Review of 18 Feb 2009

Day at Sea.

We had to set our clocks ahead an hour.  We are enroute to Greece and have today at sea.  These tend to be my days devoted to catching up on my journal writing, as excursion days are just too busy / long.

At breakfast Grandma was commenting that she couldn’t believe how many kids were missing school.  I asked her to consider the possibility that they were actually “in school” (as in, homeschoolers).  She didn’t go for it.  I then tried to explain to her the education these children are getting.  (History, culture, geography, etc.)  I don’t know that she believed me.

Uncle J told me about one his nieces (other side of his family) taking a college semester on a world cruise.  She took 15 credits aboard a cruise ship that traveled the world, this past fall.  Can you imagine???  (looked it up, and found Semester at Sea)

On that note, I think a cruise would be an excellent educational tool.  It would be especially wonderful if you could get Grandparents and other extended family.  It presents a perfect venue for learning and not just school subjects.  Let’s just say I’m appreciating the opportunity to learn about my family members in this “atmosphere“.

We went through the Strait of Messina this morning.  Did you know that a natural whirlpool forms in the Strait?  No?  Well, neither did I, and I’m very grateful for that.  Yet, on the other hand, it would have been another really cool thing to look for and try to snap a picture of.

The Italy side really had only one large town and lots of steep hillsides (sorry, this isn’t the best picture, but I don’t have any better ones — you’ll have to take my word for the steep / sheer sides). 

Sicily has an electrical pylon (This is of note as it’s EASILY identifiable now designated a national landmark.)

and  Mt. EtnaIt took us awhile to identify it, but we finally did.  (errr, it’s “up in the clouds”, center)

Managed to get some cool photos of a process that Daddy explained to me (he, having learned about this on previous cruises).

All I knew was there was this small boat that seemed to be chasing us; which, of course, resulted in a question to my father who really knows a lot.  (My other traveling companions could probably have answered it as well, but I was with him at the time.)  So, he pointed out, that if you look close you can see “Pilot” written on the cabin  of the little boat.

Cruise ships use local pilots to go through the straits, or entering harbors, etc.  Daddy believes this may be more of a tradition now rather than a necessity, as he thinks with GPS — and captains not wanting to give up control of their ships to some “local-yokels” — they probably don’t need any help.

Current day note, on this day I have the “return” process.  On another day I have the “entry” process — they are essentially the same, but wanted to make it clear.

So, after the pilot has done his job aboard ship he has to get back on his.

Thus, the Pilot boat must get close.

errr, REALLY close.

And then the Pilot HOPS on board!  Puts a whole new meaning to “jumping ship”, doesn’t it?  He’s waving to let them know he made it.

It’s gotta be enough to get one’s heart a-pumpin’ I’m sure!  Wonder what they say when they get back in the cabin?

The seas have gotten rougher, waves measuring at 4-7.5 ft.  And I’m not sick!!!

The wind has picked up quite a bit, to the point that they have closed & locked all the exterior doors on one side of the ship.  The wind is perpendicular to the ship.  BTW, I only know these things as they have a monitor by the reception desk that gives this information.


 We went to a lecture today that was supposed to go over Athens.  The guy giving it is a retired high-school teacher, Bob.  (Remember the name.)  I think he read from an encyclopedia. . .It was so BORING we left.

Do you know I’ve yet to find a single souvenir?!  This is very upsetting to me.  I generally try to get a Christmas ornament from each country I visit.  I haven’t found a single one!!!

Current day note:  just remembered that I already have an ornament from Italy.  But still don’t have one for Spain or the Vatican now. . .

Uncle J took a cruise with this line in Dec. ’08  with some of his kids (and the one before that in Jan ’08 with my folks).  On his Dec. trip he said he noticed a “decline in services” and asked about it.  Apparently the cruise lines have been hit hard with this financial crisis and they’ve had to cut back on services and personnel.  For example, the folks tell me they had the option of 5 “freebie” restaurants, and the shipboard “Behind the scenes tour” (which I would have absolutely loved to go on) was free (which, because they charged for it on my cruise, was why I didn’t).  (Probably to the great relief of those offering it, as you know I would have asked a bazillion questions. . .at least!)

Still, I ain’t about to knock their services.  What Mom is going to complain about coming home in the day to a room completely cleaned by someone other than her????!  Their chefs, however. . .

Oooh, oooh, I got 4 asparagus spears with my dinner!  Two were in my appetizer and two with my entrée.  That’s at least 2 times more veggies than I’ve had thus far in the onboard restaurants!  I think, maybe you just have to go to the buffet to get veggies.

So, what do we do when we are “at sea”?  A lot of walking:


Around, and around the ship.

We always start out as a group, but then Uncle J starts easing ahead (we keep stopping to take photos).

and pretty soon “he’s off!”

There are, of course, other things we could do, or avail ourselves to, but I’ll go into that on another “sea day”. 

NEWS FLASH:  There are actually a number of teen males onboard!  They just don’t appear until around noon and then you will find them in the buffet.  I don’t have the foggiest idea as to how they fill their afternoons, but I caught sight of them again at dinner time.  Who woulda thunk it?

We wound up swapping our tours for tomorrow.  This is based on my suggestion as the new tour will take us to the Temple of Poseidon; whereas the old tour choice would have taken us to the National Archeological Museum.  The problem?  It may rain tomorrow.  The other problem?  It could be very strenuous for Grandma.  We shall have to see if everyone is cursing me tomorrow. . .

Mom is now lost in her book.  Occasionally she’ll glance up to say, “huh?”, if she thinks we were talking to her, but otherwise she’s engrossed.  My kids are familiar with this phenomenon as well.  To say you are “buried in a book” is ever such a true statement in this family.

Daddy and I went trotting around the ship (again) and we found the bridge viewing room (where you can see what’s happening on the bridge).  The windows are shut though (shut from dusk to dawn, and every entry / exit into port — when it would be REALLY cool to see what’s going on!)

Tonight I went to see “The Second City”.  It’s a comedy / improv troupe.  They had a 3 hour show, but I only caught the second hour.  One of those ghosty teenage males even got up with them at one point as a volunteer.  (I suspect he’s a homeschooler.)

Tonight a dog was left in our room.

Folks told me that was another class that used to be offered for free (folding napkins / towels).  I could have brought *this fellow* home with me then. . .


March 9.

Just realized, yesterday, that I’ve been called to jury duty tomorrow.  I’ll try to work on tomorrow’s posting tonight. . .


One comment on “Review of 18 Feb 2009

  1. se7en says:

    Hi there I am so enjoying your travels… My husband and I spent a month in Italy and a month in Greece before we had kids! So this all brings back great memories. I have a pilot friend who works in Cape town harbor and he might think their is a little more to his job than jumping from tug to boat and back again, but that sure is what it looks like!

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