Posts Tagged ‘New England’

Cool Cruise – Part 7: Rocking and Rolling at Sea

December 13, 2009

As I woke on the morning of our last full day at sea,  I felt the ship rolling. Curious as to why, I pushed back the drapes of the cabin’s window and gasped an unprintable word – this is a G- rated blog – at what a I saw. 

   

Then it occurred to me that the noise I was hearing through the double-pained glass was the wind howling. I turned on the cabin TV to the ship’s channel where I learned that we were in a force 8 gale.  That means the wind was blowing from 39 to 46 miles per  hour.  

I have been in rough seas before.  I made two North Atlantic crossings back in the 50’s when I was in the Army. We had a pretty good storm on one of them.  The ride on the troop ship was more exciting because there is a big difference in a relatively small troop ship without stabilizers and a 105,500 ton, 12-deck tall cruise ship that has state of the art stabilizers.  

A lot of soldiers on that troop ship got demonstrably seasick.  Fortunately, I wasn’t one of  them. In fact,  I actually enjoyed going on deck for some fresh  air and feeling the sea spray on my face.    One sight I’ll never forget was when I went to the head on the fantail of the ship.  As the fantail went up and down like one end of a seesaw, the water in the toilets – there must have been at least 20 of them in a row – shot up like fountains. 

 On the Carnival Triumph we had expected the day at sea steaming from Halifax, Nova Scotia to New York City,  would be fun, with ballroom dance lessons,  delicious food, an afternoon tea,  the chance to lose some more money in the casino,  and the passenger talent show in the big lounge.  

 You should have seen the ballroom dance class  trying to do cha-cha steps with the ship rolling that way.  I tried it for a little while, but decided that at my age I wouldn’t want to fall on a hard dance floor.     

Carnival Triumph back in the calm waters at Pier 88 in Manhattan following the 7-day cruise. That barge on the side is refueling her for her trip to Norfolk, Virginia, then a cruise to Miami, and finally back to her home port of New Orleans.

 As the ship pulled into New York Harbor the next morning, all was calm again.  Getting off the ship was a lot easier than getting on with not as many security hoops to jump through which made lines to the customs stations short.   

Wending our way through downtown Manhattan via 42nd Street and Broadway on the way to La Guardia and the flight back to Atlanta.

  We got to enjoy the bus ride down Broadway and 42nd Street and Time Square back to La Guardia Airport.  I reflected that was a good way to experience downtown Manhattan.  You got the ambience without having to get involved with the throngs on the sidewalks or the pushing and shoving of what must have been a million people in Times Square.    

Greystone at Inverness Apartments, Columbus, GA.

Now that I am back home I am seeing more beautiful fall leaves than I saw anywhere in New England and Canada, and the main reason for going in mid-October was to see those leaves.  The rest of the adventure made up for it. 

 

Autumn leaves on the Riverwalk, on the overflowing Chattahoochee River, Columbus, GA

Cool Cruise – Part 4: Hello, Portland!

November 8, 2009

Finally, as promised, Portland, Maine!

PORTLAND, MAINE DOCKS

Portland, Maine Harbor

Like Boston, entering a historic New England city by sea is a good way to do it.  It was the way that English Naval Captain Christopher Levett arrived in 1623 to settle the Portland area. His ship would probably fit in a dining room of the Carnival Triumph,  the cruise ship I was on. 

Oct 12 2009_Cruise_1381

Portland, once a busy port for sailing ships, still has some of them, but they are for sightseeing cruises

Like so many old cities in the United States, the old downtown area, now called the Old Port section, with its art college and art colony,  entertainment venues and many restaurants is the city’s main tourist attraction.  Also like many cities, a modern mall in another area of town is the main shopping center.  Our tour bus didn’t go there. It’s the historic stuff that pulls in the tourists. 

When you get into the names of historically significant Portland natives, number one would have to be Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the most popular poet in the world during the middle and late 1800’s.  His poems include The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and Hiawatha. He is the only American represented with a bust in the Poet’s Corner of London’s Westminster Abbey.  Buried in that corner are the great English writers  including Chaucer, Dickens, Elliot, and Wordsworth. 

Oct 12 2009_Cruise_1380

Portland Head Light Lighthouse

Probably the biggest tourist attraction in the Portland area is the Portland Head Light Lighthouse. This New England icon was built at President George Washington’s insistence.  Using whale oil as fuel, it was first lit in 1790.  It attracts more than  a million visitors a year.  The one negative is that it has no public restrooms with plumbing, only a long row of porta-potties.  Come on, folks,  restrooms don’t cost that much. 

Part of the attraction for taking a New England-Canadian cruise in October was to see the turning leaves in all of their glory.  We saw very few that would make you want to start humming “Autumn Leaves.”  In fact, you really don’t have to leave Georgia to see beautiful turning leaves.

Now, on to St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.

Cool Cruise – Part 3: You Have to Fly 500 MPH to Get to a Cruise Ship that Goes 25 Miles MPH

November 2, 2009

In my last post on our “Autumn leaves” cruise up the coast of New England and Canada, I said we would go to Portland, Maine next, and we will, in our next post, after a little side trip on the joys of getting to the ship which is about a thousand miles from where I live.

Flying to and from New York was mercifully not long.  On the flight to, I sat next to a woman with a baby boy in her arms and her other son, who was about five, in the middle seat. I thought, oh no, little kids are walking germ dispensers. (I did end up with a cold when I got back, but who knows where I got it.) Fortunately the kids were well behaved. The one in her lap was quite content because she hugged and kissed him just about all the way. The other kid was busy coloring most of the time.  I made a point of not talking to them because I figured I had best leave well enough alone. As we were landing, I did strike up a conversation, enough to learn that she was a native New Yorker who lived in Atlanta and was bringing her kids to visit relatives.  Mom and the kids got all excited when New York City, her home town, came into view,  with Mom pointing to the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks. “Look, there’s the Statue of Liberty,” she exclaimed to her two Atlanta boys. “See it?”  The five-year-old had a hard time zeroing in on it so I joined her in pointing it out.  He finally saw it.  They got almost as excited as I did. I’ve been to the Big Apple a few times before, but it had been a while.  NY from Delta lMG_0010_edited-1

Our Delta from Atlanta to New York was about 30 minutes late leaving, which made me anxious that we would literally miss the boat, the cruise ship Carnival Triumph. However, we got a tail wind and the pilot said he would notch up the plane’s speed to make up for lost time.  We arrived at LaGuardia five minutes early.

On the way back, I sat in a row with two ladies, one of whom should have paid for two seats, because she was that large.  Both middle arm rests had to be left down in order for her to slop over into the seat next to her. I was scrunched up for the entire flight. Such is life in the cheap seats.  

The bright side was the ride through downtown Manhattan to get to Pier 88 where the mega-ship Triumph was waiting.  I started singing the George M. Cohan classic show tune “Give My Regards to Broadway” when our bus crept down 42nd Street.  Remember the line ” tell all the gang on 42nd Street that I will be there?”  Everyone, all cruise bound like I, was enjoying the ride and in a good mood so nobody seemed to mind.  We even rode by Times Square where it looked like a million people were milling around. Intreped

Once we got to the docks, we got a brief glimpse of the aircraft carrier Intrepid floating museum, which is docked near the pier where the Triumph waited.  Maybe I’ll go back to see that some time. Meanwhile, I think I’ll go to Warner Robbins to see the Air Force Museum there first.  That’s only a hundred miles away, and I have never been there.

But I digress. I promise to do the Portland thing next.

A Cool Cruise

October 19, 2009

 

Dick McMichael on the Triumph headed out of New York, NY harbor for Boston; Portland, Maine; St. John, New Brunswick, Canada; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Me, Dick McMichael, on the Triumph headed out of New York Harbor for Boston; Portland, Maine; St. John, New Brunswick, Canada; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

I took a vacation from blogging last week,  going on a cool cruise ship.  When I say cool, I mean it literally, as well as the other way.  Carnival Cruise Lines sent the Triumph, which, I am told, has no heater on it, up the  New England and Canadian coast.  Temperatures were in the low thirties and forties.  When I complained to a service desk employee, he told me that I could close the air conditioning vent.  I told him that I did that and the cabin was still cold.  He said he was sorry.  I asked him if the cabins were going to get some heat. He said they would  not. He was right.

Jorge Solano, Cruise Director for the Carnival Lines' Triumph

Jorge Solano, Cruise Director for the Carnival Lines' Triumph

I decided that before I reported on this I would get another source in order to make sure that there was no capacity to heat the cabins for the 2,758 passengers and 1,100 crew members.  After seeing and being thoroughly entertained by the ship’s Cruise Director Jorge Solano, a very funny man, I decided I would ask him.  He granted my request for an interview. 

I told him that I really enjoyed his performances, and that the entertainment on the ship was first rate.  That was not just flattery. I meant it. There were two other hilarious comedians who performed, and big colorful production shows with elaborate costumes, skilled dancers and a great show band.  The ship’s service personnel were helpful and friendly, the food was excellent, and the decor was Las Vegas magical, but I did hear a lot of passengers complaining about their cold cabins.

“Does this ship not have a heater?”

“I don’t think it does, but let me get an official answer, ” he said as he dialed up a Carnival official.   After the conversation, he said that the ship definitely did not have a heater.  When I told him that it was incredible that Carnival would send a ship up the Northeast coast with no heating capacity, he smiled and said, “I’ve been cold, too. I had no idea it was going to be this cold up here.”  He had told me that  being cruise director did not mean he was responsible for the ship, that his job was strictly being in charge of the ship’s entertainment.  He did that very well, and was a likeable guy. 

Cold in our cabins or not, we – I went with a group from the First Baptist Church of Columbus – still had a lot of fun and enjoyed experiencing some places I have never been before.  More on that coming up.   

Carnival Cruise Line's Triumph docked in New York, NY

Carnival Cruise Line's Triumph docked in New York, NY