My DH and I arrived in Baltimore a day early so that he could chill out. He gets nervous when we leave the home-front for any length of time. We booked ourselves into the Sleep Inn, using a cruise and stay package.(stay123.com) Great idea! Room, breakfast and we could leave the car in the lot for 14 days. They provided us with a shuttle to and from the port. Which was great.
We spent all day Wednesday roaming around the Baltimore Inner Harbor and the Aquarium. Be prepared to drop some cash here. It cost $21 just to park for 3 hours. We enjoyed our visit there and went back to the hotel and relaxed, or I tried to. I was so excited I could hardly sleep. I had been trying for three years to convince my husband how wonderful cruising is. I was on the Nordic Prince, RC line in 1987, and I had an amazing trip, and I wanted him to experience this also.
Arriving at the port on Aug. 26 was made easy by our shuttle driver. On the bus we met a very nice couple, Rhonda and Chuck, that had cruised on RC line before and new the ropes. We asked if we could at least follow them so we knew where to go. We created a friendship with them and met up several times on the cruise which was very nice. Going through embarkation went very smoothly. They had cookies and some other items, but I was too nervous and anxious all at the same time and was afraid to move for fear they would call our number and I would miss it. We were on the ship in record breaking time. We were having our lunch by about 11:30 AM and the ship wasn't very crowded as of yet. This made lunch time very relaxing and we were able to nosey around and see the ship. We thought that the Windjammer was a great place to eat but then of course remember we haven't been on any other ships to compare. So for that I can be grateful. We are plain people and we really didn't need fancy foods. What they had was just fine for us. I guess it's good not to have higher expectations. Met a lovely couple from Virginia, Jackie and Mike, that were our table companions for all of the trip. We enjoyed getting all dressed up to dine in the My Fair Lady dining room with our waiter Ronnie. He was a wonderful addition to our dining experience.
Our stateroom was nice. Not much more then we have in our small camper at home, so we know how to make do. It served us well. Moses was our steward and he was very attentive. Loved the towel animals. We had medication for my husband that required refrigeration and we had no fridge. One request to Moses and low and behold a refrigerator arrived. Like I said we didn't have any expectations except to have a clean place to live for 9 days. I for one, loved the large window that served as our headboard. During the night I would pile the pillows and watch the ocean go by. What a lovely sight. Little things make me happy.
Puerto Rico we took a walking tour on our own. Went to the information center after arriving and got a map that took us all around the perimeter of Old San Juan and eventually out to the fort. After viewing the fort and it's wonderful views we walked out to get on the free shuttle but it was so crowded we decided we couldn't walk the last distance to the castle so we hailed a cab that cost us $8 to go about a 1/2 mile. No problem, it was worth it, cause it was HOT. After the castle we scoured the shops and the sights as we wound our way back to the ship. Boy were we happy to be back on the ship.
Entertainment was the highlight of our evenings. If you don't go out and have this kind of entertainment at home then anything is good. We especially enjoyed the fellow that was a comedian and impersonator. The female singers were wonderful, though I thought it quite funny that the one evening as the boat was rocking and rolling she started the evening with the Theme song from Titanic. We did feel though that there wasn't much to do if you didn't drink or gamble or play bingo at $30+ a game. Everything they did was extra which put us off a bit. I did however go on a photo treasure hunt which was a hoot.
This is where our trip took a turn downhill. St.Thomas was cancelled, along with the excursions that I had booked. It took me a month to decide what we would do there. Shopping isn't something I wanted to spend my time doing so I pondered long and hard. We wanted to do things we had never done. Kinda our bucket list. But no St. Thomas. Thank god I took DH advice and booked with the cruise line and not private excursions cause we got all our money back. Samana was neat. Missed the dancers as we arrived. By the time I exited the restroom they were leaving. We took the horseback ride to Limon Falls. Of course no one tells you that you have about a 1/4 mile trek down some pretty steep steps. Halfway down we looked at each other and exclaimed our fears that we wouldn't have enough energy to go back up. A big thank you to the young boys that walk with you. They literally pulled my sorry butt up that hill. For that he got a big tip. We had fun and it truly was beautiful. Wish we could have seen much more of this country. That is what we like to do, see the real McCoy... We had to take the tender back to the ship and that is where the action was. We were on our way back to the ship when smoke came pouring out of the one engine and both quit. The operator tried to start the engines back up and the one caught on fire. Don't worry it went out but that left us floating away from the ship. The guy got one engine started, but all it did was turn us in circles. Each time we would get close to the ship, a catamaran would show up and unload people. We keep asking the guy why don't you yell at them to go away so we can come in. After what seemed to be a hour, we got safely aboard the ship. The rest of the night was normal.
Labadee, Haiti was nice but I was a bit disappointed in the Cultural tour. Aside from abruptly being cancelled after we got to the top of the hill,due to impending storms, I figured out that this was all a re-enacted village not a real one like I had thought I was going to see. It was all placed there. Not that it wasn't informative but it was fake. I wanted to see the real thing. The Island was made to be very nice. The lunch was so, so. Having two cruise ships in port at one time made everything crowded. The water was all cloudy and sea-weedy from the hurricane Earl's arrival in the area, not the beautiful clear water that I was yearning to see. From here the very capable Captain Been steered the ship out of harms way. I was very disappointed that they didn't reaasign us to any other island. Instead we had to endure three days of bad seas. the pools had to be emptied and netted for safety reasons. The top level decks were closed for safety, and some of the nightly shows had to be rearranged for the performers safety. They say a large percentage of the ship was sick. Yes it was bad.
We we made it back and we were number 28 to disembark from the ship. After we left customs, they sent us out the wrong door and we had to walk all the way around the building, which is quite large, to get to the side where the hotel bus should have been waiting. When we got to the pick point they left cause they were full and they sent another rented van to pick us up. I really believe we were the only ones left at the port building waiting for transportation. It was close to 12 noon when the van came and I had a hard time climbing into the van, so the guy took my basket with my digital camera and all my treasures that I had collected for souvenirs in it, and he set it down on the curb, well after we got back to the hotel he loaded our baggage into our car for us , I had gone into the restroom and did not realize anything was missing until at home I wanted to show my family my basket and photos I had taken. Now I realize the basket is missing and nowhere to be found. Hence one sleepless night trying to figure out where did I leave this item. I hate thinking I have the start of dementia. Called the Baltimore Port Authority on Sunday morning and thank goodness they had my things. The driver left it sitting on the curb and security was anxious when they saw a basket unattended. Well you know what we did that day. Yup, 3 hours back to Baltimore
That's my story and I'm sticking to it. .