Lobster and Baked Alaska

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Nov 05 ~ Day #179
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$17900
$102.34
$16057.24
$89.71
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
15551
8185.5
7662
168
31566.5

Current Location: On Board Celebrity Century En Route to Miami

Today’s Total Expenses: $102.34 (cruise cost includes transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment)

Miles Traveled Today:
We will record the miles for the Atlantic Crossing on November 8th when we arrive in Miami

Hurricane Tomas

Apparently Tomas again reached hurricane strength at about 9:00am this morning. Again, even though we are not directly threatened by the hurricane it could possibly make things a little uncomfortable.

Formal Night Moved

Because of the possibility of rougher seas due to Tomas, the formal night, which was scheduled for tomorrow, has been rescheduled for tonight. If we’re going to have heavy seas tomorrow we don’t want to be all dressed up, with most women in high heels, while the ship is swaying.

Lobster and Baked Alaska

Geoff was really looking forward to this evening as this is the night that lobster is on the menu. Not being a lobster fan, myself, I just looked forward to another delicious dinner.

Dessert for tonight, however, was the cruise essential – Baked Alaska. There was much fanfare and parading of the Baked Alaska, flaming, while the lights were dimmed.

Lazy Day At Sea

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Nov 02 ~ Day #176
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$17600
$102.34
$15750.22
$89.49
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
15551
8185.5
7662
168
31566.5

Current Location: On Board Celebrity Century En Route to Miami

Today’s Total Expenses: $102.34 (cruise cost includes transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment)

Miles Traveled Today:
We will record the miles for the Atlantic Crossing on November 8th when we arrive in Miami

Galley Tour

What cruise is complete without a tour of the galley?

Today was the day that they were offering the galley tour and we decided to take advantage of it.

The size of the galley and the amount of food they prepare there is simply staggering. And, because we are now at sea for an entire week, they had to make sure they had enough food on board for everyone for the entire week. There would be no ports where they could top up anything that might be low.

I find it amazing that they can pretty accurately predict how much they’re going to need of each item. But, I guess they’ve been doing this for a while, so there must be some type of formula that applies.

Changing Our Dinner Seating

We decided to change our dinner seating to the earlier seating today. I was finding that I was much too full when it was bedtime and wasn’t sleeping well because of it.

The people we were seated with on this cruise were very nice, very interesting people and it was sad to be leaving them, but I’m sure we’ll be running into them around the ship.

Even though we were supposed to have the early seating tonight at about 6:00pm, we’re weren’t quite ready to eat that early, having been used to dining later.

So, tonight we just ate at the dinner buffet on the Lido deck at about 8:00pm.

Too Much Food, Too Little Resistance

The dinner buffet on the Lido deck can be quite dangerous. At least in the dining room you pick ONE meal and ONE dessert.

Here on the Lido deck you can choose from ALL the items that are available in the dining room and have a little bit, or a lot, of each.

It’s just too easy to say, “I’ll just have a little bit of this and a little bit of that.” because that all adds up to a lot of food!

Changed dinner seating to early (6pm) but had dinner on the Lido deck at about 8pm.

From our dinner on the Lido deck with then went to late Show at 9:15pm.

Entertainment

The entertainment tonight was a violinist who was quite good but I neglected to record his name in my notes.

At Sea – en route from Barcelona to Malaga

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Oct 26 ~ Day #169
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$16900
$102.34
$14902.15
$88.18
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
15551
6378.9
7662
168
29759.9

Current Location: At Sea Onboard the Celebrity Century

Today’s Total Expenses: $102.34 (cruise cost includes transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment)

Miles Traveled Today:
At sea all day, will record mileage at next port.

Lazy Day at Sea

After our full schedule in Dénia and Barcelona, it was nice to have a day just to relax. It was also a good thing to give my remaining footwear a break. It had been a long walk just getting to the cruise ship yesterday. And, on top of that, we spent time walking around downtown Barcelona as well.

On Board Activities

There always seemed to be some on board activities planned and we joined in with a couple of things.

I like trivia games. Geoff usually just plays along and is not as interested as I am, but he usually ends up winning anyway – darn him!

One of the activities today was Gender Wars – a Trivial Pursuit game pitting the men against the women.

I can’t actually remember the outcome, so I guess that means the women lost. 🙁

Later in the day there was more trivia in Hemisphere lounge. Not Trivial Pursuit, just answering trivia questions. People formed teams and won little trinkets as prizes. We never got enough answers to even challenge the winners.

Meet the Captain

Tonight was the traditional “meet the Captain” night. That made it our first formal night and everyone looked terrific!

Arriving in Venice, Italy

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Oct 10 ~ Day #153
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$15300
$108.02
$13524.34
$88.39
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
15097
6030.2+348.7=6378.9
5966
119
27560.9

Current Location: Hotel Matre, Venice, Italy

Today’s Total Expenses: $108.02

Accommodation: $87.03 (€65.00)

Food: $23.33
Consisting of:
Pizza – $6.69 (€5.00)
Gelato – $4.69 (€3.50)
Groceries – $9.61 (€7.18)
Grapes – $2.34 (€1.75)

Miles Traveled Today:
Sea Miles: 348.7 (303 Nautical Miles – Dubrovnik to Venice)

On Our Own in Venice

Our traveling companions, T & E, decided that they wanted to spend some romantic time to themselves in Venice. So, we parted ways and agreed to meet at the airport in Treviso for our flight back to the UK on Wednesday, October 13th.

In the Heart of Venice

Amazing as it may seem, our cruise ship docked pretty much in the heart of Venice!

We had picked our hotel based on its proximity to the cruise port but we weren’t exactly sure where it was.

When we disembarked the ship we weren’t far from either the bus station or the train station. At the train station we spoke with a police officer and, if we were understanding her correctly, our hotel was just a couple of blocks away.

We set off to find our hotel following the directions the police officer had just given us.

We were walking beside the Grand Canal most of the way, then over a bridge (and there are lots of bridges in Venice) and sure enough, there was our hotel on a small canal just off the Grand Canal.

Upon seeing the hotel we realized that the photos we saw of it on the Internet were taken in more prosperous times.

But climbed the two flights of stairs up to the reception area. Apparently having reception that far from street level isn’t that unusual here.

This hotel was both a hotel and a hostel so there were some rooms that shared a communal bathroom and others that had en suites.

Our room, which did have an en suite bathroom, was old and kind of threadbare but clean. And, it had a view of the canal we were on and the Grand Canal as well.

The room rate was also, apparently, pretty reasonable – for Venice, anyway. And, the rate included a continental breakfast at a lovely corner café just steps from the hotel.

Time For Lunch

As we disembarked the cruise ship fairly early in the morning we were able to get to our hotel and get settled in well before lunchtime.

It was now time to start exploring Venice. The agenda for today was lunch, a grocery store and, with any luck, a laundromat.

Unlike on the Alaska cruise aboard Holland America’s Amsterdam, the MSC Musica did not have an onboard laundromat, only a very expensive laundry service. We actually ended up washing a few things in the bathroom sink and drying them on the balcony furniture when we were on the Musica.

We had a fair bit of laundry we wanted to get done during our three days in Venice.

Pizza in Venice

Actually, after the disappointing pizza we had at the restaurant on the Amalfi Coast, we should have been leery of buying another pizza in Italy.

However, as budget is always a consideration, we were also looking for the best deal for our money. Pizza seemed to be the best deal of the few places we looked at before making our choice.

Right next to the pizza place, well actually part of the same store, was a gelato shop. We treated ourselves to three scoops of three different flavors packed in a styrofoam box and accompanied by two plastic spoons. Dessert!

Oh, I forgot to mention that when we bought our pizza there was an additional €0.50 charge for the box! Wouldn’t you think they’d just include that in the price of the pizza?

Pizza in a Piazza

With pizza and gelato in hand we walked until we found a tiny piazza overlooking a canal and settled in to have our lunch.

The pizza was – well – okay. It was certainly better than the one we’d had before the cruise. It was, however, kind of greasy and we didn’t have nearly enough napkins. The napkins we did have were kind of flimsy and not very absorbent.

So, here we were, sitting on stone steps, overlooking a Venetian canal, right next to a very old church, eating our pizza hunched over the pizza box and trying not to get sauce and grease all over ourselves.

We were moderately successful at remaining relatively sauce-less. I, of course, got it all over my hands and fingers but actually managed not to get any on my clothes. That’s quite an accomplishment for me. Geoff just got a little on his fingers. He always manages to stay stainless in situations like this. I have no idea how.

Italian Gelato

Now it was time for dessert. I know we haven’t been very kind about pizza in Italy, but the gelato was excellent! We managed to scrape every last bit of it out of the styrofoam container with our tiny plastic spoons.

Cheap Wine

With lunch and dessert over, it was time to find a grocery store and get food in for dinner tonight and, perhaps, lunch tomorrow. As our hotel room rate included a continental breakfast, we didn’t need to worry about any breakfast stuff.

Although our room did not have any cooking facilities it did have a very tiny, very old bar fridge that was making a valiant, and sometimes noisy, effort to work. Without any way to cook anything supper would have to be, most likely, a sandwich and a salad.

With this in mind, we stopped in to a decent sized grocery store that wasn’t far from our hotel.

We purchased some lovely, crusty buns, some cheese, cold cuts (most cold cuts in Italy seem to be some configuration of ham, so even though there seem to be a lot of choices and a pretty wide price range, when all is said and done, it was still ham!), a bit of salad stuff – and – a couple of liters of tetrapak red wine at €0.70 each! I do believe that is the cheapest wine we have ever had.

When it comes to wine, we just know what we like and what we don’t like. We would certainly never call ourselves wine connoisseurs. We’ve had cheap wine that’s been terrible and some that’s been great. We’ve also had some expensive wines that have been amazing and some that have been amazingly bad.

Like I said, we get the wine we like and if it’s inexpensive, so much the better.

We returned to the hotel with our groceries and loaded up the tiny fridge which was actually getting pretty cold. It was still making odd noises from time to time, though.

Wash Day

Next item on the agenda was finding a laundromat. We were able to get directions to a laundromat from the hotel staff. It sounded simple enough but following directions for a city as maze-like as Venice can be a bit challenging.

The best part of the directions were the references to landmarks. The laundromat was just behind the church with the green dome, just across the bridge on your left, as you’re walking along the Grand Canal towards the train station.

As we already knew how to get to the train station from our hotel, we just needed to keep an eye out for the green dome and a bridge that would get us there.

As Venice is nothing but bridges and canals, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s simple to pick a bridge that you THINK will get you where you want to go only to find that your destination is on the other side of yet another canal with no nearby bridge to get you there. You need to pick you path carefully.

We were also armed with a small, and somewhat cryptic, map. Without too much backtracking we did manage to find the laundromat.

Totally Automated Laundromat

This is the first time we’ve ever seen a totally automated laundromat. All washers and dryers are activated from a single access panel that accepts the money – bills, coins or both. You don’t need to save up your change to make sure you have enough of the right coins for each machine. The same access panel also dispenses single-use detergents and fabric softeners.

You do, however, need to be very careful how much money you put into this access panel. It will dispense a maximum change amount of €8.00 in coins, no more. So, if you put in a €20.00 bill and the machine and detergent costs only add up to €10.00, you’ll only get €8.00 back. And, there’s no one to complain to – it’s totally automated.

As we were trying to figure out what to do, what with the language barrier (although parts of it were in English), and this new concept for a laundromat, we spoke to and Australian group who were just finishing up their laundry.

They walked us through the procedure and even broke €20.00 bill for us so we wouldn’t get caught by the maximum change this. Thanks, Guys. Or, perhaps that should be – Thanks, mates!

We loaded up a couple of washers, selected them on the central control panel, bough some detergent and waited while the cycled through wash and rinse. We then did the same when it was time to use the dryers.

I think, though, that this was the most expensive laundromat we’ve ever used. Each wash load, and we did two loads, was €5.00. The detergent was €1.00, and we bought two. We managed to make do with just one dryer, as it was quite large, at a cost of €6.00. So that was a total of €18.00 (about $23.40) for two loads of laundry.

As we removed the clothes from the dryer we did our best to fold them without wrinkling them as we didn’t have any way to iron anything. Some items were still a bit damp but it wouldn’t take much for them to dry back at our hotel room.

Dinner Time

By the time we got back to the room with our laundry and got it hung up or folded neatly in drawers, it was time for supper.

As best we could without any utensils, we split open a couple of the buns and made ham and cheese sandwiches. We also make a small salad of lettuce and cherry tomatoes. It was actually a lovely meal.

To top it all off, we opened our €0.70 wine and poured it into a couple of plastic glasses. Tentatively we each took a sip. Actually, it was pretty good!

Venice in the Evening

To cap off our first day in Venice, after dinner we decided to go for an evening stroll.

There were lots of people out enjoying the night and this seemed to be the time for most of the street vendors to set up their stalls. Not just souvenir items, but fruit and vegetables stands as well.

We had a lovely evening strolling along the canals and looking at all the things the street vendors and shops had to offer.

On our way back to our room we purchased a couple of bunches of grapes from a street vendor, to have for our dessert.

Day Six of Greek Islands Cruise – Dubrovnik, Croatia

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Oct 09 ~ Day #152
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$15200
$184.84
$13416.32
$88.27
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
15097
5786.2+244=6030.2
5966
119
27212.2

Current Location: On board the MSC Musica visiting Dubrovnik, Croatia

Today’s Total Expenses: $184.84

Cruise: 178.51 (cruise cost includes transportation, accommodation and food)

Transportation: $6.33 (€4.80 – bus into town and back)

Miles Traveled Today:
Sea Miles: 244 (212 Nautical Miles – Corfu to Dubrovnik)

Hot Coffee!

For the first time on this cruise we actually got hot coffee with our breakfast. Fresh – piping hot – coffee!

Breakfast was the only time on this cruise that they would actually serve coffee in the dining room. However, it would invariably arrive at our table lukewarm, at best.

Geoff tried several times to get hot coffee but they just didn’t seem to get it.

One exchange seems rather humorous now. Geoff tried very hard to get them to understand that we wanted HOT coffee.

On this particular occasion he pointed to his cup and said, “not hot.” When he got a quizzical look, he pointed to his cup again and said, “cold!”

The light bulb seemed to go on but the response was, “I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t serve chilled coffee at breakfast.”

Geoff’s response was, “Well, apparently you do!” but the sarcasm was obviously “lost in translation”.

After that we simply gave up. That made today’s surprise that much more enjoyable. I think we let them keep refilling our cups as long as the hot coffee held out.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

One of the highlights of this cruise, for us, was the chance to visit Croatia. We’d heard it was kind of “up and coming”.

Even though they are not yet a member of the European Union, their application is in and their acceptance seems assured within the next year or so.

The cruise line had, of course, arranged for a shuttle to take passengers to the old, walled city at the cost of €10.00 each.

As is our way, we opted to look for local transportation.

Money, Money, Money

As Croatia has not yet converted to the Euro, we needed to exchange some of our Euros for the local currency – the kuna.

A ticket on the local bus would cost us about 10.00 kunas which translated to about €1.20. So, we purchased 50.00 kunas, enough for the bus for both of us with a little extra.

Their bus tickets work a little different than we’re used to. The price of 10.00 kunas buys you a ticket that is good for an hour, anywhere on the bus system.

Now that we had Croatian currency as well, we had with us FIVE different kinds of currency:

  • U.S. dollars
  • Canadian dollars
  • British pounds
  • Euros
  • Croatian kunas

Once we get back home we’ll have seven different kinds of currencies. To the above list we’ll add:

  • Bahamian dollars
  • Moroccan dirhams (we still have some left from a trip we took in 1990!)

Dubrovnik – The Old City

We located the local bus that was headed towards the old, walled city, bought our tickets and got on board.

It was about a 20-minute ride from the cruise port to the old city with lots of stops along the way.

The newer parts of Dubrovnik that we saw along the way seemed very modern and well cared for.

We got off the bus just outside the old city and stopped into the tourist info center.

The old city has a commanding view of the ocean and is protected by narrow gates set in very thick stone walls.

Inside the walls are cobbled streets lined with very old, very sturdy-looking stone buildings.

Apparently some of these buildings sustained significant damage during the war between Croatia and Bosnia. These countries, of course, used to be Yugoslavia before they separated.

However, any evidence of the war seems to have been repaired both in the old city and in the newer sections as well.

Tourist Shops

As is inevitable in any touristy locations, there were lots of tourist shops selling all manner of souvenirs.

Normally we are not tempted by such offerings but we were drawn to a display of local, hand painted glassware. Mostly wine glasses and decanters hand painted with colorful and intricate geometric designs. If our future plans weren’t so up-in-the-air, we would most likely have bought some. But, for now, we simply don’t want to add any new possessions.

After spending time exploring the old city we decided to explore the new sections by walking, so we thought, in the general direction of the cruise port.

Which Way Do We Go Now?

It was a beautiful day for a walk – bright and sunny. We stopped into a little roadside convenience store and purchased a large bottle of local beer, already chilled, for about 7.00 kunas. So, it was a good thing that we got a little more money than we needed for the bus.

We stopped at a little park and enjoyed the beer before continuing on.

Checking the time, we determined that we would have to get back to the ship soon.

We thought we were heading in the general direction of the ship and as we crested a hill we had a great view of it – WAY across the bay and much too far to walk in the time we had left. Not to mentioned that we were pretty much knackered anyway.

On top of that, my walking shoes had decided that they had outlived their allotted lifespan and were giving up their soles (pun intended!).

We found a bus stop enclosure that listed all of the routes, the times and the bus numbers. We just couldn’t make heads or tails of it at all!

We decided to get on the next bus and, hopefully, convey where we needed to go by pointing to the cruise ship that was easily visible in the distance from the bus stop.

After waiting for about 10 minutes a bus stopped and Geoff began to explain our dilemma by talking slowly and pointing to the ship.

To our amazement, and delight, the bus drive spoke perfect English. He told us the bus number we needed, said it would be along in about 10 minutes and that it would take us directly to the cruise port.

And, just as he had said, the specified bus arrived at the designated time and did, indeed, take us directly to the cruise port. We got back to the ship with plenty of time to spare before the “all aboard”.

Is This Standard European Entertainment?

From what we could tell from the announcer’s excitement – in all six languages – we were in for a special treat with tonight’s entertainment.

A somewhat portly and old gentleman took the stage and we waited with quite anticipation.

The, this entertainer produced two sets of bolo balls. You know, each set has two balls attached to long strings.

The music came up and he proceeded to bounce these bolo balls off the floor. Rat-A-Tat-Tat. While also swinging them around and increasing the speed.

He stopped to a crowed clapping wildly.

He then started again. And the speed and precision were impressive but it was still just bouncing tethered balls off the floor. We waited for something more.

After this set of Rat-A-Tat-Tat reached it’s crescendo the audience leapt to their feet, clapping, hooting and hollering and remained on their feet while the entertainer took several bows.

We sat there shaking our heads in confusion. A standing ovation for this? Really?

But it appeared that we were in the minority. Did we miss something?

Is this really what passes for entertainment in Europe?