Friday Oct 12, 2018

Our day started early!  Carol woke just a few minutes before the 4:00 a.m. alarm was due to ring,  We were on the road at 4:45 and when we pulled up at US Customs about 25 minutes later there was no other vehicle in sight.  After about three routine questions the sleepy agent waved us through.


We drove non-stop to Syracuse and parked at the airport at 6:45, well before our 8:49 flight to New York City's JFK Airport.


Then they started announcing the delays!  The remnants of Hurricane Michael, which had ravaged the Florida Panhandle, Georgia and the Carolinas had just passed New York City.  Although it was no longer classed as a Hurricane, it was still packing strong winds which were affecting the flight schedule.  We were held up a full hour!


The good news is that we had a smooth flight and touched down safely at 11:00 a.m.  It's a long hike from the gate at JFK to the baggage area so we only had to wait a few minutes for our luggage to arrive.  Once we had our bags she pulled out her cell phone, opened the Lyft app and arranged our 18 mile ride from the airport (in Queens) to our hotel, the Marriott East Side, at 525 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.  The driver, Ramesh from Kathmandu Nepal, arrived just as we got to the designated pick-up location and whisked us to our hotel by noon!  Carol had used Lyft before in Florida but it was my first experience - I was impressed!  It was prompt, efficient and very reasonably priced.

Our room wasn't ready so we checked our bags and headed out for a stroll . . . destination Times Square.  It's bright, it's weird and when you're in New York it's just gotta be done!


We walked west along 48th Street.  Along the way we crossed Park Avenue and looked south at the Met Life Centre near Grand Central Station.

We stopped at a deli just around the corner on Madison Avenue.  I had a Reuben and Carol had a Philly Cheese steak.  They were delicious!  We ate upstairs at a small table overlooking the deli counter . . . it was a very busy spot!

As we carried on some flags caught our eye up a side street!  It was Rockefeller Centre.  Carol immediately made friends with a horse.

They're singing ♪♫ A horse is a horse, of course, of course ♫♪


When Ed carried on walking his beat we wandered over to watch the skaters . . . it felt very odd to watch skaters in downtown Manhattan on a sunny October afternoon.


I know, I know, I've seen this place in lots of movies and TV show and I've been to Rockefeller Centre before, but it still felt odd to see this in NYC!


It seemed like we'd been walking for hours when we finally got to Times Square.  There it was, all those bright lights, the flashing signs, the weirdoes dressed as superheroes . . . they will pose for pictures with you in exchange for cash . . . they are very persistent and very annoying!

In the midst of the throngs of people, the bright lights, the honking drivers and all the other sensory distractions Carol spotted what she was looking for - The Disney Store!


She shopped while I took a few pictures around the store.

The shopping spree didn't take as long as I thought it would; she had covered the store, upstairs and down, in about an hour and everything she bought could fit into one bag.


I know there were a few Christmas ornaments in the bag . . . probably enough to complete our fourth Christmas tree!

We wandered around Times Square for another half-hour or so, just taking in the sights, sounds and smells as we dodged the weirdoes and superheroes.


We had hoped to find some tickets to the hit stage show 'Come From Away' at one of the 'last minute' ticket outlets but, alas, they were all sold out!

We tried to hail a cab as we walked back down 48th Street toward Lexington Avenue and the Marriott Hotel.  There were none free late on a Friday afternoon so we ended up walking all the way.


A glass archway through a cascading waterfall caught our eye so we took a short detour, through that waterfall, into a unique little courtyard just off 6th Avenue.

We felt like Alice Through The Looking Glass when we met the giant rabbit and the huge dog in the Brooks Brothers suit!  The artist calls the pieces Paparazzi Dogman and Paparazzi Rabbitgirl.


The plaque beside the sculptures suggested that they were designed to promote diversity, love and acceptance.  I dunno about that, but they sure make a good photo-stop!

We had trekked almost 8 kilometres (5 miles) and I don't know how the city planners achieved it, but 48th Street is an uphill rise in both directions!


Our room still wasn't ready so we waited a few more minutes in lounge off the lobby.  Finally at 4:00 p.m. we got to our room and enjoyed a relaxing stretch on a very comfy bed!


We were pooped . . . so pooped that we scrapped plans for dinner at Wollensky's, a nearby watering hole, in favour of the little restaurant in the hotel lobby.  They had a limited menu but they were a full block closer and that was very important to us after a long day on our feet!  It was a good call! 


Carol rolled her eyes when I ordered a Manhattan.  It's a cocktail that plenty of bartenders never seem to get right and I send a lot of them back.  I told her, "Hey, we're in Manhattan, if there's anywhere they should be able to make one, this is the place!"  I was right, it was perfect!


Carol had a burger which she says was the best she's ever had, and I really enjoyed my wedge salad and club sandwich.


We headed back to our room - absolutely stuffed - and settled in to watch our regular Friday night television shows.

Saturday Oct 13, 2018

Our room at the Marriott was very comfortable.  We slept in until 7:30 and enjoyed a leisurely coffee in our room before heading down for the complementary breakfast served in the same lobby restaurant where we enjoyed dinner.


There was no need to rush to the Cruise Terminal so we relaxed in the room until about 10:30 before checking out.


Carol arranged another Lyft ride across Manhattan to Pier 88 where the Magic was berthed.  The driver texted that he had arrived . . . but we were standing in front of the hotel and couldn't see him.  Carol sent him a series of messages and he replied intermittently before he finally said, "I've been pulled over by a cop!"


Now what do we do?  We're standing in front of the hotel in a light drizzle on a cool and windy day!  Fortunately Carol's phone beeped - another driver, Elhacene, would be along in three minutes.  He arrived on time and whisked us across town.


We pulled up beside our home-away-from-home at 11:15.  Naturally there had to be pictures!

"You're not doing it right!"

"If you want it done right you have to do it yourself!"

We dropped off our two large suitcases just outside the terminal building then headed inside to check-in.

There is a special queue for Platinum Members of the Castaway Club and the line was extremely short.  Once we got in the line there was only about a five minute wait, then we had our 'Key to the World' cards and our boarding group number.  We were in Group 1 so boarding would happen quickly!


I spotted some arms waiting as we headed toward the loading bridge.  It was our friends from New Jersey, John & Sheila, David & Janis.  Carol had been speaking with them at the EPCOT Pin Event in August and found out they were booked for the same cruise.


We hung out with them as we waited for our group to be called.

At about 11:30 our group was summoned so we headed toward the boarding ramp.  Along the way we met Captain Mickey who was heading out into the terminal to play with the other cruisers!

No one could access their stateroom  until 1:30 so we headed directly up to Deck 9 and enjoyed lunch at Cabanas.  It was a good thing we got there early!  When we left about 45 minutes later the place was absolutely jammed . . . we actually felt guilty as we sat finishing our coffee while folks with trays full of food hovered nearby waiting for seats!

Since we were among the first to arrive at Cabanas for lunch, we were also among the first to finish eating and head up to Deck 10 to see the sights.


It was just amazing to wander around the deck taking pictures of the ship with that incredible Manhattan skyline in the background!


Not something you see every day!

Look directly over Carol's left shoulder (to her right) for the Empire State Building!

It was just breathtaking, we were both in awe as we looked around!

As promised, we were allowed access to our stateroom at 1:30.


I was surprised when Carol swung the door open.  We had talked several months ago about the special 'Nautical Character Stateroom Decor Package' but I had forgotten that she booked it.  I forget a lot of stuff these days!


The stuff all looked great.  There were two hanging streamers with Disney characters in nautical attire, two hanging streamers with nautical flags, a big hanging 'Bon Voyage' sign, a sweet Captain Mickey window cling, a giant Disney Cruise Line beach towel and a big magnetic 'All Aboard' poster.


As Platinum Castaway Club members we also got a nice shoulder bag and two durable luggage tags.  You can just never have too much Disney swag!

When I stepped out on our balcony I spotted two Alia Cruise Lines ships beside us.  That's the Alia Luna in the picture on the right!

At 4:00 p.m. we made our way down some back stairways (normally only used by crew members) to the Animator's Palate dining room for the mandatory lifeboat drill.


Once we had been briefed about all of the safety procedures we headed up to Deck 10 for the traditional Sail-Away Party!


By 4:30 folks were dancing atop the family pool on Deck 9 as we watched from above.

The ship's horn sounded and we pushed away from the dock at 5:10 p.m.


In the past, when we've sailed from Port Canaveral, Los Angeles or Vancouver there were always large groups of cast members, the people who took care of our baggage and checked us in, standing along the pier, waving and wishing us Bon Voyage.


Usually there are 50 or more people waving . . . today we had two!


By this time we had met up with David, Janis, Sheila and John.  John looked down at the pier and said, "Hey, that's the grumpy guy who checked us in.  Looks like he's smiling now that we're leaving!"


It certainly wasn't as 'cheery' as other ports we've sailed from, but there we no snags, we were processed efficiently and we were underway!

It was cool and breezy, but the six of us buttoned and zippered up and soaked in the awesome skyline of lower Manhattan.

The Empire State Building was a glowing beacon surrounded by shaded buildings!  WOW!

The Freedom Tower is disappearing behind the ship's funnel.

We passed Lady Liberty at 5:45.

The majestic Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge soon loomed in front of us.  It holds the record as the world's longest suspension span.  The main span is 4,260 feet.  We passed under the middle of that span at 6:05 with a few extra feet of clearance.  Phew!

As we sailed out to sea we spotted the Royal Caribbean Lines 'Anthem of the Seas' just ahead of us.  They had sailed out of Bayonne New Jersey just moments before we did.  We found out a few months ago that our friends John and Cathy were sailing on that cruise and that we would be docked in Bermuda at the same time.  We agreed to meet on the wharf and say hello!


By 6:15 it was getting dark and very chilly.  What better way to warm up than with a foamy Guinness!  We listened to Irish ballads while Carol sipped a diet coke and I savoured a weighty stout.  Mmmm!

We were scheduled for late dining, at 8:15 each night, so we had time to go to the 7:30 Halloween Tree Lighting Ceremony in the Atrium.  A cast member dressed in spooky attire told a creepy Halloween story as eerie lighting bathed the tree.  We heard thunder, screams and moans in the background as she spun her frightful tale.


Then, with a bright flash of light and a loud clap of thunder the tree lit up!

Throughout the cruise families stood in front of the tree for pictures!


At 8:15 we headed to Lumieres for dinner.  Once we discovered that our friends David, Janis, John and Sheila were booked for the same cruise, it only made sense to get together with them for meals.  We were all together at Table 74 each night, and our servers Franklin from Peru and Mariana from Brazil took very good care of us.


The first night's dinner was a bit of a disappointment for me.  Our appetizers were just fine, we both had a bowl of delicious French Onion Soup, and I enjoyed Breaded and Deep Fried Brie while Carol sampled the Iced Lobster and Jumbo Shrimp.


The problem came with the main course . . . three of the six at our table ordered the Conchiglie Pasta and all three of us sent it back.  Something was drastically wrong with it, it was inedible.  The flavour just seemed to be way off!


Nothing else on the menu appealed to me, so I did without an entrée and enjoyed Apple Tart Tatin for dessert.

After dinner we headed to Deck 4 Midship and Carol spent a few minutes shopping . . . there were a couple of pins from a recent cruise to Quebec City she was anxious to find and a few other things she wanted to pick up before they sold out.


She had no luck that night with the Canadian Pins but she did pick up a few other items!


We posed for a picture with Donald in front of the Walt Disney Theatre before heading back to our cabin.

Our Stateroom Host, Ali, had turned down our bed while we were at dinner and each evening he left us some unique 'towel art' along with a half-dozen chocolate wafers.  Since I'm not a chocolate fan . . . but Carol is . . . she was pleased!


We crashed at 10:45; pooped after a long and fun-filled day.

Sunday Oct 14, 2018

We were spending the entire day 'At Sea' and we had nothing scheduled until 11:00 a.m.  We could sleep as long as we wanted!  Wonderful!


As you might expect, we both woke early . . . there would be no sleeping in!  By 6:30 I was on Deck 9 getting hot coffee from the self-serve station just outside Cabanas.  At 7:00 a.m. our daily Room Service order arrived and we relaxed over a small carafe of coffee and some croissants.


At about 8:30 we decided to take advantage of this quiet time to deliver our 'Fish Extender' gifts.  In the hall outside each stateroom there is a little mail slot, mounted on the wall beside the door, where cast members leave notices, mail, etc.  The front of the mail slot is covered with a decorative metal cut-out of a fish.  A number of years ago some fun-loving cruisers designed little Disney themed bags, sort of like miniature shoe bags, which they could use to drop off gift-exchange items.  Because of where the bag is hung it became a 'fish extender'.


The gift exchange can be a lot of fun . . . every time you return to your cabin you wonder what you might find.  We've had some very interesting gifts, and some very strange ones!


We had our deliveries finished shortly after 9:00 and headed up to Deck 10 to sight-see.

It was overcast, cool and windy, but just off to our starboard side was the Royal Caribbean Lines 'Anthem of the Seas'.


I sent our friend John a message, "I see you over there on our starboard side."


He replied immediately, "We've been watching you all morning from our balcony."


The ship remained right there beside us all day long.


Deck 10 was too cool to be comfortable for very long so we headed down to Deck 4.  Carol whisked quickly through the shops again (I'm thankful there are only two!) and then headed to the Vacation Desk to talk about booking a 'Placeholder Cruise'.  There are significant savings available if you book your next cruise while you're still aboard.

At 10:30 we headed back to our stateroom and changed into some dressier attire for our brunch at Palo.  We both really enjoy this upscale dining experience.  All food is included in the price of your cruise, but for Palo dining you pay a small 'upcharge'.


It's Italian themed, the food is amazing and the service is always over the top.  Today was no different!


As we were checking in I spotted our friend Janis.  Their party had also booked a brunch at Palo so she combined our reservations.  The four of them were waiting for us at a table for six.

I cannot tell you what we ate, there was just too much variety.  All I can say is that it was all delicious and we ate far too much!  Just when we thought we could eat no more our server, Oliver, would arrive with some new delicacy that we couldn't resist!  Carol said she was absolutely stuffed . . . then that chocolate lava cake arrived.  She said she really didn't want to eat the whole thing, she was doing it for the team!


That's Oliver sitting with us on the left.


Again, by coincidence, we both had Tuesday night dinner reservations at Palo so we combined them as we left the restaurant at about 1:30.  We also asked if Oliver could be our server.

We left Palo through the door onto Deck 10 and walked along the starboard side.  The sun was shining and it had turned into a warm afternoon.


We headed back home for a quick change of clothes them took the elevator down to the Atrium where kids in costume were gathering for the 2:30 Mouse-carade party.

The Big Cheese arrived promptly at 2:30 to welcome all the kids and their parents.  Mickey was soon joined onstage by all of his cartoon cronies and they performed a few spooky Halloween dance numbers for the enthralled children.


Before you could say 'Boo to You' the Disney characters paraded down the steps and danced into the midst of their adoring young fans.  The kids were thrilled!

Mickey is down on his knees sharing a one-on-one moment with a young fan in a stroller.


How thrilling is that for a youngster?


Did I mention there was trick or treating?  Carol and I each filled a small bag!

Since we were up so early we decided to head back up to Deck 6 for a nap.  Alas, sleep evaded us so we were soon sitting in some comfy chairs outside the Cove Café sipping coffee and watching the world pass us by.


We headed down to the Atrium again to see the adult costumes.  More trick or treating . . . but they were out of bags.  We had to fill our pockets, stuff our pockets, cram our pockets!


At 6:15 we headed to the Walt Disney Theatre for the nightly show.  Tonight it was a pair of magicians from Las Vegas, Kyle Knight & Mistie.  They put on a good show; involving children in a funny magic routine, then entertaining us with some amazing illusions.


After the show we made a brief stop at the Vacation Desk and Carol booked the placeholder.  I knew it wouldn't take her too long to decide!


Dinner was at Animator’s Palate and there were no food issues.  In fact, our Head Server Franklin brought us a big platter of sautéed  shrimp and scallops to atone for the pasta we returned the night before.  It was an unexpected surprise . . . and it was delicious!

The walls come alive during dinner at Animator's Palate.  As you eat the black and white images and sketches on the walls transform to colour images, and some of the framed portraits transform into classic scenes from many of Disney's classic animated features,


Toward the end of the meal Sorcerer Mickey dashed through the dining room.

This chocolate mousse spider may look evil . . . but he was no match for Carol.

After dinner we headed to the Guest Services desk on Deck 4 to see if we could change our Monday night glass-bottom boat cruise to Tuesday night.  The 'dinner show' at Rapunzel’s Royal Table may not be finished in time for us to see it and get to the late-night cruise.


While Carol and Sheila were at Guest Services I stood in the Atrium watching Pluto dance with some dude dressed up in an inflatable T-Rex suit.  I had to get a picture . . . it's just not something you see every day!


Guest Services could not help the ladies, we'll have to try the Port Adventures desk in the morning.

We were back to the stateroom at 10:30 and set al the clocks ahead an hour.  Bermuda is in the Atlantic Time Zone, the same as Nova Scotia.


Ali had left more towel art and more chocolate . . . Carol was a happy cruiser!

Monday Oct 15, 2018

After a good night's sleep we woke at 7:00 a.m., just in time for the Room Service order which arrived moments later.  After an eye-opening cup of coffee and a croissant we were ready to face the day!


It was a glorious day, sunshine, clear skies and mid 70's shirt-sleeve weather!


Just before 8:00 I snapped a picture of Carol in front of the Halloween Tree, then we carried on to the Port Adventures desk where we met Sheila.  Within a few minutes the change was made, we were booked for the Tuesday glass-bottom boat cruise!


Carol and I headed up to Cabanas for breakfast and before long John and Sheila joined us.

We were supposed to be docked at about 10:00 a.m. so we were all enjoying a leisurely breakfast when I looked up and saw land on our port side.


I quickly finished up my breakfast and headed up to Deck 10 to watch as we approached the King's Wharf at the Royal Navy Dockyards.

There was Fort St. Catherine - it sits at the north-western tip of Bermuda!


The entire island nation is surrounded by a network of coral reefs so we followed a long, narrow channel all the way down the north shore to thread our way through this protective barrier.


Look at that beautifully bright aquamarine water, those pretty pastel buildings, the old stone fortresses - Wow!

It wasn't long before Carol and John joined me and we watched as the distance to King's Wharf narrowed . . . and the channel narrowed too!


I sure wouldn't want to navigate that channel in bad weather!

We sailed past Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas and docked directly in front of her!

We knew that our friends John & Cathy had a port side balcony so we looked for them on the way past . . . but we couldn't pick them out.  It turned out that they saw us standing on the top deck.

We were all docked by 10:00 a.m., right on schedule so we headed back to our stateroom to get ready for our afternoon trolley ride around the western part of the island.


We had a 'take-out' snack on Deck 9 before heading down to Fathoms where we assembled for our tour.

It wasn't long before they led us to Deck 1 Aft where we debarked.  It was a short walk to the area between the two cruise ships where we boarded our little red trolley for the 90 minute tour!


One of the first things I noticed was the architecture.  It looked so much like home!


No, not the pastel houses with the white roofs, I mean all those limestone buildings erected by the British Navy in the 1700's and 1800's.


Our home town, Kingston Ontario, was home to a large British Naval base.  It was the headquarters for the British fleet during the war of 1812.


During the same era when they were building those limestone fortresses in Bermuda they were building Fort Henry, Fort Frontenac, the Rideau Canal and a chain of protective Martello Towers in our city.  All of those Canadian fortifications are now designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


Any of those Bermuda buildings would look right at home if you dropped it somewhere along the waterfront in our home town.

Many of the old buildings of the fortress now house craftsmen and artisans who cater to visiting tourists.


We stopped briefly beside a cemetery where British seamen were buried from 1777 to 1951.


I'm an amateur genealogist and I was pleasantly surprised when our guide told us that the local historical society and cemetery management would work with the visiting descendants of British sailors to help them find their ancestors grave site.

There were beautiful vistas everywhere.  The beaches were spotless, the water crystal clear, it looked like paradise!

Pretty pastel cottages and homes, lush vegetation and bright flowers were everywhere!

The entire nation of Bermuda is only 21 square miles and I don't think there's anywhere in the country that's more than a mile from the ocean.


Every time we turned a corner there was another stunning seascape!

Soon the Magic appeared to our right and we found ourselves back at King's Wharf.


The tour was scenic, but on the whole we found it a disappointment.  It was mostly a sales pitch for the local shops and restaurants.


We stopped for about a half hour in the blazing sun while our guide, very proud of his island home, stood in the middle of a bare parking lot and told us much more than we really need to know about how they build homes in Bermuda.


If you're considering a Bermuda cruise, skip the 90 minute trolley tour and take the 5 1/2 hour coach tour.  It's much better!

We were back at the ship by 2:30 and kept our eyes peeled for John & Cathy as we pulled up.  There they were, sitting on a nice shaded park bench on the wharf watching us as we rolled in.


It was great to see them, it’s been several years.


We wandered back to Bone Fish Bar & Grill, a nearby restaurant and watering hole, where we sat, catching up, laughing and reminiscing, for about three hours.


It was a great afternoon!


We said goodbye to John and Cathy between the two ships and were back aboard by 5:45.  We headed to the cabin to freshen up before dinner.


It was a few hours until dinner and we were both very hungry so we picked up a light snack on deck 9 then went to the Promenade Lounge where we watched a ‘Wheel of Fortune’ game involving Disney characters, movies and song titles.  Carol was able to solve quite a few of them, me . . . not so much!


Dinner was at Rapunzel’s Royal Table on Deck 4.  Three charming thugs from the Snuggly Duckling saloon amused us with their antics throughout the meal.

Even Rapunzel came calling!

Dinner was once again a bit disappointing.  The only item on the menu that appealed to either Carol or I  was the Oven Roasted  Turkey Breast.  It came with giblet stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes and cranberries.


Carol doesn't like cranberries and I don't like sweet potatoes, so we did a quick swap!  It was fortunate that we did, I needed those extra cranberries to moisten up the dry and tough turkey breast.  The white meat would have been inedible without those berries!


There was some fancy swirly thing fashioned out of dark meat and although I don't usually eat dark meat I decided to give it a try.  I couldn't cut it . . . I watched Carol struggle with hers; it was similar to mine, sort of like a hockey puck!


Thankfully the dessert was OK!

After dinner we were pooped, so it was back to the stateroom where we crashed at about 10:15 p.m.

Tuesday Oct 16, 2018

We woke up to a beautiful sunrise shining in our porthole.  Room service coffee arrived at 7:00 and we enjoyed it on the balcony.  It was approaching 80 degrees already.  Nice!


Carol puttered with our excursion tickets and ID's while I dashed up to Cabanas for a light breakfast.


At 9:00 our group assembled at Fathoms for our 5 ½ hour coach tour of Bermuda.  Ours was the first group to leave; we were quickly escorted to wharf where our driver and tour guide, Samuel was waiting.


We loaded into our coach in no time and were off!  The roads are small and so are the coaches . . . ours could seat 20 people and we filled it to capacity.  I would not want to drive anything larger on those twisty little roads!

It's a pretty bad photo, shot through the window, but you can see that even the churches are pastel.  The population of Bermuda is 65,000 and there are 350 churches!

We stopped not far from King's Wharf to see the world's smallest drawbridge.  Do you see that little gap in the middle of the bridge?


There's a heavy plank on top that is taken out to allow a sailboat mast to pass through.  Crew from the boat have to walk across the bridge while holding the mast steady to prevent it from scraping.


The bridge is scarcely used these days, but they make sure to open it up at least once a year to maintain their listing in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Samuel had a loaf of bread which he passed around so we could each feed the swarming fish.  I don't know what kind they were, but they swarmed like piranha when the bread hit the water.


I asked Samuel, "There are some long blue fish that look like a gar?  What are they?"


He grinned and said, "They're blue gar."


We stopped beside this pretty blue house and enjoyed the view of our ship across the water as Samuel told us about the water system.  Bermuda has no fresh water, no lakes, rivers or streams.  Every home has a limestone roof that channels rainwater through downspouts and through charcoal filters to 16 foot deep cisterns beneath each home.


The roofs are all white because of a special cement wash they are painted with.  The cement wash kills any bacteria the water might be carrying before it enters the cistern.


Wow, an education and a nice view!


The Gibbs Hill Lighthouse sites on the highest point in Bermuda and can be seen from 40 miles out to sea.  Do you see our ship over Carol's shoulder?  We had a great view of Gibbs Hill from our balcony and it flashed through our sliding door every five seconds all night long!


We had to close the curtains because of the lighthouse!

There were beautiful flowers everywhere we looked!

We stopped in Hamilton for a quick 30 minute shopping spree.  We were strolling along the main drag when Carol got all giddy and started pointing, "Look," she said, "It's Marks & Spencer!"


All I saw was a line of motor scooters.  She pointed at the rooftop, then I saw it!


We used to have their stores in Canada but they left a number of years ago and my precious bride has been missing their Royal Jelly lotion for years.  She zeroed in on it in just a few minutes and picked up four tubes . . . that should do her for a few years!


Carol spotted a shirt shop to explore and I checked out a duty free liquor store.  Neither of us found any bargains, the duty free Balvenie Doublewood Single Malt that I like was more expensive in the duty free store than I pay at home in our Provincial liquor store.



We had to wait for a couple of stragglers so it was more like 40 minutes before we had the bus fully loaded and pulled out to continue our trek.


This old limestone church, shot through the coach window, was not painted pastel but Wow!  What an impressive structure!

There was a pretty pastel building, a pristine beach or a lush tropical scene around every corner.


Bermuda has to be very close to heaven!

This unfinished church in St. Georges is the most popular place in Bermuda for weddings.


Construction on the church, designed to seat 650 parishioners, began in 1874 but stopped very quickly because of bickering in the congregation and some financial woes.


The church has stood in the state you see in this picture for over 140 years and is now designated as a National Historic Site.

Near St. Georges Carol scoured Building Bay Beach, beside the Alexandra Battery, and picked up a handful of sea glass.


It is one of three beaches in Bermuda where natural currents bring in lots of sea glass.

 While Carol was picking glass I climbed to the top of the Alexandra Battery to enjoy the view.


Those two big guns used to sit atop the battery and point out to sea!

This is an empty placement where one of those guns used to sit.


At about 12:30 we stopped at the harbour in downtown St. Georges for a 30 minute lunch break.


The St. Georges Town Hall is pictured on the left.

The low grey building at the end of the wharf is the Bermuda Customs House.


That was the first stop Carol and I made, we had our passports stamped for the first time in decades!

We picked up some 'to-go' food from a nearby groceteria and ate it on a shaded picnic table in the Town Square, directly in front of the Town Hall and overlooking the harbour.  The food was tasty and the view was magnificent!


Beside our picnic table was Butterfields Bank, a British Financial Institution.  They appear to have a very firm collection policy!  Yes, those are stocks and pillories . . . I suggest that you keep your loan payments up-to-date!

We were back on the road shortly after 1:00 p.m. and the beautiful scenery just kept on coming!


On the right you can see what a $15 million home looks like in Bermuda.

It's too bad Carol and I aren't really 'beach people'.  Everywhere you look there is a vacant beach with immaculate white sand where you can wade out almost forever in the crystal clear 84º water!

We paused briefly beside this cemetery while Samuel explained how family plots work in Bermuda. 


It's a small island and land is in short supply.  To conserve space they dig the graves very deep, about 16 feet deep, and bury up to 12 family members in a single grave site.

Bermuda has hundreds of beaches, some large and some small, some with white sand and some with pink sand.  All of them are open to the public and most of them are virtually empty.


The one notable exception is Horseshoe Bay Beach, not far from the Gibb's Hill Lighthouse.  It's rated as one of the Top 10 beaches in the world and this is where all the tourists go.


It seems to be the only beach in all of Bermuda that's crowded!

We were back at King's Wharf at about 2:45 and agreed that the tour gave us full value for the cost.  We covered the island from one end to the other, saw many of the 350 churches and crossed each of the seven bridges that connect the main islands forming Bermuda.


Our guide, Sam, was humorous and very well informed.  His stories interpreted what we were seeing in a meaningful and imaginative way.  We stopped frequently for scenic photos, walks on the beach, lighthouses, bridges and notable homes and resorts.  It was a terrific experience!

We headed to our stateroom to freshen up and relaxed there for an hour, then went up to Deck 9 for a cold drink.


At about 5:00 p.m. the Anthem of the Seas blasted her horn to announce her departure so we headed to the stern to watch the big ship pull away from the dock.

Once they turned and started powering out to sea it was time for us to go get ready for our 6:30 dinner at Palo.


David, Janis, John and Sheila arrived shortly after we did, and we were seated promptly at 6:30 p.m.  It was a wonderful meal, a relaxing pace, delicious fare and exemplary service.


We finished at 8:50 and took a few minutes to change before Sailing off into the Bermuda Triangle!


It was a fun excursion.  David & Janis, John & Sheila, Carol & I boarded a glass-bottomed boat that was moored directly across the dock from the Magic, along with about 40 other adventurers and sailed directly into the Bermuda Triangle.


We crossed under the largest of Bermuda's seven bridges into the Atlantic Ocean on the south side of the island and our skipper took us slowly over a coral reef, again and again, while a guide gave us a running commentary of what we were all seeing through the glass-bottomed hull.  Coral of every colour and fish of every size.  Carol spotted a lobster and I'm pretty sure I saw an eel.


Then we  passed several times over the remains of the HMS Vixen, a British Navy ship that was launched in 1867.  She was designed to ram enemy ships during battle and sink them.  Alas, all the extra timbers required to make her able to ram her enemies also made her the slowest ship on the seas.  You can't ram what you can't catch!


The Vixen never found another purpose and in 1896 she was scuttled as a defensive measure to block a gap in the coral reef.


This was another tour that was well worthwhile!


We were home at midnight, all tuckered out after a wonderful day in paradise!

Wednesday Oct 17, 2018

This morning another glorious sunrise lit up our porthole!


Room service coffee arrived at 7:00 a.m. and we enjoyed it as Mother Nature put on a light show for us!

The colours were magnificent, the pictures really don't do them justice!

The silhouette of a ship approached in the midst of that bright light!

It was the Aida Luna which had been docked right beside us in New York City and tied up directly behind us at King's Wharf.

At 8:45 we both headed up to Deck 9 for breakfast at Cabanas and then made our way down to the gangplank on Deck 1 Aft.


We debarked and caught the trolley at about 9:30 - Destination the Clock Tower Market.

This building is also part of the old British fortifications and was an active naval base until 1951.


Today it houses some unique shops operated by local artists and artisans.

We toured the shops a lot more quickly than I expected.  Carol made no purchase at all!


Before long we were back on the trolley heading to a nearby man-made snorkel beach.

We had just settled into our seats on the trolley when our dinner mates hopped on just a few rows behind us.


We were just snooping, but they hoped to catch a few rays!


We dunked our toes, first at the swimming beach and then at the snorkel beach, then sat chatting with the gang for a while.


That scene pictured on the left could be Fort Henry back in our Canadian home town . . . except of course for the palm trees!


The time felt right for ice cream so we hopped on the trolley again and rode to a local ice cream shop we had passed a few times.  The ice cream was OK - not great, just barely OK.


We walked back down the wharf to the ship, and boarded at noon.  We're due to cast off for the trip home at 3:00 p.m.

Goofy has been painting the stern of this ship since 1998.  He must be tired!

We put on our bathing suits and headed to the Quiet Cove Pool on Deck 9.  It's the adult only area of the ship and as usual it was quiet and peaceful.


We had a relaxing soak in the hot tub and a refreshing dip in the pool, then adjourned to Cabanas for lunch.


Napping ensued!


The ship's horn sounded at 3:00 p.m. so we headed back up to Deck 9 to watch the sail-away, then went back down to our stateroom and watched our progress from our balcony.


We had a great view as we left Bermuda behind.


We went to a brand new Disney show, Rapunzel - the Musical in the Walt Disney Theatre at 6:15.  It was cute, not one of our favourites, but well worth seeing.


After the show we went back to our cabin to change into our Pirate Night togs, then off we went to the Promenade Lounge.  Carol went to the little snack counter and made a small plate of nachos.  On about the second chip I ate there was a major spill - SPLAT - guacamole all over my shirt!


When Carol packs for a trip she counts out how many meals we're going to eat and then she packs me a fresh shirt for each meal.  That guacamole spill put me one over par . . . we're not sure that I have enough shirts to make it home!


I changed once again and we went to Animator’s Palate for dinner.


It was 'animated place mat' night.  Each guest is given a place mat with a blank area where you draw a character using a felt-tipped marker.


The place mats are gathered up, scanned and later in the evening they all come to life on screens all around the dining room.  They dance to Disney songs and sometimes with Disney characters!

That's Carol's figure, second from the right.


I'm the guy with the moustache and the thin hair to Carol's right.


There's our table: Dave, Janis, Gary, Sheila, Carol and JR


In keeping with the 'bad food' theme, the Lobster Bisque was dreadful.  Three of us ordered it and all three sent it back!

After dinner the six of us made our way up to Deck 10 for the Pirates In The Caribbean Party.  It was cool and windy and the party was certainly not crowded.


The cast members put on good show and livened up what little crowd there was!

It was a very windy night so Mickey Mouse didn’t fly during the big battle scene, but the fireworks show went on!


We were back to our cabin by 11:00 and crashed after another nice day in Bermuda.

Thursday Oct 18, 2018

There was no pretty sunrise this morning!  The seas were angry and the sky was a sullen grey.  It was 68º with 30 MPH headwinds and 10 foot swells were rocking the ship.


As usual we had room service coffee in our cabin.

Where did that beautiful aquamarine water go?

Carol did a bit of packing before we headed up to Deck 9 to meet the gang at 9:00 a.m. for breakfast at Cabanas.


There's always plenty to do on the ship when the weather doesn't cooperate.  I went with Carol to deck 9; she went to the spa to enjoy her 'Rainforest Package' while I sat I reading in a sheltered corner outside the Cove Café.


We were sailing northwest at about 24MPH and battling a 30 MPH headwind.  That resulted in an 'apparent wind speed' of 50 MPH.  I found out that 'sheltered corner' is a relative term in 50 MPH winds.  The cold breeze drove me inside Cove Café at 11:00 a.m.


At  11:35 I headed back to the stateroom, Carol followed moments later . . . she was very relaxed.


We decided to beat the crowd at Shutters, the photo shop on Deck 4.  There was one picture we wanted to pick up and by this evening the shop would be teeming with people buying pictures from the cruise.


At 12:30 we wandered back to Cabanas for lunch and our Head Server at dinner, Franklin, spotted us as we entered.  He directed us to the very back where David, Janis, John & Sheila were sitting.  We joined them for our last shipboard lunch.


We were back to the stateroom at 1:15.  I read for a while and Carol did some more packing.  We had just dozed off when we were roused by a PA bulletin instructing the Assessment Team to get to a cabin on Deck 2.  Wonder what the Assessment Team does?


Late in the afternoon we took an Arctic hike around Deck 9.  Even the Canadian kids had abandoned the swimming pools.  We stopped for soft serve ice cream and Carol just had to have one of the Sven mugs - yup, we really need another Disney mug!  The cold winds soon drove us back indoors and we found some excitement on Deck 4.


The bingo crowd in Fathoms were rowdy!  They were making so much noise that they put O'Gills, the Irish Pub next door, to shame!

Carol did a bit of pin trading and on our way back to the stateroom we stopped briefly on Deck 9 for a late afternoon snack.  Carol and I have been together for so long that I seem to always know what she's thinking.


I began to sense some gentle vibrations that told me she's had about enough of the camera, so I put it away for a while!


Later Carol wanted to take advantage of the last Pin Trading opportunity, so at 7:30 we headed to Preludes, near the Walt Disney Theatre.  The ship's senior officers all put on their spiffiest dress whites and add some heavily laded pin trading lanyards.  They stand in a semi-circle in front of the Walt Disney Theatre while rabid traders attack them from all quarters.  It's quite a sight to behold!



Dinner was once again at Rapunzel’s Royal Table.  I was feeling a bit chilled before we left for dinner and by the time our entrées arrived I was shivering and shaking.  I left early and went straight to bed . . . we had enjoyed a wonderful cruise and that sure wasn't the way I wanted to end it!


Everyone else was anxious to see the Buckets & Boards show at Fathoms so I was surprised when Carol arrived home at 10:00.  Everyone had decided to call it a night as soon as dinner was done.


Friday Oct 19, 2018

By the time we woke up we were docked in New York City.  I think I heard the thrusters roar as they pushed us toward the dock . . . but it could have been a side-effect of my cold medication!


There was no room service available on our last morning.  That meant we had to rough-it with to-go coffee from Deck 9.  I made the coffee run at 6:30 and we sipped it in our cabin as we waited for the 'All clear to go ashore' announcement.


It was exactly 7:00 a.m. when we disembarked from Deck 3 Midship, dragging all of our luggage.  Our flight was scheduled for 12:10 a.m. so an early departure was a must!


We had pre-booked Disney Transportation to La Guardia Airport and the coach was waiting just outside the terminal.  We waited about 10 minutes for a few more people to arrive then made way out of the dockyards and into Manhattan traffic.  The trip across Manhattan to La Guardia in Queens took about an hour.  We were there in plenty of time.


We had planned to have breakfast at airport but neither of us really felt like eating so we each had a coffee and shared a donut.


Delta Flight DL5453 was just a few minutes late pulling away from the gate, but our flight was smooth and uneventful.  We touched down at Syracuse New York at 1:35 p.m.  It seems like Syracuse Hancock International Airport has been under construction for a decade!  Today we deplaned and entered the terminal building at the extreme north end, then had to walk all the way to the south end to get down to the ground floor.  Then we walked all the way back to the extreme north end to pick up our luggage and all the way back to the south end where the only exit to the parking garage is!


I think we got our daily allotment of 10,000 steps all done . . . and all of them in the airport!  It sure will be nice when the construction is done!


We made a brief stop for Mickey lamp parts at Home Depot in Watertown New York then made the final sprint to the border.  We arrived at Canada Customs at 4:00 p.m.  After three routine questions the agent waved us through and welcomed us home.


We got home to a trio of very excited dogs at 4:30.


What a great trip!