Fri Jul 16 Dublin, Ireland
Sad to say the landing in Dublin was aborted because it was too rough to get us off safely and for the ship to dock. More conspiracy theories, more unhappy people. The grumpiness is escalating noticeably. So a week at sea and it's cold and wet. We are watching movies. That's all folks ... Next stop Boston.
Lots of bitching about the Princess being too cheap to pay for port fees, and by intentionally bypassing Dublin, giving themselves an extra day's sailing time, at a slower speed, to save on fuel costs. I could believe that as well.
Mutterings about asking for dollar compensation for missing another port call.
"Beatles Musical Celebration"
Forgot to mention, as I got off the Dock at Le Havre, I saw four young long haired louts carrying electric guitar cases, going up the gangplank. Well, three guitar cases anyway. Maybe the fourth guy was a drummer...
Maybe the music is going to get better?? At least younger?
After Southampton, we were told that there was going to be a Beatles tribute show.
I was a bit wary - I'd seen bits of a previous Dawn Princess Dancers show about the Beatles, and it was singing and dancing to backing tapes and with pre-recorded vocals. It was awful..
Most passengers reported that the new show was pretty good... although I didn't really put much credence in these good reviews.
However, seeing as they were getting off at Dublin, I should go and see at least one of their shows.
They were excellent! Totally live, no B*S* backing tapes; they played all the Beatle songs note for note - perfectly. The even looked like John, Paul, George and Ringo!
And, as they were all from Liverpool, their accents were spot on. They had obviously rehearsed all the stage movements as well.
Anyway, good luck for us - we didn't stop at Dublin and the B.M.C. were now staying on board until New York.
I got talking to "Paul". "Maybe it's the second Beatles' invasion of America?" I suggested. I asked what show they had missed out by not disembarking at Dublin?
He told me he was the musical Director of the show and that he had a pool of musicians, and was actually running three "Beatles" bands - all playing on cruise ships. He just mixed and matched the muso's as required. So the ship they had been intending to catch at Dublin, would just get a different set of "Beatles". Interesting.
So, with nothing else to do, they did a few more concerts - all of them completely packed out. Then, as a "special" they did an open air concert on the upper deck. It was excellent! Got some good video.
Sat Jul 17 At Sea
Weather still rough - lots of pitching, yawing and rolling.
Sun Jul 18 At Sea
On a brighter note, we have now clocked up enough sea days to climb up the "Frequent Cruiser" ladder. Like the airlines, Princess has a loyalty program with classes of membership that depend on the number of sailing days one has accumulated. We are now Platinum members and as well as getting a new platinum card, we each get $400 of free internet time.
This will give me more opportunities to sit and curse the slowest system I have used since the days of the old dial up modem.
Tonight, we saw the "John" character (from the "Beatles Musical Celebration") sit in with the Dawn Princess Orchestra doing a night of jazz numbers. He is an outstanding jazz player - in the mould of George Benson/Larry Carlton. I imagine he must get really sick of doing the humdrum Beatles rhythm guitarwork in his role as John Lennon. Not that John Lennon wasn't a good guitarist - he was; but this guy is an excellent musician and must get tired of doing the same old defined riffs time after time.
Mon Jul 19 At Sea
Su's and my flu symptoms are now almost gone and we are feeling a lot better.
Someone walking past the cabin in the past few weeks might be forgiven for thinking there were dogs in the cabin barking at each other incessantly.
Such a strange sensation ... for much of yesterday and today we have been sailing through fog. It's about 21 C, humidity is 97% and every three minutes the foghorn bellows. We can see the wake and that's all. It's even more eerie at night.
Tue Jul 20 At Sea titanic
Weather much calmer to day and the sun is out. Still a bit cold.
The ship's navigators helpfully tell us that the Titanic was about the same size and passenger compliment as the Dawn Princess, and that we will be sailing the same path at the same time of year as did the Titanic...
"Please let us know if you see any icebergs"
I'd better brush up my breaststroke.
I am well rugged up during my 6 laps of the Promenade deck in the mornings. I listen to the Economist audio edition as I walk my 2 miles.
Back is better these days, and I do my floor exercises regularly.
Tonight is the "Beatles Musical Celebration" open air concert. When I can, I'll put some video up on www.rod-stuff.com
Tonight we spent a few hours out on the foggy deck listening to a Beatles tribute band. They were supposed to get off in Dublin but had to stay. They've done quite a lot since the replacement groups were stranded in Dublin. Excellent group and about three hundred people dancing madly. A properly entertaining event.
Wed Jul 21 At Sea
Have been teaching Leona (from Canada) music theory. She plays mostly bluegrass guitar tabs but wants to learn to read and play piano. So my teeny keyboard has been very useful. I've written a couple of little songs for her and use the stuff I wrote for Anna. That seems a lifetime away.
Again the eeriness of the foghorn sounding all night as we sailed passed the spot where the Titanic went down. Much was made of this and we could all imagine an iceberg appearing out of the fog as we ploughed through the darkness. Apparently there is a scientific vessel working at the site at present and last night they had a remote robot thingy in the wheelhouse of Titanic. Our bridge talked to them and they were receiving pictures of the interior. They showed the 1953 original film and thoroughly spooked half the ship.
Heard from the captain yesterday that the gale warnings on the approach to Dublin were promising 8 metre waves and 70 knot winds. Decision was made to go no farther north and head south on a less challenging course. I'm glad we didn't have to contend with that sort of weather. It's been quite bumpy enough!!
Thu Jul 22 At Sea
Today, hoping to book a tour to swim with dolphins in Mexico.
Another "Beatles " concert planned for this evening.
No - didn't happen. What happened was the "Beatles" appeared at a "Liar Liar" show as "celebrities".
To me, this is a very strange phenomenon - treating these (undoubtedly good) musicians, as if they were the real live Beatles. They call themselves by their Beatle character names. Never once has any acknowledgement been made to the real heroes of the story - the song writers John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Saw a humpback whale lolling about in the ocean today. Looked to see if there was a Japanese whaler in the distance.
Had a flyover by a Canadian Anti Submarine Lockheed P2E Orian today. My father used to fly in these, and took me inside one for a look. I never got to flight in one, unfortunately.
Fri Jul 23 Boston boston
Hope to catch up with friends Ron and Jackie today? Nope, didn't happen. Never mind....
The Immigration inspection fiasco.
US Immigration Officials demand a "face to face" inspection of each passenger. Failure to show would result in a $3000 fine.
Princess printed out individual passenger letters to present to the officials, and printed a time to appear eg 7.15am. "Do not go earlier than nominated" they said.
We went down at our allotted time - 7:15am, and the queue ran the complete length of the ship - some 230 metres. No one taking a blind bit of notice of their allotted time. A complete shemozzle. It took an hour to get to the immigration desk. Princess Staff shrug their shoulders! "What can we do?"
Message to Princess:
Here's what you can do: print a sequence number on each of the individual passenger letters. Get each passenger to line up in sequence order. "Ask your neighbour what his/her number is and trickle sort yourselves into the queue."
That way, people can determine where they are in the queue and go and do something else if the queue is too long.
We finally went ashore in Boston, bought some booze, had a real American hotdog (not quite what I expected)... and didn't go and have a drink at "Cheers" where the US sitcom is based, although many considered this a highlight of their American tour!
Sat Jul 24 Newport RI newport
The Newport fiasco
For some reason, the ship could not dock at a wharf, so we had to anchor off-shore and use the tender motorboats to get passengers into Newport.
Now, a little quiz: 2000 passengers want to go ashore. There are four Tender boats and the trip takes 30 minutes from ship to shore. If each Tender takes 60 passengers, how many hours will it take for all 2000 passengers to be ferried to shore? Answer: 7 hours.
We finally got ashore at Newport about 3:00 pm, after waiting for the tender boats since 8:00am.
I found an internet computer at a Mariner's Mission, downloaded the Economist and sent a few emails. Then it was time to get back on the last Tender which left at 6:00 pm. Total waste of a port call.
MESSAGE TO PRINCESS:
THIS SHIP IS TOO BIG FOR TENDER PORTS!
IF YOU CANNOT DOCK AT A WHARF, GIVE THE PORT A MISS.
IT IS JUST NOT WORTH IT!!
As I heard a passenger say this afternoon:
"This Princess bunch couldn't organise a bad smell in a toilet"
We have been to Newport (hundreds of yachts) because it's the home of the America's Cup.
The night before Newport we were invited to a private party on the top deck, to say farewell to one of the girls we've met. Rod was asked to take his guitar and we sang with the help of various crew members, other friends and singers who are on to do floorshows etc.
A good night this - initially played guitar with some of the ship's Philippino crew singing. Then graduated as Julie James - a great jazz singer - joined us with a Las Vegas entertaine - Bobby Brooks. Bobby is a singer/dancer from Las Vagas www.BobbyBrooksHamilton.com who joined the ship in Boston and is going to be doing some shows on board. Got some good three piece harmonies going. Probably the best night we've had so far.
Also met Helen, who had a 20 year career in music in Australia and England in the 1960's - unfortunately now retired from singing.
Her stage name? Brenda Lee. Her biggest hit - "All Alone Am I" Wow!
Also met some new interesting people - friends of Rhonda. We will miss Rhonda, but she will rejoin the ship in Auckland. More parties then.
About midnight it started to pour and the light show was phenominal. We must have sailed directly into the storm. It seemed to be overhead all the time. Foghorn blasting through the night. We gave up and went to bed about three.
A great sendoff!! We'll miss her! A unique person.
I can't believe that people slept through the whole storm.
Finally managed to ring Sheila and arrange to meet her tomorrow.
Sun Jul 25 New York (Manhattan) newyork
And .... drum roll please .. New York! Yesterday the ship parked right in Lower Manhattan so we woke up to hundreds of skyscrapers, just like the movies! Right next to our side of the ship was a military museum with an aircraft carrier, a submarine, a Concorde aeroplane, a MIG, an SR71 spy plane, a Harrier Jump Jet, and lots more.
We caught a bus uptown to see a friend of ours Sheila. She was one of the Antarctic cruise gang. Having been in New York before we opted for the luxury of a wonderful lunch and a lengthy chinwag in Sheila's apartment. We also had a phone call to Bill who lives in Florida and was with us on the same cruise. What a great hostess, to come back to town from miles away to see us. We're hoping that we can repay the hospitality when we settle down somewhere.
Back to ship for the sailaway. Last night we watched the city skyline, the Chrysler Building, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty glowing in the sunset as we sailed down the river. Magnificent !!
Acapulco I'll be swimming with the dolphins!! Really looking forward to that. Am not doing stingrays this trip, maybe sharks when we get into the South Pacific again??
Mon Jul 26 At Sea
Tue Jul 27 At Sea
Karaoke tonight. Sang a few numbers with Julie James and Bobby Brooks. Bobby is a singer/dancer from Las Vagas www.BobbyBrooksHamilton.com who joined the ship in Boston and who entertained us at Rhonda's farewell show the other night.
Wed Jul 28 At Sea
Saw Bobby's show this evening - a great performer and a very entertaining show.
Thu Jul 29 Antigua antigua
Docked right alongside the town of Antigua, which relies on tourism for its primary source of income. Fought off the traders, and went exploring the town. Small, picturesque, cheap, lots of shitling (defn: stuff that's nice, but mostly useless - Nick - a better definition? - seeing you invented the word?)
Got some cheap gin and a bottle of Rum Punch. Gaaarrggghhh - is that ever sweet!!
Fri Jul 30 Barbados barbados
Went ashore and stooged around the town. Found an internet cafe and downloaded the latest audio version of the Economist. The Economist is becoming more and more important to me, as I get further and further removed from other sources of world news.
We had an adventurous lunch at Big John's "Barbacoa" - Deep South Carribean open fired and charcoal grilled Bajan cuisinery. They claim that the Western word "Barbeque" is etymologically derived from the Carribean word "Barbacoa" - meaning the Bearded one, after the indigenous Arawak Indians' practice of using the green and flexible limbs of the overhanging branches of the giant Beared Fig Tree, to cook meats and fish over an open fire. You never know.
A storm swept over the Island in the early afternoon, and we took refuge back on board. Missed the evening "Pirate Party"
Sat Jul 31 At Sea Breakdown #2
I have re-christened "Dawn Princess" to "Dud Princess".
Or maybe: the break"Down Princess".
Yes, woke up in the early hours of this morning to find all the power off and the ship wallowing, stationary in the water. Another electrical breakdown.
Toilets don't work, no airconditioning in the hot Caribbean climate, no coffee, no tap water - they tried to charge me $4.00 for a bottle of water until I dug my heels in and demanded they open the bottled water and pass it out free. Which, after a moment's thought, they did.
The fault was finally rectified by 1.00pm, but no explanation, apart from "electrical interruption". 2000 people will tell 6 people each, who will tell 3 people each who will tell one person each.
Great publicity for Princess - "The Princess Line - Escape Completely (eventually)"
Hopefully, we will get to see Curacao, and not bypass it, attempting to meet the Panama transit slot.
Tonight we will go and see the evening's entertainer - vocal impressionist - Tony Cherry. Julie says he is pretty good.
Sun Aug 1 Curacao, Netherlands Antilles curacao
Mon Aug 2 At Sea