click on the image to enlarge it, then click again to make it even bigger.
Now that the weather is milder the flowers and foliage are looking good in the backyard.