St. Mark's Cruies '04 LogoSt. Mark's Cruise
New England/Canada
Jewel of the Seas
October, 2004

By Jack Welsch

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In 2001, Linda had organized a cruise as a fundraiser for our church in Moscow, PA, St. Mark's. At the time, we'd discussed a number of options, one of which was a cruise to New England and Canada but, in the end, Bermuda won out. My parents were among those who went on that trip and last year they asked when we were going to New England and Canada. Spurred by that interest, Linda once again took on the challenge of putting a tour together. Unfortunately, Linda couldn't find as good a deal financially but it was still OK and we figured we'd have a good time and make a few bucks for the church even if only the four of us went. In the end, 16 people went on this one. As I've often done in the past, I've divided this page into sections on the ship, the ports, and my diary.

The ship for this one was Royal Caribbean's brand new Jewel of the Seas, part of the Radiance family. It had only come on line in about April so it was spanking new and it still had much of the shakedown crew. At 90,000 tons and with a passenger capacity of 2500, it's a large ship if not the largest afloat. My first impression was less than perfect but it improved as time went on.

Our Cabin

Out cabin, 9594, was a "Superior Ocean-View Stateroom" with 204 square feet of space and a 41 square foot balcony. I was a little concerned about noise since it was very close to the Centrum but I needn't have worried; the door was like a bank vault. Once it was closed, no noise got through whatever. While not as large as some we've had, it was certainly adequate and was very pleasant.

The Centrum

The CentrumLike so many of the newer ships, the ship had a central atrium called the Centrum. This one ran from Deck 4 to Deck 11 and had a beautiful mobile designed to evoke thoughts of the Aurora Borealis. Through it ran five elevators, three of which had windows that looked over the sea! Because there was often a crowd waiting for the elevators and so that we'd get a little exercise, Lin and I normally used the stairs anyway. On Deck 4 were the main desks and the Lobby Bar. The Centrum is, to us at least, the heart of the ship. On Deck 12 directly above the Centrum is the "Crown and Anchor Lounge". In the center of that is a large circular window looking directly down through the center of the Centrum. The view was fascinating by both day and night.

Tides Dining Room

The main dining room is a two-story affair with a large central staircase connecting the two levels. The lower level is on Deck 4 with the entrance right at the Centrum. Breakfast and lunch are open seating while dinner is the traditional two seatings. Seatings were at 5:30 and 8:30, the earliest we've seen and, this is the only time I've seen the main (early) seating sold out with a waiting list.

We had late seating because early makes it too tight when you return from a port. Our table, 422 was on the lower level, starboard side. The food on this cruise was pretty good and the service at dinner was spectacular. Our waitress, Eugenia, was absolutely phenomenal! On the few occasions when we ate breakfast and lunch there, both the food and the service were disappointing.

Other places to eat

The primary alternative for meals was the Windjammer Café, located on deck 11 aft. It's a buffet open for all three meals. Food was relatively good but it was sometimes a tad difficult to find a place to sit. It'd be a little better on a warm itinerary 'cause there's a lot more seating outside. At breakfast, there were one or more chefs doing omelets and they did a respectable job of keeping up with demand. We never tried it for dinner so have no opinion on that subject.

Seaview CaféOn Deck 12 aft is the small but very nice Seaview Café where one can get hamburgers, chili, nachos, etc. We were well into the cruise before we tried it and that was a shame as it was a very nice place to grab a quick snack.

Like many of the newer ships, this one had two "premium" restaurants, Portofino Italian Restaurant and Chops Grille, a steak house. There was an extra charge per person of $10 for lunch and $20 for dinner. We had lunch one at-sea day in the Portofino and it was worth every penny.

Of course, room service is available 24/7 and, as always, we ordered early morning coffee every evening that we set the alarm. If you have to get up, it might as well be to a cup of coffee or tea!

Bars, Lounges, etc.

Lobby BarOn every cruise, it seems we end up with a "default" lounge. In this case it was the Lobby Bar in the Centrum. Throughout my diary, there are references to drinks in the Centrum. They refer to this bar. It's a small lounge which often featured a small combo. The ambiance, music and service were all excellent so we spent a lot of time there but it was really too small for the number of people aboard. We found we needed to get there early to find a seat.

The Safari Club was also nice but there was either no music at all there or it was the site of a special event so we never settled on it simply as a place to hang out. The ship's deck plan shows a number of lounges in that area but we referred to them collectively as the Safari Club.

On other Royal Caribbean ships, we'd always found the "Viking Crown Lounge" to be a perfect hangout, especially when leaving port. On this ship, they transformed the Viking Crown into a couple of venues, the Vortex (a disco) and the Hollywood Odyssey (a cigar bar). In my eyes, at least, the change is for the worse.

The Coral Theater is where the major shows are presented. It's a two-story deal located on decks 5 and 6 forward. It's pretty typical.

On some ships we'd spent a lot of time in the Schooner Bar but not on this one. I think it was primarily because the music generally wan't to our liking. It wasn't bad, just not our thing. There's also a Champagne bar, a pool bar, a bar at the solarium pool, a bar in the casino and probably a bunch of others that escape my memory right now. Suffice it to say there's no reason to go thirsty.


Main PoolBecause of the itinerary and calendar, the main pool was not terribly important for this trip but I think on a warm itinerary, it'd be inadequate. Even with lots of seating around the main pool, we've often been frustrated by not finding a suitable spot unless we got up with the rooster. On this ship, seating around the pool is decidedly limited. There's a nice solarium pool with an Indian (as in India, not the wild west) theme. It was very restful. There's the now-obligatory rock-climbing wall, a special pool with water slide for kids, a basketball court and a miniature golf course. As always, there's a jogging track and a fitness center.

Bar Harbor, Maine

The name of this town is well known and, in truth, it is rather quaint. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, it's pretty touristy. Nonetheless, we enjoyed it and did nothing more than wander around and have lunch. There were a zillion shops but I didn't see anything compelling about any of them The scenery, however, is magnificent and it's pretty hard to take a bad photograph! Cute place. See more detail in day 2 of my diary.

Halifax & Peggy's Cove, NS

It was probably unfortunate that we were in Halifax on a Sunday as a lot of things were closed. However, we didn't have nearly enough time to see whet we wanted to see so this is definitely on the "must return" list! Except for a very enjoyable but brief visit to the Citadel, we didn't spend much time in Halifax itself, having decided to visit Peggy's Cove. While it is also overrun with tourists, Peggy's Cove is absolutely stunning. It's even tinier than I'd envisioned but there's a lot of "quaint" packed into a small area. A person who fails to bring back a ton of great photos is a person without a camera! The drive between the two places was also picturesque, enhanced by the autumn leaves. This was just a great place to visit. See more detail in day 3 of my diary.

Sydney, NS

Honestly, I'm not sure why the ship stopped here. Even the people at Avis in Halifax couldn't make much of a recommendation on what to do in Sydney. To make matters infinitely worse, the weather during our visit was positively vile and even the best place is lousy when the weather is bad. If there's anything at all to do in Sydney itself, I'm not aware of it. However, as described in my diary, Louisbourg is definitely worth a visit. I'm also told that the Cabot Trail is great but it really takes a lot of time and I don't think we could have done it justice during our brief stay. See more detail in day 4 of my diary.

Quebec City

What a town! I love Montreal but, as I'd heard, this is even better. A warning to the Franco-phobes, however: the French influence is very strong. In some ways, I think it may be stronger here than in Paris! Many signs are in French only. However, with the exception of the one jerk to whom I referred in my diary, the people were universally pleasant and universally spoke excellent English. As one might expect, the food was magnificent. There were lots of delightful shops and street vendors. This is most definitely on the must-return list! See more detail in day 6 of my diary.

St. John. NB

It might have been the lousy weather but this is another town that didn't press my hot button. We did some wandering around but, with the exception of a nice visit to Trinity Church, didn't see much to turn our heads. As I say, it was probably just a reaction to the miserable weather. See more detail in day 9 of my diary.
Portland, Maine

This was a most pleasant surprise! Because it's a fairly large city, I wasn't looking forward to this stop at all but, boy, was I wrong! This is a seriously cute town! There are a lot of nice shops but somehow it doesn't feel like a tourist trap. The waterfront is quaint and the lighthouses are absolutely magnificent. This is yet another on the must-return list! See more detail in day 10 of my diary.

Day 1 - Friday - Departure

The alarm went off at 4:30 AM & we were at the church (the meeting point for departure) by 5:30. The bus arrived just after 6:00. The driver, Harold, began loading luggage into the rear compartment. Amazingly, everything fit! We set off in the dark at about 6:10 with all but Alan & Gloria; they were to drive from New Jersey.

The dawn revealed a beautiful, clear autumn day. We stopped briefly at a McDonald's in Southbury, CT, arrived in Boston itself at 11:30 and were aboard by 12:30. After dropping the bags in the room, we had a very good lunch in the Windjammer. We ran into Alan & Gloria so we sat with them by the taffrail while they ate, then explored the ship together. I can't decide whether I like this ship; it's beautiful & there's lots to do but it's very broken up & there's very little seating near the main pool.

Leaving BostonMuch to our delight, the bags arrived early & we had some of our gear stowed even before the lifeboat drill. With the lifeboat drill out of the way, we went to the bow rail for departure & stayed there until we were well into the channel. It was getting pretty cold on deck so we returned to the room, finished unpacking, and changed for dinner. We decided to skip the show & ended up in the Safari Club for our before-dinner drink. It's a very nice venue but there was no music so we wandered some more & eventually looked in on the show. Neither of us is normally big on jugglers but this guy, Jeff Harris, was damned good.

At dinner, there was a bit of a mix-up as they'd mis-assigned the table numbers and 8 of us were assigned to a table for 4. That was quickly resolved, though. At our table were Alan & Gloria, Eunice & Linda & Linda & I. Louise & Laurel had also been assigned to our table but switched to main seating so those seats remained empty. Our server, Eugenia & her assistant, Rommel, are both from Philippines. She is particularly friendly. Tarryn, the head-waiter, is from South Africa. Lin and I both had cod but prepared differently & both were pretty good.

The others quit early but Lin & spent some time searching unsuccessfully for Mom & Dad. Eventually, we gave up & crashed.

Day 2 - Saturday - Bar Harbor, ME

We both slept relatively well but were up a bit before 8:00. We got our breakfast in the Windjammer and ate it by the taffrail, then went topside to get an overview of the harbor. This was a tender port so, once we were ready, we had to pick up a tender ticket, then wait almost an hour before our number was called. While we were waiting, Mom & Dad came buy. They had number 6 (we had 4) so I suggested Dad get his cell & call me when they got ashore so we could have lunch together. When our number was called, we went down to find total chaos as they'd not yet debarked everyone from the previous number. It was pure Bedlam down there! I hate tender ports!

Bar HarborWe eventually got into Bar Harbor & began to explore. I tried a couple of times to call Dad but without success. We kept looking for them & Lin eventually spotted them near the dock. They'd just arrived and Dad had no cell service from Sprint. We agreed to meet at 12:10 and set off again. This town is rather cute but terribly touristy; I don't have a powerful need to return.

We decided on the West Street Café for lunch. I had steamed mussels to start & they were quite good. Dad & I had lobster. He said his was tough. Mine was OK but I think it was the smallest I've ever had. They were billed as 1-1/8 to 1-1/4 lb but I'm skeptical. In any case, it was a nice lunch & we set out again, this time to explore the shore trail. Mom & Dad started out with us but a guy from UK commented on Dad's Rotary jacket so they stopped to chat while Lin & I continued to follow the shore path for maybe 1/2 mile, then took a path into town.

We decided to visit St. Savior Episcopal church & were fortunate in that a tour was almost finished. Had we been a few minutes later, the door would have been locked.

Jewel of the SeasWhen we got to the tender dock for the ride back to the ship, confusion reigned once more but we eventually got aboard the tender. Lin stayed inside but I was able to ride on top & that was at least not too crowded. When we got to the room, Lin naturally took a nap. I wrote in the room for a while but eventually moved to the Solarium area to finish catching up on my diary.

Tonight was formal night. We got dressed & tried without success to find a bar with music so we ended up at the Captain's cocktail party where a waiter promptly dropped a tray of Champagne, drenching my left leg! I got pretty well cleaned up & they gave me a voucher for dry cleaning.

Dinner was French. I had escargots & duck á l'orange & both were excellent. Lin had pear soup & filet mignon which she proclaimed "OK". After dinner we set of to find my folks. We figured they'd be in the Schooner but took a quick look in the Centrum. We didn't see them but the trio was playing a slow song so we decided to dance. Just as the song finished, Lin noticed the folks about 3 feet away sitting with a couple from CA. We joined them for a bit & had a portrait taken of the four of us. Eventually, we gave up & went to bed.

Day 3 - Sunday - Halifax, NS

Peggy's CoveThe clocks had been moved forward an hour to Atlantic Time. We got up at 7:30 with delivery of our coffee & tea and I ran up on deck to watch us come in to port. As we docked at Pier 21, they had drummers, bagpipers & a town crier on the pier to greet us. We met my folks for breakfast in the Windjammer at 8:30. We’d previously reserved a car with Avis so when we finished eating I called them & arranged for the van to pick us up. It arrived just before 10 & took the 4 of us to the Avis office on Grafton Street to get our car. With Dad navigating, we headed for Peggy's Cove. The drive was absolutely beautiful & I stopped many times for pictures. Peggy's Cove is tiny, beautiful & absolutely over-run with tourists. The area near the lighthouse was especially crowded & the gift shop was jammed. The lighthouse is situated on a windswept piece of rock & is particularly picturesque. The harbor area is small but I think you could aim a camera anywhere & get a good shot! We'd decided to forego lunch at the lighthouse and were therefore a bit pressed to move on to find lunch. In retrospect, it would have been better to have eaten in that tourist trap & then been able to spend a bit more time at the harbor & to stop at the Swissair 111 memorial & elsewhere along the coast.

Mom & DadWe had a hell of a time finding a place to eat but eventually found ourselves at the Trellis Café in Hubbards, NS. This was definitely NOT a tourist trap but rather a "colorful" local spot. The delicious chowder was made from haddock & the whole wheat bread was homemade. An interesting and delightful thing happened just before lunch, however. We were starting to really get hungry and, seeing a guy selling apples along the road, I stopped to ask if he'd sell me four. He let me have the four apples but then refused payment. "Happy Thanksgiving" was all he said. Ya gotta love people!

After lunch, we headed back to Halifax & stopped at the Citadel perched on a hill overlooking the city & harbor. After we turned in the car, Avis took us back to the dock & we did a little window shopping there before boarding. We went to the solarium & enjoyed the hot tub and had a little snack. Linda, of course, took a nap. I read in the room & eventually on the balcony.

Dress code for dinner was "smart casual". Eunice wasn't feeling well & Gloria and Alan skipped dinner so it was only the 2 Lindas & me. The show was a Broadway review & it was absolutely fantastic!

Day 4 - Monday - Sydney, NS

LouisbourgWe woke to a truly dismal day; low sky & rain and the ship's arrival was greeted by a lonely and probably very wet bagpiper. As yesterday, we met the folks for breakfast, and then I called Avis to arrange a ride to the airport to pick up a car. The driver suggested we visit Louisbourg but the girl at the counter said it would be a terrible place given the wind and rain. She suggested a mining museum in Glace Bay. However, she called & found it was closed for Canadian Thanksgiving so we set off for Louisbourg anyway. The drive down was pretty depressing, especially given the weather. We had to park at a visitors' center and take a bus to the fortress. I suspect the drive would be nice on a clear day but in our case, the bus' windows were covered in mud! Whether this was a good day to visit is a matter of perspective. On the one hand, the rain, mud, wind, and cold made it most uncomfortable. On the other hand, it made for a better understanding of Cape Breton Island weather & a more authentic experience. Because it was off season, many buildings were closed but there were plenty open given our schedule & there were lots of re-enactors in period clothing.

LouisbourgI spotted one solitary soldier up on one of the walls so I climbed up & had a very pleasant chat with him. Not a lot of people were stupid enough to climb up to endure that wind so I think he was glad for the company! The wind was actually strong enough that we both had to occasionally struggle for footing! After I rejoined the others, we did a bit more exploring, then grabbed the shuttle bus. They only run every 30 minutes at this time of year so that's a bit of a bother. Overall, though, I was glad we'd visited.

We ate lunch at the only place in town open for lunch, the Fortress View. After dropping the car & being delivered to the ship, Mom & Dad went aboard while Lin & I shopped at the craft market on the dock. Lin bought a very nice pendant of fossilized wood. By the time we were ready to board, the rain was coming in sheets. We dashed aboard during a brief lull, had some chili & nachos in the Seaview Café, then BOTH took a nap! By the time we awoke, we were at sea and being bounced around pretty well. Dress code for the evening was casual. Once ready for dinner, we took a look around. What was especially cool given the rough seas was the gyro-stabilized pool table. Absolutely fantastic! We had a drink in the Schooner Bar while listening to guitar music.

By this time, we were being tossed around pretty well. One sure sign of bad weather is the stacks of barf bags everywhere! I fully expected the dining room to be empty but it wasn't. Eunice was missing once again but Chris & Faith had joined us; they'd switched from main seating. After dinner, we all went to the Vortex because we expected "Romantic Dance Music" but that's not what was playing. We danced a bit & then moved to the Safari Club for the "50's & 60's Party". Dancing in both places was a riot because of the ship's motion. Finally, we sat in the Schooner Bar listening to "Barry from Boston" until he quit at 12:30.

We were to learn later that the wind reached a sustained 60 to 70 kts. with waves of 25 feet. Lin didn't sleep all that well but I slept like a baby. I really like it when the sea's a bit rough. No sense going to sea if it's going to feel like a hotel on land!

Day 5 - Tuesday - At sea

Since we were now in the St. Lawrence, the sea was much calmer. We slept until almost 10, then had breakfast in the Windjammer. Afterwards, we went to the Vortex to read/work but then were a bunch of women yakking loudly so we moved around a bit, finally landing in the Schooner to listen to the string trio. At about 1:00, we headed for the main dining room for lunch. Service was absolutely horrible & my Cajun catfish was totally flavorless. However, we got to meet Ron & Harriet & had a nice chat. They're with a group of 50 Asian-American's from Northern California. Also at the table were 3 Canadian women who gave us some tips on Quebec.

After lunch, I went to a good-but-basic photography lecture, then sat in the Vortex to write until chased out for a private party. I moved to the room to finish up and Lin returned and... you guessed it... slept!

UsTonight was formal night again. Since we didn't like the first batch, we met the folks at 7:00 for portraits, then met the others for drinks & dancing in the Centrum. Eunice was well enough to join us. At dinner, I had trouble deciding between sea bass & rack of lamb so Eugenia brought me both. Same for Linda. Euginia is clearly the best server we’ve ever had on any cruise. We learned that her husband Pierre, also a waiter on the ship, is French and is trained as a pastry chef. If I hit the PowerBall, I’d like to track them down and hire them both!

The show was another production show. It was great but we were both falling asleep so when it was over, we hit the rack.

Day 6 - Wednesday - Quebec

Auberge du TrésorThis was an absolutely perfect day! I'd set the alarm for 7:00 but awoke about 6:45 to a beautiful, clear day. We were fairly close to shore & the leaves were magnificent. We met the folks for breakfast at 8:00 & were off the ship by about 9:00. We wandered around the lower city, then took the funicular to the upper city where we walked some more, then took a horse-drawn carriage ride. At CN$75 plus tip, it was a tad steep but it was probably 45 minutes long & the young lady driver was delightful so I felt we got our money's worth.

After the carriage ride, we had lunch outside at Auberge du Trésor. Another delightful experience. We decided to walk back down, then spent some time exploring the lower city before Mom & Dad headed for the ship. Lin & I searched unsuccessfully by the pier for a restaurant for dinner and ended up on the funicular again for another ride to the upper city. We ran into Gloria & Alan & had a drink with them on the sidewalk in front of l'Hôtel Ste. Anne. "Le Grill" restaurant inside seemed pretty nice so I made dinner reservations & we headed back, walking down once again.

We didn't have much time to rest before meeting the folks to grab a cab for dinner. Dinner at Le Grill was good if not outstanding but we had a great time. We had a real sour note near the funicular, though. Linda, Mom & Dad were looking at the city & some old guy sitting on a bench started bitching at Linda for blocking his view! I asked him what his problem was & we got into a bit of an argument. It was a good workout for my French, though. I am one of the relative minority of Americans who loves the French & I like most Quebecois as well. Sadly, this butt-head Le Château Frontenacwas the kind that feeds the popular American stereotype. It's a shame; he should be lynched by the majority of Quebecois.

We were back early & I hadn't had desert so I went to the dining room where Eugenia gave me a "take-out" cheese plate. After that was gone we wandered around a bit but were ready for bed when the ship pulled out just after 11:00.

Day 7 - Thursday - Saguenay River Cruising

Saquenay RiverI'd set the alarm for 6:30 but was up by 6:00 & on deck 11 forward by 6:30. The point of all this was that we were entering Saguenay Fjord and we'd been told that that the best place to see whales was here at the mouth of the Saguenay River. It was very cold and a strong wind was coming out of the fjord. While not quite as cold, it was distinctly reminiscent of Glacier Bay. We eventually saw a lot of whales but they were all Belugas and I never got a picture. By 7:15, I was frozen through so I went back to the room. We'd agreed to "do our own thing" for breakfast so Linda had ordered room service. As a result, I ate alone in the Windjammer. Lin & I wandered a bit & ended up in the cinema to watch "Haunted House". It was a silly but entertaining. Afterwards, we had lunch & Lin took a little nap, gambled a bit & had a spa treatment while I went to another photography lecture, had a snack in the Seaview Café, & took a nap myself. I’m obviously getting old!

Dress code for dinner was smart casual. We had before-dinner drinks with many from the group in the Centrum. Eugenia had said the chateaubriand was medium or well so I ordered salmon. After I did that, however, she said she'd find me some rare chateaubriand and put it on the same plate. She did & both were excellent.

Faith in the Vortex LoungeAfter dinner, many of us ended up at the Vortex for "Romantic Dance Music" but stayed on for the faster stuff. One thing that's especially nice about this ship is the friendliness of the crew. A lot of the waiters were dancing with Linda G., Gloria, Faith and Chris. At one point, I took a look into the cigar bar where a trio was playing and ended up dancing with a waitress. Her request, not mine! Eventually, we moved to the Centrum until the trio there quit, then returned to the Vortex. I probably danced more in one night than I have in 5 years! With the ship bouncing around, it was a real kick! When we quit it was 12:45 but we had to set the clocks forward to 1:45. Ouch!

Day 8 - Friday - At Sea

The gangWe slept 'til 10:00 & ate in the Windjammer, then explored the ship for a place to take a group photo. The group met as arranged at noon in the Centrum, then moved to the Schooner for pictures captured by some kind passers-by.

Lin & I had a Coke in the Centrum, then a fantastic lunch in the Portofino. Our waiter, Zouhair from Morrocco, was excellent as was the food. Unfortunately, I was a bit pressed for time so I left Lin to pay while I ran off to the last photography lecture. Afterwards, I had a cappuccino in the coffee bar while I caught up on my writing.

Dinner was formal again. Once again we had drinks in the Centrum before dinner. Eugenia's dinner recommendation was a shrimp & lobster tail combo. It wasn't all that great but she brought me 2 anyway. After dinner, the others went to the show but we went to the Vortex and danced a little. The fog was so thick, it blurred the view across the pool! We looked through the Schooner & Safari Club before taking a quick at the midnight buffet & hitting the rack.

Day 9 - Saturday - St. John, NB

City Market, St. JohnInteresting night. The fog was like pea soup & the wind was absolutely howling. We had the balcony door open all night as usual and the sounds of the wind & foghorn were really neat! I'd set the alarm for 8:30 but when it rang it was still miserable out so I turned it off and went back to bed. It was still raining when we left the ship at 10:00. Fortunately, St. John has a number of buildings connected by a walkway so we entered at the Market Square and walked though to Brunswick Square Mall and the City Market. By that time the rain had stopped so we walked to Trinity Anglican Church for a look around and were greeted by a very pleasant & knowledgeable guide with whom we had a pleasant chat.

We had lunch at Keystone Kelly's at Market Square. My lobster was very good but, again, tiny. After lunch, we returned to the ship & both took a nap. When we awoke it was sunny & we were about to pull out.

After getting dressed for dinner, we had to report to the Safari Club to be cleared by US Border Security. Of course, we had drinks with the gang before dinner. Afterwards, Lin & I went to the Vortex but the "Romantic Dancing" wasn't so romantic. We took a quick, picture-taking tour through the buffet and went to bed.

Day 10 - Sunday - Portland, ME

Entering Portland HarborWe awoke to a beautiful day. While we had no great hopes for Portland, we found it to be a delightful town. I got some great photos as we entered the harbor. We were off the ship by about 9:30 and walked along the waterfront. Evaluating a number of options, we bought tickets for a lighthouse tour by boat on the "Odyssey". Unfortunately, the next available cruise was at 12:45 so we had a lot of time to kill. There were a lot of cute little shops but many were not opening until 11:00. We didn't care much about shopping so it really didn't matter. I had second thoughts about the light coat I was wearing so I returned to the ship for a heavier one. That turned out to be a hassle because security was a real gauntlet. However, a few hours later, I was glad I had it!

Portland Head LightLunch was lobster (another small one) on the deck at Gilbert's Chowder House, after which we headed to the pier where we met Jim & Sharon from IL. We sat with them on the top deck of the Odyssey for a great 90 minute tour narrated by Capt. James Harkin. He was a real riot! In spite of our warm coats & the bright sun, we damned near froze to death but the tour was great. Capt. Harkin said that Portland Head Light (the one shown to the left here) is the most photographed in the world. Seeing the picture, is it any wonder?

Back on land, we walked the 1/2 block to the Old Port Tavern to warm up. Lin had a bowl of chili & I one of fantastic lobster stew. Jim & Sharon came in & we asked them to join us.

Back on the ship, we had just started packing when Faith called to say she was headed for the rock climbing wall so we ran up to bear witness and record the event on film (oops... on a digital card!), then returned to complete the dreaded task & head for the Centrum.

Rommel, Tarryn and EugeniaThe last dinner was sad as always. Afterwards, we set out the bags before watching the show (a comedian) & returning to the Centrum. Just about the whole gang showed up so it was a fitting last hoorah. We went briefly to the Vortex but Lin & I didn't stay long.

Day 11 - Monday - Boston & home

The last day of a cruise always sucks! I woke up before dawn & we were apparently entering the harbor. When I next awoke, we were at the dock & there was a LOT of noise so I closed the door. The alarm went off at 6:30 & got to the Tides dining room just after 7. We were seated at a large table & it took FOREVER to get served. I eventually had to bitch to a head waiter but it was still almost 8 when the food came. This service was truly appalling and left us with a bad last impression.

After grabbing the carry-ons, we headed for the theater as instructed but couldn't get close to it so we stood on deck & I called Harold, the driver. It was about 9:45 by the time we got off the ship & we weren’t on the bus until about 10:15. We stopped for lunch at Bickford's in Vernon, CT & got back to St. Mark's about 4:30.

This was a great trip. The itinerary was different and not as exotic as some we've done but we had a great time. It's always special to go with my folks so that alone made it outstanding. Having a lot of other friends there as well made it even better. The ship was nice and the service was, with only a few exceptions, great. On top of it all, the church made a few bucks and that beats the heck out of running a bunch of roast beef dinners!