Friday, October 25, 2013

2013 First Half of Cruise


OCTOBER 25  -  December 4, 2013 

Following is a recap of my first half of our 2013 42 day Atlantic Adventure cruise.

Friday  -  October 25, 2013
On Board to set sail from Port Everglades
Arrived in Port Everglades with our friends at about 1:00  pm and after returning the rental car, boarded the Massdam with out a hitch. At 4 pm we set sail for our first port, San Juan PR.

Saturday  -  October 26,2013

DAY at Sea

Woke up to overcast skies and the clouds continued until the sun broke thru mid morning. Spend the afternoon on the Navigation deck out by the Seaview pool in the water and sitting around talking.  Tonight was our first formal night in the dinning room and we spend it with our friends Tom, Denise, Charlie, Joanne, Ray, Pat, Fran and myself. After dinner some went to the Casino and the rest to the Beatle Show in the showroom.

Sunday, October 27, 2013
Day at Sea

Again woke up to clouds and overcast skies as we head to our next port, San Juan. Spend another day on the Navigation deck at the pool. Total nautical miles we traveled at 8:32 am was 607 nm.

Monday, October 28, 2013

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Arrived at San Juan in the morning and after breakfast boarded a free tram which dropped us off at our first visit, Castillo San Cristobal where we were greeted by our friendly lizard.This massive 27 acre series fortification was the largest build fort by the Spanish in the New World. After viewing the fort we set out and walked past the San Juan Cemetery, where a number of notable Puerto Ricans rest,  and then enter Castillo San Felipe del Morro constructed to defend the San Juan coastline during the 17th and 18 centuries.  This fortress rises 140 feet above the sea on a rocky promontory, and is composed of six huge levels of ramps, barracks, dungeons, turrets, tower and tunnels.  After touring we boarded the free tram back to the ship and got ready to sail to St. Maartin. On the way we passed the San Juan Gate which four centuries ago was the main entrance to the city  and viewed the city and fort from the ship.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

St Maarten

Arrived at St Maartin around 7 am and after eating a late breakfast, took a short water taxi from the cruise port to the downtown area of Philippsburg to spend a day on the beach.  The day turned out beautifully with a high temperature of 85 degrees and made a perfect day for the beach.  After the beach did a little shopping and then back to the ship to get ready for the big 6 day trip across the ocean to Tenerife, Canary Islands Spain.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Day at Sea   
The start of our 2699 mile transatlantic crossing as we leave St. Maartin for our next stop Tenerife Canary Island, Spain. Tonight was a formal night the second one for the cruise.

Thursday, October 31, 2013  -  Saturday, November 2, 2013
Days at Sea

Sunday, November 3, 2013
Day at Sea

Today we found out that there would be a Solar Eclipse with the peak at 10:34 am with the moon passing in front of the sun. Everyone was given special glasses to view the eclipse from Holland America.  We viewed the eclipse on the Navigation next next to the seaside pool.  

Monday, November 4, 2013
Day at Sea

This will be our last day at sea as we arrive tomorrow in Tenerife-Canary Islands-Spain.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Today we took a panoramic driving tour through the Esperanza pine forest and foothills to Canadas del Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along the way, we stopped briefly at the El Portillo Restaurant before heading intoo the heart of the park.  It was declared a National Park in 1954 and the area includes an enormous volcanic crater, which has been dormant since 1909 and is more than 29 miles in circumference.  Rising out of the crater is the impressive Mount Teide which stands at 12300 feet and is the tallest mountain in all of Spain. The landscape in the crater resembles the set of a western movie. The volcanic rocks found here are surprisingly colorful—black lava, red magma, white pumice and the bright green rocks through which the road is cut. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Las Palmas, Grand Canary

Today we took the Las Palmas highlights tour which started out by stopping at the golden Las Canteras Beach.  After the beach we boarded the bus and drove the the vocanic crater of Bandama.  At 1000 yards across and 650 feet deep is a stunning sight indeed.  Enjoying the wonderful views from this site we noticed a golf course to the right of the volcano.  Wouldn't like your second shot if you shanked it into the middle of the volcano.  We then proceeded to the Canary Gardens where we witnessed the conservation of Canarian flora and some species endemic of the islands.  The next stop on the tour was a visit to the Old Town of Las Palmas
where we had free time to visit the house were Columbus lived, browse the market  and see the Cathedral of Santa Anna.  After a day of touring, we re-boareded the bus and headed back to the pier after a wonderful day on Grand Canary.  As of today, we have traveled 3782 nm.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Arrecife, Lanzarote, Canary Islands-Spain

We arrived at Arrecife, Lanzarote at 8 am and is the last port for us in the Canary Islands.
Lanzarote is like no other place in the world. 270 years ago, contorted lava flows were flung out of massive volcanic eruptions to cover three fourths of the island’s 324-square-mile surface. The affected area is now a National Park and is a must for every visitor to Lanzarote. As we drive away from the pier, we will pass typical and charming villages before reaching one of nature’s fascinating works—Montana de Fuego, or the mountain of fire.  In Timanfaya National Park we mounded the camels for the best ride up the slopes of a volcano cone to see the tortured, yet beautiful, lunar-like landscape that spreads out below. Once we enter Timanfaya National Park we continue to Islote de Hilario for a fascinating demonstration of how volcanic cinders just below the surface are hot enough to kindle wood and produce steam—proof of the violent forces lying beneath the earth’s crust. Even today, heat still rises through vents in the earth as a result of continuous volcanic eruptions that occurred between 1730 and 1736. After a brief stop here we entered the bus for a tour of the park. After the tour of the park, our next stop at Janubio for views of a salt pit crater whose natural lagoon receives its water supply from the sea. Since rain is scarce here, farmers have devised ingenious cultivation methods to grow vegetables in fields of black lava that are watered only by sea mist. Grape vines thrive in cinder pits called zocos, and porous lava granules allow dew to filter down to the roots. The result is a fresh, golden wine called Malvasía. After an enjoyable tour, we had a wine tasting at La Geria in Lanzarote's  wine country.  This is one of the best tours on the cruise and was the second time for us doing it. Back to the ship and tonight will be a formal night.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Day at Sea

We are now sailing to our next port Tangier, Morocco with and early morning arrival.  It was a good day at sea giving us some rest after the Canary Islands.  Today is a nice day, sunny, sixty nine degrees as we sit on the deck by the pool playing games with our friends. Enjoyed the dinner and the show was the dancers and singers from the ship.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Tangier, Morocco

After arriving in Tangier, we boarded our bus for a 35 mile drive to the city of Tetouan for our tour.  Along the way, we keep an eye out for peasants in local dress selling  their goat cheese at the side of the road . Arriving in Tetouan, known as the White Dove due to the color of its buildings, we discovered a town that was once a haven for pirates and a shelter for the Arabian refugees from Andalusia after the fall of Arabian rule in Spain. Tetouan still exhibits a profoundly Spanish influence, as it was a Territory of Spain until asserting independence in 1956. Some administrative offices’ names are still in Spanish. We started our walking tour with a visit  to the outside of the Royal Palace of Tetouan, taking in its wide esplanade, Arab-Islamic architecture and its magnificently decorated gate. As we cross on foot to the the ancient medina (Old Town) with its narrow alleys and streets, popular shops, colorful souks (Markets) with vendors of goat cheese, vegetables and spices dressed in traditional costume. The medina is home to a Jewish minority living in harmony with Muslims. After the medina we walk through the gate to the Museum of Moroccan Handicrafts.  A variety of handicrafts are on display here, including embroidery, woodwork and woolen garments and the  museum is also a school, where apprentices are taught how to make such items. Before boarding our bus back to the ship, We stop to savor the local musical entertainment, belly dancer and fire dance as we sip mint tea or coke.  The most interesting thing today was our tour had about 5 or 6 undercover police dressed like Americans that escorted us on the whole tour. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Almeria, Spain

No tours planned for today as our friends were here before so we decided to walk into town and do our own thing.  We started out by grabbing a Cappuccino at a local cafe while waiting for the Choo Choo Tram Trolley that toured the city. We boarded the trolley, at 5 Euro it was a bargin, and headed out in the streets of this beautiful city.  The driver of the tram was the happiest person I have ever seen, he really enjoyed his job.  Before starting he took everyone's picture with their camera. After the tour, we walked around town, visiting the Cathedral and then had an enjoyable lunch at an outdoor cafe.  After lunch we had a short walk back to the ship.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Valencia, Spain

Since its founding as a Roman colony in 138 B.C., the Visigoths, the Moors, the Catalan and Aragonese, have thrived on the shores of the Mediterranean at the Gulf of Valencia. Like many venerable cruise destinations, Valencia is a mix of the old and the new. Unlike many cities, the difference between the old the new is a delightful chasm. The old is manifest in the stone geometry of the Valencia Cathedral and the towers in the ancient city walls, especially the Torres de Serranos and the Torres de Cuart. The new is embodied in the arching white steel of the City of Arts and Sciences. Today we got to see this old and new plus a tour to the San Jose Caves at Vall D'Uxo. While in the city, we got to see the smallest house ever, a meer 105 cm wide.  After a brief tour of part of the city we headed to the Coves of Sant Josep.  We entered the underground cave and then entered a boat which drifted along the calm water - this is the largest underwater river in Europe.  As good as it sound, most of us did not find it that interesting.  After the cave, we headed back to Valencia to view the City of Art and Sciences designed by Santiago Calatrava.  It was then back to the ship and the Prime Rib was on the menu in the dinning room.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Barcelona, Spain

We arrrived in Barcelona at 7am The eight of us we took the shuttle into downtown.. walk the La Ramblas over to Gotic Square then got a quick lunch in the famous Barcelona Market.  After lunch we jumped on  the Hop On Hop Off bus for a tour of the city then we walked the Ramblas again and had a dinner  in the city.   What a great city, very clean with friendly people and alot to see as we have been here one time before.  We did some more walking of  the Ramblas at nite and then stopped to get a Gelato then a walk back to Columbus Square to pick up the shuttle back to the ship. It was a very pleasant and fun day in Barcelona.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Palma de Mallorca, Spain

We arrived at10:30 in the morning and the rain was coming down.  Waiting to later in the morning, and the rain gave  way to a sunny day, we headed for the Hop On Hop Off bus to tour the city and surrounding area. Took the Hop on Hop Off bus for one tour loop around the city, and then headed for the market place took in the produce and fish.  Walked around the city and then headed back to the ship. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day at Sea

The seas were up big time with 41 plus knot winds and the ship was dodging a big storm in the Mediterranean.  The seas and the wind continued all day under sunny skies and a high temperature of only 61 degrees.  Tomorrow two of our friends leave the ship as they only took the first half of the trip.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Rome, Italy

Up early this morning due to an early morning tour leaving the ship at 7:15 am for a long two and a half hour drive to downtown Rome from the cruise port at Civitavecchia.  Todays tour was of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica.  A super tour with the preservation of the art works of Michaelangelo and other artists.  No photos where allowed in Sistine Chapel which was a bummer.  Rain dampened the day as we continued our bus tour after a nice lunch set up for us at a Italian restaurant.  Lasagna and wine was on the menu for us.  After a bus tour of part of Rome we headed back to the ship and had a quick meal in the Lido.  Overall a long day but a very enjoying day seeing the Sistine Chapel.

As of today we traveled 5798 nautical miles since boarding in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The most beautiful work inside St. Peter's Cathedral is Michelangelo's famous La Pieta, considered my many to be the most moving piece of sculpture ever created.

To get an idea of the inside of the Sistine Chapel click on the Sistine Chapel below and use your mouse to move around.

Sistine Chapel