Dec 20, 2010 Cruising to Rio

Dec 20 2010 Cruising to Rio

The end of the cruise is near. We were issued our passports yesterday. We are starting to think about what to pack and what to keep out. We are off the ship in the morning tomorrow and today we will have an exciting excursion in Rio.

I have met some great new friends, have made connections to follow up. I have experienced the most wonderful ocean cruise line and enjoyed what they have to offer. I relaxed on sea days, read books, danced, enjoyed happy hour, played scrabble, ate and most importantly had special moments and lingering conversations and spent quality time with my family.

Yesterday we saw many large ships out at sea, some sea birds, whales and abundant activity out in the vast waters. Today as we sail toward Rio, we can see the shore off on the horizon (I think 12 miles is as far as we can see off deck 8??). The mountain ranges behind are starting to come into view. This is our last stop on this fabulous itinerary. Some 21 days ago we left home on this adventure and it is coming to a close.

Happy to be going home to see my kids, and be in regular contact with those back there, friends and family. To quickly prepare for Christmas activities and be in the festive mood.

Although trees and lights are decorating our ship, it is hot and humid and sunny and exotic here. Not what I have come to associate with Christmas time in Canada.

I will be shopping for gem stones that I can make into jewelery when I get home. Rio is famous for its gemstones. Direct from this country, the stones will make lovely gifts.

I hope to find an internet cafe so I can send and check some emails as well. The day promises to be full of family and friends, seeing new sights from great heights such as Sugar Loaf and Corcovado mountain (Christ the Redeemer on top of the latter), beaches such as Cobacobana, and Ipanema as well as many other lovely sand stretches.

Shops to see and explore and places to go back to visit again tomorrow after we disembark from the ship and prepare for the flight home.

As much as I love the Oceania tranquility beds, it will be comforting to be back home and enjoying my own things around me.

For now, signing off in anticipation of a safe trip home, following two lovely days exploring Rio.

With love and gratitude,

P

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Dec 18, 2010 Cruising to Salvador

Dec 18 2010 Cruising into Salvador Brazil

Third largest city in Brazil, beautiful from the ship. We have seen city lights and tall buildings for hours as we arrive in Salvador. Hugging the coast of Brazil the sights are wonderful.

This city offers green space and church towers, high buildings from the lower city “Cidade Baixa” as well as a glimpse at the upper part, “Cidade Alta”. Vehicles, including buses and cars can be seen driving up the road that hugs the steep slope to the upper part. There is also a landmark elevator “Elevador Lacerda” for pedestrian walkup.

What kind of a port city has no sea birds? Not a sea gull, or sign of any kind of sea bird in this port. People in small row boats (standing and rowing face forward), some locals on the break water fishing from the high wall. Many large commercial ships as this is a major port in South America.

Salvador is described as a thriving metropolis rich in museums and ancient history. There is a historic district and includes a wealthy neighbourhood. Recently restored over 600 buildings, we expect to see some fabulous sights here.

Church steeples and beautiful ornate buildings can be seen on shore, at higher altitudes. Salvador was originally one of the main gateways for African slave trade and ‘accounted for over half of all Africans brought to the New World’. Music, song, dance, cuisine, crafts and religion will all reflect this historical fact.

We have no excursions planned. We may take a taxi to the upper city and shop for a few hours. An early departure on the ship means this will be a short day at port.

Only a few days left of this amazing voyage and fabulous cruise. Yesterday at sea I spent some time on deck by the pool and was so busy talking and meeting new friends that I was not paying attention to the time I spent in the sun. I have some red legs and a red nose today as we head to port.

We have been playing Scrabble everyday, enjoying high tea at 4, usually dinner at 6:30 preceded by appetizers with my mom in her penthouse stateroom with a bottle of wine we have brought on board. Yesterday we enjoyed ‘Happy Hour’. Even some dancing, always dressing up for evening events and, of course, fine dining.

I can tell by the ships activity that we have arrived in our parking place in the city center. The Insignia is now parallel parking and I must get ready for the day. Donning white ¾ pants, white t shirt, and a white lulu lemon jacket to protect me from the sun’s rays. A cotton crushable white hat to wear about town and in the event we encounter rain or sun – the protection from the elements can be achieved. A light and colorful scarf for my shoulders should the jacket be just too much for the heat.

Brazil is warm, humid and a third world country. I want to ensure I am as safe and comfortable as possible as I explore the cities on our port visits. The last port of call is Rio de Janeiro and we have excursions pre booked for both days to see the sights in relative comfort and be transported by air conditioned coach and an English speaking tour guide. Time for shopping and sight seeing will be provided and even some time to walk the sunny and famous beaches.

Although the ports of call have been interesting and break up the cruise, I long for the relaxation and luxury of sea days aboard Oceania. This has been the most luxurious and amazing cruise ever for me.

Dec 17 2010 more sea days

Dec 17 2010 Sea day and sunshine

Just another entry about the wonderful sea days on this cruise. I have enjoyed this cruise on the cruise the very best of all. Although ports are interesting and all, the sea days delight the senses.

Today I enjoyed laying in bed and looking out at the sea. The odd ship off in the distance. Blue sky overhead with fluffy white clouds floating on by.

After breakfast I put on a bathing suit and cover, took a library book, reading glasses, some sunscreen and went up for a swim and some time in the sun.

I met some great people, and made some connections.

Yesterday I did some laundry and talked cruising with some wonderful people in the laundry area.

Today was a fabulous formal high tea served in the lounge area. We dressed up and I wore my big floppy black hat to complete the ensemble. There was music and dancing, tea, sweets and ice carvings. Sculptures and chefs. What a sight! And so nice to have it at 4 pm instead of midnight like on other ships. After tea, happy hour and a martini, followed by more dancing. Dinner at 7 in the Grand Dining Room after appies in mom’s penthouse suite.

Tonight watching It’s a Wonderful Life on TV, reminding me it is almost Christmas time back in the real world. I know it is just a week or so away but it feels very far indeed.

With hot and humid air, exotic locations and the wonderful relaxation, I am not reminded of the hustle and bustle, lights and sounds and cold air reminiscent of Christmas in Canada.

Dec 2010 Thanks to Oceania for the service

Thanks

Dec 15, 16 and on, 2010 Thanks for the service on ms Insignia

I want to be sure that each of the staff are acknowledged for their efforts in giving me special attention aboard this cruise. I have been writing their names in a little purple note booklet that I am carrying in my small shoulder bag.

Restaurant managers, wait staff, wine stewards and sommeliers, chefs, and more. Those who made it their business to make my cruise an unforgettable one, in a good way. Those who gave of their precious time to ensure I had a wonderful cruise and that all of my culinary needs were taken care of.

Within a very few days of boarding, these people identified themselves to me and have shown up at my table every day, in many ways, each meal, and at tea time, to ensure I knew they were there, behind the scenes checking on all the details. Special dietary needs does not mean I can’t have, but rather, here is special treatment and special products, meals made to order. I feel like royalty.

I feel high maintenance and yet special. Like these staff have made it their special purpose to ensure I am happy. They smile when they greet me and call me by name. They remember my stateroom number and all the details, ensuring my needs and wants are met without complaint or mistake.

Carlos, the restaurant manager. Sweet, kind, funny, sensitive, hard working, ever-present. He does every task that needs doing. He is busing tables, greeting guests at the door, asking for feedback, remembering all the details, giving subtle, respectful and behind the scenes, clear instructions to wait staff, running to the kitchen to find some item for some special person. Carlos makes it happen and does so with such grace and hard work. My gratitude to him is unlimited. Carlos can often been seen with small droplets on his face, perspiration from the hard work and responsibility that he takes very seriously. He makes it happen, seamlessly.

Srdjan, also restaurant manager. Efficient, kind, attention to detail, big smile, tall dark and handsome. Made sure he spoke to me every day and seemed honestly interested in my feedback regarding food and service.

Horst, maitre d. Went out of his way from day one, when on shift when I was there, to make sure all my needs were met. Traveled to other restaurants to find something I could eat for dessert.

The soups were fantastic and chef Johny was always present in Polo Grill for supper and Terrace Cafe at breakfast and lunch and brought me salsa, desserts, and checked with me to ensure I could eat a variety of food choices. Pauline in Polo Grill made sure I had jellies every night of the cruise and saved lemon meringue dessert for me the day it was prepared.

Multinational serving staff and chefs made the culinary experience with Oceania even more spectacular. Accents of every kind can be heard every day. Caring people, Maryia with a large smile and big heart. Several young women at the buffet who looked after me.

Versace and other designer plates and dishes in the dining rooms. Large red wine glasses. A choice of white or black cloth napkins available in Polo Grill. We did not have to pay for dining in specialty restaurants and we took advantage of eating in them whenever possible. Bread crumb scooper used after the meal. Choice of oil and balsamic vinegar in Toscana specialty restaurant. Silver sugar set at tea time and in all dining rooms.
It is the little things. Love is in the details. I feel very cared for on this cruise and am grateful.

Dec 2010 Days at Sea

Dec 14, 2010 Days at Sea

My favorite days are days at sea. On Oceania, this is no exception. Leisurely waking up after being rocked gently to sleep by the rolling of the ship on the wide ocean. Curtains drawn and a view of the horizon, water, blue sky out my window the size of the entire wall of the stateroom.

Tranquility beds so very comfortable, snuggled warm in crisp white sheets, a down comforter and soft down pillows. How luxurious feeling. Large floor to ceiling mirror at the end of the bed on the opposite wall. All items stored carefully away, no clutter in the room.

I enjoy the peacefulness and the movement that greets me as I wake. No plans for the day. No expectations other than food and great company. I might read a book, sit in a common area in comfy chairs, look out windows, enjoy the hot equatorial sun, or catch glimpses of flying fish. I might play scrabble or do a sudoku puzzle. I might shop in the boutiques on board for items I will never purchase. I might have decaf Earl Grey tea in my cruise ship logo mug and sip slowly back in my room. I might do all or none of the above mentioned.

I know the day will be relaxed and enjoyable and that no expectations other than that are encouraged. I have enjoyed the special service I receive from the staff on this ship. Very personal and particular to my specific food needs and wants. I feel high maintenance and enjoy that feeling.

I love the furnishings and wall and window coverings on this small cruise ship. I love the variety of places to find nourishment and endulge in sugary delights. Chocolates on my pillow, fresh berries awaiting at every meal, whole lobster in Polo Grill, flavorful jellies delivered to my table at dinner time, and today, they came at lunch as well. Perrier and San Peregrino water is offered. Still or room temperature water, or water with ice. Unlimited diet Coke and iced tea for the asking.

Gluten free toast and sugar free jams and jellies. Flavorful and spicy salsas made and presented when I ask. Egg white omelet.

Although not entirely about food, this cruise offers so many delights.

I am traveling with family and friends and have made even more friends aboard.

I have the beginning of a tan and enjoy the salt water swimming pool and two fresh water hot tubs and comfy individual and double lounge chairs awaiting on the pool deck. Also there is a jogging and walking track, 13 times around for a mile, above the pool area. Always so much to see. People watching is a great pastime. This ship is no exception to the enjoyment.

I am enjoying reading books in the afternoon, and watching snippets of movies on tv throughout the day or before bed. In order to not spend a fortune on internet usage, I am trying to write only once every two days and seeking internet cafes when we arrive in port.

Lectures are offered on wellness, port excursions, cruise ships and history of places foreign to me. There is a spa and fitness area, I have come to know some of the staff in most of the areas on the ship. I speak to the Concierge about our travels home. I talk at registration desk about my entrance to Brazil. I have spent time with the travel agent offering Oceania future voyages at a discount. I am hopeful one day I will have a job like that. Cruising, meeting people and enjoying the treasured sea days.

Dec 15, 20110 South of the Equator

Dec 15, 2010 South of the Equator

Greetings from the southern hemisphere! I have arrived. Sometime around 2 am local time, just around another time change, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, smooth seas and no particular sign posts, I crossed the equator for the first time in my life.

In elementary school and after, talk of the equator brought interest. What was that like? The largest section around the world, the biggest part of the circle. Is it the same below? Down under? Does the water actually spin the other direction in the sink, tub or toilet bowl? The sky will host different constellations and I can’t remember the southern most sky-marks. It has been so long since that early learning that I can’t recall what I am to expect.

Nonetheless, here I am and I am excited. At noon, at sea, a ceremony takes place to initiate those, like me, who this is their first crossing to the south.

Dec 14, 2010 Sea Days

Dec 14, 2010 Days at Sea

My favorite days are days at sea. On Oceania, this is no exception. Leisurely waking up after being rocked gently to sleep by the rolling of the ship on the wide ocean. Curtains drawn and a view of the horizon, water, blue sky out my window the size of the entire wall of the stateroom.

Tranquility beds so very comfortable, snuggled warm in crisp white sheets, a down comforter and soft down pillows. How luxurious feeling. Large floor to ceiling mirror at the end of the bed on the opposite wall. All items stored carefully away, no clutter in the room.

I enjoy the peacefulness and the movement that greets me as I wake. No plans for the day. No expectations other than food and great company. I might read a book, sit in a common area in comfy chairs, look out windows, enjoy the hot equatorial sun, or catch glimpses of flying fish. I might play scrabble or do a sudoku puzzle. I might shop in the boutiques on board for items I will never purchase. I might have decaf Earl Grey tea in my cruise ship logo mug and sip slowly back in my room. I might do all or none of the above mentioned.

I know the day will be relaxed and enjoyable and that no expectations other than that are encouraged. I have enjoyed the special service I receive from the staff on this ship. Very personal and particular to my specific food needs and wants. I feel high maintenance and enjoy that feeling.

I love the furnishings and wall and window coverings on this small cruise ship. I love the variety of places to find nourishment and endulge in sugary delights. Chocolates on my pillow, fresh berries awaiting at every meal, whole lobster in Polo Grill, flavorful jellies delivered to my table at dinner time, and today, they came at lunch as well. Perrier and San Peregrino water is offered. Still or room temperature water, or water with ice. Unlimited diet Coke and iced tea for the asking.

Gluten free toast and sugar free jams and jellies. Flavorful and spicy salsas made and presented when I ask. Egg white omelet.

Although not entirely about food, this cruise offers so many delights.

I am traveling with family and friends and have made even more friends aboard.

I have the beginning of a tan and enjoy the salt water swimming pool and two fresh water hot tubs and comfy individual and double lounge chairs awaiting on the pool deck. Also there is a jogging and walking track, 13 times around for a mile, above the pool area. Always so much to see. People watching is a great pastime. This ship is no exception to the enjoyment.

I am enjoying reading books in the afternoon, and watching snippets of movies on tv throughout the day or before bed. In order to not spend a fortune on internet usage, I am trying to write only once every two days and seeking internet cafes when we arrive in port.

Lectures are offered on wellness, port excursions, cruise ships and history of places foreign to me. There is a spa and fitness area, I have come to know some of the staff in most of the areas on the ship. I speak to the Concierge about our travels home. I talk at registration desk about my entrance to Brazil. I have spent time with the travel agent offering Oceania future voyages at a discount. I am hopeful one day I will have a job like that. Cruising, meeting people and enjoying the treasured sea days.