Cruise - Islands - Spain - Barcelona - Paris

This is my report on our major trip May 2013. I've taken my previous cruise report and modified it.

Before you read my boring writeup you might checkout Deb's presentation on Shutterfly.
You don't need to sign up just click on "View photo book".
Be sure to view the book at "full screen" - hopefully in full HD wide screen.
It can be a little slow coming up.

You can skip to the Barcelona or Paris report.

Deb had particularly enjoyed our previous transatlantic cruise so we decided to do another. I had wanted to see more of Europe and have a place to stay so we wouldn't have to do regular unpacking, packing, finding transportation and our place to stay. Each time you move you lose at least half a day. We hadn't been to Paris in many years so that seemed like the perfect place to spend time. Paris has it all - history, art, food and interesting people.

On April 29 we flew to Fort Lauderdale through Dallas/Fort Worth. We found we could use mileage for our flight so that saved money. Deb found the Crown Plaza had a free airport shuttle plus a shuttle to the cruise ship. This saved a lot of time as well as money.  After a nice meal and sleep we took the shuttle to the ship. This time it appeared we were the only cruise ship in port. We met a nice couple on the bus and later had dinner with them. (extras)

The ship Niew Amsterdam (Link) seemed to me to be nearly exactly like the Eurodam which we were on on our last transatlantic cruise.  (and the Oosterdam which we were on on our Alaska cruise). Everything was located the same, the bars and areas were the same names, the dining rooms, auditorium and Crow's Nest bar were all located the same. Deb said there were some differences. It was decorated with a New York theme - seeing NY used to be called New Amsterdam. (extras)
   This is a repositioning cruise meaning they are moving from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean. These are very low cost cruises.

The cabin was the smallest we have had but adequate. (movie) We were on the back end of the ship on deck six. We had a balcony (movie) which we didn't use much. I liked the shower and the low flow toilet was just fine. We moved in like it was home thanks to Deb. (extras)

The lifeboat drill went smoothly. This time they didn't insist that ever single person show up before they dismissed us.
After lunch and a nap we went to The Crow's Nest, (movie) which is the panoramic view bar on the eleventh level forward. We had a drink and waited. We sailed pretty much on time.

So off we went. Deb had set us up for dinner reservations at 7:45 each night at a table for two. But because of our previous experience we didn't use the reservation. (movie) We did open seating and joined various tables and met lots of people. (extras) One guy we liked and had dinner with three times was Raymond, a smart nice older gent. Dinner ends at just about nine o'clock, just when the entertainment has their second show so away we went. The entertainment was once again really good. (extras)
   We wanted to play more craps on this cruise but the table was usually not busy. That's no fun. We did win about $60 or more.

I thought we were going to run up a rather large bar bill. Between the Crow's nest, wine with dinner and perhaps a drink at the show it didn't look good. Actually there were happy hours pretty much from 4:30 onward someplace on the ship - $1 off the price of the drink and another drink for $1. Seeing the drink price was about $6.95 it was pretty reasonable. (extras)
   Deb had pre-ordered wine for our meals. We might have saved a bit by buying the wine thing on board rather then before.
   We had pre-ordered some gin and champagne for the room, as well as roses and balloons. Unfortunately the roses were not delivered. I suspect they ended up in the big fancy suite next to us. Deb finally got some replacement flowers but not roses. Too bad.
    You can bring your own wine and drink it in your room for free or pay a $20 corkage fee in the dining room. Many people had a glass of wine in their room before dinner. Some brought a glass of wine to the dining room. We didn't have any way to buy wine or bring it on board as we have on some cruises.

We had a few days that were a bit rough but not really bad at all. At times there was a confused swell which causes the ship to sort of yank around. This ship has one more deck then the previous ships so the promenade deck was high enough so it was only closed once.

I could go through a day by day listing of everything we did but you would die of boredom so here are some things.
- I had a pretty bad cold but didn't report it when we boarded. I tried not to pass it on by not shaking hands or touching things.
- There were daily lectures on various topics. We also went to ones telling about the various ports we were going to see.
- We did not take the ships tour because it was $150 per person. We did take the galley tour plus a second galley tour where we picked up our lunch.
- We missed the teas this time.
- We planned on walking around the promenade deck (deck 3) on a regular basis. For some reason I was having problems with my knees and hips so we didn't do this much.
- We had breakfast in our room every day.
- We had a drink in the Crow's Nest every day between 5 and 6. We enjoyed the guitar player.
- We ate lunch and dinner in the dining room everyday. (extras)
- There were four formal nights. Professional pictures were encouraged.
- No sickness on board ship this time but we did wash our hands regularly.

As we got away from the mainland we lost touch with TV services so the tv had movies and stuff produced on board such as reruns of lectures. You could get DVD's for free to watch. It seemed like a good idea to watch some Harry Potters movies. Unfortunately after a couple movies we seemed to be having a problem with the player or the DVD's. Darn. 

The cheapest internet package was $100 and up to $300. We opted to skip it. Besides there was no internet, or very slow internet for several days.

Every day or so we lost an hour. It would jump from 2pm to 3pm. From Florida we need to lose six hours. That is nine hours from California.

I think it was May 7th when the ship suddenly went off course. The captain told us we were going to save a foundering ship at sea. Later that evening a small 24' sailboat was spotted. There were three French sailors on it. They had lost their rudder and had been floating around for four days. I didn't witness it but we dropped a lifeboat and rescued them. They abandoned their ship. Later we saw it played on tv.

May 8th we were supposed to stop at Horta Portugal in the Azores Islands. We were supposed to take "tenders" into port but the sea was too rough so we skipped Horta.

May 9th we stopped in Ponta Delgada on San Miguel.
It is a relatively large city and the capitol of the Azore Islands. We took the bus to the city and hiked from there. We wandered into the wrong church and took a few pictures. We wandered around and looked at various sights. The streets here have mosaics on them. We had lunch at a cute place where Deb had a whole fish. I had a mystery sausage which I couldn't eat. The restaurant guy sent us up to a market to buy wine and cheese. We were there before but the wine shop was a little tricky to find. They were putting cheeses on the shelves by tossing them up. We bought some wine and cheese. Deb bought some flowers. Much fun.
We found the correct church and took a few pictures. While walking back a gent with a horse carriage offered us a ride for 10 euros. Wow! It's usually much more then that. We had a nice ride around the old part of the city and he dropped us off near the ship. (extras)

May 12th we stopped at Cadiz Spain. I think this is where the Spanish Armada was built in 1588. Later the English came into Cadiz harbor and sunk the second armada that was under construction. No mention of this on any plaque. We pretty much hiked around the entire town and harbor. Very nice gardens with large interesting trees, some were shaped.  We had lunch, Deb had gazpacho, nearly in the shadow of the big cathedral. Unfortunately it was Sunday and services were going on so we didn't get in. We hiked back to the bus to the ship and got a bit lost on the way. (extras)

May 13th Malaga Spain. We passed through the Straits of Gibraltar around 2am so we missed that. We've been to Malaga before so had some idea of what to do. 
We went into a beautiful church. We had a strange little lunch. I had toast with a cheese ball sort of thing. Deb had crustini's. We wandered around until we found the Alcazaba, which we missed last time. Last time we hiked up to the fort above the city. The Alcazaba was really interesting and beautiful. Built by the Moors. We skipped the Picasso Museum because we'd see it before and it isn't major. (extras)
   Back at the ship we had wine and appetizers with Rob and Carol. They were sort of grossed out by the amount of food they were eating so were trying to take it easy. I figure that's a big part of the trip.
   We saw our sister ship the Eurodam in this port.

May 14th Caragena. We stopped here briefly, maybe two hours. It was threatening rain so we buzzed around and snapped some pictures of the interesting sculptures. This one remembers the people who were tortured in the past. (extras-sculpture) There were a few other interesting sights but no time to enjoy things. Back to the ship... (extras)

May 15th Barcelona. This will be a separate report. We unloaded from the ship and found everything set up to get us into a taxi. He got us to our place smoothly and easily. (Barcelona report)

We planned on reading several things on our Kindel's but only read "Black Beauty". BB is a sweet horse story for young girls. Guess I read it when I was a kid. Deb enjoyed it. We didn't get much else done with our Kindel's.

Deb likes the towel animals the cabin attendants made each night. (extras)

Comments -

We met some fun and interesting people. I could give and extensive list but we talked with Louise quite a bit. Wish we could have done more with Rob and Carol, they were interesting. We enjoyed three meals with Raymond.
   The brothers Bob and John from Tennessee (or someplace) were a hoot. One was a minister. They both admitted to drinking too much on the trip, mainly from boredom. A couple characters and big guys.
   We noticed a lady at the next table that looked VERY much like my sister Bernice. That was fun. (extras)

Hiking the ship is exercise. I had a lot of problems with my knees, legs and hips. I guess all the standing and hiking was more then I'm used to.

I'm not sure why we didn't use our balcony more.

We might do this trip again some day. Maybe fly to Europe and cruise home.

We'll never do a hybrid trip like this again. Next time it's a cruise or travel in Europe. Not both. Maybe a few days in Europe at the end of a cruise but not a couple weeks on top of a cruise.

The weather was a bummer. We did pretty much everything we wanted to but would have done more and enjoyed it more if the weather had cooperated.