Mediterranean Cruise, then On to Norway!

Independence of the Seas

May 1, the port of call was Cagliari, Sardinia. We opted to head to town for a walk, and found ourselves in the midst of an annual Mayday tradition that goes back 352 years in Cagliari – the Festival of Sant’ Efisio – the first of which (352 years ago) was said to have been responsible for the end of the plague in Sardinia. The inhabitants of the island decorate oxcarts with representations of regional plenty (fruits, breads, flowers, grains, baskets, pottery) and village-specific costumes, and form a parade around the town of Cagliari, which ends with a 4-day procession of the Saint to a village up the coast and back to his place in the Cathedral. It was one of those “National Geographic” moments that we’ll savor for a long while. [Read more…]

DeFever Friends Join Us on Independence of the Seas

Independence of the Seas

April began with a sudden feeling of dryness…where has all the rain gone?  Oh yeah – it’s Panama – where in the dry season it rains every day, and in the wet season it rains ALL day every day.  Pleasant daytime temperatures, not too hot, led to visions of getting the varnish done on the bow caprail and a coat or two all around.  I planned to do one coat every day from April 2 until April 11 – but then it started raining on the fourth day.  [Read more…]

In Which we Represent at the DeFever Rendezvous…

Arriving at the DeFever Rendezvous

Useppa Island, Florida

Yesterday saw Ole off again for Independence, five weeks earlier than planned.  But the last few days of February and first couple of days of March were fantastic for both of us.

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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.