"" Writer's Wanderings

Friday, May 22, 2015

Postcard From Pitcairn

Back on February 8 the Crystal Serenity was anchored just off of Pitcairn Island, settled by the mutineers of the Bounty. All but a couple of the islanders came aboard ship and talked about their history, their life on the island and sold souvenirs. I found the magistrate who also ran the post office and he was selling Pitcairn postage stamps as well as postcards.

There was a beautiful stamp with the Bounty on it that I purchased to send to someone and then I decided it would be fun to send a postcard to us as well. Unfortunately the ship stamps were gone but he sold me some others.

I filled out the two postcards and handed them over to him and he said with a smile, "You know you will be home long before these arrive, don't you?"

He then went on to explain that the supply ship that would collect their mail wouldn't arrive until March and then it would be a while before it would deposit the mail any where near where it could easily make it to the states. I thought with almost three months left of our cruise surely it would get there before we got home.

Our postcard arrived this week. It's world cruise was as long or longer than ours.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Flying Fish

Whenever we cruise the Caribbean I always look for the flying fish. They are like little white bullets that shoot out of the wake of the ship and skim over the water and waves and disappear again. When you first see them you think your eyes are playing tricks but they are real and on our World Cruise I saw them in the Pacific as well.

The fish are anatomically built for flying--so to speak. Their tails are sculpted with over-
sized lower lobes and when in danger, they vibrate it more than 50 beats per second. The vibration propels them out of the water. Once free of the water, they spread over-sized pectoral fins that have been tucked against their sides while underwater. The pectoral fins act as wings when they become airborne.

Flying fish which can reach 18 inches in length and weigh a pound and a half are usually only airborne for two or three seconds but some have been known to stay airborne for as long as 45 seconds and cover a distance of 2,000 feet but do so like a flat stone that's been skipped along the water's surface. If you were being pursued as dinner, you'd learn to run too!

Unfortunately flying fish are pursued not only from below but above as well. Larger fish feed off of them and above the surface they are prey to keen-eyed albatross and frigates. And new to me, it was mentioned by one of the lecturers that flying fish can be found on the menu in some countries.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Zulu

Yes, I admit to being a skeptic especially when it comes to souvenirs. A while ago I was buying wooden objects and my criteria was that they be of native wood and made by a native of that country. I was in a hurry one day and bought something in the Caribbean and got it home, turned it over to see that it was made in China.

In Cape Town, South Africa we strolled through a art and craft pavilion and I fell in love with a beaded necklace. The sales lady said it was made by the Zulu. I really didn't care at the time. I liked the necklace and it looked well made and we bought it. But was it really made by the Zulu? And who are the Zulu? Now that I'm home and have the time and most importantly a good internet connection I thought I would check it out.

The word Zulu means "sky" and according to oral history, Zulu was the name of the ancestor who founded the royal line about 1670. The Zulu make up about 22% of the South African population. The largest concentration is near Durban which is quite a ways from Cape Town. Still, it's quite feasible that the owner of the jewelry booth could have had pieces shipped to her.

Zulu or not, the necklace is my favorite souvenir.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cruising Behind The Scenes

While on our world cruise aboard the Crystal Serenity, we were afforded the opportunity of touring behind the scenes. It was a pretty extensive tour and here is a sampling of what we saw. The amazing part was seeing how many more crew members were working behind the scenes not only for the passengers but for the other crew members as well. 

The bakery. They were giving out samples of soft pretzels and rolls.

The crew's cafeteria.
The crew's disco.
The ship's tailor.
My favorite, the florist. She was in a space the size of a walk-in closet.
Okay, now this was amazing. The sheets and pillowcases go in here . . .

 . . .and come out here, pressed and folded!
The printer was recycling old menus by printing inventory lists on the back.
Behind the stage, the entertainers' wardrobe.
And the entertainers' wigs. No wonder we couldn't figure out if they were blondes or brunettes.
Up in the bridge, Bob found the ship's whistle. Glad he didn't push it.
And of course, upon every sail away this CD of Louis Armstrong's It's a Wonderful World played.
In the Safety Briefing room where crew members learn and review safety procedures, we found this chart of Code Words. Bravo is a universal code word for fire no matter what ship you are on. Interesting, but I wondered why the last two didn't have a code word. Our guide said if it got to that it didn't matter any more what the code word was.

Friday, May 15, 2015

What's New At Our Zoo?

The World Cruise laundry was finished, folded, and put away and spring time had come to Cleveland. Time to check out the zoo and see what was new.

Temperatures were already in the low 80s by the time we arrived mid-morning. This was more than spring weather, this was an early peak at summer. Yellow school buses were already filling up the outer parking lot but there was still room to park cars nearer the gate. We showed our old membership card and said we hadn't received our new one yet. (Actually we'd just paid our dues that came up for renewal while we were gone.) Not a problem. Our hands were stamped and we were off for our cup of coffee for our stroll.

It was interesting to see the rhinos and some of the other animals we'd seen on safari. A lot different to see them in a zoo setting but if I closed my eyes I could still remember the thrill of those encounters on our safari.

New at the zoo and only for summer is a penguin exhibit that is quite nice. Six penguins in a temperature controlled environment. It's nice to see them again at the zoo. I remember when we had a large exhibit in the old bird building. We're still waiting for them to get another hippo too.

As we walked around, we couldn't help but notice a huge crane in the area of the giraffes. Sure enough. There is a major project underway for a new giraffe encounter. The picture looks like it'll be a really nice addition.

It didn't take long for the heat to climb and for us to decide to head for home. A little too much summer too early in spring but we're promised "normal" next week. Normal for Cleveland could be anything. Keeps us on our toes.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

World Cruise - Saying Goodbye

There were two days at sea between St. Thomas and Miami. Plenty of time for goodbyes and enough time for us to pack. We had heard that some started packing the week before but then we only had six suitcases. Some had a lot more including one couple at our dining room table that had eleven.

We decided to give our beach blanket and napkin rings to our cabin stewardess. She was excited to get the blanket. We also gave her our leftover Dove candies and Hershey miniatures we had brought and not eaten since we had so many gifts of chocolate (much better chocolate) from friends and family when we sailed.

A six-pack of peanut butter crackers we’d also brought and not opened we gave to our favorite breakfast waiter along with his extra tip. He always teased us about our Wednesday pancakes, Sunday waffles, Bob’s Tuesday Japanese breakfast, and my orders of peanut butter for my English muffin.

Jorge and Nenad mugging for the camera.
A special program called Serenity Pops was our entertainment one night. Several musicians had joined us in St. Thomas and added to the orchestra we already had on board. The enlarged orchestra was led by the Crystal Cruise’s entertainment director. It started out with some opera offerings from the lead singers and then turned into some hilarious antics and entertainment interspersed with some of the best dancing I’ve seen on any ship.

Our last afternoon found us watching an hour long video of our World Cruise. I think Bob and I popped up once or twice but you had to look quick. We didn’t do a lot of the excursions that the videographers photographed but it did give a good summary of all the entertainment and lecturers and enrichment programs throughout the cruise. It was a gift to all the World Cruisers but I doubt anyone will want to watch it. We probably won’t watch again—well maybe just once.

Michael at tea time.
Pictures with our two waiters, Jorge and Nenad, were crazy selfies. These guys made 108 days very pleasant with their friendliness and good humor as did Michael from the beverage department who not only waited on us at tea time but would always bring us two waters at show time in the Galaxy—one “decaf”, one “caffeine”, delivered with a smile and a chuckle.

Dinner was followed by dancing and then a balloon drop in the ship’s atrium. It was the only time Bob wanted to dance and only because he wanted to be in the middle under the balloons with his toothpick. Not an easy thing to do when you’re getting jostled by all the dance ambassadors doing their fancy steps with the single ladies or those whose husbands won’t dance.

We finished our hugs and goodbyes with our tablemates and others we had grown fond of and went up to our room to change, stuff our “Crystal casual” clothes into the suitcase and change into our comfortable jeans and shirts that we would also wear in the morning. We set our suitcases out in the hall and then went off for one more walk through the ship. We wanted to take a walk around the Promenade Deck but it was wet and rainy and very windy.

Our tablemates for 108 days!
Our time to disembark was early since we had to travel from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and I’m guessing they had quite a time scheduling all the limos for the World Cruisers. We were also supposed to meet our luggage carrier, Luggage Free, at the pier and send off some of our luggage. 

Finding our luggage, we got a porter to load it on a cart and we started out. To my amazement we went through customs behind two carts that were filled with wardrobe shipping cartons from a moving company. What a way to travel!

Our luggage carrier never showed at the appointed time and when Bob finally got a time commitment from them it was an hour later. We stacked our luggage and managed to wheel it over to where the limos were being assigned. The lady in charge graciously found us an SUV that could handle six suitcases for our trip to Ft. Lauderdale.
Early morning in Miami. Moon still out!

Thanks to United dropping their direct flight to Cleveland for our return flight, we ended up getting home by way of Chicago but it all went smoothly and we found two other people from our ship going the same way. We’d met them once at the very beginning of our cruise.

A limo driver met us and helped us with luggage as we arrived in CLE. Home looked good. Bob counted the fish. They were all there. He checked out the new furnace and turned on the hot water. I looked at the six suitcases sitting in the mud room and decided tomorrow was soon enough to start unpacking.

We went off to Bob Evans for dinner—er, make that a breakfast. We both had a taste for fried eggs, sausage, toast (with the crust on) and real hash browns.  And we didn’t have to get dressed up to eat it. Home!

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