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Cruise Day 2 at Sea

May 7, 2013

sunny

Day Two at Sea

Tuesday

|First full day on the Cruise Ship. Not much to report as will be the case for each of the “At Sea” days I expect.

Our impressions of this RCCL ship and what it offers can only be compared to what we have experienced with NCL. First of all is the obvious, and that is this ship is significantly larger than the two Norwegian class ships we've sailed on. The crew is very mixed nationality wise. We've noticed more Caucasians with a lot fewer Philippinos.

The food seems to be very well prepared and tasty. The thing that we don't like of course is the dining arrangement. They don't have the 'free style' dining we have come to think of as normal. They have made some sort of provision for those of us who want to deviate from the status quo, but it pales in comparison to Norwegian. In short 95% of the people here are herded to a table at the same time and place and with the same members of the herd as the night before. The all day general buffet is very comparable except for the drink disposal. Here everything is dispensed by wait staff, even coffee.

One nice thing is that these guys don't flog drinks like Norwegian does. In a couple of days now, we have yet to be approached by wait staff soliciting us to buy their booze. Having said that, they are asking a ludicrous utterly absurd price for their soda/coke packages. Something like $7 per day. Multiply that by 15.

There is one thing that is becoming more and more apparent. We don't think the ship is anywhere near full. If it is, then it can sure handle a ton of people while making it seem empty. And these are 'at sea' days when everyone is on board. Examples: They have a beautiful 18 hole free mini golf. When I walked by, mid-afternoon today, there were a mere two couples using it. They also have a rock climbing wall. I checked it out late afternoon yesterday. The two staff members there had no clients, and their boredom was palpable. The basketball court was also null and void of human beings. The temperatures on deck are in the mid twenties today, plenty warm enough to hit the pool deck and catch some rays. It was practically a ghost town at 3:00 pm. And finally, the restaurants are virtually empty, and the waiters keep giving us double portions of food and even have had the audacity to serve me dessert when I had plainly not asked for any.

My ingloriously pathetic beard is coming along very nicely. We had some pictures taken of us at dinner last night and my sparse grey stubble was quite conspicuous when we viewed them this morning. I may compromise at some point, and just let a goatee be my sole whiskery facial adornment. Deep down despite her protestations, I sincerely believe Susan likes my Esau look. She'll never admit it, but I truly believe it to be so.

Shan, about the shoes. Our pioneer sister who gave the tour of the Louvre did indeed have herself shod in some noteworthy foot wear. First of all the colour was a peculiar Pierce feces hue of brown. They were fashioned after a typical man's brogue style. Those two things alone made them cause for analysis but the clincher was their finish. You know that super shiny plastic material young three year old girls' shoes have. This is what she had. The laces were ridiculously skinny as well and not well colour coordinated with the shoes All these oddities left me often furtively staring at them in wonder, and on at least one occasion she noticed me doing so. Awkward, as now she still probably thinks of me as some weirdo with a foot fetish.

Anyway hopefully Susan can have some more creative things to comment on Wednesday's 'at sea' day.

Over and out for Marko. Miller time!!

Posted by mutzy 09:19 Comments (1)

Alexandria

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Posted by mutzy 13:01 Comments (0)

Sea Daze

Day 3
May 8

As Mark said, “sea” days do not have a lot of information to report on. We are still figuring out the layout of the ship. There are similarities to the other ones we have been on, but each ship is, of course, different. We may know the deck we want, but then, when we get off the elevator or reach the top or bottom of the staircase, we still have to figure out which way to go, fore or aft, port or starboard. Then, when you traverse one deck fore to aft (or vice versa) then go up or down, you have to figure it all out again. We spend a lot of time in front of the little ship diagrams at each floor. Even after looking at it, you can still head the wrong way, if you don't remember which end you are at......at least it means we get our exercise.

That is essentially all to report on for today. Yesterday, however, there were a few things we did that Mark didn't refer to.

We started the day with the “Meet and Mingle” sponsored by the cruise line for “Cruise Critic” members. For this cruise, we have followed the Cruise Critics website “roll call” for all the people who post comments, questions, information and so on this particular cruise. In the past, we have reviewed this website for answers to questions about cruising generally. However, if you join the site for a particular cruise, you trade comments with other people on your cruise. There were well over a hundred people at this event. There were several draws, and Val cleaned up. Not sure we would bother with this again—not a lot of benefit to it. However, we did see people who would be on our overnight Cairo excursion, and that was one of the reasons we joined the website—to save some money by not joining ship sponsored excursions.

Val, Troi and I went to the art auction: free champagne, and draw entries. I found a table earlier in the day that had a bunch of raffle tickets, so I picked up a bunch because I didn't notice in my daily flyer the other leaflets for free tickets that Val had. I was somewhat hesitant to submit all of them, but I did. No questions asked. We enjoyed viewing the work of the various artists, and sat in on the actual auction, which I have never bothered to do on other cruises. It was interesting. Val also seemed to have the lucky raffle number for this event. Despite the bowl stacked with my overabundance of entries, my number didn't even come close to being called.

We dined at a specialty restaurant tonight: Giovanni's Table, specializing in Italian cuisine of course. For the four of us booking on the second day of the cruise, we got a free bottle of wine. We had scallops, filet mignon, etc. It was very good. BONUS: we got another booking at this restaurant FREE ($20 per person saving). We will be back on the day we go through the Suez Canal.

We went to the first show on board: a production show of song and dance, somewhat based on art work........would definitely not put it on a par with the Jean Ryan production shows we have seen on NCL, but we will see what the rest of the cruise brings.

That's it.

Posted by mutzy 12:40 Comments (0)

Sea Day 3 May 9

Thursday, May 9
Day 4
Last full day at Sea before Alexandria

It is only 9:38 am and already I have a highlight to scribble down with a broad grin etched on my countenance. I beat Susan in mini golf this morning! I did it with a flare too as I quickly fell down 5 strokes to her early on as she had some wildly lucky initial holes. I put my game face on and doggedly persevered and was rewarded with a one shot victory, snagging the win from her on the last hole. Yee Hawww!! Life is good. I miss my home made long putter though.

4:46 now. Susan and Val have ventured down for a trivia contest, one of four I believe they have participated in so far, and yet no trophies, awards, prizes . . . nada. I thought the Balls were supposed to be reasonably intelligent.

I have something to boast about though. I have had four rounds of mini golf now, the last being a foursome with V and T. I am undefeated. I am a machine and I have the score cards to prove it.

It will be an early night since we have to pack for our over-nighter in Cairo tomorrow and be prepared to meet the tour company at seven in the morning.

We got some real heat today as we continue our south east approach to Alexandria. Susan and I sprawled on some chaise lounges for a bit this afternoon on an upper deck and in no time my upper torso was reddening and sweat was accumulating everywhere. We knew not to push it so we went into a nearby room solely for the playing of games whereupon Susan and I found ourselves engaged in a friendly contest of Scrabble. Susan was rescued with the appearance of V and T mid way through the game and the match was instantly terminated. This, two moves after I had just executed a brilliant scrabble for close to a hundred points. “COASTED” using the e and the d in conjunction with two other words. It was a thing of beauty.

We had another tasty meal, and concluded the day with the show in the theatre. Four Spaniard singers two young girls and two young guys. They sang some classic 1980's folk pop music. Not Cirqe du Soleil but the hour went by very pleasantly.

Tomorrow Alexandria.

Posted by mutzy 12:43 Comments (0)

Alexandria to Cairo, May 10

sunny 35 °C

May 10
Arrive Alexandria
Cairo overnight excursion

Today was the Big Day. We were up early to get off the ship as soon as it was cleared by the Egyptian authorities, estimated to be by 7:00 a.m. We had to be packed for our overnight excursion with passports etc in hand. We were on time and waiting.

We got off the ship and found our way to our big yellow tour bus, with Mohammed as our guide. With the other 26 passengers, we were off on our 2.5-3 hour drive to Cairo. Along the way, Mohammed gave us the history of Egypt, including the dynasties of the Pharaohs. There was a lot to absorb. The four of us agreed that it was very interesting what we learned, but there was lots going on outside our windows as we sped along the Alex/Cairo Desert highway that we would have liked to learn about, too. It as obvious, however, that Mohammed's interest and passion was Egyptian history and that was his focus. I guess it made sense, too, since we were on an excursion to see the Pyramids, which are ancient history.

We arrived without incident to Cairo, a truly DIRTY city. The garbage in the streets was incredible. Egypt has a population of about 90,000,000, and Cairo has about 20%, or 20,000,00. Both in Cairo and in Alexandria, we were surprised at how the old and new were side by side. Burros/donkeys were used to transport both goods and people in the city—and on the freeways—almost as much as automated vehicles (lots of motor scooters.)

Our first stop was for a brief visit to the Egyptian Museum. The Museum was built 1897-1901, and houses 165,000 pieces. Since it would take us 11 straight months to view each piece for only 3 seconds, our guide focused our attention on the pieces of the Tutankhamen exhibit. They were really amazing. All that gold, and the gold and silver jewellery with inlaid lapis, turquoise, obsidian, etc was really hard to believe that one king who reigned less than ten years, and died before he was 20 years old, could have such wealth amassed.

After our brief visit here, we picked up our boxed lunches and then ate them on a very nice, tranquil felucca ride. I wasn't expecting to get this little treat with this excursion, so this was a bonus in my mind. The felucca is a simple sail boat, we saw them all over the waterways we we were on. The felucca was nice and clean, but we were sailing on the dirty Nile River.

We got back on the bus and headed south east of Cairo about 32 kms, to the city of Sakkara. We actually went beyond Sakkara to the ruins of the ancient city of Memphis. Here we got out to see the statue of Ramses II, c. 1250 BC, and several other monuments,including a sphinx. Memphis was perhaps the oldest city of Egypt—I think....at least, they started dating in Egypt from 3000 BC, which was when Memphis was built.

Back on the bus, we drove the few kilometers back to Sakkara. Here we got out to view the first pyramid built, the 'step' pyramid, which anyone who has watched the TV shows on ancient Egypt knows about. From this pyramid, the design came for the others that were built. While Mohammed was giving us the history of the site we were visiting, the wind blew up the sand, and we got blasted by a sand storm. Free dermabrasions for all! After exploring these ruins, we got back in the bus and were on our way back to Cairo. First, though, we stopped at a school where young people are taught to make carpets. This was very similar to what we saw in Turkey. Another half hour ride, and we were back in Cairo and given the keys to our room in the five star hotel, Mena House. The hotel was originally a palace built early in the 1900s. It was very neat architecture, quite simple compared to what we have seen in Europe. Lines were very clean, quite modern looking. It was just a couple of minutes' drive from the Pyramids at Giza,and most rooms had a view of the Pyramids. We got here about 5:30ish and had until 6:30 to rest and clean up, before we had to be ready to go again. I had a shower and felt very refreshed after the sand storm. My face was really grimy with sand grit.I thought I was nice and clean until I was drying my ears, and found that they were still full of sand.....

Once again, back on the bus and we drove a block or two to the venue of the Pyramid Sound and Light show. This was something I had been wanting to see since I read the Robin Cook book “Sphinx” in about 1979. Lighting on the 3 main pyramids and the sphinx, plus some slides using pictures from artifacts were used to tell the narrated story of the history of the pyramids and the details of the construction. The program lasted close to an hour, under the stars in the warm air with a gentle breeze. It was well worth seeing, despite some reviews saying it was 'hokey'. We really enjoyed what we saw.

After the show, back on the bus and we went to the Papyrus place and saw a demo of how it is made and purchased a few pieces and upstairs was another store where we could purchase some souvenirs. Back on the bus and we finally got to our dinner...! It was a buffet and was quite good, but we were eating at 9:30 at night. We were famished as we hadn't eaten since about 11:00 that morning. We were able to order beer too and boy did that go down well. From there, back on the bus and back to our room. We had a beautiful sleep and were up again before 6:00 in the morning for part II.

We had a delicious buffet breakfast at the hotel, then the short bus ride once again back to the Giza Plateau where we got to actually see in the daylight “The Pyramids”....
But, I encroach on Mark's day.

Posted by mutzy 12:17 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

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