Thursday, May 24, 2012

They Are Here, Finally

I know that the anticipation has been building and we are finally ready to release the photographs from our April cruise to the Mediterranean and the Adriatic. I must acknowledge Frank’s contributions to this endeavor as he took most of the photographs. I will take credit for the back room work such as cropping, editing, and posting.

If you haven’t read the blog, I encourage you to do so. It will put some words behind the pictures. But you don’t need to read the blog to enjoy the photographs.

We ended up with over 200 plus photographs, and we have cut that back to 118 photographs in the “Long Version”. We the pulled 59 of the 118 and created the “Short Version” for those of you who do not want to scroll through the 118. Even the 59 photos may take a while to view, but if you have the desire to tackle the long version (Glen) it is ready for you.
Jade Album - Long Version
Jade - Short Version

As I mentioned before we had a wonderful time, and added three new countries to our list of countries visited. (Paul and Libby – don’t fear, no way we could ever catch up to you in your quest.

Any questions and comments are appreciated.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cruising the Mediterranean

My original intent was to post a detailed summary of the cruise on the blog. But instead, I think I will just add a few more comments and then go back to working on the photographs from the trip. Our "Hits and Misses" (link) blog posted a few days ago (May 2nd) is a good summary of our highlights and lowlights of the trip.

With the fear of being repetitive,  here is my final post (until the photographs are available).
The trip was great, the ship was great, the service throughout the ship was great, and the balcony room was worth the extra cost. In fact I think we got lucky - as the first cruise by NCL of this season for the area, the cruise prices were already deeply discounted. 

We quickly fell into a routine on the ship, similar to the NCL Sky cruise last fall. We managed to find a nice quiet bar, The Star Bar, with a couple of very attentive and friendly servers. Late afternoons we could be found there to have a pre-dinner cocktail or wine. And maybe work on a crossword on my iPad. After dinner we usually ended up at Bar City to enjoy some piano music performed by Nathaniel. It was relaxing music and Nathaniel was  a superb entertainer with extensive playlists from Cole Porter, Stevie Wonder and many others in those styles. (Did I mention we may have ordered another drink before heading to the cabin for the night.)

All the ports were interesting stops with the Croatian coast being very beautiful We were also very happy to be able to visit 2 of our favorite cities, Barcelona and Venice at the beginning and end of the cruise and spend an extra day in each.

Finally, the crew had an obsession with cleanliness. They we stationed throughout the ship, especially at the entrance to restaurants, with the standard line "Happy, Happy, Washy, Washy. As you walked by they would hold out a spray bottle of sanitizing gel making sure every one got a shot of the stuff. A good idea I say.

I think that will wrap it up unless I think of something I missed which you might find interesting. Otherwise stay tuned for the posting of the link to the photographs, but give me a while to work through them.

Did we have a good time? No, we had a great and very relaxing time.

That is my story and I am sticking to it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Back by popular demand…

Back by popular demand…Dick and Frank’s Hits and Misses!

Hi Frank!

Hey Dick!

Are you ready to ruminate on the highlights and low lights of our cruise through the Mediterranean?

Yeah dude, go for it.

Best Meal on the Ship
Dick – I think our best meal was at Cagney’s Steakhouse.  The steak was perfectly cooked, and the setting was cool and masculine.

Frank – I have to give honorable mention to the Jasmine Gardens.  Not for the food so much, but for the creepy but cool concubines in 1920’s Shanghai aesthetic (read red lighting and attractive Asian servers in tight satin outfits.)

Best Meal on Land
Dick – Lunch in Dubrovnik.  Lovely seafood risotto in an open-air patio overlooking the Adriatic and the walls of the old town.  So lovely….

Frank – That was awesome, but I also enjoyed the Argentinean steakhouse in Barcelona (Patagonia.)  The steak was cremated on the outside, but the meat still had a pulse on the inside.  Wicked awesome.  Plus a really good Malbec that we paid next to nothing for to accompany our meal.

Worst Meal on the Ship
Dick – The most disappointing meal was at the Moderno Churrascarria.   More food than needed, a combination of ten different meats on large skewers.  All were lacking in distinct flavors and way too much food.

Frank – Ditto.  My colon has yet to recover.

Worst Meal on Land
Both – All the meals we had on land were good.  Even the Italian restaurant at the Courtyard by Marriott in Venice.  Go figure!

Dick – Dubrovnik. (the City.)  The old city is eminently walk able, and a jewel to boot.  Plus, we had that dynamite lunch overlooking the Adriatic.

Frank – I have to agree, Dubrovnik and the whole Croatian coast was dreamy.  I will say also that it was really great to see Barcelona again.  Despite Spain’s economic woes, the city was beautiful, alive and pulsing with an energy and stylish verve that makes that city so unique.

Dick – I too loved Barcelona.  It’s one of the great cities of Europe, and I would love to go back again.

Dick – The boat ride from the port to Dubrovnik.  It was part of an excursion with NCL on a replica 16th century Croatian sailing vessel.  The seas were very rough, the boat shook, and it turned the whole thing into a vomit comet.  We were both happy when the trip was over.

Frank – My favorite moment of that whole wretched trek was looking up at the captain giggling at the wheel as the all the tourists on the boat moaned in despair with each passing wave.  What a sadist!

Dick – The service on board the Jade was exemplary.  Everyone was smiling, helpful, and scrupulously committed to cleanliness (Happy Happy, Washy Washy!) 

Also, the three hotels we stayed in were great.  The Spanish chain hotels (H10 and the NH Master) were business class hotels with clean rooms and efficient service at a very reasonable price.  Highly recommended.  The Courtyard at Venice was a real treat for those with early flights out of Venice.  Plus the bus stop into to town was right across the street.

Frank -  I don’t know if it was the fact that it was one of the first Mediterranean NCL cruises of the season, but for one, the ship was only about 2/3 full, and secondly, in terms of demographics, it was sort of like a floating nursing home.   Which was awesome in terms of the fact everyone was in bed by 9 PM (we had the ship to ourselves!) and not much noise.  On the other hand, not much hottie action at the pool, gotta tell ya!

Dick – There were more canes on this ship (mine included) than kids.  Which made for a quieter and more relaxed environment.

Ok, pictures to come and a final post as well.  Stay tuned…..

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

We Are Back

We returned to TIA on Sunday 4/29 evening after a wonderful trip and cruise. The NCL Jade was a really nice ship with a great staff. We had some nice views of the Sicilian and Dalmatian coastlines from our balcony cabin on Deck 9. And we enjoyed the various ports of call. My intention to blog every few days didn't pan out, so over the next few days I will provide more specifics about the trip. Frank and I will also prepare our "always in demand" "Hits and Misses" summary. For now here is a photograph of the NCL Jade in port in Koper, Slovenia. 

Finally, while we will never catch up with Paul and Libby in their quest to visit 100 countries, we added 3 on this trip, Sicily, Croatia, and Slovenia. Yes Sicily is a separate country as counted by The Travelers' Century Club. (<---- link)