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GOS
06-05-2009, 04:44 PM
PRE-TRIPPEE
Hi everyone. I know you haven't heard from me in a long while, but good news! H&R took me on another trip...this time to the Baltic region on RCCL Jewel of the Seas. Here's a link to RCCL so that you can learn a bit about the ship we sailed on.

http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/findacruise/ships/class/ship/home.do;jsessionid=0000WfKW3--Z-W5f5hU7K9jRLio:13dlht8th?br=R&shipClassCode=RD&shipCode=JW

R's Mum and Dad sailed with us this time, celebrating thier 50th wedding anniverary. :woohoo: No need for plane flights this time. It was just a couple of hours in the car to the port of Harwich in Essex.

This was our itinerary:
17th May - Sail away from Harwich, UK
18th May - At sea
19th May - Copenhagen, Denmark
20th May - At sea and H's birthday
21st May - Stockholm, Sweden
22nd May - Helsinki, Finland
23rd May - St Petersburg, Russia
24th May - St Petersburg, Russia
25th May - Tallinn, Estonia
26th May - At sea
27th May - Oslo, Norway
28th May - At sea
29th May - Arrive home in Harwich, UK

H had been talking on Cruise Critic for some months and were due to meet all the Cruise Critic members in the Champagne Bar after muster. The formal Meet and Greet was on Monday at 12.15 in Hollywood Odyssey or Vortex bar on Deck 13.

When H&R packed they found a stowaway...yes, Little Red. Big Red and I got it on, last August, and Little Red was the result.

https://emimja.blu.livefilestore.com/y1m8AgX4tGediNntWB6zHBveG_eHQ79IWRJ32RBjp1AHB9IBkS A4zuGKS6SCPzGzr54EKFjOaXl9QN_CB8OTZpmSbNq35Y6FClbr btyv8AIdR3RakFppn62fuTzwkgzXkZUlJJuIUdL1XiCsOooiQR iVw/algae1.jpg

GOS
06-05-2009, 04:59 PM
Well cruise fans, we made it. The journey to Harwich was painless and meeting R's Mum and Dad (Tom and Rose) just half an hour for the port worked like a dream. Harwich port is a very industrial with only a few cruise lines departing from the port. The car park opened at 10.30 and we were one of the first in the queue. The shuttle bus took us over to the small warehouse-type terminal building, which is located right beside the train station. Check-in began at 11.00am and we were on board by 11.30am.

http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x120/oakleigh85/CIMG1259.jpg

After a quick glance at our surroundings, we look the lifts to deck 11 and Windjammer Buffet. The view from the glass lifts were spectacular - a huge glass window presents you with wonderful views of the sea and also of the Centrum, the heart of the ship. After a relaxing lunch and a very welcome cup of tea, we made our way back down to deck 4, where our cabins were located.

http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x120/oakleigh85/CIMG1263.jpg

The cabin is laid out very much like many other cabins/cruise lines, and not showing any signs of wear and tear. Time to explore this beautiful ship and the Miller Clan set out to find out what is on offer for them over the next 12 days.

As I said before, the Centrum is the heart of the ship and the majority of events and activities are centred round this area, with bars, shops and Tides (the 2 storey restaurant) which radiate from it. RCCL have arranged an Expo-type event introducing all the activities available on the cruise. You had to answer questions based on the different activities and then completed answer sheets are put into a raffle bin and then 10 lucky winners are drawn. Prizes ranged from spa treatments, free bingo games and credit on Internet access.

http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x120/oakleigh85/CIMG1289.jpg

Muster was at 4.30pm, with sailaway at 5.10.

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The weather was so windy and overcast that there wasn't much of a sailaway party. We stood at the front of the ship for a while taking photos and some video until it gets too cold and we retire to our cabins to unpack and get ready for dinner.

http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x120/oakleigh85/P1000071.jpg

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We have opted for My Time Dining and have asked for a table at 6.15pm, which works quite well, as the majority of the first dining cruisers have made their way into the dining room by the time we make our way into dinner. The obligatory photos are taken at the table and we had an enjoyable dinner.

The Welcome Aboard Show was at 7.45pm and we only just made it. The show is enjoyable with a extreme balancing act, dancers and singers and we are introduced to the cruise directors staff. The Cruise Director, Joff, reminds us of Basil Forty (from a 70's UK sitcom). Shops are now open and after browsing round for about 30mins, we make our way to the Schooner Bar for the first instalment of Trivia. The Miller's are successful and win Name that Movie Tune with a score of 14.5 out of 15. :woohoo::yay:

Finally exhaustion overcomes H and she says she must go to bed. We lost an hour's sleep tonight - the first of three. After setting the alarm for 8am, our first day is complete.

Claire L
06-05-2009, 05:08 PM
Oh sounds like a great start to a memorable trip :)

Claire ;)

jjk
06-06-2009, 03:45 AM
great start :goodvibes

A fat english gent
06-06-2009, 04:55 AM
I need to know about Rick and the hairy ladies,am in.....:rolleyes1

GOS
06-06-2009, 12:40 PM
After losing an hours sleep last night the alarm woke us up at 8.00am (really 7.00am)! H&R met Tom and Rose for breakfast at 9.00am. Looks like most mornings will end up the same with them making their way to Windjammer - the buffet restaurant on deck 11. With wood panelling, ships lanterns and other memorabilia, it is decorated to make you feel that you are sailing the high seas on a old tall ship.

http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x120/oakleigh85/CIMG1306.jpg

The plan for today was to explore and just take the day as it comes. With the sun shining and the sea calm, the Miller Clan head for the open deck. As Tom wants to try his hand at golf we make our way up to deck 11. R wins with H in close 2nd. Tom and Rose finish 3rd and 4th respectively. They stop to watch a rock wall climber and Tom wanders over to see what it's all about. Will he take the plunge and have a go? Not if Rose has her way.

The Clan wander round the deck taking in all the sights that they missed on their first day - it was so cold and windy that they didn't venture long on the open deck. They find the Seaview Cafe and decide to come back later to read the menu as it doesn't open till 12noon. Down another level and they arrive at the Windjammer Restaurant again, this time at the other end and they find a refreshment stand, so stop for a refreshing cup of tea.

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The girls are in need of some retail therapy and so they head on down to deck 5 where the shops and photo gallery are located. After purchasing their embarkation and the first night dining photos, it's back to the cabin to deposit their purchases. The Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle is being held on Deck 13. When the group arrive at 12.15, they find that they are too late. The CC M&M was rescheduled to 11.30am and H has missed the announcement left in their cabin. Oh well.

http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x120/oakleigh85/CIMG1315.jpg

H wants to finish off yesterdays edition of the blog for me and publish it, so she has to sit in the Centrum area to log on to a Hot Spot. So with coffee in hand the 3 amigos sit and wait whilst she finishes.

http://blufiles.storage.msn.com/y1pmDJFe6H2yuqnN7CM8-dfIUIIJbHkGOutOJsRn65sGnsU9NhMpgpYAmNnYsFvtNEhn-3X_deOh63-mMvQn0rMRQ?PARTNER=WRITER

This afternoon, the Cruise Compass has scheduled Progressive Trivia in the Safari Club. R, H, Tom and Rose hurry on down after finishing off a quick bite to eat in the Seaview Cafe, and meet up with H's sister and her party. They team up and join in all the fun. The idea is that on each sea day the points that you win are rolled over to the next day, giving you a final total at the end of the four sea days. We wait and see how well they do.

There is another trivia quiz scheduled to take place in the Schooner Bar - Name that Tune. This time 50's and 60's hits. The group are not so successful this time. No key chain today.

Formal night tonight - the first of three. The group are ready by 5.15pm and line up with everyone else to have their photos taken. Then it's along to the Captains Reception party. Captain Thore Thorolvsen introduces all his senior staff and gives a brief history of RCCL to the assembled throng. As there is alot of first time cruisers this is just another chance to sell RCCL, but I have to say a very personable Captain, not like a certain Disney Captain, that I won't mention!

http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x120/oakleigh85/CIMG1327.jpg

Dinner tonight, like last night is in Tides at 6.15pm and they have a lovely meal, topped off with H receiving her birthday cake and song from the waiting staff singing Happy Birthday to her - 2 days early, mind.

As the show is not until 9.00pm tonight and with a few more photos taken, the group decide to change and so make the evening more comfortable. Those waist bands are already starting to feel tight. The show tonight is Johnathan Kane, an Elton John tribute act. He was extremely good and the only act endorsed by Elton John World. He even had members of the audience up on stage at the end dancing to Crocodile Rock. A good finale.

One final quiz this evening. This time Guess the Celebrity. This time the prizes were a lot better - a bottle of Wine and a Cruise package, but no luck tonight. The group call it a night at 11.00pm - Copenhagen tomorrow, and they want to be fresh and ready for what the day has in store.

GOS
06-07-2009, 04:17 PM
The song says it all - Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen. As we made our way up to breakfast, we get our first glimpse of the weather for today, and it looks glorious. The sun is out and there was hardly any breeze. Our tour didn't start until 12noon, so we had a couple of hours to wander round the port area.

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A short stroll away from the ship were a few shops all selling Danish goods and souvenirs. A little further on and we came to the famous little mermaid statue made famous by Hans Christian Anderson (and of course Disney). H posed for her picture, whilst Tom and Rose sit and watch all the passers by.

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As we made our way back to the ship we took a few pictures of another cruise ship in port with us today - the Celebrity Century. Back onboard and after a bathroom stop and taking time to gather our belongs for this afternoon, there is just time for a cup of tea on deck 11. The Clan takes a stroll round the deck and find the beautiful Solarium. The roof has been moved back and there are quite a few cruisers taking in the early summer sun.

http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x120/oakleigh85/P1000137.jpg

The tour departed from the dockside at 12noon and everyone is onboard (including Little Red) and ready to go. First stop was the Little Mermaid statue, but as they had done this morning the Clan stay on the coach. The coach continues its journey after 5 minutes and heads into town. We stop briefly again at one of the canals with bars situated along one side as the sun only shines on one side each day to take pictures. Hans Christian Andersen is said to have rented a couple of apartments in the area in his lifetime.

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Back on the coach again and the last stop on this part of the tour is the Tivoli Gardens. Not only does it have extreme rides, but as the title mentions, it has some of the most beautiful gardens H has seen in a long time. The group stroll round the gardens, eating ice cream and taking the most amazing flower pictures. H is dubbed the next David Belamy (a British botanist) by R as she won't stop taking flower pictures with their new camera.

http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x120/oakleigh85/P1000217.jpg

The 1.30mins soon passes and the tour progresses out of the gardens and they all take a 15 minute brisk walk down to another canal to catch the boat for the harbour cruise. The boat took them past some of the most important buildings in Copenhagen, such as the New Opera House, the Royal Palace and Maersk (the largest shipping company in the world). The final destination is the Little Mermaid once again, and they alight onto the dockside and made their way back to the ship.

http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x120/oakleigh85/P1000237.jpg

A cup of tea is what is needed with a few cookies on the side. This tides them over until dinner which was in 1hrs time. Casual dress tonight, but there is no excuse not to change. H has a Trinidad Punch - the drink of the day, which was extremely delicious. There is time after dinner to hang round the Centrum listening to Country and Western Music tonight and H joins in some of the line dancing. Soon it is time for the evenings show in the Coral Theatre - West End to Broadway. A tribute to all those famous shows such as Cats, Les Miserables and We Will Rock You.

http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x120/oakleigh85/CIMG1278.jpg

Once the show ended the group made their way quickly to the other end of the ship and the Safari Club. Tonight's show is entitled "The Big Music Quiz" with a chance (a slim chance) to win a car! The quiz overran in the end, but H&R said they hadn't laughed so much in such a long time. The evening ended for them with 40 minutes of Karaoke. Not something they usually like, but a couple of the acts were so bad, it reminded them of the auditions for X Factor. Finally they say good night at 12.50am. Tomorrow is H's birthday and another day at sea.

Claire L
06-07-2009, 04:26 PM
Oh wow sounds like a great day and some wonderful piccies :)

Claire ;)

GOS
06-08-2009, 02:52 PM
Oh wow sounds like a great day and some wonderful piccies :)

Claire ;)

Yes, it was a lovely day. Thanks Claire.

GOS
06-08-2009, 03:10 PM
Happy Birthday

http://dpbwaq.blu.livefilestore.com/y1pQQePFOokR11r6SiWhJ9rKKtAuqyAj4VAMcbPFc0bn1DCE42 8bxC_FyNhPGSTORYxfIYK2S8YBraYTB372xMClfJSaZvsz0mp? PARTNER=WRITER

Yes, today was H's birthday and she was awake at 7.30am, even though they didn't get to bed until gone 1.00am last night. They had a wonderful evening, full of laughter. H wants a cup of tea, so with I Pod in hand she leaves Rick in bed and climbs the stairs from Deck 4 to Deck 11 for a brisk power walk. Half an hour later with tea in hand, she's back and it was time for cards and presents. She got lots of cards and some lovely presents (she says thank you very much!).

http://dpbwaq.blu.livefilestore.com/y1p4ZbV-brcx7L-JPbfUWcdwHD5E0Orp0PDLL_JRZ3h1Al-X0xyoBfSW6jY6GasOYVO_3cNxI4UlBwoNJLOSSxw_zqZXq1pOG AV?PARTNER=WRITER

Breakfast today was a bit later - 9.30am, again in the Windjammer. Rose wanted to wash and dry her hair so both her and Tom go back the cabin. H&R set out for a morning on their own. A quick trip to the shop - H buys a T.shirt and a fleece jacket. A quick look at the photos in the gallery and then time for a coffee stop. Whilst R uploads the blog, H joins in with Wii Baseball and wins 2nd place and receives a Silver Medal. H then joins in with scrap booking and meets one of the CC members that she missed on Monday. They make arrangements to meet up for the Denrus tour.

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Then it's time to see if Tom and Rose are ready for the afternoon, but H&R have to search the whole ship, until they arrive in the Safari Club for this afternoons edition of Progressive Trivia, and find Tom and Rose waiting for them. They don't do to well this time, they were in about 8th place. Napkin folding is next in the Schooner Bar. Once this is finished they hang around the bar area with their coffees and wait for the next round of Trivia - Name that TV theme tune. No luck again, but they have plenty of fun taking part.

http://blufiles.storage.msn.com/y1pAhUJm4AKXhkSFWhvZ2Lr3kYbnOn6kQognLPPBDbJ7vmzVjq owGKXRRt8YJmclPLBUdt6ejYwPDaoIuihzmcXMg?PARTNER=WR ITER

Dinner tonight is in Portafino's and the Murder Mystery Dinner Show. They all have a really good time - starters, fillet steak, Tiramisu and lots of wine. The Maitre D presents H with a birthday cake and the whole restaurant sings Happy Birthday to her. They are all a bit squiffy when they finally leave at 10.00am. Time for a final game of Trivia - this time Majority Rules and once again, it turns out to be lots of fun, but no prize.

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The evening comes to an end at 11.15pm giving H's sister a tour of their cabin. She is interested to see what the difference is between the two cabins. There isn't any, except the balcony.

Claire L
06-08-2009, 03:19 PM
Oh wonderful way to spend a birthday :)

Once again great piccies :thumbsup2

Claire ;)

GOS
06-09-2009, 03:40 PM
Oh wonderful way to spend a birthday :)

Once again great piccies :thumbsup2

Claire ;)

Thanks Claire.

A fat english gent
06-10-2009, 02:30 PM
Heather 1.00am stay ups?, it would appear you stay up later depending on the company your in.....:snooty:

PS....Two observation,first being the houses in Copenhagen looks like the ones in Cork and the second being it would appear your losing the fight with Rich for any left overs at meal times,anymore weight loss and you'll be as slim as me dear.......:rolleyes1



































You look great kid.....:flower3:

GOS
06-10-2009, 04:40 PM
Heather 1.00am stay ups?, it would appear you stay up later depending on the company your in.....:snooty:

PS....Two observation,first being the houses in Copenhagen looks like the ones in Cork and the second being it would appear your losing the fight with Rich for any left overs at meal times,anymore weight loss and you'll be as slim as me dear.......:rolleyes1

You look great kid.....:flower3:

Yep, you're right on the houses. They do look like the Cork ones. As for the weight-loss...I put on weight:eek:

GOS
06-10-2009, 04:57 PM
Today was the first of five port days. Bit earlier for breakfast today 8.45am as the tour - Stockholm Panorama and shopping met in the Coral Theatre at 9.45am. The bus left promptly at 10.15am and took a tour around the centre of Stockholm passing the Royal Palace, Cathedrals, Museums, Theatre, Parliament Buildings, theme parks and much more.

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The first shopping stop was at Stockholm's oldest handicraft shop, selling items that are made by local people in the outlining areas of Stockholm. No purchases here, but they are given a welcoming gift of a fridge magnet.

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The bus tour continued, taking a trip through the shopping centre of the city. The next stop is at the oldest Crystal shop in Stockholm. H treated herself to a Swarovski necklace. Well, it was her birthday yesterday. H&R also had time to purchase a pair of trainers each at a neighbouring shoe shop.

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The tour continued on, making it's last stop in Old Town, which is situated, just behind the Royal Palace. Lots of little cobbled streets make up the old town and are full of interesting antique, curio, souvenir and coffee shops. Only 50 minutes here, but enough time to buy a thimble and fridge magnet for H's friend at work and also to have a delicious ice cream.

The tour arrived back at the port just before 3pm and after a quick restroom stop, they head up to the Windjammer for a cup of tea. Just what the doctor ordered! H finished off the blog for me from yesterday's activities and started the next day's edition. The cup of tea ends up as a light snack, which they took down to the Schooner Bar for the afternoon's edition of Trivia. The ship departs Stockholm whilst the game was in session and they watched the passing scenery from the huge windows of the bar area. They do say that persistence often pays off, and today the group are successful and win. Hooray. Pens and high lighters are the prize today.

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Time to change for dinner and this time cruise casual in the Tides Restaurant. The restaurant staff put on a little show at the end of the meal for all the diners and H joins in the Macarena. R just shrinks into the corner! As Crown and Anchor members, H&R have been invited to the Welcome Back reception tonight in the Safari Club, so Tom and Rose are going to spend some time in the Centrum listening to the Rock'n'Roll hour. They agree to all meet up in the Coral Theatre for this evenings show.

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Tonight was a Celine Dion Tribute Act (Tracey Sheilds). She was a finalist on a British show called Stars in their Eyes. She was extremely good and sounded very much like Celine herself. A very enjoyable show.

As there was only 50 minutes till the next show, Love and Marriage Game Show, the group decide to stay where they are and wait. Tom and Rose have a drink and H goes to the shop to purchase her postcards to send home. The show started at 10.45 and the compare is Joff - the Cruise Director and H says he has been one of the best Cruise Directors that H&R have met. The show is the usual format where the wives answers questions whilst the husbands are out of earshot and then the husbands come back and try to match their answers with their wives. The couples are very funny, but one of the ladies becomes unwell towards the end and has to leave the show. The show ends on a rather flat note. Never mind, it was good anyway.

Finally, they returned to the cabin at just after 12.00midnight. They had to put their clocks forward an hour again tonight - the 2nd of three lost hours. Tomorrow Helsinki.

irongirlof12
06-11-2009, 03:31 AM
sounds like a fab trip, love the piccies

GOS
06-11-2009, 02:15 PM
Thanks Andrea...more to come.

BTW - love your comment about Ghiradelli's. I'm there with you!:thumbsup2

GOS
06-11-2009, 02:52 PM
What a full day yesterday and today was just the same. We even had our 2nd formal night tonight, but more of that later.

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The group met up as yesterday and had breakfast as usual. The meeting point for today's excursion was The Coral Theatre again - Helsinki Highlights and Architecture. Not a huge group of people today, but they hadn't expected the Stowaway - yes, Little Red hid in H's bag and rode along with the group. He's trouble that one...just like his mother.

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The first stop on the tour, once outside of the city was Hvittrask, which is situated on the banks of the White Lake (Vittrask). It was built by 3 famous Architects in 1904. The decoration/style is very Art Nouveau with some very lovely views of the lake and the surrounding area. Down by the waters edge, it is so very quiet, you could almost here a pin drop! Here's Little Red, just about to be locked in the Dungeon!

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The coach picks them up and as they head on back to the city they learn all about Finnish life. Did you know that Education is free for children up to the age of 18 and if they decide to go into University that is also free? Foreign students can also come to Helsinki and enrol in the courses for free too. They do pay approx. 25% taxes (more if you are a big earner).

http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x120/oakleigh85/P1000343.jpg

Once in the city, they pass the Olympic Stadium, built originally for the 1940 Summer Olympics. Due to the war, this was put on hold until 1952. The next stop was a Lutheran church, built within a rock face and aptly named the Church in the Rock. A beautifully designed modern style church with an amazing copper wire roof.

http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x120/oakleigh85/P1000347.jpg

As they continue on the tour, they pass lots of old Russian styled buildings and then finally stop at the Lutheran Cathedral in the city centre. On their way they pass the Central Station designed by one of the Architects who's house they viewed this morning.

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Back onboard ship and it's time for a light lunch and a cup of tea. Rose needs to turn up some trousers and then catch 40 winks, Tom goes with her. H and R head for the Solarium - H blogs for me and R settles on one of the sun loungers for a quick nap. At 4.30pm, the usual Trivia Challenge is replaced with a Sudoku Challenge. R, H and Tom, take part and H and Tom come 2nd and 3rd and win another high lighter.

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Time to change for dinner and the group meet at the usual time and make their way to Tides dining room. It's British menu tonight with roast beef and roast chicken as the main selections and sherry trifle for dessert. The group exit the dining room and stop to have their pictures taken in the main Centrum area. Back in the cabin, they find immigration forms to complete and decide to take the forms with them and make their way to the theatre to complete them.

Tonight the show in the Coral Theatre is City of Dreams. An excellent show taking four cities as settings for music and dance numbers. The show included some wire and curtain flyers, just like Cirque.

The Millers call it a night as the clocks go forward another hour and its a very early start.

A fat english gent
06-12-2009, 06:58 AM
I WANT THAT HOUSE.....:sad2:


I love Architecture i could simply walk around all day just looking up at buildings,it's a bit nerdy so can we have this as our little secret?....:rolleyes1...:flower3:

GOS
06-12-2009, 12:28 PM
I WANT THAT HOUSE.....:sad2:


I love Architecture i could simply walk around all day just looking up at buildings,it's a bit nerdy so can we have this as our little secret?....:rolleyes1...:flower3:

I took so many pictures inside and outside of this house Chris. It was really art-nouveau in decoration. I'll post some more this weekend.

A fat english gent
06-12-2009, 01:15 PM
You don't have to post them for me.....:rolleyes1








PM me your Number again....Some nerdy bloke chucked it out.....:rolleyes1

GOS
06-13-2009, 06:01 PM
We've made it to Russia at last, and what a early start we had today. 6.30am this morning, which is in fact 3.30am UK time. It was like Zombie World in the Windjammers this morning. Everyone was walking round the buffet half asleep. After breakfast, the group head on down to deck 4 to collect their bags and wait for the rest of the CC group, but on exiting the lifts they find that the CC group were already there.

After quickly collecting their bags, the whole cc group make their way down to deck 3 forward to wait for the all clear. There have been many reports that cruise company's try their best to deter private tour groups from exiting early. There are no such problems today and they made their way into the immigration building. I can say that eventually the whole group make it through with no need for the rubber glove treatment! Unfortunately the Celebrity Constellation group stole their bus and they had to wait 30 minutes for a replacement. The first in a series of unfortunate events for the day.

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Eventually, the group are on their way. The weather finally changed today, it was grey and overcast with a chance of rain. Today's first stop after a city orientation is the souvenir shop to use the facilities. Whilst they are in the shop, thier driver is questioned by the Police, but only to check that all the paperwork is up-to-date. The tour eventually continues and it's a 40 minute drive to Catherine's Palace. The Palace is wonderful with many of the main rooms lovingly restored. The amount of gold leaf is obscene and there is one whole room that is covered in Amber, but the marquetry floors are beautiful. The grounds are spectacular with a huge lake with islands dotted in the lake with follies on each one.

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Back on board and it's a further 40 minute drive to lunch at a local hotel just outside the gates of the Peterhoff Palace. The group have a nice meal - small pepper salad, Borsht Soup, Chicken and Rice and a nice mousse for dessert.

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Then it's over the road to the Peterhoff Palace and a walk round the grounds. The weather had improved and the sun was now shining. The palace is billed as the Versailles of Russia and it certainly lives up to all expectations. The grounds and fountains are also spectacular. Tom and Rose elect to stay up by the Palace as the rest of the group set off round the gardens. When they eventually get back, another one of the group also elected to stay with Tom and Rose, but as they waited she had her bag/purse picked! Luckily, nothing valuable was stolen and her bag/purse was recovered by the security team. A bad experience anyway.

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Finally, the return journey with a stop to ride the Metro. No pictures as we are not allowed to take pictures of or in the Metro. The stations are amazing all marble and sculptures depicting Russian life during Communist times and metal work which represented the Kirov tractor factory. Once back at the port, the group have to make their way back through immigration.

After a quick change for dinner and they are in the dining room for 6.45pm. Not a lot else to report on the evenings activities as it is very quiet onboard ship tonight. They do manage to compete in the trivia as usual and this time they are successful and win two bottles of champagne.

GOS
06-14-2009, 03:13 PM
Famous last words "Not a lot else to report on the evenings activities as it is very quiet onboard ship tonight". At 12.30am, the whole ship was woken to the sound of 'Bravo, Bravo' on the ships tannoy system. H&R jumped out of bed, only to realise that the ship wasn't sinking, so back to bed, only to be woken again 10 minutes later with a further 'Bravo, Bravo' announcement. It turned out that the fuel tug boat moored right next to the ship was on fire!

Eventually the Captain comes on the Tannoy several times to tell us all that the fire was under control and there was no need to worry. We can go back to bed. Unfortunately, both Captain's announcements were repeated in Spanish! H said a few choice words and tries to get back to sleep.

The alarm wakes us all at 5.50am and it's back up to Zombie World for breakfast! We are meeting the rest of the CC group again by the piano at 7.00am as the Denrus tour leaves at 7.30am. There was no one waiting at immigration and so after a few minutes they have met up with Anna, their tour guide, and just have to wait for the rest of the small group to assemble.

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The tour was soon on its way. The coach had not been taken this morning, as they Celebrity Constellation has left St Petersburg last night. First stop this morning after a continuation of the city orientation, was St Peter and St Paul Fortress and Cathedral. The Cathedral is where all the past Russian Emperors and and Empresses are buried. This includes the last Rominovs who were taken from St Petersburg to the country and murdered, including their faithful servants. On exiting the Fortress, the group take a short boat ride along the Neva and Finca Rivers. The boat drops them off an hour later at The Church of our Saviour of the Spilt Blood. This is one of the more famous of churches with the ice cream swirl domes on top. This church was built to commemorate Emperor Paul I and the spot where he was assassinated.

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Across the street is a souvenir flea market and there is just time, after coming out of the church to purchase a few more Russian dolls. Lunch today was in the Russian Club and another traditional meal of salad, beef stroganoff and bananas and ice cream all served with wine, coffee and water. Lovely!

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This afternoon the tour continues on to the last stop for this two days and after a 5 minute drive, the coach drops them off at the Hermitage. Two palaces connected by walkways which now house the most treasured art works of St Petersburg. As Anna reminds us, we would need several days alone to do justice to all the exhibits and that this should only be treated as a highlight tour.

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After seeing Rembrandt's, Canaleto's, Gaugin's, Monet's, and many more pieces of art along with the spectacularly decorated rooms and marble of all shapes, sizes and colours, its time to call it a day and make their way back to the ship. Little Red joined them again today. H has accepted the fact that whatever she tries to do, he will find a way of hitch a ride with them.

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Anna is thanked and the group make their weary way back onto the ship, after clearing customs. Dinner was at 6.15pm as usual in Tides Dining Room. Any Time Dining has worked very well and they have had the same table and servers every night. After dinner there is time for a quick round of trivia - no Champagne tonight and no prize either.

The show tonight in the Coral Theatre is Gary Lovini (last night it was just Movie Night), a violinist who one New Faces (another UK talent show). Finally, H&R call it a night as they are so tired. R uploads my blog from yesterday but first H pops up to deck 11 for a quick cuppa! What is weird, is that even though it is 10.10pm, sun is far from setting. Thank goodness for an inside cabin.

GOS
06-15-2009, 03:45 PM
Tallinn, a city of contrasts was the name of the tour that the group had booked, and Tallinn definitely lived up to this title.

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We got an hour back last night, so a bit of a lie in. Tom and Rose knocked for H&R at 7.15am, but they weren't ready, so they arranged to meet them up at the buffet. The weather was glorious. The sun was shining and the sky was a beautiful blue. The tour was due to leave the ship at 8.45am so they had plenty of time to have breakfast and then meet up with the rest of the RCCL tour in the Safari Club.

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As they leave the ship to make their way along the dockside, they realise that even though it is sunny there is a very chilly wind blowing. So they get on the coach as quickly as they can.

The tour guide today is a chap called Stanislav, but even though he is quite young, he is very knowledgeable about his home country. The coach driver takes them on a tour of the city whilst Stanislav explains about the medieval parts, the traditional wooden houses, the more modern buildings and how they all work well together in Tallinn.

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The first stop outside the city was the ruined Pirita Covent/Monastery which was run for both monks and nuns. Even though a complete ruin, it was very tranquil and peaceful. Once back on the coach they are taken past new houses built after the independence of Tallinn from Russia and communism. Very lovely and very expensive.

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The next stop was a refreshment break in a bar that had been built from an upturned boat. Lovely cake and coffee was served. Next door to the restaurant is the final part of the tour, which is the open air museum of Kingu. Examples of a traditional farmstead from the 19th century and the first settlers are preserved here and is used to provide school children and visitors to the Country an idea of the history of Tallinn.

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Back on the coach, the final leg of the journey takes the group along the shore road and eventually back to the port. There are some little wooden huts along the quay side selling souvenirs and gifts. H purchases a rather nice tablecloth and some other little trinkets.

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Once back on the ship, it's time for a spot of lunch. Not a lot going on round ship until it leaves port at 3.30pm, and then it's the traditional round of trivia. But before that they do take a stroll round deck 11, trying to stay out of the chilly breeze. Who would have believed at the beginning of the cruise that there would be people in swimwear, sunbathing (and not in the Solarium).

Dinner again in Tides Dining Room and tonight Tom and Rose are presented with an anniversary cake, even though it's not their anniversary until August (their Golden). Brazillio, their waiter, presents the girls with a hand-made paper rose each, and even shows them how to make one.

70's party night in the Centrum with John 'Joff the Cruise Director' Travolta and the Village People, aka the cruise staff. H helps them bop the evening away to disco tunes from the 70's. We had Extreme Vegas in the Coral Theatre tonight with Justino and Daniela - "a high energy journey thorough the best in Las Vegas variety acts - magic illusion, stunts, comedy and more". Lastly, the group wait for the final show of the night - The Millionaire Show, based on Who wants to be a millionaire. Very entertaining.

Collecting a cup of tea on the way, it's time to call it a night at 12.00 midnight, but with the extra hour it's 11.00pm.

natalielongstaff
06-15-2009, 04:42 PM
Russia looks lovely :thumbsup2

woody73
06-15-2009, 08:13 PM
Very nice trip report. Thanks for sharing.

Woody

Monstro
06-15-2009, 09:27 PM
Loving the report. Were there any kids on teens onboard?

Thanks
Jeff

Tammy Stringer
06-16-2009, 02:02 AM
Another lovely trip report Heather. What wonderful photos too - sounds like you had an amazing cruise. Can't wait to read more

Tammy

TotallyAngelic
06-16-2009, 05:00 AM
Very interesting to read your trip report and experience a different part of the world and a different cruise line. The ship looks very nice and Scandinavia looks beautiful - not a place I have thought about visiting before but you may well have changed my mind! Lovely photos. Thanks for sharing.

GOS
06-16-2009, 07:51 AM
Loving the report. Were there any kids on teens onboard?

Thanks
Jeff

There weren't alot of kids or teens aboard. We purchased the cruise review DVD and one part of the video shows the kids club. I commented that I didn't recall so many kids during the 12 days.

randc
06-16-2009, 12:00 PM
Really appreciate you sharing your trip experiences with us. I see that you used Denrus for your tour in Russia. Did you schedule the tour yourself or go through the cruiseline? Why did you pick Denrus? There's about three that people have recommended and they are all about the same price. Just wondering what made you pick them? Thanks again for the info.

Madisonznana
06-16-2009, 12:08 PM
I am really enjoying your TR Heather. We are taking the Magic there next July.
I have a few questions, do they let you take pictures in most of the palaces and churches? I bought so many books in the UK because we couldn't take pictures inside. Don't get me wrong, the pictures in the books are better then I would have taken, but we had to have the shipped home they were so heavy!:rotfl:
And the Russian dolls, are these the stackable ones? Are they very expensive?
I was just trying to show my granddaughter the pictures you posted, and as she is playing she wondered why she couldn't just wait and be surprised when when we go!:lmao::rotfl2: :lmao::lmao::rotfl2:

GOS
06-16-2009, 03:18 PM
Really appreciate you sharing your trip experiences with us. I see that you used Denrus for your tour in Russia. Did you schedule the tour yourself or go through the cruiseline? Why did you pick Denrus? There's about three that people have recommended and they are all about the same price. Just wondering what made you pick them? Thanks again for the info.

We scheduled the Denrus tour ourselves as we thought that the Russia tours offered by RCCL were overpriced.

There were 4 tour groups that we considered - Anastasia, Alla, Red October and Denrus. We also did a lot of reading on Cruise Critic. The 2 day value tour on Denrus worked out well $295 for the two days, which included lunch on both days, the metro ride on the first day and entry into all the attractions and, as a bonus the photo/video passes.

Denrus is run by a US company, who take payment 30 days before your arrival date. They meet you at the Port, just the otherside of passport control. The only negative is that we were unsure if we would get our money back if we didn't make port for any reason. But saying that, I couldn't fault them and recommend them 100%.

GOS
06-16-2009, 03:34 PM
I am really enjoying your TR Heather. We are taking the Magic there next July.
I have a few questions, do they let you take pictures in most of the palaces and churches? I bought so many books in the UK because we couldn't take pictures inside. Don't get me wrong, the pictures in the books are better then I would have taken, but we had to have the shipped home they were so heavy!:rotfl:
And the Russian dolls, are these the stackable ones? Are they very expensive?
I was just trying to show my granddaughter the pictures you posted, and as she is playing she wondered why she couldn't just wait and be surprised when when we go!:lmao::rotfl2: :lmao::lmao::rotfl2:

As the price of the tour included the photo/video pass, I can't really answer that question. I would suggest that you pop over to cruise critic and ask. There was two place that we couldn't take photos and that was the Amber Room in St Catherine's Palace and French Impressionists Room in the Hermitage.

The russian matryoshka dolls vary in price depending on number of dolls, design and where you buy them. The souvenier shops have so many to choose from you are spoilt for choice. If part of the tour include a stop at the The Church of the Spilt Blood of our Savour, there is the flea market just across the road. You can pick up a fantastic bargain here. Just keep a hand on your purse/bags as pickpockets are known here. They do take dollars but be prepared to haggle and walk away if you don't get a good price. Often you will win out in the end. Don't get atrracted to the street hawkers that offer three eggs/three dolls in a bag. They are chinese imports and you will be disappointed, unless you just want to take back small gifts for friends/family.

scottishwee35
06-18-2009, 08:10 AM
Just let you know that your story and photos are so beautiful as it bought my memory back as I went to Baltic when I was 15 years old with school Baltic cruise...

I would love to go back again...

Many thanks for showing it...:thumbsup2

Scottishwee35

GOS
06-18-2009, 03:47 PM
Finally a chance to lie in but guess what....yes, H was up at 7.00am and decided to have a power walk round deck 11. Boy was it windy, but invigorating too apparently. Last night H had to ring Guest Relations as staff tidying up the bar area in the Centrum were making such a racket, it was keeping her awake. Their cabin must back onto their galley area.

It's going to be a relaxing day today and it begins as does most days with breakfast as usual the the Windjammer. Rose and Tom pop back to their cabin so that Rose can wash and dry her hair and H&R make their way up to the Jewel Day Spa for a seminar.

The group meets up again outside the Coral Theatre for Captain's talk. H & Rose decide to browse round the shops, whilst R and Tom listen to the seminar. The seminar lasts longer than expected and H & Rose sit and chat with H's sister Sue and have a coffee. Finally at 1.30pm they all meet up again and make their way to the Schooner Bar for the afternoon's edition of Progressive Trivia - they do quite well, but will have to wait for the last round to find out if they have managed to pull themselves further up the leader board from 21st place.

They pop up to the Windjammer for a quick snack (they didn't have any lunch) and find that there is only afternoon tea laid out. The afternoon continues with a further round of TV theme tune trivia, but as the majority of the tunes from US programmes that they have never heard of, they give up.

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Tom and Rose go back to the cabin as it's time to get ready for dinner (third formal night tonight). H&R pop up to Crown and Anchor loyalty ambassador on deck 13 to make enquiries about a a possible future cruise. This is the view through the glass floor from deck 13 all the way down the Centrum to deck 4. On the way to their cabin H&R go to the gallery to order a copy of the cruise video.

Dinner tonight is in Chops, the steak restaurant at 7.30pm. They have a lovely meal, beautiful steaks which melt in your mouth and the veg is served family style. There is a very good selection of desserts (a delicious cheesecake for H).

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There's a quick photo opportunity as the ship passes under a bridge with only a 12 meter clearance, but from the inside as it is too windy to go up on deck. As they have missed the 9.00pm show, they decide to have a go at the slots in the Casino, but no luck tonight.

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Unfortunately, H doesn't feel too good and has to make a dash to their cabin. Both H&R decide to call it a night but insist that Rose and Tom carry on without them. Rose and Tom decide to make thier way to the Safari Club and end up meeting H's sister and brother in law and spend a couple of hours in their company. They had an enjoyable couple of hours chatting the evening away.

GOS
06-18-2009, 03:48 PM
Just let you know that your story and photos are so beautiful as it bought my memory back as I went to Baltic when I was 15 years old with school Baltic cruise...

I would love to go back again...

Many thanks for showing it...:thumbsup2

Scottishwee35

I'm so glad that it brought back some lovely memories. Couple more days yet.

GOS
06-18-2009, 03:51 PM
Russia looks lovely :thumbsup2

It was nice. Would recommend it.

Very nice trip report. Thanks for sharing.
Woody

Thanks...couple more days yet.

Another lovely trip report Heather. What wonderful photos too - sounds like you had an amazing cruise. Can't wait to read more
Tammy

Loving your trip report as well Tam.

Very interesting to read your trip report and experience a different part of the world and a different cruise line. The ship looks very nice and Scandinavia looks beautiful - not a place I have thought about visiting before but you may well have changed my mind! Lovely photos. Thanks for sharing.

I would recommend it.

florida sun
06-20-2009, 12:42 PM
Fantastic report, with lovely photos, really enjoying it:goodvibes

GOS
06-21-2009, 04:29 AM
Fantastic report, with lovely photos, really enjoying it:goodvibes

Thank Sue.

GOS
06-21-2009, 09:41 AM
The cruise is drawing to a close and this was our last day in port. Mind, you we didn't get into Port until 2.00pm. Last night as the ship made it's way towards the Oslo Fiord, the wind picked up and with 72 mile an hour winds across the deck, the ship was pitching and rolling all over the place. Rose apparently woke at 4.00am and couldn't get back to sleep.

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A light breakfast for H this morning, she is feeling better, but is taking it easy. Everyone else tucks in with gusto. Morning trivia in the Schooner bar at 10.30am (unlucky again). After a bit of packing they make themselves comfortable in the Centrum and play several games of UNO and generally take it easy for the morning. A pilot was picked up at 10am and by 12noon, we were starting to see some rather impressive sights. R decides he needs to take some pictures and the group head up to deck 11. On the way, they collect some tea and cookies from the windjammer buffet.

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The tour that the group booked - Viking Heritage, met in the Coral Theatre at 2.00pm, just after the ship had docked. The Vision of the Seas was already docked in Oslo and was waiting for them. The tour began with the usual city orientation including a view of the new opera house which is all glass and white walls. The first stop, after passing the Royal Farm is the Norwegian Folk Museum. An open air museum with examples of Norwegian wooden buildings from 12 century to present day. The church that they see first is amazing.

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The next stop, approx. 3 minutes drive away, was the Viking ship museum, where three Viking long boats have been preserved and housed in a specially built building. The carvings on the front of the boat which was assumed to be for celebrations, are really detailed.
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The coach continues the tour, back to the city and then onto the Vigeland Park. The park houses bronze and granite statutes designed by one man, Gustav Vigeland. The statutes are meant to represent Mans journey through life, from birth to death and every statute is naked. :scared1: Gustav Vigeland wanted the statutes to remain timeless. Clothes would date them and so everyone is naked.

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After, lets say, an interesting walk thorough the park, it's back on the coach and a final drive, this time up into the hills to see the Holmenkollen Ski jump, only to find that when we get there, the jump has been demolished to make way for a more modern ski resort and jump. Poor R, this was the one thing on the tour he was looking forward too. Mind you, the views of the city from the hill top were amazing.

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The coach gets them back to the ship by 7.00pm and they have just a few minutes to purchase a couple of souvenirs before they have to get back on ship, as it is due to sail at 7.30pm.

My time dining works well for them tonight as they can turn up for dinner at whatever time they choose. So, just time for a quick shower and change of clothing and they make dinner by 8.00pm. As there is a late show in the Coral Theatre, they took their time over the meal. On their way to the theatre, H collects a coffee and the others order a drink in the theatre. Tonight's act is Mike Doyle, a welsh comedian and singer. A very enjoyable end to the night.

The wind has picked up again and the ship is rocking and rolling. After yesterdays fun and games it will be an interesting night.

cntkg1
06-21-2009, 09:56 AM
Heather, great great piccies woman!!! You must have one heck of a fantastic scrapbook from all your cruises. :thumbsup2

P.S. Love, love, love the pink purse! :goodvibes

Timon
06-21-2009, 11:12 AM
What a great trip Heather! Thanks for sharing it with us :goodvibes

GOS
06-21-2009, 01:35 PM
Yes, it's finally here, our last day. A pretty uneventful night for a change and as usual H was awake before the alarm. Whilst R is in the shower, H starts to pack and get ready for disembarkation. The waves are pretty high and the ship is rocking quite badly, but despite this they make it up to Windjammer for breakfast. Nothing unusual to report, other than to say that it is very busy this morning. The sun is shining despite the high winds and the sky is so blue.

10.00am sees the last morning edition of trivia and they really struggle this morning. Oh well, as the saying goes, always the bridesmaid, never the bride!

There is a chef's cooking demonstration in the Centrum and H stops to watch them make Gravilax and Tiramisu. Back in the cabin after and H & R start to pack in ernest. The Captain speaks from the bridge at 12noon it give his last address. It would seem that the wind is dropping and we are in for a very smooth afternoon. A light lunch in Wavejammer is in order which is followed by the last edition of progressive trivia. They finish in about 9th place, which isn't bad considering there is about 30 teams playing.

Jewels Got Talent is a special show put on in the Coral Theatre, where passenger members get to put on a show for the rest of us. Very entertaining - 5 singers and 1 pianist. All very different and they all get given a prize for taking park. A coffee and game of Uno is on the agenda for the rest of the afternoon before it is time to get ready for dinner. H takes the opportunity to take a few pictures of the sea.

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Last dinner in Tides and the meal was delicious as usual. Time for a photo opportunity with our server team, Brazillio, Percival and of course, the drinks waiter Shashi. The dining room staff including the chef's all come out and sing for the diners, wishing us all a safe onward journey tomorrow. Tips exchange hands and goodbyes all round, then it's on to Safari Club for the final Trivia Game. We're beaten into third place, which isn't too bad, and if we had remembered that the end of a lace is called a Aglet, we would have drawn for second place.

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Tonight's show is the Farewell Showtime. Headlining the show tonight along with the Cruise Director staff and the Jewel of the Seas dancers and singers is the side-splitting comedy magic of Neil Austin. H&R have seen him before on the Independence and enjoyed his act then. On the way to the Safari Club for Higher or Lower Game show, there's just time for everyone to change so that the clothes can be packed in the cases. Joff's final game show tonight, which is similar to Play Your Cards Right.

Finally, they call it a night at 12.30am as we have to be up at 6.00am tomorrow for breakfast and disembarkation at 7.40am. :sad1:

GOS
06-21-2009, 01:41 PM
Back in Harwich again and the cruise has come to an end. Docked early last night as Captain Thore promised and we're up at 6.00am. Final breakfast in Winjammers and then back down to the the cabin to collect our bags. Final photo opportunity as the sun is shining and the sky is so blue. Such a contrast to the weather we what left in.
Leaving Harwich
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Back in Harwich
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As we reach the cabins, our colour luggage tag is called for disembarkation, so off we get.

Once off the ship, we climb aboard the courtesy bus and it's a five minute ride to our car. Our luggage is waiting for us at the car park. 15 minutes later and we're on our way back home.

A quick summary of our trip:

1. Loved the Jewel of the Seas. Great ship.

2. Joff and the cruise director staff were fabulous.

3. Tivoli Gardens - didn't have enough time to explore this lovely oasis in the middle of a busy city. Would love to visit Copenhagen again.

4. Tallinn - not what I expected in a city, and we didn't get to see the old medival town itself.

5. Oslo - a great modern city, if a bit expensive.

6. Weather - we couldn't believe the weather. We packed for cold and rain and got sunshine and warm weather.

7. Clothes - packed far too much again, but as there were no flights involved, who cares.

8. Great Captain - wish some other cruise lines had Captain's like him.

9. Who could wish for a better birthday.

10. Never enough trivia....just need to remember Aglet.

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GOS
06-21-2009, 01:45 PM
Heather, great great piccies woman!!! You must have one heck of a fantastic scrapbook from all your cruises. :thumbsup2

P.S. Love, love, love the pink purse! :goodvibes

Thanks Nancy. Got it in TG Maxx. It's my cruise purse!:lmao: