Thursday, 3 May 2018

2018 (March) Ms Koningsdam Trans Atlantic Fort Lauderdale to Rome

Tuesday 27 March 2018

I was awake by 2.30am and started to get ready as I was being picked up by my friend Steve at 4am. I was a little concerned as we had very heavy continuous rain during the night so there is that possibility of flooding. Also Steve had to come in from the Northern Beaches to collect me and cross the Barron River.

Anyhow Steve arrived just on 4 am and he told me flood waters had closed some of the roads. He dropped me off at the airport about 4.25 am and I was checked in and through security in time to get a coffee in the Qantas Club before the flight was called. 
The flight took off on time at 5.30 am and it was a relief to get of the ground with all the rain.
The arrival in Brisbane and the transfer to the International terminal went very smoothly and in no time I was up in the Qantas Club having brekkie by a little after 8 am. 

Then we were told our flight would be delayed as they had found an oil leak in one of the engines. Naturally I preferred them to fix the problem on the ground even though there would be a delay.

I phoned Steve to check if he got home ok,

and was surprised to hear he was unable to get home as the Barron River had flooded and he had gone back into town to get some brekkie. He ended up getting a ride in a motor boat by some fisherman and got home mid-afternoon.

We finally left Brisbane 5 hours late so I knew my LA to Fort Lauderdale connections would be missed. At this stage I didn’t know if I was going to get to the Port on time to catch the ship.

About 4 hours into the flight the head Attendant came to give me the news they had me on a connection to Fort Lauderdale so I was able to relax and get some sleep in my Business lay flat seat module. Actually it was a very good flight.

I only had a short time in LAX for the transfer to terminal 5 and the new flight and got on a flight to Charlotte NC and as by boarding showed the same flight number all the way to Fort Lauderdale. 
I presumed I would be on the same aircraft for the next segment. No NO No I had to get on another aircraft and finally arrived at Fort Lauderdale at 1 am  and got a Taxi to my hotel as I didn’t want to wait around for the shuttle.
It was heaven to have a hot shower and get into bed.

Wed 28 March 2018

I was woken by knocking on the door and was surprised to find it was just after 7 am and Vickie had arrived. She had just flown in from LA and we had arranged to have Brekkie together before going on the shuttle to the Port. Vickie was catching the Veendam and I was dropped off at the Koningsdam.

For Fort Lauderdale the check in procedure went fairly swiftly and I was in my cabin by 11.30am.

I had lunch in the dining room, before doing the unpacking and getting settled in. At 2.30 I went up to the Crows Nest for the Mariners welcome back drinks. I was greeted by Herbert the Head Barman who has been on many cruises that I have been on over the past 10 years so I was well looked after.

Then there was the mandatory safety drill which was conducted in the Dining room,  much more civilised than being out on the deck.
As I came out of the Dining room I was claimed by Susan and her friend Carol. What a pleasant surprise as we had first met on the Volendam about 5 years ago. 

We arranged to meet up for dinner at the Tamarind . As usual the meal and service was excellent in the relaxed atmosphere . Many of the staff knew me so it was a hoot of a time.
I called it a night after a night cap at the Ocean Bar and was up in the cabin by 11 pm.

Thursday 29 March 2018

I slept in a bit as we lost an hour last night so it was after 8 am by the time I made it up to the Deli for brekkie. I had a Ham and egg bagel and some serial  with a coffee.

I came back to the cabin got back into bed and slept for 4 hours. I went up to the Deli for a toasted Ham and tomato sandwich for lunch.
I caught up with Susan and Carol for Happy Hour and I think we were the liveliest folk at the bar for a fun filled session.
We met up for dinner and were directed to the upper level section of the dining room. The meal and the service were excellent.
I decided on only one night cap after dinner in the Ocean Bar. I love sea days as they are a great way to relax and get over the jet lag. I was in bed by 10.30 pm.

Fri 30 March 2018

Another Sea Day and as has been the custom during the crossing Mr Sun is lazy and rises after 7.30 am.  I went up to the New York Deli on deck 10 for brekkie. This place is a well-kept secret and great for a quiet brekkie. Although the menu is limited I enjoy the serial and ham and eggs followed by green tea.

I have a lot of interaction with the guys working up there so it is lots of fun. I enjoy sea days as I can rest up so I went back to bed and was surprised that I slept until just before 2 pm and  made it late to the wine tasting with Susan.

We then went up to the New York Deli for a sandwich to have as a late lunch before going to Happy Hour in the Billboard. I got a pleasant surprise as Larry and Cathy walked in and claimed me. They were a nice couple I met last year on the Westerdam’s crossing. It was beaut catching up with them and they got on with Susan and Carol as they had spent some of their life in San Diego.

Carol, Susan and I met up at 7.15 pm to go to the Dining room for dinner. It was a Gala (Galah) night so we were all in the glad rags. It was a fun filled meal with heaps of laughs.
I adjourned to the Crows Nest for a night cap and had an early night as I was in bed by 11 pm.

Sat 31 March 2018

There was no time change today so I woke up on time and was showered and up at the deck 19 Deli for brekkie by 7.30am. This brekkie venue is the best kept secret on the ship as it is never crowded and the staff are very friendly.
Then I was down to cabin to do some blog catch up before I had a little rest on the bed and fell asleep for a few hours.
The stats of the passengers for this cruise are:-
                Yanks                    1725
                Canadians           500
                Dutch                    57
                German               48
                Poms                     45
                Mexicans             25
                Aussies                 16
There were a total of 36 nations and the nationalities not mentioned had numbers in single didgets.
The guest status is as follows
                5 Star    80
                4 Star    283
                3 Star    516
                2 Star    471
                1 Star    683
                First timers         467

After a pizza late lunch at the deli I went to the talk on the first port of the Azores which is Praia Da Victoria on Wednesday 4 April.

Then it was time for Happy Hour which was very popular. I was joined by Susan and Carol towards the end of the happy hour and then we went into dinner in the dining room.
It was a great meal and we had heaps of laughs.

I decided to have an early night and was up in bed by 10 pm.

Sunday 1 April 2018

I forgot to put the time forward an hour before going to bed so it was 9 am by the time I made it up to brekkie in the Deli.
Today is another sea day as we make our way across the Atlantic so a good excuse to have a restful day.

After spending some time working on the blog it was time to meet up with Carol and Susan in the Lido for lunch and Susan wanted to get a letter off so I lent her my PC for Carol to type it up and send it off.
Susan and I then went to Happy hour in the Billboard and had a great time as we are getting to know the regulars.
After a quick shower and shave it was time to meet the girls for dinner. Heavens forbid we had to share the table with a boring guy from California and a nice Italian bloke. After Mr boring left we had a great time.
Susan suggested she and I go up to the Crows Nest for a night cap. Well we stayed up there a little longer than we had planned as Larry and Cathy arrived and joined us. They are always beaut company so the time slipped by very quickly and the drinks went down very well also.
It was after 11.30 by the time I made it to bed.

Monday 2 April 2018

I had a very slow and restful day and joined Susan and Carol for a late lunch in the Lido.

After lunch Susan wanted to use my computer again to email off her letter so that took up the rest of the afternoon and then it was time to get ready to go to the Cellar Masters Dinner which was a very enjoyable experience as we worked our way through the menu and the selected wines.

I called it an early night and was in bed by 10 pm.

Tuesday 3 April 2018.

Today is the final sea day before we arrive in the Azores so after 6 sea days most of the troops are looking forward to  getting off the ship tomorrow.

I met up with Carol and we went to the dining room for brekkie. Shock and Horror would you believe there is no Vegemite on the ship so strawberry jam had to do on my croissant instead.  It was a most enjoyable meal and the service was excellent.
A relaxing morning followed and I caught up with the blog and got some laundry sorted out. For lunch I joined Susan and Carol up in the Deli and I had a Papaku Pizza. 

Then it was off to the lecture on the ports to be visited. OMG we got to the theatre 15 minutes early and even then it over flowing with folk standing in the walk ways. I managed to get a single seat in the middle of a long row.
I called in at Happy Hour after the talk and was entertained by some Canadians.

Tonight was Galah night so it was into the glad rags to get ready for dinner. We went to the Papaku table in the dining room for another excellent meal.

Susan and I adjourned to the Ocean Bar for a night cap where we could hear the BB King music in the distance. We then went into the Queens Lounge where the BB King group were playing so we had another nightcap there.

I was up in the cabin by 10.30 pm so it was good to have another early night.

Wednesday 4 April 2018

Today we arrived in Praia da Vitoria, Azores. It was great to see land again and the very green fields on the undulating hillsides as we had brekkie in the dining room.
We arranged to meet up at 9.30 am to catch the shuttle into the village. It was only as short 10 minute trip from the port and around the bay to the township. It was cold and windy for our arrival and the dark clouds warned of a threat of rain could happen at any time.

We walked down the Rue de Jesus a narrow paved road in typical Portuguese black and white stone small tiles. I found a phone shop and was able to purchase a European Sim Card for my phone which was a priority.
Susan and Carol kept popping into little shops to look at the fabrics while I played with my phone outside. After a while we found a coffee shop out of the wind and enjoyed a coffee. We were serenaded by a group of singing minstrels singing traditional folk songs
Just as we finished our coffee the cold rain started so we headed back up the slight hill to the shuttle pick up point. The rain eased off a bit however the wind gusts increased and it seemed everyone had the same idea to get the shuttle back to the ship.

The ques were long and of course some ugly folk wanted to jump the que so the people power won and they were shamed with having to go and get on the end of the line. We finally got on the 3rd bus to come along. Boy oh boy it was beaut to get into the warm vehicle.

Back on the ship I went up to the Deli to have a toasted ham and tomato sandwich and then it was time to go to the Billboard for Happy hour. I was joined by Larry and Cathy so we had heaps of laughs and then just before Happy hour ended Susan and Carol came and joined us.
I didn’t have enough time for a nap as I had to get ready for dinner. The 3 of us had a good time at dinner with heaps of laughs.

Susan and I went and had I night cap and listened to a segment of the BB King show with Cathy and Larry.

I made it to bed by 10.45 pm.

Thursday 5 April 2018

The ship actually arrived at Ponta Delgada, Azores at 1 am while I was asleep.
I went up to the Deli for a light brekkie of serial and croissants and may I say what a terrible cold, wet and windy day it turned out to be. It seemed such an effort to think of going out in the port. I decided I would go back to bed to warm up.

Late morning Susan phoned me to say she had organised a car to drive us around the sights of the Island. I agreed to go with her and Carol and what a great day we had.

We visited lakes and other villages as well as a Pineapple farm which I found very interesting as the pineapples are grown in greenhouses. It takes nearly 2 years to grow and the fully grown fruit compared with Queensland or Hawaiian pineapples are very small. It is quiet complicated process. .
After touring for over 3 hours  on the country lanes and through the stone walled fields it reminded me of Ireland. We were lucky as the sun came out for the last hour and this brightened up the scenery.

We had Pizzas for a late lunch when we returned to the ship and I even missed out on going to Happy hour. I witnessed our departure from my balcony and the city looked much brighter now with the sun out and the clouds cleared than it was in the rain when I woke up in the morning.

The 3 of us had dinner at the Papaku table in the dining room. I had a pork chop and it was done to perfection. We had a enjoyable meal and lots of laughs recounting stories of the day as our driver had little to no English so we had lots of humourist hand signs.

I was up in bed by 9.30 pm.

Friday 6 April 2018.

Another sea day and a good excuse for a sleep in this morning. 
I met up with Susan for a cuppa tea before going down to the dining room for the Mariner’s Lunch.

The lunch was crowded and I was not impressed with the menu choices. Susan and I had a good time and heaps of laughs.
After lunch I went up to the cabin for a rest and another episode of Downton Abby before going to Happy Hour in the Billboard.

I enjoyed lamb chops for dinner and then we adjourned to the Crows Nest for a night cap or two. There was a good group up there and finally got away and down to bed about 11.30 pm.

Saturday 7 April 2018

I took advantage of another sea day and slept in until 11.30 am. There was heaps of motion in the ocean as the wind was very strong, so the rocking was very conducive to sleeping.

I had a toasted ham sandwich and green tea for brunch in the lido. I spent the remainder of the arvo in bed watching Downton Abby.

Only Susan and I went to dinner and they served one of my favourites (Veil Cordon Blur) a most enjoyable dinner.
I was up in bed by 9.45 pm as we are planning a big day tomorrow in the Malaga, Spain.

Sunday 8 April 2018

I went up to the Lido for a quick light brekkie as we had arranged to meet at 8.30 am before going out to get a car and explore Malaga.

Although I have been here twice before I had never gone out into the countryside and nearby villages. What a day we had and a excellent driver who used his phone to translate his comments into English. Because of his special Taxi licence he was able to drive us into areas that no other traffic could go into so no heaps of walking for us.

We called in to the Casa Museo in the village of Mijas Pueblo and learnt about the local wine making over the past centuries.

The views from the mountain ranges were spectacular as we looked over lower villages and out to sea.

We toured the Old Town Malaga in the car and this saved a lot of walking.  Sergio took us to the ruins of the old Roman Forum and then on to a local wine bar to sample the wine.
What a great day we had and I will let the photos do the talking.

We returned to the ship to have a late lunch. I had the Papaku Masarap Chicken Burger up on the Lido pool area.

Then it was time to go to Happy Hour in the Billboard which was a fun time. 

After all this activity I decided to have a few hours sleep before going to the Pinnacle Grill for dinner.

 There was only one friendly Indonesian waiter and the rest of the waiters seemed to be not so friendly Europeans and other nationalities. The manager came nowhere near us and it wasn’t a busy night. This PG did not seem to have the same atmosphere compared with the PG’s on the other ships. The meal was OK but not the greatest.

We left there just after 10 pm so I decided to call it a night.

Monday 9 April 2018.

Today we arrived at Cartagena Spain before the sun got up. I had a leisurely brekkie in the in the dining room for a change.

Susan had some banking business to attend to so she and Carol went off together. I only got off the ship for a short walk and get some photos of the marina. I was here twice last year and as it was a bit cold and windy I decided not to stay out too long. Except for the wind it was a nice sunny day.

I had lunch in the Lido and made a roast chicken sandwich and had some pork crackling which was a strange combination.

I had a nannanap before going to the Billboard for Happy Hour. It was a lively HH and Susan and I were joined by Larry and Cathy.
Larry and Cathy joined me for dinner in the Tamarind and had a very enjoyable meal. The food and service is always excellent at the Tamarind. 

We adjourned to the Crows Nest and joined up with Susan where we had a few night caps. I think it was about midnight by the time I got to bed.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

The last day and a sea day so I had a big sleep in and then went up to the Deli for a light brekkie about 11 am.

I caught up briefly with Susan and Carol before they had a late brekkie. My laundry and dry cleaning came back by the time returned to the cabin.

I was amazed how quickly I got the packing organised so then I had a nannanap for most of the afternoon. I didn’t go to Happy Hour today as I want to have an alcohol free day to be fit for the long haul flights tomorrow.

Susan Carol and I had the last supper in the Dining Room Its always sad on the last night in having to say all the goodbyes to new friends and the crew.

I came up to the cabin to do the finishing touches to the packing and get the luggage out into the hallway for collection.
I made it to bed by 11.30 pm.

Wednesday 11 April 2018
I woke feeling fresh and relaxed after a good night sleep. I arranged room service brekkie to give me maximum time before leaving the ship.

I departed the ship at 8.45 am and then went through the Immigration and Customs before getting on the shuttle to go to the airport.

My First flight is with British Airways and the snooty Italian check in girl told me I had to wait out in the public area until 3 hours before the flight departure time before I could check in.

So now I had to lug my bags upstairs and wait for 2 Hours in the crowded public area. Finally I was able to go down and check in and at least get rid of the big bag.

The security and immigration procedures went very efficiently and in no time,  I was up in the Alitalia/British Air Lounge enjoying the peace and quiet of this hideaway. As a matter of fact, there were only 3 other folks in this relatively large lounge.

They have green apple juice and it is so refreshing with a nip of Vodka. I made myself a ham and salad croissant to have as a light lunch as I caught up with emails and FB.

The time passed very quickly, and I then had to board my flight. OMG BA seems to be getting more no extras it would make Jet Star look like generous cut price carrier. At least American Airlines give you a cuppa and a bickie as well as water.  This was an International flight and we had to pay even for water. Fortunately, the Lounge lady gave me a bottle of water to take on the flight.

The jam-packed flight to London was un eventful and I got in about an hour’s sleep.

Boy oh boy I’m getting to be an expert at transferring from Terminal 5 to Terminal 3 and I was amazed that within 35 minutes from getting off the flight I was checking into the new Qantas Business Lounge in Terminal 3. It’s pretty flash and I was well looked after for the 3 hours before boarding the flight.

QF 2 now goes from Heathrow via Singapore to Sydney and not via Dubai as when I booked it so that was a bit of a surprise with the long leg (12 hrs) first then the shorter leg of 7 hours second.

I was upgraded to business class from London to Sydney and was well looked after on both segments.

Thursday 12 April 2018

The short stop over in Singapore was most enjoyable as I was met by the new duty manager and he escorted me to a nice table and quickly organised me a G&T to relax me. I took advantage of having a shave and cleaning my teeth while there. I didn’t feel like eating so I didn’t take advantage of their excellent dining facilities.

Back on the aircraft I found I had a new fellow sitting beside me, so we had a bit of a chat before taking off and after that we settled into our private compartments for the flight. I managed to get in about 3 hours sleep in my flat bed/seat capsule.

Friday 13 April 2018

We were awoken to have brekkie at about 3.45 am as our arrival in Sydney was 5.05 am just after the curfew had ended.

The immigration customs and duty-free purchases went very swiftly and efficiently and within 30 minutes of getting off the aircraft I was having a light brekkie in the Qantas Business Lounge.

It was a short stop over and I was soon on the final flight for trip home. After taking my seat I think I was asleep before we were in the air and only woke when the plane was being prepared for landing in Cairns. I missed out on brekkie.

The warm tropical air greeted me and welcomed me home after leaving the aircraft. I was soon out in the pickup area for my friend Steve to came along and take me home. 

We called into the super market to get some basic supplies to see me over until shopping tomorrow.
The temp in Cairns was 30 C with a cooling sea breeze making it a great welcome home temp.

The Videos below are by kind permission of my good friend Susan Rathbone