People on the GameFAQS boards constantly tell everyone else when they’ve completed the board’s game 100% with the maximum 1000 gamerpoints per game. I thought I’d start my own little section here for this since, well, this is my site and I can do whatever I want really. So here goes!
Call of Duty 4 – 1000/1000 on 1-21-2008
This game, as some of you know, has become one of my favorite alltime games, not for the single player but for the multiplayer. At this writing, I’ve amassed over 500 hours on online play. Achievements however were only awarded for the single player campaign, and some of the harder ones were REALLY hard. I would have to say that beating “One Shot One Kill” and “No Fighting in the War Room” on Veteran dificulty caused me the most mental anguish. The last level, “Mile High Club”, though fun on Normal difficulty, became a nightmare on Veteran, though it felt SO good to complete it, knowing that all that was left to do in order to 100% the game was find a few tapes and destory a lot of televisions
Fallout 3 – 1000/1000 on 12-15-2008
If you’ve read anything on this site about Fallout 3, you know that I’ve really enjoyed it. From being a game that I told myself I would never get to being one that I will probably never forget, Fallout 3 is a complete masterpiece, and I’m sad that the story is over. It took me about 75 hours to 100% it and the entire time was like a wild rollercoaster ride. I won’t spoil the ending here, but it was pretty sweet. Bethesda is releasing some DLC for this game which I will most definitely pick up, as it is one of the most engaging games I’ve ever played.
[UPDATE - 1-29-2009 - 1100/1100 now after Operation Anchorage DLC]
[UPDATE - 3-27-2009 - 1200/1200 now after The Pitt DLC]
[UPDATE - 5-20-2009 - 1350/1350 now after Broken Steel DLC]
[UPDATE - 7-6-2009 - 1450/1450 now after Point Lookout DLC]
[UPDATE - 8-11-2009 - 1550/1550 now after Mothership Zeta DLC]
Since Bethesda has not announced any further DLC for this masterpiece, I am taking this as the end for me. If they do decide to release more, I will pick it up, but if they don’t, then the ride was a great one and I will look forward to the next game in this series. Fallout 3 is easily one of the best experiences in gaming that I’ve ever had, took up 1497 save files, and lasted me well over 120 hours.
Tales of Vesperia – 1000/1000 on 12-28-2008
This has been months in the making and I can finally say that I have completed this masterpiece. The “Tales of” series is huge in Japan and I have played two of the games in the series: Tales of Symphonia on the Gamecube, and now Tales of Vesperia on the 360. These games are traditional Japanese Role Playing Games, meaning the style is very anime and the characters have a lot of personality. They also implement a crazy live action battle system, which make them a complete joy to play. Anyways, I played through Tales of Vesperia from launch day until I beat the game about a month later, totaling about 95 hours. I then immediately started over again, and played through it again to tie up all loose ends and basically get everything in the game, which took another 50-60 hours. The last two achievements would require a third playthrough, one for finishing the first chapter at a very low level, and another for finishing the game within 15 hours. All in all, I finished this playthrough in 9:37:31, ranked 791 on the leaderboards for time, and the entire playtime for me is about 173 hours. I have done everything there is to do in this game, probably a few times, and all I can say is that it is by far the best JRPG I’ve ever played and I’m really looking forward to Namco’s next installment of this great series. Tales of Vesperia is an epic, long journey that is worth playing for anyone who either likes the series or the genre in the slightest bit.
Fable II – 1100/1100 on 1-25-2009
I consider this to actually be 1300/1300 as I have fully completed the Fable II Pub Games as well. Fable II was a game that I have owned for many months, but stopped playing almost immediately as it was horribly bugged and people were complaining that their games glitched out and got wrecked. This scared me, so I played Fallout 3 instead. A few weeks back, Fable II was patched so I started playing it again. It is a blast to play and is very relaxing. Albion has a very medieval feel to it and you can basically do whatever you want, whenever you want. As far as achievements go, this game has them brilliantly placed. There are only a handful of story-based achievements, and Fable II focuses more on craziness when it comes to them. There’s one for kicking a chicken. There’s one for killing a rabbit. There’s one for shooting the weapons out of an enemy and then hitting him with a headshot. There are so many weird achievements. Some of them require you meeting people online and trading items with them. This can be tedious, but I met some nice people that way. I bought the Knothole Island expansion pack, which honestly only takes about an hour or two to complete, so $10 might be a bit high for it, but I really enjoyed it and the new weapons that it adds. It also adds another 100 to the score, so that’s why this one is more than 1000. I’m not really “done” with this game as there are other things that need to be done in it, but for some reason, there aren’t any achievements for them. I think it would have been cool to have an achievement for opening all of the demon doors for example. Overall, this is an excellent game if you don’t run into a crazy bug along the way!
[UPDATE - 6-4-2009 - 1350/1350 now after See the Future DLC]
Resident Evil 5 – 1000/1000 on 4-1-2009
I had been looking forward to Resident Evil 5 for a few years now, and told myself that I would be taking the release day off of work when it was announced last summer. More on that can be read here but this update is to discuss the game after full completion. That is to say the story mode of the game. Resident Evil titles seem to consistently change with each incarnation, and fans seem to always have some sort of problem with that. I’ve learned to take it as Capcom gives it and enjoy what they’ve created. Resident Evil 5 is without a doubt my favorite in the series, seconded only to the genre-changing Resident Evil 4. The addition of co-op to 5 worried me as so many game publishers are just trying to slap on the words “co-op” as marketing strategies, but when realized, they don’t add anything or are completely one-sided towards the host. I don’t think that Capcom could have done any better with their implementation of co-op, and in this game playing with someone else over XBL trumps the single player in every single way. Finishing this title to 100% took just over 43 hours, making it one of the shorter games I’ve played to get every achievement in. It is truly a masterpiece and I am now going to tackle The Mercenaries, an arcade-like minigame of sorts that is packaged with Resident Evil titles. In a few weeks, Capcom will be releasing an online versus mode based on The Mercenaries, so it’s time to train!
Lost: Via Domus – 1000/1000 on 6-28-2009
I’ve been trying to think about how to put this back when I was still playing the game and knowing that I’d be writing a little blurb about it eventually for all of probably 3 people to see, but this is easily one of the worst games I’ve ever played. For anyone who knows me well enough, you know that I adore the show Lost. It’s my favorite television show that is on television now, and may be of all time. I’m thinking about The A-Team here, but I kind of put them in two totally different categories, so we’ll just ignore that. When Lost: Via Domus was announced and released, it got pretty bad reviews, and I passed over it thinking that it probably wasn’t worth $60….and it isn’t. I found this game a few months back for $10 at Best Buy and figured that I couldn’t really go wrong. I think I got a so-so deal on it. Anyways, when you boot up the game, you first see a Ubisoft logo. If I had read the box and saw that it was a Ubisoft game, I might have just left it be, as I am terribly upset with them and what they did to the Prince of Persia a few years back. But I didn’t see that logo and bought the game anyways. You play the game as a guy who was on Oceanic 815 and crashed with everyone else, but you don’t have any memory. You look almost exactly like Jacob’s nemesis from the Season 5 finale, which I find very strange, and I look forward to seeing if others feel the same way about this. It’s just uncanny how similar you look to him. As you “play” this game which consists of you walking around the beach talking to horribly created versions of the cast, being chased around the jungle by the smoke monster, doing stupid fuse puzzles that make no sense whatsoever, and recovering your memory via looping scenarios where you need to take pictures of things, I realized that I might have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t a Lost fan. I’m kind of on the fence about this one. If I wasn’t a Lost fan, I wouldn’t be so critical about the modeling or voice acting, though John Locke repeating “I’m over in the Banyan Trees” and “Hey, Look at me in the Banyan Trees” over and over again was actually funny, but the funny part was when he said “Banyan Trees”. I don’t know. I’m weird. Hurley, believe it or not, it even fatter in this game. The controls are very loose, and your actions seem to make you float around. You can trade fruit and stuff that you pick up for lanterns and guns, etc, but you only need to really shoot 1 or 2 people, so you never ever need a clip, though they seem to have lots to trade. What sucks even more is that in the end, all your stuff is taken from you, so it’s all pretty useless. They should have just given you what you need when you need it, but then this game would have been even shorter probably. It only took me about 2-4 hours to complete in its entirety, but it seemed like a chore. Would I rather deal with this mess or play CoD4? I had to force myself to finish this game so that I could delete it from my hard drive. One thing that I can say positively about this game is that I didn’t run into any game breaking bugs. That’s a nice thing, but there are some annoyances. One level starts out with you having to run away from the smoke monster, jumping over trees and running across wooden planks, but if you trip up then the smoke monster gets you. That’s not the bad part though. The bad part is that the game is set up episodically, so when you die, which you will a few times, you have to go through the whole 30 second long “Previously on Lost” crap. Argh! Anyways, Lost: Via Domus can’t be recommended by me. If you like Lost, and can get it for cheap (or borrow it from me), then check it out, but don’t expect much.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – 1000/1000 on 12-13-2009
Well, it took me much less time than I thought it would to get 1000 gamerscore points in Modern Warfare 2. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that this game is easier and less annoying/time consuming as its predecessor, and I had a great partner in Glenn for all of the co-op missions. Glenn and I had a really fun time playing through the Spec-Ops missions, and we’re looking forward to more of them via DLC. The story in this game is not as emotional or as good as it was in Call of Duty 4, and it definitely does not wrap up with a satisfying conclusion, but I believe that this is done on purpose, so that in a few years, we’ll see Modern Warfare 3. It is also very difficult to follow. Being a self-proclaimed expert in this series’ storyline (I played through the CoD4 story four or five times and know it by heart), I was confused most of the way through this game. The writers don’t really like setting the story up beforehand, but rather just drop you into the middle of it, and your squad mates seem to tell the story around you. The problem with this is that while they are talking, you’re being barraged by bullets and explosions, so your mind isn’t really paying attention to what they are trying to say. It’s a small gripe about an otherwise excellent piece of work. All in all, Infinity Ward made another masterpiece with this game, and now all that’s left is multiplayer!!
Assassin’s Creed II – 1000/1000 on 1-18-2010
I was very skeptical about Assassin’s Creed II. I wrote up about that in my Initial Impressions, and now that I’ve completed the game in its entirety (for now) I have to say that I have much more faith in Ubisoft. I’m still a bit uneasy about the Prince of Persia series, but now that I’ve completed Assassin’s Creed II, I might give that series another try when it releases a new entry this summer. Assassin’s Creed II did so many things right. The graphics are amazing, the story is deep though a bit confusing at times, and the sound is simple extraordinary. This was a game that I played both with and without the A40′s, and when playing without them, I lost out on some subtle details such as birds chirping in the background. These things make up the feeling that is Assassin’s Creed II. I absolutely love how you’re given a walled-in city that is in terrible disarray, and asked to upgrade it by donating your money. Over time, you see new structures going up and more people flocking towards this city, earning you more money to build it up more. It has a very medieval feel to it and I just loved it. After completing the story, I went hunting for feathers; a remedial task in most games, but it is something that I really enjoy. I have so much fun doing this and the world that the designers created is nothing short of fantastic. There is only a single missable achievement (Flyswatter) in this game, but I’ve read that in upcoming DLC it will again become attainable. Overall the achievements were on the easy side, and I almost wish that some of them were integrated better. Finishing ALL of the races would have been more of an achievement than just finishing a single, easy one. As I said in my previous segment about this game, I was mostly interested in the Venetian portions of the game, and they really did not disappoint. Venice isn’t just created to look like you’re in Venice. It’s created in the same layout as the islands, with the main Grand Canal bridges intact, St. Mark’s Square is nearly identical to the real thing, and even the market is in the correct location on the eastern side of the Rialto Bridge. One of the funniest moments in the game for me was when I overheard a public speaker informing the public not to eat fish that came out of the canals. The only thing that made me cringe about playing a game set in Venice is when I would accidentally jump in the wrong direction and dive into a canal. When I lived in Venice, I worked on a project to drastically change the way the Venetian sewerage system works, so that may help you understand why I have reservations on jumping into the canals. :)
Bulletstorm – 1000/1000 on 3-6-2011
Today, Bulletstorm joins my list of fully completed games. This is a game that exceeded all of my expectations, many of which were set very high. The story is fun adn hysterical, the time trial mode (Echoes) is challenging and great to compare scores against friends, and the co-op multiplayer mode (Anarchy) is a blast to play with friends. As far as achievements go, only a few require other people, and most are easily doable. Red Barrels was difficult for me to get, and a few chapters on Very Hard difficulty were a pain (I’m looking at you 7-1), but overall it wasn’t terribly hard to fully complete. This is a spectacular game for adults, and I whole-heartedly recommend it.
Portal 2 – 1000/1000 on 4-28-2011
When I first heard that Valve was creating Portal 2, one of the first thoughts in my head was “What kind of crazy achievements will this game have?”. I was also worried about the length of the game. Portal 1 took all of 2 hours to fully complete the story, so could Valve create a game that people would and should pay a full $60 for? The story portion of Portal 2 took just over 9 hours to complete, without a single moment of boredom. The co-op portion took about half that to complete, but I’ve since played it through two to three times. The achievements range from smashing 11 TV’s in a single play session to simply hugging your friends. This game is perfectly executed in every way, and one not to miss out on.
Brink – 1000/1000 on 5-15-2011
Brink is an interesting game. It was marketed very well, but is missing some key aspects that could make it great. The concept of gaining experience whether you play against robotic AI or humans is a breath of fresh air. The same can be said for being able to fully map the controller layout. Every game should have this feature. One thing this game is lacking, and I can not being to contemplate why, is a multiplayer lobby. Brink promotes playing with friends, but there is no easy way to group friends together and then play against other humans. It’s a mess, and I have no idea how this decision was made. Anyways, overall I’d say that Brink is a good game. It throws gamerscore at you like nothing else, and within five days, I’ve completed every achievement. The only one that I could see giving trouble would be “Tough as nails” which requires you to finish the storyline in Hard mode or online. The latter is extremely annoying because of what I mentioned earlier, and the fact that every time a person joins or leaves a team when online, the server comes to a halt for a few seconds. I played through the campaign with friends, and that made it easier, but it wasn’t a walk in the park. The reason this is difficult is because as you rank up, the enemy AI ranks up as well, and while your team’s AI still waits until the last 2 minutes to help out in any fashion, the enemy team’s AI just gets more brutal. Other than this achievement, which is mildly annoying, the rest are extremely easy. I hope the development team adds more achievements with DLC in the future.
L.A. Noire – 1000/1200 on 5-23-2011
This game shiped with two pieces of DLC that are preorder specific. I didn’t get these, but that’s why there are 1200 points total. Instead, I got a sweet light blue outfit called The Broderick. Yippee. Anyways… I didn’t know what to expect from L.A. Noire before release. I’m glad to say that this is not Grand Theft Auto in the 1940′s Los Angeles. I’m a big fan of GTA, but not really of this time period. L.A. Noire is more of a puzzle game than a shooting one, and the story that Team Bondi has created is spectacular. I figured out some of the story from bits and pieces, but was thrown off by others. It’s also nice to play a game without a multiplayer component. You can tell that a lot of work was focused on this single player element. I look forward to playing future games using this engine. Real actors can now successfully play roles in video games, and L.A. Noire is the first game that I believe can show off their talent well. This year is looking great for gaming, and it’s only May!
Deus Ex – Human Revolution – 1000/1000 on 9-5-2011
I never wrote up my impressions of this game when it first came out. This is because of two separate reasons that melded together and caused me to first write up about this game after fully completing it. First off, after playing this game for a few hours, I didn’t really care for it, and I was having trouble figuring out how to write that down. I was upset that the control layout was so radically different than most other games, and there is no way to change it with exception to inverting axes and sensitivity. That right there angered me, along with the fact that I couldn’t aim well and couldn’t hack into anything successfully. It was just somewhat of a mess, and after a few hours, I decided to give it a rest and come back the next day. This is where the second reason comes in. I picked the game back up after a night’s rest, and somehow the controls made sense to me. I started leveling up my character and weapons, making them easier to aim, and making hacking much easier. Most of my problems were almost instantly solved. The only problem now, is that I was somewhat hooked; hence my second reason. The depth that this game goes in each of its aspects is amazing, be it first person shooter, third person spy, even the hacking minigame is probably the best hacking minigame in any game that I’ve ever played. It’s smart, and took me a while to master. The best thing Deus Ex has to offer though is that you can tackle objectives in just about any way you want. You can get there by sneaking by, or by knocking guards out and hiding their bodies. You can also just run in and kill everyone. It’s up to you and in every single situation in the ~25 hour long campaign, it worked flawlessly. This is easily the best game that’s come out this year so far, and possibly even last year as well. As far as achievements go, all but three were completed rather easily on my first runthrough of the game. A second playthrough was completed in order to 1. finish on the hardest difficulty, 2. without killing anybody, and 3. without setting off any alarms. Playing through a second time like this wasn’t as difficult as it may sound because I knew every nook and cranny of the game already, and it was a blast to play through again.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – 1000/1000 on 3-23-2012
I don’t quite know where to begin with this one. I’ve never played any of the previous games in this series, but was in complete awe when I played Fallout 3, another amazing Bethesda piece of art. If you scroll up in this post a bit, you’ll see that I completed that game as well. Skyrim plays very similar to Fallout 3 at its core, but the world and characters here are vastly different. I started this game and played for about 40 hours as a pure mage before starting all over again as a stealth Khajiit assassin, and never looked back. When all was said and done, I’ve got over 1500 save files and 130 hours into this character. Skyrim also now sits atop my list of greatest games ever played. It is masterfully made and a pure joy to play. You can lose yourself in this world, and whoever designed the city of Whiterun is a complete genius. None of the achievements seem really difficult to get; the hardest if probably Oblivion Walker which requires you to find 15 of the 16 special Daedric weapons scattered in numerous dungeons in the land. I’m still not done with the game, but I’m done with the achievements until DLC is inevitably released. Some minor bugs aside, this one is a complete winner.
SSX – 1000/1000 on 4-14-2012
SSX is the first sports game that I’ve ever completed fully. This game’s achievements are a mix between easy completion awards and tough, time consuming challenges. Some require grinding, but not too much. They are generally very easy to attain. Some of them do happen to require many people playing online, so the older this game gets, the tougher it will be to max out its achievements. In general, SSX is loads of fun, and I plan on continuing to play it as the online challenges are very well made. A maxed out character in this game can do some wildy amazing moves. I made a video of a race recently that can be found here. It doesn’t show off the magnitude of the tricks that can be performed, but it shows some of the more treacherous terrain that the game sometimes throws at you. I had an absolute blast playing this game for achievements, and look forward to setting some sweet scores now!
Far Cry 3 – 1000/1000 on 1-2-2013
Far Cry 3 released at a good time for me. I had been playing Borderlands 2 for a good two months, had completed Black Ops 2 for as much as I could handle, and had just played Assassin’s Creed 3, which for me, was a letdown. When I heard that Far Cry 3 was basically Assassin’s Creed with guns, it sparked some interest. I really like the AC series, but the latest installment left me with somewhat of a stale taste in my mouth. Right from the beginning of Far Cry 3, I could see that this was an entertaining and well-made game, even if it copied its core structure from another game. I spent about 15 hours with this game, and was able to complete the achievements in just a single playthrough. The multiplayer co-op isn’t anything special, but the single player portion is really great. I enjoyed the stealth aspects when trying to liberate the outposts the most. None of the achievements were really hard. Overall, I think they were well balanced and spaced out. I’d say that some of the most annoying achievements were just the ones for completing multiplayer, as I never really wanted to go through it.
Borderlands 2 – 1125/1125 on 10-20-2012
I haven’t made many updates to my site in a while. The only game I’ve been playing is Borderlands 2, and though I’ve wanted to write up my impressions, I just haven’t had any time to do so. I guess I can use this space for a few of them. Borderlands 1 is one of my all-time favorite games, and I was really excited for its sequel. I’m glad that Gearbox took their time with this game, because they improved almost every aspect of it. They made an incredible game even better, which seems to be a difficult task now that publishers are trying to milk some franchises dry. Anyways, Borderlands 2 starts you off with no real good items for the first ~10 hours or so, and then starts dropping better ones in a seemingly exponential fashion. By the time you’re at max level, you’ve played through the game twice, and can then focus on farming bosses for better loot. I did this for a few days before starting up a different character. If Gearbox is going to raise the level cap like they did with Borderlands 1, then there isn’t much of a point to collect a lot of maxed out weapons now, or even use my maxxed out character. They’ve already released one DLC pack, which is why my score is 1125 instead of 1000. They’ve also released a DLC character, which I have at level 32 currently. As far as achievements go, the character-specific achievements aren’t as easy as they were in the first game. One character has to get to level 31 in order to earn his achievement, and another to level 25. In the first game, they could all be gotten in the first ~10 levels. Other than these, the rest kind of fell into place. Borderlands 2 is not a game that I play for the achievements. I play it for the amazing world that Gearbox has created, and I will play it until the next entry in the series releases.
1125/1125 on 10-20-2012- Captain Scarlett and her Pirate’s Booty – This was a surprise, releasing within 30 days of the actual game. It lasts about 5 hours, and is quite fun to play. I’ve gone through it with my level 50 Siren and level 32 Mechromancer. It adds a new type of crystal called Seraph, that only drops by the DLC’s two raid bosses. These bosses are not easy, and they only drop a few crystals each time. It appears as though the special items that you receive cost around 100 crystals, and they aren’t really that great, so I’m not putting a whole lot of time in here once finished. It is a really nice place for your character to level up, and it is quite comical and fun, so I recommend it for characters going through the story each time.
1250/1250 on 11-23-2012 – Mr. Torgue and his Campaign of Carnage – The humor in this piece of DLC is off the charts. I enjoyed this one as I did with the first, but still question why we haven’t been given a level cap increase to expand our characters some more. The achievements in this DLC were pretty straightforward, with one requiring a bit of luck. Every so often, an enemy will drop a photo of Moxxi, and you need to collect 10 of these. This was the last achievement acquired, and took a bit of farming.
1375/1375 on 5-1-2013 - Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt – So far, this is my least favorite piece of Borderlands 2 DLC. For one, if focused only on main story quests, this takes 2 hours maximum. I don’t usually play without doing the sidequests, but it isn’t as deep as the previous Torgue DLC, which is quite good. There is one treasure room that can be looted just once per playthrough. There are two raid bosses, one of which is insanely difficult (Voracidous), and another that requires you to travel around, lighting furnaces with Eridium in order to spawn (Dexiduous). This one has the chance to drop The Chopper, which is a throwback weapon to Borderlands 1. This isn’t a bad piece of DLC, but it isn’t as deep as the others. I think it would be better off if it had given a skill point upon completion, like the Mad Moxxi DLC did in the first game. By far, the hardest achievement was to complete all sidequests, but sidequest to defeat Voracidous took me a very long time.
This is our last day on this trip. We woke up early and noticed that it’s now much colder outside. We had our last sit-down breakfast and started packing our bags. The last day of every cruise isn’t ever fun, but it was nice to have two “at sea” days here at the end. Princess has a program where you can check your bags in to the airlines from the ship, and they just show up at your final destination. We learned this morning that Heather and I were denied, but could not be told why. We tried reapplying for this and were stressed out all day waiting. We had the buffet for lunch and then looked at all of our formal photos from the past two weeks. For dinner, I had Tom Turkey and a New York Strip steak, and for dessert, the always amazing Baked Alaska. After a great meal, we went back to the photo area because they were having a raffle. We ended up winning two prizes; a Boi Bamba DVD so I’ll actually learn what it is now, and 10 stock photos of various creatures and things that we’ve seen on this trip. We have won so many raffles that I think some of the ladies on board were getting a bit mad at us. When we got back to our room, our bag check-in tags were there and we were approved! WE finished up packing and went to bed for our last night on this voyage. It started out rough, but ended up really great. I really look forward to returning to parts of the Amazon River in the future. It is quite an amazing experience!
This morning, Heather woke me up at 6AM because I guess I told her last night that I wanted to swim at 6AM. When she woke me up, I didn’t really feel like swimming, but I agreed to go up to the pool. The stars and moon could be seen and the sky was completely dark. The pool was also very cold. Heather jumped right in as I stood on the ladder complaining about how cold it was. Eventually I got all the way in, but was pretty cold the whole time. We got into the hot tub and watched the sky lighten, which was really nice. I met up with Mom as she folded napkins, and then we tried to watch the culinary demonstration, but there were some audio problems and we couldn’t figure out what the Italian Head Chef and Portuguese Matre’D were trying to say. They are hard to understand in the first place, but this was ridiculous. We ended up leaving. At noon, Heather won a really nice set of earrings. She’s on fire this cruise with winning things. First she won spa credit, then some photographs, and now earrings! For lunch, I had rigatoni with meat sauce and it was spectacular. After lunch, I walked in the Breast Cancer 5K while Heather napped, as she had been up since about 4AM. The cruise staff were very unorganized and didn’t even have water available for the people walking. Mom had them get water and then she served it to everybody. The cruise staff there just stood around drinking their own water, in the shade. I’ve participated in about 4 of these walks, and every single time, the cruise staff had fruit kebabs and plenty of water available for everybody before the event even started. They also walk with us and cheer us on. We were given an excuse that each ship is different, but this was unbelievable. Mom wrote a letter to the Cruise Director. Other than that, the walk was nice and I got a lot of exercise. It feels good to help out a worthy cause too! Tonight is formal night, and for dinner I had Pheasant and Short Beef Rib. The ribs were amazing. We are now waiting to watch the final production show of the cruise, another one that we’ve seen before, but should be good. Tomorrow is another day at sea.
St. Maarten is Heather’s and my favorite Caribbean island. We first came here on our honeymoon, and this will be our third trip back. They have built a new pier since we were last here, and there were five ships total, including the enormous Norwegian Epic. This is a huge ship and is incredibly unsightly if you ask me. It looks like they threw a shipping barge up on top of it and whoever designed the aerodynamics of this beast should have their head examined. We left our ship and got on a large bus with about 30 other people and took a driving tour around the island. We went over to the French side and the bus let us out for about an hour at Orient Bay Beach, which is a favorite stop of ours. The waves are very big, and I love taking my underwater camera out in them as they crash into us, pushing us to the sandy floor. Dad even joined us in the fun, and fun we had! We then “rinsed off” in fresh water showers that stunk like a mixture of sulfur and sewage before taking the bus back to the ship for a real shower and a quick lunch. We then took a water taxi over to Front Street, which is where most of the shopping used to be. It seems that most of it is now right at the end of the pier, but Nick Malley’s museum of Star Wars memorabilia is over there, so it’s a must stop every time we visit. We spoke with Nick and purchased a small piece of his art, and then toured his ever-growing museum. He has plaster casts of famous people, including Michael Jackson, which was pretty cool to see. We then made our way back to the water taxi, which blasted party tunes on the way back to the pier. The captain said that they accept both money donations as well as complaints, provided that you write your complaint on the back of a dollar. We thought that was amusing. For dinner, I had lamb, chicken, and veal, and we then watched the comedy illusionist perform another show. We’ve definitely seen him before, but his sleight-of-hand is really spectacular. After that, we fell asleep from a long and really great day.
After having a difficult time with the seas last night, I awoke at 5:30AM to see a beautiful full moon out from our balcony. I also heard the pilot boat coming up alongside us, so I grabbed my video camera and got a few shots of it. I’ve seen more pilot boats this cruise than ever before. We docked in St. Lucia and I saw a Holland America ship (Maastam) out in the bay, which later docked across from us. Heather and I took a catamaran ride to see the island’s famous Pitons and go for a swim. As our catamaran was leaving, we could see a Carnival ship (Miracle) heading into the bay as well. It was docked in front of us, dwarfing us, when we returned. Our catamaran stopped in a small bay and we walked down some stairs and into the water for a swim for about 30 minutes. We met a local named Titus who was selling coconuts and mangos. We later tried some coconut that another couple purchased from him. Once we were all back on the boat, the captain made us change boats. We were never told why, but they started giving us rum punch drinks, and before I knew it, we were drunk and enjoying being out in the sun on the deck of a fast-moving catamaran. We saw the Pitons, two rock formations that are over 2000 feet tall and rather impressive. We then started back and got a quick tour of Marigot Bay, which is another famous area of this island. When we got back to the ship, we had lunch and went out to do a little shopping, like usual. Afterwards, we slept for a while as we weren’t feeling all that great from the combination of rum punch and being in the direct sun for 4 hours. I got some good video of us leaving St. Lucia, and for dinner, I had chicken. Nothing special tonight! Later on, they are putting together the champagne waterfall, which we will attend if we’re still awake.
This is being written up on Day 11 because, well, we’ll just say that the sea was a bit rough by the end of Day 10. We awoke arriving into Tobago to cloudy and rainy skies. The entire day proved to be mostly cloudy with spotty showers here and there, and I was glad that I had a large plastic bag with me to put my camera in when it did start to rain. The four of us took a bus tour here. When we boarded the bus, the driver asked us all to close our windows so he could crank the air conditioning. This was a problem for Dad, Heather, and I who wanted to take pictures and video out the windows, which were all soaked with rain. I kept opening mine and the driver kept giving me weird looks through the mirror. Our tour guide was a young man who loved soccer, and when we stopped at our first scenic view, I mentioned wanting to open the bus windows briefly from time to time. He talked to the bus driver who agreed to my request. We drove some more to a few other scenic lookouts and a small fort made out of coral. Mom and Heather bought some vases made out of bamboo for $5 each. They are really nicely made and we watched the dreadlock-haired men carve them. Our bus took us to the Arnos Vale Waterwheel, which is a very old waterwheel that was used back in the sugar cane days when slavery was still present on the island. Some time ago it must have been made into a restaurant, and today, it’s a dilapidated set of wooden planks and walkways. atop Heather and I were the first to enter, and upon doing so, Heather looked into one of the small rooms and exclaimed that she saw birds. They were actually bats, and this place had thousands of them. The bats flew all around while we were there, and the wood flooring was so rotted out that it was as slippery as ice and even broke once. There were some people on our tour with canes, and I tried my best to keep them from falling. It was a dangerous place, especially for the older folks having balance issues. We stayed here for about 20 minutes and Dad and I tried to figure out how this waterwheel worked. It was rather complex. Our tour concluded at Fort King George at the top of a big hill overlooking the bay. We could see Pacific Princess at the pier and a Rastafarian man sang a song to Heather up here. It was really nice. We got back to the ship and then back out to do some shopping for a half hour. We then watched a movie called The Conspirator, which was pretty good. When the ship finally left Tobago, we got into the roughest seas I’ve ever witnessed on board a ship. At dinner, I was having a rough time and Heather got me some sea sickness bands to put on. They helped a bit, but I had to excuse myself and lay down in the room. Luckily, everything stayed down!! I slept about 9 hours through the night. A rocking ship is the best way to sleep!
Not much happened today. Well, at 9:00AM I had a full body massage and, wait for it….a facial. This was an experience I’ve never had before, and don’t really care to again really. The massage was phenomenal, but I don’t understand the appeal of facials. I shaved this morning, and whatever this woman put on my face stung horribly for 15 minutes. On the first day of each cruise now, Princess has a Treasure Hunt, where they make you walk around the ship and get stamps from the shops, bars, and restaurants. It’s a good way to learn the layouts of the ships, and we can do the whole thing in a matter of minutes now. You turn in your stamped card and they do a raffle for different prizes from each area you got a stamp. Since they started doing this, Heather has won a prize each time. She’s got some crazy sort of luck with it. When we took a week long Caribbean cruise a few years back, she won casino credits. When we went to Alaska last year, she won a really nice piece of Alaskan artwork that we had framed and hung in our home. This time, she won $79 of spa credit and decided to get me the aforementioned treatment. The credit covered about half of the price of it. So I got to get oiled up and rubbed down, which was quite nice. Afterwards, I tried weighing myself to see if I’ve lost or gained weight, but the ship was rocking around so much that the scale didn’t work. It’s probably for the best! I spent a few hours on the Internet today trying to make plans for the next few days and uploading a few day’s worth of logs to my site. We then took a nap and watched a bit of Papillon that was playing on our tiny in-room television. We are going to have to watch it again when we get home. It’s cool because we were at Devil’s Island yesterday, where the movie takes place. Tonight we dressed up in our formal wear and had a nice dinner. I had French Onion Soup and duckling. For dessert, I had Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. We’re now waiting to see a production show called Shake, Rattle, and Roll, and afterwards might watch some more of Papillon. We have a port a day for the next 3 days, so we’ll be busy as we head north through the Caribbean Sea.
We woke up this morning at 5:30AM to calm seas. This is a good thing because it is only possible to get to Devil’s Island about 60% of the time we’ve been told. The waters here are usually rough, and last week the swells were 8 feet high. I turned on the television in our room to view the camera in the front of the ship. I saw a small boat racing towards us from the triple island group, and a few seconds later, it was alongside us, disembarking a pilot onboard. I planned on being on the first tender out, and we picked up tender tickets 1 through 4 and got on the first tender. Once we got on shore, we started our self-guided tour around the old prison island. We immediately came across a large colony of large ants, moving leaves down a path that they had created over time. This path looked as if it were created by humans or large game animals, but it was ants that made it. We walked out on some rocks near the edge of the island and Heather picked up some rocks and a piece of wampum. Mom and Dad headed up towards the barracks on the top of the hill, and a few minutes later, we followed. This island is inhabited by many wild chickens and pigs. There are small animals that resemble large rats, but hop around like rabbits. They are very cute. We also saw a lone lizard at this time. When we reached the top, we walked through some jail cells, and I found the room that was used as a bathroom. We walked past a lighthouse and medical building, and then into the “Children’s Cemetery”. I am not sure why the only cemetery on the island is for children, but I am guessing that the majority of inmates who died here were not given proper burials. We walked along a road up to the hotel and chapel, and saw an area that was used as a swimming pool. It was overgrown with lily pads, and there was a large Iguana hanging out on a rock. It was here that we saw a large blue Macaw, and we stopped to photograph it. While here, two smaller, red Macaws flapped down next to Heather and started kissing. We saw some more chickens and a few Peacocks. We went into the hotel and bought an $8 magnet and two $4 beers. The way things are priced here is a bit strange, but I am guessing that they don’t have many visitors to this island. We then walked back down the road we came up to see a family of monkeys about 10 large. They were jumping around, swinging from trees, and people were feeding them. Heather got some really good photos of them. By the time we got back to the tender, we were dripping with sweat, and the cool towels that the deck hand gave us felt really good on our faces. We got back on board the ship, had a quick lunch up in the buffet, and took a 3 hour nap, missing wine tasting and “buy $5 get $5 free” in the casino. Oh well. For dinner I had Chicken Noodle Soup, French Onion Soup, and leg of lamb. We are now waiting for the comedian to start; his second show this cruise. Tomorrow we have a relaxing day at sea before three days at different Caribbean islands.
This morning we woke up to a rocking ship. We were now out of the Amazon River and in the Atlantic Ocean, heading north along the coast of Brazil. We don’t have very far to go until our next port, so the ship is moving slow and the ocean seems to be controlling the ways that the ship rocks all around. We love it when the ship moves so much, but we noticed throughout the day that many passengers were getting seasick. Heather and I went up to the pool at 6:00AM to find a wave pool, which we also love. I took the underwater camera into the pool and we had fun with it. We noticed as we were getting out that there was a film of beetles all over the top of the pool, and many were clinging on to my camera strap. They must have gotten in there while we were still in the river. There were so many bugs in the Amazon River that they turned off all public lights on the decks as well as closed down the eating area on the back of the ship. It is now open again, so I hope to get some good video footage off the back in the next few days. After breakfast, we sat through a few lectures; one on some upcoming ports, and another on a tale of survival in the Arctic Circle. This afternoon, I fought with the Internet for about an hour to post the first day’s log. I’m only behind by about a week! For dinner, I had Prime Rib, Pulled Pork, and Lamb. Now that I’m really full, we’re waiting for a production dancing show to start. Tomorrow will be a very early day, so this will be about it for tonight. The last cruise, the ship was not able to stop at Devil’s Island due to rough seas, but everyone is hoping that we’ll be able to stop this time. The four of us plan on being the first to tender over there, if we make it.
We woke up this morning to take a swim in a salt water pool as we navigated through a fresh body of water. The pool onboard is small, but if you get there early in the morning, it is usually empty. Since we were still on the Amazon River, the ship was not moving around very much, so the pool was calm. In the early afternoon, the ship’s dancers put on a “Crossing of the Equator” ceremony that we’ve seen before when we navigated through the Panama Canal a few years back. They choose a few passengers who have never done it before and proceed to put whipped cream all over their heads, dump lemonade on them, and throw cooked spaghetti at them. They surprised a crew member this time as well and it was quite fun. When we actually crossed the Equator, I filled up the sink with water and watched as it went straight down the drain, with no whirlpool created. If you know me at all, you can only guess how many times I did this before getting it perfect right at the Equator. Heather and I walked through the casino to hear meowing. We found two electronic penny slot machines called “Kitty Glitter”, and we are going to have to try them out. Instead of cherries and gold bars, you have to line up different breeds of cats. It’s very cute, but at the same time, it made us miss Kit Kat and Lit’l Chunks. After dinner, which was my least favorite (All four of us had chicken, but it was not advertised to contain a lot of mushrooms, which I’m not too fond of), we watched a comedy illusionist who we’ve seen before on a previous cruise, but I am still amazed at most of his tricks. After the show, we went back to the room and watched Lincoln Lawyer on TV and went to sleep.