This morning, we awoke and saw many clouds. We went up to the buffet and the floor was like an ice skating rink. I even saw a larger old man slip and almost fall, but he was able to keep his balance. We didn’t see a sunrise as the clouds were so thick.
After breakfast, I went to the gym for a bit, then attempted to go up to the walking deck, but it was closed due to high winds. The walking deck is poorly designed in that it’s great to walk on while in port, but there are no wind dams, so the crosswind is extraordinary while at sea. Instead of walking, I headed to the Enclave where I met up with Heather again. A few maintenance men came in while we were there and I spoke with one about the sauna not being hot. This sauna is beautiful. It has heated seats and even heated walls. The problem however is that they are pumping in cold air to it, so the air is never hot or even dry, and I was told that it was working as designed. The other rooms in the Enclave are amazing though.
We again had lunch at Alfredo’s, then Heather rested while I went to a talk about how cruise ships are made. It was very informational, though we were told that small ships probably won’t be made in the future. This kind of bummed me out.
For dinner, we decided to go to a different dining room. Our old waiter Florin from Royal Princess II is on this ship, so we wanted to have dinner with him tonight. It was really nice, as was dining in a different room.
After dinner, we watched Iron Man 3 on the big screen and are now waiting to watch a comedian. I hope he’s better than the singing one we sat through last night. We only made it about 10 minutes into his performance, but were both wondering how he was able to keep an audience. We were definitely not the first ones to leave last night. Well, as I said earlier, I hope tonight fares better.
There’s not much to say about today. Heather’s never been sick on a cruise before, but she’s got something nasty. There are a lot of people on this ship that seem to have little regard for others, and thusly they’ve been coughing heavily all over everybody. This is how Heather (and myself to a much lesser degree) got sick.
For lunch, the four of us visited Alfredo’s again, which has to be the best thing about this ship. The staff there are all very happy and friendly, like we’re used to on the smaller Princess ships. Unfortunately, about 20 minutes into lunch, they put on a Martini making demonstration in the atrium just outside the restaurant, so instead of relaxing classical music playing, we had Ai! Ai! Ai! and yelling and screaming.
We spent most of the afternoon in our room. Heather slept and I played Picross for a few hours. After dinner, we all went up on the top deck and watched The Lone Ranger on the big screen. It was really fun.
Heather was up at 5AM today, as she still wasn’t feeling very good. I’m now congested, but other than that doing fine. We went to breakfast and I had a bunch of fruit.
I had lunch with Mom and Dad today at Alfredo’s, as Heather was getting her complimentary massage. Today’s pizza was good (Hawaiian), but not as good as yesterday’s (Margherita). I’ll go back to the Margherita tomorrow.
I’m now sitting and waiting for a movie to start. We’re going to watch the Will Smith film After Earth. I’ve heard horrible things about it, but wanted to see it, and don’t want to have to buy it, so this works out.
I slept in today, all the way to about 8AM. We changed our clocks again last night as we’re getting closer to the US. Heather and I had breakfast and when we returned to our room, the purser’s desk had left a few messages. Our flight home doesn’t leave until 7PM, and we’ll be kicked off the ship around 9AM, so we’re looking at quite a long stay in the airport. We tried to get our flight changed, but when we went down to the purser’s desk, they said that it would cost $500 per person, so we decided to stick with our original plans and sit in the airport!
For lunch, we tried out Alfredo’s, which is a pizzeria in the middle of the ship. After this lunch, we’ll be going back again. It was fantastic. Heather had a calzone, and I had a personal pizza. We also had some amazing minestrone soup
After dinner, Heather went to bed as she wasn’t feeling well. We’ve both had sore throats for a few days, but it kicked into high gear today and she was beat. I’ve never been on a cruise with more coughing people. Some are just inconsiderate about it too, such as coughing as soon as they get into a crowded elevator. I watched the movie “Now You See Me” up on the top deck on the large screen. This is a movie I’ve been wanting to see but haven’t been able to. I enjoyed it, but the ending could have been better.
I don’t quite remember where, but I spoke with some fellow passengers who have visited Madeira before. They said that there wasn’t really much of anything there, and it was somewhat of a waste of a port. I wholeheartedly disagree. This place is amazing, and the people were very warm to us and appreciative that we were there.
Heather and I ate breakfast up on the top rear deck as the sun rose. Of course, I filmed it, so I spent more time making sure that people weren’t in my shot than actually eating. Madeira is a very hilly island, which I’ll speak of later. From what we saw, it didn’t look all that large, but the mountains went up into the clouds.
We had a fairly extensive tour today, but it was a nice short four-hour one. We boarded a bus and headed off to the botanical gardens. Our tour guide said that this wasn’t the best time of year for the gardens, but they were nice to walk around. We saw all sorts of fauna and I even saw a songbird, but when I called for Heather to come see it, it flew away.
Our next stop was down the mountainside, so we boarded the bus and headed down. Parking a bus on these steep hilly roads looked very difficult, and even boarding the bus was tough to do. Everything was on some sort of angle. We got to our next destination, which was a cable car terminal. This reminded us of skiing, as we were about to get on a gondola, just like at the ski slopes. We took a fifteen-minute ride to nearly the top of one mountain. From there you could get a nice view of the city and the ship as well. We stopped and bought a few souvenirs and then headed to a nearby square where we were given some free time. Heather and I climbed a few hundred stairs to get to a local church. Here, we climbed even more stairs up to the top of the bell tower, where we found the best view all day. The stairs inside the church were very difficult to climb, and scary to descend. Once we met back up with the group, Heather tried on a few locally-knitted parkas or sweaters… I don’t really know. She found one that she liked, but it stank horribly, so we passed on it. I felt bad because the men working in this store were very nice and we ended up not buying anything from them.
Once at the bottom, we shopped a bit and Heather found a parka/sweater thing that didn’t smell nasty, so she bought it there. We boarded our bus and headed back to the ship. There’s a replica of one of Christopher Columbus’ ships near where ours was docked. Mom and I went walking a bit later but it started to rain, so we never made it to the replica ship.
At 10:15PM, the ship was putting on a water show. This ship is fitted with fountains that sync up with music and lights, and I wanted to capture the show on video, so around 10PM, I went up there and set up the tripod. It wasn’t as impressive as I thought it would be, but it was nice. Heather was asleep, so I went and sat in on the mentalist’s show. It was entertaining, and I really don’t know how he does it unless all his marks are working for him. After his show, I walked around the ship a bit and headed off to bed.
Today was much more relaxing than yesterday. I woke up and Heather had gone up to the top deck. Once she returned, we had breakfast. They were serving JB’s French Toast and we both tried it. This is possibly the highest-calorie breakfast that’s served on Princess ships. They take thick bread, encrust it with Corn Flakes, and then fry it. Only bacon scores higher as a breakfast food for me, but both together is amazing.
We spent a little time walking around the ship and looking over photos from earlier in the trip. For lunch we ate up at the buffet and had Kung Pao Chicken and Thanksgiving turkey. Both were excellent.
After lunch, we sat and watched a lecture on the Titanic sinking… just the thing to get us prepared for a transatlantic crossing!! The talk was very good, though Heather was a bit depressed by it.
After the talk, Heather took a nap and I went to the gym. Afterwards, I woke her up and we both went to the Enclave to sit in the steam rooms and hot tub. We then had some wine and then dinner. I had chicken chili and a steak. We’re now sitting and waiting for a comedian and after we’ll probably head to bed as we have to get up early for our last port of call tomorrow morning… then it’s seven straight days at sea before arriving back in the US.
Our wake-up call never came in today. The Lotus Spa called at 7:30 however to remind Heather that she had a nail appointment at 8:00. She went down there and sat for 20 minutes, but was then told that someone else named Heather took her appointment. This was not a good start to our day.
When she came back, she told me that they fit her in at 2:15, though begrudgingly so. We went to breakfast and spoke with another couple who told us that we should talk with the purser’s desk. After having some blueberry pancakes, I explained what had happened to the purser and she said that she would speak with the spa manager.
We started watching Red 2 in our room before falling asleep. At midnight I awoke and saw that we were passing through the Strait of Gibraltar. I grabbed the camera and headed up to the aft top deck and filmed us passing through. There wasn’t much to see as it was the middle of the night, but it was fun to watch.
We awoke fifteen minutes before our wake-up call this morning. This may be because we’ve been used to waking up at 5AM and 6AM, and today we got to sleep in until 7AM. I went out on the balcony and saw that the sun was about to rise, so I grabbed my cameras and headed up to the top deck at the rear of the ship.
We had a short, four hour tour today. We boarded a bus and headed to a lookout above Barcelona and got some great views of both the city as well as the ships in the pier.
We then drove through the city being shown some of the sites of Barcelona and then stopped at Basílica de la Sagrada Família. The last time I was in Barcelona was 1994, and we tried to get to this church, but never made it. I was determined to get there this time, so I signed us up for this tour. It was breathtaking. This church was started in 1882 and still is not complete. In fact, they were working on it while we were there today! We walked through the church taking photos, and I look forward to comparing them to photos of the church the next time we visit. We then walked through the basement of this church, which has been turned into a museum. It shows how Antoni Gaudí designed the geometry of the church, before computers were invented.
For dinner, I had tandoori chicken and lamb. We’re going to watch a movie. It’s called The Heat and is supposed to be funny.
Today was the third day in a row that we’ve been signed up for a 9 hour tour. I said this just to convey the thought that we’re really tired! We woke up this morning at 6AM instead of 5AM because our tour left an hour later than we’re used to. It felt good to sleep in.
After breakfast, we met Mom and Dad at the Princess Theater and were then told that everything was being pushed back at least 30 minutes because the locals wouldn’t let us get off the ship yet. Luckily, this was the extent of the wait. Cannes can’t hold a ship the size of Royal Princess, so we had to tender in. I always like using the tenders, and this ship has some brand new ones that are much more stable than the old ones. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to film the trip because the shore excursion lady was in a bad mood.
The next stop was the Casino of Monte Carlo. I’ve been here a few times prior, but only gone in once. The first time, I was just 18 years old and the age limit was 21. The second time, I came with some of my college friends while travelling through Europe. This time, they’ve turned the Casino into a museum before 2PM, when it opens for gamblers. This is the most extravagant casino in the world, and they have a martini that costs 150 euros. Luckily, they allowed us to photograph and film the entire floor, which I wasn’t allowed to do previously.
We then took our bus to “The Rock” which is where Prince Albert and his whole family live. We had lunch up there and it was amazing. It included some really great French fries, even though we technically weren’t in France!
After lunch, we visited the cathedral, which houses Princess Grace Kelly’s grave, along with all the other royal family members who have passed away. A man was sitting outside in a Bentley, but throughout the day, I saw no Rolls Royce’s, which saddened both myself and Dad.
We took our bus back to Cannes and boarded a tender to head back to the ship. I was able to get up on top of the tender and record a bit, but nothing that I’ll be able to speed up like I usually do for the movie.
Mom and Dad decided to have dinner on the top deck tonight, so Heather and I ate in the dining room by ourselves. After dinner, we planned on watching a movie on the TV, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen, as it is 9PM and we have another tour tomorrow morning, albeit shorter and a bit later in the morning.
We docked in a port named Civitavecchia, which is as hard to pronounce as you may be thinking right about now. We boarded a bus and took a 1.5 hour ride in to Rome. Our first stop was the Coliseum, where gladiators fought each other as well as tigers and lions. The animals also fought themselves for the people and emperor’s pleasure.
Our next stop was quite amazing; the Vatican museums. There are over five miles of hallways here, but the tour takes you through just a few of them. These are some of the most amazing halls full of art that I’ve ever seen. I was here close to 20 years ago, and the only difference that I noticed was that there are a LOT more people here now. It was nauseating trying to navigate in a group of 50+ through thousands of other people, most of them in groups themselves. At the end of the tour, we arrived at the Sistine Chapel, which is a spectacle to see. Michelangelo painted both the ceiling as most people know, but also one of the end walls. This was much later in his life when he did this, when he was in his 50’s. He painted the ceiling starting at age 33.