Travel, Theft, Birthdays, and Thanksgiving…all in One Month

Aboard Independence of the Seas
Somewhere in the Caribbean

The big accomplishment this month was getting the engine put back together after it’s breakdown   The new manifold arrived just in time for Ole to get it put back together before he left to go back to sea.   Timing being what it is, he was able to fire up the engines and do a full test at 12:00 noon the day before he had to go back to work!

November 17 took Ole back to Independence of the Seas, with me again tagging along.

The unfortunate thing about flying back through Panama City was that our little digital camera was stolen from our backpack somewhere between Bocas del Toro and Panama City, where we had arranged an overnight to take care of  some banking and real estate business.  Bummer.  Had some great party pics gone… [Read more…]

First TIme in Ireland, Becoming a Certified Whiskey Taster

Aboard Independence of the Seas

This last cruise was a 4-day cruise from Southampton to Cobh (pronounced “cove”), the port city for Cork, Ireland, and the launching site of the great Irish migration to the United States. What a delight!

Docking in Cobh

I was able to watch the ship come into the port from the bridge, along with the Captain’s wife. The port of Cobh was the last port of call for the Titanic, and it was eerie to see that the old White Star Line office building was still there, with remnants of the tender dock that Titanic used. The inner harbor, though deep, is fairly narrow. The Port created a “dock” alongside the town wall using two large rafts, and Independence had to turn 180° to come alongside. It got very interesting watching the bow of the ship swing nearly over the coast road as the azipods turned her on a dime like a tugboat. Hundreds of people drove into town and lined the hillsides to watch the turn, and it was quite emotional to see how the local community supports the port call. [Read more…]

Alone, at Last (with 4200 other people)

Aboard Independence of the Seas

It’s been a bit odd being just the two of us (along with 4200 other passengers and 1450 other crew) – the routine is beginning to settle. This will be the first time I will have been aboard for an entire 10-week contract, so it’s a bit difficult to find my place in Ole’s routine. He leaves the cabin about 7:00 each morning, except when there are early arrivals, when he’s up as early as 3:00 a.m. He works pretty solidly in his office until we meet for lunch – then he power naps until about 1:30, to go back at it until usually 7:00 p.m. or so.

He has official “duties” a couple of evenings each cruise, that require putting on the penguin suit and mingling among the guests, and some nights it’s quite the panic as he runs upstairs from the engine room, showers and changes at warp speed, and transforms from a coverall-wearing manager of 60 engineers, motormen, electricians, refrigeration specialists, into somebody out of the old “Love Boat” series, complete with cutaway jacket, cummerbund and bow tie. Probably three nights a week, we dine in the dining room or one of the specialty restaurants, and occasionally we’ll catch a show or an entertainer. The nights tend to be early, given his schedule. [Read more…]

A Few New European Ports with Friends on Independence

Independence of the Seas


Well today we bid fond and tearful farewell to Suzanne, our roommate for the last 28 days. She was probably glad to get away from the rollaway cot back to her own bed…

The second two weeks she was aboard with us, the itinerary was slightly modified, calling at Civitivecchia (the port for Rome), Cannes (instead of Villefranche), and adding Cadiz, the port city for Sevilla. [Read more…]

Cruising Europe on Independence of the Seas

Aboard Independence of the Seas

After cruising to Gibraltar, Barcelona, Villefranche (Nice, Monte Carlo) Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Cagliari (Sardinia); Malaga, Lisbon, and Vigo, we returned to Southampton today and said goodbye to Cason, Julia, Petter and Kristina. What a fabulous time – everybody went home a little plumper than when they left…here’s the short form of what we did… [Read more…]

Time for Some Big-Ship Cruising aboard Independence of the Seas

Aboard Independence of the Seas

What a wonderful thing, to meet up with old friends in a new place! Early on the morning of June 22, I turned the boat over to Chef Brian here at Bocas Marina, who will be cat-and-boat sitting for us while we’re aboard Independence of the Seas for 10 weeks. Caught an early water taxi to town, flew on a little puddlejumper to Panama City, and, via Miami, to Heathrow Airport. After a 4-hour wait, our good friends Cason, Julia, and Suzanne showed up from Phoenix and Seattle, respectively, and we taxied to a funky little hotel near Russell Square. [Read more…]

We Bought Dirt in Panama!

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

The Bus to David

Buying Dirt in Panama

Okay. We’re now Panamanian landowners. We just couldn’t resist the opportunity. With the US economy stalled out, and Panama growing at about 7% a year, the choice seemed obvious. Call us optimistic, but we chose Lot #279 at Montanas de Caldera, just down the hill from Bozuete. We took the bus up to David on Tuesday, paced the property, wrote the deposit, and celebrated at El Renegado.

On Thursday morning, we decided to go out for a long weekend before Ole goes back to work on the 18th, and before I meet up with my friends in London on the 23rd to join the ship in Southampton and cruise with Ole for his whole 10 weeks.

Update on Maggie, Trip to David

Bocas Marina
Bocas del Toro, Panama

Well, if all goes according to plan, Ole gets back on Sunday morning. He phoned me on arrival at Turku to tell me that American Airlines had “misplaced” his luggage in Miami on the way into Finland…a few worries for a few hours…but it showed up on Monday.

I took Maggie in to see the volunteer vet, and wonder of wonders, she’s put on 2 pounds, her fur is looking better, and she appears to be tolerating the thyroid medication (Tapazol) quite well. The ride over was even pleasant (relatively speaking). In the lancha, from her travel box, she seemed a whole lot less frightened than in the dinghy—and there was only discharge from the forward end this time. The vet is pleased. Now for the challenge of finding a steady supply to keep her motor from racing. She looks more like a cat (a svelte one) than a p.o.w. cat. She had us worried! [Read more…]

Exploring Pacific Panama — Road Trip!

David and Boquete

Tuesday morning we set out on a road trip across the mountains to the city of David and on to Boquete, a spot high up in the mountains. Getting there was a combination of boats, busses and rental cars, and took most of the day – starting with the water taxi to the tour dock, where we caught the 8:00 am lancha to Almirante (the porqueria) for $4 apiece, then to the bus station to take the mini-bus to David ($7 apiece). The drive was beautiful, crossing Panama’s continental divide that rises to 5-6,000 feet. The road is relatively new and in great condition, offering some spectacular views once you get up to the top – you can see both oceans from some places. David is the 3rd largest city in Panama, located right at sea level. We rented a car and drove 45 minutes north to Boquete, which is up at about 3000 feet, nestled in a steep valley with a little river flowing through. [Read more…]

Oh, Yeah! It’s Easter Week. (I Forgot). That Complicates Things…

San Jose, Costa Rica

Only today did I realize that this was Easter week – a heck of a time to be travelling anywhere in Central America. I left Panama on a Tuesday, thinking I could return Thursday and that would be three days. When I came to my senses, I realized that “72 hours” meant I needed to stay until Friday. That’s when it got more interesting. All of Central America shuts completely down on Good Friday. No buses. No planes. No taxis. No restaurants or movie theaters or nothin’! So I negotiated with the hotel to put me up for another 2 nights (during EASTER WEEK!) and they were wonderful about it. I chose to spend today, Thursday, visiting the Santo Thomas mall in downtown San Jose (MALL!), getting a haircut and some necessary computer components. Most of the downtown museums appeared to be closed in preparation for closing tomorrow. On the upside, the food at the restaurant at the hotel is superb – reasonably priced, beautifully presented and briskly served.