Moby Obie Memorial Mediterranean Cruise (The Tease)

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8-21-13-2This is it.  The supervisor made me go.  [That’s me on the left – shedding a tear as we are about to board our aircraft at MSP.]  Who leaves Vacationland USA in the summer?  But it was either this or stay home and weed!  We have no boat any more – hence, the name of this missive.  You may recall we sold our pontoon – the Moby Obie – this spring.  It was a parting deemed necessary due to relative agedness of all parties involved in the equation (i.e., I write this the day after my birthday commemorating the commencement of my second year on Medicare.  I find that I now make noises (no, not those kind!) every time I sit down or stand up – kinda like the noise a woman tennis player makes on every swing of her racquet (or racket)).  Anyway, it turned out that the sale of Moby added the exact amount of the trip cost to our coffers (OK, subsequent individual expenditures, e.g., wine, added a few more shekels to our final tally).  So, we honor, and thank, the Moby Obie for sponsoring our adventure.

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[We subsequently found it odd, if not prophetic, to find this vessel in the port of Livorno, Italy (gateway to Pisa and Florence).  It was actually one of several “Mobies,” and they appear to be ferries to and from the islands of Corsica and Sardinia.  All of Europe were returning from their August vacations.   🙂 ]

OK, I really wanted to go too.  I’m a geography major, after all.  And this was a great chance to visit the birth places and antiquities of Western civilization, all in one two week jaunt.  We endured a brand “new” Princess cruise liner, christened earlier in the year as the Royal Princess by none other than Princess Kate.  That’s a lot of “Princesses” in one sentence.  We had partaken of Princess on our Alaska cruise and found them to be more than satisfactory.

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[Shipboard photo – glare provided at no extra charge.]

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So, now to begin.  We were fortunate son-in-law Danny was in-state to work on the “harn.”  He drove us down to MSP on Wednesday, August 21, to catch a Delta/KLM flight to Amsterdam.  The plane is an Airbus A330 – holds about 260 passengers.  We were advised by a flight attendant on the way home that there are three of these flights – every day!  That, I thought, was a lot of uffda Minnesotans going back to the Old World on a regular basis.  Well, not really.  It seems the entire Western half of the country now flies to Europe through the Twin Cities – just to avoid Atlanta.  We met a couple from Phoenix who were going to be on our flight.

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[As usual, I did not sleep on the 7-hour overnight flight to Amsterdam.  I can sleep anyplace – except on airplanes?  Once in Amsterdam, the supervisor and I had to sprint across three times zones and an international border (we paid 15 krone to cross through Denmark) to reach our connecting flight to Venice.  Apparently, that is not unusual for the Amsterdam airport.  While exhausted we did note the KLM flight attendants must have been from a not too distant past Netherlands women’s volleyball team – I think they were all taller than me!  And we knew we were in a foreign land when the planes in front of us were from Israel (above) and Morocco (below) and the trailing plane (two below) was from Malaysia.  (Well, what else are you going to do sitting on the tarmac?)]

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[KLM flight confirmed.]

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[I lost several terrific shots going over the beautiful snow-capped Alps because I had the camera in the maintenance setting and hadn’t changed it back.  Arrrggghhhhh!  This was a nice last second save.]

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[Unfortunately, not nearly as good as the ones I lost.  😦 ]

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[Venice flight info.]

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[One of the more awesome landing approaches I have ever experienced!  This is Venice!  And the monster ship in the foreground is our cruise vessel, the Royal Princess.  We would begin from Venice and visit 10 cities in 12 days.  We will momentarily suspend discussion of the actual cruise to give you an exhaustive review of our conveyance.]

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[Our first land sighting of our ship as we bused in the from the airport.]

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[Home, sweet home for the next 12 days.]

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[And it comes with a balcony!]

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[After check-in, we met friends Anne and Bill Gross from D.C. for a quick afternoon romp through Venice.  Though we were all exhausted from our trans-Atlantic flights, this would be our only chance to see Venice (to be covered in the next blog story).]

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[The biggest Princess cruise ship to date, 4,000 passengers!  There is an even bigger one currently under construction.]

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[Our view of Venice from the ship’s top open air deck the following morning.]

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[The supervisor on our morning stroll of discovery.]

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[These ships now come equipped with football stadium size video screens.  This is above the swimming pool area.  They played a lot of MTv-type rock videos, and every afternoon and evening, movies.  The quality of the screen was incredible – the afternoon movies were sharp and clearly visible even in the bright sunshine.]

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[Three tiers up opposite the screen for sunning and viewing.]

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[A large yacht (or small cruise ship) parked at the entrance to the Grand Canal.]

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[The Grand Canal from the “roof” of the ship.]

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[Two pools with a center stage between them.  I am standing under the big screen.]

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[We found a putting green at the top of our new world.  The supervisor captured my efforts of trying to figure out what “everything breaks toward the water” means?]

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[I MADE IT!]

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[A seagull’s view of the city.]

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[A sunning deck just below the walking deck.]

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[The supervisor says, “I’ll take this one!”]

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[The screen from the pool area.]

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[The elegance of the adult pool area toward the front of the ship.]

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[Aaahhhhh, this is the life!  Unfortunately, these were available only on a half-day rental basis, beyond the capabilities of retired people living on a pension.  😉 ]

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[The quiet solitude of the adult pool area.]

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[This is coming back from the adult pool area back to where havoc reigned!  😉 ]

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[Not a bad view.]

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[Another giant is coming down the Grand Canal.  The small city on the water is under assault from visitors worldwide!]

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[The adult pool area from above.]

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[I will not partake absent a bowl of grapes!]

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[Almost mosque-like?]

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[That first morning we all went to the main theatre for a safety drill.  Surprisingly, I guess because of the land based nature of this cruise, we never went to a single show here?]

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[Where each day began for us.  We were always surprised there seemed to be little demand to sit outside at the back of the ship.  Great place to eat breakfast and watch the sunrise over the port city where we were.]

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[We have exited Venice to begin two days at sea.  Might as well rock with the ‘Stones?]

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[Anybody here from Schenectady?]

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[The Volume, one of several good music groups on board.]

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[They’re performing in the pool area here – a couple levels below the big screen.]

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[The supervisor checks out the ship’s aft.]

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[I think I used to know the science behind a ship’s wake – have no clue now?]

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[That was just too much excitement!  It’s always nice to have a bar near where you nap.]

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[Now let’s go inside.  To the 3-tier atrium.  We’re dressed for the first night’s dinner.]

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[A spiral stairway to heaven?]

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[This was our hang out area and meeting place.  The Orphea Band is performing here, but several different groups were rotating through all day and evening long.  🙂 ]

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[They take your photo everywhere – and want you to buy it later at more Euros than one usually carries.  As usual, I got the photographer instead!  😉  Meanwhile, Anne and Bill in the background arrange for our table.]

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[We suffered through dinner dining here every night!  Ha!  The food was always terrific with great service.  Don’t know how they do it for 4,000 people?]

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[After dining, we meandered back through the atrium where The Volume was performing and folks were dancing . . .]

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[But we continued to meander all the way back to the Wheelhouse Bar where Frank Sinatra’s old pianist was performing.  Ray Coussins was super!  I had the supervisor go stand behind him while I fired off a rather long distance shot.]

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[We propped our eyelids open for as long as we could to enjoy Ray’s show, but ultimately . . .]

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[It was down the long, long corridor to bed!  🙂 ]

Up next:  Venice!

About tomobert63

The Journey Begins Thanks for joining me! This is the follow-up to the original, “alexandriacardinals.wordpress.com,” which overwhelmed the system’s ability to handle it any more. Thus, this is “Part 2.” As the original was initially described: 10-26-07-4 “It all began in a 5,000 watt radio station in Fresno, California” . . . wait a minute, that was Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore Show! Let’s see . . . oh yeah, it all began in 2003 when retirees, i.e., old people, in Alexandria, Minnesota, who had no desire to become snow birds, went looking for mid-winter entertainment here in the frozen tundra of West Central Minnesota. We discovered girls’ high school hockey, fell in love immediately, and it remains our favorite spectator sport to this day. Initially, and for several years, reports on these games were e-mailed to those who were actually snowbirds but wanted to keep abreast of things “back home.” It was ultimately decided a blog would be more efficient, and it evolved into a personal diary of many things that attracts tens of readers on occasion. It remains a source of personal mental therapy and has yet to elicit any lawsuits. ~ The Editor, May 9, 2014 p.s. The photo border around the blog is the Cardinal girls’ hockey team after just beating Breck for the state championship in 2008. It’s of the all-tournament team. The visible Breck player on the left is Milica McMillen, then an 8th-grader – she is now an All-American for the Gophers. The Roseau player in the stocking cap I believe is Mary Loken, who went on to play for UND; and the Cardinal player on the right, No. 3, is Abby Williams, the player we blame most for making us girls’ hockey fans who went on to play for Bemidji State. *********************************************************************************** Photos contained herein are available for personal use. All you have to do is double click on any of the photos and they will become full screen size. You can then save them into your personal “My Pictures” file. They make lovely parting or hostess gifts, or holiday gifts for such as Uncle Ernie who wants to see how his grand niece is doing on the hockey team. If any are sold for personal profit, however, to, for example, the Audubon Society, National Geographic, Sven’s Home Workshop Monthly, Curling By The Numbers, or the World Wrestling Federation, I only request that you make a donation to the charitable organization of your choice. You have two hours and fifteen minutes. Pencils ready? Begin! **********************************************************************************
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