Cruise Holidays - Attheta Travel

I am proud to be certified by CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) as an Elite Cruise Counselor. The Cruise Counselor Certification Program is CLIA's most comprehensive training which requires agents to successfully complete a number of compulsory training courses and exams, attend cruise conferences, and conduct ship inspections. Anita Thompson, Attheta Travel

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

SOUTH AMERICA VIA STAR PRINCESS Part II

By Helen Maxey

March 7 & 8, 2011 These were sea days so we did our usual exercise
routines, attended presentations about the ship’s navigation systems, the
next port of Rio de Janeiro, and an entertainment production show called
British Invasion. All were informative or entertaining.

March 9 Our day in Rio de Janeiro was great. The temperature was
around 80 degrees with humidity in the 90 percent range. We took an all
day tour to Christ the Redeemer statue. To get there we took a tour bus,
then an incline railway followed by elevators and escalators. The statue
is about 115 ft. high and about 85 ft. from hand to outstretched hand. It
was not the best day to be there due to cloud cover, but we were able to
get a few pictures as the clouds parted. Because of the cloud cover we
were not able to get pictures of the surrounding area and city.

We drove for miles by famous beaches including Ipanema and
Copacabana. They were beautiful and crowded in places but we didn’t
see any swimmers due to the polluted water. At one of the beaches we
stopped to watch people riding air currents in hang gliders and then
landing on the beach. It looked like fun so we asked about the cost
which was $160/person, but we decided not to do it because it would
take about ½ day for a 30 to 35 minute flight. We didn’t have enough
time for the flight.

We had lunch at a famous Brazilian barbeque restaurant with a buffet
and waiters that carve beef and other meats from long skewers, at your
table. It was a great experience and we enjoyed the food.

After lunch we visited Sugarloaf Mountain to see views of the city.
Sugarloaf like all the many other mountains in the area is smooth and
rounded at the top resembling a giant ice cream cone. To get to the
mountain top we had to ride two gondolas. We saw good city views
after the first gondola, but the top of the second gondola was in the
clouds obstructing our view so we turned around and came down.
After dinner we saw a live show featuring Brazilian dancers in their
scantily clad feathered outfits. The show resembled what you might see
in Carnival which had just ended in Rio a day earlier. The men in the
audience especially loved the show as the female dancers came into the
audience and posed for picture with some of the men.

Thursday, March 10th This was our last day in Rio but the weather
was not good. We took a shuttle bus to the Ipanema area but we turned
around and came back to the ship when it started to rain. The ship sailed
for our next port in the early afternoon. By that time the weather had
cleared so we took pictures from the bow of the ship as we sailed out of
the harbor. We came so close to Sugarloaf Mountain that we could
almost touch it.

This is an absolutely gorgeous city and we would love to visit it again
sometime, perhaps during November or December when there is not a
problem with rain and cloud cover. Until the last few months Rio was
pretty unsafe for tourists because of the amount of crime and corruption.
We were told that they have cleaned up about 50% of the crime in
preparation for the Olympic Games that will be here in 2016. Many
criminals and about 1000 police have been put in jail. Still we were
careful and did not wear any jewelry during out sightseeing. We did not
have any problems but a few passengers had valuables stolen.

Friday, March 11th This was a sea day so we attended lectures,
exercised, and relaxed. We attended a presentation about the next two
ports, Salvador and Fortaleza in Brazil. (It is interesting that Brazil is
larger than all of the U.S.) We both attended another photography
lecture, and I attended an art history lecture.

Saturday, March 12th We went ashore in Salvador and joined two other
couples and a guide who spoke very little English to see the sights of the
city. They have 3-million citizen living there who are 95% Catholic.
There are 365 churches, most in a Baroque architectural style. Most of
the buildings are old and not well maintained.

Since this was one of the locations were slaves were bought and sold
during colonial times there is a large concentration of people of African
and European heritage.

Again, this is a city with miles of beautiful white sandy beaches. Most of
the citizens commute via public transportation but we were surprised to
see traffic jams and lots of late model cars.

The evening entertainment was Stephen Kane, a talented piano player
who played a variety of fast tempo pieces.

Sunday & Monday, March 13th & 14th These were sea days so we
attended lectures, exercised etc. One evening we attended a show by
Lenny Windsor, a British TV comedian. He was really good. The other
evening we watched the movie, “The Social Network” which was shown
on a large outdoor screen in the pool area. This was similar to going to a
Drive In Theater without cars. Everyone sits in Lounge Chairs and is
served popcorn.

The weather is getting very hot and humid now that we are very close to
the equator. The seas are very calm and we are told the doldrums are
usual near the equator.

Tuesday, March 15th We docked in the city of Fortaleza, the home of
about 200-million Portuguese speaking people. Fortaleza is just South of
the equator. This was the first state in Brazil to abolish slavery. A lot of
people come here for the beautiful beaches but we didn’t see much of
them. We did not sign up for a tour here but chose to take a free shuttle
into the city instead. It took us to a handicrafts market which sold lots of
lace and clothing. It was not in a very good area so we didn’t walk
around the area, and after a half hour we had seen everything we wanted
to see and took the shuttle back to the ship just in time to miss the rain.
It continued to rain the rest of the day so we exercised and relaxed on the
ship.  The outside temperature is in the mid 80’s and the sea temperature is
about 88.

The evening entertainment was a singer by the name of Spencer Robson.
He was quite good.

Wednesday, March 16th Today we actually crossed the Equator
heading north. The ship’s crew presented a skit (that had its origins in
ancient pagan rites) to celebrate the occasion. It featured King Neptune,
Queen Nephritite, nymphs and others. It was fun loving, silly and very
difficult to see due to the huge crowd.

The rest of the day we exercised, spent time sun bathing and signed up
for another cruise in April, 2012 which goes from Singapore to
Malaysia, Male, India, Dubai, Mauritius, and Cape Town, South Africa.

Thursday, March 17th & Fri. March 18 These were sea days so we
attended a lecture by the Future Cruise Director about upcoming cruises
for the 2012-2013 season, but did not sign up for anything more at this
time. We both attended a presentation by comedian Lenny Windsor
about another British comedian with whom he worked by the name of
Benny Hill. It was entertaining although neither of us remembered
Benny Hill.

I attended the movie called Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts which I
enjoyed.

Our evening entertainment was cut short as I needed to recover from a
virus that was spreading throughout the ship.

Saturday, March 19th The ship stopped at Barbados but we were not
able to enjoy it because of my virus. We had been here on another cruise
so we didn’t feel too bad.

Sunday, March 20th We visited Antigua and didn’t take a tour as we
had done this on a previous cruise. We did walk around town and
bought a watch band. Like Barbados, this is a beautiful island, and we
might have explored it more if I had felt better.

Monday, March 21st We docked at St. Thomas which is a US Territory
so this is where we cleared US Immigration. We took a shuttle into town
to explore the shops. Merchandise purchased here is duty free and tax
free so shopping is very popular. They take U.S. dollars and everyone
speaks English. We made some investments in jewelry and spent so
much time shopping that we didn’t have time to visit the beautiful,
famous beaches here. Also the afternoon traffic is so heavy that we were
concerned we wouldn’t make it back to the ship before it was time to
sail. We enjoyed having lunch in a casual restaurant overlooking the bay.
We would like to come back here some day.

Tuesday, March 22 & Wed. March 23 These were sea days as we head
to Ft. Lauderdale where the cruise will end. The weather has been
beautiful for the past two weeks (low 80’s) so we did some sun bathing.
Wayne came down with the virus so that curtailed our activities, but he
went to the doctor as soon as he felt it coming on so his symptoms were
not as bad as mine. Our last day was mostly spent packing.

Wayne added up the miles we traveled from the ships log and it was
almost 10,000 miles. This was a great cruise. We saw a lot and would
have needed a lot more time to see the Mayan ruins, falls, and Amazon.
Maybe we can go back to see these places some day.

We disembarked the Star Princess Thursday March 24th and went to
Coral Gables which is a place is a place we often stay overnight before
making the 6 hour flight to Seattle from Miami International Airport. We
had a great lunch and dinner in Coral Gables which was a good way to
end a good vacation.