Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jewel of the Seas Aft Balcony 1102 12.15.11

Almost got an eyeful there at the end...which is why there is another video showing the bathroom :-)

Mrs. B

The Jewel is a Gem!: Part One

We're back from our cruise; actually, we returned B&E this past Monday am. Alas, it was too, too, short BUT it sure was a lot of fun. I think there is something about having to cram a bunch of enjoyment into a short period of time that tends to make the days more memorable.

We dropped The Kid off at Tampa International around 11:00 am. Sorry to see her go; Mr. B was sad, of course. I was very glad that we were heading to the ship, otherwise, it would have been pretty darn depressing.

It took less than 20 minutes to get from the airport to the Port of Tampa. As it was when we took Jewel's sister ship Radiance out of Tampa this past January, embarkation was a total snap. They really have it down pat. We were on the ship before noon!

Now, here is a somewhat odd thing. Although we were told by one of the bartenders that the ship was full, it seemed amazingly empty throughout the entire cruise, even on the sea days where there is nowhere else for the PAX to be but on the ship. Our new friend Pam said maybe there were a lot of Florida residents on board (read:old) who were staying in their staterooms because it was a bit chilly that first day.

In any case, we went up to the Windjammer (buffet) for an early lunch. Other than going in there on occasion to get a quick bite to take back to the pool area, we stayed clear of the Windjammer. No matter how uncrowded the ship may be, all of the rude and pushy folks seem to end up in there.

Directly after lunch, we headed to one of our favorite bars, The Schooner Bar, on Deck Six. I ordered my first Frozen Mojito of the cruise but for some reason, it wasn't exactly right. Too much lime, no mint. Anyway, we chatted with the bartender for a bit. As is the case with the majority of crew members, he was not from the U.S., but, rather, from Estonia. He asked how many cruises we've taken (this was our 4th together), he said he's taken over 500! Well, of course! It's his job! Anyway, he highly recommended we consider one of the cruises that goes from London to Paris to Norway to Russia.

A bit after 1:00 pm, we were able to get into our stateroom up on Deck 10 (aft balcony). Being Jewel is a sister ship to Radiance and our room was right next to the one we were on in January, there wasn't much surprise with our accommodations. The one difference was a very positive one; the shower had a door instead of the butt-crack invading shower curtain that was on Radiance.

Although I just posted a video of our stateroom, here are a few pictures of #1102.
No pole dancing in this room!
I wonder why they even bother with those "tables"?
Dinky but serviceable bathroom
Best part of the room
Port of Tampa
Already on the phone (actually, he was talking to our vet about some shots Lucy needed)
Wiped out already?

As usual, I'd ordered a bottle of Champagne for our room. It was there (along with our bottled water and coupon booklet) but what WASN'T there was ice!
Ice-less Champagne. First time this has happened! Note the "Contact Stateroom Attendant If You Need Ice" sign. DUH!

This actually became an issue as it took forever and a day to get ice and then the ice we got was pretty scant in quantity. As it turns out, we didn't end up drinking the Champagne until the next night and, in fact, I ended up drinking it with my new friend Pam while Mr. B smoked a cigar with her husband and their friend Fish.

Yes, The B's made some new friends on this cruise! We'd told ourselves prior to sailing that we were going to branch out; rather than keep to ourselves, we'd attempt to meet and mingle. Weeks before the cruise, I signed onto the thread for the sailing and met and chatted with many people online (similar to what I did for the Enchantment sailing where we ended up meeting a few people and going on a private excursion with them in the Dominican Republic).

Turns out there were to be several ladies all born in 1963 on board plus a few other people celebrating b-days. There were also some pretty interesting characters posting on the board; I can't resist copying one post here:

"DH wants me to drive his new truck from Grand Rapids for my flight instead of my old car. So, I boiled him a cow tongue this morning to use for lunch meat or quick dinner while I'm gone. I will be wearing some Mardi Gras beads and an elf hat".

Not to be mean or catty, but, she was an unusual lady. More on her and our new friends and cruise adventures next posting as I gotta run now.

Mrs. B

Monday, December 5, 2011

Update on LIFE

I've not forgotten my pledge to write more often however LIFE is getting in the way. Is it such a bad thing, to have so many activities going on that I don't have time to sit on my butt in front of the computer and write? Probably not. There's always Busy Season for that (when I become a CPA Widow).

Of course, this year (or, next year), will be quite different from that regard. And, speaking of such, we've both been busily working to get Mr. B's official website launched. Soon! Quite a bit of re-writing/editing, but, the end result will be, hopefully, exactly what we want. More on that later.

The B's had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend spent with both the Senior B's (and extended B Family) and Mr. H (Mrs. B's Father). Lucy came along for the weekend and also had a grand time. Unfortunately, Mrs. B forgot to take ANY pictures of that fun weekend, save one I took of my first attempt at making a Pumpkin Pie Martini and one taken after we got home and one of Mr. B and Lucy wiped out after several full days of Thanksgiving cheer.
That evening, we went to an Advent service at our new church. Not only did we go to the service, we participated in it; the "Hanging of the Greens" tradition. I was trying to recall if I'd ever done this before in my youth (back when I used to go to church); I don't think so. In any case, the B's hung a wreath and I'm happy to report that (at least as of yesterday morning), it's still hanging! We also discovered that it's indeed a small world. One of our neighbors on The Loop also attends this church, as does a business contact Mr. B recently made.

Now we're into the full throttle of preparations for the Christmas season. We're both trying, though, to keep it simple; no need for us to get caught up in the frenzy. Even so, there is plenty enough to do. I've started the holiday cookie baking; I wasn't going to do this, however, I received a few special requests, so, I buckled! Honestly, I do enjoy it.
Mickey Doodle! My Snicerdoodles were spreading upon baking more than usual. Pulled the sheet out of the oven to find this! Mickey had an emergency ear amputation and all is now well.

This past weekend, we got serious about decorating. Mr. B brought all of the Christmas boxes down from the attic and we spent several hours putting things up and about. Although our space is smaller here, we managed to get the majority of it placed. It did take a bit longer than usual,though, since we were working with new space and had to figure out WHERE things look best. Frankly, some stuff may get moved around some :-) The big thing remaining is our tree. Dilemma! In year's past, we've ALWAYS had a real tree. However, two things posed a problem here. First, the real trees are very, very expensive plus I'm not sure how fresh they really are since they have to be shipped (probably from NC!) Second, there is not an obvious place in our new home for a tree. After quite a lot of consideration, we decided to buy a fake tree, but, no just any fake tree, we purchased a flat back tree so we could place it up against a wall, thus saving on space. Hopefully after it's all decked out, it'll look real enough. I guess though, this means I have to go out and buy some of those balsam/fir air fresheners so our house will smell like a tree.

Maybe next year, we'll buy a small real tree for the lanai. We'll see.

All the pets are doing well, as evidenced by this picture (Athena DOES exist, she's just camera shy!) And, yes, Pete really does look this grouchy all of time.
Busy week ahead; I have an Opera Guild holiday lunch to attend Tuesday; that night, we were invited to go with a group of neighbors to dinner and a Christmas Pageant. We're going to a holiday open house held by our pool ladies Friday night. Our new tree should arrive Thursday so we'll be able to decorate it this coming weekend. The Kid arrives on the following Tuesday for a quickie visit; we'll drop her off at the airport on the 15th and then head to the Port of Tampa to get onto Jewel of the Seas for our four night cruise.

When we get home, it'll then be time to prepare for Christmas, house guests, good meals, etc., etc. It's a bit busy, but, it's all good!

Mrs. B