Thom and Dennis Celebrating 25 Years Together

A Silver Jubilee Anniversary - January 4, 2016

 The Tour Begins...

 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Well as they say .... "all good things must come to and end"..... and today our journey does just that.

We woke this morning as we were arriving Topeka, Kansas. Snow and frost greeted us as we looked out the window.  We are right on schedule.  We had continental breakfast in  our compartment and relaxed, reading the newspaper  as we crossed into Missouri and then Iowa.  We crossed the mighty Mississippi River around 11 AM and we were back in the state of Illinois. We had a nice lunch in the diner as we got closer and closer to Chicago.  We arrived Union Station, Chicago 35 minutes early and we were met train side by Tom Waitts, our red cap porter who loaded all our carry-on baggage unto his little tram and drove us over to baggage claim where he picked up our checked baggage for us before driving us out onto Clinton Street to hail us a cab and load us up.  

With-in ten minutes were were home at the Hancock, greeted by our doorman Greg and Wendell who swiftly brought our bags up to our unit thus marking the end of our 20th Anniversary Rainbow Tour.

It is good to be home again...although we are not looking forward to unpacking.

Thanks for following our blog......it was my first blog and I enjoyed capturing the highlights of our trip.

Till our next journey..............................

Saturday, January 8, 2011

We awoke shortly after seven to the sunrise over the high desert of northern Arizona,  somewhere between Winslow, Arizona and the New Mexico state line. We had a continental breakfast in our compartment and watched the scenery go by.  The red rock formations and buttes were amazing. The high desert was dotted with patches of snow the sun is shining brightly with clear blue skies. Snow covered mountains in the background made it picture perfect.

The deluxe compartments on Amtrak are quite nice.  The sleeping cars are two stories, we are on the top level in compartment E.  The room is equipped with a private bath and shower, a sofa and club chair, collapsible folding table  and a huge picture window affording us beautiful views. Each car has a beverage station with coffee, tea, juice, soda, water and ice available round the clock.  Fred is our Porter and he is very accommodating.  The sofa folds into a double bed at night and it is quite comfortable. The compartment also has a closet to hang clothes  and one of the walls is floor to ceiling mirrors. All meals are included when you book a room and the food, while not the Seabourn or the Beverly Hills Hotel, is good.

We had a thirty minute stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico and we got off the train an walked around stretching our legs.  Another beautiful day. Although the temperatures are beginning to drop.  It was in the mid fifties in Albuquerque.

We had lunch once back on board in the dining car and then spent some time in the dome observation car watching the beautiful New Mexico scenery pass by and sharing a bottle of wine.

The day flew by and before we knew it we were having dinner in the diner as we crossed the Raton Pass into Colorado.  We  settled into our compartment for our last night away watching the scenery.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Well our 20th Anniversary trip is winding down.  We had room service deliver breakfast this morning.  It was a little too chilly to eat on the patio so we dined in our bungalow.  I visited the Spa afterwards and had another massage.to prepare for our trip home.  We spent a lazy day at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  We sat poolside in at the Cabana Café, checked e-mail  read the papers and relaxed.  We went up to the Polo Lounge for lunch and ate in the garden. The weather has been just great.  Lunching also today was actress Susan Sullivan at a table across from us and it was fun observing all the business lunches going on and the superficial Hollywood genre. We had a three hour lunch  (with cocktails) and at three thirty we forced ourselves to depart  (along with our 16 pieces of luggage) to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. Checking our bags at the terminal we had about an hours wait for our train.  At the designated time the red cap, Alberto, drove us in a golf cart out to our train. That was a fun experience jostling through the crowds of commuters and passengers as we were shuttled about.  We felt like celebrities as every one else was walking.  Alberto was super friendly to us (as we tipped him very well for handling our 16 pieces of luggage) and he gave us the full “movie star” treatment driving us right up to the train door and bringing all our carry on bags onto the train.

Settling into our second story compartment we made ourselves comfortable for our on time departure at 6:15PM.  We were both tired and not very hungry  so we settled in with some champagne and had our porter, Fred, make up the bed around 9PM.  We had a very restful sleep.

 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A very fun day culminating with a surprise meeting with a famous couple tonight.

Our day started with breakfast at the Cabana Cafe, poolside sitting in a Hollywood booth people watching.  For those who do not know what a Hollywood booth is, it is a crescent shaped seating area with one side facing front, so wherever you sit in the booth you can be observed....narcisstic yes....but fun!

We then took a stroll through Beverly Hills downtown to Rodeo Drive where we did some shopping.  We met our friend Richard Chamber for lunch..  We met Richard and his partner Eric Maryanov on our cruise and Richard was free today (Eric was working). We had a great lunch at a place Richard recommended,  The Farm of Beverly Hills, a chic and eclectic  lunch place on Beverly Drive. After lunch  Richard took us over to their home in Los Angeles before driving us back to our hotel.  They have a lovely house in a beautiful area near  The Grove.

Back at the hotel Thom had booked a massage at the spa. It was wonderful!!!!!  This evening we dined in the Polo Lounge again and who floats by our table but Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne.  Lovely, friendly people.  I was amazed at how short Ozzy was.  Sharon also is quite petite and her hair is darker then it appears on TV, more of an aubergine color. Ozzy was dressed in his traditional black Gothic attire and they were dining with the lead guitarist from his group Black Sabbath.  Dennis was in awe as he is a big Ozzy Osbourne fan.  I ran into both of them when I went to the restroom and Ozzy only comes up to my shoulder.

The service in the Polo Lounge is phenomenal. They remembered us from the night before and fawned all over us.  Mr.Jenkins this and Mr. Jenkins that.  Customer service at the Beverly Hills Hotel is one of the best I have ever encountered and I have traveled alot.

Our evening ended after a stroll around the grounds on a beautiful, crisp night.

 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

We woke early this morning as the Sojourn made her way into the Port of Los Angeles in Long Beach, California. We docked right next to the old Queen Mary, which is now a hotel.  Today our cruise comes to an end.  We went around the yacht and said goodbye to everyone before disembarking, teary eyed,  at 8:30AM. 

We headed up to Beverly Hills to the  Beverly Hills Hotel, one of my favorite hotels in the world.  We had breakfast, poolside, at the poolside cafe while we waited for our room to be made up.  The check-in experience was the ultimate in customer service.  Greeted like royalty, our bags whisked away, the desk clerk took us on a tour of  the hotel and led us to our bungalow. The Beverly Hills Hotel consists of the main hotel and about 14 bungalows.  The bungalows are little Villa's, totally private, with private gardens and patio's that movie stars like to stay in for their privacy.  We were given Bungalow 10C.  It is absolutely elegant with a huge roman bathtub all in marble.

We lounged on our private patio and took a stroll around the grounds which consists of 12 acres of gardens and secluded pathways. We had cocktails and a cheese platter in the Polo Lounge for a late lunch.

Tonight my cousin, Valerie Manahan and her husband, Chad Smith, came over to have dinner with us.  They live in Long Beach and yesterday was their seventh wedding anniversary.  They share the same anniversary date as us so we had a double celebration. We had a wonderful dinner in the Polo Lounge at the hotel and spent hours talking and having a great time.  The evening went by way to fast. After we bid them adieu, Dennis and I took a long walk around the grounds and made our way back to our bungalow for a very restful sleep. 


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Today is our big day.  On January 4, 1991 at 6:04 PM Eastern Standard Time, Dennis and I met......and here we are twenty years (twenty wonderful years) later.  I must have done something very good in a past life to deserve this happiness.  I truly am blessed.

This morning we sailed up the coast into the United States and we docked at noon in San Diego.  It is a beautiful sunny sky day with temps in the 60's.  Once off we took a cab over to Coronado Island and went to the Del Coronado Hotel.  It is a beautiful hotel, built in 1888 and quite elegant.  We sat at the outside bar and had pina colada's as we celebrated our 20th Anniversary at 3:04 Pacific Standard Time. (6:04 PM Eastern Standard Time)  We then roamed  the island over to the ferry dock and caught the ferry back across the harbor to San Diego.

This evening we had cocktails in the Observation Bar, chatted with our new friends, exchanged addresses and e-mails and reminisced.
We went out on deck and watched us sail out of San Diego. The lights of the city were spectacular as we sailed out to sea and they got smaller and smaller.

Dennis and I had a quiet dinner in The Restaurant to celebrate. When we returned to our suite I presented him with a photo album chronicling the last decade (2001 - 2011) with over two hundred photographs.  I presented him with a similar album on our 10th Anniversary in Quebec City, 10 years ago chronicling our first decade together.

It took us a couple of hours to go over all the pictures as we kept reminiscing over the good times we spent over the last 20 years.  Finally we had to get back to the real world as we had to pack.  Unfortunately our cruise comes to an end tomorrow morning when we dock at the Port of Los Angeles in  Long Beach, California. It truly has been one of the best vacations we have taken and we are seriously contemplating doing the 109 day world cruise next year.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Our last full day at sea. Hard to believe we are on the Sojourn two weeks today. It has gone by so fast. We had a very lazy day. The temperatures have cooled down quite a bit. The high today was in the 60's.  Although a clear sunny day there is a lot of wind so being outdoors on deck was not an option.  We chatted with friends and the day flew by.  This afternoon the Executive Chef, Graeme Cockburn gave us a tour of the galley.  It is amazing how organized and clean the galley is.  He served us champagne and caviar as we toured. He actually designed the kitchen for Seabourn and it is state of the art.  It glistens. Graeme is form Scotland as is most of his main line staff.  We watched them at work, saw their plating operations and how they run the line.  Very interesting and Graeme has a marvelous personality and is very funny.

So many of you have been sending me e-mails asking to see more pictures of the ship so I put a folder up this morning  or photo's of all the rooms on the yacht.

This evening we hit some turbulent seas, apparently not uncommon for this area of the Pacific. There are alot of swells and it is a little rocky. We met Richard and Eric for cocktails and dinner, however after cocktails in the Observation Bar,  Richard became a little queasy so it was just Dennis, Eric and I who had dinner in Restaurant 2.  Another wonderful chef's tasting menu consisted of:
 
Course 1
Lobster Martini with Watermelon Gelee and Vanilla Champagne Froth

Course 2
Artichoke Salad, seared Sushi Tuna, Black Olive Vinaigrette
Crab and Spinach Ball, stir fired Shittake Mushrooms, Bok Choy
Cured Roasted Duck Breast, Mango, Chili Mint Oil

Course 3
Lemongrasse Seafood Presse, Double Shocked Shrimp
Braised Oxtail Cigar
White Tomato and Coconut Cappuccino Soup

Course 4
Crisp Sea Bass, Bean Meli-Melo, Citrus Fondue
Barbeque Glazed Short Ribs, Seared Foies Gras, Orange Potato Soubise

Course 5
Yogurt Lemon Mousse, Crushed Raspberries, Almond Brittle

Course 6
Sweet Coffee Sandwich, Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream, White Chocolate Foam

Course 7
Choco Loco - Chocolate liqueur and Vanilla Ice Cream


They outdid themselves tonight.  It was phenomenal.  After dinner Eric went to check on Richard and Dennis and I strolled the deck. A bit chilly, the sky was clear and millions of stars were out. It was like being in the planetarium. A wonderful way to end another day on the Sojourn. 

 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Welcome to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on the southern tip of the Baja peninsula. We were up early for our morning arrival in Cabo.  We left the ship at 8:30 and tendered into the marina. where we boarded a catamaran for a whale watching expedition.  We were with Jim, Maggie, Barry and Victoria and we left port and headed out into the Sea of Cortez to the Pacific Ocean passing some the the most beautiful scenery and rock formations.  At the tip of the peninsula is a rock formation in the shape of an arch.  The weather is beautiful, 75 degrees and clear sunny skies.  The most exciting thing was seeing the whales.  Amazing!  There  was about half a dozen humpback whales frolicking and playing in the surf.  One swam right along the catamaran and with the waters so clear we could see him in his glory.  We also observed dolphins and stingrays as well. Victoria loves wildlife and she was totally besotted with them.

After two hours of whale watching we headed back to the marina. Dennis and I explored with town of Cabo San Lucas on foot.  It is quite lovely with many nice shops, restaurants and resorts.  We had lunch at the Baja Lobster Company on the water.  You can definitely tell we are heading north as the temperatures are much cooler here. 

We continued our walking tour after lunch and ran into Shirley O'Shea.  Shirley is truly someone who has become very special to us.  She was so excited as she had gotten off to buy a new dress and ended up buying a beautiful sapphire and diamond ring. She was quite happy as she felt she got quite a bargain, although she spent 5 figures for it.

There was an ice cream social on board late this afternoon as we set sail from Cabo and headed north up the western portion of the Baja Peninsula.

This evening we had cocktails and dinner with Shirley and Alene Witzke.  Alene is amazing. She is 82 and for the past seven years she had spent 11 months on the Seabourn (various yacht's) and sails around the world. She is quite a character decked out in designer gowns and a large array of jewelry.  Alene is a widow from Ellicott City, Maryland and a fascinating dinner partner, who downs her scotch like water.
We had a lovely evening with them and so much fun that the four hours of cocktails and dinner flew by with Shirley telling stories of former cruises (this is Shirley's 9th Seabourn cruise) and of her escapades on one trip with her friend , a duchess, and also about one man who fell for her and wanted to marry her at sea.  Hysterical!  Finally, close to midnight we called it an evening,

 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A new year started off right with a leisurely breakfast en suite and a relaxing day on deck watching the Mexican coast go by. we had a lovely lunch in deck at the Patio Grill followed by a visit to the Spa.  Terry Hughes did a Q&A in the Club on 5, which was very interesting,  I sat down and spoke to him afterwards and he is quite an interesting guy with many Hollywood stories.  He shared a few of his experiences with "The Golden Girls" cast and spoke of his time directing many episodes of the show "Friends". His wife Margaret and daughters are with him and they all are lovely people.

This evening we had dinner with Marlee and Maria Van Haelst, a lovely mother and daughter from Hasselt, Belgium. We had met them through Shirley O'Shea and were delighted to have dinner with them sharing many stories of previous trips and also the differences and similarities between Belgium and the United States.  We had a lovely meal with them at the Colonnade.

 

Friday, December 31, 2010

A wonderful way to end the year, relaxing at sea and a beautiful 84 degree sunny day off the coast of Mexico sailing north on the Pacific Ocean.  Following breakfast a leisurely morning at the Spa followed with some pampering.  We had a late lunch in the Colonnade  followed by a third in a series of lectures by Terry Hughes.  Today he spoke about his past in musical theater as director of musicals that were brought to TV as specials. Afterwards I chatted with Terry to see if he had ever worked with my distant cousin Penny Fuller.  While he has not worked with her, he knew of her and her work in Applause on Broadway opposite Lauren Bacall in the 1970’s as well as her Emmy win for her role in the TV production of  The Elephant Man. Terry is an extremely intelligent, gentle man and a very nice person as well. 

We did tea with Shirley O'Shea and her friend, Australian newspaper publisher, John Hammond in the Observation Bar, our favorite afternoon hangout.

This evening we got dressed in our finest and started the evening off at a cocktail party in Shirley O'Shea's suite.  Shirley ordered a beluga caviar platter and Cristal champagne for the start of New Year's Eve.  She also had Edgar and Judith Gold in as well. Edgar and Judith are both Canadians who now live in Australia... he is an attorney and she a doctor,  OB GYN. Very nice people.
 
We had made plans to have dinner with Eric and Richard and we met them at 8:30 in the dining room where we had another phenomenal meal.  The spacial New Year's Eve dinner was:
 
FOIES GRAS TERRINE, SAUTERNES GELEE
pear soubise, micro salad

WHITE PLUM TOMATO CAPPUCCINO
basil foam

PORCINI DUSTED SCALLOP
sauce vierge

CHAMPAGNE SORBET

LOBSTER THERMIDOR
wild rice, grilled asparagus

SEABOURN TRILOGY
panna cotta, gateaux opera, hazelnut parfait

BAILEY'S FLAVORED TRUFFLES

wine served this evening
"Batard-Montrachet' Grand Cru, Louis Latour

 
 

After a wonderful meal we all went to the Grand Salon on deck 6 for a wonderful show by the Seabourn preforms as well as a modern- jazz violin concert followed by dancing and countdown to the new year 2011.  We danced the night away with each other and with new friends. It was a very diverse celebration. We partied until after 2AM when we headed back to our suite for a restful night.

Happy 2011 Everyone!
 

 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Welcome to Huatulco, Mexico!  -   We had a leisurely breakfast on our balcony (as has become the norm) before we docked late morning in the beautiful town of Huatulco.  Huatulco is a very nice seaside resort town that caters to American and European travelers. Rumor has it it is destined to be the next Cabo.  The weather continues to be absolutely gorgeous with low humidity and a high of 83 degrees with a light trade wind blowing.  A group of us got together for an adventuresome day of white water rafting.  We were an international group and besides Dennis and I (representing the USA) we had Barry and Victoria (England), Jim and Maggie (Scotland and the south of France) and Julie and Trevor  (Australia.)  We were taken by open air double decker bus for a scenic tour of the area for a 20 mile ride to the Copalita River we were disembarked, geared up with life preserver vests and were led with our guide to our rubber raft.  We had a blast going down the river. The scenery was spectacular and the bird life was amazing.... hundreds of egrets, ibis, parrots and herons dotted the sides of the river as we rafted by.  Locals doing their laundry in the river and children swimming set the stage for a very colorful hour and a half trip down the river.   We got into water fights with the other rafters from our ship and although totally wet we wee the victors.  Our group is a lot of fun and Dennis (lovingly) said he finally met someone who was a bigger snob then me.  Maggie and I could get into some serious trouble!!! My new best friend!  An hour and a half later we reached the end of the Copalita River were it flows into the Pacific Ocean in the beautiful little town of Copalita Beach.  A quaint, upscale, village with lovely shops and restaurants. We spent about an hour here having cocktails and enjoying the local flavor before heading back on the bus Huatulco.


Back in Huatulco we walked around the village, waded in the warm waters of the Pacific and sat on the beach in an outdoor restaurant for pina colada's and nachos.  All the locals we encountered spoke perfect English and it was very easy to communicate.  The rest of the afternoon flew by and at 5:30 we re-boarded the Sojourn and sailed out of Huatulco. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Welcome to Puerto Chiapas, Mexico!  We were up early and had a breakfast on our balcony as we sailed into Puerto Chiapas, Mexico.A balmy morning with a nice breeze though the temperatures are to go up into the high 90's today.  Puerto Chiapas is on the southern Pacific coast of Mexico a few miles from the Guatemala border. We docked and cleared customs at 8 AM and disembarked to a lovely musical performance on dock by some of the local population,

We hired a car and driver to take us on a tour of the area. It was an air-conditioned Audi and very comfortable. The driver put on very mellow jazz music and off we were exploring the Mexican state of Chiapas.  We went to the Mayan Ruins at Izapa. The Mayan culture was very advanced and we have been to other Mayan sites in Mexico on previous trips as well.  We were the only people at the ruins and it was fun exploring them without crowds.  We next visited the old town of Tuxtla Chico and explored the village on foot.  A picturesque village where they make chocolate.  We sampled and bought some chocolate in its raw state.  Interesting.

The larger city of Tepachula was next. Tepachula is a large city, very crowded and not very wealthy. We walked around and stopped at a cafe for wine.

 

By noon the temperature rose to nearly 100 and the humidity rose to equal proportions. We headed back to the ship in Puerto Chiapas and were back on board for a late lunch on deck at the Colonnade.

Visited the Spa this afternoon.  We went to tea today  with Jim and Maggie MacKeigh who are traveling around the world.  They are a lovely Scottish couple who are on a round the world trip. They have been on board since December 5th and are traveling around the world. 

The sunset this evening was beautiful and occurred as we were getting ready to depart Puerto Chiapas. We had dinner tonight with Eric and Richard, a very nice couple we met from Los Angeles.

It was a beautiful night. The temperatures cooled dramatically when the sun went down.  The stars were out in full force tonight and we stood at the front of the yacht on deck 10 and star gazed before bed.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

We had a lovely breakfast on our balcony this morning as we cruised up the Pacific Coast.  A wonderful lazy day at sea today prompted visits to the Spa and some sun worshipping.  The day just flew by. 

There was a special cocktail party for returning Seabourn guests tonight hosted by Captain Elliott. We attended with Shirley O'Shea, a new Seabourn friend.  Shirley is an 80 year old widow of a famous London doctor.  She lives in London and in Sydney and is going to Sydney for the winter.  She has been on the ship since October.  A very elegant and funny lady we had a lovely time in her company.

We dine al fresco on deck this evening at the Patio Grill.  The weather could not be more perfect, very low humidity, temperatures in the high 70's and crystal clear skies.

 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Welcome to Puerto Calderas, Costa Rica! - The beautiful Costa Rican coast was in clear view this sunny morning as we pulled into the small port of Puerto Calderas.  It is a balmy, breezy 83 degree day with clear skies.  We have breakfast in suite before disembarking at 8 AM to go Zip Lining on a Canopy Tour.  Now I always considered myself well traveled and pretty knowledgeable but I had never heard of "zip lining" until this trip. After experiencing it today I highly recommend it to everyone as it is a very exhilarating and adrenaline charged adventure.  We were taken inland by comfortable motor coach into the jungles of Costa Rica to the Parque Aventura.  Once there we were fitted and strapped into harnesses, decked out with helmets and thick gloves and driven in the back of a truck (just like migrant workers) up the mountains deeper into the jungle. We climbed through platforms high above the "canopies" of trees in the jungle observing beautiful birds and wildlife.  Our zip lining adventure consisted of 7 "flights".   At each station your harness is attached to a cable, and presto you are zipping through the air attached to the cable flying high over the jungles at a speed of about 10 - 15 miles per hour. It is an instant rush and the feeling is amazing.....you feel like you have no weight and are just flying through the air.  I now know how the  Flying Nun must have felt.  It section was better then the next with the final one being a 3/4 mile flight coming over the jungle looking right into the Pacific Ocean. Check out their website  www.canopyparqueaventura.com . Our adventure lasted about three hours and when finished we wished there was more.  If you ever have the opportunity to zip line... DO IT!.  Before leaving the park we were served the sweetest watermelon I have ever tasted.  It was ice cold and really hit the spot.
 

We spent the afternoon in the nearby town of Puntarenas, a small seaside resort town where we had a lovely lunch of freshly caught grilled octopus at a beachside cafe and people watched.  We took a long walk up the coast after lunch and had a lovely afternoon. We returned to the ship at 4PM.  A quick trip to the spa for some aromatherapy followed.  When through we were up on deck sipping pina coladas as we pulled out of port to contunue our voyage.  Our usual routine of cocktails at the observation bar followed by a late dinner rounded off our evening.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I was late in updating this due to the severe blizzards and bad weather all my friends and colleagues are suffering through on the northern eastern seaboard.  Due to the heavy clouds in the northeast US and the position on earth where we are currently located our satellite connection was down for 24 hours. Fortunately we appear to be up and running again.  Today was a very relaxing Thom and Dennis day at sea.  We slept late and lounged around the yacht. We had a lovely lunch on deck at the Colonnade. Today's international bill of fare was German and the sauerbraten and potato dumplings we fantastic. As we were lunching on deck a school of dolphins were following us and jumping in and out of the water.  We were mesmerized by them, as they are so huge but gentle.

Terry Hughes gave another lecture this afternoon on his Hollywood career and also his early days at the BBC in London. It was most enjoyable. Tonight we met Barry and Victoria for cocktails at 7 in the Observation Bar.  There are four dining venues on the yacht; The Main Dining room which is formal every night; the Colonnade which is casual elegant every night; the Patio Grill which is casual outside dining on the pool deck and also the very eclectic Restaurant 2.  Of all the four, Restaurant 2 is the only one you need to make a reservation.  It has limited space for about 50 people and evening  and is a Chef's Tasting Menu, each night different.  The four of us made a reservations at dined there at 8 PM.  The menu was unbelievable and each course was paired with a delicious wine.  This is what we were served:
Course 1
Poached Shrimp Martini with Balsamic Jelly, Split Saffron Vinaigrette

Course 2
Foie Gras Creme Brulee, Syrha Honey Syrup
Crisp Duck Confit Filo, Navy Bean Cassoulet
Smoked Duck Carpaccio, Foie Gras Terrine, Arugula

Course 3
Lemongrasse Press Soup with Lobster Ravioli
Shellfish Cappuccino, Seared Beef Crostini, Ginger Jello

Course 4
Roasted Dorade. Forked Potatoes, Braised Leek Ragout, Smoked Bacon Jus
Pan Seared Quail Breast, Porcini Risotto, Port Wine Reduction

Course 5
Rhubarb Espuma, Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam

Course 6
White Chocolate Mousse, Plums and Almond Foam, Pistachio Cracker, Passion Fruit Sorbet

Course 7
Irish Coffee

It was a two and a half hour dining extravaganza, great food, (and there were no choices you sampled everything mentioned above) and the dinner conversation was intriguing. We really enjoy Barry and Victoria.

Nightcaps in the Observation Bar fol owed.  We changed time to  Central time tonight so we gained an hour.  We went to bed at midnight Central  time to be prepared for tomorrows Zip Line adventure in Costa Rica. 


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!  A very exciting Christmas Day transiting the Panama Canal. We awoke early as we were waiting in line to enter the canal.  It is a very interesting process.  It was very steamy out and you could hear animal noises coming form the distant jungles.  We followed through with tradition and had our Christmas Breakfast.  Room Service did a splendid job on preparing an elegant breakfast, complete with pineapple mimosa's, pastries, egg dishes, yogurt parfaits and fresh fruit.  The only thing missing was my cousin in law, Joel Ballard's, fruit cake. With the lights of the tree and some classical jazz music in the background we had a very leisurely meal and some great conversation.

After breakfast we went on deck to watch the entrance into the Panama Canal. The canal, built in the early part of the 20th century, is a series of three locks  crossing  the narrowest section of Panama (some fifty odd miles). It was a technological marvel when it was built. After going through the first set of locks the yacht is elevated to traverse the man made Lake Gamboa, the largest man made lake in the world. The captain gave commentary over the public address through the eight hour crossing. We went through the center of Panama which is primarily jungle. We passed a prison and all the prisoner's in the courtyard waved us on.  When we reached the Miraflore Locks at the other end of the canal where we were lowered into the Pacific Ocean there is a tourist center where people come to watch the ships go through the canal and it is also a museum.  The structure, several stories high and all opened was mobbed with people cheering us on.  It made us all feel like celebrities. 

After leaving the Canal Zone we passed by the capital city of Panama City, a large sprawling metropolis.  It appears to be a very beautiful modern city and Dennis and I both agree it is a place we would like to return to, especially since I have some family connections to Panama.

Soon we were out cruising the Pacific Ocean heading north west. We sat out on deck, enjoying the sun and have a very lazy Christmas day.  Thus evening we had dinner out on deck at the Patio Grill.  We each had Kobe filet mignon and jumbo prawns, grilled to perfections and a very nice Australian cabernet sauvignon.  Homemade Cinnamon ice cream touched off the meal.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve day at sea. Very relaxing as we sailed the Caribbean Sea towards Panama.  We spent a leisurely day on deck, talking with "new friends', being lazy, catching up on e-mails and having fun.

We did Christmas tea with Barry and Victoria and they asked us to join them for Christmas Eve dinner.  Dressed to the nines we met at 8PM in the Observation Bar for cocktails and hors d'ouvres. Amid Christmas music and carolling we made our way to the dining room around nine and had a sumptuous dinner.  The dinner tonight was seven courses and consisted of the following 
FOIE GRAS TORCHON
quince confit, toasted brioche buns

CREAMLESS CELERIAC VELOUTE
truffle foam

LOBSTER RAVIOLI
citrus beurre blanc

GREEN APPLE SORBET
ginger crackling, champagne splash

WHOLE ROASTED CHRISTMAS DUCK
braised red cabbage, glazed apples, pommes macaire, cherry bigarade

WARM CHOCOLATE MOLTEN CAKE
honey heather ice cream and whipped brandy butter

the wine served this evening
Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, Louis Latour

It was eleven o'clock when we finished dinner, the dining room looked so beautiful with the finest china and silver and white linens used this evening.  We headed to the Grand Salon for the Christmas show.  Very nice, classical music recital and some popular Christmas music as well.  The surprise visitor was Santa Claus who landed on board wishing everyone Happy Christmas.  (Seabourn is British based and the Brit's say Happy as opposed to Merry as Merry to them means drunk.

When we returned to our suite after midnight we found Santa had left a plate of homemade chocolates and cookies.

Merry...excuse me... Happy Christmas Everyone!!!
 
 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hello, Cartagena!! - Late morning we viewed land and little by little massive skyscrapers and a large metropolitan city came into view. The large, bustling metropolis of Cartagena, Colombia  got larger and larger as we sailed into the narrow Port of Cartagena. The newer section of the city of Cartagena is reminiscent of any large American city.....the old section of the city is another story. Cartagena was founded in 1533 and the old city is surrounded (11 kilometers) by a 50 foot thick wall built to protect them from pirates and bad storms. We disembarked to explore the old walled city  and we hired a horse, carriage and driver for our explorations. The streets were very narrow and while Cartegena is a large city of 1.2 million people, the old section makes you feel as though you have gone back 500 years.  While there are many shops and restaurants around,and a few boutique style hotels,  what you are first struck by is the third worldness of it all.  Women walk about the marketplace selling goods that they wear piled on top of their heads, street vendors sell food to the locals that seem to lack any sanitary precautions, yet the locals are buying and eating the food. The temperature today was a stifling 92 degrees Fahrenheit, although there were nice balmy breezes blowing the the city. The are many plaza's and parks around the city and bougainvillea grows prominently. Our driver pointed out all the cities points of interest, (albeit most of it was in Spanish and difficult to understand but we managed). After our tour we explored the old city on foot and walked around the city atop the walkway on the encompassing wall.  The views from atop the wall were fantastic and in addition to the many cannons and sentry boxes we stumbled upon the Cafe Del Mar, an elegant outdoor Bar/Cafe atop the wall.  We got there just as they were opening at 5 o'clock, sat at a high top along the wall and enjoyed several pina colada's as we watched the sun set and listened to the live music. Many of the more affluent locals ended their day there with a drink. I am not really sure what I paid for the pina colada's (we each at three) as when the check came the bill was $72,533.  Either that was peso's or I spent more on the drinks then my first house!

After our cocktails and watching the sun set we continued our explorations of the old city. We stumbled upon a Christmas lights display in a park along the ocean. They were very nice and colorful.  We headed back to the Sojourn around 9 PM. While we were out and about Santa Claus made a visit to our suite and left a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, with lights and all. We decided to have room service htis evening and settle in and watch a movie. We left Cartegena at 11PM and sailed out of the port to continue our trek.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Today was another relaxing day at sea. We started our morning with room service brought promptly to our room at the designated time of 7:45AM.

Last night at the Captain's Gala, Dennis had mentioned to the Captain that he would like to see the Bridge and Captain Elliot invited us to come up at 10AM this morning.  His first officer, Martin, gave us a tour of the bridge, explained all the navigational devices and let us sit in the Captain and 1st Officer's chairs "manning the helm". The yacht, which was just built and launched six months ago, has the most state of the art equipment. The captain only spends about 10 minutes a day on the Bridge, the ship is totally computerized and the course was set by the captain in Fort Lauderdale for Cartegena, Colombia. It was a memorable experience.

A visit to the gym for some treadmill walking  followed by a return visit to the Spa for an aroma therapy steam was next on today's agenda. We ran into some turbulent weather and the yacht did some rocking and rolling.  Fortunately it has great stabilizers.

A very busy afternoon/evening followed:  Tea at 4 with Barry and Victoria;  cocktails and hor d'ouvres from 7 to 8 in the Observation Bar; dinner in the Colannade Room  at 8; after dinner cocktails  and a stroll around the decks ending the day a few minutes past midnight.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We had a sea day today cruising along the coast of Cuba. I never knew Cuba was so mountainous. Beautiful balmy day, high of 72. Had room service deliver breakfast which they set up beautifully with linens and fine china in our suite. 

We had a complete tour of the yacht with the social hostess, Laura, who was most informative.  I spent four hours at the Spa on board. What a phenomenal spa.  It is the whole back end of Deck 11 with some state of the art features.  I had a facial and then an aromatherapy steam.  The aroma therapy steam was fantastic.  The steam room is bathed in light simulating moonlight and every thirty seconds a purple light illuminates and a spray of healing aromas is released. They have a relaxation room where you recline on daybeds while the staff pampers you by bringing you fresh guava, mango and pineapple juices to release the toxins. 

An afternoon lecture given by Terry Hughes was most fascinating.  He is the Emmy award winning producer of such well known television shows, such as "The Golden Girls",  "3rd Rock from the Sun" and  "Soap". He will be hosting several lectures during the cruise.  His stories and memories of Hollywood were great. 

Everyday between 4 and 5 tea is served in the beautiful Observation Bar on deck 10.  The bar is the entire front of the ship with glass walls of windows watching the ship move forward. Very dramatic.  We met a lovely British couple, Barry and Victoria from London. Enjoyed tea and chatting with them.

Tonight we attended a cocktail party reception hosted by the Captain, Hamish Elliott, in the Grand Salon.  A very nice chap and young for a captain, probably 40 or so.

We had a great dinner, followed by some entertainment in the Grand Salon.

Did not make it to bed until after 1 AM.

Monday, December 20, 2010

We are on board the Seabourn Yacht Sojourn. What a fantastic ship.  From someone in the hospitality  industry for 30 + years I am very customer service driven and Seabourn is hands above in all aspects. Arrival at Port Everglades was expedited by an escort who walked us to a waiting lounge where we had drinks while filling out the proper immigration forms and having our pictures taken for our ship ID's.  We then proceeded up the gangway where all guests are met by a member of the Seabourn personnel who escorts you to your suite.  In our suite we were greeted by a silver champagne bucket with a chilling bottle of champagne.  With-in a minute after arriving there was a knock on the door and we were introduced to Mariana who is our personal stewardess for the trip.  She arrived with a tray of canapes and familiarized us with the room.  The suite is state of the art, this yacht was launched six months ago and was a new build.  Everything is high tech.  The flat screen TV in the suite was on with a personalized message for us as well as the daily ships pamphlet. We have a large balcony and the bathroom is all marble with a huge bathtub and separate shower, two sinks and very spacious.

We set sail at 5PM sharp at a bon voyage party on deck with great music and entertainment. Tuxedo clad waiters served champagne and Harvey Wallbangers  and a variety of canapes and hors d'ouvres were passed.  It was beautiful sailing out of Fort Lauderdale as the sun set. The sky was awash in orange as it was a very clear night.

We had a great dinner in the Colannade restaurant (one of the four restaurants on hte ship)  I had steak and lobster tails and Dennis did the salmon.  It was a great night!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Weather much better today.  Attended a party at longtime family friend Linda Sue Marsh’s beautiful condo on the beach  in Pompano.  Great food and a great mix of people.  Counting down till tomorrow.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Relaxing day, weather not too great. Rain!!!  Did some last minute shopping for our cruise.  Tonight we celebrated an early Christmas at Thom’s sister’s.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Enjoyed the scenery as we headed south on the Silver Meteor.  Arrived in Deerfield Beach tonight and were met by  Thom’s sister Kathy.  A great dinner at her home tonight, freshly caught pumpkin swordfish prepared by my brother-in-law Brad.  Excellent!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Caught the Acela Express train in Metro Park, New Jersey this morning to Washington, DC. Acela is a great train.  First Class service all the way…great food, nice wine and internet connection.

Rendezvoused  with Dennis in Washington and we went out to the National Ellipse by the White House and saw the National and State Christmas Trees.  Snow on the ground and a light flurry falling made it seem very Christmassy.

High tea in Peacock Alley at the Willard Hotel was a wonderful experience.  The tea began with a glass of champagne followed by a tasty assortment of finger sandwiches, scones, pet it fors and a chocolate sled filled with fresh fruits.  Served on beautiful Limoge china  with plush table linens,  Beautiful harp music resonated in the background and the afternoon flew by.

This evening we board the Silver Meteor and settled into our compartment for our overnight train trip to Florida. After ‘dinner in the diner” and a few night caps  we called it a night.