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The 2011 Ultimate Northern Discovery Cruise, part 9 of 9

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The 29-Day Ultimate Northern Discovery Cruise, Holland America Eurodam

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Nine

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September 4 (Sunday, Day 28, Nanortalik, Greenland, 1 DKK = $0.19; $1 = 5.21 DKK) -

Nanortalik

Snookums attended total body conditioning while the first tender was going to the little settlement of Nanortalik, population 1,500. (For comparison, the ms Eurodam has 2,100 passengers on it and 800 crew.) Greenland only has 53,000 people in it so this is probably a normal sized settlement. It was around 50° and misting. We weren’t in any big hurry to get out and about since it didn’t seem like it would take too long to walk the few streets there were. All of the people we saw, except one, were Inuit. The lone Caucasian was Niels, the man in charge of the tourism office. The ship didn’t offer ANY shore excursions (a first!) but Nanortalik offered two “excursions”. One was a folk dance with a kaffe-mix (coffee party) and one was a choir. We decided to each spend $20 for both events which can be considered foreign aid, per Gary! We went to the folk dance/coffee and watched four young men and four women dance lively and quick moving Greenlandic folk dances. Dutch and Scottish whalers originally inspired the dances. They taught their special seaman dances (reels) to the Disco Bay Eskimos. Through the centuries this has developed into the unique folk dance tradition we saw. The eight dancers were not professionals, by any means. We also got to eat the “famous Greenlandic cake” that tasted like unsweetened white bread with a few raisins in it. Needless to say we weren’t too impressed with the dancing or the cake, but since there wasn’t really anything else to do, it was fine.

Then we went to the choir in the old Nanortalik wooden Lutheran church built in 1916. Niels introduced the choir of eight people or so and said that six songs would be sung. After hearing the first song, Snookums opted to leave the too warm church.

We walked around and finally went in the grocery store. The grocery store was very nice and had a nice assortment of fresh fruit and produce. Most of the canned items were from Denmark and didn’t seem any more expensive than what we saw in Europe. Considering it all had to be shipped in, that was surprising. The only souvenir store was in the tourism office and it was jam packed with passengers so Snookums opted to return to the ship rather than fighting the mob. Filbert wasn’t impressed with Nanortalik and it depressed him a little. It reminded him of South Dakota Indian reservations. Snookums, though, thought it was fine considering it was a town of 1,500 people in the middle of nowhere!

Rocking to the Inuit beat

The pastor in the church

Eurodam, lurking just off Nanortalik

For the sail away we went to the Crow’s Nest hoping to see whales. We didn’t see any but we did see a lot of big icebergs. Snookums then went to the spa for her excellent 75-minute deep tissue massage with Cyn from California ($179 plus tip). She ended up spending almost four hours there since she also enjoyed the hydrotherapy pool, the heated ceramic chaises and the steam rooms.

Right before we went to the Pinnacle Grill for dinner, we saw a beautiful rainbow from our cabin. It was very bright and very delineated. We managed to get a reservation for the six of us at Pinnacle Grill and were able to use our free coupons so that no one had to pay. Glenn Cools was our waiter for the third time and was great as always. Snookums enjoyed the spicy chicken Indonesian soup but didn’t really care for the arugula salad. For her entrée, Snookums actually ordered “land and sea” (a filet mignon with two shrimp on it) and ate it all. She also ordered the creamed spinach (not worth it), sautéed mushrooms (without garlic) and shoestring potatoes. She didn’t realize that shoestring potatoes were French fries and everyone laughed at her when she realized that was what she ordered. They were pretty good. She had always wanted to try the lobster macaroni and cheese, but since that is an entrée and Pinnacle Grill charges $10 for an additional entrée, she has never tried it. She sweetly asked Glenn for one little spoonful on her plate and he came out with the entire entrée. (He said that the chef obviously misunderstood his request.)

Formal night

Snookums took a spoonful of the macaroni (but didn’t touch the lobster tail on top of the macaroni) and found it rather bland but with a slight lobster flavor. Everyone tried it and Filbert ate the lobster tail. The lobster macaroni and cheese didn’t impress anyone. Snookums loved her raspberry cheesecake for dessert, though, and Roger and Margaret were appreciative of their free Pinnacle Grill dinners and we were glad they could join the four of us.

September 5 (Monday, Day 29, Cruising the Atlantic) -

Around 2 AM we experienced 25 foot waves and 50 knot winds. Snookums slept through it but Filbert woke up and never could really get back to a deep sleep. Gary said he went to Lido on deck 9 around 2 AM and heard dishes crashing. When Snookums woke up around 8 AM, it was 50°, wet and windy. Up to now for the entire cruise the ocean has been pretty calm. Now it’s just being normal and the ship has some movement to it.

We saw a pod of dolphins as we were looking for seats at lunch, but never saw any more. After lunch Snookums watched the movie “Sneakers”. It was an old movie and starred Robert Redford (pretty young), Sidney Poitier and Dan Akroyd. Filbert bundled up and listened to his short-wave radio. Then Snookums went to total body conditioning. She was the only person that showed up and Marvin went ahead and taught the class. He even made it different than normal which meant it was even harder. She survived it, though, while burning 335 calories in 30 minutes.

Tonight’s show was a pre-dinner show so we went. It was also formal night. The show featured Hanna Starosta, a Polish violinist living in Miami. She was fine. We wore our medals to formal night and made sure to get a photo of the six of us after dinner. Snookums saw the captain and his family (wife, 2-year old, teen boy and teen girl) and they were all dressed up and the two boys had dress whites that matched their father’s, even with the same epaulets. (During the ship’s tour, Filbert had been told that the tailors on the ship made matching uniforms for the captain’s two sons.) They were a very handsome family!

We turned our clocks back 30 minutes (!) and went to sleep.

September 6 (Tuesday, Day 30, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada; 1 CAD=$1.01; $1=0.99 CAD) -

St. John's

Since we weren’t going to dock until noon, Snookums attended Abs Class at 7:30 AM since she was up. Margaret was there, too. The weather really warmed up and it was 63°. And, satellite TV was back. Party on!!

Around 11:30 AM a crew member walked on our balcony unannounced, just like when we were docked in Dover. Filbert immediately called the front desk and demanded to have a meeting with the Hotel Manager. He was not happy at all. Luckily we were both clothed, but the balcony cleaning definitely interrupted our viewing of our sail in to St. John’s.

We left the ship at 12:30 and walked around the city of 150,000 people for four hours. We saw Government House where the lieutenant governor lives, St. Andrew’s Church and the Basilica of St. John the Baptist with its twin towers that reach 137 feet. Snookums even bought a woman’s polo shirt as a souvenir and she never buys anything. We looked for Newfoundland beer but it was only sold in 6-packs so Filbert didn’t buy any. We bought Timbits (donut holes) for our table-mates at Tim Horton’s, Canada’s equivalent to Dunkin’ Donuts. It was 73° and cloudy but it never rained. Filbert wore shorts all day but still managed to sweat! On our way back to the ship we ran into Gary and he said he was going to city hall. (He’s a councilman for the city of Goodyear, Arizona.) We had no interest in going with him and returned to the ship.

Basilica of St. John the Baptist

Snookums spent the rest of the afternoon on the balcony reading her book and Filbert just watched the world go by. (We were docked port side so we had the city view.) Filbert happened to be inside when the phone rang and it was the Guest Relations Manager asking if he could come up and meet with Filbert. Snookums stayed on the balcony for all of it but a few minutes later, Filbert came out and said that the Guest Relations Manager finally seemed to understand the issue with not notifying passengers of balcony maintenance and offered Filbert a bottle of wine for the next formal night. All is well.

The ship left at 7:40 PM and there were a lot of residents standing at the pier waving and taking photos. Cars were honking their horns and it was a party atmosphere. We were told that St. John’s really does welcome cruise ships and we saw it with our own eyes. When we got off the ship around noon there were people with Labrador retrievers and Newfoundland dogs (like a Saint Bernard, but with dark coats) for passengers to pet. There were also volunteers wearing red vests scattered around the city answering questions.

We went to dinner and surprised everyone with the Timbits ($.20 each or 10 for $1.99 – no discount for bulk purchases!). Gary surprised everyone, too, by bringing a St. John’s mug to the table. He had the winning story of the day. He stopped by the mayor’s office and actually met the mayor who was between meetings and talked a little bit about Goodyear, Arizona. The mayor gave him the mug and a pin and told Gary that if he comes back, to let him know and he’ll give him a tour. Gary and Charlotte just might be back on another HAL cruise. Gary plans on sending the mayor a package with a nice letter and some Goodyear, Arizona “swag”. We all thought it was pretty neat.

After dinner Filbert went out on the balcony and it was very foggy. The captain said that this area is the foggiest on the planet and now we’ve witnessed it.

September 7 (Wednesday, Day 31, Cruising the Atlantic) -

We both slept in and the ship was rocking quite a bit when we woke up from 70-knot winds. Snookums enjoyed breakfast in bed and finally showered around 11:30AM. Filbert’s cold seemed to be back with a vengeance. Snookums updated the journal and Filbert read his downloads from the internet between coughs, sneezes and nose blows. The 5K walk that HAL hosts on every cruise for breast cancer awareness was delayed four hours due to the high winds. It was only 55° when it started at 1:45 PM and Snookums decided not to participate due to the wind and cold temperature.

Snookums ate a very late lunch around 4 PM. Filbert decided to eat dinner in the room since his nose was running so much. Snookums went to dinner, though. It was a very slow day since Filbert wasn’t in top form and Snookums wasn’t feeling that whippy, either.

September 8 (Thursday, Day 32, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; 1 CAD = $1.01; $1 = 0.99 CAD) -

Halifax

The day was rainy and cool. Filbert’s cold was still in full force. We decided to walk to the grocery store that we could see from our cabin and buy some cold medicine and that would be the extent of our touring. Since we were going to do much, we weren’t in any hurry to leave.

We ordered room service breakfast but it didn’t come for 90 minutes. When it finally came, it wasn’t complete at all. The Canadian authorities were on the ship and probably had the kitchen in a tizzy with different inspections and stuff so we didn’t complain about it and instead went to Lido for lunch since it was late enough by then that lunch service had started.

The rain stopped around 1 PM and we ventured out to the grocery store. Filbert bought some cold syrup and Snookums bought some real NyQuil (with pseudoephedrine) to take home with her for her future colds. When the ship left Halifax, a drummer and bagpiper in kilts serenaded us.

Tonight was another formal night but the six of us had reservations at casual Canaletto, for the third time. And, since the bottle of wine was free due to the unannounced balcony visits, everyone had a great time.

September 9 (Friday, Day 33, Cruising the Atlantic) -

Snookums attended circuit training at 7:30 AM and then enjoyed her breakfast of oatmeal with really big raisins and a raisin bun. When she returned to the cabin, Filbert told her that Gary won first place in the ship’s photo contest and Charlotte didn’t want one of his prizes, a free 25-minute petite facial. So, Snookums called the spa and went for that. She was glad it was free since she wasn’t impressed by it.

The captain gave a Hurricane Katia update and said that today we would be cruising near Cape Cod to avoid it as much as possible. The seas seemed smooth enough and the weather was nice enough for Filbert to spend time looking for whales. He spotted six or eight of them, too, while Snookums was getting her facial.

Snookums and Filbert enjoyed a free lunch in Pinnacle Grill. The hamburgers were awesome and the brownie delight was good, too. Snookums had the onion soup for her appetizer and it was a very good cream soup. Filbert ordered the Mediterranean antipasto that was very similar to what was served at Canaletto, but still good. After that huge lunch, it was nap time for both of us. Later in the afternoon we packed our luggage.

The 4 PM announcement talked about the Master Chef’s dinner. This was not listed in the daily program but Snookums confirmed that it was taking place. She immediately called Gary and Charlotte and planned a dinner in Lido. We attended the Master Chef’s dinner earlier in the cruise and were so unimpressed that we knew we weren’t going to eat it again. It wasn’t supposed to occur during this cruise, but things change and that’s why we did Lido at the last minute. Roger and Margaret joined us, too, even though they had never eaten at Lido for dinner on any of their cruises. The six of us enjoyed a relaxed last dinner together and said our good-byes.

Bad bed bunny (Gary's picture)

September 10 (Saturday, Day 34, New York) -

The ship docked at 7 AM and we were supposed to get off between 7:45 and 8. Our disembarking group was really called at 8:25. We got our luggage and got through Immigration and Customs without any problems. (It was one day prior to the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and additional security was in place.) At 9:05, we got a cab ($32.40 for our fare and tip) and arrived at the Frontier gate at LaGuardia at 10 AM. Our 11:20 AM flight was on time.

We had a good time on this cruise and were very, very pleased with Holland America’s ms Eurodam and crew. We decided that we like cruises with more sea days and ones that visit warmer parts of the world. Filbert’s balcony time was limited due to cold weather and the lack of sea days. The sea life was almost non-existent in the North Atlantic, too. But, we met some great people (Roger and Margaret) and saw neat places.

St. Petersburg bus buddies (Gary's picture)

Farewell! (Gary's picture)