At Sea and At Sydney

We woke at 7 a.m. on Saturday, September 18th, in time to catch the sunrise, still cruising northeast on the St.  Lawrence River, away from Quebec City.  Exactly one week ago, we were at the airport in MN.

Mountains ranged on our starboard side of the ship where we again kept our balcony door wide open, sipped our hot coffee in the room, and enjoyed the whoosh of the waves nine floors below us.

The river kept getting wider but we could still see the jagged mountains and the lighted cities at their feet at 8:00 a.m.

When we zoom in the lens, the cities come closer and you can also see the field of huge windmills.

It was a warm day and, again, we spent almost all of this day at sea outdoors on the familiar Deck 12, where Flora’s kept a table in the sun for us.

Allan and I also explored the ship from top to bottom.

This is what I took a picture of from my perch above.  It was somebody’s private little swimming pool in the very front of the ship.

A view of (and from) Deck 13, overlooking the big swimming pool and four hot tubs on Deck 12.  The back half of Deck 13, which is not visible here, is where our favorite walking path is located.

Still on the 13th floor, Allan checks out some of the high-rising mechanical gear.

We found the Captain’s Quarters at the front of one of the floors.  Maybe it was Deck 10.

Just hanging out.

Allan reads about some of the awards received by this ship, The Norwegian Jewel, and where it has traveled in its short five years.  The Jewel has been to the Mediterranean and the Orient and other places closer to home.

Every time we went anywhere on this very large ship (population roughly 4,000), we could take elevators to each of the floors or we could take the steps that had walls of mirrors at each landing. 

We could walk the entire perimeter of the ship on Deck 7 (which was more enclosed than the walk on Deck 13) because Deck 7 had another deck ceiling above it all around.

The walking (and standing and visiting areas) of Deck 7 was elaborately painted in many open areas.

Our meals were always beautifully plated at Tsar’s Dining Room, including my Tuna Tar Tar.

Another sunrise reveals a freighter ship passing alongside us.

We began pulling into the harbor at Sydney, a city in Nova Scotia, about 6:00 a.m.

A few clouds hung in the harbor as we viewed the green lush countryside that looked like paintings by Norman Rockwell.

There were rows and clusters of normal looking homes along the shoreline with red barns and church steeples scattered among them.

By 8:30 a.m. we were off the ship, walking up the hill toward Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which was located about two blocks up from St. George’s Anglican Church.  (Thank you, Allan, for carrying my heavy purse sometimes for me.)

We shopped an hour before the 10 o’clock Mass and an hour after Mass.

Since Sydney was to be the last port of Our Ocean’s Eleven, I did some fun power shopping, even purchasing a little bling for myself on “Main Street.”

At 12:30 p.m. we already had to board the Jewel for a 1:00 p.m. departure.  Sydney was nice but the town itself was also very “normal,” so we weren’t sure why it ranked as a port of call.  Maybe we missed a fantastic bus tour!!  We learned it’s located on Cape Breton and is the only other “city” in Nova Scotia besides Halifax.  Every other “city” there is deemed a town or a village.

That afternoon the clouds and winds increased as we moved south toward New York City.  I knew Hurricane Igor was spinning in our direction, having just devastated Bermuda, and was now inching northward.  For the first time we experienced significant whitecaps and 15-foot waves instead of the calm ripples of these past many days.  The wind howled when our balcony door was opened and it whistled wildly through our room when we simultaneously opened our door to the hallway.

My Shrimp and Swordfish Brochette that evening at Tsar’s was just excellent, and I continued to order vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup for dessert.  The food made up for the rough sea.

On one of our last evenings, all of the chefs and cooks marched through the dining room to our sustained applause and thank you’s for many days of excellent food and service throughout the ship.

We had our picture taken with Mauricio, our waiter at our favorite table at Tsar’s Palace.

When we got to our room that night, there was a guest propped up on one of the shelves — a monkey made out of a bath towel.

We’ll probably never learn how to do tricks with napkins and towels.

Acrobat dancers at the Stardust that evening were awesome, and then the ship’s crew, chefs, and cooks marched on stage to say goodbye to us, and us to them, though we had one more full day left at sea.

After the show, we were treated to a Chocolate Extravaganza at the Garden Café up on Deck 12.  Even the Statue of Liberty gained 5 pounds that evening.

But the pounds melted off this ice sculpture of the Statue of Liberty.

The morning of Monday, September 20th, was gray.  Fog hung over everything and the entire ocean is undulating —  like a large bowl of warm jello being carried to the refrigerator — so we killed much of the day just hanging around the ship and checking the menu for that evening.

Many passengers dined at Tsar’s  for lunch, but we preferred the open Deck 12 for daytime grazing.

Goodbye, Tsar’s Palacing Dining Room.  I’ll think of you on my diet when I get home.

Four of us decided to do what no one else was doing on this cold and windy day — go outdoors and play shuffleboard on Deck 7.  We struggled to push open a door to the outside, but it became an hour of fun!

We woke at 6 a.m. Tues., Sept. 21st, with smooth sailing on our eleventh and final day on the Atlantic.  By 6:15 the horizon had red tones.  It’s the Verrazano Bridge that connects Staten Island and Brooklyn.

We were traveling at 17 knots, down from the usual 20 or so knots.

I heard a buoy bell in the distance as the sun began to escape the horizon.

The tall skyline of New York City consumed the entire coastline for miles and miles.

Every moment seemed to beg a photo.

Farewells sadden our hearts and hellos gladden them.  Hello, Statue of Liberty.  You look the same as you did eleven days ago.

Do you recognize Ellis Island?  Many of our ancestors would.  May they be resting in peace.

One final breakfast and cup of coffee on our favorite open air dining spot up on Deck 12.

We docked in  New York City about 10 a.m. and from our balcony room watched another cruise ship pull into a tight slip as though it were a little car that suddenly found an empty spot at the Mall of America.

By 11 a.m. we had departed the ship and gone through customs.  We arrived at JFK at 12:30 p.m. with three hours to kill.  We were home in Victoria before 7:00 p.m. that evening.

And now we relive good memories from our introduction to one more corner of this fascinating world.