Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wednesday, September 26

Another great sea day. We had another rough night last night due to the high winds and this morning is kind of grey. We are still in the Bay of St. Lawrence, but will soon be entering the actual river.
Dick gets up and does our laundry about 6:30AM. We are gaining hours regularly now so we are waking up easily. He is returning with dry clothes before the line for the washers form!

There are about 100 people for breakfast this morning. We are really glad to see people using the dining room. There is another lecture this morning...on Quebec. We attend then go back to the room to work on pictures and the blog....behind again.

Carolyn goes to the dining room for lunch and has a great crab bisque and of course bread sticks!! There is a large group again as they are using both sides. Dick has a slice of pizza from the grill at some point.

The main attraction this afternoon is the crew tug-of-war.

The Captain is the referee. Eight teams participate and when all is said and done the deck hands win. The crew seems to have a good time and it is fun to watch.

We are sailing in the river now and
but nothing to see on the port side. Carolyn sits on the balcony for awhile, but it is just a little cool without bundling up
so she moves to the warm bed and naps while Dick reads.

It is formal optional night, but we opt out of the pre-dinner party and join others up in the Observation Lounge who are doing the same thing. We get to the dining room just before the show crowd does and are seated at a table for 2 right in the center; great for people watching. We watched everyone enter and I have to say we see every kind of dress...leather flip flops and black running shoes, frumpy dresses and sports shirts with a casual jacket though most are nicely dressed and most men have at least a sports coat and tie on. The main menu is again not to our liking so we order off the always available side and have the souffle with orange sauce for dessert!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tuesday, September 25

It was surprisingly rough last night with more shuttering, banging and jarring as the ship plowed through the waves. The Captain said yesterday the sail up the channel to Corner Brook would begin around 7AM and was worth seeing. Well maybe, but when we peek out a 7:10AM it is raining and blowing a gale. The ship is really bouncing around...we go back to bed for awhile! Later we go for breakfast and Dick treats himself to Eggs Royal (Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon) and Carolyn has Eggs Florentine.  What a rough trip; to bad it is almost over!

After breakfast we get our gear together then head up to the Observation Lounge to watch the last of the approach to a very wet and windy Corner Brook! Well guess what!  There are only two berthing spots; one next to the mill with a tanker tied up and the cruise ship dock with the huge NCL Gem tied up there.
This wasn’t to be a tender port, but it looks like it is now! The ship spins around in the middle of the harbor and comes to a full stop. We can hear the noise from the tenders lowering and watch as one heads to a barren, open area at the very end of the wharf behind the Gem. We can see wind driven waves breaking over the wharf as the tender approaches....not looking good!

Carolyn looks at the Herald and sure enough we are to tender this morning before the ship docks in the afternoon, not the original plan. We are in port until 8PM tonight to allow enough time for trips up to Gros Morne National Park where we plan to go. The captain finally announces what most of us have figured out...we can’t tender yet as it is too rough over at the dock. But the wind is supposed to moderate later and he will try to get us ashore around lunch time. Meanwhile they put together another lecture and a movie to keep us entertained. Oh yes, the morning tours are canceled with the afternoon ones on hold. Sitting in the lounge, we are like kids outside a candy shop looking in, Grrr.... We call the car rental office and they already know that we will be awhile but not to worry as they will hold the car...just call for a pick up when we head ashore. The four of us agree to get back together when they announce we can tender.

Carolyn goes to the lecture, Dick goes back to the room. About 12:30PM the Captain announces the tenders are now running but we are to be extremely carefully when getting off the tenders as the dock is a floating platform that is still moving some from the strong winds. Oh, and by the way, ignore the bit in the Herald about the ship moving to the dock later. The Captain sounds really pissed off. This was not a tender port originally, but the weather has been awful up this way.  Apparently the Gem got our berth some how and some of our buses also. So the Captain has decided not to pay any berthing fee, period, and just tender all day.

The four of us gather on deck 3 and are on our way very fast. The passage is rough though not too bad. When we get to the dock we have some eager beavers who pop up before the tender even stops. A staff member with stripes stands and tells everyone to sit down and wait until their section is called! He cautions us again to be extremely carefully on the floating dock; not to stop to wait for our party until we are on the paved parking area.

The floating dock is bouncing some. It looks brand new and there is a roughly made wooden ramp, which is also moving, up to a gravel area that leads to the parking lot. At the top of the ramp is a concrete pad in the gravel, still with the frame around it, and it looks like it was poured yesterday! This is all about 600 yards from the extreme other end of the dock area where the taxis and our rental car pick up are parked. We walk past the huge NCL Gem and find our pickup car and are at the car agency in no time. It is still windy, but the rain has stopped and there are tiny patches of blue. We may just luck out. By 1:30PM we are on the road.

The original plan was to dive to the north side of Bonne Bay, which is the center of the beautiful Gros Morne National Park, check out the Rocky Cove and Lobster Cove Head and have a late lunch then back track to the South side of the Bay and check out the Tablelands, the flat red rock (peridotite) mountains that are the upturned ancient ocean floor and the most famous aspect of the park. This is the best and most accessible example of exposed mantle material in the world. There are visitor centers on each side. On our 1986 trip to Newfoundland, we drove the north side and camped somewhere up that way, but did not drive out the south side. Since we are at least 2 hours later than planned we have to adjust our plans. Dick sees a subway and suggests we pick up subs to go as we left the ship without lunch. We are officially on the road by 2:10PM.
It takes an hour to get to the park’s main entrance on Hwy 430 where a nice lady suggests that we have time to see the Tablelands and the south side visitors center and get back to Corner Brook by 6PM when the rental place closes. We head out toward Woody Point on the south side of the Bonne Bay. We drive along the South Arm of the Bay.  It is very pretty with several small fishing villages along the water’s edge.
We then drive down into Woody Point and can see across to Norris Point on the north shore of Bonne Bay, but all the tourist stuff is closed for the winter so we head on to the visitors center for a stop and then on out into the Tablelands. We get as far as a nice overlook when we reach to half way point in our allowed time.

Here we turn around to head back to Corner Brook;

arriving at the car agency at 5:50PM and return the car. A driver takes us back to the port. The Gem is gone and the Sojourn is still tendering. The floating platform is still moving some, but not nearly as bad as earlier!

It was a fast trip, but we are all glad that we did it. Newfoundland is beautiful with clear rivers and wonderful lakes. The drive was very nice and the sun came out for us. We were glad to see the park again. If we had the two extra hours we could have seen the north side also. Plus, the car place had a key drop box for after hours returns and the agent gave us the taxi phone number.  Dick just didn’t really want to mess with the taxi and arriving after dark at what turned out to be a tender port.

Back on board we get cleaned up and go for cocktails and are treated to another nice sunset

before heading to dinner. We both have steak and mashed potatoes. The steaks are so good and we like fairly simple food. For some reason the service drags so we don’t wait for dessert, but go back to the room and order from room service.

All in all it turned out to be a good day in Corner Brook!

Monday, September 24

About 2:20AM, we awake to the sound of the thursters. It is misty and cold when Carolyn goes out on the balcony. The ship’s search lights are aimed at the tender area on 3 starboard and the back of the ship is lit up, but it is too foggy to really see anything. Back to bed until the normal time. We get dressed to go ashore and head to breakfast.

After breakfast we head to the Observation Lounge to watch the approach to the tiny hamlet of Red Bay. The Labrador coast is in sunshine, but the Newfoundland coast is barely visible through the clouds. Carolyn spots several whales swimming along with the ship as we cruise. Then we see a large hump of land, with a marine signaling tower and what looks like an old light keeper's house on top, sticking out into the water. As we get closer we see a few houses tucked back in a small bay.
About 10AM, the ship anchors off the large humpback rock which forms a protected bay and turns out to to be Saddle Island where Basque fishermen came and set up their largest and most used whaling operation in the 1500's and early1600's.

There are several tours today, a short walking tour and two long ones that head to a light house down the coast, but we decided to just walk about the town on our own. The Basque settlement has been developed into a National Park featuring the results of the extensive archaeological work done on both land and under water in the area. Around 11AM, we decide that there have probably been enough tender runs to get the tour groups off so we head to deck 3. There is still a line as one of the tenders died in the water so we opt to go up to the open deck off the Club, where we can sit and watch for the tenders to start moving again. This doesn’t take long and we are soon on our way to Red Bay.

There is a small welcome center giving out maps and directions right next to the tender landing along with a couple dressed in traditional Basque costumes posing for pictures.
We pick up a map and get directions...follow the the Park's Visitor Center!

It is a little walk over a slight hill and we are in the center of town where we find a cafe/souvenir shop and part of the museum. After a shopping stop for a pin for Jack, we head up the hill, the only road to Red Bay,
for a visit to the little white church and the rest of the Museum.

We want to get tickets for the boat over to Saddle Island to see where the whaling station was. Now, exactly why we have to walk to the uphill museum building to get tickets for the boat ride when the boat leaves from the museum building that we were just in is a mystery! The museum at the top of the hill has one of the four 16th century Basque whaling boats that was recovered from the harbor on display, a chalupa.
If you follow the road out of town around the small bay you come to a walk/stairs that will take you to the top of another hill where there is a really nice view of the area. At the foot of the stairs is another walk that goes along a beach littered with whale bones.
Both look like good walks, but we are told the walk to the start of both is about 30 minutes plus the hill top walk is another 1.7KM return and the beach walk is .5 km return. Carolyn’s knees are not up to that so we stick with our original plan and walk back down the lower museum.
The boat leaves on the hour and we arrive about 12:45. When the boat driver arrives, Carolyn decides she isn’t even up to the 1.7KM walk around the island. As it turns out the tide is out and it is a five foot climb up a pole ladder at the island dock to get off the boat which Carolyn couldn’t have done.
Dick and a couple from Alberta, who are seeing Canada in their camper, go on the trail together. He enjoys the walk as it is well signposted and interesting although there is not really much to see since all the archaeological sites have been reburied and there are only little signs telling you what was found in a given location.

Carolyn spends some time in the lower shoreside museum that tells the story of Basque in Red Bay based on the results of all the archaeological digs over a 15 year period....very interesting. She then buys a couple of local handmade things at the little craft shop in the museum and a cap for Dick before walking back to the tender.
Room service lunch and a nap on the balcony in the warm sun are just what the Doctor ordered.
Dick gets back about 3:30PM and just makes it to the grill in time to get some pizza and a beer.

There is really very little to do in Red Bay, but we still found it interesting. One hundred and fifty hardy souls live there, many third and forth generation. The nearest medical services are 40 minutes away...we found this out because a local fell and it took 40 minutes for the ambulance with first aid to arrive. There is a K through 12 school in the village and there are 19 students and 4 ½ teachers!

Most people thought the tours were not worth it as they used the school buses. Since school is in session now, the tours were rushed so the buses could do the school runs. Too bad the residents didn’t come together and offer rides over to the walking paths...the one along the beach looked very easy and doable by most people if the hour and a half round trip walk from the tender to it was removed. Several people did do the whole walk and enjoyed their day. The weather has been so bad/different this summer, many of the planned cruise calls have been canceled because the ships couldn’t get into the harbor, including the one yesterday. We were lucky and had a beautiful warmish day to boot!

On the way back to the ship Dick strikes up a conversation with a couple who turn out to be one of Carolyn’s CC friends we had never caught up with on the ship. He learns that the plans for the tours tomorrow are all messed up due to the lack of enough busses. The only tour they could get was one that didn’t really appeal and it was scheduled to be on a school bus. Since we have a car rented, Dick asks them if they would like to join us. We meet for cocktails and enjoy a great sunset. Then go to dinner to set up the day.

The dinner is great tonight. We start with an order of caviar with all the trimming....well everyone except Carolyn, that’s not her thing. Then we all have the rack of lamb special with pots of chocolate or strawberry cheese cake for desert. The lamb is done to perfection! We have a nice evening and get our port time tomorrow worked out.

We are not into the evening entertainment, but they have been almost every night and say the various acts have been very good. We have eaten with four of the entertainers and throughly enjoyed them and the dinners, but shows at 10PM are just too late for us. Dick would much rather go to sleep and Carolyn often enjoys a late movie in bed with a pot of tea.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday, September 23

Sunday, September 23

The fog horn blew during the night and it is still fogy out as we head to breakfast at our usual time. We sit by our friends from Spring, one of maybe four Texas couples on this cruise and talk about all things Texas and family.

At 10AM we go to the church service put on by John. This time he has a musician and we sing along with the regular service. There are more people here today...maybe 40 or so. It is a nice service, but we have an alpha call to one of the suites...hope it is nothing serious. John includes the person in our prayers. Then we go to the lecture on Labrador and Newfoundland. Mr Luckenbach tells us about the currents and how they affect the ice movement and the paths of the early travelers in the area.

During breakfast our waiter, Martin told us to be sure and come to the Galley Market Luncheon today from 12 to 2. We remember this from the Pride. About 12 the Captain makes his noon announcement telling anyone who has noticed that yes we have been heading due south for some the marked course to avoid the reported dip in the limit of the ice field...he doesn’t want a surprise encounter with an iceberg! Chicken!! We are now heading almost due west and will be back on the planned course later today arriving in Red Bay on time tomorrow morning. Carolyn goes down to take some pictures...the food looks wonderful!!!

Back in the room Dick looks at the pictures and even though we really weren’t planning to indulge we head to lunch and wind up sitting with some CC friends from England and have a delightful two hours eating and talking.

Back in the room we have Internet so we work on the blog and some business stuff. About 3:30 the Captain comes on the PA again to tell us we are now heading to St Anthony, Newfoundland due to a medical emergency. We should be there about 2AM and tender the passenger ashore. Then we will head for Red Bay arriving later in the morning than planned, but will also stay later to allow for the tours.

The rest of the afternoon and evening we crash through the sea that is moving due to the 50mph winds and our 17;5 knots. The ship shutters every few minutes as we plow into waves with the bow. Needless to say it has gotten rough again.

Over stuffed from the big lunch and not want to bob down the halls, we have a movie marathon and have room service for diner.

Saturday, September 22

Some time in the wee hours of this morning we slip off the continental shelf and the rollers lengthen out. The ship then settles down to a long gentle rolling motion. The sun is out when we wake. Dick goes for his usual coffee in Seabourn Square. Carolyn gets up leisurely and we go to breakfast about 8:30. The dinning room is fairly empty this morning. There have been 50 to 75 people here most mornings, but not today. Carolyn discovered the Danish pancakes the other day. They are so good with a bowl of fresh berries. Dick has been having oatmeal and a plate of salmon most mornings. This is the beginning of our last week on the ship...we will miss the nice breakfast most!

Carolyn goes to Seabourn Square to try to get the blog up to date but the Internet is not co-operating and keeps disconnecting. The Chef is doing another cooking class in the Grand Salon so she dumps the computer in the room and heads off to learn how to make lentil soup and three kinds of salmon tartar. Chef Niels is a good entertainer as well as a good cook.
His hour long secessions are always fun. He cooks up a pot of rum with hot chocolate and passes that out to get everyone in the mood. Then he starts the soup and makes the tartar while the soup cooks.

The tartar sounds good and seems very easy to make...Carolyn may just have to try some. He then passes out cups of the soup which is very good and may just become a winter staple at home!

Another good lunch in the dinning room. It is Italian today and the food is good but a little heavy. There are the usual 50 or so people eating. Can’t imagine what it was like during the time they weren’t serving in they dining room, the Colonnade is OK, but to us is very congested and food court like when you can have full table service in the beautiful dining room.

Back in the room the bed looks inviting, the fog horn is blowing and the ship is gently rocking. We lay down to read and wind up napping until cocktail time. We head up the Observation Lounge about 6PM to listen to some music and have a drink then go to the dining room. Yes, we will need a wheel barrow to get us off the ship! Dick orders a steak and Carolyn tries the crab cakes...the first bad meal. She elects to have some of Dick’s steak since there is plenty and some mashed potatoes. A bowl of berry crisp and ice cream finish the meal and we head to the room. It has been a nice lazy day and we have recovered for the cold of yesterday.