Finishing Up on Independence with Friends and Bikes

Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Early February found us getting excited to get back to the boat, and Dale and Linda still having the time of their lives cruising the southwest coast of Panama, toward their ultimate rendezvous point with us here in Puntarenas.

We had more company on the ship, with old friends of Ole’s from over 20 years ago joining the cruise on February 6 – Roar and Trish Molvik. We were able to entertain them at Chops, the specialty steakhouse where you can’t get away from the table in less than 2-1/2 hours, and enjoyed the do-it-yourself Bloody Mary bar on one of the sea days.

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RIP, Dear Mary Margaret von Schtripenfurs

Aboard Independence of the Seas

Maggie, Miss Mary Margaret von Schtreipenfurs

January passed aboard Independence rather uneventfully, with Ole doing his routine, and me reading everything in sight, when not going ashore in Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan, and Labadee.

Speaking of Labadee, we were headed there, scheduled to call in just three days after the massive earthquake. Sentiment aboard the ship was mixed, with some folks eager to do what they could to help, and others uncomfortable with the thought of playing at the beach on an island with devastation just a hundred miles away. [Read more…]

Another Year Ends aboard Independence of the Seas

Aboard Independence of the Seas

Life onboard has been very quiet this month, with an outbreak prevention protocol in place to eliminate any whisper of norovirus onboard.  Therefore the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations were subdued, with traditional offerings available in the staff mess.  Although we had a great Christmas tree and the usual Christmas Eve glogg celebration in our cabin, the mood was a bit gloomy without the usual Norwegian food and trimmings. [Read more…]

Fun in the Canary Islands with Cousins

Independence of the Seas

September started with another out-of-the-ordinary itinerary — a 10-day cruise to the Canary Islands September 1-12. It was great to see the Canaries – Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote, and also to return to Madeira. Ole was able to join me ashore for a tram ride up the mountainside in Madeira, a walking tour, and a light lunch at the top. I spent time in the Canaries on an excursion to the interior of Gran Canaria where I saw preparations for a national festival in the small town of  Teror, as well as a horseback trek in Lanzarote – which looks like the moon, as you can see from the photo. [Read more…]

Another Great Med Cruise on Independence

Independence of the Seas

The first part of August was fairly routine, with Ole working long days and me holing up in the Cigar Bar (my “office”) to read and enjoy my daily latte. Afternoons were taken up by reading, keeping up with the news, and painting.

The routine was changed with the welcome arrival of Andreas, Ole’s oldest son, on the 15th of August for two weeks of living the high life. Andreas and I managed to get ashore in every port, doing everything from walking tours on our own to ship-sponsored excursions, understanding that Ole could get ashore only occasionally. [Read more…]

Back in the Lap of Luxury — Independence of the Seas

Independence of the Seas

The first week in July saw perhaps the most gruesome task yet on Emma Jo – Ole wrestled with 50 feet of 23-year-old sanitation hose, replacing it with the newest, heaviest duty hose we could find. I’ll spare you the pictures. We’ve vinegared, perfumed, disinfected, and aired both heads since we bought the boat in 2004, from a broker who SWORE he had replaced all the sanitation hoses…but in vain. When Ole removed the hoses, we understood why. Suffice it to say that when the opening is only the size of a knitting needle in most of the 50 feet, there is not enough perfume, disinfectant, or vinegar in the world to deal with the aroma. After a sh*tty day’s work, the difference is miraculous. Lesson learned: NEVER trust the broker on a used boat.

We left Emma Jo in the good hands of Brian Swann, our boat-sitter and cat uncle extraordinaire on July 9, heading for Rome via Bocas del Toro, Panama City, and Madrid, arriving Rome Airport in the late afternoon of Friday, July 10. We met up with a couple of the guys from the ship and had a wonderful buffet Italian dinner and the most expensive martinis ever (at 11 Euros). When we arrived at Independence in Civitavecchia on Saturday the 11th, Captain Teo was waiting for us way up on Deck 5, hollering a welcome.

Ole settled back into the work routine, and I settled into the reading routine, punctuated by a few self-taught watercolor painting lessons. Figured that since I’m relatively idle and alone while on Independence, I’d use the time to explore self-expression.

It was wonderful to see Europe again!


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…]

Happy New Year from Independence of the Seas!

Ole and Jan on New Year’s Eve

Independence of the Seas

The beginning of the year greets us with more change.  It looks like Ole’s schedule is changing (again) and our projected 10 weeks of planned projects will be cut down to 5 weeks.

We were invited to present at the 2009 Winter DeFever Rendezvous at Useppa Island Resort in western Florida the end of February, and Ole has a 5-day course from Wartsilla Diesel the third week of February.  So we’ve got to get our heads around a new schedule. [Read more…]

Independence of the Seas for the Holidays

Our Christmas Tree, Independence 2008

Barging through books at three to five a week, I needed a couple of breaks from the solitude and the holiday tourists aboard the ship, so I called Maggie – she and Kim and I went “boat shopping” at Target and Wal-Mart in Ft. Lauderdale for stuff we just can’t get in Panama. Kind of boring for a “girls’ day out” but boy did I feel like a millionaire hoarding the stuff we have been looking forward to getting! The only problem seemed to be getting off the ship and getting a taxi without ripping somebody a new one. I HATE crowds, and a turnaround day in Ft. Lauderdale is enough to turn me into a complete recluse. [Read more…]