A Travellerspoint blog

Port Day in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Thursday, 25 September 2014


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The day dawned crisp and clear and after breakfast we met up with Carol and Ray, two lovely Canadians who sit next to us at dinner. Ray had hired a car and offered to have us ride along. At 09:30 we left the ship and drove out to Peggy's Cove to see the lighthouse. We'd been there less than 15 minutes when my enthusiasm exceeded my ability and I miss-stepped and fell heavily on the rocks. Within seconds there were people hovering over me and making sure I was still breathing. In less than a minute there was a lady with a First Aid case and along with a nurse who was visiting they had me upright and we applying dressings.

In addition to the iconic lighthouse there were numerous shops, bars and restaurants. There were many quaint houses but sadly we didn't get to visit them. Our friends cut the visit short and drove us back to the ship where I presented to the doctor. Most of the damage is on the right side but the left was not unscathed. Both knees grazed, ribs bruised, left hand little finger broken, palm lacerated requiring three stitches. The damage to my face is self-evident from today's image.at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-25

The camera survived without damage. Fortunately I carry a spare pair of glasses as they were unwearable but should be repairable. The Doctor's bill is over US$ 1300, thank goodness for travel insurance.

With all my aches and pains I spent an uncomfortable afternoon and evening. I decided to call room-service rather than frighten everyone in the dinning room. Jenny went to dinner and when she returned we watched a movie on the TV. Unfortunately there were lots of sub-titles and my right eye was completely closed.

This has been difficult to write as my right hand aches and is well strapped up. Sea day tomorrow and lots for final administration to complete. Hopefully everything will fit into the case.

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 07:46 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

At Sea - Bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


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The sea has calmed but the wind is still very strong and when combined with the 18 knots of the ship's speed made it impossible to walk around Deck 18 this morning. As an alternative I walked some of the accommodation decks and admired the many printed photographs that decorate the walls of the corridors.

There are a total of seven passenger accommodation decks, I walked the port and starboard corridors of four of them. I counted over 150 photographs on each deck. If the numbers extrapolate there would be over 1000 images all up. Each image is an amazing view of an animal, people, buildings, ruins, landscape or amazing sunrises and sunsets. Unfortunately there is no location information, sometimes the name of the photographer and always the name of a ship that sailed to that location at some time.

Having worked out that statistic it occurred to me that there were other numbers that might interest readers.

Ship sizes are expressed in tons but I'm uncertain what that represents. Is it the cubic capacity? The displacement weight?? Some other calculation ??? one day I'll find someone to explain it. Anyway for this ship it is 141,000. The length is 1,083 feet or about 300 meters, height is 217 feet or about 70 meters.

There are 1780 guest cabins, at dual occupancy that is 3560 people. Some staterooms have upper bunks and some of the suites have extra beds. These add an additional 780 passengers resulting in a massive total of 4340 passengers- that would be an unlikely but theoretically possible number.

I don't know the number of crew that are aboard to look after all of us but my guess is that it would be about 1500 so that the captain has responsibility for about 5000 lives and US$ 750 million worth of ship (build cost).

There has been some concern expressed that we haven't had the best of weather, we have no expectation of balmy temperatures or calm seas and sunny days. We would never have booked this cruise if that was a priority. Cruises in the Pacific, either side of the equator or the Caribbean Islands are the destinations for sun and warm days. So when I mention the weather it is more as an excuse for less than optimum conditions for my photography.

The winds dropped as we continued West to Nova Scotia and there was sunshine for most of the afternoon. Temperatures were still relatively cool on the open deck.

The ship arrived in Halifax at about 18:30 and we were secured by about 19:30. We joined thousands of passengers who went ashore and walked along the boardwalk along the waterfront. Some bars and restaurants were still open and the liquor store was doing a brisk trade. Some passengers buy wine ashore and are permitted to bring one bottle each aboard for consumption in their stateroom. The on-board dinning rooms don't permit BYO wine.

On returning to the terminal building I was amazed at the number of people who were gathered there each with a smart phone or a tablet. The Port Authority provides FREE WiFi !!

I haven't found much in the way of photo opportunities and I'm struggling to find a suitable image to post today. At the 11th hour I resorted to visiting Deck 17 Forward for an image of the 'Retreat' area see it at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-24

Full day ashore in Halifax tomorrow.

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 17:55 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

The Missed Port of St John's, Newfoundland

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


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Reflecting on the impact of the change of plans caused by the weather. There's the impact on the passengers, the impact on the ship and the crew and the impact on the port.

The impact on the passengers will vary from relief that they've been saved from possible danger, to acceptance that there's nothing that could be done, to profound disappointment and even irrational anger and blaming the captain, the company and everyone associated. It will be interesting to eavesdrop on the various discussions tomorrow.

The impact on the ship and crew is that all the scheduled activities, duty assignments and possible shore time will need to be rescheduled. The daily 'newsletter', the Patter will need to be recreated and reprinted once the new schedules are determined. Lots of work for many hardworking staff from the cruise director, to the print shop and the cabin stewards to make the delivery to close on 2000 cabins. There will be lots of work for the shore excursion staff answering questions and refunding fees. There will no doubt be a negative impact on the cruise line's reputation especially from first-time cruisers who are not familiar with the details of the contract.

The impact on St John's, Newfoundland will also be significant, the many tour coaches that will not be required, tour guides that will have no tours to guide and shopkeepers who will not have the expected horde of tourists spending money. The PR opportunity to welcome the largest ship to ever visit the city - the Captain was to have been made an honorary admiral !! There are no doubt other consequential effects that I can't imagine.

This morning the North Atlantic lived up to its reputation. Wild seas, powerful winds and rain forced me to abandon my planned walk on the open deck. The wind gusts were like a slap in the face but regardless the sun lounges were being set out on the decks, I can't imagine anyone using them today.

From rain, rough seas and near hurricane winds through periods of fog to interment sunshine. The sea remains rough and the winds very strong. As a member of the crew said "All part of the total experience". There's no obvious sign of people being sea-sick.
The latest information is that we're sailing directly to Halifax and we will have almost 24 hours in port. We're due to arrive about 19:00 on Wednesday and will sail again about 17:30 on Thursday.

Attended a most informative lecture by the Cruise Director providing an insight to life on board for a member of the crew. After a 45 minute talk she stayed around and answered question for another 30 minutes, best of these types of talks I've attended. So many great things about this ship, the facilities and the crew. Whilst totally different to the 'small ship' experience I can't find anything to be critical about on this cruise.

We've spent quite a bit of time in the public areas but I've heard very few negative remarks from anyone. I haven't found much in the way of photo opportunities and I'm struggling to find a suitable image to post today. There's a collage of the Vista Lounge on Deck 7 Aft. at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-23

Clocks go back another 30 minutes overnight.

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 16:51 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Third Sea Day - Heading for St John's

Monday, 22 September 2014


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Strong winds and a steep swell caused the ship's speed to be reduced during the night. According to the captain's report the swell was up to 5 meters with a combined wind speed of over 60 knots. We are on a Westerly course having sailed well South to avoid a storm centre to the North.
The sky was clear when I made it up to Deck 18 this morning. I didn't last very long, being almost blown off my feet a number of times. I retired to Deck 16 Aft to join a few other sun worshippers to await the sunrise. I was happy to snap some shots and tried to introduce some interest with some silhouettes of my fellow sun worshippers. Didn't really come off as planned.

After breakfast with Jenny we retired to our preferred refuge in Club 6 on Deck 6. Jenny went off at 10:00 to look for bargains in the Market Stalls set up in the Symphony Dinning Room. I'm impressed by the degree of her restraint, just a $10 small bag. Just before 12:00 we picked up a light lunch from the International Café on Deck 5 and took it back to the cabin.

Went to the Theatre for the mid-day movie "American Hustle", we lasted about 25 minutes and gave up. Back to reading the Kindle and writing this blog. Always something to do.

An announcement from the bridge has warned us of worsening weather conditions, there's even a hint that we may not be able to enter our next port of St John's. There will be many disappointed passengers but there's nothing that can be done about the weather.

What a difference a few hours can make. We went off to dinner at 17:00 and then on to the show in the Theatre at 19:00. Before the show started the captain announced that St John's was closed due to deteriorating weather conditions and we would not be calling in there. The groan of disappointment in the Theatre was palpable but generally accepted as the captain promised to find an alternative port to visit but there are few options.

The 'show' by Illusionist David Cats defies description. He captivated us for the full 45 minutes in a seamless sequence of slight of hand card 'tricks', digital illusions and elaborate props mixed with witty humour, light and sound effects. It is without doubt the most impressive live 'show' I have ever experienced.

Back in the cabin and the ship's change of direction is already showing on the tracking screen we are heading South West at a reduced speed. With another 30 minutes change in time zones we decided to venture out for a late show in Princess Live !! It was a crazy melodrama where we were expected to deduce who killed the victim, how and why. It topped off an interesting evening and we've no idea where we'll be tomorrow.
So we're in for an unexpected sea day and an undetermined destination.

There's an image of today's sunrise at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-22

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 17:35 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

All At Sea - Day Two

Sunday, 21 September 2014


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With an extra hour of sleep time we decided to watch a movie on the TV last night, the title is "Still Mine". It is based on a true story and deals with some of the many issues that face an ageing couple.

We've encountered some heavy weather and the ship occasionally shudders as she ploughs through the waves at a very respectable 20 knots. The weather display indicates we're being buffeted by 40 mile per hour winds.

My walk around the track on Deck 18 was shorter than usual as I was almost blown over on a few occasions. We enjoyed our breakfast and after a quick tidy of the room we descended to the lounge at Club 6. This area is generally very quiet until the adjoining Casio gets busy at about 10:00. Club 6 is the designated 'night club' and doesn't feature on the list of activities until 22:00 at which time proof of age is required. We haven't ventured there as we're rarely awake at that time.

We've received and completed our disembarkation form. With nowhere to go except the hotel we've selected 10:00. By the time we find a taxi and travel from Brooklyn to Times Square we may be OK to check in. Attended the last of the Port Lectures and had a light lunch at the International Café on Deck 5. Back to the cabin for a short nap before I attended the complementary wine introduction at 15:00. There were 600 people in the Symphony dinning room for that event.

Lovely dinner and great company and decided to forgo the Captain's Circle cocktail party. Jenny asked the most sensible question"Why do we go there ?". I didn't have a logical answer so we went to the show in the Theatre instead and watched an amazing performance by Dan Bennett.
Another hour back overnight as we continue to sail Westward towards Newfoundland. We are currently sailing at 19 Knots and the winds gusting to over 40 MPH. She's becoming quite lively.

There's a collage of Club 6and the Casino at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-09-21

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 16:12 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

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