Friday, May 30, 2008

And Away We Go!

Crown Princess Deck Log
Crown Princess made her final approach to Copenhagen. After 2713.6 nautical miles traveled and seven countries visited, she was quietly alongside on her berth.

Wake up call - 4:30 a.m.
Buffet breakfast, then meet at Club Fusion before 6 a.m. to be escorted to bus.
We were on board the bus and on our way at 6:15 a.m. We first picked out our bags from the Princess luggage tent, and then checked bags and listed at the Lufthansa desk.
We found our bags!

Copenhagen Airport - the line to check in with Lufthansa:

Dick is ready to check in and get rid of the bags:

Copenhagen Airport:

Lines and more lines:

Our plane to Frankfurt:

The Copenhagen Airport didn't have our flight on the monitor yet, because our flight was scheduled for 10:15 a.m. It was hurry up and wait all over again.

We flew Lufthansa from Copenhagen to Frankfurt where we had another significant wait.

Then Lufthansa again from Frankfurt to Toronto, where we collected our bags to go through US customs before boarding Air Canada to Detroit. Two things are memorable at this stage - 1. Why did we need to collect our bags in Toronto? Nobody even glanced at them as we pushed the cart through customs, and 2. Air Canada to Detroit is on an FLPJ (Funny Little Prop Job). None of us have been on a plane that small in years. It held 33-37 passengers.

Arrived in Detroit, got a great wheelchair man who took over, helped all of us get our bags, and procured a nice big van to take us to Sniders. Hooray!

Pizza at Sniders, and then to bed. Bye bye Scandinavia. We'll have sweet dreams always.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Crown Princess Deck Log
Gdynia to Oslo - 675.8 Nautical Miles
Average Speed - 21.0 Knots
Noon Position: Alongside in Oslo
Sky: Cloudy
Temperature: 66 F

We have learned that the success of a tour rests solely on the shoulders of the tour guide. Today in Norway, we have an excellent tour guide. She was born in Japan, educated in the US and the UK, met her Norwegian husband in England, and had lived in Norway for over 25 years. Her English was excellent, her knowledge was extensive, and her pride in Norway was unmistakable! The driver's name was Paul, but her name was Japanese and started with an H and that's all I remember! She was great.

Our tour started very, very early - so when we arrived at Holmenkollen, the world famous ski jump training area, everything was closed. We got a good feel of the place, though, and got some good pictures.

In the same neighborhood as the ski jump, there were condos with turf roofs! It looked like a very nice neighborhood.
The guide kept talking about the blueberries, lingonberries, and mushrooms that you can find in the "ood" - well, that meant forest, or woods.

The highlight was the Viking museum where they have three actual Viking ships on display - it's an amazing experience. Besides the ships, there was a Viking wagon, and a Viking sled - fascinating!

At the Oslo Town Hall there is a beautiful clock with the signs of the zodiac on it, and a doorway with elaborate carvings of Norwegian sagas.

We had a good view of the Town Hall building from our balcony:
The Akershus Castle was directly across from our balcony. It's inside a huge fortress. We saw many groups visiting there, and people picnicking on the grounds. At one point, a mounted policewoman went slowly riding past.

I loved this charming street cafe in Oslo:
Our last dinner on the ship was an adventure. Both "anytime dining" dining rooms were full, so they escorted us to the Botticelli dining room - up a deck, the length of the ship, and down a deck (pant, pant). The Botticelli was decorated with balloons to celebrate the last night on the ship. They did a lights out presentation of the dessert - flaming baked Alaska!
Packing up was quite a project - but with a little help from our friends, we finally goit all of the shoes inside the luggage, and set the bags outside our stateroom door to be loaded for transfer to the airport in the morning. The cruise is over (heavy sigh).
At 1400 Crown Princess was ready to sail with all lines onboard. The Captain with the aid of the pilot started to navigate the inside of the Oslofjorden. Crown Princess set her south-easterly course towards our final destination, Copenhagen.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

At Sea Again

Crown Princess Deck Log
Throughout the day Crown Princess continued her course towards Oslo. We embarked two pilots to assist with the navigation transiting the inside passage through Denmark, passing under the Great Belt Bridge.
Sky: Clear Skies
Temperature: 59F

The real world crept back into our lives momentarily this morning when it was decided that laundry needed to be done. The laundromat was supposed to open at 8 a.m., but when I got there at 10 minutes to 8 it was already open, and all of the machines were already in use.

One man was ahead of me, so we became number one and number two. At 8 a.m. people began showing up from all directions, and they were amazed to already be numbers three, four, five and six when it supposedly didn't open until 8. I decided to hang in there, because I could tell by the way things were going that I would never be number two again! Number one listened to all of the complaints and said to me quietly that he was in charge of customer service for Continental Airlines and was glad he didn't have to answer to these angry launderers!

Bottom line - our laundry was all washed, dried and folded before 10 a.m. That left the rest of the day for sunning, shopping for souvenirs, entertainment in the Atrium, lunch in the buffet (Dick and Jan grooved on the sushi), Casino - (will I never learn), Scrabble with Jan and a lady from Vancouver, and even a nap!

The Internet Center was a source of frustration for the whole cruise. We were hoping that we could log caches and keep up with the blog daily, but the connections were so slow that it was impossible - and expensive, since you pay by the minute! The sign says it all:

Our ship went under the Great Belt Bridge - it's a very nice bridge, but it's no Mackinac!!

The entertainment in the Atrium was this boy on a bike - and his parents probably thought he was wasting his time with that bike :)

Drinks before dinner at Crooner's.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gdynia (Gdansk)

Crown Princess Deck Log
Tallinn to Gdynia - 404.4 Nautical Miles
Average Speed - 20.6 Knots
Noon Position: Alongside in Gdynia
Sky: Cloudy
Temperature: 63 F
Our Welcome to Gdynia!

Part of the Polish Navy:The Port of Gdynia:

Slow bus ride from Gdynia to Gdansk which would have been OK except the tour guide, Alexander, was 100 years old and spoke very bad English with a heavy accent on a really staticky sound system. It was a relief when he stopped talking. He also didn't know how to handle a microphone, so there were a lot of loud fumbling sounds when he picked it up and put it down. Here's the proof - can you understand what he's saying?? Alexander:

Nevertheless... Gdansk has a very charming Old Town section. Gdansk (Danzig) was totally destroyed during WWII. There were only scattered remnants of walls and rubble when the war was over. Originally, the Poles had decided to leave it that way as a memorial to the effects of war. But in 1948, they decided to rebuild the town as it had been in the Middle Ages. The result is spectacular. The architecture is fascinating - with statuary on the roofs and above the windows of many of the buildings. Some buildings have rustic scenes painted between the windows in Medieval style - you really can't take it all in.

The construction is still not completed - they're still working on it. But in the main, it's delightful and so pleasant.
Street Scenes in Gdansk:

We saw Gdanskians of all ages. There were school groups from first graders to high schoolers on field trips to the Museums. Some of the groups were wearing identical ball caps, some had identical scarves, and they were all orderly and seemed to be enjoying themselves.
There were many babes in strollers and buggies - it seems that all countries use suckies these days! There were lots of older people, some with canes and walkers - oh wait - those were the passengers on our ship! (Just kidding).

The Old Town area is full of many, many shops and eating places - Jan and I paid $8 for two cokes, which was fine until the Canadians at the next table were charged $7.50 for three Pepsis! Our handsome young waiter didn't have a clue about the exchange rates - but he was friendly and attentive, so who cares?

On the bus ride back to the ship we stopped by the Gdansk Shipyard to see the Solidarnosc Memorial. I never dreamed I would be here!

The comedian after dinner was so funny describing tour guides, bus rides and tours in general. He cracked us up talking about the sometimes urgent need for a "pisseria"! On this whole tour of the Baltic cities, WC (water closet) is the preferred term for restroom.